Faith, Personal Growth

Principle 1: Face Your Future through the Lens of Faith.

Comments Off on Principle 1: Face Your Future through the Lens of Faith. 14 August 2010

Principle 1: Face Your Future through the Lens of Faith.

In order to achieve greatness you have to get beyond the realm of human reason. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating that you check your brain at the door of opportunity and live out of the ivory tower of spiritualization that disparages the use of any human reason at all. God gave you a good brain, use it!

What I am suggesting here is that in order to position yourself to prosper in your life plan, you must at times get beyond where human reason will carry you. You have to face your future through the lens of faith. Interested?

Let me illustrate it like this. I used to be on a track team in high school. I competed in the long jump event among other things. When I ran down the cinder track I reached a starting block. Then I had a decision to make. Would I step my foot on it and stop, or would I take a leap of faith and complete the jump? Let the cinder track represent human reason for a moment. You start your trek down the path you feel you should take. Your human reason is unable to get you where you think you need to go. When your human reason falters, that is when you hit the starting block, and you have to take the leap of faith and allow God to direct your leap on to greatness. That requires that you have the incredible influence of faith in your life.

What is faith?  Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen (Heb. 11:1 HCSB). Look at the words reality and what is not seen. How can we be sure of something that is not yet visible to us? We are so conditioned to believe that we must see to believe. God says we must believe to see. Faith believes God for the future and trusts Him with the future. That is what you do when you leave the starting block in the long jump or in life. God will do the impossible in your life when you believe the impossible is possible with Him.

Where do you get faith? In order to have the faith factor in your life you have to have a relationship with the God who says in Hebrews 11 that you cannot please Him without faith. 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 (Heb. 11:6 NIV). Without God’s involvement in your life there can be no faith factor. In order for God to be involved in your life, you need a personal relationship with Him. You need Him!

Everyone needs a manager or director for their life. In order for you to be positioned to prosper in the plan for your life, you need to get positioned in Christ. Many people these days are turning to life coaches for help in building a meaningful and successful life. You may find one helpful for you. But, may I suggest a live-in Life Coach, God’s Holy Spirit? We saw in the introduction to these principles that God has a plan for your life. That is true of every person He has created. In order to understand and get in on that plan, you need to have a working relationship with the God who planned your life before you were born. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day (Psalm 139:16 The Message).

So, how do you experience this relationship with the live-in Life Coach I’m talking about? Let me answer that as simply as I know how.

God offers us a relationship with Him by:

1. Extending saving faith to us. God is our source for all things including faith. After God creates you (mind, body, and spirit) He sets His love on you and begins seeking a relationship with you. Jesus said, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44 HCSB). God’s plan was first to create you and then to recreate you in a new relationship with Him through His Son by faith. To do that He comes after you. He draws you through the constraining love of His Son, and the drawing power of His Spirit. No love in the world compares with the selfless love of Christ for you. That uncondemning love constrains you to come to Him for a relationship. The Spirit of God gives you saving faith and then draws you to Christ. That is the first sign of God’s desire for a relationship with you. God also offers us a relationship with Him by…

2. Exposing our own sinful nature to us. The Bible is clear about our problem with sin. No one is excepted from this. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23 HCSB). Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal (Rom. 2:23 The Living Bible). Let me give you a picture of what Paul is saying here in this verse in Romans 3:23.

So, because of our missing the mark, SIN, our relationship with God was:

– Broken – We lost out intimate relationship with God.

– Dissatisfying – There is trouble between us and the One who loves us.

“But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen (Isaiah 59:2 HCSB).” So, what is the result of all of this? We are separated from God and our intimacy with Him is broken. We need a new relationship with Him and for Him to live in us and be the director of our lives. And, God offers us a relationship with Him by…

3. Expressing His love for us. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, HCSB). The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. These verses tell us that, unmistakably, God loves us. Yet, His love is not without moral considerations. He cannot be who He is, holy and righteous, and relate to us with sin in our lives. The Bible says of God, Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing (Habakkuk 1:13a). If we had only one sin in our lives we could not have a personal relationship with God, and He could not live His life in us. Because of our sin nature we have a lot more than one. The Good News is that from eternity past God already had a plan to deal with our sin so He could have a personal relationship with us and live His life in us each day. So, look with me as we see that God offers us a relationship with Him by…

4. Exchanging our sinful nature for Christ’s perfect life and record. Since God alone is perfect, He came into the world in Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life in a human body as a man, then gave that perfect life to pay the price for our sin nature and for all of our mistakes. Let me illustrate this for you.

Since He lived a perfect life, He was qualified to give that perfect , sinless, life on the cross as a payment for our lifetime of SIN.

God’s caused a Divinely Planned Exchange to take place:

The chart below depicts the life of Jesus from birth to ascension. You will see  no sin on His record. He was perfect. Below that on the chart, you will see an illustration of our own lives from birth to death. Notice the cluster of sin there.

So, as a way of dealing with our sin and making it possible for Him to accept us, God:

– charged all of our sins to Jesus’ record.

– credited His perfect life and record to us.

Before the cross –

Then the exchange occurred –

After the cross –

So Jesus took all of our sin on Him and made it so that, to God, it is as though we have never sinned before.

