Friday, September 30, 2011
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7).
Scripture Reading: Genesis 6:5-17, 22
We can react to the crises of life in a great variety of ways. We can permit fear to capture the citadel of our soul and react by fleeing from our responsibility and our opportunities, or we can react in faith and stand steady under pressure. Those of us who are Christians should meet every situation with faith in both the goodness of God and in his abiding presence to help us in every time of need.
The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were in the midst of great trials. They were the victims of persecution and all of the inconveniences and cruelties that accompany being in religious, political, and economic disfavor. The writer of this tremendous book encouraged them to trust in God and to be faithful to his good purpose for them. With inspired selectivity, he calls forth a list of spiritual heroes from the pages of the Old Testament to speak a word of challenge and cheer to those who were now experiencing great difficulty.
The study of history can be a most profitable experience if one reads, not only in order to understand the past, but to gain insight into the present and to what the future most likely holds. Have you ever wondered what George Washington would have to say to our country today if he could address the nation? How would Abraham Lincoln counsel us?
If we would find biblical stories profitable, we must let the characters of the past speak to the present that which they discovered about God in the laboratory of human experience. For while circumstances change, God remains unchanged. What he was, he is. What he did in and through his people, he will do today and tomorrow if we will but respond in faith and cooperate with him.
Today let us listen to the testimony of Noah, who by faith built an ark in obedience to God while all of his countrymen laughed at him. Genuine faith will cause us to be faithful to God and to fear him. Paul says concerning the unbelieving and the ungodly, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18).
Since faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, we need to be reminded that the Bible contains many promises from God to his people. These promises are made to those who have faith. Have you discovered these promises and claimed them for your own life? We also need to recognize that the Bible contains many warnings from God. Have you, like Noah, recognized and responded to the warnings of God? How would you respond if you knew that God had spoken a word of warning to you? Like Noah? Or like Noah’s neighbors? “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5 NIV).
1) God constantly warns us against danger.
The destructive nature of sin.
From the beginning of time, God has warned man against the destructive nature of sin. Some of the first instructions given to Adam in the garden were words of warning. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Adam and Eve did not heed the warning of God. Genesis 3 tells us of their unbelief and of their fall under the destructive power of sin. By their attitudes and actions of unbelief, disobedience, and greed for equality with God, they committed spiritual suicide and polluted the spiritual fountain from which the whole human race was to flow.
The Bible is a record of God’s continuing activity to save people from the ravages of sin. If we will respond to God’s warnings and accept his gracious invitation with confidence and cooperation, we can be delivered from the awful tyranny of sin.
The peril of self-deception.
God warns us concerning the peril of self-deception: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12), and “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (12:15). Repeatedly the Scriptures would say to us, “Be not deceived” (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7).
The certainty of God’s justice and wrath.
We place so much emphasis on the love and mercy of God that we underemphasize the other side of his nature-his wrath. Because God does love, he cannot tolerate that which violates his own nature and that which destroys humans who are the crown of his creation.
God is a moral God, and our universe is constructed on a moral basis. The universe itself is in opposition to people who flagrantly break the laws of God and the laws of society. Sin by its very nature brings punishment into the lives of sinners. In the Old Testament, we read, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). This verse does not teach that all of our sins will be found out by others, but it does declare that our sins will find us out.
Many of the laws of God are what is known as self-executing laws. This means that they carry with them the seed of their own punishment, and that it is impossible for a person to sin and escape suffering. The tragedy is that others suffer also, not for our sin but because of our sin. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes observed, “For God shall bring every work unto judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:14).
2) Have you recognized the warning of God?
God speaks in a great variety of ways to those who have ears to hear and to those who sincerely desire to escape the way of self-destruction.
Have you let the written Word of God speak to your mind and heart?
The psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). The habit of memorizing selected passages of Scripture can be most profitable for both the individual and for the family as a whole. To do so provides the Holy Spirit with a divine channel of communication to our hearts in the time of need that is bound to come for each of us.
God may speak a word of warning to us through the fall of someone else. Occasionally we see the tragic results of the carelessness of those who ignore traffic signs and signals. At times the traffic offender is the victim, but in many instances others also suffer. Paul had something like this in mind when he said, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
There are many wrecks along the highway of life. Each of these could speak a word of caution and warning to us if we but have eyes to see and ears to hear.
