Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

When Lord? … Why Lord? … Walking by faith in delayed answers & perplex situations

We rejoice whenever God answers us in the way we prayed or expected..

However, when unplanned events, interruptions happen,
or unexpected prayer outcomes/results happen,
…. what then?

Or perhaps there are times when God’s answers are not instant/immediate,
we have to wait … patiently wait
and as our crisis pot begins to boil, .. boil over
… our cry echoes the Psalmist,

My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord,
       how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;

    save me because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 6:3,4 (NIV)

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Psalm 42:3 (NASB)

or when circumstances are perplexing, ‘out of the box’, unexpected,
like the prophet Habakkuk who asked the Lord,

13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor on
those who deal treacherously?

Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up
            those more righteous than they?
Habakkuk 1:13 (NASB)

We’re not alone, … the saints of old faced these perplexing questions too.

What if ….
without any warning, … all of a sudden,
persecution or war breaks out in the city where we live?

When formulas/slogans fail,
when we’ve done all we could …
or
when faith in Jesus is life or death,

… how different would our perspective of faith, Jesus and the Bible be?

 

Hence, it helps to develop a balanced, wholesome and sound understanding of faith in Jesus, and His ways.

What follows, is a sharing (with Biblical examples) on
walking by faith‘ with the Lord in life situations,
trusting our ever faithful and loving Lord.

 for we walk by faith,
not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)


 

Consider Hebrews 11, the ‘heroes of faith’ chapter.

Hebrews 11:4-7
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.

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.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased 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.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, 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.

By the way, there’s little written about Enoch in Genesis,

Genesis 1:24 (NIV)
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away

For the first 3 persons highlighted in this chapter, Abel, Enoch and Noah …

Abel believed God, and he died.
Enoch believed in God, and he did not die.
Noah believed God, and everybody else died
.

– Bruce Waltke

One faith … three very different outcomes.

God preserved Noah from the unrighteousness around him, and possible death threats.

Abel was murdered, … assassinated.

Was God  less faithful to Abel than he was with Enoch?

Consider also, in the New Testament, the first martyr, Stephen.

Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …
Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people
Acts 6:5, 8 (NIV)

Its unfortuate that, … like Job’s 3 friends,
some folks give to others who are grieving, suffering,
their well-meaning “cause & effect” analysis and anecdoctal generalisations,
instead of compassion, support, comfort, practical love, … prayer.

Was there ‘a lack of faith‘ in Abel, that’s why the unexpected happened?
Or was it because of some sin in Abel?
May be he needed to sacrifice more?
Spiritual attack?

… friends soon scatter when they are needed most …

bringing a sense of  confusion, disappointment,  … guilt, .. shame, … condemnation …

But, … what did God say about Abel?

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

At the end, its what God says that matters,
Abel was commended … God spoke well …

Psalm 3:3, 8 (HCSB)
2 Many say about me,
“There is no help for him in God.”

But You, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
and He answers me from His holy mountain.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
may Your blessing be on Your people.

In the end, God’s response to Job’s 3 friends was

“I am angry with you and your two friends,
for you have not spoken the truth about Me,
as My servant Job has.

Job 32:7 (HCSB)

Sometimes we unconsciously or consciously pray like James & John in Mark 10,

Mark 10:35 (NIV)
 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him.
“Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

or read Romans 8:28 as,
in all things God works for our good

when it actually says
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those
who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:28, 29 (NIV)

God works for the good,
i.e. from God’s perspective and purpose,
… not ours

to those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose,
—- this is the condition for this promise.
The promises of God are conditional, and not blank cheques,
there’s a part for us to fulfill

And what is God’s purpose?
predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son,
 through our life’s events and situations (i.e. all things),
He is working in us to be more liks Jesus.

If one were to insist on one’s own way,
that God must answer our way, each and every time,
… inadvertently, …. when unexpected, unplanned outcomes or events happen,
one is faced with cause-effect questions, such as:

Was there something missing from their faith?
Was there a lack of faith? Not enough faith?
Was there doubt?
Maybe its due to sin?
Spiritual attack … blame the devil?
etc, etc

Back to Hebrews 11, in expressing their faith,
Abel worshiped God … with his offering/sacrifice,
Enoch walked with God, … and pleased Him,
Noah obeyed God, … and built the ark
They submitted to God.

