Itís All About Faith
Bill Watson - Church of God International (CGI)
Feast of Tabernacles - Seaside, Oregon
Day 4 - October 4, 2012
Note: This sermon was originally
given to a CGI congregation on February 11th, 2011.
We played a video recording of it at our Seaside Feast site.
You know brethren, I think it is safe to say that all of us here in this room have a story to say Ė a testimony to tell Ė something, I am sure that, if indeed you were asked and given the proper forum to share with people, you would have your story to tell on what compelled you to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And I think it is also fair to say that, since your relationship with Jesus Christ has commenced, and I premise this with this simple fact that, if indeed you are engaged Ė because letís face it, there are Christians who claim Christ as their Saviour; but donít do a thing about it and they still go about their way smoking and drinking. They continue to lie and cheat, and to be irresponsible and, in fact, cannot be described as doing the things that Jesus would do. As you know, there are a lot of folks that claim Christ, but they would be hard pressed to find evidence that they are indeed Christians. But that goes without saying.
My point is, with that being said, if indeed you are engaged and actually involved and doing the best you can to convert Ė you are involved in the process of conversion Ė I think it is fair to say that we all agree to this too Ė that we have all been struggling from time to time. Christianity is not a cake-walk by any means. It is a difficult way of life if you are really going to attempt to employ yourself and actually take up the cross and do what is expected of you as a Christian.
In addition, I think it is also fair to say that it is hard on occasion to know what Godís will is in your life. It is also hard to understand Godís will and how you fit into it. To do it is difficult, to know it is difficult and to understand it is difficult in our lives because life is so dynamic.
You have often heard me say that life is so high-powered and fast and we get bombarded by different difficulties, conflicts, circumstances and challenges. Sometimes, even our own weaknesses are involved in it because of our upbringing, our background, our gender, or our race.
The point is that life is difficult and oftentimes can camouflage the will of God; and this can cause you to mis-read, cause you to misinterpret, and cause you to misunderstand what the will of God is in your life.
There are two broad categories regarding the operation of the will of God in oneís life. I would like to share with you a story over in Genesis 12 to illustrate one of these broad categories. Many of you may be familiar with this story of Abraham. God asked Abraham to get out of his own country, leave his family and, if he did, He would make him a great nation. Also, through his seed, all humanity would be blessed. Abraham was promised to become a great and wealthy nation, as well as his seed, his lineage, his ethnicity, who would be used to provide a Saviour to mankind.
As we know, Abraham had a son Ė Isaac; Isaac had a son Ė Jacob; Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was Judah; and through that tribe came the Messiah.
Jesus was a Jew. He wasnít a Cherokee; He wasnít Polish; , He was a Jew. So, as a result, God fulfilled that promise, and we understand that.
In this particular case in Genesis 12, Abraham is being told to leave the family and, if he does, he will get those promises. We understand that is exactly what he did. However, here is what happened.
He came down to Egypt because there was a famine in the land. v When he came near, he said to his wife Sarai: ďI know that you are good looking; you are fair to look upon; and you are hot! We are going into Egypt and you are going to attract a lot of attention, girl.Ē I am putting it in common vernacular; but this is what Abraham is saying.
12: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13: Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14: And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
She came into Egypt and she was a knockout! And they all noticed her.
Verse 15: The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaohís house.
16: And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
17: And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abramís wife.
18: And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
Somehow, through some process, he came to understand that Sarai was not his sister, and was indeed his wife. Basically, he now is receiving curses by God and understands that he has been set up with this deception on Abrahamís part. Lo and behold, the point being here in:
Verse 19: Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
Abraham was blessed to get out of there with his life after doing that sort of a thing to the Pharaoh of Egypt! I still scratch my head, wondering what went on to allow him to get out of there with his head still attached! He really put the Pharaoh in a difficult situation.
Verse 20: And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
There is a point on all of this and a lesson for all of us to keep in mind. As I mentioned there are two broad categories of knowing Ė or how to interact with Ė Godís will. One of them is that, even though Abraham was operating within Godís will Ė and I say this clearly because in the earlier portion of Genesis 12, he is told to leave by God. It doesnít get any clearer than that. You know that he was operating within Godís will because he left.
But then, circumstances dictated to him to take care and concern due to the famine. So he went into Egypt. But where he made his mistake was that he veered off from Godís will and he lied. He conspired with his wife and got her to agree to tell them that she was his sister. Through all this conniving and deception, Abraham "went off the reservation." He started interfering with Godís will and complicated the circumstances for himself. The Bible is not very clear on just how close he came to being killed. We know that the Pharaohs of Egypt were not known for their mercy, forgiveness and relief.
