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Winning the World through Faith

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Must have faith to win this race of endurance

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Faith to Change the World

Faith to Change the World

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Hmmm, what a sad reflection on the state of the body of Christ - the church. I say this because it’s reflected in our politics, relationships, broken families, poor finances, failing churches, and constant mass casualty events in this country.
We’re fine in trusting God on the little things in our lives - so long as we have evidence of His faithfulness in replication...
It’s why we pray the same recycled prayers - “thank You for this food… now I lay me down to sleep...” - the same generic prayers - “God, bless me with health.. bless me, my mama, my daddy...” -, and the same little prayers - “Lord, help this car to start...”.
It’s tough to witness to people for the purposes of “winning the world for Jesus,” when all we can testify to is “I didn’t die when I ate my food, my car turned on, and I found $20 in my pants that I folded.” And make no mistake about it, we - for those of us left here - are called to witness, to testify to who Jesus is, what He did for us, as to His love for us, and the gift offered to everyone.
We’ll explore this in our scriptural text, , and illustrate winning the world through faith via the book of Daniel.
Let’s pray.
prayer
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2
Τοιγαροῦν
I love how this text begins with therefore - toigaroun. This tells you there was something else stated before this that leads to the subsequent conclusion.
“… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...”
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
So, looking back to chapter 11, we’re able to see just who the author’s referring to .
So, looking back to chapter 11, we’re able to see just who the author’s referring to . These individuals who are rooting us on, and to whom we can look at as inspiration, are members of the Faith Hall of Fame. And as verse after verse lists what the OT heroes were able to accomplish by faith, it also highlights the significance of faith in our walk.
It begins telling us what faith is:
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
What faith helps us understand:
Hebrews 11:3 ESV
3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
It tells us what our faith means to God:
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:
And in part what our faith can help us accomplish:
Hebrews 11:32–34 ESV
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Hebrews 11:
The end of v33 and beginning of 34 reference Daniel and the three Hebrew boys. Let’s explore their story to see how faith helped change the world!
Verse one is telling us that we believers are running this race of life, and it’s a race that should be run at a pace set for endurance.
Here’s our summaries:
I. King Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem and brought the Jewish creme de la creme to Babylon as captives with the hopes of assimilating them the Babylonian culture.
Daniel 1:4–5 ESV
4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.
-4
Now, before these guys go to utilizing big faith that would lead them to defeating “burning fiery furnaces” and lions, the utilized faith in God’s faithfulness in what many would consider trivial things:
Daniel 1:8–15 ESV
8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.
Daniel 1:8-
For their faith in and obedience to God, they were rewarded and elevated:
Daniel 1:17 ESV
17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Daniel 1:19–21 ESV
19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Daniel 1:17
But understand this, their promotion wasn’t just for their own good or comfort. God had a plan.
Chapter 2 begins with the king having some dream issues. Daniel is called upon, in faith gives God glory, and performs. The king is impressed, rewards Daniel again, and recognized the God of Daniel as the greatest of all gods:
Daniel 2:47 ESV
47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
Daniel 2:
But not the only...
But God isn’t done yet. Daniel uses his favor to promote the 3 Hebrew boys, and God continues to move.
We know of the faith displayed by the Hebrew boys, and God showing up in the fire. Result: the king declares
Daniel 3:29 ESV
29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”
Daniel 3:
The king has added to the fact that our God is the greatest of gods, the proclamation of consequences for those that speak against our God. But God’s not through with him, yet.
So, cutting across the field, here’s the point. God worked through His faithful servants to reach sphere’s of influence to effectively change the world as it stood.
Under the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar held a press conference on CNN. Here’s what he said:
Daniel 4:34–37 ESV
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:34
Under Persian rule, God still working through His men, King Darius holds his own press conference on ABC’s 20/20:
Daniel 6:26–27 ESV
26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Daniel 6:26-27
Now that we’re able to see how a life of faith (which begets obedience) can allow God to work through us in powerful and miraculous ways for the purposes of saving souls!!!
Back to our original text:
Verse one is telling us that we believers are running this race of life, and it’s a race that should be run at a pace set for endurance.
How do we do it? First let’s get rid of the things that hold us back and slow us down.
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
See, it’s not just the sinful things that slow us down in the Christian walk/race. The things that clings so closely:
Euperistatos
(ee-peree-statos) can also be translated to mean: easily ensnaring, obstructing, and constricting.
Some of us are holding on to relationships (while not sinful, necessarily) are holding us back. So of us are placing way too much weight into government and legislation, and not focusing on our walk. Some are too consumed in our “blackness” and not in our Christ-ness. These are all things that slow us down in the race, this competion, this fight.
Yes, we are in competition with the world for the souls of the lost. We’re here to walk/ run this race of endurance for the sake of winning these lost for Jesus. And right now, we’re losing… but our race isn’t over. If we’re still breathing, we can still do what we’ve been called to do.
So the way we win is to stay focused on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 ESV
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Everytime you lose focus in your race, sure, you can look at our cloud of witnesses - our Faith hall of fame members - but our focus should be on Jesus. Focus on what He did, what He gave up, and why He did it. Put on the proper shoes, and get rid of the things weighing you down. Fear, anger, depression.. these are lies from the devil. Put on your belt of truth.
Stop lying, cheating and stealing, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Ephesians 6:16 ESV
16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Ephesians 6:
Put on the full armor of God, live a life of faith and obedience, and God will indeed work through us to win this world for their gain and His glory. And while the eternal rewards are forever worth it. There’s some other good news. We don’t have to wait until then to experience what God has for us.
David tells us:
Psalm 27:13 ESV
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Psalms 27
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