God may speak a word of warning to us through some godly, devout person.
It may be in the form of advice or even rebuke. Jesus instructed the members of the early church to be compassionately concerned both for the individual and for the church when one of the members falls into sin (Matt. 18:15-17). The church would be a dynamic moral force in today’s world if it was compassionate enough for its own to follow the instructions of its Lord. We miserably fail to obey him and to please him when we resort to harsh criticism instead of exercising compassionate concern for the wayward.
God will speak words of warning to you through the Bible lessons of your teacher and through the sermons of your pastor.
God has placed the Holy Spirit within your heart, not only to lead and empower you for Service, but also to warn you of the presence of spiritual danger.
“Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
3) Noah’s response to the warning of God.
Noah believed God.
He took God at his word. He did not assume that God was speaking just to hear himself talk. He knew that God was not teasing him or merely trying to frighten him.
We need to study the Word of God, not as ancient history, but as God speaking to us in the present.
Having heard God speak a word of warning, Noah was “moved with fear.”
This was a godly fear. He was not scared of God in the sense that he wanted to run away from him, but he had a reverent regard for both the truthfulness and the power of God to do what he had said he was going to do. Noah was moved by fear for the welfare of his family, and consequently he prepared the ark in obedience to the instructions of God.
We need to rediscover and reactivate an attitude of wholesome fear of the Lord. The wise man said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). He also said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (9:10), and “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (14:27). There is no hope for the person who does not have a wholesome and reverent fear of God.
Noah’s faith and fear led to action.
He made decisions that were decisive both for himself and for his family. How have you reacted to the warnings of God?
4) God’s words of warning.
The wages of sin is still death (Rom. 6:23).
From the beginning of time, the big lie has been, “You can sin and escape suffering” (Gen. 3:4). People continue to fall for this line of the Evil One and swallow it hook, line, and sinker. Sin not only violates the conscience and deadens the will, but it brings about the death of all that is finest and best within the human soul. Sin separates people from God, from their fellow humans, from their families, and from their better selves.
There is judgment to come.
Without apology or hesitation, the Bible says that one day we all shall stand before God to give an account of our deeds. God would have us meet him on the basis of his mercy rather than on the basis of his justice. We read, “God . . . now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
The law of the harvest is still in force.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). It is the law of nature and of God that a person reaps according to the law of kind. We reap what we sow. “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (v. 8).
God warns us that there is no escape for those who neglect to repent and believe.
Someone has said, “The shortest road to hell is by the highway of tomorrow.” “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1).
Now in Conclusion
Now is the time for all wise and sensible persons to pay attention to the warnings of God and to respond by faith to his invitations and promises. The cross is God’s stop sign and red light and barricade on the road to ruin. I urge you to respond to his mercy and love and forgiveness while you have time and opportunity.
God Bless You, Pastor Mike
Thursday, September 29, 2011
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God has translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).
Scripture Reading: Genesis 5:21-24
The desire for approval is one of the strongest motives that affects a person’s attitudes and actions. In early childhood a child desires the approval of his or her parents. As that child enters school, he or she labors to deserve the approval of teachers.
It is normal for teenagers to desire the approval and the applause of the group to which they belong, and this inward desire for approval explains many of the attitudes and actions that often bring bewilderment to parents. In the process of courtship, both the young man and the young woman eagerly seek to win each other’s approval that they might be acceptable as marriage partners.
Inside marriage it is always wise for both partners to work that they might retain and maintain the approval they gained during the courtship process. When a young person enters the business world, he or she seeks to labor so as to have the approval of his or her employer.
This desire for approval is one of the basic drives of human nature. It is of vital importance that we use great wisdom in our choice of those whose approval we desire. If we seek only our inward selfish approval, this will vitally affect our happiness and our actions and attitudes. If we seek the applause of the wicked and not the godly, we will have to do things that are contrary to the will of God to win approval.
The words of our text declare that Enoch lived and labored that he might have the approval of God. It is said that “before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).
Enoch did not win the approval of God accidentally or incidentally, for it was under the most unfavorable circumstances that Enoch walked with God in such a manner as to hear the words of divine approval. Notice also that Enoch walked with God and enjoyed his approval and praise while walking a common way of life. There is nothing to lead us to believe that Enoch was a professional, vocational servant of God. Very definitely he did not retire from society as a recluse to spend his time in prayer and meditation.
