I take the Bible very seriously. The God who David prayed to, who Elijah prayed to, who Daniel prayed to, this is the same God who I pray to. I read of these men and look at the amazing things that God did and I wonder, what’s changed. I know it’s not God who’s changed: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If it’s God who has not changed, then I would have to say the followers of God has changed.

Do you live by Faith? I would be willing to bet that virtually every Christian looking at this question would say, “yes!!” Now, I want you to think for a moment and look around. I’m sure we all have at least one friend or close acquaintance that is a non-Christian. Other than the fact that you believe in God, go to church, pay tithes, is there any difference in your life versus there's - when it comes to faith?

The average Christian, in America, has a job, a decent home, decent car, saves money, buys insurance, has an abundance of clothing, enough food in the house to last for at least a week - so does the average sinner in America. What makes the Christians life a life of faith versus the sinners? Sure, we made a change of sinning to one of not sinning, or at least not as much, but other than that, looking at our lives right now - based on faith, would we be living any differently if we did not believe in God?

When Scripture talks about living by faith, it’s not talking about just believing there’s a God and Christ is the Savior; there is something far more being talked about. In the “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11, we are shown what faith looks like.

Achieving faith like David, Noah, Moses, and the likes seems like it’s impossible: they seem almost like perfect people - but they are not. Moses murdered and had a possible speech disorder. David committed adultery and murdered; and had out of control children. And, Samson had so many issues I don’t even know where to begin. Yet, aside from their mistakes, they found faith in God.

James said,

“Elijah was a human being, even as we are.”
(James 5:17)

Imagine Noah building an ark for 120 years and rain never coming. Imagine Moses casting down a staff in front of the pharaoh and nothing happening. Imagine Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain and an angel not stopping the knife from being thrust into his son. Can we put, what we consider to be, our walk of faith in this great chapter?

In talking about what it took in their following Christ, and the spreading of the Gospel, Paul said:

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
(2 Corinthians 6:4-10)

When we look at our lives, can we honestly relate to these attributes? Does our life reflect the Faith that we see in those who suffered for the spreading of the Gospel?

In America, we Christians like to play it safe. We make sure to put ourselves in situations where we are in control, we are secure.

John clearly tells us that whoever claims to live in Christ MUST walk AS Y’shua walked.

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did
(1 John 2:6)

In talking about HOW Christ walked, Paul says:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
(Philippians 2:6-11)

Notice that Paul says to be like Christ in our relationships with one another. Are we, in America, ready to make ourselves nothing? Are we ready to take on the very nature of a servant? Are we willing to be obedient unto death? If you're honestly answering that question as, “yes”, how are those intentions manifested in your lives today?

Because we make this safe, and comfortable, life for ourselves, we tend not want to step outside that zone and take a risk. Therefore, we don’t do what is actually commanded by God - helping those in need. People see it as crazy to give so much that there is a risk of losing a retirement - as if we can out give God. Yet, the more I look at the Gospel, and our lives; more and more, I’m seeing it as crazy to build up things that will either be in a dump, salvage yard, or someone else's home within just a few years. I look at all the hot rods I’ve had over the years, and the money I’ve put into them. I look at all the interest I’ve paid on loans of things that were bigger than I needed, nicer than I needed, or things I didn’t even need at all. I look at all that money gone and I look at those things - gone also. I don’t have one single thing that I fought and paid so much for - and I’m only 45 years old. None of those things did anything for the building of the Kingdom of God. None of those things did anything for storing up riches in Heaven. AND!!!! Now, I don’t even have those riches here either. Think about it - isn't it really dumb to think only of ourselves and these things we covet?

