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Do What You Know To Do - Live By Faith

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(10/14) Two nuns that volunteered at a local nursing home were driving back to the convent one night when they ran out of gas in their car. Not having a can or a jar or anything like that, they grabbed the only thing they had that could hold a little gasoline. It was a bed pan. They walked the short distance to a gas station, got a half gallon of gas and walked back and began pouring the gas from the bed-pan into the car. As they were doing so, two policemen drove by, saw what was happening, and one turned to the other and said, "Now, that's what I call, faith."

We are currently doing a series of messages called, What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do. I have sub-titled it, A Survival Guide for Hurt and Confused Followers of Jesus Christ. Organizations like the military or the boy scouts, have survival guides and survival training, in the likelihood of possibly getting lost or being trapped by unforeseen circumstances. These guides or training teaches how to make a fire without matches, how to build a shelter, gather water from the morning dew, what plants can be eaten, how to fish without a pole, how to find your way home by the stars, and much, much more. Whenever a calamity is likely, like a hurricane, we are told that we should have an emergency kits with water, canned foods, flashlights, blankets, duct tape, and more. Survival guides deal with this kind of stuff, to help save your life or the lives of others until help can be found or the calamity is past.

Sometimes the calamities of life come without warning, and we wonder, not only how we are going to survive, but why our Father in heaven has allowed this, or why He has brought this into our lives.

Open your Bibles to the Table of Contents. I am not trying to offend anyone, but this morning we are going to briefly look at a little known Prophet named Habakkuk. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah. While he was a man of great faith, he probably wasn't given the insight that Jeremiah had into what was happening in his country. His short 3 chapter letter, is the 5th from the end of the Old Testament. Warren Wiersbe describes the 3 chapters this way:

  • He is Wondering and Worrying
  • He is Watching and Waiting
  • He is Worshiping and Witnessing

In Chapter 1, he is wondering and worrying why was God allowing the sin to continue. His beloved country was corrupt and needed a true revival and return to God. Habakkuk believed that revival was possible and he prayed hard for it to happen. But the harder he prayed the worse things seemed to get and it appeared as if God was deliberately denying Habakkuk's prayers. Perhaps God just didn't care, or that He was just indifferent to the needs of the country, and to Habukkuk's heart as He pours it out to God (vv.1-4).

In verse 5 -11, the Lord God responds by letting him know that He does care and that He is doing something, but if the prophet knew all the details, he wouldn't believe it. For a revival could not come until the people hit rock bottom, and for that to happen, God was going to bring the Chaldeans, another term for the Babylonians, and allow them to conquer Israel. Habakkuk couldn't understand how this could possiby be God's will. But it was. Let me remind you again of what I told you last week, (hold this place and turn to Jeremiah 29:1-15). These often quoted verses are given at about the same time Habakkuk was pouring his heart out to God. They are preceding 70 years of devastation and captivity in Babylon. Habakkuk didn't understand, so he decides to wait and watch to see what God would say to Him. Remember, that pouring your heart out to God includes taking the time to listen. The Lord responds by telling him to write what He was about to learn so that a runner can take it and announce God's plan.

Look at 2:4. The proud are the Babylonians, but pride is a characteristic of most of the unsaved in the world. They don't acknowledge or trust in the one true God, but they trust in themeslves or in their own religions or philosophies. Verse 5 and the rest of chapter 2 tells us what will eventually happen to the proud. But the Just; that is, those who have been declared righteous, by their faith in the one true God, these shall live by their faith. So, what does this mean? This could mean that they would survive the invasion because they trusted and obeyed God, or they would go to heaven by their faith in God, or they were being instructed in what to do when they didn't know what to do and that seems to be the gist. They were being told to live by their faith. When you don't know what to do, do what you know to do. Before, I explain this, I want to say that this is one of the Key Verses for the entire Bible. It is quoted 3 times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38). It was a Battle Cry for Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. The Author of Hebrews expands on what it means to live by one's faith, so turn to Hebrews 10:32-11:6

The author of Hebrews wrote this letter to Jewish believers who were discouraged and he wanted to encourage them not to give up, quit, or return to Judaism. Exactly what was going on we donít know for sure. What we do know is that these were Jewish people who embraced the New Covenant and the grace of our Lord Jesus. They knew that life would be tough following Jesus but they embraced Him. They had been excommunicated from their synagogues and ostracized in their communities but they pulled together and shared their goods and ministered to one another. But something happened that caused them to want to quit, retreat, withdraw, shrink back, and return to the old ways and put themselves under the Old Covenant again. Maybe it was when all the Jews were expelled from Rome under Claudius in A.D. 49. Maybe it was one of the numerous massacres of Jews that took place in the empire. Maybe they were being encouraged by their non-Christian friends to give up this New Covenant Stuff and return to the Old ways. We donít know for sure. We just know that they were discouraged, and they wanted to quit. To encourage them the writer reminds them of the manner in which we are to live. The counsel that the author gives them is perhaps the most important counsel in the Bible for Godís Children- His Church. This is the foundation for our lives this side of heaven. If we donít get this, we don't get what it means to be a true Christ follower. Look at verses 32-11:6. He gives them God's words to Habakkuk (2:4).

Faith Defined

What Faith Is Not.

Faith is not- Blind optimism or the power of positive thinking. That is, if I think positive thoughts and donít allow negativity into my brain, everything will be okay. You just have to have faith that it will all work out. No.

Faith is not Name and Claim it, as some of the Prosperity preachers want you to believe. A kind of gift certificate for anything you want. I have already claimed thisÖ. Just belive it is yours and you shall have it.

What Faith Is.

