(12/5) Introduction Ė Someone forwarded this email to me
The preacher's 5-year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why.
'Well, Honey,' he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages. 'I'm asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.'
'How come He doesn't answer it?' she asked.
(I hope that there isnít a subliminal message here.)
Honestly though, arenít there times when we wonder why? Why doesnít God answer our prayers? Why doesnít God do something about the world we live in? We could ask, why didnít He stop that earthquake, or the fires or the tornadoes? Why didnít He save my loved one, heal my loved one, protect me, or Ö...? There is an endless supply of questions. Sometimes
the questions or the disappointment we feel with God make us want to quit, drop out, give up, withdraw our membership, and retreat from the Church and quit on our Lord. Maybe some of you have been there, maybe you know someone that is there now.
The author of Hebrews writes his letter to some who were there and he writes his letter to them to encourage them not to give up. Exactly what was going on we donít know for sure. What we do know is that these were Jewish people who embraced the New Covenant and the grace of our Lord Jesus. They knew that life would be tough as they followed Jesus, but
they embraced Him. Some were indeed, excommunicated from their synagogues and ostracized in their communities but they pulled together and shared their goods and ministered to one another. But something happened that caused them to want to quit, retreat, withdraw, shrink back, and return to the old ways and put themselves under the Old Covenant again. Maybe it was when all
the Jews were expelled from Rome under Claudius in A.D. 49 (Acts 18:2). Maybe it was one of the numerous massacres of Jews that took place in the empire. And maybe they were being encouraged by their non- Christian friends to give up this New Covenant stuff and return to the Old ways. We donít know for sure. We just know that they were discouraged, and they wanted to quit.
To encourage them, the writer reminds them of the manner in which we are to live. The counsel that the author gives them is perhaps the most important counsel in the Bible for Godís Children- His Church. This is the foundation for our lives this side of heaven. If we donít get this, we donít get anything about being a genuine- Authentic- Christian. (K.R.)
Look at verses Heb. 10:37-38. This is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4-5. (cp. Habakkukís situation). This is one of the key verses in the entire Bible. Besides here, Paul quotes it twice, in Romans 1:16-17, and Galatians 3:11.
I. What Faith is and Isnít
To understand what it means to live by faith you need to know what faith is and what it isnít.
A. Faith is not- Blind optimism or the power of positive thinking. That is, if I think positive thoughts and donít allow negativity into my brain, everything will be okay.
B. Faith is not Name and Claim it as some of the Prosperity preachers want you to believe. A kind of gift certificate for anything you want. I have already claimed thisÖ.
C. Faith is Ė Obedience based on trust, regardless of circumstances or consequences. Faith has an object. That object is God. Faithís foundation is that I believe in God, not evolution, not Gas, but in the eternal God, and I believe that God that has revealed Himself in creation, and in the Covenants, and in His Christ. But faith doesnít just believe
in that with my head, it is trusting in that with my heart and acting on my trust with my will. You can believe in something without trusting in it. Like a parachute (cp. James 2:19), and the devilís belief.
Faith includes believing that God has revealed Himself to us in the book and that living by the book is the best way to live this side of heaven and the way to accomplish Godís will for His purpose in ministering His grace to the world. Because I believe that His will is revealed in His word I will obey His word, regardless of the circumstances I find
myself in or the consequences that might occur, like the loss of friends, jobs, freedoms, life, etc., because I trust in the plan of God even when I donít understand. No Exceptionís- Do you understand this?
And I know that ultimately, God is going to reward my faith. God has a good plan, even when He doesnít answer my prayers as I hoped. God has a good plan even when the circumstances are not favorable. God has a good plan even when the consequences are adverse. John the Baptist went to prison and was executed as has millions of Christ-followers. But God
is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
When my friend, Tim Websterís, wife developed a brain tumor and died, he said- "Godís Good plan was to take Lara home." Jesus our Lord knew that Godís good plan was for Him to die bearing the sin of the world.
II. Like Dickensís Christmas Carol, (one of my favorite stories ever) the author uses the Past, the Present and the Future to encourage these Christians to endure and walk by faith.
A. He uses their Past- vv. 32-34
1. They were illuminated- Their eyes were opened to the truth about sin and salvation and How Jesus died for them and rose again and how through faith in Jesus they were justified and made heirs of the New Covenant. They understood that they could not be made righteous by the works of the law and that like Abraham they were declared Just, Righteous
when they believed. They probably were taught that they could expect the same things that happened to Jesus would happen to them. (John 15:18 ff). He reminds them of what their focus was (v. 34). It was the eternal things of Heaven just like Paul in 2 Cor. 4:16-5:1. Q. Whereís your focus? The temporary stuff of now, the stuff that will rust, bust, collect dust, and that
people will try to steal and will eventually end up at a yard sale, junk yard, or land fill. Or is in Heaven where you will enjoy it forever.
