OUR WORTH - OUR TRUST
Steps to a deeper Faith
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, Or. April 29, 1984)
I have a ten dollar bill in my hand, and I will give it to someone this morning. Who wants it by a show of hands?
Wad it up into a tiny ball. Now who wants it?
Drop it on the floor and grind it with the heel of my shoe. Now who still wants it?
Un-wad it and "amputate" a corner of the bill. Does anyone still want it now?
We all recognize the worth of this bill, even when it is wrinkled, cast down and stepped on, even when it is cut up. It still holds its value.
We could use this as an illustration or our intrinsic worth. God always recognizes our value - even when we are wrinkled and old, even when the world has thrown us down and ground us into the pavement, even when we are all cut up and parts of us are missing. You are worth more than you can imagine.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Jesus knows your value.
For the son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Jesus gave his life for you.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But a hireling, who is not the shepherd, and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and the sheep do not matter to him. I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own.
As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
“Therefore my father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my father.”
He bought us. He purchased us. And you know what the price was?
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God which he purchased with his own blood.
How valuable are you? The son of God laid down his life for you. How much can you trust him to know what is best for you?
Paul knew not to trust in himself. The apostles, because they were apostles, were the off-scouring of the world.
You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us – and indeed it would be an advantage if you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men doomed to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
They had the sentence of death hanging over their heads all the time. But they knew who had their lives in his hands and who saw to their every need.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation which came to us in Asia: that we were excessively burdened beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life. But we have had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that indeed he will yet deliver us,
They had the perspective that God was in control and loved them beyond measure and they rested knowing his goodness and care for them. And they knew the love God has more abundantly for the church. And the apostles mirrored that love for the church - giving their lives for the brethren.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
You can trust God and have faith that with your faithfulness to him - he will see that everything is for the best.
Here are three suggestions as to how to gain a deeper faith.
I.) Realize or Assume that God is Watching You
Be aware that he is interested in you and how you think and what you do. Then let that awareness have its effect on your behavior. Practicing the presence of God. This is recognizing who God is. God is omnipresent, and omniscient. <define>
"The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good."
The fact of the matter is, God can see us. A small thing to require of God, that he see us.
Many Christians do not practice the presence of God. He is everywhere, he even dwells within you in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul gives this as a motive not to behave like the world and commit fornication, in 1Cor.6:19, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a motive to control our tongues and our tempers, in Eph.4:30, "...and grieve no the Holy Spirit of God whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption." What power would these admonitions have if the Holy Spirit was not really present with us all the time?
God is not only watching you - he is watching over you. He is in complete control of the circumstances of our lives, if we trust him and allow him to be. There is great comfort in trusting your way to God, in realizing that he knows what is going on, that he has an intense interest in what is going on in your life.
He is watching over you. He is in complete control of your life, and everything that comes your way is either something sent your way by him or something he has allowed to come your way.
You can see this in his watchfulness over us when we are tempted. It is a very intimate knowledge about us and out immediate future.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Temptation is something which we need to overcome and there is a responsibility on our part to resist it and overcome it for our growth. But God is there with us in every trial and temptation and will not allow anything that we cannot handle. Why? Because he is interested in our growth not in our failure.
God knows everything about your life. Your life is an endurance race that he has set for you to run. He is concerned about the outcome. He wants us to succeed and win the trophy. It is a contest of Faith. Peter talks about the trial of our faith.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that 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, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
Life is like a boot camp... It is never going to get harder than this experience we are going through now in this world. Those who graduate this boot camp will be ready to handle anything - they will be worthy for what God has prepared for those that love him.
To keep realizing and being aware that God is there - watching - interested - and ultimately in control, will start us acknowledging his presence and his interest. Everything in my life, in my day to day course, should be lived unto him.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
..."as to the Lord and not unto men." We don't have masters today, but when I was in the Navy (being the closest thing to which I can compare it) I had jobs to do that were humiliating and disgusting, but I could keep a decent attitude because I did everything I had to do for God and his honor. No man was really my master, only God. Today on the job - my boss is a man that God uses to bring my family support. I don't have to hate him. I can do my job as unto the Lord. The boss is my servant. He's working for me.
God is aware and cognizant of everything having to do with my life as I walk before him, even to my finances. Does this mean that I am to be a passive leaf blown with the wind when it comes to anything I face in life? No. God expects us to put our foot down for the truth, our real job is to serve him. That is what a trial is for, so that we will have to stand for the truth. And when we stand for the truth we can be sure God is watching and standing with us.
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
When we recognize that he knows everything I am doing and everything I am thinking, and when I can look at everything in my life - every trial, every hardship, every joy and pleasure as coming or being allowed to come by the Lord - then there is great comfort and peace in that knowledge. Put your life in his hands and he will be faithful and gracious.
If it makes you uncomfortable to think God is watching and listening to everything you do or think - then you probably have some sin in your life that you need to get rid of and make your heart right with God.