The point is well taken that here is a perfect example of someone who is indeed taking it upon himself to actually interfere in the will of God in their
lives by taking the liberty to engage his own judgment in the circumstance that he found himself in.
As a result, he could have made a bad, risky situation worse because he took circumstances into his own hands and thwarted what, perhaps, God
would have done if he would have been a bit moreÖ. I am going to leave that as a blank for you to think about and what I am alluding to in this particular case.
The second story is a similar situation. I want to share this with you in regard to the birth of Esau and Jacob (the heel-grabber).
21: And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
22: And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.
23a: And the LORD said unto herÖ.
This is interesting and you donít want to read over things. You want to know why a lot of the fighting and all of the disruption between the cultures of people today are what they are today? Right here in the beginning of beginnings Ė in the book of Genesis Ė a lot of those foundational animosities are laid down for your own perusal if you have the faith enough in order to believe it. A lot of these nations that we see today are nothing more than the sons and daughters of generations that have been passed down from these very beginnings. Here, you are going to find out that these are two nations of people.
Verse 23b: ÖTwo nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
These represent two nations of people that would later on be the fathers of those peoples. Granted, Jacob was a carry-on of that promise given to
Abraham through Isaac to him. The point I want to make here Ė and this is important to take note and be clear
about Ė is that these are two nations that are in her
womb; two types of people.
Esau was indeed the firstborn with Jacob holding on to his heel. However, in the long run, the way that this relationship plays out, the younger (Jacob) will actually be served by Esau. That is the way it does play out, even in todayís modern day and age, as we understand prophecy and the identity of nations, with Esau intermingled with the Arabs and the Turks and, of course, Jacob being the progenitor and the recipient of the birthright promises of the United States and Great Britain.
Verse 24: And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
25: And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
26: And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esauís heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
Jacob was the "heel-grabber" or "supplanter." They came out like a train, one right after the other!
Verse 27: And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
28: And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29: And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
We are fast-forwarding here, as there is a lot of time that has passed through these short amounts of scriptures, because now the boys are grown up. So we see that Jacob basically swindled Esau out of his birthright.
That plays a lot on other sermon topics such as ďWhat would it take for you sell your birthright?Ē It took just a bowl of soup for Esau to sell his birthright. What would it take for you to sell your birthright that you have had rightly given to you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? That would be a good sermon in itself. We find here, as it plays out, that Jacob does indeed get the birthright:
Verse 30: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
31: And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32: And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
The rest, in that respect, is history. However, as time went on and Isaac gets close to his death, here in this particular case, we find the ruse that took place in Genesis 27. I am going to just reference the event that occurred here in regards to how Rebekah conspired with Jacob to fool Isaac, who was at this time on his deathbed with very bad eyesight. It was easy to fool him because he was almost blind. Rebekah went ahead and made Jacobís arms hairy. She cooked venison like she knew Isaac liked it and she gave it to Jacob to give to his father. The story goes that the father was indeed fooled. Then Isaac, thinking that he was blessing Esau, blessed Jacob. The blessing of the birthright went to Jacob; but he got it by the swindling effort of his mother who conspired with him to get it from Esau.
We understand how the blessings played out and how Esau was so broken-hearted. He was so disappointed and so filled with hate and anger over Jacob that this literally almost got Jacob killed. Remember how the story plays out and Rebekah tells him to go to his Uncle Laban and get away from Esau because "he is out gunning for you and he is going to take your life." Rebekah told Jacob to spend the rest of his life there, to find a good woman and settle down.
The point being, again, that here you have the will of God. The birthright was going to be given up from Day One anyhow, because you know of the way that the boysí names were. How God would have worked that out, we donít know, do we?
We do know that Esau did give his birthright up. Really, with that being said, there was no need for Rebekah to take into her own hands what she felt was necessary in order to assure Jacob to get that birthright blessing that he was deserving of in light of the fact that Esau sold it to him.
The point being, here again, in this particular case, when we lose control of doing Godís will in our lives Ė and this is a major point that I want to make here Ė when we lose control in doing Godís will in our life.....
This is not knowing Ė may still not understand it, but boy, we should! Should we not look on to know what Godís will is, so that we do it. We know what He would expect of us, even though we may not understand where he is taking us in these circumstances.
