John 20:29 - Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Walk by faith, not by sight

I still remember, a year back when Grace and I made the choice for me to change job. First challenge: We know what we wanted. But we did not know what will happen and how it will happen. Anxiety increased and things were very difficult for us at times. God is merciful. He provided us the opportunity to advance my studies in UK. And then the second challenge, we did not have enough funds so we have to sell away our possessions and leave our loved ones. Once again, God helped us through the brethren support in Singapore and UK so that we can do transit smoothly. I thank Grace, our families and the brethren for their help and support. But most importantly, during this time, we had nothing else to hold unto other than the Word of God. That He will provide and yes, He did provide. We read the bible more. Found meaning from the bible into our lives.

For example, how our faithful God continued to provide for His people throughout time despite our shortfalls. God strengthened Moses, David, Peter, Joshua, Abraham to do those things which are beyond their limits or imagination. Likewise, many times in life we are posed with such great challenges beyond our capacity or imagination, we struggle with them. Now, how do we overcome them? How do we then, walk by faith, not by sight? In [2 Cor chapter 4:8 to chapter 5:11], Paul shared with the Corinthians of how they managed not to ‘faint or sink’ from the plentiful of suffering and persecution they faced as they served Christ. Paul said:
2Co 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

2Co 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
So even though they struggled, they were NOT distressed, NOT in despair, NOT forsaken, and definitely NOT destroyed. What kept them safe and protected through this turmoil?

The answer is in verse 18,

2Co 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The secret is: They looked beyond the things that troubled them. Interestingly, those things that they looked at were invisible. It is only by faith that they were able to look at these invincible things which were far more important. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1). The word (1) substance which means hypostasis in greek (Thayer definition) is described to be of confidence and firm belief on (2) things not seen – essentially, relating to God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Doctrine of Christ and Hope of Heaven. Therefore, faith is a firm obedient belief in God and His word.

Now, Faith is so important that without it, we fail to please God. Jesus commends the faith of those who have not seen and yet believe in Christ (John 20:29). God will also reward those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). So with this hope in God, let’s look at the invisible, important things, where the apostles put their faith on. There are three parts to these:
1.  First, belief that God will provide all our needs (2 Cor 4:13). And this is only possible, because God knows all our needs. i.e. our physical limitations and spiritual conditions. (Lets Read Mat 6:25-32). For that matter, we need not be distracted by the issues of this world. Because there is more to life than “chasing after rats or papers”. We need not be anxious about any such things. We need not envy upon each other or the possessions of others. Instead, we should seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness and all necessary things will be added to us. (Mat 6:33). God has control over all these things and He will give us what He deems best for us. As the apostles said in (2 Cor 5:9), Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. That being with God is better than anything and they were willingly to labour for it. Therefore, in like manner we have to have similar believe in God’s providence and draw closer to God. We have to resist the devil, that may tempt us away from God with the vices of the world. We have to (1) repent (change our mind with godly sorrow and turn away from our sins), (2) submit our will to God and (3) be in prayer seeking for His wisdom (James 4:7-8).

Mat 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Mat 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Mat 6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

Mat 6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Mat 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Mat 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

Mat 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

2.  Secondly, the apostles specifically had priority for Spiritual Needs. Our live on this earth is temporary, and is like a vapour that vanished (James 4: 14-15). We know not what is going to happen tomorrow. Therefore, If Lord willing we can do what we aim to do. For the apostles, they were ambitious for spiritual needs. First, the renewal of their inward man (which relates to the soul) is far more important than their external body (2 Cor 4:16). Which essentially, means the strengthening of their faith through trusting and seeking God is far more important to them than strengthening their external body. There was a time when we were going through the transition; I even asked to step down from church work because I taught I could not manage them well. But my brethren encouraged me to continue in the work of the Lord by believing in Him. Has the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!”. But it is not due to our strength but strength found in Christ. (lets Read 2 Cor 12:9-10)

Christ strengthens us the most when we are weak and rely upon Him. Other than paying specific attention to the needs of their soul, the apostles worked to benefit the church than themselves (2 Cor 4:15). The hope of resurrection, by following in the foot-steps of Jesus to overcome death to eternal life, was more crucial to them than the riches of the world (2 Cor 4:14, 17), (2 Cor Ch 5:1-5).
2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

3.  Thirdly, the apostles looked beyond the current challenges by keeping their faith on the Judgement to come and being prepared for it. The apostles were clearly aware of the judgement on man’s action on earth according to the Will of God. Therefore, they not only quickened themselves but others to good work too (2 Cor 5:10 -11). And those who fall short will be gathered to be burnt in everlasting fire in hell for eternity (Read Mat 13:37-43). So let us heed, Christ message. Mercy is given as of now. The time to make it right before God is now.

Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). To believe in anything else, is likened to enmity against God. Paul wept at the false teachers whom claimed to walk in ‘faith’ whereas they were in actual fact, enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction similar to sinners, as their god was their belly, and their glory was in their shame, has they mind earthly things. (Php 3:18-19). This warning is for us too.

Mat 13:37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

Mat 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

Mat 13:39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Mat 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


In conclusion, the challenges or struggles are earthly and temporary. Our faith should instead be
unwavering on (1) God and His promises, (2) prioritising spiritual needs and (3) being prepared for the judgement to come. I quote Aposte Paul, (Php 3:13-14).

Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let Heaven be our focus.