A faith lifestyle
… worship the Lord, walk with the Lord, obey the Lord, submit to God
Enoch walked faithfully with God

Noah when warned about things not yet seen,
he personally heard the word of God,
(not through someone else)
then he acted,
in holy fear built an ark.
He heard God speak to Him personally in his spirit.

So faith comes from hearing,
and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17 (NASB)

Faith comes by personally hearing the word of Christ.

Therein, lies the difference between

faith … or presumption,
following Jesus … or following man.


 

Why was Hebrews 11 written?
Let’s see the preceding verses in Hebrews 10,
(the introduction to Hebrewss 11)

Hebrews 10:32-39,  11:1,2  (NIV)
32 
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.
33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while,

    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”
38 And,
“But my righteous one will live by faith.

    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 11:1 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.

Then the writer goes on to give examples of faith in the Bible.
And he continues his train of thought onto Chapter 12,
and onto the example of Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

a recurring theme,
… perservere, perserverance, endure, do not grow weary, do not lose heart, 
do not throw away your confidence, throw off everything that hinders, ,,,,
fixing our eyes on Jesus

Jesus, … for the joy set before him he endured the cross

The book of Hebrews was written to followers of Jesus.
And in their times & situations, … when they sang “I surrender all”,
… it literally means all.

Hebrews 11 was written to encourage the believers to not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded … you need to persevere … my righteous one will live by faith,
through the many testimonies of men and women of faith in the past who walked with God, as highlighted in Hebrews 11.

In a sense,
faith is
fixing our eyes on Jesus, no matter what happens,
faithfully walking with God, like Enoch.
Faith comes by personally hearing the word of Christ,
not other man’s words.

In Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews enumerates,

— Testimonies of astounding miraculous triumphs, … celebrated history makers (Hebrews 11:5-35)

Hebrews 11:32 -35 (NIV)
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak,Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength;and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.

And in this midst of a star-studded line-up of well-known Hebrews in the Bible from verse 5 to 35, …. suddenly,
we hear about Rahab … a prostitute, a Gentile woman belonging to Jericho, a city decreed to be destroyed because of its sin,
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31 (NIV)
Praise God!  God honors anyone who responds to Him in faith, … as we come to Him ‘just as I am‘.
By faith in God, Rahab hospitably sheltered the spies and risked her life.

Certainly the inclusion of Rahab on this list of faith luminaries, is a great encouragement to us all, who like Rahab are far from perfect, and live simple, everyday lives.

Faith is not just about great faith deeds or power,
but also walking faithfully with God in small everyday things as well.

A previous blogpost on Rahab’s faith & legacy (click here)

And then all of sudden in Hebrews 11, the tone changes,
— Testimonies of great endurance, perserverance, suffering, loss, death, persecution, torture, … obscurity, forgotten, anonymous, nameless.

Hebrews 11:35-38 (NKJV)
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

This is God’s reality.
The clear sunshine and the monsoon rain.
Winter & spring.

In Acts, twice Peter experienced miraculous escape from prison with the help of angels (Acts 5, 12)
On the other hand, Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 6), and James, the brother of Jesus was put to death (Acts 12:2).
Stephen was described as  … a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, …  full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.  (Acts 6:6,8)

We much, much prefer the stories of the heroes of faith from Hebrews 11:1 to 35, and Peter escaping from prison, … and shy away from Hebrews 11:35-38, and Stephen being stoned to death.

… the former is preached often, with much gusto,
when God spectacularly intervened with successful, prosperous outcomes,

… while the latter is seldom preached, when God was silent, and the believers endure, persevere, faithfully press on.

Like our daily interactions,
we’re uncomfortable when there’s a deafening silence,
and there are times, situations … God seemed to be silent.

“The Christian life is not a constant high.
I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.'”
— Billy Graham

Hence, the key thought in Hebrews 11 … is not just about the miraculous outcome or results of faith … but a daily faith lifestyle, faithfully walking with God, faith in God through life’s ups and downs, …. in the sunshine and in the monsoon rain, winter and spring.

