Most of us know that the motto for the Marine Corps is, “Semper Fi”, or “Always faithful.” In Luke 18:8, Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?
When we consider what it means to be faithful, our lists can stretch a mile long. Every church and/or denomination has its’ own lists of what it means to be faithful to God. I have my list and you have yours. And if I don’t live up to you list, then I’m just not serious about my walk with God, and vice versa. Bible reading, prayer and how much, living without lust, getting victory over sin, giving and yes, church attendance are just a few. Doing these things are good. They are right. They are Biblical. But, these in and of themselves can never make us faithful to God. They are a by-product of faithfulness, not the essence.
What does it mean to have the kind of faith Jesus spoke of in Luke 18? The writer of Hebrews gives us the essence of faithfulness in Chapters 3-4.
1. Don’t Allow Unbelief to Take Root in Your Heart—v.7-19
Israel had a terrible time with unbelief. In fact, it is the one sin that kept them out of the Promised Land. (That’s not heaven, by the way.) They suffered from hardening of the heart, because they would not believe God and take Him at His Word. They saw themselves as “grasshoppers” in comparison to the giant inhabitants of the land. Then they feared for their children. (Sounds like modern day parenting, huh)? So God said that they would die wandering, never reaching their destiny. And those kids that their parents were hiding behind, they would possess their inheritance!
The disciples didn’t fair much better. After 3 ½ years of walking with Messiah, they too were slow to believe. In Mark 16, Jesus didn’t cut them any slack, either. He “ripped them a new one”. Unbelief always brings about a sharp rebuke from our Lord. He doesn’t grade us on a curve. He doesn’t cut us any slack. He won’t listen about how disenfranchised we are. He isn’t impressed with our race or past, and He isn’t intimidated by our future. What He is wants to know is, “Are you doing what I told you to do?”
Spurgeon said, “Unbelief will destroy the best of us. Faith will save the worst of us.”
Some people suffer from a medical condition known as, Atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries”. It’s a build up of plaque over time that can lead to other complications, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Spiritually, too many of us suffer from a hardening of our hearts toward the things of God and His will for us.
It works like this:
When you hear His Word and disobey or procrastinate.
When I resist His love and forgiveness and fail to give the same.
When you sit under great preaching and teaching made clear by the Holy Spirit, and your life doesn’t change.
We don’t have to wander like the first generation Israelites. We don’t have to die having never understood what God put us on earth to accomplish. We can learn to say, “Yes”, to God when He does speak. We can enter into His rest, (Heb.4:1-2). That place of rest is:
1. Total trust in His Word, even when I don’t understand
2. When I stop striving to achieve salvation by my own efforts
3. When I learn dependence on the Holy Spirit
How do I know when I have arrived? Honestly answering the questions will help us.
1. Is my life characterized by thankfulness or complaining? What would your spouse say?
2. Are the decisions I make based on fear or faith?
3. Have you done the last thing the Lord told you to do?
The Scripture says, “His mercies are new every morning.” If that’s true for each day, wouldn’t it be true for a new year as well? That means I get a fresh start this year, this moment, to take God at His Word and do the thing for which He created me for
The calendar has changed. Have you?
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:12-14)
When I was a kid, one of my favorite baseball players was Reggie Jackson. He was known as “Mr. October.” He got his nickname because he was known to shine when his team played in the playoffs. When Reggie came up to bat, everybody knew the ball was probably going over the fence. Reggie once said in an interview that he lived for the postseason because that’s when he would play his best. But in order to get to the playoffs, he had to get through the regular season. His secret to shining in the regular season was to keep his eye on October. What separated Reggie Jackson from the rest of those in Major League Baseball was his ability to focus on the glory of postseason play.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
This is our God-given hope. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried in Joseph’s tomb. On the third day, he was raised form the dead and now lives forevermore. Because He lives, we shall live also.
What should distinguish Christians from non-Christians? It’s not the clothes we wear, or style of hair. It’s not where we send our kids to school or movies we watch. It is this; that you and I live on the edge of eternity! We are to live as though Jesus is coming to us, or we could at any moment go to meet Him! Everything about our lives should have the aroma of eternity; from how we relate to one another, how we raise our kids, how we perform at work to how we spend money. We more than anyone should live in light of eternity!
Why do we meet regularly each week? Why do we seek to build relationships with one another? To remind each other that this world is not our home! Why do we send kids to camp? Why do we emphasize discipleship? Why do we ask people to give of their time, talents and treasures? Because we were made for eternity!
Beloved, God is looking for some Mr. and Mrs. Octobers—people with their eyes on eternity, who faithfully play the regular season because they’re looking forward to postseason glory.