Faith Factor 12 – Double Delight

We saw in Faith Factor 3 that our faith “pleases” God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore only faith pleases God. That sets up a situation where faith becomes the “Double Delight”, and so that is my theme in this lesson.

Faith Pleases God

We know that faith pleases God, and we saw in lesson 4 that it is “Only Faith” that does the job. When you choose to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, God is pleased. When you step out in faith and rely on God, God is pleased.

When you do anything without faith being part of it, God is not pleased.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

In fact, if you are not engaging faith you are in sin!

“And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not in faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

No wonder, then, that Christians must have a complete lifestyle of faith; living by faith, because only faith pleases God.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith Not Results

We have a tendency to evaluate faith based on the “results” it produces. If we hear of someone who believed God for great things and those things came to pass we ascribe them as possessing “great faith”. Yet if another person steps out to believe God for great things and those things do not come to pass we see the person as foolish, irresponsible and lacking in faith.

Now, that tendency which humans fall into so easily is against what God thinks. God’s ways are higher than ours and we should always be ready to give up our natural thinking, since it will likely be far below God’s best.

Hebrews 11, the chapter listing the Heroes of Faith, not only lists people who achieved great exploits, but also those who seem to fail miserably. The early verses speak of Noah, the patriarchs and Moses. Then the list includes great achievers such as Samson and David. Great exploits are listed.

However, before the chapter ends mention is made, with equal respect, to people who suffered terribly and new saw some great breakthrough.

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” Hebrews 11:36,37

Celebrating Faith

We are ready to celebrate results, but God celebrates faith. It is “faith” that delights God, not might, money, muscle or mission accomplished.

God was delighted with those who were tortured or cut in two. God did not see them as ‘losers’ who couldn’t get the victory, but as ‘winners’ who brought delight to Him, by their faith.

And that’s a real turn-around for many Christians. Some of the people we look down on as having failed in their faith venture are included in God’s list of modern-day faith heroes. Some of those who made newspaper headlines and whose names have been mocked for their failed attempt to achieve for God are actually celebrated in heaven, while we have not yet made an impression there.

Did Moses Fail?

I always saw Moses fleeing from Egypt as a real loser. I have heard preachers heap scorn on Moses for trying to help the Israelites in his human strength and then falling flat on his face. Moses’ flight from Egypt is seen as a symbol of failed humanity.

Moses killed an Egyptian, but was then rejected by an Israelite who was fighting with his brother. As a result Moses feared and Moses fled.

“And he said, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.” Exodus 2:14-15

That sure looks like “failure” to me. And that’s how I always thought of it, not noticing what Hebrews 11 said about it, until many years later, despite reading it several times.

Moses the Faith Hero

Moses is not only listed among the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11, he is specifically commended for the very act of running away. What looks like failure from human perspective turns out to be a delight to God, from God’s perspective.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:24-27

If Moses can look like a failure to human eyes and yet be recorded in Heaven as a hero, then how many other people who we think of as failures have brought delight to God’s heart?

Faith Brings Delight

Our faith, and only our faith, brings delight to God. We don’t have to win or get the breakthrough to have pleased God. It is the faith, not the outcome, that is important.

God looks at the heart, not the record books. When God sees faith in the heart God is delighted. The person may stumble and fall, fail at their attempt, make a mess, offend others who despise their actions and failure, or whatever, but God will still be delighted with the faith that was in their heart.

I talked with a stranger on a plane many years ago who turned out to be the son of a pastor who stepped out to achieve something for God. The venture failed and the man was so shamed and attacked that he left the ministry. The son felt a need to apologise for his father’s actions. But I wonder if God might see that man’s venture entirely differently to how the newspapers saw it.

A Second Delight

We know that our faith brings a delight to God.

So where is the second delight? How do I come up with a “Double Delight”?

When you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace and apprehend anything that God has for you in there, including, as Paul did, apprehending that for which you were apprehended (Philippians 3:12), God is delighted. So, what about another level of delight?

Daddy’s Delight

The second delight is the delight of God’s Father heart in giving good things to His children.