2. He uses the past of the Men and women whose stories we tell repeatedly. Men and women who were no different than us, but they lived by trusting and obeying God regardless of their circumstances or the consequences (Ch. 11).
3. He uses the past and refers to Jesus (Ch. 12:2-3) Jesus trusted and obeyed the Father, and endured the pain because of what the future held. There is joy on the other side of the pain, Joy in the presence of the Father, Joy when the family all gets home, (cp. 2:9-11).
B. He uses their Present. (v. 36-11:6)
1. This is the place of decision making- this is the now. What will you do? Will you live Frank Sinatraís way, your own way, the worldís way that everyone else is doing or will you live Godís way? Endurance or patience is the bearing up under the pressure. Will you give in to pressure or work through it? Patience matures us, and makes us strong.
Patience sees the prize as worth the work. It makes us like Jesus. James says this in James 1:2-4.
2. It is in the Present that I decide, Will I do Godís will in my life (v.36)?
a. Will I tithe?
b. Will I love my wife the way Jesus loves me?
c. Will I submit to my husband as the church is to submit to Christ and as Christ the son submitted to the Father?
d. Will I serve God and others in my Church?
e. Will I seek the salvation of the world?
f. Will I trust God?
g. Will I trust and obey God regardless of the circumstances or the consequences? (The Ch. 11 people experienced Good and Bad consequences in this life.) It is in the present, that I choose if I will walk by faith and please God or walk in the flesh and please myself (cp. Deut. 10:12-13).
h. It is in the present- that I diligently seek Him (v.6)
ē Do you diligently seek God? That is, do you consciously, and carefully, and with great attention seek God? To seek to know Him personally, & intimately?
ē Do you search the scriptures to know Godís will so that you can do it?
ē When you read or hear scripture, do you try to get a sense of the heart of God?
ē Do you spend time regularly praying to do Godís will and to trust Him when you donít understand?
ē Are you determined to obey God no matter what?
ē Is worshiping God with your family a top priority in your life?
ē Do you consider the sermon something to be endured or an opportunity to learn Godís word and will? We donít know a lot about Enoch. But what we do know is that He walked with God. That is, he determined that his life would be lived with God and according to Godís will and that it was the birth of his son that brought him to walk with God. (Gen.
5:21-24). He lived every moment in the conscious presence of God.
C. Walking By Faith focuses on the Future (11:1; 5-6; Abraham; 35). Literally, God pays just wages. God rewards. (2 Cor. 5:1-10). There is a heaven and a Just God in Heaven. He promises an inheritance and a reward to all trust and obey Him. Listen to me. You only have one chance to walk by faith. Death is coming for all of us. With death comes the loss
of all earthly stuff. You heard about the wealthy man who died and at the funeral someone asked, "How much did He leave, and someone else answered, He left it all." Peter said this in 1 Peter 1:3-5; and Paul said this in Romans 8:14-18 and 2 Tim. 4:8 and 2 Cor. 5:10).
Listen, life is tough. While we all want peace on earth, happiness, and fun. Those times will be brief. There is no guarantee that everything will be okay here. But He has promised that everything will be Okay there. He has given us Jesus so that we will have a hope to look forward to and live for. Between now and the time we die or Jesus returns, God
wants us to trust and obey Him, because He loves us and wants the best for us. He also has a plan for the world, and a plan for your life that we may not completely understand, but we donít have to, we just need to trust Him, and seek Him, and let the details to Him. Unless you live by faith you cannot please God, you cannot enjoy God, and you cannot walk with God.
Verse 11:6 The only life that pleases God is the faith life.
ē Not just believing with your head.
ē Not by your religion. Cp. Saul 1 Sam. 15
ē But by your faith.
Do you believe that He is the I Am, the Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai?
Do you believe that He is a Rewarder of those who Diligently seek Him?
Life is tough but the end will be worth it. Donít quit. Trust and Obey God regardless of the circumstances or the consequences.
ē Focus on His Promises
ē Focus on His Presence
Start today with Jesus.
Next Week, The Fear the Thwarts Our Faith
If any of these messages have encouraged you, or if you have any questions please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. And I promise, I will never ask you for money, nor place you on any mailing list.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman