Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P8 (05-05-20)
Now this faith is so crucial for us to grab a hold of. Faith is how we are designed by God to live, by faith in Christ, who is our life. We are to trust what God has said. Do we rely on our feelings? Many times we do, but we should not. Feelings are dumb. They only respond to what is put in it. What you are thinking about result in the emotions that follow. Feelings respond to what you are thinking about. So, in this day in age, with the Coronavirus, and depending on where you are, many people can be quite anxious. Anxiety is common to our human experience. It is not unusual for us to be anxious. But, did you know that anxiety and worry are the opposite of faith?
Jesus told us not to worry, as he shared with his disciples about the lilies of the field and how God clothes them, and they are here today, and gone tomorrow. So, do not worry about tomorrow, about what you should eat or drink or wear. So, do we trust the God of the universe, who created the apple tree, to be faithful to meet our needs? Yet, our minds seem to get preoccupied with our present circumstances, but then we start thinking about what will happen tomorrow, and that is where we now are not living by faith. Do we walk by sight or do we walk in trust in what God has said. The future is God’s country, and we leave the results to him.
Even in evangelism. We, who are in Christ, plant seeds, the word of God, the good news of the gospel. We sew the seed of God’s word out into the world. We see little results. But, are we upset and bothered about that? Then you have stepped out of bounds, and gotten into God’s business. We must understand our role and our responsibilities, and leave the results to God. The results always belong to God. Think even about a farmer who plants seeds into the ground. He can work the ground and plant his seed, but in the end he has no control over whether he will have a large crop. That he leaves in the hands of God and says “I did all that I knew to do and I trust the results to God”. A surgeon can do what he think ought to be done to perform a needed surgery, but after the surgery is over, he leaves the results in God’s hands. For he does not know how it will end up. The healing process has now begun, and that is in God’s hands.
We really do not grasp what a lack of faith is. We do not think of anything that is not of faith as sin, yet that is what the word of God says. But if you think about the origin of sin in the garden of Eden, what happened to Adam when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That lack of trust in what God had said, now that was sin, and that was before the law was given. The lawlessness that we think of is what men fail to obey in the law of Moses, the ten commandments that people are so familiar with. If we really grasp what sin is, we who were born a sinner, must come to the conclusion, “Oh, what a wretched man I am! There is none righteous, not even me.” The only intelligent prayer we can ever make is to say, “Thank you, Lord Jesus for your mercy!”
There is nothing holding us up, folks. We are just floating and spinning, and precisely the same time. When the earth turns, that 24 hour deal, and keeps spinning around, the sun just keeps going around that and then a year is up, the same time year after year. Yet people say all of that exists by the big bang theory or by all these scientific theories that come out. It is so ridiculous. The premise of that teaching comes from the belief there is no God. “So this is an accident, and let us find out what the accident is.” So we spend billions of dollars to find out about these black holes. Why do you need to find out? Read the book of Genesis and you will find out what is out there. It is His space? For some reason God has revealed Himself so man is totally without excuse. There is no man who could ever stand before God, and say, “I did not know you were there.” Yes, you did. You can look at the earth, the plants, the birth and know there is a God.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
What he says there is that is where faith begins. If I know there is a God, He exists and this thing did not come by accident, then you also have to say, then evidently he is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
6 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.