The writer of Hebrews says, as he marshals these great heroes of faith into a position where they can bear their testimony concerning the faithfulness of God, that it was by faith that Enoch had pleased God. Just what does this mean? Is it possible for us to please God today? Is it possible for us to have the inward testimony, like Enoch, that our life and ministry are pleasing to our heavenly Father?
If Enoch could walk with God, then you and I can walk with God. The passage was not written merely that we might have the historical record of what happened in the past. It was written to show us what we can do if by faith we make the same response that these characters who walked through the pages of the Bible made.
1) Enoch’s walk with God.
Enoch was acquainted with God.
To him God was real. Instead of having some information or knowledge about God, he knew God.
We can gain information about God by reading the Bible. The Bible is a record of God’s activities in which he reveals himself to humankind under all circumstances and conditions.
We can learn about God through the testimony of others who know him.
We really come to know God through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no way by which a person can come to know God other than through faith in Jesus Christ.
Enoch acknowledged both the person and presence of God.
To him God was something infinitely more than a principle behind the universe. To him God was a personality. The writer of Hebrews states this most forcefully in words that contain one of the best definitions of faith to be found in the New Testament. The writer declares that “God . . . is” (Heb. 11:6). God not only is, but he is vitally concerned about us and responds to our faith by richly rewarding us.
Enoch did not ignore God. Nor did he forget God. The writer of Proverbs tells us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Many of us miss the joy of walking with God because we ignore him and forget him. Consequently, we walk in our own way, which often leads to disappointment and disaster.
Enoch was in agreement with God.
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). People did not walk across the desert together accidentally. They walked together only when they were in agreement with each other or when they had a definite appointment at some place.
Repentance is the response in which a person pledges to agree with God and accepts his divine viewpoint.
People must be in agreement with God if they want to walk with God. We will never be Christian in our conduct until we accept the mind of Christ and think as he thought. When we agree with our Savior in our habits and attitudes, it will follow like day follows night that our actions will remind others of Jesus Christ.
Enoch appreciated and adored the God with whom he walked.
The Bible does not say that Enoch walked with God because of fear of the consequences if he refused. We are left to infer that he walked with God because he found a deep joy and satisfaction in his presence.
It is in the gospel, the good news of God’s love for sinners, that we discover the loving character and gracious Spirit of the God with whom Enoch walked. To know him as Savior is to love him. To know him through continued fellowship is to love him more and more.
2) The believer’s walk with God.
In the Old Testament we read that “Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). God said to Abraham, “Walk before me” (Gen. 17:1). The psalmist vowed, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 116:9).
In the New Testament the walk of the believer is described in a number of ways. If we are acquainted with God through faith in Jesus, if we will acknowledge his living presence, and if we are in agreement with him, it is possible for us to walk with an abiding awareness of his presence. The characteristics of the believer’s walk are described in a number of different ways in the New Testament:
It is a walk of faith.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). If we want to walk with God, we must believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and arose victorious over death and the grave, and that he has come into our hearts as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9).
It is a walk of newness of life.
The walk of the believer will be different from the walk of the unbeliever. Paul declares that because of the believer’s death to a life of sin and the symbolic burial of that old way of life, “like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). This means that the new convert, as well as the older convert, will deliberately “play dead” when he is tempted with evil (Eph. 4:17).
It is a walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).
By walking in the Spirit we are to progress from one stage of life to another and from one place to another consciously led by the Holy Spirit who came to dwell within the heart of each believer at the time of conversion (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 3:16). God is a Spirit, and those who would walk with him must have faith to believe in his eternal abiding presence. The Holy Spirit provides counsel and courage as well as wisdom and strength for the task of life if we will but trust him.
It is a walk of love (Eph. 5:2).
To have Christian love toward others is to have a permanent, unbreakable spirit of goodwill toward others. Jesus gave to his disciples a new commandment: “Love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). It is this type of Christian love that every church needs to demonstrate, not only within its own fellowship, but among the unbelievers in its total environment.
It is to be a walk in the light (1 John 1:7).
The apostle says, “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This is a walk of faith and fellowship, of faithfulness and fruitfulness.