1. As a Noun, Faith refers to a belief system. It could be a particular religion like the Christian faith of the Muslim faith, or it could be a branch of that religion like the Baptist faith or the Catholic faith. It could be belief in a philosophy. Faith could also refer to the belief's of that particular religion, branch, or philosophy. That is the way it is used in Jude 3.

2. But as Verb, Faith is Ė Obedience based on Trust, regardless of the circumstances or the consequences. It is more than just believing. You can believe in something with your head and never trust it with your life. Let's break this down. Like a chair, a parachute, a wheel barrel. etc. It is an active belief. It includes trust that results in obedience.

a. Trust is Confidence and Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, power, of a person or thing. It is believing that that person or thing is going to do what it is supposed to do. By the way, your entire life is one of faith whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not. If it were not, you would be a paranoid basket case. You drink water form a tap or bottle and believe it to be uncontaminated, you open your mouth for a dentist, take medicine prescribed by a Dr. You let a surgeon use a scalpel on you. Eat food that someone else has prepared, and we could go on. You are trusting, confidently, relying on on the integrity of others. Our faith, our confidence is in the integrity, strength, ability, power, and character of our creator God. God is Good, Righteous, Holy, Just, and Faithful. Jesus said, "You believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14:1, cp. Heb 11:6). It is confidence that God is going to do what is right and in accordance with His character and plan for my life, and for the world, and for His glory. When Abraham learned that God would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he said, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) Two and 1/2 years ago (Feb. 2010), my friend Tim Webster said when his wife died- Godís Good plan was to take Lara home. Jesus our Lord knew that Godís good plan was for Him to die and bear the sin of the world.

Our Trust is also our confidence in the God's word, the Bible. That is, I trust that this Book is absolutely true, because it is breathed out to us by God. I trust that what it says is absolutely true and trustworthy. I believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell. That the righteous will be rewarded and the unrighteous damned. I believe its commands, precepts, principles, patterns, etc. are true and are written for my good. I can believe its promises will be kept. I believe that there is a plan even when I don't understand. That is what the gist of verse 1 tells us. Faith is the Substance or more literally, the Assurance of things hoped for. Faith is the Evidence, or more literally, the Confidence, Conviction, or Certainty of what we can't see.

b. It is Obedience based on that trust in the Person of God and His Word. Because we trust God and His Word we deliberately comply with the wishes, rules, instructions, or commands of the Bible. It means in the day by day affairs of life I am going to order my life and do what I know to do whether it makes sense to me or not. I am going to obey God's word. I am going to assemble with other Christians, I am going to pray, worship, read my Bible, I am going to serve others and God somehow, I am going to give my tithe, I am going to share my faith, I am going to love others as Jesus loved me, I am going to pray for my enemies, be kind to and speak well of them and forgive them, I will respect and honor my husband, I will love and lead my wife, I will train and encourage my children, I will respect and serve my employer, I will pray for and honor the President, (cp. Luke 6 and Matt. 5-7). Living by my faith, is doing what I know to do, when I don't know what to do. Do you understand this? I do it because I trust God.

c. Regardless of the Circumstances or Consequences. Sometimes we rationalize that our cirumstances justify our disobedience; like Saul in 1 Samuel 15. I am justified because my husband, or wife isn't nice, or my employer is harsh, or my President is not following God, my money is too tight, or I just don't see how this can work out; therefore I am justified in my disobedience. Or, if I obey God, I could lose my job, my freedom, or my life. What you see in Hebrews 11 is that these men and women trusted and obeyed God regardless of their circumstances or consequences. You should read this slowly and think about what esach person's faith costs them. Abel lost His life, Abraham left a comfortable home and his family to live in a tent, Noah suffered ridicule for 120 years, Moses gave up a plush life to keep sheep, Isaiah was sawn in two, and others were tortured, because they were confident that God had something better. Think through the scriptures and the times when God told people to do things that didn't make sense to them but God promised to reward if they obeyed Him.

This is what our Lord told Habukkuk that he and those who had believed in God to do when they didn't know what to do, they were to do what they knew to do and to trust God with the results. Faith is obedience based on trust in the person, power, plan, and purposes of God. It is confidence that even when I don't understand the things that are happening in my life, I know that God is up to something good and I will continue to honor and obey Him, no matter what. If it doesn't work out for time, it will work out for a wonderful eternity, after all, all of this is temporary here. What God has in store for us is permanent (cp. Abraham vv.8-10; 13-16; 17-19, Paul 2 Cor. 4:16ff).

This is not an option for Christ Followers, it is an absolute necessity, so says, Hebrews 11:6. Without this faith, unless you do what you know to do regardless of the circumstances or consequences you can not please God. Period! When you don't know what to do, you must, faithfully, trustfully, do what you know to do, no matter what. You trust and obey God and be confident that somehow and someway, whether in this life or in the next it will be worth it all. He knows the plans He has for you; plans to do you good and not harm, plans for your peace and well being, and His glory.

What do you do when you don't know what to do? You remember that God has a plan even when you don't understand. You pour your heart out to Him. And, you live by faith, doing what you know to do; obeying God because you trust Him regardless of the circumstances of the consequences. So, let's close with a few questions.

  • If Hebrews 11 were to be up-dated, would your name be considered for inclusion?
  • Are you trusting God as much as you trust Dr.s or the labels on the products you use?
  • Is your obedience to God determined by your circumstances or the consequences that may occur?
  • Do you believe that God really has a good plan for your life even if you can't see it at the moment?
  • Do you love Jesus? Remember it was He who said, if you love me, keep my commands.
  • Have you trusted Jesus for your forgiveness and eternal life?

Maybe we should take the time and re-commit ourselves to living by our faith and honoring God regardless of the circumstances or the consequences.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman