For every Annie who believes the sun will come up tomorrow, there are countless others who want to run and hide from the unknown. Whether it is going downstairs to the dark basement, picking up the phone to ask someone out on a date, being the new kid at a new school, going to a job interview, or heading into an unknown future, we need encouragement to face the unknown.
In Hebrews 10:38-39, the author of the book explains that we are to live by faith. In 11:2, he states that a lifestyle of faith is the only way to receive God’s approval. In the rest of chapter 11, he gives numerous examples of ordinary people who chose to believe God’s promises and to live by faith. The life of Noah (11:7) demonstrates that when we are faced with the unknown, we need to act on what we know. His examples gives us four characteristics of faith.
Faith takes God at his word. Noah was a righteous man who lived in an ungodly world (Genesis 6:9, 13, 17). God gave him a heads up about the judgment that was coming. While Noah had not seen rain, a flood, or judgment during his lifetime, he took God at his word and believed that God was able to do what he said he would do.
As you face the challenges of your day, do you focus more on your problems or on God’s promises? Are you consumed with worry over job security, health, your children’s future, caring for aging parents, or whether you’ll have enough to retire on? Or you do meditate on God’s promises about his presence, his care, his provision, his protection, or his faithfulness?
C. S. Lewis stated, “We trust not because ‘a God’ exists, but because this God exists!” Take time to get to know God better. Keep a record of how you’ve seen him answer prayer and meet your needs.
Faith must be followed by action. It is not enough to say we believe. We must act on that belief. Noah believed God’s warning and started building the ark. He “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22; 7:5). Obedience is the litmus test of faith. It demonstrates whether or not we truly believe. James 1:22 says that we are to do the word and not merely listen to it.
Faith requires persistence. Noah listened to God’s warning and instructions and went to work. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, Noah built the ark for 120 years. The ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, 45 feet tall, and would displace 43,000 tons of water. This was not a project you could hide in your backyard and call “a shed.” Not only was the task overwhelming, but he also had to deal with critics, cranks, and complainers who made fun of him.
William Carey is considered the father of modern missions. Over a period of 40 years, he translated all or portions of the Bible into 34 of the languages and dialects of India. When praised for his work, he replied, “I am not a genius, just a plodder.”
Faith always makes a difference. Noah’s faith and actions had three practical results (11:7). His family was spared from judgment. His words and actions condemned those who chose not to believe. He was the first person in Scripture declared, “righteous” (Genesis 7:1).
What impact has your faith had on your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church …?
Author Penelope J. Stokes wrote, “God calls us to many unknowns—new places, new relationships, new jobs, different homes, different friends, unfamiliar frustrations, uncommon joys. Our vision for the future is myopic at best—at worst, totally dark. We cannot see what lies ahead. But we can see the countenance, the character, the direction, of the One who calls us to walk with him and holds the lantern to light each faltering step.”
When faced with the unknown, act on what you know. Keep your focus on God.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on September 15, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.