Now in Conclusion
Have you been neglecting the privilege of walking and talking with God? If so, you would be wise to recognize the joy you have missed. It would be most profitable to you and to others if you would rejoin him in faith and righteousness.
If you have never known the joy of walking with God, then let me suggest that today you invite Jesus Christ to become not just a guest but a permanent dweller in the home of your heart. He will provide you with guidance and help without which you are bound to miss not only heaven at the end of the way but the highest possible happiness here and now.
God bless you all, Pastor Mike
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
The inspired writer of the book of Hebrews reaches back into the history of Israel and calls into the witness box various heroes who lived by faith (Heb. 12:1-2). Each of these is permitted to speak a word of challenge and cheer to the living. The writer is seeking to encourage the people of his generation to live a life of faith and faithfulness in the midst of trial.
The cloud of witnesses are not spectators who idly view the struggle of God’s people: they are testators, heavenly cheerleaders, who would encourage each believer and servant of God to trust in the dependability of God to meet the deepest needs of his or her life.
The saints of God whose achievements are recorded in both sacred and secular history will speak to us today if we will but put forth the effort to listen (Matt. 13:9). Our text speaks of the immortality of influence. It is recorded that though Abel lived at the dawn of history, he lived a life of faith that resulted in faithfulness, and by his life “he being dead yet speaketh.” Our text declares that our life is capable of communicating something significant: (1) We speak to those about us, our contemporaries in business and social contacts; (2) we speak to our children and to other members of our family; and (3) we continue to speak after our tongue has grown silent.
What is your life communicating? Does your life impart good news that blesses, or does it communicate that which brings harm into the lives of others?
1) Abel speaks of a life of faith.
Faith is a response to God and to his will for our lives.
Genuine faith is more than mental assent to the reliability of biblical truths. It is a responsiveness to God’s revelation of himself through Jesus Christ and the testimony of those who have known him and lived with him.
Saving faith is a believing response to the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
The gospel is infinitely more wonderful than good advice; it is the good news of God’s love for sinners. It is the good news of how Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. It is the good news of how he conquered death and the grave and arose triumphant and is alive for forever. The gospel is the good news of how people can experience spiritual birth and know the eternal God as a loving Father through faith, confidence, and trust in the living Christ.
Faith is the gift of God, and it is also the work of humans.
Genuine faith always presupposes an act in which God reveals himself (Rom. 10:14). The writer declares, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In response to the question, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29).
Abel would encourage each of us to respond to the light and to the knowledge of God that we now possess.
2) Abel speaks of faith and worship.
Genuine faith and real worship are inseparable.
Genuine faith, like genuine love, must find a means of expressing itself. Because of faith in his heart, Abel sought both the presence and pleasure of God through every channel that was available to him.
Genuine worship is something infinitely more than just going to church. Genuine worship is not to be confused with an endless chain of activities, but real faith will express itself in an active manner.
Abel worshiped God.
Worship is the ascription of worth to one who is of supreme worth.
Do you worship the God of Abel, Abraham, and Paul, or have you permitted the god of success to seize first place in your ambitions and activities? Some worship their work and ascribe to it supreme worth. Others worship pleasure and search for one thrill after another. Some worship laziness and are content to live at the expense of others.
3) Abel speaks of faith, worship, and excellence.
The record in Genesis states, “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (Gen. 4:4). From this text we can assume that Abel brought of the very best that he possessed as an offering unto the Lord. Malachi indicted the people of his day with bringing the very sorriest of their beasts as a sacrifice to their God. With satire and irony, he suggests that they bring the same kind of gifts to their Persian rulers. He seeks to shame them because of the emptiness and cheapness of what they were offering to God.
Abel gave thought to his offering.
With the highest part of his mind and the deepest part of his heart, he came to offer a more excellent sacrifice than did Cain.
He was not thoughtless and careless about that which he offered to God (2 Cor. 9:7).
Abel’s worship was not subject to moods or impulses. He was not seeking a cheap, inexpensive bargain way to gain the favor of God. Like David, he refused to offer to God that which had cost him nothing (2 Sam. 24:24).
Abel’s sacrifice was a deliberate and purposeful act of worship.
He brought the very best in faith as a response to God. A poet has suggested that we, like Abel, through faith, give our very best to God.
