Limiting our Faith

The author lists, after Abraham, the list of genealogy that kept the hope and faith in the promise of God.

Hebrews 11:20-26
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

If we continue to look at the physical world around us, we are limiting our faith.  These men didn’t see what they had hope in come to fruition while they were living on earth.  The promise given to Abraham from God was passed down and they maintained the faith through generations that God would make it happen.  Sometimes I don’t even have the faith and patience of things that are supposed to happen in my lifetime, I can’t imagine waiting on something that will happen beyond it.  But wait, there is!  The return of Christ.  As we come out of this advent season of waiting on God, we get to look forward to what God will do this year.  Is this when He will come back?  We must be ready.  We must tell the others.  We must prepare the way and help others be ready.

The apostle Paul, when writing to the Philippians, explained his life moment by moment this way:

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3)

I’m not sure if anyone noticed it, but if you pay close attention to what Paul is saying, he reveals that the process of waiting and striving towards Christ as our goal is the sanctification process.  As he forgets what is behind, pays attention to what God reveals, works towards the perfect attitude (read Mathew 5:3-11), purges himself of the things in verses 18 & 19, and eagerly awaits the transformation into the body of God’s glory, Paul becomes less of himself naturally and more of what God has called him to be spiritually.  At the end of the list of beatitudes (the aforementioned Matthew passage) Jesus says in verse 12:

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In the same sermon, a chapter later Jesus says,

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

All of these references have the same point: if our goal is focused here on earth, then that is all we get.  If we stay focused on Christ heavenward, we get to experience the treasures of heaven and the fullness of our God.  This is the hope that the author defined in the beginning of this chapter.  We must constantly look at the heavenly implications of the things around us.  We must continually seek out God’s perspective of things and ask Him to show us so we may do His work on earth while we are here and realize more and more who we are in Christ.  We weren’t just saved from our sins; we are saved for the work of God.  We can only learn that purpose by not just listening to but following the boss man’s example.

As humans, this is a difficult task.  We like to see things concretely in front of us before we commit to it.  We like to be convinced before jumping that we are going to make it safely.  However, if this is how everything worked, there would be no room left for faith.  As I mentioned yesterday, we have to make ourselves vulnerable to God and it is at that point that we are ready to start learning.  I don’t think it is so much that God is impeded by our own fear or indecision, it’s that as we are letting fear completely control us, there is no use in trying.  There is no sense in letting someone go to high school if they couldn’t even complete primary school.  Would a college accept someone into their curriculum for study if they didn’t even graduate high school?

Fear is the opposite of faith, so if we do not have faith in something (spiritually), then we have a fear about it.  This might offend some of you, but it is the truth.  If you are trying to understand why you don’t have faith, search your heart for the fear about it.  Most likely, the lack of faith you have spiritually is affected by the presence of fear in the physical world that you are connecting to a spiritual matter.  Plainly speaking, that isn’t fair to your spiritual growth because our spiritual development depends on letting go of our physical reliance.

If we press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, then the physical inhibitions and limitations will fall away (actually and mentally) and we will begin to realize and experience the fullness of God in our very own lives.  The greatest thing about it is that even when we don’t have faith, God will give it to us if it is truly what we seek.  What are you pressing on toward?


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