Tag Archive for By Faith

Faith Promises

I was up in the middle of the night last night with my elderly dog. And while I was waiting for him to finish his business outside, I decided to scroll through Facebook on my phone (horrible idea, I know). It just so happens that I came across two different posts that related to today’s study. They were both about faith (or a lack of faith) in the promises of God. So today, I wanted to cover some of the things God has promised us, and a few of the things He hasn’t…

5 Promises from God

1. The Holy Spirit

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,
to be with you forever…”

~ John 14:16

2. God Is Our Strength

“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

~ Isaiah 40:31

3. Our Needs Will Be Met

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

~ Philippians 4:19

4. Nothing Can Separate Us From The Love of God

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 8:37-39

5. Eternal Life

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 6:23

3 Things We Aren’t Promised

1. Everything We Ask For

Philippians 4:19 says God will supply for all of our needs, not all of our wants. James 4:3 says that when we ask and don’t receive, it’s because we ask with the wrong motives. God isn’t a magic genie. We can’t just rub the prayer lamp and have all of our wishes fulfilled. The God of the “Name it and Claim it” gospel isn’t the God of the Bible.

2. Health, Wealth, and Happiness

The prosperity Gospel is prominent in America today. Preachers tell us that God wants us to be happy, that if we give enough money, that we will be blessed beyond measure. But that isn’t found in the Bible.

Preachers will often refer to Jeremiah 29:11 where God promises the Israelites that He has a plan to prosper them. However, most prosperity preachers leave out that the people he makes that promise to all die in captivity. He had a plan to prosper their people after they died for their disobedience. It was a multigenerational promise that included 70 years of captivity.

In all actuality, God promised us that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33), that we would face persecution (John 15:18-20), and that true riches are heavenly, not earthly (Matthew 6:19-20).

3. Works-based Salvation

Romans 6:23 promises eternal life as the gift of God. It isn’t something we can earn. There isn’t a certain threshold of sin that God tolerates before condemning someone to Hell. All sin has the same punishment, whether you tell a little white lie or go on a shooting rampage. Your only hope is the free gift of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no penance you can pay to get into Heaven. There is nothing you can avoid. None of us are good enough to get into Heaven on our own. We all need Jesus.

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Faithfully Persecuted

For week seven of our study through Hebrews 11, we are looking at prophets and martyrs. While there were several Old Testament examples listed in verse 32, we don’t have to look back at all to see people being martyred for their faith. There is a mass martyrdom going on in Syria, and countless others that don’t always make the news. But being persecuted for your faith doesn’t always mean you are killed.

Here in the US, Christian businesses are being persecuted for not supplying birth control to their employees and refusing to cater to homosexual weddings. But honestly, we often don’t even need to look outside of our own lives to see persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” So if you are not seeing persecution in your life, you might want to look at why not. Below, I have listed some of the ways normal Christians (whatever that means) can see persecution in their lives.

3 Ways Christians Can Be Persecuted in Everyday Life

1. Rejection

This is the most common way Christians are persecuted in everyday life in the United States. We are rejected by our families, shunned by our friends, and often excluded by people that could be wonderful friends if they gave us a chance.

2. Slander

Christians are often misunderstood. There are blanket statements that are applied to everyone who calls themselves a Christian, that aren’t necessarily true. Some people assume that because we are Christians, that we are intolerant, self-righteous, and hateful. And many times people aren’t afraid to say these things about us, even if they don’t know us.

3. Bullying and Peer Pressure

Sometimes we feel rejected because we aren’t invited to a party or event we wouldn’t have wanted to go to anyway, but often times, that is better than the alternative. Christians often face bullying and peer pressure. It can seem like the world wants to test our faith and convictions.

 

How do you see persecution in your life?

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Faith Lessons

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of the Israelites. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith involved in crossing the Red Sea, bringing down the walls of Jericho, and the way faith changed the life of Rahab.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, two things stood out to me above everything else

1. God is Faithful

2 Timothy 2:13 says:

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

Sometimes, being faithful to what God is calling us to do is scary, or it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I can’t help but wonder how many of the Israelites knew how to swim. If you have ever met someone with a fear of water, walking through the Red Sea, even on dry ground, would have terrified them. Okay, I know how to swim, and it probably would have terrified me! That gigantic wall of water on both sides. You would have had to have a lot of faith to believe that God would (and could) hold it that way until you were safely to the other side. And this was a sea – not a creek. There wouldn’t be the option to run real fast so you make it across quickly. It took some time, and a whole lot of faith (or fear).