Parents enjoy blessing their children and God is no different. God gives good gifts to His children. He will give them better things than earthly fathers give to their children.

Look for the ideas of “father” and “pleasure” in this statement made by Jesus Christ …

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Wow! God gets a great delight out of giving things to His children!

And look here at an Old Testament statement about the delight God gets in giving…

“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Psalm 35:27

King David was confident that God enjoyed blessing His children.

God is delighted to give.

Double or Nothing

Every time you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace to take hold of what God has already prepared for you and placed in there, you have to use faith. That faith pleases God. It brings Him delight.

But at the same time you are receiving from Him, as His child, the very things He is delighted to give you as your Heavenly Father.

When you ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight. God enjoys your act of faith and God enjoys being able to give you what He always wanted you to have.

Delightful Faith

Let me recap the Double Delight, so you can see how delightful faith is to God.

God is delighted to give.

When we ask in faith God is also delighted.

So when we ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight.

You can put two smiles on God’s face at the same time!

So, let’s do it!

Faith – Living in the Substance

Faith is something I give attention to and from time to time I reflect on the practical issues of faith as a lifestyle. This reflection is a fresh way to communicate what “living by faith” is all about. But before I get to that, let me back track with you and give you a couple of headlines on why faith is a big deal for me.

Faith is the only way to please God! That’s what Hebrews 11:6 says. “Now, without faith it is impossible to please Him” (meaning God). That means that “faith” has to be a primary quality in every person’s life. If we do not have faith we do not please God. This does not mean we have to blindly believe crazy things. We can have a reasoned understanding of the things we believe. But when all is said and done “faith” must be the essential ingredient. Otherwise we have completely failed to please God.

Christians, therefore, are not to simply apply faith as some initiation rite into the fold. Faith must be an on-going element of the Christian life and lifestyle. It is no use saying, “I had faith 35 years ago when I put my trust in Jesus.” In order to “please” God we must have an ongoing experience of faith. The Bible refers to that as “living by faith”. The concept is given in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4) and quoted several times by New Testament writers (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). “Righteous people will live by faith”.

Living by faith can involve two broad expressions – the pro-active faith that presses in to win battles and make gain; and the passive lifestyle of faithfulness that maintains commitment and direction over time and against obstacles. The Greek word translated ‘faith’ in the New Testament can equally be translated as ‘faithfulness’. So, faith does not have to be demonstrative to be real and to please God.

OK, so that’s my quick summary of some faith essentials. Now, to the point at hand. Faith functions in the Christian’s life in the same way that ‘substance’ does. That means that a person who has faith for an outcome will feel the same joy, etc as someone who actually already has the outcome. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Faith is the substance of the things that are hoped for. It is the evidence of things which are unseen” (Hebrews 11:1).

A person who has faith already “has” the substance of what they believe for. Faith does not leave a person in a “hope so” state. It brings an assured confidence in the outcome. Over the years I have met some lovely and well-meaning people who were raised on the “do good” gospel. These sweet people made it their business to be caring, sacrificial servants who did as many good works as they could. Yet they were putting their faith for eternal salvation and God’s favour, in their good works. One such lady said to me, “I hope I get to heaven”. She had no ‘substance’ – because she did not have faith.

Now, let me fuse two of the faith verses together and give you my fresh perception. If Christians are to “live by faith” and “faith is the substance”, then people of faith, are people who are “Living in the Substance”.

Christians are people who live in the substance of salvation, their eternal destiny, God’s blessing, their victory over sin and the devil, their hope of glory and so on.

Another way of putting it is that people of faith are the Possessors of the Unseen. Yet again, people of faith live in the reality that others do not see yet, because people of faith have the substance even before it is outworked in their lives. Which ever way you look at it, living by faith is a radical lifestyle. It is the way millions of people live, right across the globe. It is the privilege that gives eternal and miraculous power to the underprivileged, disadvantaged, inconsequential and overlooked people in the world. It is something that everyone should enjoy.

I recommend living by faith. I recommend “Living in the Substance”.