Hence, its best that we not limit or restrain God or put God in a box;
by our finite perceptions of Him, and how He can and should work.

Lets rest in His constant, abiding presence and peace, … Emmanuel, God with us,

Hebrews 12:5 (NIV)
… God has said,
“Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”

And being open to something fresh and new from Him.

Lamentations 3:19-26 (ESV)
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it

    and is bowed down within me.

21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Note also in Hebrews 11:35-38, they opted to choose God’s narrow way, refusing to be released.  Similarly, for Moses, he persevered in the face of challenges,

Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV)
24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

Even today, around the world, we see
believers thriving by faith under the Lord’s hand in one part of the world,
and courageous believers severely persecuted for their faith in the Lord in another part of the world.
Same God, same Lord.

In fact, in our world today, … faithful believers in similar shoes as those in Hebrews 11:35-38 are not that remote or rare.

Certainly the persecuted believers are not suffering due to any lack of faith, sin, or whatever other reasons.
On the contrary, they possess even greater faith in the Lord to perservere and endure, walking faithfully with the Lord, in spite of the very real threat and danger to their lives, livelihood and family.
Could it be that our brothers and sisters in such circumstances have a more enriching perspective of faith and God, … when they read passages in the Bible,  like Hebrews 11?

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NASB)
In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.

Paul’s well-known prayer

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10,11 (NASB)

Here is some perspectives from believers
who have gone through persecution in China
(Click here)

Consider the introduction of Hebrews 11,

Hebrews 11:1,2 (NIV)
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.

confidence, hope, assurance
for what we do not see

or in other words, 
for we walk by faith,
not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)

Therefore,
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Hebrews 11:26,27 (NIV)
… because Moses was looking ahead to his reward.
27 By faith … Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Hence, faith seeing the unseen,
the Lord who is invisible,
the invisible hand of our Shepherd in our everyday lives,
who faithfully walks alongside us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus.
and personally hearing the word of Christ,
like Moses, … Abraham, Joseph who persevered
through life’s challenges.

Continuing in Hebrews 11,

Hebrews 11:39,40 (NIV)
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

… By faith Abel was commended as righteous (Hebrews 11:4)
… For before Enoch was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

They were all commended for their faith in Hebrews 11!
Both the celebrated history makers,
& the obscurity, forgotten, anonymous believers who lost everything
were all commended by the Lord for their faith.

No failures, … all overcomers in the Lord, praise God!

And without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)

Observe verses 5 & 6 of Hebrews 11.

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.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased 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.

Beginning with the word ‘And‘ in verse 6,
implies verse 5 and 6 are one continuous thought.

In the context of this passage, Enoch was highlighted as an example of one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God,

How did Enoch pleased God by His faith ?

Genesis 1:24 (NIV)
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away

Faith, then … is not just about faith for a desired outcome that we want,
or only in our prayers,

but the focus of our faith is in God, in Him alone,
faith in who He is, His grace, His character,
as we earnestly seek Him,
to know Him,
with our attitude to please him righteously,
and walk with Him daily, faithfully, just like Enoch.

Faith is a faithful walk with the Lord, … perservering over life’s ups and downs.

Let go, … & let God.

Seek the Giver, … not the gift
Faith in God …
and, not faith in one’s faith
or the ‘size’ of one’s great faith

Faith is not outcome driven,
… but the outworking of the Lord’s purpose in us through the situations of life,
to be conformed to the image of his Son, i.e. to be more like Jesus.
Faithful to the Lord.

because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

God is neither ‘a santa claus’, or ‘a genie in a bottle’, …
where the more the bottle is rubbed the faster is the answer.
If this is true, then whatever we receive is through our earned human works/performance (our efforts in spiritual activity – prayer, fastings, giving, serving, overnight prayer meetings, etc), or spiritual formulas,
…. and not humbly received by the grace from God;
undeserved, unearned … God’s gracious gift.

Ultimately, God is sovereign, awesome,
… He is the creator, sustainer of heaven and earth.
He is Lord,
and He is glorified.

