These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
It strikes me how the simple, crucial and consistent message of "living by faith" weaves its way through the Bible. Faith is to believe in what is unseen. Adam and Eve needed faith to obey the simple commands of God. Noah needed faith to build a boat on dry land and save his family from the flood. Abraham needed faith to become the father of a nation at an old age. Moses needed faith to lead the Israelites out of slavery. David needed faith to defeat Goliath, and then Saul. Peter needed faith to leave his job as a fisherman. Paul needed faith to make a 180 degree turn and lead the people he had been persecuting.
And all of these people, through their faith, received their true reward when Jesus completed his mission of reconciliation. It wasn't through their ethnicity, actions, intelligence, condition or luck. It was God's grace through their faith (Ephesians 2:8). And so it is with us today. Our access to the greatest gift of all time depends not on how we live, who we are, where we're from or what we own - just what we believe about Jesus. The question he asked Peter (Matthew 16) must be answered personally by each of us today; "Who do you say I am?"
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. ... And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
When Moses came down Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, his face radiated the brilliance of the God with whom he had just met. And yet the old covenant that he brought with him doesn't hold a candle to the new covenant, which Christ has revealed to each new believer. The sun is impressive in the day, but its power can also be seen at night through its reflection off the moon. If you have met Him already, is your life reflecting the light of God?
Author: Mark Dwyer
A consistent message throughout Scripture is the importance of "fearing God":
Go to BibleGateway.com and type "Fear God" to the search box, and you'll see hundreds of verses pop up. As I read these, I begin to see a new definition for the word "faith". To fear God is to believe in who He is, what He has done, and what He has the power to do in your life - a belief that is so real that it impacts you every step.
I believe in God. I love God. But do I really fear Him?
Author: Mark Dwyer
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
“He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach. (Job 36:26-33)
Why is it that the more we humans learn about the vastness and intricacy of our world the more we question God's existence? Somehow our ability to "advance in knowledge" emboldens us to act with more pride and ignorance regarding God and us. Oh God, let me always remember that YOU are God, and I am not!
Author: Mark Dwyer
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
I have found a theme that weaves its way through both my faith and my golf game. I wish I could tell you the answer is that I’m always “par for the course”; but the theme I’m referring to is trust. I need to exercise trust.
In golf there are so many times where I’m holding my 7 iron for my 150 yard shot, but the wind is blowing at me and the pin is in the back. I really need my 6 iron, but I don’t trust what I know is true. So I usually find myself swinging too hard and landing in a hazard somewhere. The examples continue… I don’t trust the break on the green, or the feel of the wedge in my hand as I attempt to get out of the sand. You might be gaining some insight to my golf handicap.
Trust is so necessary in my faith as well. I’ve been taught over and over again that God loves me and has a plan for me; but do I always trust that? Honestly I don’t. I find myself taking life in to my own hands, and thinking my plans can be better. God tells his people all throughout scripture to trust Him with life circumstances. What is it for you today?
I think that God always has something for us to trust Him with. Is it your marriage that might not be as stable as it should? Is it your child who is getting ready to go off to college (welcome to my story)? Is it your job that isn’t totally satisfying? God wants to meet us in these places, and be the answer to our fears and doubts. It’s actually an opportunity to lean in to Him, which strengthens our relationship. Whatever it is that has already come to mind for you – trust Him with that today.
Author: Brett Hersma
I have found that life can have its up and it downs. Its peaks and valleys. Joy and pain is part of living life upon this earth. So how do you keep a cross-centered life amidst the drizzle? How do you keep the passion for Christ alive in your heart no matter what you face in life? C.J. Mahoney gave me some good insight in his book today I will pass along to you. It's all concerning the Gospel, which means "good news." For those who don't know, the good news is that Jesus Christ saves! That's the Gospel. What are C.J.'s five keys to keeping the fire alive? Memorize the Gospel. Pray the Gospel. Sing the Gospel. Review how the Gospel has changed you. Lastly, study the Gospel. I needed to hear that today. Maybe you, too. See you on the tee box!
Author: Ben De Boef
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7)
Charlie Sheen might say he's "winning" right now, but it doesn't take a doctor to see that he's got some issues. Tiger Woods hasn't won a golf tournament since the "debacle". Look around you and you'll see the same thing - people that make poor decisions usually end up in a bad place. Now look at people who are in a good place - usually you can trace it back to good decisions based upon proven habits or truths. Of course, there are always exceptions - bad things happen to good people, good things happen despite bad decisions - but the truth remains: live by good principles and your life will be better for it (read Proverbs). Dave Ramsey ("Financial Peace University") advises to find winners and then do what they do. Don't learn how to use a power saw from the shop teacher who has lost all of his fingers; don't take a golf lesson from a "bogie" golfer (uh, like me); don't get marriage counseling from someone who has been married 12 times. The above verse tells us to emulate people who's life has turned out the way we would want ours to turn out. And do you notice what it says at the end - "imitate their faith". Here's what that tells me - the key to a good life is not about what we have the power to control, but in submitting ourselves to a higher power. My kids will have a good life if they obey their mother and me - because we love them and we know what's good for them. Likewise, we will have a good life if we faithfully submit to God's blueprint for life - whether we understand it or not (that's where faith comes in). Here's the challenge to us all: find out what God wants us to do and do it - we'll be glad we did!
Author: Mark Dwyer
Brett Lilly - Campus Pastor at Compass Church (95th campus), husband, father