Posts Tagged ‘Christ’


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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Slide23John chapter 12 follows an ever-popular Jesus into the final days of His walk on earth. The Cross is confronting Him, weighing heavily on his mind. His close disciples and friends seem oblivious to what is before Him, even though He has told them many times before. His emotions must be running high. In John 11 we see him breaking out in tears after John describes Him as being troubled in spirit. Luke 19:41 describes Him weeping over the people of Jerusalem. Jesus admits that He is troubled in John 12. Why does He weep?, why is He troubled?

Could it be the Cross that looms before Him? Could it be the way His friends and disciples seem oblivious to His deity, His power over life and death? I think it was all of this weighing heavily upon His heart, His heart that carried the great reservoir of God’s love for mankind. A heart that wept at their blindness to God’s love. A heart that wept at their blindness to who He really was, and what He was about to do.

God wants us to peer into the heart of Christ by focusing on a minute moment in Christ’s life that is recorded in the latter half of John 12. This is the moment following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which followed hours after His resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. This was at the height of His popularity with the masses. They were declaring Him King after the line of David! He could have demanded whatever He wanted, and the crowd and His disciples would have immediately obeyed. Yet in this moment, Jesus chose to hide himself and disappear. Why? What can we learn from Him? What does He want us to grasp for our lives?

People around Jesus (1)In John 12:17-43, we find 4 groups of people circling Jesus Christ, the indicted man-God, the immortal God-man. We see a group of intoxicated people, a group of Incredulous people, a group of interested people, and finally a group of Influential people.

Let us look at these folks, and consider the words and reaction of Jesus Christ, and then explore the ramification for our lives in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Intoxicated

The Crowd was wild about King Jesus!
  • Vs 9 – When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:9
  • Vs 13 – So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13
  • Vs 17 – The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

It seemed as all Jerusalem was hailing Jesus as King! He had achieved rock-star status! They were declaring Him a King after the lineage of David! And Jesus refused to discredit their cries. When the Pharisees told Him to rebuke his disciples, he declared “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

intoxicated-crowd1-If you can imagine the drunken, drug-fueled crowds at some Rock concerts, I would imagine this crowd would not be too different (minus the drugs and booze).

What attitudes would you have had if you were part of this crowd?

I imagine you would be jubilant because you imagined a better life with Jesus as King.

Gone would be the iron boots of Roman soldiers. Taxes would be lower. Your way of live would not be restricted.

You would think that Jesus would improve your life and so you were excited. After all, He had this amazing power; He could raise the dead back to life, He could turn water into wine and a tiny lunch into a feast for thousands. You wanted to join His parade, because it meant a better life for you! So yeah, you joined the bandwagon and bowed before Him as King! He was the King you wanted and needed! Yeah!

Incredulous

Incredulous-men1Pharisees can’t figure out this Jesus fascination

Vs 19 – So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:19

We find another group, smaller, but more important. They are the religious leaders of all Israel, and they are the real power reigning in Jerusalem. They rule in the shadows, openly pretending to be righteous, but secretly revealing their greed and lust for power. They cannot believe what the people are saying. They are incredulous that the populace is following an ignorant, uneducated man from a town like Nazareth. They sense their power and influence being usurped, and they despise this Jesus. They despise him so much they will soon hatch a plot to murder him.

What attitudes would you have if you were an incredulous Pharisee?

I imagine you would be incredibly self-focused. Your world would mean everything to you, your power, wealth and influence. You loved the way people regarded your ‘status’ and all the perks that went with your position. You looked down your nose at this Jesus, because he really was nothing, of no importance. He could not hold a candle to your pedigree, training and wealth.

He probably had gotten into your head though. You remember those confrontations, those things he had said that made you so boiling mad. You tried to shut him out of your life, so much so that now you resented even the sight of Him. The only way to stop him from threatening your nice privileged life was to get rid of him. He was of no consequence, after all, and soon the crowds would move on to some other fascination.

Interested

interested-man-person-looking-through-binocularsGreeks wanted to see Jesus…

Vs 20 – Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21

We see another group of folks, strangers to the religious Jews. They share some of their beliefs, but they are more worldly, more educated, less likely to rush foolishly after someone like the Jewish crowd was. They were more in control of their lives. After-all, they were more ‘enlightened’. However, they had heard such marvelous stories about the Jesus. They had heard of countless miracles, of teachings that were so ‘outside the box’. They desired to further enlighten their lives by meeting with him, by getting a sense of whether the stories were true. Perhaps he would see how important they were and honor them with some of His wisdom.

