For Lent, our pastor is sharing a sermon series based on our Christian toolbox. Last week we learned about forgiveness. This week the tool we were challenged to pull out of the toolbox is faith.
Hebrews 11 provides the best illustrations of faith. It is filled with stories of people who lived by faith – Bible greats like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua are all commended for their faith.
In each example, faith was not the end of the story. In each example, faith led to obedience to God’s call. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua all stepped out in faith and did exactly what God asked of them even if it seemed crazy.
Noah built an ark when it had never before rained. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son. Joshua commanded the Israelites to march around Jericho for seven days to make the walls fall. These Bible greats all acted in faith, believing that God would be faithful in return. But although each of these people was obedient, it is for their faith that they are commended.
God commands us to do good to others, to feed the hungry and heal the sick. He commands us to step out in faith in so many ways. But if we only step as far as we think we can in our own power it’s not really obedience, and we are not fueled by faith.
Many years ago when I was looking for a job, I saw a posting for a job opening that was two weeks old. It was only a part-time job, and I wasn’t going to apply, but I heard this voice in my head that said, “Just send in the resume.” I didn’t end up getting the posted job, which had already been filled when I sent in the resume. But I did end up being offered a full-time position with the same company as the managing editor of a legal newsletter. The 5 ½ years I spent in that job was the perfect experience for my current job as Director of Legal Publications.
If I had ignored that voice – the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting me to step out in faith – who knows where I would be working now. At the time, I really didn’t think I would ever have a full-time job again because of the many years of major depression I had gone through. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to not only step out in faith and take the job when it was offered, when I didn’t know if I could do it.
The wonderful thing is that when I stepped out in faith and was obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, God was faithful in return. But without faith I couldn’t have done it. At the time I trusted that God’s hand was in the situation and He knew what was best.
I know this seems a small thing compared to building an ark or marching around a city for seven days. But it is just one example of how stepping out in faith that leads to obedience can be a blessing.