Faith“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7)

Do you want to have secure rock-hard faith?  Where have you put your trust?  You trusting in yourself or in the only one who can provide the security for you to build your life upon?

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27

What is Faith?  There’s Christian Faith. And then there’s living by faith. There are many people who today claim to be a part of the “Christian Faith” who aren’t living by faith. There are people in Churches everywhere who say they “believe” or have “faith in God” who don’t know the first thing about faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:1–3)

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 )

Faith is CERTAINTY in what we DON’T see.
Faith comes by HEARING the WORD of God.
Without FAITH we will NEVER please God.

Ok, that’s all nice and good and hopefully gives you an idea of what faith is…but what does it look like? What does it smell like? How the heck do you live by faith?  Thankfully the Bible gives us some great examples in the book of Hebrews chapter eleven.  This chapter is often called the “hall of faith” chapter.  Ordinary people who lived lives like you and I–only they trusted in God and walked by faith and not by sight.  They had problems like you and I do, but they were certain in what they didn’t see.  They heard the word of God, they knew that without faith they would never please their Maker.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Heb 11:8–10)

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.(Heb 11:17–19)

See Abraham lived in such a way that he was willing to pick up and move his ENTIRE FAMILY because that’s what God told him to do.  That doesn’t sound safe.  That doesn’t sound like Abraham was in his comfort zone.  That doesn’t sound like Abraham was trusting in himself and leaning on his own understanding.  Further, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son–the one thing that was his dream and his great love and joy Abraham was willing to do this demonstrating that he loved God more than anything or anyone else (see Luke 14:26).  Would you be willing to follow God to a foreign land or be willing to give up as a sacrifice to God the one thing/person you loved the most?

I think a lot of times Christians think that all that’s expected or required of them is to be “good”. It’s as if Jesus came down to reset our moral compass. Our parents live and act as though the most important thing is to be “good” or “nice”. Our teachers want us to “behave”. If Church is nothing more than to train us to be morally good citizens who lead “normal” lives then Church has failed.  Jesus didn’t come and die and start a revolution for you to be a “good Christian”. He died so that you could live. He died so that you would love others and die to yourself every day. I think most American Christians today think…

1. They should be a good steward of finances & possessions.
2. They should do devotions every day.
3. They should attend a good Church.
4. They think God wants them to be happy.
5. They should try not to sin too much or too big.
6. They should be good and live good.

I think many Christians out there think Church is boring and that the Bible is boring; but what is really boring is what people have made Church/Christianity out to be.  That’s not real faith.  That’s not what it means to be a Christian. If Church is just a feel-good, live-good, be-good, be-happy, do-good sort of place then we’ve missed the whole point of Church.  We’ve “Americanized church” and what we got was a “stay-in-my-comfort-zone-be-happy” kind of religion.  That religion is so different then what we read about in the Scriptures. The Hall of Faith in Hebrews honors men and women who…

1. Took risks.
2. Listened to God’s voice.
3. Stepped outside their comfort zones.
4. Believed God could do the impossible.
5. Were willing to suffer.
6. Believed in spite of circumstances.

We often look to trust God when our situations look insecure.  But the more I look at the great men and women of faith in the Scriptures the more I’m convinced that  faith is about trusting God and following Him via stepping out of our comfort zone and taking risks–which in God’s economy is more secure than trusting in ourselves and our own understanding.  When we follow God we find ourselves engaging in things that require risk, adventure and seem like something that is insecure and uncertain but in reality we could not be in a safer spot when we’re out on a limb with God than if we stayed at home in our comfort zone being the and secure in our own wisdom without God.

So many Christians are more worried about their health insurance that they don’t have time to trust God. There are Christian teens out there more concerned what school programs they can be involved in that will look good on their college resume that they forget to work on their spiritual resume. Christians are out there worried about what job they will get or how much money they have that they don’t take a moment to consider God wants to provide for their needs. Christians are out there more concerned with whether they’re popular or liked by their peers they forget to wonder whether God is pleased with their lives. Christians are out there collecting things–material possessions as a hobby or collecting trophies in a virtual game (much less on Facebook) – they haven’t taken the time to store up treasures in heaven. Christians are out there obsessing over how they look – making sure their make-up is perfect, that they look “sexy” or “beautiful” – that they’ve taken no time to fix up their broken inner life–much like Jesus said they’re like white-washed tombs. Some Christians jump on the bandwagon to focus on social justice issues and forget to consult the God who cares more deeply for the widows, orphans and poor than they ever could. There are even Christians running Churches and ministries in their own strength and power and giving an outward appearance of being spiritual–but not actually relying on the strength that God provides to do the work He has called them to.

If we really believed God’s ways are better than ours why do we spend so little time following Him all the while saying that we are following Him?
If we really listened to God’s voice why do we have the TV on so much?
If we really wanted to step outside of our comfort zones why are we (as a culture) so obsessed with earthly comforts?
If we really believed God could do the impossible why do we worry so much about the possible problems that inevitably come our way?
If we really were willing to suffer why do we work so hard to avoid any form of suffering?
If we really believed in spite of our circumstances, then why are we so silent about our faith when we live in a country where we risk very little by being very open about our faith?

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, admitting that they were foreigners 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. (Heb 11:13–16)

You see it’s not that you’ll live that much different if you’re a Christian. You’ll still get up and take a shower and show up to school on time and try to get good grades. You’ll still go to your 9-5 job.  You’ll still eat and interact with your friends. You’ll still have a hobby you enjoy. What changes is your focus. You’re no longer worried about tomorrow. You’re no longer worried about being popular. Living by faith in Jesus frees you. What was holding you down before? You’re no longer obsessed with that thing.  You no longer feel the need to have the TV on for background noise.  You no longer feel the need to gossip to your friends.  You no longer spend all your time golfing.  You no longer feel obsessed with the need to win every pick-up game of basketball or frisbee. You no longer spend an hour making sure your make-up is perfect. You’re no longer spending all your time searching the internet for good deals and bargains.  It’s not because you don’t have the freedom in Christ to do any of those things–you just don’t want to anymore. It’s not about rules such as “do this” or “don’t do that”.  But the more you follow Christ the less you want to spend your time on earthly things.  It just isn’t YOU anymore.  It suddenly feels empty to spend time on earthly things.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” C.S. Lewis

Once you start to walk by faith and not by sight–being confident of what you did not yet have and certain of what you can not yet see is when life suddenly turns around.  It’s as if suddenly life is about something so much more important.  Your world no longer revolves around you.  You begin to wonder how you can be a better husband/wife/son/daughter.  You wonder how you can re-balance your finances so you can give more to the church and to missions.  You begin to wonder how you can volunteer more of your time to the Church.  You begin to wonder how you can spend extra time praying or reading your Bible or explaining what God has been teaching you.  You begin to abandon certain worldly things knowing that they are merely dragging you down.  You begin to pray to God asking Him is He is calling you into missions or ministry full-time.  You begin to wonder how you can give more to the poor and help those who are really in need.  You begin to wonder how you can walk by faith and take big risks for God and trust Him for much bigger things then you have before.