How could you even come to that conclusion in the background of your own mind? I think of how God has planted things. Here is this little seed, but inside that seed is life. You can open it up, and say, “Oh, there is life in there?” How do you know God is a rewarder? Take a look at an apple tree? What is an apple tree doing? Rewarding us by providing food for us. Every seed planted is a provider of food, which is absolutely necessary for you and me to live. In that food are all kinds of nutrients that are absolutely necessary for human life, and you cannot do without it. The different vitamins and you cannot live without them. He could give food like fast food places that do not have anything in there except crunch. God provides everything necessary for human life to exist. So He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. He just did not put us down here to just leave it. The earth was made for us. We were not made for the earth. When God made man, He made the earth to provide for man. So He plants and the trees were all prepared for our existence. He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
So we know one thing. If we are going to come to God, we must first of all admit He is there. Acknowledge He is there, and see Him as someone who is a provider for us, a rewarder of those who seek Him. When that occurs, then God did not even leave us there. He said, “now I will show you who I am, and I will let you know that I have a name. My name is Jesus.” He came to this earth in the person of Christ Jesus, and walked on this earth so we could see what man was like and what we are not like. In so doing, walking on this earth as a man, and showing us in the person of Jesus how he walked in total dependency upon the Father. That is exactly how we are to walk as a created being. It all starts with the acknowledgment of who He is, that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, and when we seek Him, He rewards us by leading us to His Son, Jesus Christ.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
How do you please God? Walk by faith in what He has revealed to you. Not faith in that I can cause God to do something. That is not faith. That is presumption. Faith in the fact He has already rewarded each and every one of us. It is already there.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
It is not the fact I have faith to grow an apple tree. It is the fact that I already have an apple tree and now go access it. Go enter into it. Go and enjoy what is already provided for you. I trust you. There is your tree. There is your apple. He says go eat it. I go eat of it. That is pleasing to God. “I provided it for you and you had sense enough to come and get it. That is very pleasing to Me.” Why? because it is good for you. “The way I know it is good for you is because I, God, provided it.” That is what pleases God. You do not have to sit in agony over that issue. Faith in Him, trusting Him, is what He is asking us to do. Why that is pleasing to Him is because that is what is good for us. He wants the best for His children. The best for His children is to listen to parents.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Faith is not feeling. Faith and feelings are two different things. Rather, the feelings have no intellect. They cannot distinguish between past, present and future, between reality and fantasy, between truth or lies. Feelings are never initiators but responders to what a person is thinking. We need to understand that truth. God gave us feelings and He designed us in such a way that I am going to feel whatever I am thinking. We really do not have emotional problems as some people want to get you to believe. You have thinking problems and thinking problems is what brings about emotional problems. If thinking jealous thoughts, you feel jealousy. If you think angry thoughts, then you feel angry. If you feel depressing thoughts then you feel depressed. If you are thinking anxious thoughts, then you are going to feel anxiety. Not unusual. It is just the way we are made. If you are thinking lazy thoughts, you will feel lazy. If you are thinking thoughts, not thoughts taught to you by somebody else, you will be called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). You are thinking what you want to think is bread of what someone is trying to teach you, and we come along and put a name and a disease on it that we think and makes you think you have something you do not have. You have the tendency to think what you want to think, to feel what you want to feel. It makes no difference what someone else wants to say or teach you, I am absorbed in my own thinking patterns. That is what I concentrate on. Nothing to do with disease but my own mindset, that I am satisfied with my own thoughts and I really do not need yours. Nothing unusual but that is just a part of being self centered.
Faith is not a feeling. We have adopted this philosophy if it feels good, do it. Whatever feels good just go do it. People applaud that kind of thing. Why do you do this? “Well, it feels good.” Why don’t you murder somebody? Why did you do that? It feels good. I really enjoyed that. As a matter of fact, mass murderers will tell you that.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
If we develop philosophies of what sin is based on what feels good, it will be a lot different than what God came up with, with a difference between a right and a wrong and good and evil. Why is it easy for man to stand at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3) and play God to determine right from wrong is because we determine right from wrong by what feels good, right at the moment. We can sit there and say, “Well I know murder is wrong. I cannot imagine that feeling good. I can even see where stealing is kind of wrong because that does not feel too good. But these other things like adultery, ‘well, that is something else’“. I think you can see the point when you start determining right from wrong from what feels good. You will be all over the place in determining what God says is right and wrong. In other words, faith is not feeling.
The testing thing is that faith has to be based on truth. If you want the object of faith to be based on truth, then we have to understand that it is not the renewing of our feelings we need to do, but the renewing of our mind. It is interesting that the bible is almost silent in regards to the subject of feelings. But from Genesis to Revelation is dealing with the mind. Rather than waiting around to get excited or feel like something, we need to step out in faith in dependence upon God’s word and then we find out something. God is right. Our feelings respond to whatever we are thinking. Life is a choice and we make choices continually in life in which we believe.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
There are a lot of people who want to see themselves as a victim. They will never see themselves as what has happened to me is the result of my choices. Instead they say, “I am a victim.” I have to clarify that that there are people who are victims. The small child molested by a father, a step-father or a neighbor, did not make that choice at all. They were truly a victim. People who come in who are beaten up and starved to death, they truly did not choose that. They are victims. There are victims in this world. I am not talking about that. On other issues, we have to realize we made choices that led us to some of the disasters we experience in life and we must sit back and say that was a result of a very poor choice. What has happened to me is as result of a poor choice. I am not a victim. It is a result of a poor choice.
Now, let us go into Hebrews 11:8.
8 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.
