Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: It Takes Faith
Today’s Scripture: Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
A striking Christmas card was once published with the title “If Christ Had Not Come”. It was founded upon our Savior’s words “If I had not come” in John 15:22. On the card is a picture of a pastor falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come. In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared. The doorbell rang and a young boy asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child, and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair. Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no hope of heaven.
I can’t begin to image what life would be like without the reality of Jesus Christ and the hope of heaven. But wait. Didn’t all the saints of the Old Testament have to live that way? This story plays an emotional tune on our heart strings, but the truth is that it is in error. If the Pastor had the Old Testament message, but not the New Testament, he would still have the promises of God that the Messiah was coming. There would still be hope. There would still be a message of consolation. His faith could have been like the faith of Abraham, who against all hope, believed the promise of God. The pastor in story could not have been a true man of faith. He did not believe the prophecies of the Old Testament and use them to give hope to a dying woman. He did not give glory to God by being persuaded that what was promised would someday be fulfilled. He wavered through unbelief.
We tend to do the same thing with the promises of God. We set them aside in unbelief if they have not been fully delivered. We hopelessly take our lives into our own hands when our patience to wait on God runs out. We stop seeking His kingdom and righteousness because all the other things promised to us aren’t being added to us fast enough. Our prayers are more like wishes written to Santa rather than words of faith in the promises of God. We move from event to event and day to day with hardly a thought about the imminent return of Jesus Christ to take us to glory. Life tends to be all about us and our plans, when faith calls us to make life all about God and His glory.
What would our faith look like if we were living prior to the birth of Jesus? Ideally I would like to think that we have an advantage living now. But in reality, our faith is probably weaker. We may tend to take for granted what we know to be true. We may be like the husband who stops romancing the love of his life after the wedding. We tend to live primarily with the expectations of more and better for ourselves in this life, rather than in eternity. We focus on solutions to our own sad situations when we should be focused on the salvation of souls. We have subtly surrendered to sight while God is calling us to fearlessly follow by faith. The Bible is clear – without such faith it is impossible to please God.
The foundation of true faith is solely based on one’s proper understanding of God. Faith is only ever as valid as the object of the faith. If you want your faith to increase, learn more about the object of your faith. So the big question is this – “Who do you know God to be?” How you answer that question determines the level and maturity of your faith. In today’s Scripture, Abraham knew God to be the God of power – power to fulfill promises. At other times of his life He knew other characteristics of God. Somewhere in each of our lives right now there is a weakness in our faith because we don’t sufficiently know the nature and character of God. He has promised to reveal Himself to those who seek Him, and in that revelation our faith will be strengthened. Seek Him today. Inquire of His Word and His Spirit. Ask God to reveal something new about Himself to you, and you will see how your faith will grow, your fears will cease, and His promises will become reality.