Text: Hebrews 11
As is becoming our tradition, every beginning of the year we sit with my wife to plan and dream over the things we desire in the New Year. Ranging from our Christianity, our children, our finances and other dreams. But the last time, the discussion wasn’t that easy, while we all agreed the need to grow our finances, we differed on the approach. You should have heard us, we argued for a long time, almost forgetting the children, who needed to eat and sleep. Everyone had a strong case to present- start a new income stream or reduce existing loans and expenditures. But what was interesting is that we debated whose option had the fewest “But only If’s’. That option was best- My wife thought my ideas had too many and I thought hers had one major one. I’ll not tell you the outcome….
‘But Only If’- I reflected on these words a little. These words expressed something, a limitation, a condition, a situation beyond us. And I am sure like many of you, most dreaming and planning end with these words. The Lord directed my attention to Hebrews 11- To answer this question. Why the ‘But Only If’ so that there is room for God. Faith then becomes what bridges our limits and plans, with God’s intended outcome.
I wish to encourage us today as we begin this year, that we must leave room for God and the bigger your ‘But Only If’ the bigger the opportunity for Faith. Today, my thesis is simple- The righteous shall live by Faith. We will reflect on this Truth- How does Faith shape how you plan and go about this year? What will you be commended for this year? What will be your reputation this year?
This Chapter of Hebrews has been known as the Faith’ Wall of Fame. And we see why, when we see the list and consider the stories of these men and women of the Almighty God, (not Almighty Men and Women of God). They were people who lived by Faith- and as a result they were called righteous.
But first what is Faith?
Paul teaches us in this scripture in a very plain lay man’s language “Faith is Confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see”
Imagine walking into a dark room and someone telling you to sit down, in a seat you do not see. Or for those of you who go swimming closing your eyes in the water and trying to stand on the ocean bottom, not sure how deep, or on what you are stepping on?
I think a Key thing here is that- When we see it, it no longer is faith, but our plans and self-will in action. When we see how tomorrow looks like, how this year looks like in our own view, we begin to plan and work as though we have control. But that’s the thing- Only God is all knowing and has chosen to keep these things for himself, so that we have no option but to live by faith. James puts it this way- 4:13
I also must warn that Faith is not ‘believing in oneself’ but believing in the One God. Believing in oneself is the devil’s lie that has plagued this generation. It is the same deception the devil used on Adam and Eve, when he told them if they disobeyed and ate the fruit- they will become like God- They will be able to take matters into their own hands and have control. So then Why Must we Live by Faith?
I will propose 3 reasons from these scriptures
- Because God is Real
- Because Our Relationship with Him is Real
- Because God’s plan is real
We must live by Faith because God is real
(Read-Verse 3 and 6)
The big question the world seems to ask us is “but where is your God?’. There are countless debates to dissapprove the existence of God. There are those who say there is no God, life is about the laws of nature and physics, ecosystems and survival for the fittest. Scripture tells us in Ps ‘only a fool, says there is no God. The evidence of creation, history and even science prove again and again to those who are open to the truth that there is indeed a God who is in charge of all things.
Those who deny the existence of God, live by sight, the laws of man- Laws like the fittest survive, God helps those who help themselves, nipe ni kupe, In other words until I see it, I cannot and will not.
But that’s the big difference- We must go into this year, knowing that God is still the creator, the sustainer, the determiner, the author and finisher of all things. As believers, we must live knowing there is one who watches over us, determines our destinies and shapes our outcomes.
We must go about life because God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. There is more evidence to prove that God is, than God is not- But even so, we will never win this debate, because God is not to be proven by anyone or any evidence, He proves Himself and everyone will have to prove themselves to him, not the other way round.
As you go about this year- You can chose to live by Faith- because God is real or Live by Sight, because there is no God- The outcome is obvious.
