Faith For the Ages

Proverbs 22:1  A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Almost everyone would like a good name.  But just who do you want to recognize your name?  Well, most people would like everyone to hold them in high regard, however this is unrealistic.  So what is one to do?
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

It’s apparent that we are to seek to have a good name before God.  And in many cases a good name with God means a despised name with man, at least the people outside of the church.  But we still need to find out how to obtain a good name.

The world attributes a good name to anyone who displays a moderate to high level of success in the corporate sector, the entertainment world or whatever their vocation may be.  Of course if they are beautiful or handsome that increases their good name with the world as well; some having a good name strictly because of their looks.  But “… the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7)  And in Romans 4:3 “…  “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

We see here that faith, or trust in God’s person, character, word and works is what God looks at when He evaluates us.  It’s not enough just to believe that He exists, you have to trust His promises.  You have to trust that He Who has promised is faithful to perform what He said He’ll perform.  He is not looking for our mental or physical ability to do our job.  He is not looking at the beauty of our hair or the smoothness of our skin.  He is looking for those who will trust what He says is true.

Hebrews 11:1-4 1Now faith is the substance (realization) of things hoped for, the evidence (confidence) of things not seen. 2For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  4By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Wow!  Can you imagine that?  God, the very Creator of the universe, testifying that you are righteous because of your faith.  God letting everyone else know that your trust in Him and His word has brought you favor in His sight.  We have an awesome and good God who wants nothing but good for us.  That being said, He will let us go through trials in order to build up our faith, but then if it builds up our faith, then He is more pleased with us.

Hebrews 11:5-6  5By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Did you see that?  Abel lost his life because of his faith and Enoch did not have to taste death because of his faith yet both had God testifying that they were righteous because they had put their hope and trust in God.  This is in stark contrast to what many teach from the pulpits today.  They teach that if you are healthy, without troubles and rich that you must be exhibiting faith and receiving the blessings of God.  At the same time, they will teach that if your life is in constant turmoil and pain then you are under the curse from unbelief.  There is actually no scriptural basis for this.  Many of the saints of old endured trials constantly yet they put their trust in God and He saw them through.

Now let us move on to verse six.  There are many in the church today who believe God is, yet they do not know that they must diligently seek Him.  This means you must chase after Him.  You must keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking until that which you desire is given to you or if it is something against His will you hear a resounding “My grace is sufficient for thee.”  As one church sign said, “Delay does not mean denial.”  Praise the Lord that church kept the sign up for three months straight because it helped me through a very tough time.  Just because we don’t get our answer immediately doesn’t mean we will never receive it, it just means He may be testing our faith.

On a side note, one other reason for delay could be answered by asking the question, “How will this answered prayer affect others?”  It is possible that answering the prayer may affect others so drastically that it will take time to reposition everyone involved to a place where no one else’s faith is harmed.  Remember, He is the God of the universe, but He is also the God of each individual who puts their hope and trust in Him.  Your request may be conflicting with another person’s prayer and more often than not, His answered prayers are in the form of the miracles of everyday events rather than obvious miracles.

Hebrews 11:11-12 11By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Abraham and Sarah were well advanced in years before they even received the promise of a son, Sarah’s womb long past functioning properly.  It also says that Abraham was as good as dead because of his age.  Don’t you know that they prayed when they were in their youth for children?  Don’t you think they went into their middle age hoping for a child?  Yet God did not promise them a child until Abraham was 75 years old and Sarah was 65.  The part that most people do not stop to think about is that they had to act in faith on this promise because this child, Isaac, was conceived the same way you and I were.  And for twenty five years they tried to conceive until Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, yet it says, “she judged Him faithful who had promised.”  Most modern teachers would say, “well, if they would have had more faith earlier on, they would not have had to wait so long.”  Again, there is no basis in scripture that bears this out.  Sometimes we just have to wait for God’s appointed time, otherwise if we try to rush things along, we could cause problems of enormous proportions.  Along the way, Abraham and Sarah tried to help God along and Ishmael was born whose descendents are still fighting against the world today.

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

Moses lived in Egypt for 40 years, then in the desert for 40 years before God ever called him to be the great, albeit reluctant, prophet that he was and he led the children of Israel for 40 years.

Joseph, after being sold into slavery at the age of 14, made his way up in Potiphar’s house.  Then he was put into prison for eleven years for something he did not do, but he did not give up on his promise that one day he would rule over his brothers.

David, after being anointed king over Israel had to endure the hardship of living in the desert, running for his life from Saul for eighteen long years.  Yet he kept his eyes on God’s promise and look at the Psalms he wrote.  Some of them are from deep despair and others are in triumphant victory, but either way, he was diligently seeking God and clinging to the promise that he would be king.

Paul, the apostle, had to wait fourteen years before his 1st missionary trip in which God performed mighty miracles.  He went through more trials than probably anyone else in the Bible but he knew that God was faithful and he put his whole heart to trusting Him.

Hebrews 11:32-40  32And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35Women received their dead raised to life again.
Did you know that Jesus Himself had to put His faith in God the Father and His word?  Here is the proof.

John 12:42-50  42Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
44Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

We must be in God’s Word and following the direction of His Spirit at all times.  Remember, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(Romans 10:17)  It does not say faith comes by hearing the word of God.  But to translate, it says that we must be in the word of God to open our spiritual ears and then the Holy Spirit can make His word come alive in our hearts and mind and that will bring faith, which in turn will please God.

Let us be of the testimony that we love the praise of God more than the praise of men so that on that day, He will say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Dennis Tolar
Copyright © June 20, 2009

I am an ordained minister and I have been called to a ministry that will serve the Pacific Northwest and will eventually plant or restore a church in Northern California.

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September 2009
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