The 3D Glasses of Faith
The 3D Glasses of Faith
Rom 4:18-25 GW When there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham still hoped and believed. As a result, he became a father of many nations, as he had been told: "That is how many descendants you will have." (19) Abraham didn't weaken. Through faith he regarded the facts: His body was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was unable to have children. (20) He didn't doubt God's promise out of a lack of faith. Instead, giving honor to God for the promise, he became strong because of faith (21) and was absolutely confident that God would do what he promised. (22) That is why his faith was regarded as God's approval of him. (23) But the words "his faith was regarded as God's approval of him" were written not only for him (24) but also for us. Our faith will be regarded as God's approval of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life. (25) Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God's approval.
Put yourself in Abraham shoes. He was approaching 100 years of age, his wife in her 90's. God had promised them a child. Out of the loins of Abraham and the womb of Sarah would come a child who would redeem the world and give Abraham many spiritual descendants. Given the circumstances, would you have held on to that hope? Wouldíve you continued believing God?
In spite of the circumstances, we read that Abraham didnít weaken. He resolutely believed that God would deliver on His promise. Through the eyes of faith he regarded the facts:
What were the facts? What were the circumstances? His body was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was unable to have children. Those were the facts.
But because of the faith that Abraham had been given by God, he was able to ignore the circumstances. He looked beyond appearances and looked to His Almighty God. You and I would look at similar circumstances and likely say, ďwhatís the use, this is impossible.Ē
But Abraham put on the 3D glasses of faith and saw something different. He saw the faithfulness and power of God. He saw a God who never lies, who is always good at His Word.
Remember 3D glasses? You would put them on when you went to a movie and if you didnít wear them the screen looked like gobbledygook, but when you put the lenses on you could see what was really on the screen.
Abraham looked at Sarah and at himself and couldíve been very disappointed in the prospects of having children, he couldíve seen gobbledygook but he put the glasses of faith on and he saw Sarah eating pickles and ice cream, He saw Isaac! He Saw Israel, he saw Jesus, he saw you and me.
The point is he took his eyes off of his circumstances and placed them squarely on God. Same situation for Peter. Remember the time Jesus walked on water and came out to the boat. They were in rough sees and Peter sees Him and says, ďLord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.Ē
Jesus said, ďCome!Ē
What happened? Peter, ignoring the circumstances and responding to the simple command of His powerful and faithful Lord defied gravity and walked on water! But what happened? He took His eyes off Jesus and he ďnoticed how strong the wind was , he became afraid and started to sink.Ē
He became distracted by his circumstances and fell into the drink.
Circumstances can be a tremendous obstacle to exercising our faith.
Then there was the time that Elisha was in the city of Dothan. The king of Aram wanted to capture him so he sent his armies to surround the city. Elishaís servant looked out past the city walls and saw that they were hopelessly surrounded. He ran to Elisha and asked, ďWhat are we going to do?Ē Elisha answered, ďdonít be afraid, we have more forces on our side than they have on theirs.Ē
Then Elisha prayed that God would give his servant 3D glasses of faith. And the Lord opened his eyes and he saw that the enemyís armies were surrounded by Godís army of fiery horses and chariots.
The circumstances were frightening until the servant saw the power and faithfulness of the Lord.
Then there was Daniel in the lionís den, the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, even Joseph and Maryís circumstances, all frightening circumstances, but God is bigger than our circumstances. He can handle them and we need to learn that truth.
Circumstances can be a tremendous obstacle to faith, but we must remember the flip side of that coin. Circumstances are also a tremendous opportunity for faith.
Paul continues: ďAbraham didn't doubt God's promise out of a lack of faith. Instead, giving honor to God for the promise, he became strong because of faith!Ē Look what happens when we believe Godís promises! First of all we give honor to God, and secondly, we become stronger in our faith!
How do we give honor to God by believing His promises? Because His promises are true. They come to pass, and when they do He gets the glory because itís His promise.
Itís like one of you ladies giving someone else a prized recipe. If they are true to the directions, and everything else is equal, the recipe will turn out just the way it is supposed to. Who getís the glory? You do, the one who gave the original recipe.
Godís recipe to bring Him honor is for us to simply believe His promises and act on them.
Not only does God get the glory and honor as we exercise faith, but our personal faith is also strengthened. As we respond to Godís promises and commands and we see the results, we are emboldened to attempt more for Him and His glory. Time after time we see His faithfulness and pretty soon our faith almost becomes second nature.
Abraham didnít just believe God concerning having a child without some preliminary faith building exercises in his life. He trusted God and His word when he left his home in Ur. He saw God at work protecting him and Sarah in his encounters with Pharaoh and Abimelech, and his rescue of Lot. Abraham had personally experienced Godís faithfulness and power, and his faith was strengthened because of it.
God will do the same for you and I today. As we taste of His faithfulness by believing and acting on His promises, our faith is built and He is honored. Case in point. In the sermon last week, we were challenged to take Heb 3:12,13 seriously. If we do this, we exercise faith in Godís Word. God will be honored and our faith will be strengthened. letís look at it again:
Heb 3:12-13 GW Be careful, brothers and sisters, that none of you ever develop a wicked, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (13) Encourage each other every day while you have the opportunity. If you do this, none of you will be deceived by sin and become stubborn.
