THIS WEEK’S THEME:
God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
(NOTE: Write out the BIBLE KEY at least once this week, perhaps in your personal journal. Then, before you begin to read the devotional thoughts for each day, read the BIBLE KEY for that week. Become familiar with it and, perhaps, even memorize it.)
BIBLE KEY: (Hebrews 11:6, NIV) 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 11:1-2, NIV) 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
Though verse 1 was not intended to be a formal definition of faith, it certainly describes some of the results of faith—assurance and confidence. But just because we believe in the unseen, our faith isn’t necessarily based on wishful thinking alone. It’s also based on the proven record of truth in the Bible. You see, one of the reasons we believe God is because He and His Word have proven themselves to be trustworthy in the past. There are plenty of Christian evidences to support that.
However, ancient believers trusted God before there was a collection of Christian evidences to support the Bible. They believed God because of their personal experiences with Him. And, just as they learned to trust and obey Him, you can, too. As you experience Him in your daily life, your relationship with Him will grow stronger and more meaningful.
Of course, some of the Biblical truths that we believe are not provable in a scientific way, because they deal with realities of a spiritual nature, rather than a material nature. If they were material, we could handle them, measure them, and test them. But, they are spiritual matters. They have no material evidence, though they are none the less real. They can only be seen through eyes of faith, as we trust what our Heavenly Father has told us. As Today’s English Version (TEV) translates verse 1, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for.”
The writer of Hebrews sees faith as that trust in God which enables the believer to continue steadfastly in the Christian life, no matter what he encounters. Later in this chapter of the Bible, the writer of Hebrews gives us several examples believers who faced enormous tests of their faith, but they continued to believe in God and He commended them for it. In fact, Hebrews shows us that faith is a way of life for followers of Christ.
Faith is confidence that what God has promised or said will come to pass. When we put our trust in God’s love, power, and grace, we will be victorious, as the ancient believers in God were.
Don’t forget to read the Bible Key each day.
Jesus had just told His disciples that it was very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. So, His disciples asked him in amazement, (Mark 10:26, NIV) “Who then can be saved?” At that point the Bible says, (Verse 27, NIV) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Apparently, Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand what God can do in people’s lives. He can change a person from the inside out. He can take a sinner and make him a saint. He can make a coward a hero. He can give a rich person a love for God that will lead him to put all of his wealth at God’s disposal. He can bring peace where hostility runs rampant. He can heal the sick without medicine. He can raise the dead back to life. All things are possible with God.
God tells us in His word what He has done, can do, and will do. He revealed His plans so we can join Him in His work. When we do, He will work through us. We will not accomplish our assignment by our own limited abilities and resources. Instead, His power and providence will accomplish His purposes through us. Then, what seemed impossible becomes possible and He receives the glory.
The test we face is believing that God can and will work through us to accomplish His purposes, even when it seems impossible. If we truly believe He will, we will act on our belief. If we don’t believe it, we won’t act. You see, obedience to God indicates what kind of faith we have in Him.
Why don’t you ask God to show you where He wants you to be involved in His plans? Perhaps, He will use you to do something impossible.
When God tells you what He wants to do through you, you will face a crisis of belief. I want to give you two examples of this principle, one today and another tomorrow.
Example 1: Israel was being invaded by the Midianites and other nomadic people of the East who wanted to annihilate the Israelites. These enemies had invaded Israel before and had oppressed the Israelites for years. They were ravaging everything in their path as they moved through the land. Certainly, this was a crisis. But, God had everything under control, though the Israelites didn’t know it. God sent an angel to challenge Gideon to deliver Israel from their invaders. After two fleece tests, Gideon was convinced that God actually wanted to use him to defeat Israel’s enemies. Soon, he called together an army of 32,000 Israelites, but it was small in comparison to their enemies. Gideon and his army had to face one more test of their faith.
(Judges 7:1-8, NIV) 1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, `Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, `This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say,`This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
At this point, God was ready to use Gideon and his army of 300 soldiers. When they obeyed God by attacking the Midianites and other Eastern people, He performed a miracle through them. He used 300 soldiers to defeat an army of enormous size. Later, God would use Gideon to lead the Israelites to drive the invaders from their land, bringing peace to God’s people.
Are you facing a crisis of belief where God is calling you to join Him in something He plans to do? Put your trust in God’s power. Learn a lesson from Gideon—God can use your small resources to accomplish His big plan.
Yesterday, we talked about the crisis of belief that we face when God tells us what He wants to do through us. We read about Gideon defeating the vast army of the Midianites with just 300 men. Gideon chose the path of faith and God used him in a mighty way.
Now, let’s look at another example of the test of faith that believers face when God calls them to work with Him.
Example 2: (Matthew 17:24-28, NIV) 24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 ”Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes–from their own sons or from others?” 26 ”From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 ”But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
I’ll bet Peter thought Jesus’ instructions were bizarre—pulling a four-drachma coin out of a fish’s mouth. Now, he was faced with a crisis of belief. Would he go fishing for a coin or just get a coin from a more convenient source, such as some friends. Fortunately, Peter had learned to take Jesus seriously.
Peter’s obedience to Jesus shows us that we must cooperate with God and follow His plan for our lives. This is our faith in action. And, God will use us for His glory.
Today, we go back to Hebrews 11, where we were on Monday. This time, we’ll go to the end of the chapter, instead of the beginning. You see, from verse 4 through verse 38, the writer of Hebrews gives example after example of people who lived by faith. These men and women were highly regarded by the Jews of the First Century and their stories are found in our Old Testaments. We might call this passage of Hebrews “The Hall of Faith.”
Notice what happened to all these people of faith: (Hebrews 11:39-40, NIV) 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Think about this…Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest were commended for their faith in God because they lived their lives by faith. Yet, God did not give them their rewards the way they expected. Instead, He decided to upgrade their rewards—to super size their prizes. They must have been looking forward to rewards that they considered to be worthwhile, but God decided to give them perfect rewards—far better rewards than they expected. He wanted to give them the same perfect rewards that He has promised to Christians.
Furthermore, they’ll get their perfect rewards when we get ours. When we sit down for the marriage feast of the Lamb in Heaven (Matthew 8:11), all the ancient heroes of the faith will be there with us. Won’t that be exciting?
We are so fortunate that God has planned something perfect for people of faith. It will be far better than what this world offers. We cannot begin to imagine how wonderful it will be.
Because we truly believe that God lives and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, we trust in His promises. Thus, we have assurance and confidence that we will receive marvelous rewards from Him. What a glorious day that will be when He gives them to us!
["Devotional Guides for the Journey" are written by Philip Walter. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2012.]
(Scripture quotes are from the New International Version [NIV] of the Bible, copyright © 1984, International Bible Society.)