I believe that God is even in control of the apparent accidents in the life of his child. For example look at the life of Joseph. His faith allowed him to see God's hand in it. He was hated by his family, rejected, mistreated, an outcast. He was enslaved, tempted, betrayed, accused, lied about, misrepresented, imprisoned, and forgotten. That would just about do me in! But Joseph was God-conscious and positive that God was with him, which he acknowledges four different times in the text, and that all this had a purpose - to save his family from the famine. He could remain sweet and forgiving because he lived unto God.
The Christian with child-like faith can see in the accidents and the coincidences of his life, the hand of God, and he can work with God in it. That chance meeting that turns into a Bible class. That wasn't chance! That was God working in your life and using your circumstances to save a lost soul and bring God glory. And you can have more chance circumstances turn to the spread of the kingdom if you sanctify yourself and expect God to work. Ask him to use you in the kingdom and then look forward for a Bible discussion.
Sanctify = Make yourself available. Quit sinning. Make yourself holy, set aside for God's own use. Two different vases in a house can be used in two very different ways.
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Make yourself available and you will see prospects line up to be taught.
II.) Realize or Assume Your Position before God in Christ
When we have been practicing the presence of God in our lives, our faith will grow and this is the next step we need to take.
David wondered, "Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him?" Christians are the same way - "Who am I that God should be mindful of me or work in my life?"
I'll tell you who you are...
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
You are a child of God. You are a forgiven, cleansed, renewed, regenerated, sanctified, enlightened, living, new spiritual creation in Christ Jesus. You have a new powerful divine life created in you to serve God in newness of the spirit. You are indwelt by the third person of the Godhead who is working in your life to remake you and form you into the image of the character of Jesus himself.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Lord the Spirit.
Your position before God is one of confidence and boldness. You have a personal relationship with God. You can call him Father and he calls you son and daughter. We need to assume or reckon to ourselves our place before God and live like who we are. We need to be confident and fully persuaded and assured that we are saved, that we have been forgiven and are continually forgiven as we confess our sins to God, and that we have eternal life, we are going to live forever, and heaven and not this earth is our home.
In your daily life, think about who you really are. Get alone and meditate on it. Think about the identity you have in Jesus Christ, and assume your role, however humbly, and take your place before him by faith, and your life will change overnight into a strong, committed, fruitful, productive Christian life. As James said, doing the truth as we look into the mirror of truth to see who we really are. God will start using you in his kingdom to bring about his purpose in the earth. That is the best life that can be lived, knowing who you are, and the work you have been given to do, and then doing it in harmony and in partnership and fellowship with heaven itself.
This should bring us joy and peace and an excitement of expectation - to be excited about who we are and to expect god to be busy in your life - using you and your talents to further his work. When you walk in a new life - the whole world looks new and exciting to you. The life of a Christian is an adventure - an adventure of faith.
III.) Step Out and Do Something for God
The third step to a deeper faith is itself a step. Step out and do something for God. Don't do it for yourself, don't do it for somebody else that you respect and want to impress or please. But do it for God, for his sake, for the sake of the gospel. Confront error or sin and reprove it for the sake of Jesus Christ. Publicize the gospel in anyway you can. Teach your neighbor the truth. There are a number of things we can be doing, letting our light shine.
There were two ladies over in Baker Or. that had a disagreement on this point. One said, "We just gotta get out there and work." The other said, "We have to have more faith, God will provide a contact for you." I told them that they were both right. We can watch what God is doing around us to bring people to him and then enter into the work we see him doing. This is how Jesus acted. But we must be ready and willing to take up the work and therefore we must be getting out there to work.
When we step out and start working for God, that increases our faith because it puts us into a first-hand contact with the real spiritual battle going on. And with that experience we recognize the reality of the forces of evil and the reality of the power of God to overcome that evil. I figure we can be an active soldier participating in the conflict, or we can be a casualty. Let us not be casualties.
God can overcome our world - now in the present moment, the world that we live in, the temptations and the trials that we face. God can overcome them through us and in us.
When Peter stepped out of the boat he stepped out on something solid something real. The realm of the spirit is real, evil forces in this world are real - and as surely as we are walking on the surface of this planet, God is in the heavenly realm. And when we step out on the knowledge of the truth and see god work in our lives and through us in the lives of others, then we will have experience in the spiritual realm and the principles at work there, and our faith will increase a hundred-fold.
James said, "Be doers of the word not just hearers deceiving your own selves."
Faith is taking what the Bible says - and if you believe it is the truth - then it is real, and if it is real, then live it. I hope this lesson has been an encouragement to a greater, deeper, heartfelt trust and faith in God.
1. Realize he watches over us and is interested in us and what we think.
2. Realize and assume your position before God as the child of God that you are and live that role in the earth.
3. Do something for God. Step out and be active in the greatest fight in the universe.
Fight the good fight of faith.
~ Invitation ~