Forward-looking Faith

Faith inscription on a granite block

There is a world of difference between having faith, and living faith.

We are currently a “church-in-a-box”.  A mobile church that is using a middle school auditorium as our sanctuary, having to use their folding chairs (which are made for middle schoolers).  As I watched the people come in to church, I was looking for something specific.  I watched to see how many people examined the chairs before they sat down.  How many would question and test the strength of the chair that would hold them prior to sitting down?  Would anyone make sure the bolts and legs were secure before easing in for the service?  Interestingly enough, no one did.  In a very simple way, they all had enough faith to sit in those chairs, with the expectation they would be held up for the next couple of hours.

It’s verbage we all need to consider when talking about our faith.  Are we going to sit, stay, hold on, take it easy, and be comfortable?  Or, are we going to go, do, live, share, and experience the amazing life God has in store for us?

I think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.  Each servant was given the opportunity to make something more of what was given to them by their master.  The one who was given 5, made 10.  The one who was given 2, made 4.  And then there was the one who was given 1, and because he was afraid, hid the talent in the ground and did nothing with it.  It was this one that the master was disappointed in.  He didn’t do anything.  He did nothing to multiply what he was given.

“The story of God’s people includes a succession of examples of persistent, forward-looking faith.  The story is not complete without us. We, in our turn, must submit to God’s fatherly discipline and stand firm together in the faith.” ~ Paul Ellingworth

A Christian who is not faithful to what he has been given and holds on to his faith does not become buried treasure.  They just become dirty coins covered up and surrounded by the muck of the world.  William L. Lane stated, “…faith celebrates now the reality of the future blessings that constitute the objective content of hope.”  As we read in Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, and Galatians 3:11, “…the righteous shall live by faith.” [emphasis mine]  So how do we go from just having faith, to living faith?  We find our answer once again in God’s Word.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:35-39 ESV)

We live in a way that honors the Lord by what we do to share the gospel message in whatever capacity He has called us.  Otherwise, why are we pressed with the idea of needing endurance?!  You don’t need endurance if you’re not preparing to do some strenuous activity, right?  If we jump to the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, it starts with the same exhortation.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2 ESV)

Let me ask you a few questions:

1. Do you have reason to believe what you believe?

2. What provides the non-believer an understanding of why you believe what you believe?

3. Are you living with a true, biblical faith?

Should you need examples of what this faith looks like, look no further than Hebrews 11.  Rather than sharing the entirety of the chapter with you, allow me to provide you how faith is lived out in these 40 verses.

By faith…offered, pleased, constructed, went out, obeyed, believed, conceived, blessed, worshiped, instructed, refused riches, became enslaved, exited, crossed, welcomed, conquered, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched fire, escaped the sword, strengthened, made mighty and defeated their enemies.

However, we must never forget to count the costs of living faith.

Because of their faith…tortured, mocked, flogged, chained and imprisoned, stoned, killed, lived in poverty, homeless, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated.

“As with Abraham and Moses of old, the decisions we make today will determine the rewards tomorrow. More than this, our decisions should be motivated by the expectation of receiving rewards. . . . ‘Don’t live for what the world will promise you today! Live for what God has promised you in the future!” ~ Warren Wiersbe

So what makes you think that you can not achieve the same level of impact as those we read about in Hebrews 11, or else where in Scripture?  A lot us go through life with the same mindset as Maximus Meridius (The Gladiator).  “I may die in this cell tonight or in the arena tomorrow.  I am a slave.  What possible difference can I make?!”  Well, if you continue to search for your purpose in the pleasures of the world, or the momentary happiness that promotion, money, or “things” can give you, you won’t be satisfied.  All you will find is emptiness.  Rather, have the following mindset and make this your daily prayer:

“I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope…You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:8-9, 11 ESV)

What are we going to DO with the gifts and talents we have received?  We could easily accept the gift, place it in the corner of the room, and do nothing with it.  That’s having faith.  Imagine if my kids did the same with the Christmas presents they receive.  How would they respond to their friends if asked, “what did you get for Christmas?”  If we do nothing with what we’re given, how can we expect to share the gospel with the world that desperately needs to hear it?!  All we seek in this life is emptiness, unless WHO we seek is the One who provides eternal riches, hope, and glory!

“It is the future, and not the past, that molds the present.” (unknown)

Our world claims that what someone has done, or gone through makes them who they are.  The perspective of those following Jesus is that His death on the cross, the salvation it provides, the future hope of eternity, should dictate what we do, and what we go through.  Stop being defined by your past and what you’ve done or accomplished.  Live, Love, and Endure for your future hope!  Let that dictate who you are, and how you live!

Lord, fan this divine spark into glowing flame. When faith sleeps, my heart becomes an unclean thing, the fount of every loathsome desire, the cage of unclean lusts all fluttering to escape, the noxious tree of deadly fruit, the open wayside of earthly tares. Lord, awake faith to put forth its strength until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out. ~ Puritan Prayer

It’s time to resolve to remove yourself from complacency, and BY FAITH, move yourself in to a more desirable position to live for the Lord.  Stop proclaiming that you simply have faith, unless you set in your mind to share and show the world what that means.  2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 declares powerfully, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Put simply, if faith without works is dead (James 2:26), then it’s time to LIVE!

May the Lord bless you!

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