While we have moments of faith, looking for a job, getting better from a sickness, having enough money to pay the bills we’ve built up, this so-called “faith” is the same as the “hope” found in non-Christians.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? ’ or ‘What shall we drink? ’ or ‘What shall we wear? ’ 32 For the sinners run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well
(Matthew 6:31-33)

The men of old, who served God, did so by doing what He said, even when it took them out of their comfort zone; this is actually a Kingdom principle. Just a few verses earlier, in verse 19, Y’shua was talking about NOT storing up treasures on Earth: we are to store up treasures in Heaven. It’s by our charitable giving on Earth, to help those in need, that we store up those Heavenly treasures.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,... 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
(Matthew 6:19-21)

Then in verse 24, Christ warns that we can not serve both God and money. In context, Christ is saying that if we store up on Earth, not helping those in need, we are serving money.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money
(Matthew 6:24)

John echoed this statement when he said that Christ laid down His life for us, and we should do the same for our brothers and sisters. He then says that if there is a person in need, and we have much, and we don’t help them, the love of God is not in us.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3:16-18)

From Old Testament to New, God’s plan for His people is for them to be a set apart people. We don’t look like the world nor act like the world. Like Noah building the ark, Abraham going to sacrifice his only son, Moses striking a rock for water, we are to be obeying God in a manner that makes the world think we are outside our minds.

In Matthew 25, Christ tells us that helping a person in need, with our money or time, is EXACTLY the same as Helping Him. That put’s into perspective what is being said here. If helping those in need is the same as helping Christ, and we don’t help, rather keep what we got so we can have a nice plush life and think we can guarantee ourselves a happy retirement, we don’t love God; we are not living by Faith.

To LIVE by Faith is not something that happens in momentary times. A true life of Faith is one that brings our daily lives outside our own control.

It is only by the Grace of God that anyone has the next breath, so, we should give thanks for what we have, through the abilities He’s given us. But let’s look at a Biblical event and put it into perspective the way we are living in our time. Several thousand people are gathered to hear Christ speak and after a while people are hungry. Christ blesses some loaves of bread and fish, multiplying what was given by a child for the feeding of the people; then tells the disciples to feed the hungry. The disciples thank Y’shua for the abundance of food and decide to keep it for themselves - in case there came another time with not enough food. Now, doesn’t it seem odd to hold on to the abundance that God gives and merely repeat the words, “thank you”?

All through Scripture, from Old to New Testament, we see a call to help brothers and sisters in need. The Old Testament calls for a leveling so that no one lacks and we don’t get tempted by the greed of too much. Paul echoes this very statement to the Corinthians.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
(2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

The church has allowed the gap to get so extreme, and we are so worried about our own comfort, that we actually take lightly the words of Christ who said, “sell all you have and give it to the poor”. If we can be comfortable walking, or driving, by a brother hungry and go to a nice restaurant; if we can see a brother or sister in a shack, wondering where their going to get clothes to replace the ones they got, and have no concern while we go to a nice 2,000 square foot home (or bigger) with a closet full of clothes, we don’t take the words of Scripture very seriously.

Y’shua sent out His disciples with absolutely NOTHING. Today, we would not be able to do that. We would want to have some money just in case; a little nest-egg for a rainy day; a cell phone in case the donkey broke down. Yet, Y’shua was forcing them to trust in Him. God would have to come through, because they had nothing else to fall back on. That is a life of Faith.

He told them:“Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt
(Luke 9:3)

This place of trust is really not easy. It’s absolutely against everything we’ve been taught about proper planning. We rather find refuge in what we already have, rather than having Faith in what God will provide. Most of us have a problem with leaving home without a cell phone, and especially no means of purchasing. What if something happened? God forbid we would have to have Faith in Him to bring someone along our path. We were warned that following Him was a hard task, and we must weigh the cost.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish
(Luke 14:28-30)

This is because we must be willing to surrender everything for a service to Him. We may not know where our clothes may come from, our food, a home, but we will have Faith that God will provide because God said He would. It’s when we trust God this much that we see Him move like we see in Scripture. In America we have jobs, we have cars, we have a weeks supply of food, we are not threatened for our faith (not much yet); and we don’t use the blessings we have to help those in need and build into the Kingdom. We don’t live by faith in America. And, because of all that we are given, with our lack of willingness to use it, our lack of love for God in that we come up with excuses to not help those in need while storing up for ourselves, for our own plush lives, our punishment will be even greater than even those who were non-believers.

“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked
(Luke 12:47-48)

The parable of the sheep and the goats, the parable of the talents, the parable of the foolish barn builder, all these tell us that our storing up is sending us to Hell; yet we believe we are going to Heaven just because we say we know Him.

Part 2 - Sheep and Goats