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Crazy Faith of Abraham (1)“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” ― George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

I am writing a new Christian Song and I am thinking it will be better sung in a Country Western format. I would hope Carrie Underwood would sing it, but it will probably by Taylor Swift. “Call me Christian, but don’t call me crazy.” The first line goes like this: 

I don’t mind you callin’ me a Christian. Christians can still be cool like a sixpack on a hot day in June. But don’t you ever call me crazy, cuz that would make me out to be a fool. Oh I don’t ever want to be called crazy, cuz I am nobody’s fool….

Crazy Faith of Abraham (4)We’ll you are thinking I’m the crazy one, but this is also the title of the message this morning. I am preaching on Hebrews 11:8-17, and in one of those rare moments when I stepped back and took a look at what was really happening in those verses, I just had to stop and say, man they were crazy! And then I asked, would I have done that? Would I have done any of that? No Way! Call me Christian, but never, ever would I be that crazy!

But before we explore this different angle of Hebrews 11, I want to take you back to the Garden of Eden.

Consider this question:

  • When did Adam and Eve begin to die?”
  • “What power does Satan have over us?”
  • “How does Satan work his power in this world?”

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

Doubt leads to deathYou may not see it at this moment, but hopefully it will hit you like a ton of bricks before you leave. Satan works his power of death in your life when he gets you to doubting God’s promises. Did you hear that? When you doubt God’s promises, when you doubt Christ’s presence, when you doubt Christ’s love and provision for your life, you are playing in to Satan’s power.

Coma Christians 

Bottom line, if you are not crazy when it comes to believing God’s Word, you are a “Coma Christian.”

I always think of myself as “pragmatic”. Here’s a good definition:

Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations

Well, God told me that is not acceptable to him, because I put “sensibility” before Him. That is not faith. Faith is not sensible! We will see that in a moment. So today, I am preaching at all you  “Pragmatic Christian” types today, but I want you to know, I am one of you.

Before we jump into Hebrews, I want you to read as foundation Romans 9:6-8:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a born again child of God. Just as Paul writes that not all of Abrahams’ children were children of God (belong to Israel). Children of the flesh are not the children of God. The children of God are all crazy because they believe the promise of God! (My transliteration)

Faith vs. Flesh

When it comes to being a child of God, being accepted by God, only one thing works! FAITH! Only one thing allows you to believe Him and His promises to you, FAITH! And Faith can never be pragmatic. Faith can never be sensible.

Was it sensible to stay in the boat? Faith isn’t sensible because it transcends our fleshly senses to bring Heavenly Truth to reality here on earth! Christ lives! He lives in me! Chief of sinners though I am, He lives in me!

Faith doesn’t happen because you wish or plan it!

Faith is not like losing weight. You can’t follow this, eat that, exercise this and presto, you have faith. Faith doesn’t work according to a formula for your benefit. It doesn’t make you a superior Christian. Faith is for God and His promises! Faith is toward God and His promises! Faith always answers a call of God because you want to see Him! Then faith grows as you believe His Word! And yes, faith must be crazy from the world’s point of view!

Think back on your life. How did you come to faith in Christ? Did you feel all emotional and believe? How did that work out for you? Did your belief wax and wane depending upon what you were going through? Was there a time in your life where the pressures of life got in the way of your faith in Christ? Was there something that happened that made you stop and examine where your were with Him? Was there some decision or choice you had to make? What was the outcome of your decision?

For some reason, I have had a lot of trips and falls

trip and fallFor me, my faith grows more when things go wrong; when I am forced from my comfort zone. I have had several smack-down times in my life where I had to choose who I was going to listen to, who I was going to believe. There have been times where I made the wrong choice, but then God kept calling me. I am going though one of those times even now.

Faith Comes as We Listen and Obey

I learned that for faith to grow, I must stop and listen to God, and then re-confess my belief in His promises to me!

I have a passion to see Christians experience the Life that God wants us to have by CRAZY faith! Crazy Faith brought salvation to Abraham!

Regrets Feed Doubt

Regrets Feed DoubtI have visited with Christians who seem to have this weight of regret over their life. Decisions they made, wrong things they did, and after 10, 20 30 years of being a church goer, they feel as if they are further away from God than when they first felt that tingle of God’s work in their life.

I think we are looking at God the wrong way. Instead of letting our regrets drown out his voice and presence, we should take some time to visit with God about those regrets. We should really take time to see how He can use those regrets to grow our faith in Him. He speaks to us and affirms His promises even in the midst of our mistakes!

Abraham

Abraham Believed God and was strong in faithAbraham wasn’t anyone special. He wasn’t a privileged blue blood. God spoke to Him and made a simple request. I want you to go to a new land. Abraham wasn’t exactly a picture of strong faith either. He had his doubts. He didn’t go to the land at first, but went half way. Even when he got to the land, there were two times when he lied about Sara being his wife, because he did not trust God to protect him from those who would murder him to take her.

Even Sara had a problem trusting God. She got tired of waiting for a child, so she concocted a scheme to have children with Hagar her handmaid. In effect she whored her handmaid to her husband to have children. Abraham, the great man of faith(?) went along with her plan.

All the while, God kept calling, and Abraham made choices, choices of doubt or belief, or death or life!

Perhaps you have struggled as I have at times. We make wrong choices. We figure God has forgotten us, so we have to rely on our own self to get out of trouble. What does God do? I don’t know about your situation, but God keeps calling me, keeps assuring me. And as long as I don’t selfishly wallow in my regrets, my faith grows.

What are some things we can learn from Abraham and Sarah? Let’s look at Hebrews and discover how our faith can grow, and not be swallowed by regrets.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:8-19

Crazy Faith of Abraham (3)Back to my Song, “Call me Christian, but never call me crazy!” If this song title describes you (because you never would have been as crazy as Abraham), then you are a “Pragmatic Christian.” You view Abraham and Sarah through practical and skeptical eyes. You call their response to God’s Word “CRAZY!”

 The Pragmatic, “obedience for the sake of obedience” approach to Christianity doesn’t work if you are counting on reaching Heaven. That is a fleshly approach to God. His word says that no one can please God in the flesh. The only way to please God is BY FAITH!

By  Faith

By Faith is Πίστει. We see this phrase over and over in Hebrews 11.