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these Greeks seeking an audience with Jesus?

I imagine you thought pretty highly of yourself. You considered yourself above these mendicant Jews. You were more worldly, more advantaged, but you wondered if Jesus should be a part of your world. After all, you considered God as important, especially when it came to your standing and consideration as an ‘enlightened’ free-thinker.

You thought you should at least see how Jesus could benefit your worldly standing. Plus, your friends would be jealous when you told them you had secured a private audience with Jesus!

Influential

The disciples

influential people1It is no coincidence that the visiting Greeks approached Philip to secure an audience with Jesus. People of importance never did anything themselves, they always used an intermediary. They recognized Philip from the old neighborhood, and perhaps even knew him. They saw that he was in the inner circle of Jesus, so would be influential in getting them that meeting.

The Disciples indeed were the “gatekeepers” of Jesus. They were with Him wherever he went. People around them recognized their influence, and the disciples were starting to realize their position. There had already been arguments about who would have the greatest influence when Jesus began His reign. This week must have been intoxicating as well to the fleshly disciples. To be a part of this madness, this idolization of Jesus would have had their ego’s swelling with pride!

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these influential disciples?

I imagine you would have felt quite good about your decision to follow Jesus. After all, it had been quite a hardship to give up everything to follow him. Now you could feel the possibilities of fame and standing. You could imagine yourself reigning beside Him, perhaps as a governor or mayor. Your life was about to take a drastic turn and you were getting excited. People would whisper about you, come up to you and ask “are you one of His disciples?” Proudly you would declare your position with Him. They would ask you all sorts of questions about Him. If there had been paparazzi back then, your face would have been in all the magazines.

Yes, your attitude would have been pretty good about your decision to follow Jesus right now. After all, it had greatly benefitted your life.

Indicted

Jesus of Nazareth

Indicted-ManWe find one more person who is central to this passage, Jesus Christ. I prefer to refer to Him as the Indicted one, for He stands in their midst fully aware that He is a condemned man. Oh, He did nothing wrong, but He has willingly agreed to bear the full weight of all the sins of mankind. He has confessed the crimes and now faces the sentence, crucifixion upon the Cross.

Some argue that He was a helpless pawn, but His words in response to Philip and Andrews request for a private audience with the Greeks reveal His full knowledge of what was going on.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Was Jesus influenced by the adulation? Was His head swelling with the possibilities of His new-found popularity? Was He already picking His Kingdom advisors? NO! Jesus, even with His emotions swirling, was totally focused on His mission-to save mankind from the horrors of the judgment of Hell, and usher them to true life-eternal life with His Father, God.

He began by saying something that His disciples and anyone else listening would never understand. He declared that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I can just see the disciples trying to restrain their excitement. But Jesus meant something just the opposite of what they imagined. Jesus spoke of His death by crucifixion, the most shameful and horrible manner of death at that time. There was no ‘glory’ in being crucified. The disciples were so intoxicated with possibilities that they would never believe Jesus was about to be crucified.

The Indicted Son of Man made a startling declaration, one which all the groups surrounding Him were unable to understand. Jesus declared, “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Each group featured in this microcosm of those in the Life of Christ was there because they loved their life. The Intoxicated were there because they wanted Jesus to improve their life. The Pharisees were there because they wanted to protect their life. The Greeks were there because they wanted to increase their life, and the Disciples were there thinking they were about to really enjoy life.

Jesus was there because He wanted to give people real life, but real life would only come though His death. His death must precede His glorification. His death must precede His gift of Life for mankind.

This is why Jesus said: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Why was Jesus Here?

I believe that what even most Christians miss from this exchange is that Jesus did not come to this Earth for our benefit, for His benefit, or even to be crucified. All of these happened, but the truth of His coming is revealed in this one phrase, “for this purpose I have come to this hour; Father, glorify your name.”

Most translations put a period after “I have come to this hour.” The casual reader infers that Jesus came for the purpose of crucifixion, of death. However, the Greek is quite clear. The statement “Father, glorify your name is the cause of His ‘purpose’.

Explained by glorify thy name. For this use, namely, that the Father’s name might be glorified[1].

Jesus came to this world to glorify the Name of His Father! Why? Because He and His Father were one!

  • I and my Father are one. John 10:30
  • And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
  • That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21

How could Jesus bring glory to His Father? He emptied himself, and then humbled himself to death, death on the cross:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-9

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 12:23-33

Why Did Jesus Hide?

