Building A Life of Faith
November 16, 2016

Building A Life of Faith

Hebrews 11

I’d like to approach today’s message with this question, “What Pleases God?”

What does it take to please God? Some people think the way we please God is through rituals. You chant certain prayers, pray over certain things, light incense or candles, or the like. But that’s not what the Bible says.

Others think we please God through following rules and regulations. We make a list of what we’re supposed to do and not to do, and if we do all the “to Do’s” and don’t do any of the “Do Not’s,” then God says we’re okay. But that’s not what the Bible says.

Then there are those who think that we please God through religious observances. That we observe certain holy days, or attend certain religious events, then we’ll religious enough to hear God says we’re okay. But that’s not what the Bible says.

What does the Bible say?

“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)

The Bible says is that God isn’t interested in rituals, rules, regulations, or religion. God’s interested in relationships, and that it’s impossible to please God unless we possess one thing, and that is faith.

Today I’d like to look at how we can build a life of faith so God is pleased.

The Bible tells us that we are to build our lives on a foundation of faith, Jude 1:20. If this is true, and it is because the Bible is truth, what is faith?

To take a practical look at what faith is all about, the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, also known as God’s Hall of Faith, is a good place to start. It’s the list of those God says had great faith. But what was it about their lives that singled them out for this great honor? This is what I’d like to look at, that is, those different aspects of how we can build a life of faith.

  1. Faith is Believing When We Don’t See It

The first verse is what many describe as the quintessential definition of faith, but it isn’t so much a definition as it is a description, and the rest of the chapter is the example.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)

The New Living Translation reads, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and it’s certain of what we do not see.

We often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But God says, “You’ve got it backwards. You have to believe it in order to see it.” That’s faith.

Like an architect planning a building, or an artist creating a sculpture, or an athlete trying to break a record. They have to believe and envision it before they can accomplish it. They have to believe it’s possible long before it will ever be possible.

Warner von Braun, builder of the Atlas and Saturn rockets, said, “There has never been any significant achievement in human history that was not accompanied by faith.”

While we may not see God, it doesn’t’ mean He doesn’t exist. The Russian cosmonaut who didn’t see God in outer space reportedly said, “Since I can’t see God he must not exist.”

While we may not see the face of God, we do see Him in creation and the changed lives of those who by faith have come to believe.

American astronaut John Glenn said, “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”

Faith then believes before seeing, but there’s more

  1. Faith is Obeying When We Don’t Understand It

Consider Noah. Can you imagine what he thought and the doubts he must have had when God said, “I’m going to wipe out every living thing on earth and start all over with you.” I don’t know about you, but I’d wonder what I just ate for dinner. But not Noah!

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7 NKJV)

Underline “moved with godly fear,” and write in the margin, “obey,” and that’s because it’s a great definition for “obey.” Now circle the word, “faith.” These two go together. Faith is obeying when we don’t understand, when it doesn’t make sense.

I’m sure Noah had questions if not doubts. The Bible says that before the flood it never rained, a mist that came up from the ground watered the earth. It was a completely different atmosphere back then.

So when God told Noah to build a big boat in the middle of the desert far them the ocean because it was going to rain, Noah by faith obeyed, even though it didn’t make sense. If he hadn’t, none of us would be sitting here today.

We see this same aspect of faith on the part of Abraham.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8 NKJV)

Circle the words, “obeyed” and “faith.” Again we see there’s definitely a connection between the two.

Abraham’s about 75 years old, but instead of retiring, God sends him out on the adventure of a lifetime. God tells Abraham to move from what he knows to a place that he had no idea about. So Abraham believed God and obeyed even when it didn’t make any sense.

There’s always a risk attached to faith. But this is where most of us have a problem, because we want some sort of guarantee. God says to go, but we say, “Okay, but I’d like for You to do this first.”

But this isn’t faith. God wants us to believe even when we don’t see and obey when we don’t understand.

There’s a lot of things the Bible tells us to do that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; when people hurt us and we’re suppose to forgive them. That just doesn’t make sense. The natural thing is to get even, to retaliate. But God knows that resentment and bitterness hurts us far more than the person we’re resenting and are bitter towards.

Here’s the point. If we learn to obey God even when it doesn’t make sense then we’re building that foundation for life.

3 Faith is Giving When We Don’t Have It

Just like obedience and faith go together, so does giving and faith. God uses our finances to test our faith, and giving God the tithe is huge in this process, especially when things get really tight. God says, “What are you going to trust more, my promises to take care of you, or your own understanding of the situation.”

What I find interesting is that the first person to get his name in God’s Hall of Faith is Abel. But Abel really didn’t do anything great. There’s no special achievement attached to his name. The only thing that’s recorded for us besides his death is his giving. His giving put him in God’s Hall of Faith.

