Faith. Do you have it? Do you exercise it? Last week I was doing some reading in my daily devotional and I read across a verse that I had read hundreds of time and literally heard all of my life.
The verse is found in Hebrews 11. This chapter in the Bible is a chapter all about faith. In fact it is often called the “faith” chapter. It highlights the faith of men and women from all throughout the Old Testament who epitomized what the word actually means – because they lived it out.
This is the verse in that chapter that caught my attention.
Hebrews 11:6. Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
You have heard it before right? You’ve read it. Maybe you have even quoted it. I read it like all those times before, but that morning I stopped.
I’m currently teaching a class at church on HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE and observing this verse I realized that it is probably what is driving the rest of the chapter in some regard. Then the spirit gently had me re-read it and showed me something in a new way. When I read it again I was faced with the question:
HOW MANY TIMES DO I TRY TO PLEASE GOD WITHOUT FAITH?
When I asked myself that question I realized the reality of my life. The answer to that question might be more often than I think.
I’m quite good at trying to please God.
But the Lord gently pressed into me that morning and reminded me that faith should often take me places that I am not willing to go on my own just like all these people that are written about in Hebrews 11.
Let me tell you a story to kind of illustrate this.
I had just graduated from high school way back in 1991. My youth pastor had organized a youth mission trip to Freeport, TX. I was excited to go on this trip, I had surrendered to ministry a year earlier and was pumped about being able to go do something.
We went down to this church that was right in the middle of the Freeport beach community and we did backyard bible clubs during the day in the neighborhoods and at nights we would have a youth – led revival – meaning students would lead worship and do the preaching.
I was slated to preach the last night of the revival – a Wednesday night.
I had been prepping all week. I had even had my host family take me to the store to get a new shirt to wear.
I was ready to share a message – ironically on faith.
Now what you need to know about this church was – like I said – it was a community church. Right in the backyard of this church – probably 50 yards from the front door – was a huge concrete basketball court with 8 goals and every evening there were 100 kids out playing on this ball court or waiting to play.
We pulled up to the church that night – I have my new digs on – I have my Bible and my stack of notebook paper notes. I am ready.
Then it happened. My youth pastor grabbed me and this other kid and said, “hey, guys, why don’t we go out to the basketball court and invite some students to come in to church.
My heart sunk. Y’all mind if I’m honest? That is the last thing I wanted to do and it had never even crossed my mind. I just wanted to go preach.
Anyway – what are we going to say in that moment? Sure. So we walk out and our youth pastor begins introducing us and telling some guys what is going on in the church. Now you can tell these guys didn’t want to be talking to us any more than I wanted us to be talking to them. They were ballers – you could tell. That is what they wanted to do.
So our leader throws out this idea – hey guys 3 of you and 3 of us. Why don’t we play a game of 3 on 3 – make it take it – to 3 by ones. If we win y’all come to church tonight. If y’all win we will get out of your way.
They looked at us and agreed in about .2 seconds. I was the tallest guy on our team and these guys were athletes.
These guys were so confident that they even said – you guys can have the ball first.
That was the last time they touched the ball. We scored 3 straight points. Those guys reluctantly kept their end of the bargain and came to church that night. I preached. They listened. I’d love to tell you they got saved and became world-changers, but I never saw them again. They did hear the gospel that night, but I got something better. I got to live it that. Although I was forced into it.
This is the story that came to my mind that morning last week when I read Hebrews 11:6 and I realized that more often than not, I am trying to please God without faith.
Maybe I’m not the only one in that boat today. Let me share a few things that are bound to happen when we try to please God with faith.
When we please God by serving him with faith it often means we will be
When we are open to what God wants us to do through faith – he often wrecks our plan. We like our routines. We like to have things neat and clean. God often has different plans.
Hebrews 11:7. By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family.
Genesis tells us that Noah was living a righteous life and had probably grown accustomed to living in a messed up world in a way that obviously earned him some favor, but this verse tells us that in an instant his life plan was interrupted.
He is warned about what was not yet seen…RAIN. Up until this point there had not been a flood because there had been no rain. Noah. Living his life. Doing what was RIGHT. But he pleased God by faith when he built the ark to deliver his family. Do you think this was an inconvenience? Yes. The next 70 to 100 years were spent building an ark. I guarantee you this was not part of his plan. Seems like a big inconvenience. Living on a boat full of animals for a year.
So am I willing to give up my convenience to please God? Are you? Many times faith will be an inconvenience on our normal activity.
When we please God by serving him with faith it often means we will be INCONVENIENCED and
Playing basketball in street clothes on a hot summer day in south Texas was uncomfortable. It was unreasonable.
When faith comes into the picture comfort usually goes out the door.
Francis Chan said “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son,
If you are a father – you know how uncomfortable Abraham had to be when God called him to step out in faith and offer his heir – his son – the one he had waited 100 years for – as a sacrifice.
That is what faith requires of us. We have to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable to please God by faith!
I imagine when Peter stepped out on the water to come toward Jesus that night during the storm, he was uncomfortable.
When is the last time you stepped out of the boat and got uncomfortable for God?
When we please God by serving him with faith it often means we will be INCONVENIENCED, UNCOMFORTABLE AND
FACED WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE
Much like it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith – it is also a fact when we act in faith will face the IMPOSSIBLE.
The definition of faith is back up in v1
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
In other words acting in faith is acting before you see it so that you will see it!
What is the it?
AN IMPOSSIBLE – DOING GOD DOING WHAT ONLY HE CAN DO!
You see that day out on the basketball court in our street shoes and church clothes – the impossible was before us. We could not win! It was impossible. Ask anyone that lived it! Ask anyone standing around watching. But that is what faith does. That is where faith takes us.
Faith takes us to the point where we can’t and only HE CAN! If we want to please God then we have to move to a place where he can do what only he can do.
This is ultimately what faith is about. Faith brings honor and glory to God – puts the spotlight on God. Faith ultimately pleases God.
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.
You know God did that. Something out of nothing. That is quite impossible. That is what God does with lives that are yielded to Him and are willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable for His glory!
So, if God were to write another chapter of faith heroes would he include you? Are you living the faith you claim to have?