Faith Basics: You Gotta Have Faith!

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[If you’d like to listen to the audio recording of this message, Click the Spotify player at the bottom of this post.]

If you’ve got a bible handy, turn to Hebrews chapter 11. We are continuing on with the series “Faith Basics.” But one thing occurred to me this week. 

All we talked about last week and all we will talk about in the coming weeks are pointless…until you embrace Faith itself. Faith is not a structure of religious practices. Faith is not the manual of the Church of the Nazarene. Faith is believing in what you do not see…what you hope for. What you trust in. All the other basics can be tossed out the window if you don’t have faith. So We need to talk about Faith today. Hebrews 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith.” It’s a grand retelling of the Heroes of the history of the Israelites, but it is framed in such a way to highlight a few things: Who they were (as if the audience didn’t know), what they believed in without seeing, and what was the result. 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

The New Living translation puts it this way:

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” 

Hebrews 11:1 NLT

The reality of what we hope for. It’s the truth that is truth, even if we don’t believe in it. But when we do believe in it without seeing it, that’s what faith looks like.

  1. Faith is the Evidence/assurance of things unseen.
    1. What were the unseen things in these verses?
PersonUnseen ThingResult
AbelGod’s acceptance of his offeringRighteousness
EnochPleased GodTaken without death
NoahFloodFamily Safe
AbrahamFuture home (didn’t know where he was going)Inheritance (land/children)
SarahFaithfulness of GodChild
A Chart of the people, what they believed in without seeing and the result of that.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

Hebrews 11:4 NIV
  • Abel had faith that his offering was going to the God who would accept it. It was a good offering, a better offering than his brother’s. He believed God was worthy of this offering – (“fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock” Gen 4:4b)  

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5 NIV

We’ll look at verse 6 in a moment or two, but let’s skip down to verse 7 and Noah.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen (Flood), in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Hebrews 11:7 NIV

Let’s look at verse 8 and Abraham:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 

Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV

Even Abraham’s wife, Sarah, gets in on this Faith thing. Hebrews 11:11

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 

Hebrews 11:11 NIV

The Hebrews author paints a much nicer picture of Sarah than Genesis, as the Old Testament records that she laughed when she heard that she would have a child. Somewhere down the line, this became the view and the observation of the Hebrews writer. Even though she thought it so funny she giggled, she still hoped and believed and then she had a son.

These are some examples of historical heroes having faith and God blesses the results. Presumably we want to please God, but the more and more we try, it doesn’t seem to add up. What do we need ?    Let’s look back at verse 6 to learn what it takes to please God. 

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 11:6 NIV

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

To please God, you must believe God and seek God.

Believing in God and seeking him are essential to pleasing Him.

Let’s look at this verse from the Amplified Bible. Essentially, the Amplified bible gives commentary-like context to the text as you read it. So it has those notes in brackets, clarifying the deeper meanings behind certain words. It says:

“But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6 Amplified

Try as we may, as we illustrated last week with the drawing of the chasm of sin that’s between us and God, we can’t jump high enough, run fast enough, use things to propel us to him…Hebrews says we must believe he exists…(and it doesn’t stop there.) And that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

Sinner’s prayer or “A,B,C’s of Salvation” are perfect examples.

  • Admit – I am a sinner. You aren’t really pursuing help if you don’t think you need it. Recognizing you are a sinner is the first step to salvation. 
  • Believe – Believe Jesus died for my sins and I ask for forgiveness. I accept his gift of Salvation. I believe he saves me now.
  • Confess – Confess your faith before others, tell the whole word of what God has done for you!

It’s that “Believe”, the “B” in the A,B,C’s of salvation we are talking about. It’s the trust in someone you haven’t seen, but yet believe…in faith. It is essential. Otherwise it looks like this.

  1. I’m a sinner
  2. I’m kinda trying some stuff to fix my sin problem. I hope one of them works
  3. I don’t know if my life has changed yet, I’ll get back to you on that.

It’s like trying different diets to find out which one will give you the best results. Then when you find that one, can you actually stick with it? That’s what we are doing when we fit ANYTHING else into the spot where Belief in Jesus, dying for our sins, and that he saves you now. We are rolling the dice, leaving it up to luck…but we are NOT placing our trust in anything. In Anyone.

