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A Faith That Works
“Expecting God’s Best For Life”
The Bible says, “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT)
So the question becomes, “How can we stand before a holy and righteous God after our death?” Is it by being better than we are bad? Is it by keeping the Ten Commandments? Is it by being religious and going to church?
To all these ways the answer is no. There’s only one way, and Jesus said He was it. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
But to enter onto that path and follow it though this life takes faith.
“Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38 NKJV)
“But 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.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
Therefore, the only way to gain God’s approval is to live our lives by faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith is therefore an important issue, and it’s vital that we learn how to live and be strengthened by faith.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
Faith comes through our reading of the Bible and allowing God to speak to us through it. So we might just call the Bible faith food, and the more we read and get into it, and allow it to get into us, the more our faith will grow and develop.
Two blind men come to Jesus asking for a healing, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this,” to which they replied, “Yes Lord.” And Jesus said,
“According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matthew 9:29 NKJV)
Immediately their eyes were opened.
What Jesus said is that it was their choice to believe in Him. So what do we believe? What are we willing to believe God for in our lives. Are we willing to say to Jesus, “Yes Lord.”
But this must also be tempered with what the Apostle James said; “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NKJV)
James conditions what we pray for. Not only does it hinge on our faith, but also on God’s glory. Are we asking to further His kingdom or our own wants and desires?
We are to pray and have faith in God for all things in our lives. The Apostle Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing, but with prayer and supplications with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God, Philippians 4:6-7.
Paul tells us that we’re to walk by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7. And as we’ve seen the writer of Hebrews says that God rewards those who live by faith and diligently seek Him, Hebrews 11:6.
Now the writer of Hebrews gives us the best description of what faith looks, and the type of faith that pleases God.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
Faith is then the assurance of those things we hope for and expect due to God’s faithfulness, and convinces us of their reality even though we may not see them at the present time.
Faith is the key that unlocks the doors and windows of heaven. It’s very important, therefore, that we grow, develop, and strengthen our faith, because faith is expecting God’s best for our lives.
Some contest this description seeing how rotten life has been, but God’s word says that God’s at work, even when times are tough God is turning them around for our ultimate good.
But in saying all of this, it’s important to understand what faith is not.
Faith is not positive thinking. And while positive thinking is a good thing, it’s limited in its scope and certainly isn’t faith. We may be freezing to death, but no matter how we spin the facts, no matter how positive we are, these thoughts are going to warm us up.
Faith also isn’t wishful thinking. It’s not saying, “I hope I don’t have any problems!” Good luck with that one. We’re all going to have problems and difficulties, and no matter how wishful our thinking may be, that reality isn’t going to change. Jesus makes that clear.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
We will have problems, but because Jesus has overcome the world through His death and resurrection, we can overcome those evils that aligned themselves against us. Wishful thinking will never do that.
Instead, faith is expecting God’s best. It’s the confident assurance that God is in control of the future and His plans for our lives are the best. Look what the Lord says,
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8 NKJV)
God will instruct and guide us on that narrow path we’ve been called to travel, His eye is always upon us.
This leads to another question, “Why should we trust God when so much bad has happened?”
To answer that let’s look at one of the better known stories in the Bible. It reveals the faith of David in facing the gigantic problems we also face in our lives. The story is about David and his battle with the giant, Goliath.
Israel and the Philistines were at war, and the Philistines had a giant on their side, Goliath. He was intimidation personified. The guy was nine feet tall. And so he would stand in front of Israel’s army and challenge them mano-e-mano.
This guy terrified Israel, that is, all except one small shepherd boy named David. While the rest of Israel saw Goliath as too being to fight, David saw him as too big to miss. You see, one plus God equals a majority, and when God is on our side, how can we miss.
From this story there are several things we can learn about faith.
David’s attitude can be seen in what he said to Goliath.
“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel…for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:46-47)
Notice how proud we get when our kids or grandkids brag on us to their friends? God loves it when we brag on Him because He really can do everything. William Carey, father of modern missions and founder of the Baptist Missionary Society said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” This type of faith honors God.
Expecting God to show up increased David’s strength and ability. David had the strength to hurl a stone and have it sink into one really hard head. God gave David the strength, courage, and ability to accomplish this task because of his faith.
Now in the story that David picked up five stones. Some have taken that as a lack of faith on David’s part. But Goliath had four brothers who were also rather big. So maybe David’s thought was, “After I finish off Goliath I’m going to need four more stones for his brothers.”
