Archive for April 1st, 2009

 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
          Hebrews 4:1-2 (NIV)

For this Good News – that God has prepared a place of rest – has been announced to us just as it was to them [the Israelites]. But it did them no good because they didn’t believe what God told them.
          Hebrews 4:1-2 (NLT)

“The message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”
“It did them no good because they didn’t believe what God told them.”

It is not enough to hear the Gospel message. It is not enough to be in mental agreement with it. Rather, we must combine what we hear with our faith. We must believe what God has told us.

The word that is translated “faith” in the New International Version and “believe” in the New Living Translation is a word that means “rely upon.” There is a subtle difference between believing and relying upon. I believe that I would be healthier if I were to walk on my treadmill more often, but I’m not relying upon it. If I were, I’d be walking more often. I believe that my blogs help others to grasp the things God has for them, but I don’t rely upon that. I rely upon God to bring clarity and faith into the hearts and minds of readers.

If God’s message is to have impact in your life, if it is to have an impact in my life, it must be one that we choose to rely upon, not one we simply agree with. As our pastor said on Sunday, “Faith is a verb. It’s an action word.” If our faith is not a verb – if it is not something we act upon, it is not faith.

One of the ways God teaches us to rely upon Him and His Word is by removing from us other things we might putting our trust in. For example, my husband and I have our own business. I have not been able to draw a paycheck from that business for six months because of current economic conditions. God is surely teaching me that I am not to rely upon my business to provide for my needs, but to trust Him. I am often tempted to rely upon my husband for affirmation, companionship, guidance, love and strength. Now it’s not bad for me to anticipate, even expect, those things from my Godly husband, but my reliance must be upon the Lord. Phil’s recent heart attack has been an opportunity for God to speak to me about where I place my faith and trust. Is it in a healthy husband who takes care of me and our life in so many ways, or is it in God? If my reliance is upon my business or my husband, or anything else of this world, I am setting myself up for disappointment, discouragement and ultimately failure. But when my reliance is upon God, I have everything I need.

Only God has the message that gives eternal life, and that message is often called the Gospel, or “good news.” The Gospel message is that God has done for us through Christ what we could never do for ourselves. We could never do enough or be good enough to spend eternity in heaven with God, so He stepped out of heaven in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus then did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves – he paid the price for our sin by sacrificing His life for ours – He died so that we might live. And that’s the message of Scripture. And when we believe – rely upon – what God did for us – dying for our sins so that we might have eternal life – He will give it. Scripture says that Christ died so that we might have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). That abundant life is the eternal life we will live in heaven with God, but it is also Christ here with us now. It is living in His Kingdom while still a resident of the planet earth – living in constant relationship with Him. It’s a life of blessing even when there’s no paycheck to be had and a husband who is not able to do all that he once was. It is a life of peace in the midst of the turmoil of the world.

Well, I’m on the verge of writing a blog about what it means to live an abundant life (ok, maybe I’ve crossed over into it), and this blog is about relying upon the message we’ve received. I’ll save the rest of the abundant life blog for another time and close the relying upon blog here.

May I ask the question…upon what or whom do you rely? Is it the Word of the Lord, the message of God given to you? Let me encourage you to “add faith” to the words of Scripture that you hear and read. Then live the abundant life.

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