Hebrews expounded: “By faith” (chapter 11).


Hebrews expounded: “By faith” (chapter 11).

Having defined for us what “faith” is, Paul now goes on an extensive list of what men and women were able to achieve in what we call “redeemed history”—BY FAITH— using their faith.

That expression “by faith” (or through faith) is used over and over again in chapter 11, using examples. We call this the “Hall of Fame of Faith”.

Living a ‘life of faith’ is not about ‘living a religious life’, it is not about being ‘faithful’ to the things of God. You have to attend yourself to first understanding what faith is—is not. There is nothing more frustrating for a Christian than living a life in which you do not understand what faith is, and go about pursuing religious activity as faith, or even being faithful through well meaning activities, and yet expecting to be credited for having faith, when in fact you don’t have it!

Having faith has nothing to do with the position you hold in the church here on earth. In my life I have known of Popes, Archbishops, Pastors, and other famous religious people, whom I knew did not have an ounce of operative faith. This did not stop people following them, and adoring them. And indeed they did great things to show forth that they are believers in Christ, such as feeding the poor, speaking out against evil, and many other things that we are called upon to do; but it should not be interpreted for FAITH.

Again I have known people who on the surface of it were very ‘ordinary’ Christians, who could exercise the most extraordinary faith. [I remember going to see an old African woman in a township in Zimbabwe, who was well known amongst believers for her remarkable knowledge of the bible. She could recite any verse, and tell you where it was in the bible—she had never been to school, and could not read anything like a newspaper, but put a bible in front of her, and she could read it!]

Obtaining faith, growing and strengthening your faith, and above all using your faith is the most important mission for each one of us, on a daily basis. You must be constantly conscious of the importance of faith.

Never lose sight of how we get faith; how we grow faith; how we use faith.

As I have said before don’t allow yourself to get into a situation in which you carry out works of ‘faithfulness’ towards God, and expect to be credited for them as ‘faith’. [I remember a woman who was in a church I used to attend. She was the busiest, most dedicated member of the church. She was always in church, and spending every spare moment of her life, running around on behalf of our church. One day something happened to a member of her family. She became quite bitter and even accusatory towards God, for “not doing anything” (as she put it); “I have been so faithful”, she would mourn. The problem was in her “faithfulness”, she had lost touch with what is “faith”; she was just too busy to attend to the issues by which we obtain, grow, and use faith. Don’t fall into that trap: “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”].

Another trap is believing that because your father or mother, or even grandparent were great people of faith, it means you somehow “inherited” the same faith. It does not work that way; each one of us is responsible for building up their own operative faith. I have known children of pastors even who completely strayed away, and eventually left church ministry altogether, because they did not care for studying, and meditating on the Word of God.

—Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God—that is all!

The Lord Jesus said: (spiritual) “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God”.

I have added that word “spiritual” because Jesus was referring to your SPIRIT. To illustrate this, the great Christian Evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth, had a habit in which before he ate a meal, he would first bring out his bible and read for a few minutes, declaring afterwards, “now that I have fed the spirit, let me feed the body.”

I’m writing this message whilst on a flight, from Johannesburg to London. I made sure that I was the first person to go to sleep, so that I could wake up early to study, and meditate on the word. This is my way of life; there is no day that has gone bye in these last 22 years that I have not attended to the Word of God—first, before doing anything else. For me going out into the world, without first studying and meditating on the word, and then spending time in prayer, is like forgetting to put on my trousers!

This is why I have such operative faith; there is nothing that will happen in this and any day, that I cannot cope with, because of this substance called faith, that bubbles up from my spirit. I want to enter the “Hall of Fame of Faith” for this generation. I want to receive a “good report” before God, when I appear before Him in Heaven.

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Hebrews expounded: understanding tithes (A story from a close friend)


Hebrews 7:4 (NKJV)
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.

I have been a committed Christian since 1994. After reading the bible several times (cover to cover) during those early years, I decided one day to carry out a comprehensive study into the issue of “Tithes and Offerings”, so that I could decide for myself whether it was necessary to make such payments. I can honestly and truthfully say to you that I concluded that we must pay tithes, and also make financial payments known as Offerings:
Every single month, I take 10% of my gross income for that month, and send it as a cheque to a church. This I have done for more than 20 years___without fail: it is called a “Tithe”.

In addition, every single Sunday I make an Offering to the church (even if I do not attend a service). I consider making an Offering in a Sunday morning service (or any service that I attend) part and parcel of the process of “worshipping God”. This is because I understand fully its spiritual significance to God.

I also make other financial Offerings throughout the year; these include:
-The First Fruit Offering: I make an annual Offering, which used to be called in the Old Testament, The First Fruit Offering; this is usually based on income such as Bonus, or if I get a raise or make a sudden profit on things like shares.

-Thanksgiving Offering: if I get a big miracle following something I have been praying about, I acknowledge it by making a special offering known as the Thanksgiving Offering. It could be a breakthrough on a major project, or recovery from illness for myself or a family member.

