UNBELIEF WEAKENS AND FAITH MAKES YOU STRONG
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching about the power of the Gospel. Her main text was taken from the Book of Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” … What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness…(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom 1:16, 17; 4:1-5; 4:17-25)
FAITH AND HOPE IN GOD’S PROMISES ARE ALWAYS FULFILLED
Abraham discovered the power of faith and hope in God’s promises; faith and hope in God never fail! None will ever be put to shame, disappointed, or regret having faith and hope in God Almighty! PROMISE is a vow to do something good in the future! God’s Promises give us the right to hope until the manifestation comes! FAITH is defined as (present) belief, confidence, total trust in God. It is also faithfulness (faith is not on and off; it continues faithfully to the end of life. All the ‘heroes of faith’ kept their faith to their last breath. We need to do the same. HOPE is defined as a joyful constant expectation of good in the future. The promises given by God in His Word will one day become manifest visibly. Hope is invisible. Faith sees the invisible hope and carries on, until it becomes visible. Hope fulfills faith. That is why hope is stronger than faith. Faith does not backslide! Faith is not a coward! Faith pleases God! (Hebrews 11:6)
Faith is a present active verb. It means ‘I exist’ or ‘I am’. Faith is the substance, the invisible bridge that carries the hope. When faith is weak, the hope may crash. The greater our faith, the greater our hope and the more we can dream. Faith is the foundation of hope. Faith is connected to the hearing of God’s Word. It is the underground bridge leading and supporting hope. True faith and hope in God will never put you to shame! They will never disappoint you! “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us… Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Rom 5:5; 10:11).
ABRAHAM LEARNS FROM MISTAKES (Genesis 12)
God commands Abram to leave his father’s home and people, and with Sarai, his wife, to go to a particular land. God told him that He will bless him there. Promises are positional! By faith, Abram obeyed. That is good. Once he arrived in the land of Canaan, he built three altars to Jehovah God (at Bethel, Shekem and Hebron) and worshipped Him. Then a serious famine came to the land of promise. Abram was supposed to trust God for keeping him alive. This is because all the promises concerned his future. He cannot die of hunger. But Abram failed the first test of faith. At that time, he was not wealthy. His greatest ‘treasure’ was his beautiful wife, Sarai. He decided to go to Egypt, ‘to survive’. At the border with Egypt, he convinces Sarai to lie, to keep their marriage a secret. Abram was afraid for his life, that the Egyptians will kill him to take his wife. He told her to say that they are brother and sister so that he will ‘be treated well for her sake’. As you can see in Abram’s case, doubt, fear of death and selfishness weakened his faith. He ignored Sarai’s reputation as a wife. He put her thru great stress. Pharaoh took her into his harem. From the moment they entered Egypt, Sarai becomes ‘the woman’. She has lost her spiritual identity. God warns Pharaoh to release her. He does so. In this case, the unbelievers are more moral than Abram. Egypt is a symbol of the world. Going to Egypt is backsliding. As an ‘in law’, Pharaoh gives him great wealth. In Egypt, they acquire Hagar as a slave woman. She will be the source of more troubles later. As you can see, Abram’s trip to Egypt was a disaster. He became wealthy but he damaged his faith, his testimony as a man of God, his relationships with God, and his relationship with his wife. His son Isaac imitates him later in his unbelief. What is the solution? Go back to your first love! Abram repents and goes back to the land of promise. He learns from his mistakes. He goes back to Bethel, where he first raised an altar and there, he humbles himself and worships God. In Egypt, Abraham did not raise any altar to Jehovah and did not worship Him. The Backslider must repent and retrace his steps. This is hard work, humbling yourself. But there is no other way. You can make money in Egypt, but God will not bless you there for the land and the promises are connected. Once back to Canaan, Sarai is called by her name again: Sarai- Princess. Her reputation as a wife is restored. Material wealth is not a proof of spirituality! Prodigal son (daughter) come home!
FAITH HAS THREE VISIONS!
Imagine that you are a driver. Faith is like driving the car. This is the first vision: looking back! You look back thru the side mirrors to see your ‘back’. Faith looks back at the Cross to see the price paid for salvation and for the miracles promised. The second vision of faith is looking far ahead! In the evening, as you drive, you put on the long beam light to see far ahead, to see the future glory, to see the assurance of heaven. That vision will encourage you to drive faster today. The third vision of faith: look at your immediate front! You put on the short beam light to see what is just in front of the car. Daily, you walk by faith, as you trust God to lead, guide, provide and protect. The devil may throw mud (lies) and cover your side mirrors so that you cannot see the Cross. Or he throws stones (more lies) on your shield glass, to scratch it so that you cannot see your future. All this damages your faith and leaves you incapacitated. You become ‘blind’ and slow to make progress. Pray that the Holy Ghost’ ‘wiper’ will use the water of His Word to clean your mirrors and repair your shield. The Journey, the worship, continues… Worship the Lord!