  • Hebrews 11:3 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith we understand that the worlds
  • Hebrews 11:4 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abel offered
  • Hebrews 11:5 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Enoch was translated
  • Hebrews 11:7 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Noah, being warned of God
  • Hebrews 11:8 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was called
  • Hebrews 11:9 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith he sojourned in
  • Hebrews 11:11 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith even Sarah
  • Hebrews 11:17 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was tried,

Responding to God is not simply a matter of doing this or that. He doesn’t want robotic service. He has that in the angels. He wants people to respond to Him because they realize who He is. This is what Hebrews 11:6 is all about. You will never, never be accepted in God’s presence simply because you did this or that, or because you never did this or that. The Word says without Faith it is impossible to please (or be accepted) by God.

by-faith-we-grow-to-sonshipFaith is not an abstract force that you either have or don’t have. Faith is simply seeing God. Faith is simply having your hopes in God. It is a heart thing. Faith allows the almighty God to capture your heart.

Abraham obeyed, not because he wanted to be a good boy, or because he feared Divine lightning bolts. He obeyed because by faith he saw God and that allowed God to capture his heart. It wasn’t his brain, because God doesn’t make much sense to “intellectuals”. God wants your heart. He is all about passion! His heart is full of compassion, and He needs your heart in order to reveal Himself to you.

  • My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe (delight in) my ways. Proverbs 23:26
  • You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

Abraham Believed and His Faith Grew even in the tough times, even in the “regret” moments!

Abraham made a decision to give this invisible God his heart.

Crazy Faith of Abraham (2)Love for God Results in Crazy Obedience

It did not make sense to leave the culture of Hur and go to live among the devilish people of Canaan. It was not the intelligent thing to do, nor was it a safe thing to do. But Abraham did it anyway, because He had seen this almighty God, and his heart was captured because of faith.

  • By Faith he obeyed God’s call.

Faith initiates a desire to follow God, and to listen to what he directs. Faith makes God’s Word substantial, and worth obeying.

  • By Faith he went to live.

Faith enables to settle down in the presence of this Holy God. It empowers His friendship with your life, even though you make mistakes and stumble along the way. Faith brings your heart and passion into a comfortable relationship with God.

  • By faith you endure, even though the promise is not received.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar”

Remember that faith empowers you to see the truth and reality of God! Even if all your hopes aren’t realized in this life, your faith sees them as true in the life to come!

  • Faith will result in being a stranger to those who walk by sight.

“having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

Once your heart is captured by God, you will never be satisfied with the comforts of this world. You have seen the glory, and it becomes all-important to you.

What Happens when you Make a Decision to Have Crazy Faith?

1.  We give birth

Crazy will give birth to more crazies! God is always growing and abounding. Just look at our expanding Universe. It is huge, yet God holds it in His hand. You start believing in His power and promises, and you will give birth!

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6

2.  God stakes His Reputation in your life

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,”

When you believe God’s Promises even when everyone else thinks you are crazy, He says My Name is on you!

3. We see our Home

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. For he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:16

  • You see it in the storm
  • You see it through the tears.

You don’t need to go there to see it, for you already have it in your heart!

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Faith-Frogs-Pleasing-GodThree frogs sat on a lily pad. One decided to jump off. How many were left? Three. He only decided to jump off, but never took the leap. It is not enough to make a decision. You have to make a leap of faith and follow through with it. So here we are at Hebrews 11. We just declared that we are not of those who “shrink back” to our destruction, but press forward to God in faith to the preservation of our souls…

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Heb 10:39

We have seen the foundational truths of our “Better Savior”, the one with the indestructible life, the one who ever ministers, mediates and interceded so that we can experience the Majesty in all of His holiness and glory! But NOW it is time to go and DEMONSTRATE the reality of the MAJESTY by leaping off the ‘churchy’ lily pad and living in the power of our faith!

Hebrews 11:1 starts with the declarative NOW! Now we are ready to see and experience what FAITH can do!

Life-of-FaithEverything else up to this point has been foundational. The Holy Spirit has shown us that the Christian Life is to be defined by the Supernatural, and that Supernatural centers upon and within Jesus Christ. If, (big if) Jesus Christ is central to your life you will enjoy some amazing supernatural benefits. If Jesus is not central to your life, then it will be obvious that something is missing from your life.


Hebrews: Evidence of Faith!…Power of Faith!…Progress of Faith!

  • Hebrews 1-10 is all about the result of centering your Life in Christ, and His Life in your life is EVIDENCE of your Faith.
  • Hebrews 11 is all about going forth in the POWER of Faith.
  • Hebrews 12-13 is all about PROGRESSING in Faith to that Holy City that awaits us!

Evidence of Lack of Faith

Evidence of Faith

No Benefit from the Word of God in your everyday life (take it or leave it) (Heb 4:2) We enter into Rest (Heb 4:3)
Spiritual Immaturity (Heb 6:1) Grow in Maturity and produce fruit
Promises of God are not at work in your life (Heb 6:12) Lay hold of the throne of grace and receive of the promises
Troubled by Guilt (Heb 10:22) Guilt-free through your mediator
Failure to Hold Fast (Heb 10:23) Boldly Lay Hold of the Throne of God
No real life in God (Heb 10:38-Just shall live by faith) Enjoying the presence of the Majesty through your minister
Shrink back from God. Avoid intimacy with Him. (because of sin and lack of confidence) (Heb 10:39) Go on with God in full confidence of His Word

You may claim ignorance or inability, but you have no excuse, for Faith is an issue of your heart, and always results in a commitment of action. The truth is that the way we live our lives proves…

We all have Faith in Something

You demonstrate with your living your faith in yourself, your connections, your abilitie

s, your friends and your family. Only when tragedy or harsh conditions strike do you wonder if your faith is well-founded. Only then do you wonder about an invisible God.

Are You ready to Discover the Power of Faith? The right kind of faith, faith that will intertwine your life with your Jehovah God. Faith that will give you a personal and family connection with the Creator of the Universe! When you have it, your life will bear evidence of it!

To develop and understand this Faith, you need to wrap your life around Jesus Christ! Have you come to Jesus as the Son of God, your Minister, your Mediator, your Intercessor, your Savior and Lord? You have not made a decision to center your life upon and around Him! If so, it is pointless to explore the power of Hebrews 11 Faith. Your faith is in yourself, and this will not make sense to you.

What is Faith? Faith is Proof of the Reality of Jehovah God 

Here are some translations of the Greek in Hebrews 11:1

  • ESV – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
  • Phillips – Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.
  • KJV – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
  • AMP – NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
  • Holman – Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1walk by faith not sight

Faith is “pistis”


Here is my translation of the Greek, and it is based on the meaning of the original combined with the context, particularly Hebrews 11:6. I see Hebrews 11:1 and 6 intrinsically connected. The two verses are intertwined and explain and complement each other. Faith is not a passive word, but involves two components that complement each other. Remove one or the other and you have no faith. Faith involves “substantiating” and “demonstrating.” And as verse 6 so clearly states, Faith requires a core belief in God and His power and nature, and then a life that demonstrates that belief through diligently seeking after Him!

