"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
1. The people of Heb. 11 were looked upon as Radicals, Rebels, and Troublemakers.
2. They were Ordinary "Garden Variety" people who accomplished great things.
a. Gideon was a Frightened Farmer when God called him,
b. Moses was an Excuse-Making Fugitive from justice,
c. Jephthah was an Illegitimate Son, unwanted by his family.
d. Rahab was a Harlot.
B. These men Could Not Do Great Things so they Trusted God to do great things For Them.
1. These Christian Heroes were Distinguished, not by their Names or Titles, but By Their Faith.
2. They Trusted God and --- God used them to --- Change the World.
C. These were Dedicated Athletes who --- Reach Their Goals --- Won Their Prize --- Because:
1. They had Faith In God,
2. They Obeyed The Rules of the game,
3. The were Not Quitters!
D. They were experiencing Opposition and Persecution.
Hebrews 10:32-34, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. --- took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, ..."
E. They were Arrested and Put Into Prison.
Hebrews 13:3, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."
F. They had to Bear Reproach.
Hebrews 13:13, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."
G. Tough Times Demand Tough Faith --- the More we trust God, the Stronger our "Faith Muscles" becomes.
Jeremiah 12:5, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
I. What Is Biblical Faith?
(If we are to Win the race and Reach our goals which God Has Set for us --- we must Understand what it means to Live By Faith!)
A. Many people have Faith In Faith instead of Faith In God!
1. Statements like, "Things are going to work out, I have faith" --- is Not faith --- it is Blind Optimism.
2. The usual definition of faith, "Believing In Spite of Evidence" could not be Farther From The Truth.
3. To believe in spite of evidence is really Superstition, Not Faith.
B. Faith Is Only As Good As The Object In Which It Is Place!
1. Everybody Has Faith In Something --- a job --- money --- friends --- a political party --- self --- etc.
2. If you have Faith In Your Doctor, you will get what your doctor can give you.
3. If you have Faith In God, you will get what God can give you.
4. It is the Object of Faith that makes the believers faith Real and Powerful.
C. Bible Faith Acts:
1. It was Not just Mental Assent --- intellectual faith.
2. It was Not Emotional Concern --- faith in faith.
3. It involved Obedience To Gods Word.
a. Abel Offered a sacrifice.
b. Noah Prepared an ark.
c. Abraham Offered up Isaac.
d. Moses Left Egypt.
4. If you are going to Run The Race of Faith:
a. You have to Do Something .....
b. You Cannot Run and Stand Still at the Same Time.
c. True Faith Always Acts:.
D. True Faith Is Obeying God In Spite of --- Emotions --- Circumstances --- or Consequences.
1. The people listed in Faiths Hall of Fame:
a. Did not Deny their Feelings,
b. Could not Change their Circumstances,
c. Could not Predict the Consequences.
2. But, they Trusted God --- He saw them through.
E. True Faith has to do with the Inner Person --- not the Outer Circumstances --- Through Faith We:
1. See the invisible,
2. Hear the inaudible,
3. Touch the intangible,
4. Do the impossible!
II. How Does Biblical Faith Work? --- Four Steps:
A. Revelation --- The Word of God.
1. The Basic Theme of Hebrews is "God has spoken!" --- What Are You Doing About It?
Hebrews 12:25, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh."
Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
2. Their Faith was Generated by and Founded upon the revealed Word of God.
a. Moses was not afraid of the Egyptian army because God had told him that He would safely deliver the Jews.
b. Joshau was not embarrassed to march around Jericho for a week, because God had told him he wold conquer the city.
c. Peter was able to sleep without fear in prison because God had told him he would die as an old man.
3. As Christians, we should Base Our Faith upon God and His Word --- His Promises .....
4. D. L. Moody said, "I use to think I should close my Bible and pray for faith; but I came to see that it was in studying the Word that I was to get faith."
B. Relationship --- A Walk With God.
1. Those who Maintain A Personal Relationship with God are the Winners in this Life of Faith!
This relationship Deepens With Each Step of Faith.
2. Many people Ignore God Day After Day, and then run to Him when a Crisis occurs.
a. All of A Sudden, they want Him to give them the faith they need to fight the war or solve the problem.
b. When they dont get what they want, they get Angry with God and tell everybody that Faith Doesnt Work.
c. This is like an Athlete Who Didnt Spend Any Time With His Coach .....
3. The Basic Purpose of the Life of Faith is to Please God!
a. Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
b. Everything in the life of faith is a By-Product of our Desire To Please The Father.
c. Otherwise, Faith Becomes A "Tool" whereby we "Use God" to accomplish the Things That We Want to do.
Healing --- Better Job --- Money --- etc.
4. The Better You Get To Know your friends, the Easier It Is To Trust Them --- they are No Longer Strangers ...
a. As we Fellowship with God and His Word, we develop a Relationship That Deepens Day By Day.
b. This relationship involves a Deep Desire to Know Him Better and to Please Him More.
c. Psalm 105:3-4, "Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. 4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore."
C. Response --- Doing The Will of God.
1. Faith Is Not A Feeling, although it certainly involves the emotions.
2. True Faith Involves The Will --- Obedience ...
Hebrews 11:8, "It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going."
a. Perception --- The Mind will know Gods will.
b. Persuasion --- The Emotions will desire to do Gods will.
c. Performance --- The Will itself will respond and obey God.
