“Faith with Patience” <Heb. 11:1-12:4>
Story of Jonathan:
The fascinating story of Jonathan (1 Samuel 14) happened in a very critical time of Israel’s newly developing kingdom. Israel was in chaos because people of Israel refused to be ruled by God, but wanted to conform the pattern of the world by continually demanding a king for them. So, Saul became their king.
But the problem started as soon as an unfaithful and self-centered king took over the responsibility. Rather than faithfully pursuing God’s missions as a newly installed king, king Saul broke all commands that God placed in his leadership. He had no idea, no clear direction of how to lead the Israelites. He didn’t pray to seek God’s wisdom. Rather than waiting for prophet Samuel to come and give offerings to God, He offered it by himself. Not only he didn’t follow the command but also he was very impatient. Instead of seeking wisdom from God, he hid under a pomegranate tree during the most critical time. He did nothing!
However, his son Jonathan acted out faithfully in the life-threatening situation and saved the people from the hands of Philistines. Jonathan knew that God only can solve the problem. He trusted God through his strong faith by saying to his young armor-bearer:
“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” – 1 Sam. 14:6
It was a proactive action! It shows us that when we align ourselves with God, God aligns the entire universe with us to give victory! God was very pleased with Jonathan’s faith! I want God to be pleased with your faith as well.
Jonathan’s ultimate purpose of life was nothing more than to please God. He knew that it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6).
Learning By Exercising Faith:
We are learning a lesson that faith is not merely a journey for the feet, but it is a journey for the heart. Faith tells us that no matter what lies ahead of us, God is already there. Faith tells that as we please God with our actions, God will act out with unimaginable miracles.
Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The story of Jonathan gives us 3 important lessons:
1. Instead of focusing on your problems, focus your eyes to God.
2. Live something worthy to die for with faithful action to please God.
3. The limitations you are willing to accept establish the boundaries of your existence.
“Keep Our Eyes Focused on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of Faith.”
How many of you here are Apple fans?
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, on his keynote speech (Oct. 2013), dismissed the competition as directionless: “Our competition is different: they’re confused,” he said. “Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next?”
“We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal. We still believe deeply in this category and we’re not slowing down on our innovation.”
We have to be faithful to God. Here is why:
– During 8 hours of our sleep, our lungs breath in and out 80,000 gallons of air. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) kicks in as our brains paralyze the movement-controlling part of brains so that we don’t fall out of bed.
– In 24 hours, blood travels more than 12,000 miles. Our heart beats 100,000 times.
– During our life time, our heart pumps 1 million barrels of blood.
Today, I would like to share little more about what faith is. Let’s open the Book of Hebrews 11.
From Genesis to Revelation, the entire Bible is filled with written testimonies of faithful journeys of God’s people. Especially, Heb. 11 tells us how faithful people lived before us even without receiving the promise. Lord, we want to learn from it. Teach us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Heb. 11:1 shows the definition of Faith: Pistis (in Greek)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle* on what we can’t see. (The Message)
( *our handle: touch something; to operate or make use of something with the hands.)
What happens if the house is built on the sand rather than built on the firm foundation?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction* of things not seen. (NRSV)
I like the word “conviction” that explains about the evidence.
( * conviction: a fixed or firm belief; firmness of belief.)
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). New Living Translation adds “will actually happen.”
For this particular verse, we can find out (as John Calvin also thought and emphasized):“Faith can be no more separated from patience than from itself.” “We shall not reach the goal of salvation except we have patience.”
Faith is directly related with patience.
The evidence is demonstration (the act of showing or making evident) of our faith.
It is well explained in Romans 8:22-25:
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
So what is faith according to Heb. 11:1-6?
1. Faith is confidence that what we hope for will actually happen and it is our firm foundation under everything that makes our life worth living.
2. Conviction and demonstration (act of showing) of what we do not see.
3. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6a). And to please God, it requires faith, which requires “patience.”
Hebrews 11:13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
What is “the things promised”? It is Jesus Christ, our Savior who came to redeem our sins through His death and resurrection as one-time atonement to save the world. However, the good news is that we are now able to come to our God directly through Christ, without mediator such as priests. When we pray in the name of Christ, God will listen and answer our prayer directly. This is the blessing. The blessing of coming to God through prayer and holding our Bible in our hands! This is backed up by 1 Peter 2.
1 Peter 2:9-11 defines who you are:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
Anyone here memorize the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
It is important to look the fruits of the Holy Spirit, (results of faithful life) because it is related with how to build the Godly Character.
Let’s look at Galatians 5. Galatians 5 is dealing with how we fight the war between flesh and spirit.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law*. – Gal. 5:16-18
What happens if we don’t live by the Spirit? If we don’t live faithfully?
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Gal. 5:19-21
How can we protect ourselves from the flesh desire and the evil forces?
We can find the answer from Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
What are some of very important weapons that we can use everyday?
– belt of truth = Jesus = Word of God = Foundation “Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
– breastplate of righteousness = Faith “Righteous will live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4/Rom. 1:17)
– shield of faith = extinguish all flaming arrows of evils
– helmet of salvation = hope
– sword of the Spirit = Word of God
– pray in the Spirit = pray in the word of God and tongues
1 Thessalonians 5:8 also says: “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and hope of salvation as a helmet” – 1 Thes. 5:8
It is very important to be equipped with faith, love and hope! It protects our hearts and heads!
Let’s continue reading the rest of Gal. 5.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Gal. 5:22-25
What is mean by “Against such things there is no law”?
*The law is summarized as: Love your God and love your neighbors as yourself. So if we live with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we will also fulfill the law as well, “love God and love others.”
Gal. 5 surely tells us to live by faith. The Scripture clearly says, “Live by the Spirit.”
“… Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thes. 1:3
“The faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven.” – Col. 1:5a
Faith, hope and love is all we need to live faithfully. As we live faithfully, we build beautiful character, fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Faith builds godly character. Fruits of the Holy Spirit is the result of your faithful life and linked with your character.
Let’s read next several Scripture passages together. These Scriptures encourage us how to live faithfully.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Rom. 5:1-5
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:2-5
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Heb. 12:1-2
God has perfect timing; Never Early, Never Late, It takes a little Patience. But it is worth the Wait!
“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.”
– Acts 2:17 (cf. Joel 2:28)
On your spare time this week, please read Acts 1 through 2 to see how the very first church started. The very first church started as faithful people waited patiently for the Coming of the Holy Spirit.
I pray that this very first revival through the Coming of the Holy Spirit to be happened again here in this place because of God’s promise:
As your faith is exercised with great actions (like Joshua, Jonathan, David, Daniel… all young warriors who acted out with their faith even before the fulfillment of the promise), God will pour out His Spirit on you and you will do the great things among your generation today and tomorrow!
There is no other name but Jesus who is the way, truth and life. – John 14:6
Acts! Live the Faithful Life with Patience!