Summary: This is the first sermon in a new series entitled "A Faith That Works." This sermon looks at how we create a faith environment in our lives, families, and church. This is taken from Joshua's parting words to the nation of Israel.
A Faith That Works
“Creating A Faith Environment”
Tonight we’re beginning a new series on the type of faith that pleases God entitled, “A Faith That Works.” To accomplish this, however, we must first create an environment for such a faith to grow and mature.
To passionately pursue God’s presence it’s vital we create an environment of faith within our lives and the church. The key is remembering that we cannot pursue God’s presence where God’s presence isn’t. So we need to create an environment that welcomes God. And that’s an environment of faith.
Not only does it take faith to enter into God’s presence, “By grace you have been saved through faith,” Ephesians 2:8, but it also takes faith to remain there.
The Bible tells us
• By faith Abraham was declared righteous, and by faith we are saved, sanctified, and justified.
• By faith we extinguish Satan’s fiery darts, we are delivered from the lions mouth, and it’s by faith we overcome the world.
• By faith healing takes place, nothing is impossible, and it’s by faith that God is pleased.
Therefore it’s by faith that we’re to live our lives and it’s by faith that we draw near to God.
But conversely our lack of faith displeases God and prevents Him from moving mightily in our lives. And it was a lack of faith that prevented the Jewish people from entering into the Promised Land.
The writer of Hebrews quoting God said,
“‘Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39 NKJV)
He’s quoting the Lord through the prophet Habakkuk telling us not to be like that generation of Jews who started out by faith but fell away. Even though God promised them the land of Canaan, they never set foot inside of it, but instead died in the wilderness because of their chronic lack of faith.
Faith is more than merely saying we believe in God. The Bible says that even the demons believe, yet they tremble in fear because they’re not save, James 2:19.
Faith that doesn’t act upon what it says it believes is a dead faith. Real faith is when our hearts draw near to God and receives His promises and acts accordingly.
The writer of Hebrews talks about this group of Israelites who didn’t enter.
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2 NKJV)
They clearly heard and understood what god had promised, but their hearts didn’t receive it by faith, and that’s because they didn’t create within their hearts an environment by which faith could be nurtured and flourish.
We can know all about what the Bible says, but it must find an atmosphere where its divine power can be released. It’s this environment of faith that is missing, which is why many are falling back into the world and their old way of life. They never created and environment of faith within their lives and within their homes.
This faith environment is revealed in Joshua’s parting words to the next generation that made it in. Twenty years have passed and Joshua is still speaking about God’s faithfulness saying that not one promise has failed to come to pass, Joshua 23:14.
By faith Joshua drew near to God, and by faith remained there.
“Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: "I am old, advanced in age.” (Joshua 23:1-2)
What we’re about to look at is sound advice from a leader who has lived through it all and is now passing down the secret of creating an environment for faith to grow and mature.
The first thing to create an environment of faith is
1. Remember God’s Past Intervention
“You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has fought for you.” (Joshua 23:3 NKJV)
Joshua is telling them to look back and think about all God has done.
• Joshua remembered his former life as a slave to the Egyptians and how God through many mighty miracles delivered them from out of their bondage, including the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea.
• Joshua remembered the manna from heaven, the water gushing out of the rock, and how God’s presence when with them in the pillar of cloud and fire.