3. Often, When They Obeyed God, Everything Seemed To Go Wrong.
a. Abraham arrived in the Promised Land only to walk into a Famine.
b. Moses confronted Pharaoh only to be Driven Out and then have His Own People Turn Against Him.
c. Israel departed from Egypt, only to be followed by an Angry Army and to face an Impassable Sea.
4. If you have the idea that the Life of Faith means Smooth Seas and Easy Roads, you are in for a Shock.
D. Reward --- The Witness of God.
Hebrews 11:6, "... he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
1. God Keeps His Promises and Fulfills His Purposes!
2. One of the key words in Heb. 11 is "Witness" --- the Same Greek Word is translated:
a. "gained approval" --- V. 2
b. "obtained the testimony" --- V. 4
c. "obtained the witness" --- V. 5
d. "gained approval" --- V. 39
3. When we exercise Faith In God, we receive this Inner Witness from God.
a. This witness Keeps Us Going when the going is tough.
b. The Word of God is the Objective side of faith.
c. This Inner Witness of God is the Subjective side of faith.
d. We Need Both if we are going to be winners.
4. The World Today would look at these Winners and say, "They act a bit crazy, but they sure have self-confidence!"
a. But, it was Not Self-Confidence ...
b. It was the Inner Witness of God in their hearts.
5. Like many spectators in a stadium, they are still bearing witness to us today.
Hebrews 12:1, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
Romans 15:4, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
III. How Does Biblical Faith Grow?
A. A Living Faith in a Living God, based on the Living Word, has the Potential For Growth.
1. There are Degrees of Faith.
2. Mark 9:24, "... Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
B. Faith Grows as we See God At Work in His World.
1. This does Not mean that we Walk By Sight.
It does mean that we Interpret what we See in Gods World --- by what we Learn in Gods Word.
2. Abraham walked by Faith and Stayed Out of Sodom.
3. Lot walked by Sight and Moved Into Sodom.
C. Faith Grows as we get to Know God better in the pages of His Word.
1. It is Not Enough to know the Word of God, we must know the God of The Word.
Beyond the sacred page
2. Warren Wiersbe writes:
"In these later years, my wife has been able to travel with me in my itinerant ministry; but this was not always so. There were times when I would be away from home two or three weeks at a time, and it was during those times that I gave thanks for the telephone and the mail service! But can you picture me receiving a long letter from home and sitting down to diagram the sentences and analyze the verbs! Of course not! The first thing I would do was enjoy the loving message that was in the letter. It was not the letter so much as the loving wife behind the letter that really counted."
3. If we want our faith to grow, we must get to know God better.
4. We should Never Allow Our Bible Study To Hid Gods Face From Our Hearts.
D. Faith Grows as we Exercise It.
1. The witnesses in Heb. 11 had to endure Tests of Increasing Magnitude so that their Faith could Develop and Grow Stronger.
2. We Cannot strengthen our faith muscles By Reading A Book (even the Bible) or Hearing A Sermon.
a. We Have To Act on what God tells us.
b. Faith Without Action Is Dead Faith --- Dead Faith Cannot Grow. (James 2:14-26)
A. Who can enjoy this kind of faith?
1. Many times we Look For Excuses why we cannot have this kind of faith.
2. We see the Handicaps instead of the Possibilities.
B. Faith Cleanses All Kinds of Sin!
1. Our Past Is Not A Handicap!
a. Noah got drunk.
b. Abraham twice lied about his wife.
c. His son Isaac did the same thing --- So did Jacob ...
d. Sarah laughed at Gods promise and then denied it.
e. Moses lost his temper.
f. David committed adultery and tried to hid his sin by murder ...
g. Joshua jumped the gun and made a bad decision because he didnt ask for Gods guidance.
2. These Winners didnt always collect Mdals --- sometimes they collected Sars.
3. But, Not One Word of Their Failures Is Recorded In Hebrews 11.
C. Faith Changes All Kinds of People!
1. Moses, by faith, was transformed from an Excuse-Making Fugitive into the great Liberator and Law-Giver.
2. Gideon, by faith, was transformed from a Frightened Farmer into a Victorious General.
D. Faith Conquers All Kinds of Problems!
1. The Life of Faith is Not Free of Difficulties --- the difficulties are there to Strengthen Our Faith.
a. Enoch faced the problem of staying clean in a defiled world.
b. Noah had to stand against the ridicule of his neighbors.
c. Moses had to fight the opposition of the government --- and his own people.
d. Daniel faced a den full of lions.
e. The Three Hebrew Children were thrown into a fiery inferno.
2. There Are Times When God:
a. Delivers Us From The Problems.
b. Delivers In The Problems.
E. Faith Releases All Kinds of Potential!
1. David, the shepherd boy, had no idea the kind of hero God would make out of him --- but Faith Released The Potential and made it possible.
2. The Circumstances around us and the People over us Cannot Hinder God from achieving His Purposes In And Through Us.
3. We have Potential because we are Children of God --- It is Faith That Will Release That Potential.
Matthew 9:29, "... According to your faith be it unto you."
F. Everybody Lives By Faith!
1. The Important thing is the Object of Our Faith!
2. Faith Is Only As Good As The Object In Which It Is Placed!
If You Are Not Saved, Nothing Else Matters
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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