Faith is the Substantiating of things we hope for, the Demonstrating of things that are unseen

Hebrews-11_1-Faith-Jims-Definition

 

Pistis is “firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality”.[1] I dare say that such a conviction would leave your life unaffected as these verses indicate:

For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

FAITH SUBSTANTIATES the UNSEEN AS REALITY!

Faith visualizes God in all His Majesty, Power and Glory just as if you were kneeling before Him in real-time! This is seen in Hebrews 11:27, for Moses  is described as “seeing Him who is invisible.” Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing[2].

substantiate_from_dictionary_com

Substantiating is “hupóstasis”

hupóstasis means “to place or set under. In general, that which underlies the apparent, hence, reality, essence, substance; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance guarantee, confidence”[3].

How do you substantiate something?

You do it everyday. A substance is an object, even a sound or perhaps a color. Substantiating means you exercise one of your senses to make an intangible substance real to you.

For example, the color yellow is very real; but if you shut your eyes, the color yellow loses its re

  • ality. It is nothing to you. With your faculty of sight you substantiate yellow. Not only is the color there before you, it is now reality to your consciousness.

Many people believe in UFO’s, but until they can get one and hold it and touch it, there can be no substantiating the reality of UFO’s. I assure you that UFO’s are not going to be found.

However, when it comes to Jesus Christ, we have a very real Savior. The hoped for things of Christ are eternal and therefore real. You have been given only one precious faculty to substantiate them-FAITH. Faith in the Word of God and His Son is the only faculty you can use to substantiate them. Faith makes divine things to become real in your experience. When you rest on God’s faithfulness, faith substantiates to you the unseen things you have as yet barely hoped for!

hebrews11_1Are You a Faith Warrior or Desperate Wimp?

Faith not only substantiates the things hoped for, but it involves demonstrating the unseen as real! You live as though the unseen things are real and visible! This is why multiple times God calls us to walk by faith and not sight. He wants us to live as though we are in His presence and enjoying His 

  • power and deity. When we walk by sight we tend to focus on our abilities and power, and we neglect seeing Him. Only when we can’t handle things do we look up and cry to Him for help. That is not faith, that is desperation, and God does not enjoy being a God of the desperate! He wants to be the God of the Faith walkers! Men and women who walk by faith and are working with Him to overcome the evil of this world! He wants Faith Warriors, not Desperate Wimps!

The Demonstrating of Faith

What in your life reveals that you are walking by sight and therefore failing to demonstrate Faith in our Almighty God?

  1. When you worry about clothes (Matt 6:30-The lily of the valley)
  2. When you fear in a storm (Matt 8:26-on the sea of Galilee)
  3. When we doubt His Word and Power (Matt 14:31-Peter fails to walk to Jesus)
  4. When we fail to see the Power of Jesus to meet our daily needs (Mt 16:8-feeding of 5000)
  5. When we fail to overcome Satan (Matt 17:20-21 – they could not cast out demons)
  6. When we fail to pray (Matt 21:22-Receive what you ask for if ask in faith)
  7. When you give yourself over to bitterness because of loss or hardship. (2 Cor 4:16-18) “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
  8. When we no longer hope in anything from God. (Romans 8:24) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
  9. When you no longer have great joy in your life. (1 Peter 1:8) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory

God wants our Faith to move us to be fully vested in Him and what He promises!!

Abraham was fully convinced!

abrahamIn hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

Faith Empowers us to Endure

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Faith Rests in the Power of God!

“…that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5

Foundational Qualities of Power Faith

1. “F” is the only Passing Grade with God

(F)aith – For by it the elders obtained a good report. Hebrews 11:2

Faith in God and His Provision for you is the only way for a Good Report Card!

Good report is “martyreō”. Faith in God and His provision for you has always been the basis for your salvation, your “commendation.” It has never been about your works bringing a smile to God. It has always been about your heart belief and faith commitment to follow Him! There is nothing you can do for God or for anyone that would ever make God “owe you” salvation or any other consideration. The whole point of Hebrews 11 is that Faith in God is the only way to experience the Power of God and in turn the Salvation of God. Faith is all about God and trusting in His abilities and provisions. This is why He gave us His Son as the visible representation of His power and salvation. Even then, people refuse to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Faith begins with Believing Biblical Creation

in-the-beginning-GodThrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3

  1. Why depend on a God whose power you question?
  2. Why depend on someone whose word you doubt?

Appear (are visible in KJV)  is “phaínō”, which means “to appear, to be seen, with the idea of shine forth. It also carries the idea of something suddenly appearing in the sky, like a phenomenon[4]” Matthew uses this word to describe the Star over Bethlehem as well as the appearing of Christ when He returns. Matt. 2:7; 24:27, 30;

Hebrews 11:3 puts the “Big Bang Theory” directly in its cross hairs! This world (things that are seen) was not made out of something that suddenly appeared (are visible). It was created out of nothing by the Word of God!

Look at the Power of David’s Prayer before beginning construction of the Temple…founded upon His firm believe in His Creator God.

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

David realized that everything in the heavens and earth was Gods, for He is the Creator! If God is not the Creator, then you really do not need Him. Riches and honor are up to man, power and might is up to man, and there is no need to praise and worship the glorious Name of Jehovah.

If God is not your all-powerful Creator, He will never be your all-powerful King, Lord of all of your life. There will always be a back-door whereby you can go to your own Kingdom where you are lord. Believing in the 7 day Genesis account of the Creation of the world is fundamental to substantiating and demonstrating your faith in this unseen God. I love the Institute in Creation Research and I encourage you to check their site and take their magazine. There is so much proof of the Creation account! ICR.ORG

How to Please God

3. Faith is the only basis of Acceptance by God 
Abel offers blood sacrificeAbel

Only as you walk by faith can you please God. It wasn’t the quality or quantity of his sacrifice whereby God was pleased. No! It was because Abel’s offering was done in faith! Notice carefully what the Bible says:

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness (martyr) that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:4

Look how God responded to Cain’s offering. He told him it would be accepted ‘if he did well.’ The phrase refers more to the intrinsic nature of the person offering rather than the offering itself. Combine this with what Hebrews 11:4 states, and we find that God looks at our heart of faith when we do anything for Him. If we ever want to please God, we must have a heart that fully trusts in Him, even through He is invisible!