Read Vs. 6
But secondly we must live by Faith because our relationship with God is real
Relationships are birthed from stories. The numerous stories of these men demonstrate a real relationship with God. These men and women knew God and had interacted and experienced God personally. Their stories of God was real and not just something they read or taught by someone else.
Take the examples- Noah- Built an ark as told by God- Never had he seen an ark before, not even rain for then the water used to come from beneath, or Abraham told to go where he did not know or Sarah who bore a child way past her time, or Joshua who led the army of the children of Israel to conquer the walls of Jericho.
If you were to ask Abraham- He will tell you, the Lord provided me a son, surely he will also provide the lamb, If you were to ask Sarah she will tell you, if God did it for me and my husband at 100 years old- He can do it again and again, expect something from God.
For these people- their walk with God, was a sure proof of a living relationship, and whenever they were faced with anything, all they needed to do is look back and say ‘My God, here we are again.’
God was not just tales they heard, God is not just laws they read, God is not just a code of ethics they observed, God was not a picture on the wall- But God was living and dynamic. They could not figure out a formulae around him or a method or a system- they simply trusted in the relationship they had with Him.
This year, God can be a god you worship or He can be your Father. Father means A living Source. Our relationship this year, can be What must I do to succeed or it can be Father, what do you want me to do?
We can go about living this year asking what we want or asking our Father “Let your will be done, as it is done in heaven- let it be done in my life”
Now, is this to say throw off your plans and just let things be? No, A living relationship is intentional. We must set our hearts on those things that are on God’s heart. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will grant you your hearts desires. This is not a beggar- rich man relationship, but a Father son/daughter relationship. He knows what’s good for us, yet he expects us to ask, in the same way we know as his children we have a right, yet we choose to ask.
This year- what will be your reputation, what will you be commended for?
But lastly- We must live by Faith because God’s Plans are real
Vs 13, 39 are profound truths for us this day.
While these men and women sampled only in part the blessing of Faith in God, they never received their promises in full but only in part. While Abraham and Sarah were told they will be blessed with many nations, they only go as far as one child- which was still a great miracle in it’s self. When Moses was told he will lead Israel to inherit the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey- He only got as far as seeing the land from a distance and never stepped on the land, When Joseph was told he will become King and His brothers bowed, he only got to be King once in his life time before another Pharaoh arose and oppressed the children of Israel.
What does this teach us today?
God has a grand plan beyond our temporary climaxes. God was writing a greater history that included us today, which Abraham did not know off, yet he was glad to be part off. Mary and Joseph, had no clue that their steps of faith were not just to climax at them having a child- but that this child will become the savior of the world.
Faith is not rewarded only for us, but for generations to come. God in his plans uses our faith in him in the year 2016, to plant a seed for other faithful in 2022 and beyond. We must remember that God is not limited by time like us.
In God’s plan- everything happens not in my time, but his time, because he knows how He wants to use your story for the generations to come.
So while man redeems time, is on time, and has deadlines- God’s timing is eternal. You may feel your time for getting married, giving birth or to do something is running out- But ask Sarah- She will tell you God’s timing is his timing not ours.
Also that God expects us to walk by faith, even if we may not see the results ourselves. This is how faith works. Our walk of faith today is what God is using as seed for the next generation. Your walk of faith this year, though you may suffer as a parent is what builds a better foundation for your children.
My dad recounted to us over this Christmas with tears, how he suffered in his early years, sleeping hungry, homeless and abandoned, so that he would become a better person, I cant say he became rich or successful, but his joy is to see that his children and grandchildren do not go through what he went through.
But lastly- Because God’s plan is real, whether we feel it or not, whether we see it or not, What He has determined will and must happen. History is prove, the scriptures are true. And I can tell you for free that part of His plan is that He is coming back soon?
You can choose to live this year ignoring God’s plan or live in expectations of God’s plans
- How does living by faith affect your life this year, your plans, your dreams?
- What reputation will you have before men and before God
I suggest to you a simple take away “ Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will come after you” I cannot tell you a safer place to invest your life this year than in God’s kingdom.