Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11
Let us pray
Father, we as you children are gathered here to worship you. The time has come for us to hear your Word. Father speak to us. Teach us, rebuke us, correct us mold us into the image of Your Son Jesus Christ. Open our ears to hear you, open our eyes to see you open our hearts and sow the living seed that is your Word. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen
If you reflect with me you can all agree with me that the current and most popular teachings about faith when stripped apart are about having faith in faith or self or the man/woman of God. However, in God’s Word that is not the case. In God’s Word faith stems from God and is about God.
Let us break down Hebrew Chapter 11 and hear what God has to teach us on faith.
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible
Faith is confidence and assurance in God and His Word. That He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do (including judgement-throwing sinners into hell). Therefore ‘walking by faith’ is walking and living our lives daily, moment by moment in confidence and assurance that God is who He says He will do which is clearly written from Genesis to Revelation. Practically it means living in the fear (absolute awe, trembling respect) of God. Obeying His commands. Walking by faith is not about us, our needs wants and desires. It is about God working in vessels of earth to mold and make us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
Faith is all about God, it has, always was, and it will always be. The sooner we align ourselves to that then we are walking by faith and not by sight.
Because they walked by faith our ancestors (we will be looking at them in a few minutes) received approval from God. Faith is the way we relate with God, why?
Vs. 6 makes it clear
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
We only please God through faith. God is Spirit, we can neither touch Him nor see Him. His written Word and His Spirit who indwells us is what we have received from Him. Therefore, to know Him, to walk with Him we need faith. Faith in Him.
And this faith is not without reward. God promises that those who have faith please Him; and those who approach and seek Him because they believe in His existence receive their reward.
Let us look at a few examples from our ancestors
1. Abel, Enoch and Noah
Abel offered a more acceptable offering, Enoch walked with God, Noah built the ark.
These three men did something. They believed in God and then obeyed.
Faith is an action verb. After you believe that God is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him then what next?
You obey, you flourish where you are planted, you honor God by excellence.
As a student here I remember the Mugumo tree behind the labs and the grass slope behind the form two and for three classes. Those were the places the CU used to meet in the evenings before preps. I am not sure for what reason but we always stood in one or two lines facing the Mugumo tree or facing the fence behind the classes. The prayers we did in those two places, the singing and dancing we! The tragedy is some of us stopped there. We stopped at believing, we did not action on our faith.
We didn’t study hard, we didn’t revise, finish our homework on time or join study groups. Every free time we had, we were under the Mugumo tree praying or reading the Bible. And this reflected in our academic results. Sometimes we also had extended prayer meetings and keshas which resulted in some CU members sleeping in class the next day.
Faith without works is dead. Believe in God yes, then go to the next step like Abel, Enoch and Noah and add actions to your belief.
Pray and fast, read your Bible and meditate on God’s Word then study hard, finish your homework on time, engage in discussion groups, follow up on teachers and ask questions.
Your parents sent you here not to study, honor them by doing your best.
By faith Abraham obeyed, from Ur of the Chaldeans, to separating with Lot, to offering Isaac he obeyed.
Faith is not an amorphous verb, it does not occur in space. Faith is nurtured in obedience. The Word of God from Genesis through to Revelation is full of clear instructions and commands from God to us as His children. We are called to obedience and in 1 Samuel 15:22 we are told ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’
If there is something hard for teenagers to do, it is to obey.
Ask me how I know, I was once a teenager with a mind of my own: obedience was not in my dictionary.
When I reflect about my life in Kambui I smile. The kind of mishaps and rule breaking I was involved in, it is only by the grace of God that I stand here today. From skiving preps to smuggling snacks after going for cross country around the school (do you still go for cross country?) to not wearing my tie, wearing outdated uniform: Lord have mercy!
My motto back then was: Rules are there to be broken.
In hind sight I honestly wonder what had possessed me, I call it the folly of youth.
Miss. Rose Kamondo my class teacher from form one to form four saw the potential in me and pleaded with me for four years to change my ways and get serious. I visited with her early this year to say thank you for never giving up on me. For her prayers and counsel that helped me through my years of rebellion.