3. Believing and Seeking

Person/PeopleBelievedHow they sought God
Abraham (again) (v17-19)His Son back from the DeadTrusted God’s directions even when it sounded crazy.
Israelites (v29)God’s Power to keep red sea partedStepped out onto the place where the Red Sea had been.
Israelites (v30)The conquering of JerichoFollowed their literal marching orders.
another chart

Let’s look at a few more examples. This chapter has tons. It has so many examples, the writer even lumps some folks all together at the end, big names like Samson, David, and  Samuel. Let’s look at Abraham again in verses 17-19.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV

Abraham Believed God. He believed God existed and was living and active. He believed he wasn’t going crazy when he heard words of direction straight from God. He believed it so much, He trusted in God so much that he sought God through his obedience. He went to sacrifice his only son, believing –as the Hebrews writer points out, he believed God would resurrect Isaac. Otherwise God’s initial promise wouldn’t be fulfilled!

There are several other examples of Joseph and Moses, but let’s skip down to verse 29 and see how a general people group, the Israelites, Believed and Sought God. How they trusted him by faith.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

Hebrews 11:29 NIV

Have you ever been to an aquarium before? There in Jenks, Oklahoma there is the Oklahoma Aquarium. It’s got stingrays, sea turtles, shrimp, starfish, an octopus and so much more. One of the highlights of the Aquarium is the Shark Exhibit. This Shark Adventure houses the world’s largest collection of bull sharks. Now this is not just a tank you walk around, but through. There is a glass tunnel that leads you underneath the shark exhibit. It’s something you have to experience for yourself to get the full effect. But even though I did not know it, I had faith in something, walking through that tunnel. I had faith that the glass wouldn’t break and sharks would come flooding down the tunnel to munch on me and my family. I had faith in the engineers who designed and the workers who built it. I showed that faith by walking down the tunnel.  I imagine something similar to those crossing the Red Sea. Moses was holding up his staff. He was following directions by faith…but the people could have been all wiped out that day, just as the Egyptians were where they tried to cross after them.

The Israelites showed they sought God by…Stepping out onto the place where the Red Sea had been.

 Let’s look at the next verse, verse 30.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

Hebrews 11:30 NIV

If you don’t know the story, here’s the summary: Joshua and the Israelites were given some very strange battle plans by God: March around Jericho once a day for 6 days. Don’t shout or play your horns or anything. On the 7th day, march around it 7 times, blow trumpets and shout at the conclusion of the last lap. They believed. They were seeking God to do the impossible and the city of Jericho was delivered into their hands. They couldn’t have done it without faith.

They Believed God would deliver Jericho into their hands.  They sought God through obeying their literal “Marching orders.”

4. Everyday Faith

The best and most tangible demonstration I have ever seen concerning faith looks like this. This is a stool. I can look at that stool, I can investigate it “Sure looks like a sturdy stool!” I can maybe push on it a little, give it a kick like people do with tires for…whatever reason they do that for. I could go so far as to look into the stool’s history, “Who bought this stool? What material is it made from?”    

But it all comes down to this one question: “When I sit on it, will it hold me up?”

[At this point in the message I got a volunteer to help me with this demonstration.]

Now you know that I wouldn’t want you to fall and have everyone laugh at you, right?

You also don’t know if I messed with this stool before the service. It could be wobbly or it could be sturdy.

The interesting this is, you will NEVER know until you sit down.

You will never know for sure until you put your whole weight on this stool and see if it will hold you up. 

Perhaps you’ve seen other people sit on other stools before, much like our Hall of Faith from Hebrews 11, but you’ve never sat on this stool before.

[Hopefully the volunteer sits down. Stool stays in one piece.]

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Though you couldn’t know for sure that the stool would hold you up, you hoped it would. You had enough confidence in that hope that you sat down and risked falling. Now, go ahead and stand up. Ok, now sit down on the stool again. Did you believe it would hold you up?

Why?  (Because you’d already experience the stool’s faithfulness as you put your trust or full weight on it.)

Dismiss volunteer

Wrap up: What’s this have to do with the other faith basics?

Without faith, without actually sitting down on the stool. Without trusting God, his word, how He’s revealed himself throughout history…all you are left with is doubt. And when you stay there, you can even doubt the most basics of the Christian Faith. And so, we needed to address the very topic of Faith…putting your whole trust in something you can’t see, but you’re hopeful for. 

Do you want to be free from addiction? The first step is to believe it is possible for you to be from that addiction. What about worries? Do you enjoy being stressed and terrified all the time or do you want to live life in a state of calm and peace? You’ve got to have faith that’s possible. 

No matter what anyone pursues in life, they must have faith that it is pursuable…or else they wouldn’t pursue it!

