A Faith That Works

10 03 2014

Revelation 2:10  … Be faithful until death…

 

“An imperative command, be faithful literally means ‘keep on becoming trustworthy’ (Strong’s number 4103).  The word is used 62 times in the New Testament… It is the same word used of God in 2 Corinthians 10:13.  Our God is the sure and reliable foundation in which we build our trust.  He is Faithful.  True faith can be defined as believing in the Word of God (and His faithfulness) and acting upon it no matter how we feel because God said so, and because He promises a good result.  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 seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Faithfulness is simply faith in action.  We all act out of what we believe, and not just what we know…

 

Biblical faithfulness is not measured on a pass/fail scale.  It is based on the principle that each successive trial brings an increase in trust in the power of God, regardless of whether or not we feel we passed the exam.  In other words, the question is not ‘Did you pass?’ but, ‘Did you learn to trust the Lord more in it?’ Faithfulness, by its nature, must be developing, maturing and growing.  Believers who continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, increase in faithfulness, or they potentially fall victim to sin, apathy and/or apostasy.  Continual trusting and actively believing in the One who is faithful is how we keep on becoming trustworthy; it is a process that will continue until we die or meet the Lord in the air.” — , Margaret Opsal, Seven Letters

 

As long as I have breath in my lungs, I am to be faithful.  There is never an excuse that releases me from my responsibility to trust the One who is faithful and to act on His orders.  A believer can get into trouble when he begins to assume that his faithfulness is dependent solely on himself.  For some, this type of Self-Focused Faithfulness can result in a heart that completely despairs of ever being able to reach the goal of faithfulness, and it can wallow in fear and weakness, refusing to step out of the boat onto the waters where Jesus walks.  For others, this type of Self-Focused Faithfulness can result in a heart that grows large and hard, assuming that it is the only one capable of walking on the waters of its great faithfulness.  The first is paralyzed, refusing to faithful.  The second demands others follow it, not the Lord. 

 

John 14:12  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”

 

“Unbelief says:  Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us.  Faith says:  Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us!  With our feet on the ground, and our head cool, but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey, God wants to work through us!”  — A. W. Tozer

 

Psalm 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

 

The Enemy is devious, diabolical and patient.  He knows the heart of the weak who responds in fear to the faithfulness of others.  He whispers words of condemnation, causing it to focus on the perceived strengths of others in order to make it believe that its own faithfulness will never measure up to others.

 

The Enemy also knows the heart who responds in envy to the faithfulness of others.  He whispers quiet words of encouragement to that heart, causing it to focus on the perceived weaknesses of others in order to make it believe that its own faithfulness is far more than any others. 

 

Both are destructive works of the Enemy. 

 

Okay, so that’s great, Margaret, but seriously:  how do I know if my faithfulness is of the Self-Focused variety or the God-Focused kind?

 

The test is two-fold:  How do you respond to difficult circumstances?  And, how do you respond to others?

 

But, I thought we were talking about my faithfulness to the Lord?  We are.  The Word tells us that, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)  In other words, if my focus is Christ and not myself, I am going to be doing what He says. I will keep my eyes on Him, not the waves crashing around me.  I am going to read the word and adjust my own actions accordingly.  I am going to allow Him to complete in me the work that He began:  the perfection of His love through me by the Fruit of the Spirit.  I am going to follow Him, trusting that He is taking me on a path that is best for me.  The greatest concern of my day to day living, breathing, and walking is going to be:  am I where He is?  I’m not going to care how weary I am, because as long as I am where He is, He’ll be the good shepherd who knows I need His help.  I’m not going to care what the grass looks like under my feet, because I know He is a good shepherd who is leading me to places that are good for me.  I’m not going to care whether or not you are where you need to be, because I know He is a good shepherd who cares for all His sheep, not just me. 

 

Philippians 2:13-16  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life…

 

“This thought is very convicting, Lord.  I know I’ve been guilty of praising You for Your power and goodness, while secretly doubting that You were really going to work in my present situation.  Forgive me that duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for now, for here, for me.  Amen.” — A. W. Tozer

 

And, Lord, I know that I’ve been guilty of praising You for the work You have done in my own life, while secretly doubting that You are really going to work in the present situations of others.  Forgive me the duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for now, for there, for others.  Fill me with Your Spirit and clean out my heart, so that any residual Self-Focused Faithfulness is removed.  May I follow You with the humility of knowing that I am Yours by grace alone and the confidence of trusting that You will take care of all that concerns me.  May I follow You all the days of my life.

 

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)  For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

 

Amen.

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