It is important that we know what to do in regards to His will, and what His will is. The way that you identify that is getting to know your Bible Ė getting to know His values, His standards and what He would expect you to do.
You may not understand where to go; you may not know exactly where He is leading you; but at least understand what to do! To know Godís will is important.
Here is my cautionary statement: When you move off doing the will of God, in your life, you begin to run the extreme risk of complicating the circumstances that you are involved with. Stay above the reproach! Take the way of Godís will every time and, if you are not sure what Jesus would do in this case Ė whatever it is that you find yourself surrounded by Ė then do Bible study, some fasting and prayer to ask God.
You may not understand what this all means; you may not know where the ultimate end of this journey is going to take you; but at least understand what you should do in those circumstances.
Every time you read the circumstances of individuals in the Bible who took the liberty to engage their own will in the conditions that they found themselves in and to basically interfere and interrupt the will of God in their lives, you find that, in most cases, the way it played out Ė whether it is the life of Samson or others throughout the Bible Ė they complicated their lives. They caused additional grief and, in some cases through extension, death and destruction.
It is very, very important that we discipline ourselves to improve the assurance of allowing the circumstances we find ourselves in to play out the way that God wants them to.
Donít get me wrong! That is only one broad category of how we interact with Godís will.
We interact with Godís will on occasion by interfering with it in our lives.
By choosing to take the liberty to "go off the reservation" (for lack of a better term) and drift from the will of God and do something that is totally contrary
Ė that we
know is contrary
Ė and maybe, if we
donít know that it is contrary, then shame on us for not
knowing! But because we do that, we complicate the circumstances or, as they
say, make a bad situation worse. That is one category.
This is another category. The irony of the Christian walk is that you can do Godís will and still get in a lot of trouble and have a lot of difficulties. You could walk the line and the letter of the law and do it just right; and guess what? You still get punched out! You still get, metaphorically, bloodied and, in essence, taken advantage of or even lose a battle Ė whatever that battle may be. Hopefully, you wonít lose the war; but you might lose the battle in the procession of whatever the event is that you find yourself involved in.
We have biblical precedent to understand and expect this. If we look into Hebrews chapter 2, we find the biblical precedent that assures us that we are going to find out where our maturity, our growth, our perfection and our progress come from. As your Bible states, is through "the house of suffering."
Jesus was no different. As we go down through this scenario of describing where we are right now, in the way the plan of God has unfolded and what the status of the plan of God that has unfolded up to this point is:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
That comes first because that is the process by which God is redeeming humankind back to Him. The death of Christ has to come first before we could even become Ė or think of becoming Ė co-heirs with Christ. This writer is qualifying the fact that we see Jesus who is going to taste death for every man.
Verse 10: For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect (mature, completed) through sufferings.
Jesus learned His perfection and the ins and outs of life through the things that He suffered.
Solomon wrote way back in the book of
Lamentations that ďin the house of suffering there is great wisdom.Ē
If all that we have are good times and a walk in the rose garden, we donít notice the things that we should because we are distracted by all of the good things and the materialism that we surround ourselves with. It is not really a growing opportunity for us if things are always going good for us.
The Bible is clear, whether it is the book of Lamentations, the book and the writer of Hebrews, or even here in I Peter it tells us that we as Christians learn through suffering. Peterís admonition to all of us, as Christians, is that we have to buckle in and get ready. Life is not going to be easy if you take up this way of life Ė the way of Jesus Christ Ė and live His standards and His values Ė especially in this society today.
I Peter 4:1a:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind...
Peter is telling the Christians to prepare themselves just like Christ did. We must have the same mind-set as Christ. What is that? Think about it! Jesus had to be a pretty determined and disciplined character. He had to be immensely, enormously committed and dedicated to the cause and the mission that He was here for.
Just think about that! Because if He would have failed, we would all be dead people! Thank God that He did not fail! He could have! There was no predestination involved here guaranteeing that He was going to make it through this physical experience of living this three-dimensional life in the flesh that He was incarnated to. There was no guarantee; otherwise we donít have a Saviour that could be touched by the same infirmities.
Verse 1b ÖFor he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
Let me say it this way: ďHe who has not suffered in the flesh has not ceased from sin.Ē
This is why people say that God doesnít want us to have fun. God does want you to have fun; but He wants you to have the kind of fun that is also fun tomorrow; and it is the kind of fun that doesnít hurt other people in the wake of your behaviour. God wants you to enjoy life within His framework. He knows, by virtue of the fact that He created us, what works best for us. We have to trust Him on that and that is where we are heading.