Even, Jesus  prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;
yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NASB)

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 (NASB)

Psalm 115:1-3 (NIV)
Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.

Why do the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Our God is in heaven;
    he does whatever pleases him.

Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV)
20 
The Lord is in his holy temple;

    let all the earth be silent before him.



God’s ways & works are not simply distilled into clever formulas or elegant steps or laws like

E = mc 2

or scientific, logical cause-&-effect answers.

Neither is God’s word reduced & packaged into an instant, inspirational self-help bestseller … for instant success, prosperity through quick, simple easy spiritual formulas/recipes or steps.

However, God’s word, the Bible,  is filled with stories of real ordinary lives facing real challenges, … in real raw human frailty, weakness  — struggles, fears, emotions, doubt of the everyday man, layman, … not celebrity believers.

And yet in spite of all this,
through Jesus we are given the honored privilege to walk with our real, extraordinary, personal God who loves us & helps us in our weaknesses & flaws … & in the midst of everything He changes us to be more like Jesus.

Notice in Hebrews 11, regarding the less than desirable faith outcomes in the latter part of the chapter, …
the writer of Hebrews did not theologise answers to ‘why?‘ or ‘what happened?‘ … or changed the facts … or ‘photoshop away‘ the times when outcomes were less than perfect & ideal.
Honest and truthful.

The Bible is not a glamour magazine of the prosperous, famous and good looking.

God does not need to explain everything He does.
God is faithful.
Faith trusts, hangs on, submits … even when it is unclear, unexplained, unknown, unplanned, uncertain, … in the midst of ambiguity, uncertainty … and at times chaos
… seeming silence from heaven,
anchored on the the Rock solid reality & truth of who God is, His love & faithfulness and His kingdom purposes.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV, NLT)
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
For we live by believing and not by seeing.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Hebrews 11:26,27 (NIV)
… because Moses was looking ahead to his reward.
27 By faith … Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Hebrews 11:7 (NIV)
Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, …

Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Hebrews 6:19 (NCV)
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong.
It enters behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place in heaven,

Consider Abraham,

Romans 4:18-22 (NIV)
18 Against all hope,
Abraham in hope believed
and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Abraham faced the fact.
Faith does not deny the facts, i.e. the challenges and reality we are faced with.

Abraham — being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised
Fath is anchored in God,
and the promises of God.
Abraham personally heard the promise of God to him, that he will be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4)

Abraham in hope believed

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

Faith begins with hope in the Lord.
Hope built upon His Word,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
personally hearing the word of Christ.

In perplexing wilderness times,
… waiting … waiting …
Habakkuk prayed in faith,

Habakkuk 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen

    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
Like a fleet-footed, sure-footed deer courageously climbs up
steep rocky mountains and cliffs without falling off,
the Lord will direct our steps,
… so accurately, and precisely,
such that we’ll not fall off each precarious mountain step, perch or obstacle,
but ascend and move forward … (probably onto greener pastures and safety)

Also for the deer, …. up such uncharted mountains, … there’s no well-beaten, marked tracks to follow, … each step blazes a fresh trail.


(youtube user – BodegaWayne)

Consider an excerpt of Job’s humble reply to the Lord, at the end of his trials,

Job 42:2-6 (NLT)
I know that you can do anything,

    and no one can stop you.

You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’

    It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
    things far too wonderful for me.

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
    I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.’

I had only heard about you before,
    but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
    and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

now I have seen you with my own eyes

Faith in God … is also not just brief faith instagram moments in our lives whenever we have needs or desires,
but,
… daily living/walking by faith in Him in the kingdom of God, submitting to Him and depending on Him daily, … seeing Him work in and through our lives …. inspired by the love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us, and the hope of God, our sure and strong anchor, entering into the Most Holy Place in heaven … persevering because we see him who is invisible …  fully persuaded that God has power to do what he promised … fixing our eyes on Jesus.

In dry wilderness and desert situations,
the Lord faithfully and miraculously sustained the Israelites,
and guided them through,

Nehemiah 9:19-21 (NIV)
19 “Because of your great compassion
you did not abandon them in the wilderness.
By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path,
nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.