First of all we see that there is potential for a problem in the church. If we arenít careful, brothers an sisters can lose their faith. What does God call us to do to prevent this situation?
He calls us to encourage each other every day while we have the opportunity. When we do that, what does God promise to do? He promises that none of us will be deceived by sin and become stubborn.
This is Godís plan for us to keep each other from the deception of sin! He wants us to encourage each other daily to live according to His ways and not the worldís ways! When you pick up the phone or send an e-mail or a card or have a face to face contact with another brother or sister in the Lord and you encourage them from Scripture daily, you are exercising faith in Godís Word as found in Hebrews 3:12,13..
You are bringing honor to Him and you are strengthening your faith. You are showing God that you believe His Word. Every time you and I respond to Godís promises by acting on them, He builds our faith.
It is extremely easy to respond to His promises and at the same time the most difficult thing to do. Jesus said His yoke is easy, being yoked to His promises is easy, what makes it difficult is our circumstances and our flesh which constantly wars against yielding to anything but our own desires.
Donít believe that? Just think back over this past week. Some of you picked up the phone and called others, some of you didnít. What prevented you from calling, from being obedient to God and believing His promise? Was it not your flesh and your circumstances?
For those who did call, how difficult was it once you made the call? Thatís what we have to do. Fight through our flesh and circumstances and pick up the phone! Just do it! Friends this is the essence of growing in faith....putting Godís promises into practice in your life. Youíll be amazed at how easy it is once you begin to respond.
I like what Ruth did with the challenge. She put everyoneís name in a jar and reaches in and picks out a name once a day. Great idea! We could call it our encouragement jar! And it should not be limited to adults!
Think again about the purpose of the encouragement! ďIf you do this, none of you will be deceived by sin and become stubbornĒ Do you think our young people are immune to this? Think again!
Abraham was absolutely confident that God would do what He promised because he had seen Godís faithfulness in action. It was because of His confident faith that God approved of Abraham, that is, regarded him as righteous.
But Paul reminds us, this kind of faith was not just meant for Abraham, it was meant for all of us! This written Word that God has preserved for us through the ages is just loaded with opportunities to please God and bring honor to Him and to increase and strengthen our faith.
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that ďno one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Those who seek to do His will by believing His promises! )
Paul wraps up this chapter with the most important faith promise of all and ties it in beautifully with Abrahamís profession of faith. He says, ďOur faith will be regarded as God's approval of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life. (25) Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God's approval.
Do you see the link? Do you see the connection? Abraham and Sarah were reproductively dead. But God brought life out of their death. Life that would eventually produce the seed of David, the seed of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
Our Lord Jesus was also dead. Crucified on a cross outside Jerusalem because of our own failures. Though dead, God brought Him back to life, just as he brought Abraham and Sarahís ability to reproduce back to life.
As Abraham believed that God would bring life from death, so too must we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead so that we may have eternal life. In essence, we must believe the same thing that Abraham believed. That God brings life from death.
This is clearly stated in Romans 10:9,10
Rom 10:9-10 GW If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. (10) By believing you receive God's approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved.
This promise is no different than any other promise found in Godís Word, except that it is foundational. This is ďbelieving God and having it accounted to you as righteousness.Ē
What is the promise here from God? Salvation!
What must you do to receive the promise? By faith declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought Him back to life. In believing that God raised Him from the dead, bringing life out of death, you have the faith of Abraham.
But there is more you must do in order to receive Godís promise of salvation. You must declare that Jesus is Lord. The idea here is that you must publicly agree that Jesus is Lord, and public agreement is not just made with your lips.
Public agreement is made every time you act on the promises of God, because in acting on them, you are not just saying that Jesus is Lord, you are submitting to His Lordship.
These are the works that must accompany faith, without them your faith is dead. Without them you keep Jesus in the grave and even though you say you believe that God raised Him from the dead.
Your refusal to believe His promises or obey His Word says that you still regard Him as dead.
Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit presents Him to us, every time we open Godís Word, and every time we respond in simple obedience to that Word, we declare Him as our risen Lord. We believe that God brought Him back to life and that as our ďaliveĒ Lord, He has an unconditional right to our lives.
It was this ďunconditional right to Abrahamís lifeĒ that caused him to obediently place Isaac on the altar, and it is this unconditional right to our lives that causes us to respond to whatever He commands us to do in His Word.
Whether those commands or promises involve just calling another believer to encourage them, or tithing, or sexual conduct, or loving our spouses, our response speaks about the depth of our faith.
You and I will not be called to offer our children up to the Lord as Abraham was willing to do with Isaac, but we are called to exercise faith in the promises of Godís Word. My prayer is that you and I as individuals will stop letting ďcircumstancesĒ and our flesh get in the way of receiving Godís wonderful promises.
My prayer is that you and I will simply respond, believing God, and then trust Him for the results in our lives and in the life of Living Word. It is a great wonderful adventure to begin to trust God and His Word, and to allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely in our lives, bringing honor to God and strengthening our faith..
We have begun by believing Godís promise to encourage one another daily, but there is so much more He has for each one of us, and I hope and pray that we will never weary of believing and trusting in Him and His Word. There is so much he wants to do in our lives.
So letís roll up our sleeves, and slip on the3D glasses of faith. Who knows what God will do and where He will lead as we follow Him in faith. Believing His promises and obeying His commands!