With this fact being told to us Ė that we learn things through suffering Ė we understand that, even though we may do Godís will, there are some things that you just didnít deserve. There are some things that have happened to me in my life and I am sure that I just flat-out did not deserve because I didnít do anything wrong! We always revert back to asking God why He allowed it. The second category Ė and we cannot dismiss this Ė is that God is on a mission with you!
I am going to explain to you why it is also important that, even if you are doing Godís will, you will suffer. There are stories in your Bible that illustrate this. You know the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. This was Jacobís favourite son; and the other eleven sons were so jealous that they sold Joseph into slavery. If it were not for Judah wanting to make money off Joseph, he would have been killed. Judah went ahead and took Joseph and sold him off to the Ishmaelites.
And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
For sake of time I will paraphrase here. You will read the story and find that Joseph wins over the trust of Potiphar. As a matter of fact, he wins over such trust with Potiphar that he gives Joseph full rein and rule over his household goods. He allows Joseph in the house to conduct the business of managing the household alongside of a very lustful wife. She has her eyes on Joseph! Now she wants to basically "get it on" with Joseph!
Joseph being the guy that he is Ė a very well disciplined, dedicated guy and very trustworthy and honest Ė is not in any way, shape or form thinking of doing that.
She is mad! Sheís not taking that, because she wants this guy pretty
bad! Finally, it comes down to the fact that Potiphar is out on a trip and they are in the house alone.
You know the storyÖ she goes to grab him and he takes off. She is left holding his
jacket and he flees. She has the jacket and she is so mad and upset that she frames him and claims that he tried to make a move on her.
Potiphar comes back and throws Jacob in jail.
Thereís Joseph in jail: "I didnít do anything! The woman is lying! She framed me! God, I am doing your will! I did everything that I could and eschewed this womanís attempt on me to have her way with me. I was the strong guy. I was the one that slapped her down and Iím in jail! How did this happen?" So there he is in jail.
Then Pharaoh gets mad at his butler and his baker. You know the story. The butler and the baker get thrown in jail along with Joseph. The butler and the baker both have dreams. The butler explains to Joseph that he had a dream. You can read about that in Genesis 40 as I donít have enough time to go into the detail of it. Take time to read Genesis 29, 40 and 41. In this particular case, the butler explains his dream to Joseph who says, "Look, I can interpret the dream for you." So he interprets the dream and, as we find out later, not only did the butler have a dream; but the baker also had a dream. Unfortunately for the baker, his dream was not so good because the butler in three days was going to be given his position back; but the baker was to be hung from a tree!
Before this all ended, Joseph told the butler that he was going to interpret the dream and he asked him to remember
him for interpreting his dream. He told the butler to: "Tell Pharaoh that I am
okay and that I want to get out of this jail." As it played out, the butler lived and the baker died.
But the butler did nothing and he didnít talk to Pharaoh about Joseph.
At the end of two full years... "What? But God, I did everything that I could! I even interpreted the dreams for these guys!" Do you see Joseph taking action? Yes. Did he grab whatever resources he could do interfere with whatever the will of God was? When you read the whole story, you'll see that, No; he did not.
What we see is how God worked it out in this particular case. God worked it out for Joseph and the rest is history. Joseph became second to Pharaoh. Not only that, but he saved literally millions of peopleís lives over a period of famine throughout the area.
Joseph waited and he waited. Here is the word that I left blank before; and I want to illustrate to you now and lay this out for you. Joseph waited patiently. He held back and allowed God time.
So often, we donít allow God time. We immediately become impatient; our human nature takes over and we want to grab control and to be able to steer; essentially to push the buttons and turn the wheel. Then we feel better, donít we, when we are in control? It is just human nature!
I have to admit that one of the reasons that I went into business for myself was because I couldnít work for anybody! That is oftentimes one of the driving reasons that people are in business for themselves Ė because they get tired of all of the ďcuckooĒ in the big corporations! We all have human nature to a greater or lesser degree.
Letís fast forward, and go over to the transition period of King Saul losing his kingship to David. Now we will see that Saul and David started out as friends and how Saul trusted David with certain authority and with certain tasks.
Later on, as time went on, we read that Saul became jealous of David even though David did everything that Saul asked him to do! Unfortunately, this got him accolades and recognition from the people of Israel, which caused Saul to be jealous.