Why does God clear our record and make it possible for us to have fellowship with Him and to fulfill His purpose? Because He loves us and wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him and let Him be our personal Life Coach who directs our life each day. What overwhelming love, what matchless grace caused God to do this for us! To understand how God makes that personal to you, notice God offers us a relationship with Him by…

5. Entering and establishing a relationship with us by faith. When you are offered anything, you must receive it in order to benefit from it. It is true of the relationship God offers to us. Many people think that eternal life consists of an experience that begins at death. That is not true! God is not offering us a fire insurance policy that we can only collect on when we die. Let me personalize this. God wants to have a personal relationship with you today and for every day of your life. As we have seen, He has gone to great extremes to make that happen. But, for you to enjoy that personal relationship now and in eternity, you have to respond in faith. You will remember that we began by seeing that God has given saving faith to us. He is calling and constraining you through the love of Christ and the drawing power of His Spirit as we saw. But, He expects you to use the saving faith He has given to you to receive the gift of a personal relationship with Him and heaven after this life as well. This exercise of faith is not just intellectual gymnastics. It is not just assenting to a set of facts about God. James 2:19 KJV, says the devils also believe and tremble. Their belief in facts about God does not save them. Saving faith believes IN God and in what He has done to make a relationship with Him possible and in His desire and will to enter your life and be the Director of your life. Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household (Acts 16:31 HCSB).” Jesus said, “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 HCSB).”

Belief or faith that makes a relationship with God a reality in your life is IN HIM, not IN FACTS ABOUT HIM! When our youngest son was about 4 years old he hid from us, and we were searching everywhere to find him. I finally found him on a bathroom vanity top in a niche in one corner of the room. He looked at me just as if to say, “If I jump off of here I believe you will be a good dad and catch me.” A few seconds later, what do you think he did? JUMPED! Yes he did! His faith changed. On the vanity top he was exercising faith in the facts he understood about me – that I would be a good dad and catch him. But, the moment his little feet left that vanity top and he was airborne, his faith changed to believing IN me. Otherwise, he never would have jumped. He put his complete trust in me alone. That is what God wants you to do to begin this incredible journey of faith with Him. He wants you to pray and place your life in His hands just like our son jumped off into my arms and trusted me to catch him, and I did and he was safe. You will be instantly in a new relationship with God when you exercise that kind of faith. Praying is simply evidence that you believe God will do what He says and that you will receive Christ into you life to live and direct your life by faith.

If I wanted my wife to go to our bedroom and bring me my wallet, but I knew she would not do that, would I bother to ask her to do it? NO! But, if I said to her, “Honey, will you bring me my wallet from the bedroom chest,” that proves that I believe she will do it because I would not ask her to do something I didn’t expect her to do. The same thing is true when you pray and admit your sinful condition and need for a relationship with God and that you want Jesus to come into your life and live and be your Life Coach – Director of your life! When you ask Him to do that in prayer, it proves you believe He will do it because you would not ask Him do do anything you did not expect Him to do any more than I would ask my wife to do something for me that I did not expect her to do.

If you understand this and believe God’s Good News and desire to have a personal relationship with Him, simply pray a prayer something like this and Christ will enter you life and position you as perfect before God and make it possible for you to have a relationship with Him, and He will direct your life and lead you in a way that will bring complete fulfillment to you!

Prayer of faith: “Lord Jesus, I have sinned many times. I know that I need to be saved and to experience a relationship with you and be sure of heaven after this life. I believe You have already done all that is necessary for me to have You come and live in me. So, I am placing my life in Your hands and asking Jesus to come and live in me and be my Savior and Lord. I accept what He did for me on the cross. Thank You that He “finished” all that was required for me to have You come into my life. Thank You Jesus for coming into my life right now. Please be the Director of my life each day. A-men.”

Remember Jesus said, “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 HCSB).” You have a new relationship with God by faith!

Once you have this gift of faith in God and a personal relationship with Him through it, you have the basis for taking that leap in regard to all of the new possibilities God will open up in your life. The reason it is important to start with this relationship with God is because that is the way you begin the walk of faith. God reveals nothing to us that it does not require faith to receive. Everything becomes possible when you look at it through the lens of faith.

Through the lens of faith you will be able to see all that God has planned for your life before it happens. Let me illustrate. Because I looked through the lens of faith, I was able to stand before a small congregation of people and tell them that God had shown me that one day we would worship on a new tract of land in a new worship center, that we would have parking spaces for all of our people, that we would expand our ministries and that we would reach thousands of people through those ministries. I saw the vision for the people we would reach and for the buildings and the campus required for that kind of ministry. Just over a decade and a half later, we had reached over 4,000 members and had a campus that could accommodate even more in the years ahead. What God showed me and the church family through faith, He brought to reality. He will do the same for you when you decide to face the future through the lens of faith.

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The painting in my logo is by an artist named Kelly O'Neill.

If you appreciate excellence in art and are captivated by works that grip your emotions and proclaim the remarkable truths of God’s Word, you will want to know more about the very compelling art piece that is part of my ministry logo.

Kelly O’Neill is a remarkable young artist who very masterfully depicts the compassion, grace, and redeeming love of Jesus Christ in her painting, “Redeemed.” No painting has so grabbed my emotions and stirred my gratitude to Christ for His redeeming love as this one. Technically unparalleled, inspired, heart-stirring, and mind captivating are words I used upon seeing it for the first time.

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I commend her and her work to you and encourage you to visit her website www.TheArtistOfLife.com

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