Knowing His ultimate motivation, why was Jesus troubled so? Why was He so emotional? Why did He hide himself from His disciples and adoring public?

Could He have been troubled because the people did not connect Him with His Father? Could He have been troubled because His disciples failed to understand His relationship with the invisible Father?

Could He have been troubled because they could not see His Father because they were so focused on their own lives?

Could He have hid Himself because He did not want the people to focus on Him, but rather He wanted them to see the Father?

What is the Lesson for us?

see-jesus-crucified-for-youAll those who truly follow Christ will know one day, but now we can only speculate. I believe that there is a ‘take-away’ here, one that is vital to our growth as true followers of Christ.

If we want to really “see Jesus”, we must die to our lives, and give ourselves without reservation to the will and glory of God. If we value anything of our lives above God and His glory, then we will not see Jesus. He will withdraw from our lives, and go into hiding.

God is jealous of our attention and devotion. Too often we say we love Him and follow Him but we are really doing it because of some perceived benefit. We want a God who is always at our side, who is always there for us no matter how much we sin against Him. We want a God who accepts us as we are and doesn’t want to change us or demand too much of us. We follow a God on our terms, not His.

If this is true of our interest, then we are fooling ourselves. We may have all the forms of godliness, but we are in denial about the true power thereof. There can be no godliness apart from the holiness of God in our lives. That is only possible as we die to what we want and live for His glory.

Christ did that and proved it by His obedience. When we do it we prove it by living IN CHRIST! But before we can live in Christ we must die to our life, our wants, and our selfish interests.

Is God Distant to You?

Does God seem distant to you? Do you wonder about the mess you are in? Are you troubled because God doesn’t seem to care?

The truth is that He may have hidden Himself from your life. He is waiting for you to get to the point where you hate this life and are willing to die to yourself, and finally willing to live in Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me!”

Immortal

Jesus Christ is the Way of Eternity

There was another person there in the crowd. He was the Immortal One. All the folks saw him as Jesus, but God saw Him as Immortal. He would live forever at His side, for He would overcome.

Regardless of your attitude toward Jesus Christ: intoxicated, incredulous, interested or one who thinks you are one of His; He will hide from your life as long as you are in it for yourself. Until you experience the Cross, and die to what you want or desire, He will remain distant, even hidden.

If you should ever take the serious step of actually experiencing the Cross, then you shall experience Jesus Christ! The glory of the Father will be open to you; the power of the Father will be upon you; for the Cross, the ugly curse of the Cross that Jesus gave Himself to for the Glory of His Father, is actually wisdom and power of God!

The Cross – a Great Mystery

cross-silhouetteThis is the great mystery hidden to all those in the crowd that day. This is what Paul meant when he penned:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7

The wisdom of God is hidden in the Cross. You will never experience His wisdom until you experience the Cross for yourself. The Cross is the key to you experiencing the Glory of God!

What are you seeking from Jesus today? A better life, an influential life, a better status or acceptance? Perhaps you are satisfied with what you have. Regardless of what you are seeking or not seeking, you will lose everything at the judgment. The only way to gain the Life that Jesus holds is to die to your life, your wisdom, your riches and your might.

Consider carefully His Words of Life:

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 12:27″.

 

Read this past post: “Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

and this:”Do You See Jesus”


Modern American Christianity and First Century Jesus Christ Christianity can mean two different things.​ Most American Christians consider Paul a fanatic, but they understand his fanaticism in light of the need of developing a new ‘religion.’ Paul would probably be considered too extreme in most American churches. Most Pastor’s have encountered Paul ‘wannabees’ and have watched them flame-on and then fizzle out. Most mainline Pastor’s have seen the need to be ‘spot-on’ with regard to their congregants. Not too extreme in either direction. It seems in America the best pastor’s are the most ‘liked’ pastors. Ask the average church member about their pastor and they will say, “he is such a great guy!”

Paul desired to know Christ and Him crucified on the CrossThe thing which would have made Paul an unlikely American Christian pastor is one statement that he made, and which he lived by. It is a statement that seems to be missing in most American Christian churches. As such, it is missing in normal “American Christianity.” 

Paul remarked to the Corinthian church:

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. (1 Cor 2:2)

Paul followed a crucified Savior. In those days NO ONE followed anyone who had been crucified. To be crucified brought shame on all the relatives and family. You did not even mention crucifixion in polite society conversations. It was the same as if your father was a convicted pedophile, or a John Wayne Gacy. You would change your name, never mention your relationship to such a heinous character. The statement that Paul made would send shudders down the back of “decent folks.” For Paul to say what he said ment he was drawing a line in all his relationships and ministry functions. That line centered upon the Cross. Paul lived his life, engaged his ministry and related to folks in the shadow of the Cross. 

American Christianity has taken the shame of the Cross and covered it with gold or silver. It is a pretty talisman we wear on our neck or put on our car. The meaning of the Cross has been lost. The Cross is about shame and about humility. It is about the power of God and not the power of the flesh. There was no boasting at the cross, no stylish clothing, no vanity, and certainly no latte’s. ​

Gal-6_14-Cross The difference between 21st century American Christianity and Paul’s Christianity centers upon the power of one thing-the Cross! The reason Paul was so jealous and passionate about the Cross is that he understood it was the Power of God! There could be no power to transform, no power to resurrect, no power to build a Christ-centered church apart from the Power of the Cross!​ So Paul, to a fractured and powerless but socially acceptable church at Corinth exclaimed with all his passion:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18)

A Pretty Cross​The difference between modern American Christianity can be seen by what we hold dear. Paul held a bloody and shameful Cross proudly as he reached out to a sinful and dying world. American churches have changed the Cross into a bright and shiny steeple or a stylish Cross. We hold out a stylish, likable Jesus as we reach out to a sinful and dying world. We want them to come to a trendy comfortable building where they will find excitement and practical advice for their busy lives.

Paul would simply smile and so, that is so Corinthian. You are missing the point of following Christ. If it doesn’t begin at the Cross, it doesn’t begin at all. The Cross is the Power of God unto Salvation.​

This Passion week is all about the Cross. Are you holding onto the Cross? Have you died to your life and your way? Have you exchanged your sinful life for the Righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ.? That only happens when you understand the shame and ignominy of the Cross, and accept it as your own. Paul lived for Christ, not as a fanatic, but as one who knew his life was not his own, for it was bought with a price. That price was paid at the Cross.

So go ahead and drink your cup of latte. Please, never forget that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for you. What are you willing to do for Him? All He asks is that you give him your life by dying at the Cross, and then seeking to know Him as your ‘crucified’ Lord!​


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Great tribulation is comingMost people miss the point of what Jesus was telling his disciples about the time of His return. Let’s listen in on their conversation:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-39

Most people fixate on trying to figure if our day is as evil as in Noah’s day. But Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that most people could care less about His coming. That is what happened in Noah’s day. People were going about their lives as if nothing was going to happen. Life was normal, life was good. Noah was the crazy one to be so concerned about what God was up to.

The world, for the most part, ignores God until something gets out of whack. And so Christ will come and it will be a total shock. Just as in Noah’s day. They were not prepared for the judgment of the flood, and neither will most of the world be prepared to meet the ultimate judge, Jesus Christ

Notice verse 36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” This is the subject sentence of the entire paragraph. Verse 42 repeats the thought: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Jesus rephrases it in verse 44: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Luke’s version makes this especially clear:

And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)

People ignore God. They do not tremble before Him. Isaiah 66:2 reveals what God looks for:

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

However, as Isaiah continues, this is not what God finds on earth. He says:

“…These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-4

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People say they believe in God, but when it comes down to reality, they believe in a god of their own making, one who tolerates their sin and excuses their lack of devotion. They prefer a tolerant, dismissive god, one who stays in the background and doesn’t get in the way of their lives. God is a convenience, someone to come to their aid when calamity strikes.

Paul writes that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:2-3). Just when men begin to think they have a handle on society’s problems, total chaos and destruction will erupt. They will call to their ‘god,’ but He will do nothing. It will be too late, just as it was in the days of Noah, of Lot, of the fall of Israel and Judah. This is why the Psalmist warns:

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12

Peter reminds us of scoffers coming in the last days who would say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:4). The apostle goes on to cite the example of the Flood—which came on suddenly and unexpectedly—as an event that broke the natural cycle of life (verses 5-6). Such is the time of Christ’s return.

All of these prophetic warnings include the admonition to watch and be ready for it when it comes. As Paul says:

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. . . . Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober, . . . putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8)

Christ’s return will not be sudden and unexpected to true followers of Christ. We may not know the day or the hour, but we will be somewhere “in the ballpark.” Jesus says His day “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). But, as verse 34 says, if we “take heed to [our]selves,” not being mired down by sin, we will be expecting it.

We are certainly living in times very like those of the days of Noah, so the return of Christ could come anytime soon. Knowing this, our job is to watch and pray and overcome so “that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36).


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.