I Samuel 18:7:
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
Saul didnít like that! He is supposed to be "top dog." He is the one that is supposed to be the great warrior and the one who is superior in all of this. But he saw people beginning to look to David as one being superior over him.
Verse 9: And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
As you read the story you begin to see how this all develops and begins to play out:
Verse 22: And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the kingís son in law.
23: And Saulís servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a kingís son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?
Back in those days, there was a "brideís price." You had to have money if you wanted to marry somebody. You would pay the father money so you could have the woman for your wife. That goes into the marriage laws of Israel; but I am not going to go into that. The point of it is that David is telling them that he is a poor man and "I donít have anything to give to the King."
Saul wanted David to marry Michal so bad that he said, "You donít need any money; I want you to go and kill one hundred Philistines and bring me their foreskins."
Now Saul had a motive and he never in his wildest dreams thought that David was going to pull that off Ė no pun intended! Lo and behold, he not only slew one hundred Philistines; he took two hundred out and brought back two hundred foreskins! Saul could not believe it. Everything that he did to this guy as he tried to kill him, time-after-time Ė even throwing the javelin at him Ė David escaped. This is a great story!
Now letís advance. We find David on the run now. Saul was chasing David
down and he was getting very close. So close that David was on one side of the mountain and Saul was on the other.
They didnít know that they were that close to each other. Saul got word that the Philistines were attacking Israel so he had to divert.
David continued on in caves and hid. Saul was looking for David to kill him.
Now David is in a cave. All his guys are back in the dark. Lo and behold, who walks in the cave to go to the bathroom?
Saul walks in the cave to go to the bathroom. David and his guys are in the shadows watching the King come in. He is doing his business and the guys are telling David, "The God of Israel is giving you Saul! Take him!"
David tells them, "No" and tells them to be quiet. These guys were fighters and they were the elite. David had some gruesome guys Ė tough dudes! David did appease them a little bit. He crept up and cut a piece of Saul's clothes off. While David is holding this piece, he starts feeling guilty because he did this to the King of Israel. Notice this:
I Samuel 24:
4: And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saulís robe privily.
5: And it came to pass afterward, that Davidís heart smote him, because he had cut off Saulís skirt.
6: And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORDíS anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
David respected the position so much that, even though Saul was such a character Ė such a scoundrel Ė David took the will of Godís role and respected Godís interaction in the situation. So much so that he reprimanded himself, telling himself, "How dare I ever encroach on something like this that I would actually show disrespect to the very anointed king that God put in position!"
Think about that! That takes a lot of character to think like that when this guy is out to kill you and it is either him or you! David stayed his servants and permitted them not to rise up against Saul. Saul finished, got up and walked out of the cave.
Verse 8: David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.
He was not being sarcastic. This was the king! The king turned around and David did the proper protocol by respecting him in that regard.
Verse 9: And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou menís words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
10: Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORDíS anointed.
11: Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
12: The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
14: After whom is the king of Israel come out? After whom dost thou pursue? After a dead dog, after a flea.
15: The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
16: And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
That is Godís will in action. All David did was stand up for truth, honour, the right cause, honesty and the truthfulness of the situation. It hit Saul right in the heart. It actually brought him to tears.
Verse 17: And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
18: And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.
Here is the point Ė
a major lesson that all of us need to know as Christians: David refused very definitively and
in a very disciplined manner not to lower himself to the level of those that were pursuing him.
In no way, shape, or form would he grovel on that level and diminish the values that he stood
for and the boundaries that he knew as were defined by the living God. David was very uncompromising.
What am I saying in this? There are two broad categories of working within the will of God. You can interfere with it in your life if you recognize it. Or, because you donít recognize it, you can get impatient, think that you have to take action, and by doing so, make a bad situation worse. You will run the risk of complicating your circumstances. Or you could be a "letter of the law" person, do the will of God and still get slapped down.
