Characterized by faith


By Faith by Keith & Kristyn Getty


There is a verse in Habakkuk that would probably rate in the top ten verses in the Old Testament only because it was quoted three times in the New Testament and twice by Paul.

“Behold, his soul  is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
    but the righteous shall live by his faith.” – Habakkuk 2:4  ESV

It is our faith that enables us to live in the tension between what we believe and know about God and what we see day in and day out. I think I see the church generally getting the idea of faith being involved in connecting with becoming a disciple of Jesus. I get the sense that most of the church agrees that we do not become right with God by works – by doing certain things. There is nothing in our hands when we come to the cross – there is nothing we have to exchange for our soul. I come to the cross because I believe I am separated from God and that I am called to repent of my sin – those acknowledgments reveal my belief that what Jesus did on the cross is sufficient to pay the penalty for my sins. I become right with God not because of what I have done, but because of my faith.

My Bible has a footnote on this verse. Another word that could be used in this verse instead of faith is faithfulness. It would seem that the Hebrew word used means both.  My relationship starts with Jesus by faith. Then by living every single day being faithful to Him I find faith permeating my life day in and day out even through the messy stuff of this life, that I may not even understand, I continue to be faithful to God. That makes sense when the verse is quoted in Hebrews for the book was written with a concern regarding apostasy – with people leaving the Christian faith and that because of persecution.  The practical theology is trying to make sure I persevere, endure and continue to live a faithful life.

 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. – Hebrews 10:36-39  ESV

The Hebrew author quoting Habakkuk indicates that there is more here than the initial issue of faith. I am to let it permeate my life day in and day out, to persevere, to hang in there, to keep believing God, to keep the faith and to not give up on it. Is this what Habakkuk was getting to later on.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places. – Habakkuk 3:17-19  ESV

I love what Habakkuk is relating to here – he is a man of faith, has honest questions and wants to understand the connection with life in the midst of evil people doing evil things. So he waits because God is going to do something and he believes what God has said He will do – he responds in faith.


Rise up, walk by faith


By Faith – Keith & Kristyn Getty


Ever since the promise to Abram in Genesis 12 that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth, God had provided more encouragement to ensure that in waiting Abram would not be found to be hopeless. So it is that we find such an encouragement in Genesis 17 with another promise and this time in regards to Isaac’s birth. It is with this promise that God opened up the vision for family discipleship.

For I have chosen[a] him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” – Genesis 18:19  ESV

Family discipleship is a hard concept especially when we view it in the lives of those called by Jesus. He addresses wealth and possessions and by that I mean – family, income, social status, business interests – throughout His teachings and parables. What I do know is that the call to follow Jesus was a transformational call. When I think of Peter’s call, I think before the call took place, Peter had already met Jesus.  So in Luke’s gospel, when Jesus calls Peter, it was a call to radical discipleship. So much so that He had to say — “Don’t be afraid.” 

… and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a]  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:10-11  ESV

It is true then, when identifying the marks of a disciple, that a disciple is definitely one who is called. Jesus does not need recruiters. We are called not because we are worthy, but because of His grace.

Luke’s reason for including this incident may be not only to portray the
confrontation of human sinfulness with Jesus but also to show that to receive the
saving grace of Christ a ‘sinful’ man must repent. Long before Luke speaks of the Gentiles with their gross sins and their being included in saving grace, we are faced with the realization that even Peter . . . must take his place as a sinner. – Liefeld

Interesting for me to note that in the calling of Simon, who would eventually be one of the twelve chosen from a larger group, left everything to join Jesus.  Yet in the very same chapter is the story of Levi. Like Simon, Levi leaves everything to follow Jesus. However, he will not be among those listed as the twelve.

To be a disciple one needs two things—a master and a teachable spirit.

When I was preaching a sermon on Noah, I mentioned to the congregation that Noah gave up everything to build the ark. For 100 years he was ridiculed, verbally abused, and lost all sense of status in his community. I mentioned that just as everything we own today is not ours, but God’s, and how Noah was a great example of that. The looks I got back were not very friendly. But Jesus says it very clearly:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:33  ESV

Maybe I need to introduce Psalm 3 at this point as a great prayer to pray when we are talking about God’s salvation. I hope you can pray it with as much conviction as David did – it is a real prayer, not such a nice one. May our cry for God’s help be our prayer today so that we can rise up and walk by faith.