January 2: The Nature of Faith

SCRIPTURE

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

OBSERVATION

The Assurance of Things Hoped For

In Old Testament times, men and women had to rest on the promises of God. God had told them of a coming Messiah, a Deliverer who would take away sin. He told them that one day all Israel would be made clean and be ruled by this righteous Messiah. God’s faithful believed God’s promises, as incomplete and vague as many of those promises were. They put their full trust and hope in those promises.

That is what faith is. Faith is living in a hope that is so real it gives absolute assurance. The promises given to the Old Testament saints were so real to them, because they believed God, that they based their lives on them. All the Old Testament promises related to the future—for many believers, far into the future, but the faithful among God’s people acted as if they were in the present tense. They simply took God at His word and lived on that basis. They were people of faith, and faith gave present assurance and substance to what was yet future.

Faith is not a wistful longing that something may come to pass in an uncertain tomorrow. True faith is an absolute certainty, often of things that the world considers unreal and impossible. Christian hope is belief in God against the world—not belief in the improbable against chance. If we follow a God whose audible voice we have never heard and believe in a Christ whose face we have never seen, we do so because our faith has a reality, a substance, an assurance that is unshakable.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were confronted with the choice of obeying Nebuchadnezzar, whom they could see very well, or God, whom they had never seen. Without hesitation, they chose to obey God. Man’s natural response is to trust his physical senses, to put his faith in the things he can see, hear, taste, and feel. But the child of God puts his trust in something more durable and dependable than anything he will ever experience with his senses. Senses may lie; God cannot lie.

The Conviction of Things Not Seen

Conviction of things not seen carries the same truth a bit further, because it implies a response, an outward manifestation of the inward assurance. The person of faith lives his belief. His life is committed to what his mind and his spirit are convinced is true. 

Noah, for example, truly believed God. He could not possibly have embarked on the stupendous, demanding, and humanly ridiculous task God gave him without having had absolute faith. When God predicted rain, Noah had no concept of what rain was, because rain did not exist before the Flood. It is possible that Noah did not even know how to construct a boat, much less a gigantic ark. But Noah believed God and acted on His instructions. He had both assurance and conviction—true faith. His outward building of the ark bore out his inward belief that the rain was coming and that God’s plan was correct for constructing a boat that would float. His faith was based on God’s word, not on what he could see or on what he had experienced. For 120 years he preached in faith, hoped in faith, and built in faith.

UNDERSTANDING

What is God saying to me? 
When I think about the promises from God that I’m putting my faith in, I ultimately think of the second coming of Christ.  But, I also think of the promises God has given us at DSC that we will become a “great commission movement.” Days where we will experience God’s presence like never before, countless individuals will be saved, and our community, city and beyond will literally be transformed by the power of Christ through us.
 
God is doing great things in and through us at Desert Streams Church! We have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. However, we must not lose sight of these promises and settle for less than the fullness of what God intends for us! 
 
LIFE APPLICATION
 
What will I do about it?
Like Noah, we may have to wait years (hopefully not 120!) before we experience the fulfillment. But what we do in the waiting time is critical. His “assurance of things hoped for” drove him to invest countless hours in building. Likewise, our assurance should drive us to do certain things. Personally, the things I feel I must do is PRAY and WORK for their fulfillment. 
 
God, thank you for this month of prayer and fasting! The reason we lay aside food and pleasures to seek your face is because we are longing for more of you! We are longing to experience the fulfillment of your promises! May they come and come soon. God, I want you more than tv, your presence more than food, and the fulfillment of promises more than anything else I could lay down. As we seek you this month, draw near to us and reveal yourself. Amen.
 
-Levi Thompson
 
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