Give of your best to the Master,
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, flowing ardor
Into the battle for truth:
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion,
Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master,
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above;
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration,
Give Him the best that you have.
~Howard B. Grose
4) Abel speaks of divine approval.
It is wonderful for a believer to know deep within that he or she has God’s approval. This assurance came to Abel (Heb. 11:4). Cain speaks to us of divine rejection, but Abel speaks to us of divine approval (Gen. 4:4-5).
Cain did point out the possibility of divine disapproval.
The motive behind Cain’s offering was wrong. He did not offer in faith; his sacrifice was not a genuine response to God.
Present-day believers can go through the motions of worship and giving and fail to receive divine approval.
Thoughtless and careless worship does not receive divine approval.
A gift designed to purchase the approval of God when we are mistreating our fellow human beings will be rejected (Matt. 5:23-24).
Ostentatious gifts that are presented out of the desire for the applause of people will not bring the approval of God (Matt. 6:1-3).
Gifts that are presented grudgingly or simply out of a feeling of necessity bring no delight to the heart of God (2 Cor. 9:7).
Acts of worship or sacrificial gifts not motivated by love bring us nothing (1 Cor. 13:3).
Abel assures us of the possibility of divine approval.
He offered his gift in faith as a genuine response of his heart.
He offered in humility and love.
He did what he could, and it was acceptable (Col. 3:17).
Now in Conclusion
In faith let us respond to God. Let us offer up to him, as an act of worship, all that we do and all that we are. Your pastor’s sermon should be a gift offered up in worship. The special message in song from the choir should be an act of worship. The lesson presented by the teacher should be an act of faith and an experience of worship.
Have you heard what God would say to you through Abel today? Trust God with all that you are and all that you have. Give him your best if you want to experience his best.
God Bless You, Pastor Mike
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
“Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:1-6
Do you face the future with your heart filled with fear, or do you face the future with your heart filled with faith in the goodness of God and in your own ability, with the help of God, to meet life in a victorious manner?
There are many things in today’s world that could contribute to anxiety in the mind of each of us if we were to concentrate our attention on our difficulties and problems rather than on our responsibilities and opportunities.
In the midst of a great worldwide depression, President Roosevelt said in his inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When people forget God, they either tremble in fear as they face the future, or they are strongly tempted to make a flight from danger, which takes them away from their place of duty, responsibility, and opportunity.
When faith in God goes, Man the Thinker loses his greatest thought.
When faith in God goes, Man the Worker loses his greatest motive.
When faith in God goes, Man the Sinner loses his strongest help.
When faith in God goes, Man the Sufferer loses his securest refuge.
When faith in God goes, Man the Lover loses his fairest vision.
When faith in God goes, Man the Mortal loses his only home.
Let us determine to walk by faith with the living God, who has always proven faithful in meeting the deepest needs of those who trust him and obey his loving commandments for their lives.
1) Faith in faith.
One must have faith in faith to walk the way of faith victoriously.
Many people do not have faith in faith.
The wise man admonishes: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). All of us are tempted to put our confidence in our own human wisdom and understanding. We apply the scientific and logical methods both to the problems of life as well as to the possibilities of the future. If we achieve success by leaning on our own understanding, we become egotistical and conceited. If and when we fail, we experience depression and despair.
Many people lean on the counsel of the ungodly.
The happy man, the successful man, the spiritual man, is one who stays away from the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1). The ungodly man is he who forgets God, ignores God, or rejects God. He approaches the problems of life as if God did not exist or as if God were unconcerned and unavailable to help.
We live in a day that places tremendous emphasis on the use of the scientific method for solving the problems of life. Not for one moment would I detract from the achievements and the contributions of the use of this method. I would, however, appeal to the reverent use of this method in the spiritual realm (John 7:17). The scientist poses a question, makes an assumption, and performs an experiment to test his or her hypothesis. If people want to find the real meaning of life, they need to try living the life of faith as an experiment to discover if God really does exist. When people put their confidence in the invisible God and seek to live according to the divine plan, they discover in the laboratory of personal experience the reality of him who is invisible to the human eye.
2) Faith and faithfulness.
Real faith is more than intellectual assent.
Genuine faith, victorious faith in the living God, is not to be equated with mere intellectual assent to the existence of an eternal God. The book of James emphasized this fact by stating, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (2:19).