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. Genesis 4:7

You do well not because you have to, but because you want to, you have a Covenant Connection with God by faith, just as David referred to:

[DO WELL-yatab] When David prays in Psalm 51:18 “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion,” he acknowledges that the covenant Lord is the source “of all that is good and pleasing to mankind. This “doing good” is not capricious, but based on the covenant relationship revealed to the patriarchs)[5]

Imagine that Abel’s offering came after a virulent disease wiped out his flock, leaving him with a handful of sheep and goats. With a sorrowful heart he boldly offers his best remaining goat to God, not because he has plenty, but because He is fully trusting God to provide! Our faith is often revealed in the tough times, when our sight is obscured by tears.

Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days [seemingly] are prolonged [in his wickedness], yet surely I know that it will be well with those who [reverently] fear God, who revere and worship Him, realizing His continual presence. Ecclesiastes 8:12

Faith is the basis of acceptance by God, the means of pleasing God. You can never hope to please God by what you do, but only by whose your are and in whose Name  you live. Jesus Christ is the only one who ever pleased God. When you place your life unreservedly in Jesus Christ, you exchange your life for His, then you are no longer viewed by God in your sin. You are pleasing to God from that moment for you have “put on” Jesus Christ, and now you are “accepted in the beloved” as Ephesians 1:6 declares.

Enoch_was_fully_vested_in_GodEnoch

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony(martyr), that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

How did Enoch please God? To understand this and see why Enoch was taken to heaven without dying, we must see the valuable connection between faith and becoming “fully vested” in God! (Point 5). Understand that Enoch demonstrated a life whose testimony, purpose and reputation was totally intertwined with God by his faith….

4. The Result of Faith is an Eternal Testimony of being “Fully Vested” with God

And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

Abel still testifies that all those who want to please God must do so with faith in their heart that He is who He says He is.

before his translation he had this testimony (martyr), that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

are-you-fully-vested-in-GodEnoch walked and talked as a martyr (testimony) for God. He took God and His Nature personally! His life and interests were one with his God! His life was fully vested in God’s reputation and power on earth! He stood up for God for he was totally with God. You can see his heart revealed in Jude:

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude 1:14-16

As the Psalmist wrote, His godly ones gladly praise Him and follow Him, even work to bring God’s Justice to the world. When you are fully vested in God, you are the representation of His love as well as His justice and righteousness in the world.

Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD! Psalm 149:6-9

5. Faith is the only Means of Gratifying God by being Fully Vested in Him!

faith5_hebrews_11-6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

“Fully Vested”

„  held completely, permanently, and inalienably: vested rights.

 “protected or established by law, commitment, tradition, ownership, etc.: vested contributions to a fund.”

Faith is the only way to please (gratify) God! „ Faith demonstrates the reality of your being in God and depending upon God! Faith makes you fully vest your life in God and His reputation and power. Walking in and by faith means you are walking and living in and by God, not by your own strength!

” Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8

Hebrews 11:6 complements the substantiating and demonstrating of Hebrews 11:1. Here we see how verse one changes our life by vesting everything in Him! The two points of verse one become the two things you must do in order to please God by your faith in verse 6.

Believe that God is1.)   You Must believe God IS

The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.”

This is not an academic belief, but one that grows from being fully vested in Him! This is reflected in your heart, your mind and your actions. Do you believe in an unseen Deity that watches you and who is eternal and powerful. Do you have faith to believe that He is powerful enough to work in your life?

„ The-What---the-way-into-the-love-of-GodHow does your Heart reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you have dirty thoughts, hatred of others, wicked plotting, desire for revenge, bitterness over events?
  • Then you do not believe God is, for you would give those thoughts to Him, and trust in His providence and justice.
  • If God is, then you surrender your rights and will to Him
„The-So-What---learn-with-your-head How does your Mind reflect your belief that God is?
  • Do you rely on yourself?
  • Are you always thinking about yourself?
  • Are you normally selfish and motivated by what is good for you?
  • Always excusing the way you live being contrary to what God’s Word says?
  • Neglect to meditate on God’s Word?
„ The-Now-what_learning_by_doingHow do your hands reflect your belief that God is?
  • Are they selfish?
  • Do they steal?
  • Do they give to others?
  • Do they react in anger, fear, even striking others?
2.)    You Must believe God is a Rewarder who is worth seeking with all you have.

The words “diligently seek” are literally “seek Him out,” the prefixed preposition being local in its force in this translation. But those who seek Him out are diligently seeking Him, and here we have the perfective use of the preposition. Vincent says in this connection: “God’s beneficient will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward. One is reminded of Jesus’ lessons on importunity in seeking God (Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-8)”[6]

The only way to have Faith and be fully Vested in God is through Jesus Christ!

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 12:2

  • Jesus is the archēgos – leader, captain, founder of our faith.

Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith.Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 12:2″.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

  • Jesus is the “teleiōtēn” “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.”[7]

If you want to please God, you do so in faith, from faith and by faith. Faith empowers you to be fully vested in this invisible Creator God. Faith demonstrates a heart, mind and life that is fully vested in God and all that He is, regardless of how your life plays out, for your know that He is fully capable of rewarding your faith and commitment.

Don’t be like those frogs

Three-frogs-ridingNow, are you going to be like those frogs and sit there on that lily pad, professing your decision to jump? Or you actually going to leap off and into this mighty God, and demonstrate with your life the power of this unseen God.

Heart, Head and Hand considerations…
  • „ Heart=God is a rewarder of all those who seek after Him
  • „ Head=Good report is obtained not by what you do, but your substantiating in your life the truth and power of God by demonstrating through your life your trust in Him
  • „ Hands=Put on Jesus each and every day by faith, and serve others in the power of His name.
    • You offer your life in faith. You profess your testimony without reservation before your friends and acquaintances.
    • You continue to use your hands to diligently seek after God, knowing that He will reward the work of your hands, as long as they are working in the Faith of Jesus Christ!

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1162.

[2] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews Chapter 11″.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupóstasis”.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1434.

[5] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “863: ‏יָטַב‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ‏מֵיטָב‎, 863a”.

[6] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 198.

[7] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.



Hebrews-this-is-the-main-point
What is the Main Point of Hebrews? Hebrews 8 is the pivotal chapter in this “Better Book.”

Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister …Hebrews 8:1-2a

    • We have (this kind)
    • of High Priest
      • Right hand (Place of honor)
      • Throne
      • Majesty
      • Heaven
    • a Minister (vs 2)Main Point of Hebrews 8

The important thing for us to take away this morning, is not that we have a high priest, not that the High Priest is Jesus, not that He is indestructible, not that He is even beside the Majesty in heaven. The important thing we must see is that He is THIS KIND OF HIGH PRIEST – a MINISTER!