Walking around a city for seven days probably seemed a little foolish so some. But the Israelites faithfully did it. They trusted that God knew what He was doing, and they followed through. And God did just what He promised to do, even if there were a few skeptics in the bunch.

Our God is an Awesome God

2. Faith is Powerful

Rahab is the one that I was most impressed with this week, though.  She wasn’t originally an Israelite. She was a prostitute who lived in Jericho and had heard about the LORD, and believed that He had given the Israelites the land. So she acted out of that faith and it not only saved her life, but changed her life. She became an Israelite, married Salmon, and became the father of Boaz, a forefather of Jesus.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

So while faith might not always be easy or make a lot of sense, it changes things and changes us.

How has faith changed your life?

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A Life of Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the life of Moses. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith of Jochebed, Moses, and the Israelites during the Passover.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, several different things stood out to me.

4 Lessons for the Faithful

#1. God doesn’t always make life easy for those who have faith in Him.

Jochebed could have cursed God for allowing the Egyptians to kill all of the Israelite babies, but she didn’t. She had faith in Him to protect her son. She placed her hope in Him, even when the world said that was foolish.

#2. There is a right way and a wrong way to stand up for what we believe in.

I firmly believe that Moses had the best intentions when he killed the Egyptian, but that probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. Granted, this was before the 10 commandments were given, so I guess we can’t hold it against him.

#3. Faith doesn’t have to be blind.

Yes, Moses took God at His Word, but he also asked a lot of questions. He didn’t just say yes right off the bat, he took the time to understand his mission and his role. I wonder if we don’t get frustrated so often with our callings… okay, if I don’t get frustrated so often with what I know God is calling me to do, because I don’t stick around to get the details. I just get the first sentence and run with it.

#4. Faith doesn’t mean fearless, and it’s certainly not something you can do half-way.

When I think of the first passover, while they were sitting there in their homes with their children, I would have been terrified. I would have double and triple checked that we had followed all of God’s commandments regarding the preparation of the passover to protect my oldest son at all costs. And having the angel of death come past my door, I probably would have fainted. It would have been terrifying.

Can you imagine if one of the Israelites would have said, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll protect us even if we don’t have our sandals on and our belts tucked in. I mean, really, who eats while they are holding their staff?!”

No. They wouldn’t have done that. Not at the risk of their children. Yet so often today, we essentially say the same thing. We say, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll let us into heaven, even if we don’t love our neighbors as our selves. I mean, really, who prays for those who mistreat them?!”…Just something to think about.

I want to leave you with my current SSMT memory verse:

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17 (NIV)

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

In the comments…

Which of the four things that stood out to me in this weeks study makes the biggest impact on you? Why?

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Multi-generational Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

All four of these men believed in the same thing.

They all had faith in the same promise.

God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations through his son, Isaac.

Abraham had to believe that promise when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.

He had faith that God was God and would keep His promises, even when it didn’t make sense.

Isaac blessed his children out of faith that God would keep the promise He made to Abraham and make his children prosper.

Jacob blessed Joseph’s children out of that promise, too. Looking back, He saw all that God had done in his life, and had faith that He would work in their lives, too.

And Joseph looked forward and trusted that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham to settle his children in the promised land, even as they made their home in Egypt. He had so much faith that he gave them instructions on what to do when that day finally came.

They believed in a multi-generational promise.

God seems to like those.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV).

My pastor calls that a coffee cup verse.

We put it up everywhere and love to cling to that promise.

But that was a multi-generational promise, too.

In verse 10, God said, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”

God would prosper them in seventy years!

Are you that patient?

I’m not.

Many of the people who were going into exile, wouldn’t live to see the return to the promised land.

Here’s a multi-generational promise that God made to us:

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Revelation 1:3

For the time is near.

Jesus is coming back.

He is coming to claim His people and rescue us from this life.

And He is coming soon.

That soon could be tomorrow, or it could be in another 1,000 years, but He is coming.

He promised.

And we know that God keeps His promises.

Our duty is to trust He will fulfill His promises, and pass those promises on to our children, instilling multi-generational faith.

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Are you patiently waiting for God to fulfil His promises, or are you impatient (like me)?

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Faithfully UnFaithful

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of Abraham. One thing that sticks out to me the most about his faith, was how unfaithful he was.

Yes, he was really faithful at moments in his life, but at other moments, his faith was completely lacking.

By faith he obeyed God when he was told to go, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect him and his wife in Egypt.

By faith he believed God would give him a son, but he needed proof that he would take possession of the land.

By faith he obeyed God and circumcised his family, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect Sarah in the Negev region.