Faith produces faithfulness.
Throughout the Bible and throughout Christian history, people of faith have been people of action. They have been people of moral and spiritual achievement. When people put their full confidence in God, they accept God’s way as their way and God’s plans as their plans. Hebrews 11, often called Faith’s Hall of Fame, presents us with a beautiful display of the fruits of genuine faith. In each instance, faith manifested itself in terms of faithfulness, commitment, and involvement in the will and work of God.
Faith caused Abel to worship with his best (Heb. 11:4).
Because of his faith, Enoch walked day by day with God (Heb. 11:5).
Because of his faith, Noah responded to God’s warning (Heb. 11:7).
Because of his faith, Abraham walked in obedience to the commandment of God (Heb. 11:8-10).
Because of his faith, Joseph resisted the temptations of moral impurity in order to be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 39:9).
Because of his faith, Moses identified himself with the unfortunate in their efforts to achieve freedom and liberty to worship God (Heb. 11:24-27).
3) The necessity of faith.
The foundation of all spiritual progress is rooted in our faith, while the explanation for most of our failures can be found in our lack of a real faith in the living God.
The undoing sin of ancient Israel was that of no faith or of little faith.
They either refused or neglected to take God at his word and to depend on him to be faithful to his promises. A lack of faith caused their hearts to tremble in fear at the prospect of entering the Promised Land. Because they refused to trust God and to move forward in obedience to his commandments, they were destined to wander in the wilderness for forty years. With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, only those who were too young to be held responsible for their nation’s refusal to trust God had the privilege of entering the land that God had promised for them (Num. 14:28-34).
Jesus continuously sought to instill within the hearts of his disciples a great faith in God.
He sought to encourage faith by his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:25-34).
He sought to encourage faith by the parables he told.
He sought to increase faith by the miracles he performed.
No doubt on many occasions he spoke words similar to those recorded by John: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
Jesus repeatedly put forth efforts to make faith in his triumph over death a transforming conviction in the lives of his apostles (Acts 1:3).
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
The refusal to trust God is a denial of either God’s ability or willingness to do that which he has promised to do. This is not only an insult to God’s integrity; it is an expression of an attitude of human self-sufficiency that cuts people off from the resources God wants to make available to them.
Faith is the human response to God that makes it possible for God both to forgive our sins and to grant us the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; 10:10). Trusting Jesus Christ as the Savior who died for our sins clears the way for God to remove the condemnation that our sin has created (John 3:17-18) and to bestow the gift of everlasting life on us (John 3:36). The absence of this faith or the refusal to believe causes one to die under the penalty of his sin (John 8:24).
Genuine faith in God is essential for the forgiveness of sin and the receiving of eternal life, and also for the victorious walk of life (2 Cor. 5:7; 1 John 5:4).
4) The growth of faith.
Faith in God, like faith in a person, is a dynamic thing. It is never static or dormant. This faith is both the gift of God and the work of the individual.
The testimony of Scripture.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Faith has been described as containing three elements: knowledge, mental assent, and trust. As we read the Word of God, we gain information concerning our God (Heb. 11:3) who cares for us (v. 6) to the extent that he has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19-20).
The testimony of the saints.
In both the Word of God and in Christian history, we read of those who had personal experiences with the living God. In the biographies of the dead and from the lips of the living, we hear testimonies concerning the trustworthiness of God. These testimonies should contribute toward the growth of our faith.
The testimony of personal experience.
If you will but recall your own personal experiences with God, no doubt your faith in him will deepen, and you will be encouraged to trust him more lovingly and more loyally as you face opportunities, responsibilities, and uncertainties.
You will agree with the poet who said:
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
Now in Conclusion
If you have not yet responded in faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then let me gently but strongly suggest that you receive him into your heart as a guest, as an honored friend, as a physician for the soul. He is the only one who can both meet your deepest needs in the present and make perfect provisions for your future in eternity. Trust him today and determine to trust him through all of your days.
God bless you all, Pastor Mike
Saturday, September 24, 2011
“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (Ps. 116:1).