How you see Jesus Christ will determine your success as a disciple, as a Christian and as a Kingdom subject. If we can view Him as He is for us, then we will see that He places us (in all our humanity) in the very presence of the Majesty!

The Minister of the Sanctuary

holy tabernacleHebrews 8:2 describes Jesus as the “minister of the sanctuary” It further describes this Sanctuary as the “True Tabernacle”

Minister (liturgy) = Service to God and to Man

We Need to grip into our hearts “What is that Service?” and fully see “What is His Ministry?”

Sanctuary = True Tabernacle

  • Sanctuary is “hagion” meaning “holy place”.
  • It could refer to the Holy of Holies, but in this context, it has a bigger place in view-because we see the throne of the “Majesty of the heavens”

Holy Place = True Dwelling of God

  • Jesus is the minister of the true dwelling
  • His ministry involves providing for the majesty
  • His ministry involves providing for man

Minister_of_true_tabernacleJesus Christ is the Minister at the very Center of God’s Creation.

  • „ He alone provides what God’s Holiness required.
  • „ He alone provides what man requires.

„ He alone increases the “Majesty of the Heavens” by bringing increase to man.

Jesus is at the throne of the Majesty, serving as a minister to God and to Man. As a minister, He is providing something that is life changing. His ministry magnifies the Majesty by providing for you and me. If the Holy Spirit brings this truth into your heart, it will literally stop it in awe. This goes far beyond what we normally see.

  • Do not get caught up in the shadow.
  • Do not limit your faith to the physical.
  • Do not fall in love with the building,
  • You will miss the Majesty!

Verse 9: For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (KJV –regarded them not).

They were given a covenant, a means of living with the Majesty and Power of God, yet they chose not to continue in it. So God showed no concern for them.

The important thing we need to take away is what Jesus is doing as MINISTER and how understanding that will change the way you live your life! Chapter 8 has an impact that will change the way you view Christianity.

This morning, the Holy Spirit wants to show you something that will bring vitality and power to your life, as well as open your eyes to the Majesty, and will reveal to your heart how you can always know He regards your life with concern!

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews 8:6

More excellent: to be superior, better[1] (Heb. 1:4; 8:6).

What was the result of the ministry of the earthly High Priests?

Purpose of Minister (1)God could put His Name on the people and Bless them…

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

Result: They shall put my name upon them and the people would be BLESSED!

  • The Old Covenant administered by the Priests resulted in what?-God’s Blessing!
What was the problem with this?
  • You could lose God’s Blessing
  • God’s blessing was conditioned upon your obedience.
  • God’s concern and care was conditioned upon my continuing to be in right standing with the Priests.
  • People started elevating the Priests and the Place of Worship
How do we know this?
  • More concerned about where to worship rather than who (this was what the woman at the well brought up to Jesus)
  • More concerned about beauty of building than the beauty of the one you worship (The Pharisees screamed blasphemy when Jesus said he would build the temple again after three days. They thought He was referring to their beautiful Temple)
  • Allow the Priest to do whatever he wants, even if it corrupted the worship (This is mentioned in Malachi)

What did the Old Law and High Priest fail to provide the People?

Christ ministers a New HeartA New Heart

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Hebrews 8:10-11

Two Betters – the Basis of his “more excellent” Ministry.

A. Better Covenant

Window to the MajestyBasis of better Covenant – blood of God’s Son, sinless sacrifice, God Himself was torn asunder.

Read Genesis 15 – With Abraham, God guaranteed His Word with His Strength and His Promise, that He would be torn asunder just like the animal sacrifice if He failed to perform. Jesus proved His power by allowing Himself to be torn asunder to satisfy the Holy demands of His Father, therefore proving to us there was nothing left to be done. The promise would stand for all eternity, for Jesus had already been torn asunder.

  • The basis of a Covenant is the ability to deliver! Christ’s Covenant is not subject to ‘Act of Terrorism’ or ‘Act of Nature’ clauses.

B. Better Promises

Basis of a promise-strength, ability, what that promise cost, trust in the ability to deliver!

1.    Is your Faith in Christ resting in His Better Promises?

    • The Promise of the Holy Spirit

And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Luke 24:49

    • Promised in the Old Testament

until the Spirit from heaven is poured out on us. Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in the orchard. The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. Isaiah 32:15-17

    • The Holy Spirit will teach you all things

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26

    • He is our Seal

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13

2.  Are You In Constant Connection with our Minister?

He is constantly calling and encouraging, but you must see Him by faith! You must answer His call by faith! Do not make excuses, for you have a NEW HEART! If you fail to respond to His calling, then perhaps you do not, and your Christian Life is fake, devoid of His ministry!

The Result – HIS SURPASSING MINISTRY!

The True Meaning of His Better Ministry

MInistry to the Majesty1.    Provision for Us

  • They will “Know me in themselves

And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

2.    Provision for God

God’s Holiness was never compromised as He showed sinful men mercy and forgiveness, for the Better Ministry of Jesus Christ meant that the righteous demands of His holiness could be met and satisfied, thus allowing His Glory to be maintained even in mercy!

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:11-12

So What Does His Surpassing Ministry Mean for You?

As long as you abide in Christ, you are in the Presence of God even NOW! If you turn to yourself and rely on you flesh for righteousness, you are settling for your own glory, and missing out on the majesty! This is why we must apply the truth and message of Hebrews 8 to our lives, so that we may continue to abide in the power of the Blood!

1. The What

of Hebrews 8 is that we now have a Minister, a very powerful minister who has the power and ability to bring us into the presence of the Majesty through His better covenant and promises. (This is the Way of Jesus)

2. The So What

that will bring backbone to our Christian walk in the form of the Truth is that we are in the very Presence Of The Majesty in Jesus Christ! This is truth that defies our rational thought, our sighted walk. This is truth that only Faith can visualize and touch! (This is the Truth of Jesus that sets us Free)

  • Through Christ and His ministry to us,  God can shower us with care and concern, even when we sin!

3. The  Now What

We now live with a clear vision of the Ministry of Jesus Christ, that He brings us into the presence of the Majesty even when we fail, even when we are diseased, even when we are down and distressed. The Majesty is where we live and breathe! In Jesus Christ! This is the Life of Jesus-that we have His Life regardless of our circumstances!

What do we count on when we are in the presence of the Majesty?

  • Know that in His presence, He regards you and He is concerned for you. He cares for you! Just as He cares for His Son!
How do you actuate the Promise of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Be Diligent to experience Him no matter the Circumstance!

  • Know Me in the majesty
  • Know me in the tragedy
  • Know me in the mediocrity
  • Know me in your family

We must keep the windows of our Heavenly Minister clean, so that we may always see that we are living in the presence of the Majesty! We must focus on the Better Promises rather than the world, and we must focus on His body and blood as our righteousness!

