Encourage0gram May 2, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters who trust in Jesus!
“The faith to die by is the faith to live by.” Wise words from the pen of Charles Spurgeon. Living by faith in this world is a challenge! Many times, our faith is challenged by others or by our circumstances. We often struggle with doubts and fears. Yet in heaven we will rejoice that we were faithful to the One who never leaves us nor forsakes us. We were loyal to Him and not ashamed! We walked by faith and not by sight! May we keep on, keeping on this journey of faith today!
Mrs. Louisa Stead was a young wife and mother living by faith. One day in 1882 she, her husband and their young daughter were enjoying a day on the beach. Suddenly, a young boy cried for help from the waves. Louisa’s husband rushed into the waters to help him. Tragically, they both drowned as Louisa watched helplessly from the shore. During a long season of grief, she wrote a poem that has blessed so many. Later she and her daughter by faith traveled to South Africa and served faithfully as missionaries for over 25 years. Her fellow-missionaries wrote a brief tribute to their fellow-soldier. It says, “We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as over 5,000 native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.”
|1||’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.
|2||O how sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me,
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood.
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.
|4||I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.
Recently reading in Hebrews 11, the great hall of faith, I was struck by these words.
ESV Hebrews 11:1-2
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the people of old received their commendation.
ESV Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please him,
for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
Our forefathers of the faith pleased God and were commended. They believed that God exists and that He does reward all who seek Him. This seemed to me to be a very good test of how to please God. His existence is undeniable as we live in this universe that He created. The heavens and earth tell us that He exists! We are blessed to trust in our Creator. But there is more, He is our Savior! He came to His own creation and to all who trust in Him He gives us the right to be called His children!
So how can we please the One who created us and saves us? Believe He is alive and seek Him. Seek and keep seeking Him. On good days and difficult days, He remains the same and He is trustworthy. He will see and reward your faith.
As I continued to read this great chapter, it struck me that each one on the list would pass this simple faith test.
In Hebrews 11:4, we meet Abel who offered a pleasing sacrifice to God and was commended for it. The jealousy and hatred of his brother Cain led to his murder. However, Abel the first human being to be killed still speaks to us today!
In Hebrews 11:5, we meet Enoch who simply walked with God. His walk led to a miracle rapture into heaven! God took Enoch home and he did not experience death. I conclude that for Enoch walking with God by faith in heaven was not too different from walking by faith on earth. His daily confidence in God was rewarded in an extraordinary and unique way.
In Hebrews 11:7, we meet Noah. Now he lived in a very dark age of faithlessness on the earth. When God saw his faith, He rewarded him. Noah built an ark and so he and his family survived the great flood of judgment. We read in other Scripture that Noah not only built an ark but preached. Obliviously, his message would include the call to trust in the God who exists and rewards all who seek Him.
As you read through this chapter you meet many individuals who pleased God. They continued to please God right up to the moment of their death. All of them were blessed on the earth but some gave their lives for the faith (see Hebrews 11:35-38). So this is true for us in the twenty-first century, too. To please God, we simply trust in His existence and His reward.
ESV Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
ESV Hebrews 11:39-40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
ESV Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I do not know what your race today will be like but I do know this if you run by faith you will be commended and rewarded. So, keep running forward, everyone in the cloud of witnesses is cheering you on! And Jesus awaits us at the finish line as He sits on the Throne of the universe! Jesus knows how hard this life can be and He knows how richly we will be rewarded for living by faith and pleasing God.
This Sunday at FCC, we will remember Jesus’ death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper. I encourage you to prepare your heart for this sacred love feast. We will begin a new sermon series entitled: “Fruit of Transformation, not Reformation” based on Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Galatians. I look forward to gathering with all of you as we worship our Lord and Savior!
May all glory and honor be given by us to Him! Amen and amen!