Scripture Reading: Psalm 116:1-19
Do you find it difficult to love God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind (Matt. 22:37)? Some find it exceedingly difficult to love God in this manner because of false concepts of God. Some think of him as being an absentee God who is far away. They fail to recognize that he is always present. Others think of God as being a bully. Jesus came that people might know him in a father-child relationship. Some consider God to be stern and harsh, but Jesus revealed him to be a tender, kind, and loving heavenly Father. Some think that God is too busy to be concerned about them. Jesus had time to take children into his arms and bless them. He declared that the God who is aware of the falling of a sparrow is also concerned about each of us.
There are some who look upon God as being spiteful and vengeful. Jesus revealed him to be full of mercy and grace. It is easy to love the God whom Jesus came to reveal once we discover his beauty and love. On one occasion Jesus said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Even though the psalmist lived hundreds of years before Jesus came to reveal the grace of God, he had discovered in his own experience the gracious love and continuing mercy of God. In fact, he sang a hymn of love in which he enumerated a long list of reasons why he loved God. The message of this day, like the message of the psalmist, takes the form of a personal testimony.
1) I love the Lord because “he hath heard my voice and my supplications.”
David was declaring his love for the Lord because the Lord had answered his prayers. You and I should be able to bear the same testimony.
David had prayed for help in times of trouble, and God had heard and delivered him.
David had experienced times of great uncertainty when he needed guidance. When he prayed, God directed his path.
David had prayed in times of weakness, and God had given him strength. Particularly was this so when he fought Goliath the giant. David expressed his confidence in the strength that God would give in a conversation with King Saul. He said, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:37).
From the beginning to the end of the Bible there is continuous testimony that our God is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. Barren and empty is your life if you have never experienced a definite answer to your prayers. Your blessings at this point will be in proportion to your faithfulness in coming before God’s throne of grace for help in time of need. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
2) I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered my soul from death.”
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Our most valuable possession is our soul, our very being.
We are grateful to our physician, who saves us from the effects of disease.
We are grateful to our teachers, who challenged our minds and delivered us from the blight of ignorance.
We are grateful to those who have given us counsel that has saved us from professional or economic failure.
While we should be grateful and manifest love for those who have rendered great personal Services, we should also recognize that Jesus Christ has rendered the greatest Service to us by dying for our sins on the cross to deliver us from spiritual death. Through faith in him we have the delightful privilege of passing out of the realm of death into the realm of eternal life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
3) I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered . . . mine eyes from tears.”
When John saw the new heaven and the new earth, he declared, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Has it ever occurred to you that God has already wiped away many of the tears that would have flooded your eyes if you had not known him as a personal Lord and Savior? If it had not been for his guiding presence in your mind and heart, you would have walked in the way of the transgressor where there is no peace and happiness and contentment. You would have known the frustrations and agony of facing life without the resources that God has made available to you. There would have been no comfort in the time of sorrow. There would have been no guidance in the time of uncertainty. There would have been no hope in the time of defeat. Our Lord has already wiped many of the tears from our eyes by removing the cause for those tears. Because of this great ministry, we should find it easy to love him and to praise him.
4) I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered . . . my feet from falling.”
The salvation that our Lord seeks to accomplish in our life extends beyond the forgiveness of sin. He is eager to deliver us from the power and practice of sin in our daily life. Not one of us has followed him faithfully all of the way at all times. In spite of our deafness to his gentle warnings and our momentary rebellions against his gentle guidance, we can all bear testimony to his abiding presence in every time of need.
I preached a baccalaureate sermon to a group of young graduates. The title of my address was “The Infallible Leadership of Jesus Christ.” I declared to the students that they could put their faith always in the guidance of Jesus Christ because he was an infallible leader who would always lead them right. Jesus declared, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). If we walk in the light, we can be assured that Jesus will deliver our feet from the danger of falling into some abyss of evil.
Now in Conclusion
Do you love the Lord? There are many reasons why we should love him. We should love him because he is our Savior, our Leader, and our Friend. We should love him for the privilege of serving that he has granted to us. We should love him because he has promised to deliver us from death and the grave and to prepare for us a home at the end of the way.
There are those who do not love Jesus because they have not yet responded by faith to the love that he demonstrated on the cross when he died for their sins. They know that they should love him, and they intend to love him someday. These ones would be wise to trust him as their Lord today.
God bless you all, Pastor Mike
Get An Email Alert Each Time PASTORMIKE7 Posts