– Partnership Offerings: I make financial contributions whenever I can (sometimes very small amounts, and at times large amounts) in support of initiatives such a Missionary works, bible distribution etc., I like to be relevant to the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the first thing He will ask me about!

I never wait to be asked to make a Partnership Offering; I actively look for opportunities where I can use my resources to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to show forth His mercy and kindness (we are His hands) by using the resources He has given me.

-Gifts to Ministers of the Gospel: I make financial gifts to Pastors, and their families, particularly those who have helped me in my journey of faith.

I always feel embarrassed if I see a Pastor and his family or anyone who has dedicated their lives to ministry, struggling financially. Equally I feel embarrassed if I hear someone criticizing the life style of Pastors and their families. I so value the work they do that I would not mind if they all lived in mansions, and travelled by private jets!

-Helping the poor and vulnerable: As soon as I understood what the bible was saying about giving to the poor and vulnerable (including widows), I set up programs. My wife and I began when we could only give a few dollars per week, until today it is in millions.

Whether it is helping orphans, or small holder farmers, Ebola and HIV victims; my motivation is always Christ!

Why?
Many years ago someone asked me why I do it, and this is what I said:
“_I do not give because I have; I have because I give.”
“_I give because it is one of the best ways to express that you have faith. I trust God that I will not go bankrupt simply because I gave for the things He clearly calls on me to do.”

It requires faith to be able to give:
I tell a story of a young Christian (whether in the spirit or in the flesh) I cannot tell. One day Satan challenged him to prove that he had faith. He thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I tithe my money!” And with that Satan disappeared, never to return. God does not need your money; the church of Jesus Christ will not disappear because you and I never tithed in our life times; tithing and offering is really all about you and I; it’s an opportunity to demonstrate our faith, if only to ourselves!

Always remember that our spiritual enemy (Satan and his cohorts) is very actively trying to persuade you not to give:
He will tell you that, “these Pastors are money grabbers, who are conning people so that they can get their money!”
The enemy is always trying to cast doubt in your mind, so that you become suspicious of giving money to a church. Don’t fall for that trick; find a good church, and give as much as you can.

Don’t be a “cafeteria Christian”; someone who picks and chooses what they like and don’t like in the bible. People who do that eventually become their own god. There is a bible word for someone who has created their own god, and it is called “idolatry”.

During my more than 20 years as a committed Christian, I have been a member of many churches. Sometimes I have had to leave a church because I moved town or country, sometimes it was because there was something going on that led me to leave; whatever the reason, I have always, always made sure that I was a “tither” (like father Abraham).
I give based on what the bible says, and not because someone appealed to me to give my money.

Have I never been let down? Yes, I have many times, but it will never change what the bible says about the importance of giving. When I’m let down, I just simply correct my position, and carry on giving, even more money!
“Giving is me”!

Not giving Tithes and Offerings will not affect your salvation; in other words you will still go to Heaven. It does however affect your positioning in terms of the things God trusts you with in this life, and the one to come.

Don’t give because I told you to give. Do as I did: read the bible carefully, and become fully persuaded through your own studies, and meditations. This way you will stand firm on your own understanding. For each of the areas of giving I have outlined above, I know exactly where to go in the bible to support my position. You should be able to do the same.
Remember my favorite scripture on giving?

2 Corinthians 9:8 (Amplified version).

Have a blessed day.

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JUST SHAKE IT OFF


And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. (Acts 28:5 KJV)

Just after a ship wreck, Apostle Paul with the others had to swim for his life to a nearby island. What a great escape after many days of uncertainty. It however seemed the enemy’s target on his life was not yet abated, he wanted him dead and would try many angles. As he gathered some sticks to start a fire, a viper stuck itself to his hand! The locals looked at him and thought to themselves, this man surely is a murderer, though he escaped the sea, the viper must conclude the matter.

Paul’s reaction was simple, he shook off the beast into the fire. The poison doing no harm on him. The locals watched, awaiting him to fall dead any minute but to their amazement, no harm befell him. They changed their view, now he was no longer a murderer but a god.

I know today you are going through a lot of things. One challenge after another. The enemy might have a tracking system on you with the intention of totally ship wrecking your faith! I have one word for you today, ‘shake off the beast!’ No harm will befall you, stand in faith! Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Those who watched and awaited your downfall are in for a huge surprise. You are defying their expectations over your life. What they envisioned would be the outcome of your life is turning out to be the opposite.

Are you stuck in a difficult situation, shake it off! Are you in pain, made losses, heart broken, depressed by situations? Shake it off! God will take care of the poison, after all the word says if you drink any deadly thing it will not harm you. I pray for your faith to remain resolute. You will celebrate soon!

Declare this,
I am shaking off all distractions as I keep my eyes on the Lord. I refuse to worry as I cast all my burdens upon the Lord for He cares for me.

 

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