When we act in faith, God will give us additional strength to face the difficulties and giants in our lives.
The Bible tells us that after David defeated Goliath, it encouraged the rest of Israel and they attacked and routed the whole Philistine army. The entire nation of Israel was energized and encouraged by David’s faith. That’s the power of faith.
A Gallop poll found that faith brings optimism. They discovered that people who have the greatest faith are some of the happiest people around, and the most helpful.
We all face giants in our lives. They can be financial giants, medical giants, or relational giants. The question then becomes, “How can we expect God’s best when everything seems to be going wrong?
Let me share with you three that I have found in the Psalms
To expect God’s best when things are at their worst we need to get tuned into God every day, and the best time to start is in the morning.
All of us have our morning rituals and routines, our morning stretches, and a cup of coffee and the news. But here in Psalms it tells us that if we want God’s best we need to start our day with God, not with the morning news.
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3 NKJV)
David received that spirit of great expectations from spending time with God every morning. He started his day talking with God before anybody else.
Some people, however, are naturally pessimistic, like the great theologian, Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh.
One day Eeyore stood beside the stream looking at himself and said, “Pathetic, that’s what it is, pathetic.” He then walked to the other side of the stream and looked again and said, “As I thought, no better from this side.”
Winnie the Pooh then came out and greeted Eeyore and said, “Good morning Eeyore,” to which Eeyore replied, “Good morning, Pooh Bear, if it is a good morning, which I doubt.”
Some people are just like Eeyore when they wake up in the morning. Instead of saying, “Good morning Lord,” they say, “Good lord it’s morning.”
We have to get up in the morning expecting God’s best for our lives. We have to get up and enthusiastically greet the Lord. And as I thought about it, it’s little wonder we get up feeling horrible, it’s because we wake up to an alarm clock, which does what it was intended, it alarms us. We’re not waking up to a great and wonderful day; we’re waking up alarmed.
And it just gets worse when we turn on the news. There’s an adage in the newsroom, “If it bleeds it leads.” And so if we haven’t got enough problems during the day, here we are waking up and adding the whole world’s problems to our own. How smart is that?
Instead let’s start our day with good news. Let’s open up our Bibles and get tuned into God first. Let’s read His promises and talk with Him and allow Him to talk with us. Studies reveal that our moods are determined in the first 10 minutes of the day. So let’s start our day with the Lord.
Let’s affirm what the Bible tells us, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)
The second thing we need to do to expect God’s best is
Joshua told the children of Israel to meditate day and night on God’s word. The Psalmist tells us that this is absolutely vital even in our darkest times.
“Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.” (Psalm 119:95 NLT)
When we keep and rehearse the promises of God throughout the day, then it will help us face the threats that come our way. In fact, they’ll keep us from going down the wrong path.
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11 NKJV)
We need to memorize Gods’ word and deposit it in our hearts so that when we need them we can make a withdrawal. The Bible says,
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NKJV)
God always keeps His word, and with over 7,000 promises in the Bible, there’s a lot to give us confidence and assurance that we’re going to make it, because God who promised is faithful.
The third thing we need to do if we’re to expect God’s best is
The Lord said,
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.” (Psalm 91:14 NKJV)
When circumstances look bad or depressing, we need to trust that God has our back and that He has our best interest at heart. When trouble came against King David and threatened to swamp his life, he knew where his hope lay, he knew to trust God’s love.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him.” (Psalm 42:11 NKJV)
While David was in the midst of trials, he speaks about a better future because of God’s love.
Prior to facing Goliath, king Saul questioned his credentials, and David responded, and this is my paraphrased rendition, “Don’t worry. God’s got my back. He’ll take care of this giant, just as he helped me to kill a lion and a bear.”
Some are going through difficult times, and so we need to remember what God has done knowing that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So let’s ask God to show us those times He’s helped in the past and expect Him to do it again.
And when things don’t make sense, let’s start with what we know as true about God. Know that God so loved us that He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us. Let’s trust in that unfailing and unconditional love.
We might not know what’s going on around us, or why, but one things we can trust is that God’s got a plan and a purpose and He’s working all things out for good for those who love Him in return.
Let’s approach the trials and tribulations of this life with faith in God, and then we can expect God’s best.
Let’s move forward by faith expecting God’s best for our lives, through tuning into Him, thinking on His promises, and trusting in His love.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study