Girls, the desire to break rules comes with the age group you are in. The desire to experiment, to see what happens when you do not follow the rules.
Obedience requires a higher path.
This morning I am urging you that your faith must be accompanied by obedience. Like Abraham before us we must obey the Word of God.
- Honoring our parents is a command – not because they deserve it, or are worthy of our honor but because God says so
- Praying for those in authority and obeying the rules of the land in this case school rules is a command – not because we like the principal or deputy, not because we agree with the school rules but because God says so
- Loving your neighbor as yourself is a command – your decker mate, your desk mate, your dormmates, tablemates, teammates, schoolmates. It means not participating in anything through your words or actions that does not show love to a member of the school. Gossip, slander, cheating in exams, lying fall in the list of don’ts. We do this not because it is easy, or because it is our natural inclination to love your neighbor as ourselves but because God says so
By faith Moses chose the life of a slave and refugee instead of being a prince in Egypt.
Moses was brought up as a prince in Egypt. He was the nephew of Pharaoh and for all intents and purposes was an Egyptian.
But, when he grew up he learnt that he was not really an Egyptian but an Israelite and he made a choice.
Faith moves you to make choices.
- Choices on who to associate with
- Choices on where to spend your time
- Choices on what you spend your time doing
- Choices on how you conduct yourself as a student
As Kenyan’s we have a proverb ‘Choices have consequences’: indeed they do
Moses chose to abandon his princely status and join the Hebrews he ended up as an exile in Midian desert for 40 years!
I am not saying you will end up in a desert but I am saying that when faith leads you to make some tough choices get ready for consequences: from hatred, back biting, losing friends and getting nicknames.
But fear not you are in great company, you are on God’s side.
Faith must lead you to making tough choices.
And lastly let’s look at the group called others ? ?. Cheer up, here we will find women . . .
4. Others – women appear here
What stands out from these group is sacrifice – most of them giving the ultimate sacrifice death
They gave up comfort to follow God. From Rahab the prostitute who chose Israel the people of God over Jericho her hometown to the warriors and prophets who were beaten and mistreated they all sacrificed as a result of their faith in God.
Faith requires sacrifice, faith is not an easy road.
As a student with constrained time to study and seek after God you will ned to sacrifice a lot of pleasures including joy riding on trips on hanging around during funkies (do you still call them that? ? ?) to focus your time and energy on what is important.
As a student sacrificing your life is really not in the list of sacrifices (unless the Lord has chosen that path for you) but it is the daily things you forgo as you walk with the Lord.
Sacrifice for a student and for a teacher are different, the sacrifices of a parent and the sacrifices of a child are different: and we all know what we need to sacrifice.
May our faith in God leads us to that path of sacrifice.
We have studied the subject of faith from the account of Hebrews 11. We now know that faith is anchored in God. Faith breeds four things:
- Action – as exemplified by Abel, Enoch and Noah
- Obedience – as exemplified by Abraham
- Choice – as exemplified by Moses
- Sacrifice – as exemplified by the many other enumerated in vs.29-38
Maybe you are sitting there and you have not yet made the most important choice in life to believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and to confess the same with your mouth. Maybe this Jesus who is the Way to the Father, the one in whom our faith is anchored is not yet a reality in your life and therefore the study of faith makes little or no sense to you. He is the one spoke of in vs.39-40, the One through whom we mortal men attain perfection, Jesus the Son of God.
Allow me to present this Jesus to you. God’s Only Begotten Son who walked the face of the earth more than 2000 years ago for the sole purpose of reconciling men to God. Jesus who gave up His life on a wooden cross on a hill called Calvary taking up my place and your place so that whosoever would believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
This same Jesus stands at the door of your heart this morning and knocks, will you open your heart to receive Him, only then can you begin to walk in faith, only then can faith breed action, obedience, choice and sacrifice in you.
Let us pray
Father, we thank you for speaking o us this morning on faith. Help us not just to be hearers of your Word only but to be doers also. May the soil of our hearts be the good soil which bears 30, 60 and hundred-fold. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
NB: This sermon was preached on 9th July 2017 at Kambui Girls High School. I was in the school between 1998-2001.