Do not let this be the epithet of your Christian Life:

HE DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR HIM, SAYS THE LORD. Hebrews 8:9

´


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “diaphoros”.


Football is a religion to many in America. They have their Sunday ritual of worship just as churches do. As the Giants and Patriots prepare for Superbowl XLVI, the Tebow phenomenon has quickly faded from memory.

I do not believe God is sitting on the sidelines cheering one team against the other. I know He watches, because He is intimately involved in the affairs of men.

I saw His involvement in the Ravens vs. Patriots game on January 22, 2012. I doubt if anyone else saw it, but the moment I saw that last second Ravens field goal miss wide left, I said, “Praise God, you have revealed your glory!”

I admit that I am not normal, for I try to see God at work in everything I observe, even a silly football game. Most people do not want a God that involved with their lives. They want a distant God who will come running to their aide in a time of trouble. However, God wants us to hear His voice every day, for He calls to us every day. He hates it when we shut Him out of our daily lives, coming to Him only in times of trouble. This is what He says to you who see God only as your “rescuer”.

Proverbs 1:24-28 Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.

Now most football fans see the folly of asking God to help their team win, at least I hope they do. I hope they do not think that Tim Tebow is praying to God to help his Bronco’s win. If Tim Tebow understands the Word of God, he knows we are to pray that everything we do honors the Name of God and brings Glory to Him. We are to honor His Name in victory as well as defeat…especially in defeat. Winning is important, but Honoring the Name of God is more important.

Why do I think God involved Himself in the Ravens v. Patriots game? Because Terrell Suggs invited Him when he publicly dis-honored the Name of God. He did not mean to, but his boasting led to God taking a personal interest in that game, especially the fourth quarter. Here is what happened:

ESPN’s First Take reported this comment from Terrell Suggs, made in reaction to Tim Tebow:

“With all due respect, we don’t pray on sidelines”, Suggs told ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday morning. … “I don’t feel comfortable I gotta pray every 4th quarter, like oh my god please come save me again.”

Yahoo Sports changed his comment to say this:

“With all due respect we don’t need God on our sidelines,” Suggs said.

NBC Sports ran with Yahoo and made this their Headline: about his comments:

Suggs on Tebow: “We don’t need God on our sidelines”

I even used the headline to emphasize a point I was making about fools in writing about David’s encounter with Nabal. I said, “Terrell Suggs showed he is a fool by saying the Baltimore Ravens do not need God on their sidelines.”

I was using the Biblical definition of fool, from the Psalms describing a fool as one who says “God is not”. To me, Suggs was saying that God is not important, and so they do not need to pray to Him on the sidelines. He was saying “We don’t need God on our sidelines” in order to win in the fourth quarter.

While that statement may be true in itself, the moment Terrell Suggs exalted himself and the Ravens above God, and said, “We don’t pray on the sidelines”, as if they do not need God…he invited God into the game, especially in the fourth quarter!

God wants all men to know that they do need Him, regardless of how mighty their defense is, regardless of how great they ‘think’ they are. Man is in need of God, man is in need of a Savior. God involved Himself in the fourth quarter of a silly football game simply to show us that we all need Him!

Even Benjamin Franklin realized the need of God in the founding of our Nation:

And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service[1].

When I saw that easy chip shot of a field goal get pushed wide left, I knew God had done it, just to show Terrell Suggs they DO need God on their sidelines, especially in the fourth quarter.


I have seen many people who live their lives as if “God is not” get to the fourth quarter of their lives and realize that “God really is”. Most of the time their pride is so entrenched that it is too late. Some try to involve Him in their fourth quarter, but He doesn’t seem to respond.

God is not an “Emergency Responder”, even though He often does. He does not want to be someone you call only in the fourth quarter, when your back is against the goal line, and defeat is circling your team. God wants to be there at the opening kickoff, at the very first hike. He is our Creator and Giver of life, and He wants us to worship Him all of our lives because we need Him every day of our life.

I know Tim Tebow realizes He needs God every moment of the game, every moment of his life. His whole life is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The outcome of any football game is not important to God. The outcome of your life is.

Who is on the sideline of your life? Is it Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior? Then the outcome of the game does not matter, for you are already victorious in Jesus Christ. You have won the most important game of all, the Game of Life!


VATICAN CITY, Oct 24 (Reuters) – – Pope Benedict called on Monday for sweeping reforms of the world economy and the creation of a ethical, global authority to regulate financial markets as demonstrations against corporate greed continued to spring up in major cities across the globe.

Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. He said the financial downturn had revealed behaviours like “selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday Oct 26th 2011 called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

The Vatican called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” and a “true world political authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions and work for the common good.

Such an authority should start with the United Nations as its reference point but later become independent and be endowed with the power to see to it that developed countries were not allowed to wield “excessive power over the weaker countries”.

This startling announcement brought back to my mind teaching I heard in the late 60’s that the Pope was the Antichrist. Then I started thinking “ What if this idea gets traction, and the Pope succeeds in getting the world leaders together to put this plan into action. Then some of what is written in the Book of Revelations would make perfect sense.

Revelation 13:17 (ESV) so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

How easy would this be if we have only one world bank and money?

Then what happens in Revelations 18 would make sense as well:

Revelation 18:1-3 (ESV) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Many teach that the Antichrist will come from ‘Babylon’. Revelation 17 says he will carry Babylon, but then he will carry out its destruction.

I can see the world’s financial collapse leading to such a plan as the Pope is proposing. One of the great supporters of it will be the Antichrist. But after the plan is in place and he comes to power, he will turn on the religious power of Babylon, destroying it (Rev 17) and then turn on the political power of Babylon (Rev 18). This is because all power will belong to him!

So much for conjecture…

Regardless of who or what Babylon is, it plays a prominent role in the events of the Revelation of the end times.  This brings me to the deeper issue…

I.   What Does Babylon Represent in Scripture?

To understand Babylon, we need to go way back, to the time just after the Great Flood. As we examine Babylon’s place in history, we will find that it represents the Best that Man can do and be. Babylon is man exalting himself to God, and even above God.

Babylon represents man’s efforts to replace God with himself!

A. The First Sin of Babylon

The First Corporate Sin that Manifested itself after the Flood took place on the planes of Shinar, the sight of Babylon. Here a mighty ruler named Nimrod built a tower that reached to the heavens.

Genesis 10:8-10 (NIV) Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.

The Sin of Nimrod and his subjects was seeking to Minimize God’s place in their lives.

  • They were seeking to exalt themselves above God.
  • They were seeking to take God out of their lives. They were also seeking a guarantee that God could never destroy them by a flood again. They would simply go into their ‘tower’ of escape!