By faith he started to obey God when he was told to sacrifice his son, but God was faithful and provided a ram for the offering.

Yet the only thing recorded in Hebrews 11 is his faith.

To me, that’s encouraging.

God forgives our failures. 

We aren’t required to have unwavering faith – that’s why Jesus came. God knows we will stumble.

“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

In my life, I can remember some moments when my faith was powerful.

When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I had that peace that surpasses all understanding.

When my first husband left me for another woman, my faith in God got me through it.

Yet, I still stumble.

I am far from perfect.

While I am secure that I have an awesome God, I am insecure in my ability to serve Him – and that’s a lack of faith on my part.

I’m working on it, but it’s oh so good to remember that when we are faithless, our God is faithful.

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Living by Faith

There are some times in life when you step beyond the everyday hustle and bustle into the great unknown.

It’s uncomfortable.

While it can be exciting, it’s usually laced with a trace of fear.

And it’s often a one-time thing. We either step out into the great unknown and then either go back to the way things were, or wait for that to become the new normal. We don’t generally upset our world on a regular basis. We don’t like putting ourselves out there… at least I don’t.

Yet, sometimes, stepping out just once is enough.

In Hebrews 11, out of the first three people commended for their faith, two of them just took one step. Abel took a small step. He simply did what he knew was right. Out of faith, he brought God the best of what he had as an offering.

That’s it.

It sounds simple, but it’s much easier for us to be like Cain and just bring God some. To acknowledge Him by keeping the best for ourselves. Or giving to Him out of the excess.

Noah, on the other hand, took a leap. Because of his faith, he became the laughing stock of society to honor God. He built a boat, a monstrous arc, just because God told him to and he had faith that God would do what He said He would do.

Both of these men displayed faith in God. They both honored Him with their faith. But the third one is the one that resonates deep in my soul.

Enoch believed that God existed and earnestly sought Him, and God was pleased.

It doesn’t say that Enoch never messed up. The Bible doesn’t say that he never sinned (Romans 3:23), it just says that he believed in God and sought Him. And that his reward was to never experience death.

And that’s a reward we can share because of Christ.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24 (NIV)

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The Definition of Faith

 

When I was little, I thought faith meant believing that God was real. If you said you had faith, it meant that you were a Christian. Yet, as I grew older, I realized that you could have faith in many different things.

You can have faith in people.

In different religions.

In your own abilities.

In circumstances.

And in the Creator of the Universe.

In this study, we are going to be working our way through Hebrews 11. And the first three verses define faith as what Paul meant when he penned this book nearly 2000 years ago.

“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.”

Confidence and assurance. 

Faith isn’t merely closing our eyes and guessing everything will be okay. It’s a deep rooted belief in something. Faith comes from an intimate knowledge of holder of that faith.

In his Bible study Faith Hope and Luck, Andy Stanley defines faith as, “Confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do everything He promises He’ll do.”

Faith comes from intimacy.By-Faith-Ladies'-Bible-Stud

You can’t have confidence that God is who He says He is, if you don’t know who He has said He is. You can’t be sure that He will do what He promises if you don’t know what He has promised.

The perfect example of this was given as the first credit of faith in Hebrews 11 (vs 3) when Paul wrote, “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.”

That’s Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Do you have faith that God is the Creator, and He made everything from nothing (Gen 1:2)?

Scripture teaches us so much about who God is and what He has promised for us. We could (and should) spend the rest of our lives digging deeper into who He is. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:33:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!”

We have an amazing God, who has done and will continue to do amazing things. And the more we learn about Him, the more faith we will have.

And that faith has the power to change our lives. 

When we have faith in God, we stress less. We trust Him to work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

We don’t worry about our failures, because we know God’s will will prevail.

We understand that others will let us down, but we are still able to love them with no strings attached.

Faith is powerful.

Because of the power of faith, it’s important that we know, really know, where we put it. Misplaced faith can do great damage. It will fail us time and again, and can even lead to harm.

So today, I encourage you to dig deeper into God’s Word and grow your faith by intimately loving our God and Savior.

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{Study Announcement} By Faith

Last week we wrapped up our study through the prayers of the New Testament, and next week we will be kicking off our new study, “By Faith.”

Walking through the verses in Hebrews 11, we will be looking at what it really means to have faith, and what it looks like both in our lives, and in the lives of those who came before us.

I hope you will join us.

You can follow along here on my blog, subscribe below to get lessons e-mailed to you each week, or if you live in Seymour, TX you can join us in person Mondays at noon at the First Baptist Church in Seymour where lunch is provided.

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You can find a list of past studies we’ve done here.