So what is this that you're talking about, Bill? Whatís your point in all of this? Here is the point. We have to understand something; and that is why it is so critical, important and incumbent on all of us to truly comprehend this one point Ė to understand and capture this:
You and I are all in a program, which is called the F.B.P. Ė the Faith Building Program. Everything that you go through, if indeed you are an engaged Christian, is all about faith-building. Why is that so important? God is concerned about one thing and one thing only; and that is His relationship with you and your relationship to Him. It is so very important that we get this point. The circumstances that we find ourselves being faced with and contending with are, indeed, oftentimes the tools by which are essentially forged into the beings of people that God wants us to be. Therefore it is important, obviously, when we go through these circumstances, that we have faith. Here is what God tells us that faith is:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I am confident that what I am hoping for is, indeed, going to come true. I am certain that I am bound for a resurrection and that Godís Kingdom is real; that Christ is alive at the right hand of the Father, is going to come back to this planet and resurrect those that He knows are His. Those things are certain in my mind. The things that I believe are the evidence of that. Hopefully that, as we develop it, is of benefit in this way to us by allowing us to understand.
Verse 6: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Of course, with faith it is possible to please God.
Please go through this whole chapter and read the stories of what these individuals went through. We have read a few of these. They were tracked down like dogs and they were hunted in caves. There was no "health and welfare" in the lives of these people. They were beaten down and looked upon as the dregs and scourges of life in so many respects. But throughout their livesí circumstances, regardless of how hot it got around them, they pursued, believing and knowing, as pilgrims from another country, forging ahead through this lifeís circumstances to maintain the course so that they may be assured of the promises:
Verse 13: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
They are not in heaven and they didnít receive the promises yet. They are not in hell and they didnít receive any curses. They are not in purgatory. They have not received the promises yet! We are told this again:
Verse 39: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Moses is not in heaven; Enoch is not in heaven; Rahab is not in heaven! None of these people are in heaven and they have not received the promises yet. They knew that they were pilgrims moving through life and time, that they were to build faith toward a coming Kingdom of God that is going to be reinstituted at the return of Jesus Christ; and that those that are dead in Christ will be raised first and those that are alive will be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, and will land on the Mount of Olives.
When do the dead come back alive? At the last trump. How many trumpets are there? We are told in Revelation that there are seven trumpets. At the seventh trump, the dead will rise first in Christ. Those that are alive, in the twinkling of an eye, shall be changed, meet Christ in the air and land on the Mount of Olives.
From there Godís Word will go out and cover the world like the ocean covers the sea beds. Ultimately, all of mankind will learn what world peace is really all about.
In the meantime, going through life oftentimes is quite disorienting because the will of God is not always as clear as we would like it to be as to where we are going. I am suggesting that you donít need to know exactly where you are going at the time you are going through what you are going through; and in due time, that will manifest itself. Give God this. And trust God for that. What you need to focus on is doing the will of God during that time.
I Peter 4:12:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
Why am I going through this? I donít understand this! What is God doing? That is not important; but you must trust God. You must have faith and know that He has your best interests at heart. No matter what you are going through; no matter how hard it might be, keep the faith and learn to know what Godís will is during the circumstances so that you donít interfere and so that you know when to engage and when not to engage; when to let God work things out and when you should take a step. Those are the important aspects, especially in "the present" when you are going through those things.
I Peter 4:
13: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christís sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14a: If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are yeÖ
In other words, if you do suffer wrong for being right, you should be happy. No problem, man! This is good! Itís great to be persecuted! Itís great to be beat up, to be betrayed, to be abandoned and hurt!
It is not so good when you are going through it, but the ultimate objective is as Peter is telling us:
14b: Ö for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
So maybe they do speak evil of you because of your weird ways. But the point is that you are glorifying God through it. He cautions:
15: But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other menís matters.
16: Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
That might be Godís will for you in those circumstances Ė to stand strong so that the example that you are setting may be sowing seeds for others who are observing Ė or even for the very individuals that you yourself are contending with. You donít know and, frankly, in some cases, we are better off not knowing; otherwise we might get in the way.
The military works this way Ė on a need-to-know basis:
"Take the hill!"
"Not important! Take the hill!"
God works on that basis to a certain
extent; and oftentimes he is protecting us from ourselves.
Let me leave you with these words; and I hope that many of us will be better for it. These are the words of Jesus Christ Himself:
In your patience possess ye your souls.
In this context, possess your souls in patience as you work through your lifeís circumstances.
Donít get in Godís way! Study, fast and pray to understand what Godís will is to
do; and, in time, you will understand and know the will of God. It may be years
later or at the end of your life when you find out why you went through something when you did.
But whatís most important is that you build the faith, stay the course and let Godís will work vibrantly in and through you.
Blessed be those who wait on the Lord.
Let me give you a homework assignment as we close up here: Read Psalms 27 and pay particular attention to the last verse of that chapter. Keep Psalms 27 close to your hearts, and wait on the Lord because you will be blessed.