No matter what anyone pursues in life, they must have faith that it is pursuable…or else they wouldn’t pursue it!
What about God? Do you have faith that he loves you? His Son died for you…to fix the sin problem we talked about last week? Do you trust God’s word? These are the questions, but we have two choices, to stand there looking at it “I wonder if that will hold me up or if it will collapse…” and the other choice is to trust in faith and simply…sit… down.

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Proverbs 30 – I didn’t do that!

Back to my silly roots! So many things in scripture remind me of movies I’ve seen. This passage reminds me of that elderly gremlin from Hotel Transylvania. If you’ve seen this wacky movie, you’ll know see seems old and feeble, but in a quick moment…she’ll eat something larger than herself and then give a sly look all around. She’ll then proclaim, “I didn’t do that!”

The clip from the film, the scripture point out our real life excuses. We are prepared to sin, make the wrong choice. When we do it, the first thing we do is deny doing it. We might point the blame on others.

Why? Because taking responsibility for our actions is the first step to reconciliation. As long as as a person denies they did nothing wrong, relationships stay broke and forgiveness and healing can’t take place.

Proverbs 29 – Better late than Never

“Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.”

Proverbs‬ ‭29:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

First of all, mad props to you if you have a blog and are able to keep a consistent posting schedule. in a couple days I will post about my 31 day experience blogging about the book of Proverbs. But for today I’m going to talk about this verse.

What comes to mind when you think about this verse? For me, I think of contacting governmental leaders to let them know what I stand for and how I would encourage them to vote a particular way on a bill.

No matter what legislation is passed, what budgets get vetoed, or who goes before a judiciary committee, we only receive justice when it comes from the Lord.

Proverbs 28 – That turned real quick

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“Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back.”

Proverbs‬ ‭28:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I was considering a few other verses to write on until I came across this one. The thing I like most about proverbs is that most of them are “common sense” commentary. However when we say some of these things out loud, some might be taken aback! We know these things happen…but we don’t talk about such things in polite society.

This verse is like so on the nose. It’s in your face. It’s an observation that the writer may have had personal experience with.

People who are guilty, especially of murder…find no relief from their guilt until they find their way to their grave.

The good news for us is that we can be free of sin, shame and guilt. Jesus can provide that freedoms for the liar, the thief, and even the murderer. Earthly consequences still stand, however the guilt that drives people to kill themselves…doesn’t have to stick around or lead them to a self imposed ending.

Proverbs 27 – Iron Sharpens what now?

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As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Have you ever worked with a dull knife? The Deli I worked in had a rule: a dull knife is an unsafe knife. You tend to chop or push harder when you knife is dull. This can lead to accidents. If you lose control over the item you’re cutting and you’re pushing down real hard with you dull knife…you might soon lose a part of you.

The deli I worked in had a knife sharpening service. All of our knives would be collected every 2-4 weeks and the service would bring us freshly sharpened and polished knives to work with. We could all tell how smooth and easy it was to cut a loaf of bread or dice vegetables after receiving these freshly sharpened knives.

As I understand it, sharpening any metal tool takes a took of a denser toughness. You scrape the blade along side the harder tool and it shaves away bits of imperfections in the blade. You may have seen butchers or deli workers use a honing rod. In between knife sharpening, we would need to smooth out those bumps on our own by using the honing rod.

What does this have to say about people “sharpening” each other? Mad props to God’s Chemistry Set blog. I was looking for some insight and scientific info on what happens in this process of metal sharpening and they pointed me in the right direction.

Mentoring frequently comes to mind when we talk about helping others grow. Mentors challenge their mentees to try new things. They use their own experience to shave off some of the bumps and nicks in the person they are mentoring. They then also rely on someone else, stronger, tougher and more experienced than themselves to do the same for them.

Ultimately we need to let God’s word and his Holy Spirit correct and shave off those bits in our life that are displeasing to him (or at least not as useful as they could be if they were sharpened.) But we need fellowship with others to guide and help us discern these things. I hope you find that here in this blog. I also find that doing a YouVersion bible study with others is beneficial. You can join me there. “What If” Reading Plan by Matthew West.

Proverbs 26 – Bad Archery

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“Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.”

Proverbs‬ ‭26:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever hired an employee before? More likely you’ve been an employee. Perhaps you’ve worked with someone that you just wonder why was that person hired?

