Archive | March, 2014

Living By Faith

14 Mar

Today I finally had time to breath and sat down to write a blog post. Sadly, I realized that it has been almost six weeks since I posted. To all my readers, I am sorry and I will try to do better!  There really isn’t one “reason” why I haven’t posted, but rather it is a combination of many factors. As many of you know, our family is going through a time of transition as Becky and the boys finish the school year in Huntsville, we look to sell our house, make decisions on where to live in our new place of ministry, etc. Even though those are good things, they are not easy things. On top of this, my mother-in-law has been going through some very serious health challenges and has been in the hospital or rehabilitation for three weeks now.  This has added stress and anxiety for my wife particularly and certainly for all of us.

We typically have our family devotional time around the dinner table after we have eaten the meal. One night this week as we were about to pray, we were talking about all of the things we had to pray about. Yes, the list is long!  As we sat around the table, I reminded our family that we are going through a time where we are being called on to live what we have said we believe. Every Christian goes through times like this. Now is one of those times for our family. Together, we prayed for many things, but we closed with prayer to be faithful and joyful during these days.

I couldn’t help but think about a message that I shared at Lakeside back in January. It’s one thing to preach about living by faith. It’s another thing to actually live by faith.  Perhaps you are going through a time where this message will minister to you. See below some excerpts from my preaching notes for this message. May it help each of us live by faith and not by sight.  God is good. Praise Him!

“Living By Faith”

2 Corinthians 5:1-9

From this text this morning, I want us to see that living by faith involves five distinct decisions as we go through life…

I.               Living by faith is placing your faith in the Lord

You see woven throughout these verses is a rock solid, all-encompassing faith in the God of the Bible. Jesus Christ the Lord. Notice in v. 6 and v. 8 the word “Lord” is used. It means one who rules or commands. The word Lord is used to describe Jesus Christ AND it is used to describe how we relate to Him. Look back with me and let’s read 2 Corinthians 4:5-6  This theme runs all through the New Testament

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ is Lord and that means there is no middle ground. Your faith is either all in Him or none in Him and all in something else. You don’t half-way have your faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s an all or nothing proposition. That’s why most people really chose nothing!  Did you know that?  Oh sure, you can find folks who know about Jesus and know the story of His life. You can find folks who will tell you that Jesus even died on the cross for the sins of the world. You can find folks who even know several Bible verses. But yet when you ask them about their relationship with God they will say to you, “I’m a good person.”  “Now, I have been a member of that church for years.”  “Well know, I just…I just have my own way of believing…”  When it comes right down to it, they stop short of really trusting Jesus Christ alone. Their faith is not totally and only in Him for their salvation.  You see there were millions of people in church in America this morning who are trying to live by faith but who have MISSED the Lord of the Faith!  Living by faith doesn’t work without the Lord of the faith – our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

II.               Living by faith is believing God’s promises

As we seek to live the Christian life, we very quickly learn that life is not easy. We have to learn to take God at His word. Look back with me at 2 Corinthians 5:1  In v. 1 he compares our body that we have right now to a tent.  The NIV translates it “the earthly tent we live in…”  Now,  remember what the Apostle Paul’s trade was.  He was a tent maker.  So, it’s not surprising that the comparison he uses is that of our body as a tent.  And notice what happens to tents – they get torn down…”is destroyed…”   Get the picture. Our body is a tent and tents are temporary. They don’t have staying power. Likewise our body is temporary.  In fact, someone once said that the human mortality rate is holding steady at 100%!!   So what happens when Christians die? “we have a building from God…”  A building is a permanent structure. The building in v. 1 refers to the new body that Christians will be given one day.  It’s clear he is talking about that in v. 2-4.   One day our mortality will be swallowed up by life.  What a statement! 

The Bible uses similar language to express this same idea in1 Corinthians 15:50-54   Now maybe you are here and you are a little confused.  You say, wait a minute, Greg, I see all this in the Bible about the resurrection. But the resurrection hasn’t happened yet. So, where do Christians go when they die?  They go to heaven – remember 2 Cor. 5:8 says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  When a Christian dies, their spirit goes to be with the Lord and then, on the resurrection day, their spirit will be reunited with their glorified body to be with the Lord in the air.  What about the people who are alive when Jesus comes? The Bible says that their body will be changed immediately. They won’t die, they will just be changed in a moment. The end result is the same. Every Christian will have a glorified body – a body like our Lord Jesus.

 Now, what does all of this about resurrected/glorified bodies have to do with living by faith?  How does that tie in to believing God’s promises?  Look back with me at 2 Cor. 5:1   “we KNOW ….”  In the original Greek it means “know.”  We are certain. No doubt. 

Look on down at 2 Cor. 5:6 “we are always confident…”  2 Cor. 5:8  ‘we are confident…”   Paul was saying that he took God at His word.  He believed God’s promise of a new body and eternity with Him.   That is living by faith.While the immediate context involves death and our resurrection body, it is very helpful to make some very practical application.  Yes, there are promises of God to believe about our body one day, but we can believe some other very important promises too

“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

“The LORD preserves the faithful” (Psalm 31:23)

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

 You see, really living by faith eventually comes down to this question: 

DO I REALLY BELIEVE GOD WILL KEEP HIS WORD? 

Do I believe that that God really meant it when He promised to supply all my need?   Do I believe that God really meant it when He said that he would never leave me or forsake me?  Living by faith is believing the promises of God. That’s the second decision, but now I want us to see that the Bible teaches that living by faith involves another decision…

III.               Living by faith is anticipating the future

Look back with me now at v. 1-2  “groaning”  He uses the word again in v. 4.  Now, when we see the word “groan” we immediately think of groaning in agony or distress, but the world here basically means “to sigh.”  Did you know that all groaning is not from distress? 

Think about the last time you took your young children on vacation.  “Are we there yet?”  SIGH.  “How much longer?” SIGH. ‘Let’s hurry. I’m ready to get there.”  SIGH.  They were groaning, but in a good way!  They were groaning with anticipation.

That is exactly the sense in which the word is used here. In v. 4 Paul says that he is groaning for his mortality to be swallowed up by life. He was not groaning in agony – he was groaning in anticipation!   Now look at v. 5  God gives us the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee of more to come!  You see, living by faith is anticipating the future, knowing that the Lord will ultimately bring what he said to pass.

IV.               Living by faith is persevering through problems

Look with me now at 2 Corinthians 5:6  “we are always confident…”  Vs. 8 uses the same expression  “we are confident…’   Here is how that word confident is used here. The Greek word has this idea…

to have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of danger or testing—‘to be courageous, to have courage, to be bold.’

 This is why the New American Standard Version says, “being always of good courage!”  I like that translation. You see, if we really believe what we say we believe, then we can have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of danger or testing.

“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost

 How easy it is to just want God to get us out of our pressures. Living by faith is living through the pressures.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed’  2 Corinthians 4:7–9 (NASB)

Living by faith doesn’t mean we have so much faith that we have no problems. It means that we live by faith through our problems. Now, I want us to see a fifth decision that living by faith means…

V.               Living by faith is desiring God’s pleasure 

Look back with me at 2 Cor. 5:9   Basically Paul is saying,  “In light of all of this, here is my goal.”  This was Paul’s ambition. You know it’s good to be ambitious if you are ambitious for the right things.  Let your ambition be to please God and that ambition is a great and worthy thing!Don’t miss the connection.  “therefore” connects this with all that is before it.  In light of all of this. In light of what living by faith means, I chose to make pleasing the Lord more important than anything else.