20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them.
You did not withhold your manna from their mouths,
and you gave them water for their thirst.

21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out
nor did their feet become swollen.


Continuing back in Hebrews 11,

Hebrews 11:13-16, 10
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 

10 For Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abraham obeyed the Lord’s word as the Lord led him out of his home town, Harran.   Like Abraham, the Lord leads us out of our comfort zone,

…. like Peter, He calls us to step out of the boat,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
not on the wind (as in Peter’s experience).

Matthew 14:24-33 (NASB)
24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Peter heard the word of Christ,
And He said, “Come!”
Peter walked on the water.

But seeing the wind,
… battered by the waves

he became frightened,
and beginning to sink

When we doubt, … have little faith,jesuspeter
thankfully, whenever we cry out to Him,
Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Praise God!
immediately Jesus stretched out His hand,
to steady and help Peter,
and walked with Peter on the water back to the boat.
What a loving Shepherd we have who does not leave us or abandon us.

As we walk towards Him … He is also walking towards us.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
James 4:8 (NASB)

Back to Abraham, … Abraham’s life was about his nomadic faith journey with the Lord, shepherded by His word, … his destiny was not a destination, where he could say he had arrived,
because he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Walking by faith in God is about the journey with the Lord.

Walking in His grace & by His grace.
Living by faith in the present with His abiding faithfulness and incomparable power to us, holding on to His precious promises towards us,
and living by faith, faithfully towards our glorious hope.
All these people were still living by faith when they died

Not just a faith only for a ‘rapture’ deliverance from this world … someday, … or a booked ticket to heaven,
but an overcoming faith for the present (the ‘now’) by His presence with us in this world,

1 John 5:4,5 (NASB)
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

… to him who overcomes … (Revelations 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:12, 21 NASB)

Revelations 21:7 (NASB)
He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

John 16:33 (NIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Hence, by His word and His Spirit, the Lord is leading and working in us to trust Him, … to rest in Him, …. such that our faith & character grows to be more resilient, unwavering, as we patiently persevere in His grace … through the ups and downs of life.

knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3,4).

When divine deliverance is delayed,
by His grace,
He gives divine endurance to persevere,
this too is faith.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Sometimes, He takes us out of the storm,
other times, He takes us through the storm
I will be with you
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

In a horrific storm, Paul was on a ship,
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved …
In the midst of this, Paul encouraged everyone on board the ship,
Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me  and said, ‘
Do not be afraid, Paul …”
Acts 27:20,23,24 (NIV)

Hebrews 13:5,6 (NLT)
… For God has said,
“I will never fail you.

    I will never abandon you.”

So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper,

    so I will have no fear …

Paul’s prayer,

Colossians 1:11 (NLT)
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power
so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul (Acts 19:11)
yet, there were times when Paul experienced and felt,

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8,9,  17,18 (NIV)

like Paul, we at times feel down … perplexed.

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

see him who is invisible
…. what is unseen is eternal … an eternal glory
… he rewards those who earnestly seek him
fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

Faith is fanned by hope.

Hope means believing in spite of the evidence,
then watching the evidence change.”
– Jim Wallis

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance.
It is laying hold of His willingness.”
― Martin Luther

Abraham, walked by faith for 25 years holding on to God’s word to him,
… as day by day, he and Sarah were growing older, further beyond the age of fertility,

… beyond any human ability, virility
… to God’s infinite, supernatural possibilities capability!

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed
being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  (Romans 4:18,21)

Years later, … the Lord repeated the miracle for another righteous senior couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth in the birth of John the Baptist.

John 1:6,7, 11-13 (NIV)
Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Both Zechariah & Elisabeth were righteous and blameless,
… yet they were childless …
unexplainable … God is just.

Yet … they persisted in praying to the Lord,
not resigned to simply fate.

I wonder … as months became years,  … how often and how long  did Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for God to give them a child … through tears, disappointment, shame.
Then, one day, finally … hearing “your prayer has been heard” …. 
when Zeachariah stood before the altar of incense offering incense on behalf of the nation (i.e. prayer) … wow!