Genesis 11:4 (ESV) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Babylon represents Man’s efforts to MINIMIZE God. They wanted a God whom they could control. The attitudes revealed in their actions indicate how they sought to accomplish this.

What we glory in reveals the god(s) of our lives.

  1. Glory in Splendor – a beautiful city
  2. Glory in Status – the tower that reached to the heavens
  3. Glory in Success – make a name for ourselves

Man wanted to make a name for himself, through the work of his hands. He wanted recognition for what he could accomplish. So man built a tower on the plains of Shinar, at Babylon. The very first place in the post-flood world that man exalted himself above God was at Babylon. Indeed Babylon became a symbol for the greatness of man!

In his book, Structures or why things don’t fall down (Pelican 1978–1984), Professor J.E. Gordon considers the height of the Tower of Babel. He wrote, ‘brick and stone weigh about 120 lb per cubic foot (2,000 kg per cubic metre) and the crushing strength of these materials is generally rather better than 6,000 lbs per square inch or 40 megapascals. Elementary arithmetic shows that a tower with parallel walls could have been built to a height of 2.1 km (1.3 mi) before the bricks at the bottom were crushed. However by making the walls taper towards the top they … could well have been built to a height where the men of Shinar would run short of oxygen and had difficulty in breathing before the brick walls crushed beneath their own dead weight.”[1]

This desire to rob God of His glory is so entrenched in mankind, that no matter what God does to mankind in the tribulation, mankind will curse God and refuse to repent and give Him glory!

Revelation 16:8-9 (ESV) The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

Indeed, Psalms 2 reveals this intrinsic attitude toward God in the heart of man:

Psalms 2:1-4 (NIV) Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

God had the last laugh:

Genesis 11:6 (ESV) And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

Where Does Man Get this desire to rob glory from God?

SATAN

What man was saying was eerily similar to something Satan (Lucifer) had said centuries before:

Isaiah 14:13-14 (ESV) You said in your heart,

  • ‘I will ascend to heaven;
  • above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
  • I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
  • I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
  • I will make myself like the Most High.’

We all know what happened to Lucifer: Luke 10:18 (ESV) And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.

B. The First Sin of the Promised Land

The first Sin that spoiled the Promised Land for the Jews was the pride of wearing a Babylonian Garment.

Joshua 7:21 (KJV) When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Achan just had to have that babylonian garment…

Joshua had warned the people

Joshua 6:17-19 (ESV) And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

Jericho, an evil city, full of evil inhabitants, so evil that Lindey Lohan could have been a priestess, was dedicated to God for destruction. It was so evil that everyone in it was to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. The silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron was to be given to the treasury of God.

Achan cheered at Joshua’s decree. Yeah! Everything is wicked! We’ll destroy it all!

But there he was, checking out the spoil of one of his victims, and his eye was attracted to this snazzy Babylonian garment. The material was so soft, the design was so intricate. The beading and jewels adorning the garment took your breath away. This garment took a year to sew.  He had seen something almost as nice in the latest issue of Babylonia Today! If his friends would see him wearing such a garment, they would be so jealous! He could go anywhere in the Kingdom wearing such a garment. It was fit for a King!

Actually, that garment was fit for destruction. It represented Man’s Pride in his accomplishments, accomplishments made apart from God!

Achan was seduced and brought trouble upon Israel:  “then I coveted them and took them”.

The life of Achan ended in a heap of stones.

Joshua 7:25-26 (ESV) And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

C. The First Sin of the Church

Acts 5:1-4 (NIV) Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Ananias, in lying to the church, embraced all the sins of Babylon. He wanted the splendor that the money could by him. He wanted to status of appearing to be such a giving saint. He wanted to appear successful in the eyes of the church and his friends. Satan filled his heart with the spirit of Babylon. Ananias tried to minimize God, and exalt himself. God had the last laugh once again.

D. What is the Danger of Babylon?

  • Nimrod built one tall building
  • Achan took one fancy robe
  • Ananias told one little lie

Yet their small act of sin represented a danger to what God wanted to accomplish.

  • Nimrod looked at the Tower of Babel reaching to the sky and said, wow, look what we did!
    • God saw the Tower and changed the course of Mankind!
  • Achan looked at the Shiny Robe and said, Wow wouldn’t I look like somebody in the Robe?
    • God saw the robe hidden in his tent and changed the course of Achan’s life! (In a dramatic fiery heap of stones!)
  • Ananias told a partial truth but still gave the church a lot of money
    • God saw his heart and startled the church

What is so dangerous about Babylon? What dangers was God wanting to protect His people from?

The Best Way to understand the danger of Babylon is to understand what the Babylonian Garment represented. This garment pictures Babylon far better than the silver or gold that Achan also took. That is why it was mentioned.

This Babylonian Garment represents Three Things that are a Danger to our love for God. They are seemingly innocent things, things that we all need and appreciate and even desire. But the Seduction of these three things will work their way into our lives until they minimize our need for God.

The Babylonian Garment Represents:

1. Splendor

We all appreciate beauty. We are drawn to it. Whether it is a car, a woman, even a horse, we love beautiful things. Advertisements shout this loud and clear. Television shows, even reality TV shows, shout this. Women (and men) spend billions of dollars to make themselves beautiful. Architects design buildings, even stadiums, to display the splendor and beauty of their imagination.

King Ahasuerus, reigned from India to Ethiopia, and in the third year of his reign, he gave a feast for all of his officials and servants and nobles and governors that lasted 180 days. All the days of the feast he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness.

We love to display our splendor and glory-whether in our clothes, our car, our home, our possessions.

America is a land of BLING! We even do it with teeth fillings, piercings and tattoos! We trick out our trucks, our cars, our motorcycles, we wear our jewelry and accessorize!

a) Even Satan was all about BLING!

According to Ezekiel 28:13, a probable reference to Lucifer, we learn that he is an amazing being to behold: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created”.

Splendor is seductive. It lured Lucifer into rebellion. It lured David into deep sin. It lured the wisest man on the earth into committing unspeakable acts against his God, whose very wisdom he possessed.

b) Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:29-30 (NIV) … as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

God Had the Last Word. Immediately a voice came from heaven:

Daniel 4:31-32 (NIV) “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

c) Israel:

Hosea 2:11-13 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days –all her appointed feasts. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.

God and Splendor

1. Inner beauty and splendor matters to God

    • 1Pet. 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

2. God Looks on the Heart

    • 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

3. God Must be our Splendor

    • Psalms 96:9 (ESV) Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
    • Psalms 104:1 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    • Psalms 111:3 (ESV) Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

4. We are to make Known His Splendor to our Children

    • Psalms 145:12 (ESV) to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

5. In the End Times, Men will seek to hide from the splendor of God!

    • Isaiah 2:19 (ESV) And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.