Faith does not always tell you what the result of a movement is going to be. It is just a step in the right direction. I remember when I felt that God was sending me into full time work. That was a step I had to take. I felt He was calling me to go into this brand new endeavor. Where was I going to go or end up? I had no clue. I just lived a step at a time, a day at a time. One thing I did know is that He wanted me to take that step. That was an insatiable desire of my heart. I never looked back on that decision. I never knew where I would end up. And we may not even end up where we are right now. The issue is we do not need to know. We move out in faith a step at a time.
Keep your eyes off results. Results are always in the hands of God. You keep that in mind. I cannot over-emphasize that. Results are always in the hands of God. If I share the Lord, whether it be person to person, or in a public forum, what are the results of that going to be? I do not have a clue. It is none of my business. It is God’s business.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
I sew the seed. Do I sew the seed with the idea, “Oh boy, I will have a big crop”? You can speculate that you might have a big crop but if you have any sense in your head, you will say it is good as I can do. An intelligent farmer sews the seed, waters it, puts nutrients in the soil, and then says, “It is now up to God.” A trained surgeon remoives whatever is disturbing, cuts it off, and sews you up, and then says, “It is up to God”. I cut you open and did what I thought needed to be done, and now healing is in the hands of God. So, never look for results. Results will always be in the hands of God.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
What is our part on that? To take the step to be at peace with all men. What are the results of that going to be? Does that mean all men will be at peace with you? No, it does not. What are the results of that? I do not have a clue. It is none of my business. Was Jesus at peace with all men? Yes, he was. Did He love all men? Yes. What was the result of that? Some people followed him unto their death. Other people put him to death. So, you cannot look at results in this life. You canot look for justice in this life. There is no justice. What you do is take a step of faith, and say the results are going to be in the hands of God.
When two people get married, you say, “We are going to get married and live happily ever after”. Take away that last part. You are going to get married. What is going to happen? I do not know. You may be happy ever after or you can be as miserabble as you will ever be. You do not know what will happen, but it is a gamble. But, I will take a step because God is leading me to do so. I take that step. The results of that are totally in the hands of God.
When people get unhappy and miserable when they get married is because they think they will have their picket fence, live happily ever after, and never get in an argument. Every night when I get home, take out the garbage, pick up your socks, and all of this kind of thing. That does not happen, so all of a sudden I am disappointed. The reason you are disappointed is because you had an unrealistic expectation concerning results. Now, that takes us to our next passage of scripture, which is Matthew 6:34.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Now, what is he saying? That anxiety comes from worrying about what you think is going to happen tomorrow. Again, those are the results. This is what I think is going to happen tomorrow. Inasmuchas I am not in tomorrow, and inasmuchas I cannot touch tomorrow, and inasmuchas I am not God, I have no clue what is going to happen tomorrow. The only thing I can be anxious for is what I think is going to happen tomorrow. But, of course, when we think we are God, then I think that is the way it is. Unfortunately many of us fall into that category. We are so confident in ourselves that if I think it, saying, “Brother, that must be it. Do not confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.” Many of us live like that.
We want to get back to this subject of anxiety because what is interesting about that is it is again, one of those things that is the opposite of faith. When you are worrying about tomorrow, or worrying about anything, how can you be exercising faith in anything? So, we never look at worry as sin, but what does scripture say?
23 everything that does not come from faith is sin
So that is the best definition there is of faith because that is the origin of sin, the lack of faith in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Now, people want to come up and say that all sin is lawlessness, but if that is the case, then there was no sin prior to the law. Faith, or sin, is unbelief.
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
Adam did not break the law as we know the law today, the law that was given to Moses. He broke the law that was given to him in regard to God in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
It was not called a law. It just said this is a tree you do not eat of. If you want to understand the origin of sin, you must go back to where it began. There you will get pure sin. You want to know what pure sin is? It is unbelief.
John 16:9 (TLB)
9 The world’s sin is unbelief in me
23 everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Recognizing that, that which is of not of faith is sin, then how could you sit around and in self-righteousness, think how wonderful and pure and holy and good you are, knowing full well that you worry, knowing full well that you have anxiety, and knowing full well that, in many times, you are preoccupied with the past that we will discuss in a moment? But to think I am as pure as new falling snow because I do not smoke, and chew and run around with the girls who do. Those are the things we like because we cannot do those. Maybe the blessed hope is that you will get so old you do not want to, but the issue is that we are so blind to what God said and we have become so hardened to what God said, that all we listen to in regard to sin is what man has said, or what we in our own arrogance, sit down and say, “I will tell you what sin is”. “I will tell you, brother, what sin is. It is not going to church on Sunday. I am so mad at you that I could kill you because you will not go.” And we look at that as okay! “Oh, that is good stuff. Oh, that guy is holy.” Here he is, as mad as a hornet. Here he is judging somebody’s motives. Here he is worried about what they are not going to do. Yet, here you are anxious about what your family is going to do and not going to do, and we never see that as sin! We look at other families as the sinners. We say we are wonderful. We are so blind to ourselves. It is unbelievable.