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” (Hebrews 11:4a NKJV)

Now circle the words “faith” and “sacrifice.” It wasn’t what he gave that pleased God but how he gave it. It was a sacrifice. It wasn’t the amount, but the attitude. God doesn’t care about the amount. What He cares about is our attitude in which we give it.

There are two ways we give. We can give by reason or we can give by revelation. When we give by reason we look at our bank accounts and figure out what we can afford. We give a reasonable amount, which doesn’t require any faith.

To give by revelation is by God’s word and prayer. God says to bring the tithe into the storehouse, and Jesus said not to leave this part of our faith undone, Matthew 23:23. And then beyond this is the offering, which is where we ask God, “What do You want me to give?” This is giving by faith, and it’s the type of giving that pleases God.

Giving by faith is like planting a seed in advance of the harvest. The Apostle Paul connects this type of giving to God’s promise.

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NKJV)

So far we’ve seen that

  • Faith is Believing When We Don’t See It
  • Faith is Obeying When We Don’t Understand It, and
  • Faith is Giving When We Don’t Have It
  1. Faith is Persisting When We don’t Feel Like It

This is opposite of what the world tells us. It says, “If it feels good, do it; but if not, don’t.” But if we live by our emotions, what’s going to happen is that we’ll end up being manipulated by our moods. As a people of faith, we’re to live our lives based upon our commitments, not our emotions.

Faith is persisting even when we feel like giving up. Sometimes we may not feel like reading our Bibles or praying, but when we don’t feel like it, that’s really when we need to do it. If we only do it when we feel like it, then Satan will make sure we’ll never feel like it.

Keeping on keeping on is the secret of success. No professional athlete enjoys working out. Not professional musician enjoys the hours of practice they have to put in every day. But persisting through the feelings is what makes them both successful at their craft.

Godly men and women of faith don’t become that way by accident. These Hall of Faithers didn’t get that way by accident, they persisted, and they chose to take the time to develop the habits necessary to live by faith in spite of how they felt. Take Moses as an example.

“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27 NIV)

Moses led the entire Hebrew nation out of their slavery to Egypt and into the wilderness, and for forty years he had to endure going in circles because of their disobedience. The key to his success was persistence and keeping His eyes on God the whole time.

So many people are close to quitting. They’re ready to quit their marriage, job, dream, and even God and the church. The situations seem beyond hope, but God says to keep our eyes on Him and keep faith in His promises.

  1. Faith is Thanking God Before We Receive It

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” (Hebrews 11:30 NIV)

Jericho was the most fortified city in the land of Canaan. God said for them to march around it seven days in silence and then on the last day march around the city seven times, and on the last time around shout.

Talk about believing without seeing, and obeying when it made no sense!

I wonder what they shouted. I believe they shouted God’s praises thanking Him for the victory He promised.

Faith is not just believing God can, because God can do anything He wants to whether we believe it or not. God’s ability isn’t dependent on our thinking. Faith therefore believes God is going to do something, even though we don’t see it or understand it.

Jesus gives us this formula in how we are to pray.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 NKJV)

If we wait until we receive it to give thanks, that’s gratitude, not faith. Faith believes in advance and thanking God, and it’s such a faith that caused the walls of Jericho to come down.

This brings me to the last aspect of building a great life of faith

  1. Faith is Believing Without Receiving It

Whoa, talk about a plot twist!

The writer of Hebrews also gives a nod to everyone who continued to believe even though they never received the promise.

“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” (Hebrews 11:39 NKJV)

Living by faith doesn’t exempt us from problems. All these Hall of Faithers suffered, but they believed, even though they never received the promise. The writer of Hebrews explains saying, “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:40)

They believed even though they didn’t receive the promise because God had not yet sent His Son, Jesus, so that all who believe now can have that promise of eternal life.

I’ve seen many example of this. In studying the revivals of the past there were always those who prayed believing God was going to send a revival, but they never saw it, but they are a part of the history of that revival.


God wants us to build our faith, and there are two ways He does this.

  1. Through His Word

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)

This is when God speaks His word directly into our hearts while we’re reading the Bible.

  1. Through Trials

“The genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

When we ask God to increase our faith, often times He does so through trials. Prior to everything that went down in my life, all the trials and the loss of everything, my main spiritual gifts were teaching and administration. While in seminary after God’s restoration, my main gift was that of faith.

And so God builds our faith upon His word and the trials of life.

And so to build a solid foundation of faith, begin to build these six aspects of faith found in those in God’s Hall of Faith

  • Believing When We Don’t See It
  • Obeying When We Don’t Understand It
  • Giving When We Don’t Have It
  • Persisting When We don’t Feel Like It
  • Thanking God Before We Receive It, and
  • Believing Without Receiving It






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