6. The Splendor of Babylon will be no more

    • Isaiah 13:19 (ESV) And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.

7. The Church will be presented to Christ in Splendor

    • Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

2. Status

Tradition has it that this robe was a priestly robe, used in worship to the Canaanite gods. This robe not only was beautiful, it represented power. It represented standing. It represented status.

Whoever wore this robe was always on the “A-List” party invitations. This robe granted its wearer access to the power people of Jericho and Canaan. The wearer was somebody. Nobody messed with whoever wore this robe. If they did, they found themselves being sacrificed to Baal!

Status is very important in our world.

  • Satan began it all by saying “I will be as the most high”. He wanted the status of God himself.
  • Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be like gods.
  • Lot chose the well watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and instead of hating the sin, he became enmeshed in it, even becoming a man of ‘status’ a judge at the gate.
  • Judas followed Jesus for the status he thought it would bring him. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to become King, he set out to betray the Son of God!
  • Aaron and the Levites set out to worship God in the Tabernacle. But by the time of Christ, the High Priest had become a perverted, corrupt institution motivated by power and status.
  • Ministry today is often corrupted by a pursuit of ratings and donations and status. Pastors focus their efforts on the Four “B’s” – Building Size, Budget Size, Number of Baptisms, and Number of Bodies. Spiritual growth and Character growth are not emphasized, because they do not build the churches ‘status’ as far as the world is concerned.

Focus upon STATUS is PRIDE!

There is no room for Pride in God’s Kingdom: Mark 9:35 (ESV) And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

3. Success

Nothing says success like Excess. Or a Rolex, Cadillac, or ___________.  You name it, we’ll wear it or drive it as long as it makes us look successful!

I can just see Achan trying on that shiny robe. Oooh he felt so good. He couldn’t wait to be seen wearing it. Everyone would be jealous of his apparent success!

Daniel 4:4 (ESV) I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace.

Look at America. We are swimming in debt, but we still consume and charge and buy our way into success. Just a few months ago the politicians were encouraging us to consume more to get this economy going.

We trade our souls for stuff. Stuff to show our success. Stuff to make us feel secure at night. Possessions, Money, those are things we can rely on. Our future is secure if we have money. We don’t have to worry about growing old, or caring for our loved ones, if we have money in the bank.

Man’s Success is Failure before God

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV) And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Revelation 3:17 (ESV) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

 This is God’s Plan for Success:

Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

E.The Splendor of Babylon Will Vanish

  • Revelation 18:10 (KJV) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
  • Revelation 18:14 (NLT) “The fancy things you loved so much are gone,” they cry. “All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.”

When Babylon Falls, there will be the greatest Hallelujah ever!

Revelation 19:1-3 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

F. The Solution for A Heart Infected with Babylon

Joshua 7:19 (ESV) Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

To counter the effects of the Babylonian Garment, Joshua told Achan to give glory to the Lord God!

When we do what we want, when we go our own way, when we place our confidence in splendor, status and success, we are robbing God of His Glory. God wants His people to give all praise and glory to Him. Everything in our live depends upon God!

We are Losing a Generation of Young People because we are wearing Babylonian Garments

The Millennial Generation or Generation Y consists of young adults born after 1980. The latest research from Barna indicates that this generation is growing up without a Biblical Foundation of Jesus Christ. Only 15% of Millennials profess faith in Jesus Christ. Yet their parents, the Baby Boomers, profess a 65% Christianity.

What happened?

The Garment of Babylon is what happened. We have put on our Sunday Faces and Clothes at Church, but throughout the week we wear our Babylonian Garment. We pursue our splendor, our status and our success.

We embrace the spirit of Babylon in our homes and work. We display a MINIMAL DEPENDENCE upon God in our homes, our work and our lives.

Jude 1:11 (ESV) Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

We have danced with Cain, we have partied with Balaam and we have colluded with Korah. And so Babylon has infected the hearts of our families and children.

  • Cain wanted to seek the God in his own way. He thought his splendor was good enough.
  • Balaam was divided between pleasing God and having the status of the King’s Prophet. So he corrupted the message of God, and gained the status of the King, but lost his soul to the ways of Babylon.
  • Korah wanted to make his own success, apart from Noah and God. He had enough of Moses, and told him, everyone is holy enough. He wanted to go his own way and be successful apart from Moses and God.

We have two choices…

Allow Babylon to Steal our Love for God or

Give Glory to God in everything,  Seek His Glory through Everything and most importantly, allow our lives to display His Glory to those around us!

We Can Live Hallelujah Lives or Crying Lives!

  • The World cried at the downfall of Babylon. It had become their life!
  • Those Saints in Heaven Shouted Hallelujah!

Revelation 19:1 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

When we seek satisfaction in the Splendor, Status and Success of this world, we will end up miserable, dissatisfied, on medication for depression.

Or you will come to the Salvation that only Jesus Christ offers, accept the misery of sin, and fall into the Love and Hope that Jesus Christ alone offers.

When Jesus Christ becomes your Savior, then God can say to you:

Jim, you are the most wretched and hopeless man, and in yourself you will never be anything else. But I have looked upon you through your faith in My Son as though you never sinned at all. I chose to see you in my Son by your faith!

Glory! God alone is worthy of Glory! My Joy, my happiness, my accomplishments are all in Him!

What Does that Babylonian Garment offer me that could even compare? It is temporary, it is fading, it will be soon eaten or destroyed or lost!

We need to embrace Christ with our children. We need to quit putting emphasis on the Babylonian Lifestyle of self effort and success, and focus on the splendor, the standing and the success that come from putting on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 43:7 says we are created for God’s Glory! Isaiah 48:9 says God will not give His glory to another.

So God did not create us so that He would become more glorious, for His beauty and perfection are complete. He is already Glory defined. God cannot become more God by making something that is not God.

No, God created us to display His Glory! This world is to KNOW God’s Glory by our lives! We are not to seek our own glory through splendor, status or success. No, in all our lives we are to display God’s glory to the world, not our own glory!

Babylon is man-centeredness. It can be in our churches, our worship, our work, our families, our lives.

God will give His glory to no one. We cannot make God more glorious by accumulating stuff and bringing it to Him. But we can bring our lives and all we have to HIM and ask Him to use it to bring glory to Him.

Never hold on to stuff if it starts to become more important than God or worshipping Him! We are to display God’s Glory to the world with all our lives, with all our being, with all our STUFF!