There’s beauty in their names:
The parents,
Zechariah means ‘remembered of Jehovah‘,
Elisabeth means ‘oath of God

their desired son,
John means ‘Jehovah is a gracious giver‘, the name given by the angel.
Amen!  Yes, He is!

Luke 18:1 (NIV)
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that
they should always pray and not give up.

No explanation for the long wait was given by the angel,
instead
a great miracle … the angel spoke on what to look forward to in John’s life.

Hence, delays in God’s answers, promises
… does not mean denial of His answers, promises,
as we persevere, faith in Him.

He is still our gracious giver,
we are remembered by Him,
He honors His oath.

When God established Joseph after his sufferings,

Genesis 41:51, 52 (NIV)
51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”
52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Manasseh – causing to forget
Ephraim – I shall be doubly fruitful

Joseph’s time to forget the suffering … and be doubly fruitful had arrived.

Job 42:10 (NIV)
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes
and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Isaiah 61:7 (NASB)
Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land,
Everlasting joy will be theirs.

 


Mary and Martha also experienced a divine delay for their sick brother Lazarus, until … he died.

John 11:3, 5, 6 (NKJV)
Therefore the sisters sent to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.

Like Mary and Martha, we too ask the Lord, when the clock is ticking … and He is silent,

21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.

32 Mary .. saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

‘if only’ .. ‘what if’

Jesus is touched by our grief, disappointment, .. confusion.

35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how He
loved him!”

His abiding love & comfort
… is unchanging, faithful, strong,
… in spite of the delay,
and perplexing situation.

Though the situation has changed,
His faithful love for Lazarus, Marty & Martha…. has not changed in any way.

Henc, faith is not an inpersonal ‘force’,
but, rather,
our sincere response to God’s unfailing, faithful, tangible love to each of us.

Like Abel,
Lazarus died … not because of lack of faith, doubt or sin, etc …
(’cause & effect’ analysis)

Lazarus was dead.
But Jesus had another plan,

11 … He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” … to His disciples

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” … to Martha

 41 …And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things,
He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
44 And he who had died came out 

And God’s purpose?
His big picture … His perspective

4 Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” … to his disciples.

4Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” … to Martha, Mary

36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

11 because on account of Lazarus many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. (John 12:11 NKJV)

Out of this very tough situation,
they saw the glory of God
and …  many believed in Jesus

God loved Lazarus, Mary & Martha,
… and all their neighbors and friends.

See also earlier post,  Four days late … but He’s still on time, click here.

In the midst of the main story of this resurrection miracle,
the disciples were also mystified at Jesus’ actions,

John 11:6-8, 16 (NKJV)
So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.
Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

The disciples  were wondering, … why are we going back into the danger that we just got out of ?  Why is He sending us back into harms way?
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16 NKJV)
… are we also going to share the fate of Lazarus ?

They went
… they survived !
… & witnessed a great miracle !!!
& most importantly … as a result … because on account of Lazarus many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it
many believed in Jesus

Jesus’ time had not yet fully come (John 7:6,8)

Indeed, let us …

Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NKJV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Psalm 46 (NKJV)
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. 

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Whatever happens, … the Lord says
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

Be still, and know that I am God;

Its all for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it

And like Lazarus, Mary and Martha, … He still loves us, … no matter what happens.

 


There’re times and seasons in the plans of the Lord,  He is in control.

Earlier, in Jesus’ ministry,

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove Jesus out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.
30 But Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
(Luke 4:28-30 NIV)

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
(John 7:30)

Much later,

 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. …
(Matthew 26:18 NIV)


In the book of Daniel, for the 3 Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Babylon, … when threatened to be burnt alive, even though they were innocent before the Lord,
… they steadfastly refused to bow down and worship the image of gold that king Nebuchadnezzar built.

When faced by the threat from the king,

Daniel 3:15 (NIV)
But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

They were bold, steadfast & unwavering … their defiant reply was,

Danield 3:16-18 (NIV)
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Their even if God does not” faith is a challenge for all of us …
They declared even if God does not,  i.e.
this does not change who God is,
does not change God’s faithfulness & love to us,
& does not change how we love and serve him,
even if it means paying with our lives.