We must understand that the very opposite of faith is anxiety and the very opposite of faith is worry. So, for you and me to sit around thinking how holy we are in and of ourselves, we are the most deceived people on the face of this earth. That is why scripture say that no one is righteous. No, not one!
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;”
The only intelligent prayer that you will ever have in your life is to wake up in the morning and say, “Lord, Jesus, thank you for your mercy”. If you want to talk about an intelligent prayer based upon total truth, that is the only intelligent prayer I can think of that we can make is, “Lord Jesus, thank you for your mercy.”
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So faith is trusting in God’s provision for you. Did he not say all these things that the pagans run after, food and clothing, that he will provide for you? So do you trust God to take Him at His word? That is what faith is, and in the one who has has all power to provide for you what you need. It is not just physical hings he is talking aobut but even in trials and tribualitons, he has promised to cause all things to happen for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
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.
Therefore, it says, do not worry about tomorrow. Why shouldn’t I worry about tomorrow? Tomorrow is fantasizing. I do not even know if I will even be there tomorrow and neither do you. So when I am thinking about tomorrow I am fantasizing. There is no grace for fantasy. Grace is only for reality. I can only call upon the grace of God for what is happening to me right now, not what I think is going to happen to me tomorrow, not what I know happened to me yesterday. There is no grace for that. It is over. But only for right now. Again, we will tie these two passages of scripture together, Matthew 6:34 and Philippians 3:13.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What Paul is saying is to forget the past. Quit beating yourself up over your past. What you did yesterday is over. What you did two seconds ago is over. You cannot change it. What I have said out of my mouth I cannot take back. There is many times I wish that I could but I can’t. The past is over. The future is God’s country. You are fantasizing when you are thinking about what is going to happen tomorrow. You are in total fantasy. When you are thinking about what should have happened or what could have happened and you are playing the “would of, could have, should of” game. All of that is over and past. Paul said forget it. It is over. Have you been hurt in the past? Forget it. It is over. It is like saying, “Get a life. Get over it” because what has happened has happened. Now get on and move on with your life. What is Paul saying? I am going to forget what is behind and I am going to push ahead for the high calling of Christ Jesus. What does the world come and say to us? Come on in and I will charge you $100 an hour to dig up your past. So they say, “All we do is dig up the past, dig up the past, dig up the past.” Paul says to forget the past. Psychiatrists say to dig up the past. Folks, which one are you going to believe? Are you going to believe Paul, who was instructed by God, or are you going to agree with modern day thoughts? That is a decision that you have to make.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
This first part of our lesson I think is so important. We have to come back to what Jesus is talking about here as he is speaking to the apostle Paul. He is saying to us that we are not to be worried about tomorrow because tomorrow is God’s country. All anxiety, and people who say they have anxiety attacks, all anxiety comes from thinking about what you think is going to happen tomorrow. Obviously, if it is anxious thoughts, then you are thinking that bad things are going to happen tomorrow. I would not sit there and say, “Boy, Bob, I am just having all kinds of anxiety attacks.” “Oh, really. What are you thinking about?” “I have got to go to Hawaii. I have to sit over there. I have got to eat coconuts. I have to do that terrible stuff.” You are not anxious over good things. You are anxious over bad things. If you think your alarm is not going to go off in the morning when you have to catch a plane, and sitting there with anxiety, why is that? In my mind, I have already have it fixed that I am going to miss the airplane. You are sitting there thinking, “Boy, I got this test tomorrow I got to take. I am probably going to sleep through.” So you are sitting anxious, not getting sleep at night because you are afraid you are not going to wake up in the morning. That is anxiety. It is always over bad things that you think are going to happen to you.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Again, how do you change that emotional response, because an emotional response is not unusual. You are not a freak. You have not had a bad background. That is just normal behavior. It is all predicated upon what you are thinking. So how do you correct that situation? You come back, and say, “Wait a minute. What am I doing worried about tomorrow? I am not God. I do not know what is happening tomorrow. It may be good. May be bad. What I do know is my Jesus told me to live one day at a time.” That would be pretty stupid to live one day at a time if he was talking about physically for that is the only way you can. He is talking about mentally. “Bob, live one day at a time. Tomorrow is God’s country. The past is over. Rejoice in what you have right now. That is me living in you, your hope of glory.”
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
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