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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living by Faith

Deuteronomy 8 : 1 - 3, Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. NKJV

According to Romans 10, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you are saved. Furthermore, Paul tells us in Romans 1 that the just (those who are saved) shall LIVE by faith. I used the above passage from Deuteronomy today to illustrate God's meaning of faith and how those who are declared to be just find life through that faith. God begins by telling us to keep all His commandments and to be careful to observe them. If you're like me, you find it hard just to remember people's names, imagine having to know and remember over 600 laws that are recorded in the Old Testament. How does someone keep the law? Jesus simplified it in the gospels by commanding us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, body, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. On these two commands hang the entire law and words of the prophets. Simply put, we are to love and through that love, we will keep all of God's commands.

Let's digress for a moment and discuss the faith (or the lack of faith) that Israel had when Moses led them out of the land of bondage. For 430 years, the descendants of Abraham had been enslaved to Pharaoh. However, after this time had passed, God remembered His covenant with Abraham and looked upon the afflictions, the sorrow, and the oppression of His people. Once the Jews heard the news of God's deliverer (Moses) being sent to bring them out of bondage and away from their taskmasters, it caused elation to fill all their hearts. They were grateful and felt vindicated to learn that God had remembered them in their distresses, as His chosen people.

Do you remember how you felt when God forgave you of your sins and gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit? The common testimony among new converts is how they felt when the weight of their sins rolled off of their shoulders, and the shame was completely removed from their hearts. Do you also remember the excitement of having a new life and a new direction for your life? These feelings, along with the experience of salvation, let us know how the Jews must have felt when they saw Egypt behind them, and Pharaoh buried in the Red Sea. 

This new- found excitement soon gave way to concern and worry when the children of Israel realized there was no food or water in the wilderness. Once these issues became real, life-threatening situations, they subsequently turned on God and Moses for bringing them out of Egypt... where they had it "so good." They quickly forgot the feelings of gratitude and excitement when they had to face the nothingness of the wilderness. Why would God bring "hundreds of thousands" of people into a land that didn't have the resources to adequately provide for their needs? Well, God didn't intend for the children of Israel to spend the next forty years wandering in the wilderness. It should have only taken them eleven or twelve days to make the short journey from Egypt to Jericho. 

So why did God bring them to a place of "nothingness?" To teach these former slaves of sin how to live by faith. To have faith means that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU ALWAYS! In spite of all that God had done for Israel, the people never allowed faith to enter their hearts. All they could see or wanted to see is how God brought them out of Egypt, where they had leeks and onions and pots filled with food, to a place that was desolate. Instead of humbling themselves and allowing God to be their God, as Abraham did when he left his father's house to go to the same land the Israelites were  going, they decided to hold on to their unbelief. Even though Moses told them why God brought them through such a place... so that God might see what was in their hearts, they still refused to hear about a God that loved them, so they chose to harden their hearts to God's voice. 

You may be asking why God has allowed you to go through some troubling places in your new life. You might have wondered on occasion how the God of your salvation could allow you to go hungry at times and lose precious possessions that you may have once owned. The JUST shall live by faith. You know in your heart that God has never left you, nor has He forsaken you, even though Satan has tried to make it appear as though He has abandoned you. The generation that came out of the land of bondage died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. We know God is with us, but we must obey His voice when He speaks if we are to inherit God's promises and live. Guard your heart as you go through the storms of life so that you don't allow unbelief (God has abandoned me) to fill your heart with bitterness. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He shall direct your paths.

Faith Is the Victory,
Pastor Asa Dockery

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