I can imagine being Human Resources at a business is a hard job. But, sometimes you just need people who might not be the best skilled or experienced at the job they are hired for (but hey, you got to get experience somewhere and sometime.)

This passage stresses the importance of hiring the right person for the job. Don’t hire fools. (Hopefully the interview process weeds out the fools) and passerby’s just might not be faithful.

I think as a person who has been hired for jobs (you probably can relate) I want to be the kind of person who isn’t a fool. And I want to be wise (and not harm my team) when I hire new people.

Question for you: have you ever worked with a person and felt, “did HR fire at random?” What was your experience?

Proverbs 25 – Refreshing News

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“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”

Proverbs‬ ‭25:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you noticed that we live in a world saturated and obsessed with bad news? When I was a kid, I always wondered why my parents read the newspaper at night or bothered to watch the evening news. Now I’m an adult with a family of my own and I find myself drawn to news and info. And 99% of it is bad or at least sassy news. YouTube news videos and news article frequently have “so and so destroyed this person who has bad ideas and does bad stuff!”

If we start to drown in all that bad news, it can make us weary. We need to be refreshed. Enter: Good news. Good news from afar doesn’t care about your cynicism. It just is good.

I felt at church we were focusing on negative and sad news. We needed a counter balance. I found some by looking at Nazarene News. I found news stories there of encouragement. People and churches who were learning to care for their community in new an desperately needed ways all across the globe.

Perhaps you need some good news today. Here is a link to their site so you can see for yourself how God is refreshing people with His good news all over the world.

https://nazarene.org/news

Proverbs 24 – Home Improverments

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“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

Proverbs‬ ‭24:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
(Not my actual house)

We recently had “some” work done on our house. Air quotes on the “some” because it was actually many major things that needed updated and it was decided to go ahead and take care of them all now. Our immediate issue was a leaky basement, however the updates started on the outside and worked their way into the house.

I didn’t tell the contractor what he had to work on. His experience, his expertise far out weighed my own. He did a fabulous job. It reminded me of how little I personally know about updating or repairing things the best way possible. A few years ago I installed a new sink and vanity in our main bathroom. Google and YouTube videos helped me install a functioning sink, but it wasn’t a “quite right.”

The wisdom and experience of our contractor proved there were areas of improvement (like having the sink flush up against the wall…I guess that’s important). So now I know the sink is secure, working properly and will be there for years to come. I’m thankful for his wisdom that established these actual repairs to my home.

In our own hearts and lives we can try to “do it ourselves” and we can even get by with our versions of “good enough.” However, for our lives to be established we’ve got to trust the wisdom of the Lord. We need his word to be our foundation. Otherwise all we are doing is trying to get by through patch-work.

Proverbs 23 – “Sorry to inconvenience you…”

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“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”

Proverbs‬ ‭23:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever had this happen to you? (I know I sound like an infomercial). You are invited for dinner or a party, but the host only talks about how much it is costing them?

I can picture this being something the father of the bride who is paying for a wedding reception might say. They love their daughter, but begrudgingly fork over the cash to pay for various guests at the wedding meal.

Only advice I have: don’t be like that guy. If you give something away out of love (or any reason, really) it’s not longer yours to control or be upset with how it’s spent. Essentially, if you’re going to be generous, don’t attach strings. If you’re not going to be generous, don’t pretend like you are. Or your guests will sarcastically reply, “sorry to inconvenience you…”

Proverbs 22 – Tornado Ahead!

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“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.”

Proverbs‬ ‭22:3, 5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Alrighty! We’re back to movie inspired devotional thoughts! Have you ever seen “Twister?” Yes, the movie about tornado chasers, not the party game with colored dots.

In Twister (spoiler warning) there are of course the main crew of chasers who we are suppose to relate to, care about most and root for. The there is a groups of chasers who are trying to beat our heroes to collecting the scientific data first…making the breakthrough discovery on tornadoes first. (Sounds childish if you think about it that way, but competitive adults can be childish.)

In the film there is a time where our heroes sense that a tornado will easily shift directions, so they don’t choose the obvious route to the tornado. They turn off a different road. The leader of the competing team sees this and decides to stay on course with the tornado, pushing to make the scientific breakthrough first, no matter the cost.

Our heroes do the right thing and try to warn the other team of the impending danger but the leader of “team corporate” doesn’t listen and tells his driver to keep going. It ends up getting the two of them impaled and exploded.

When we are cautious about something, that’s not a bad thing. But it is very unwise to not heed the wisdom of others. You might be taking others along with you up into a tornado.