A faith to die for.

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not asham
ed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

For Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they were thrown into the fire.
They went through the searing, blistering fire

Daniel 3:24-30 (NIV)
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

God was glorified through the faith of  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
By not compromising their faith to  the point of putting their life on the line
…. putting their lives in God’s hands
… God promoted them.

They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies,
nor was a hair of their heads singed;
their robes were not scorched, and
there was no smell of fire on them.

Sometimes, … God delivers us from the fire,

Sometimes, He delivers us through the fire … by walking with us in the fire.
“Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
Look! I see four men walking around in the fire,
unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

and for the 3 Hebrews, they were miraculously
unbound and unharmed, no smell of fire on them.

Amazing, not only God preserved them in the fire,
there was no smell of fire on them.

Later in the book Daniel, their contemporary, Daniel was falsely accused and had to endure spending a night in a den of ferocious lions.
God delivered Daniel unharmed.

And, yet in faith situations like Abel,
God is also glorified.

And by faith Abel still speaks,
even though he is dead.
(Hebrews 11:4 NIV)

Amen, Abel’s life and testimony still speaks to us today.

 


 Paul reminds us to,

2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP)
Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?

At the end of the parable of the persistent widow  in Luke 18, where Jesus shared that we should always pray and not give up,
Jesus asked, ” But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” (Luke 18:8 MSG)

Micah 7:7 (NASB, AMP)
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.

But as for me, I will look expectantly for the Lord and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

Like Abel, Enoch & Noah, each one of us have our own unique, personal trail trek with the Lord.

John 21:21,22 (NIV)
21 When Peter saw John, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?
You must follow me.”

“Lord, what about him?”
Let’s set our eyes on the Lord, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
and personally hear the word of Christ,
rather than on others, or the paths of others,
or compare oneself with others,

You must follow me
Follow Him.

Whatever the situation, let us trust His heart

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 (NIV)

On a final note, let’s look at the following verses in Hebrews 10 and 11

Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

Hebrews 11:6, 26, 10,  (NIV)
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.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased 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.

26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because Moses was looking ahead to his reward. 

10 For Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 

 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

The rewards and better and lasting possessions,
… are beyond earthly, material success or possessions.

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.

    I am your shield,
    
your very great reward.”
Genesis 15:1 (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

17 For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

 fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith …
Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

So do not throw away your confidence;
it will be richly rewarded.
Hebrews 10:35 (NIV)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)

16 Be joyful always,
17 pray at all times,
18 be than
kful in all circumstances.

This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (GNT)


Further Reading:
God, where are you ? (Click here) 

The fragrance of Christ revealed in suffering, persecution (Click here)

 


Encouragement | Suffering/Hope

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
Mar 22, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 


Advertisements

Information

This entry was posted on March 22, 2015 by in Christianese Wiki, Daily Rice, Faith & Prayer, Stepping Stones and tagged , .

Blog Stats

  • 10,516 views from 102 countries
Albania Armenia  Australia Austria Bangladesh Barbados Bahamas Bahrain Belgium Belize  Bolivia  Bosnia & Herzegovina Botswana  Brazil  Brunei Bulgaria  Canada  Chile  China Croatia Curacao Cyprus Czech Denmark Egypt  Ethiopia  European Union Fiji Finland France  Georgia  Germany  Ghana  Guatemala  Guyana Honduras Hong Kong SAR Hungary India  Indonesia  Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan  Jordan  Kenya Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia  Lebanon Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Malaysia Malawi Malta  Mauritius Mexico Montenegro Mozambique Myanmar (Burma)  Namibia Nepal Netherlands  New Zealand  Nigeria  Norway Papua New Guinea  Oman Pakistan Peru  Philippines  Poland Puerto Rico  Qatar  Romania Russia Rwanda  Saudi Arabia  Serbia  Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa  South Korea Spain Sri Lanka  Swaziland  Sweden  Switzerland Taiwan  Tanzania Thailand Trinidad & Tobago  Turkey Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom  United States  Uzbekistan  Venezuela Vietnam  Zambia  Zimbabwe

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 31 other followers

%d bloggers like this: