Friday, March 19, 2010

We live by faith, not by sight

Good morning my friends. I think that most of us understand that there needs to be a refreshing of the saints by the Holy Spirit in the Church today. We are falling short of our Father's intention for us, failing to step into purpose and destiny. There are some individuals who get it and rise head and shoulders above the ordinary and the common but that is our Father's desire for all of us. I believe it is a matter of the mature and immature coming to the the same understanding, that it takes more than just belief to be a follower of Jesus Christ. James said:

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)

Perhaps it is not the believing that is the problem but the failure to act on that belief. Jesus said:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. (Mark 16:17-18)

It is faith that brings belief to life. Believing there is a God is something that belongs to demons and the lost. The children of God do more than believe; they live a life of faith that demonstrates our hope and trust in Jesus. We are a people of action. James put this into words for us:

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
(James 2:17-18)

We have been looking at Hebrews 11 for the last couple of days, the chapter we have come to know as the "Heroes" chapter. Our names should be listed here. In fact, every follower of Jesus Christ should be listed here because it is a list of those who knew that faith causes action. It is not so much the cost of faith as it is the result of faith. Consider for a moment some of the things faith provoked people to do:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (Hebrews 11:32-34)

This just names a few great things that were accomplished by people who responded to the provocation of their faith. However, it is not always so glorious and I wonder how many of us are still willing to act on our faith when it results in some unpleasantries:

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:35-38)

There are those who will teach that God does not want his children to suffer. These are obviously not students of the Word because our Father is concerned with two things: preparing us for eternity and him being glorified. It is our desire to see the name of Jesus lifted up. We desire to see our God glorified in everything we do and say. He is glorified in our obedience and sometimes that obedience leads us to persecution and death. Do we love this life so much that we would deny our Lord to save it? Faith would not allow this in us. Faith leads us to right action in obedience to our Father, trusting in his promises that we have yet to receive.

I believe we have become too attached to this place and these "things" to live our faith. We are satisfied to simply believe that God exists and we hope that will be enough. James says it won't be because doing nothing with our faith is a sign that our faith is dead. I really do not believe that dead faith is going to please our Lord. Living our faith requires us to let go of this place and to hold on to Jesus:

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Have we let go of what does not belong to us? Are we living like strangers here or are we trying to make heaven on earth? Are we not looking for a country of our own? If we are constantly longing for this place then we will find a way to return to it and our faith will die. Is our God ashamed of us? I hope not. I hope we still have time to throw off our slumber, to rise up and to become the people of destiny that we have been called to. Faith must be translated into action in our lives in order for us to bring glory to our Father. Let us become a people that our God is not ashamed of; let us do more than just believe.

We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)