Open your Bible's tonight, to Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews 11, as you are well aware, is the great hall of fame chapter of the men and women who lived and walked by faith. A Christian's life is a life of faith. It must be a life of faith. We're saved by faith.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9)
We are saved by faith, and then we live by faith. Go back up to chapter 10, verse 38. The Bible says, "Now the just shall live by faith…"
Your life and my life must be a life by faith. Dr. Lester Roloff made famous that song - I think its page 34:
I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow, or sunshine or rain.
The Lord that I know ruleth o'er everything.
All my worry is vain.
Living by faith in Jesus alone.
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I'm living by faith and feel no alarm.
God wants His people to live by faith, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. If you are living a life by sight, or if I am living a life tonight, it's sin. God did not say, "The just shall live by sight… the way I figure… the way I see it… the way I understand it…" It doesn't matter what you and I see. It doesn't matter what you and I figure. It matters that we live by faith.
What is faith?
Faith is simply believing God. Faith is believing that God can fulfill what he said he could do and what he has promised. An individual must govern their life by faith. A church must govern their life by faith. A dear preacher friend of mine - I alluded to this recently - four weeks ago tonight was voted out of his church in the Midwest. He took a struggling church, and the church began to grow. He started a children's program, and all of a sudden 200 kids were coming, and they had a good base of adults who could handle it. They had buildings that could handle it. He got the missions going and it grew up to the point of $100,000. He said, "Folks, I can't pastor a church with all this money. Let's give it all to the mission field. Let's get it busy for God's work." The secretary revolted and she got the church to have a recall. She got people who had never been to church, but their name was on the roll to vote him out. That's a church that wants to live by the checkbook. That's a church that wants to live in their comfort zone. "We don't want the kids."
D.L. Moody came back from winning souls one day, and they said, "How many did you get?"
He said, "Two and a half."
They said, "Oh, two adults and one child."
He said, "No, I got two children and one adult. The adult - half his life is wasted."
Let's not discount the kids.
You may say, "We're moving into a beautiful, new, carpeted, 3000 seat auditorium. What are we going to do with the kids?"
We're bringing them in. The only reason why they can't come… some of them don't smell right. That's why we have them at church. Some of them don't look right. That's why we have them at God's house because many of them aren't going in the right direction. They're going down instead of up.
A church must be a church of faith. North Valley Baptist Church, for 28 years, has lived by faith. We have walked by faith, and not by sight. As now we move into our 29th year next Sunday night, we must not be a people of doubt, and disbelief, and unbelief, and fear, and frustration. Rather, like never before, we must be a people that exercise faith.
God's word says in verse one: "…faith is the substance (key word) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
We already know that faith is simply believing that God can do what he promised. The word "substance" is that word that deals with the under supportings or what the foundation is to a house, and what faith is for the Christian life. It's the foundation. It's the under girding. It's the support. In your life, whether you're old or young, male or female, ministry or layperson, there must be faith. It's the substance. It's the foundation.
You may say, "Well, I don't like to live that way trusting God. I'd rather live in it all figured out."
This church has never figured it out. We have built by faith. I can recall when 22 years ago I was in a little house. There were two houses where the parking lot is. I was in a little house studying, and the family room was my study. The entire house was an office complex. I remember we bought that house for $51,000. I said to Mr. Yealor, "Did you know you're ripping us off? No house has ever sold for $51,000 in this neighborhood." Now the same houses sell for over $500,000. I was in that family room studying that afternoon. Brother Evans had just had a big day on the buses. Brother Rick Haut was here, and he had made a plastic covering with 2x4's. We put the kids in there. That afternoon, the wind came off the bay. About 3 o'clock, it began to flap and flap. I heard that and I couldn't concentrate. I went out there and looked and there was a little brick fireplace. I stood and watched it flap and thought, "Should I tear it down?" God gave me an idea. I said we ought to put a tent here. We just ought to put a tent here. We had just remodeled an A-frame beautiful building back here. It was in the 70's - orange carpet; orange pews; dark wood paneling. High tech, you know! There it was. If I just described your house, I apologize. I got to thinking and I said, "Lord, we could put up a tent and tear down that building and we could build a bigger one here."
I remember the next week going down to the city and saying, "Here's what I want to do. I want to get it on the city council." They said, "No, you can't do it." I went over to the others and said, "Who's your boss?"
I went to the planning, and they said, "No, you can't do it."
I went over to the attorney of the city, and he said, "No, you can't do it."
I said, "You're telling me it's against the law to ask if I can build?"
They said, "It won't pass."
I said, "Put it on the docket."
I recall a preacher heard about it. He was older than I. He said, "Dr. Trieber, you're young. You're a young boy. Don't do this to your church. It will be voted down. It will be the laughing stock. You cannot build on there. Forget it." He said, "You can't build on the property line and go up 35 feet in the air. You cannot do it."
You know something? God wanted us to exercise faith. I can recall as we went to the city council on that evening months later. We took it before the city council, and Mr. Shanahan walked down to the podium area and grabbed the microphone and said, "My name is Jim Shanahan. I live in 891 Clyde Avenue" (or whatever it was). He said, "I want to tell you I'm against this project." I've told the story so many times you know the story. The mayor said, "I can see this is a hotly contested issue. We're going to table it for one week."
The next week, I cannot tell you what God did, but God did it. I remember meeting with the management of the apartments over here, and meeting with Mr. Shanahan in their home, and the neighborhood people. I said, "Here's our plans. Here's what we're going to do." They were vehement, and said, "No, we're against it. We're against it, Reverend." I like when they call me that. It makes me sound like I'm somebody special, you know. By the way, I don't like it.
The next week, it came the city council time, and I'll never forget it. The mayor said, "Is there anybody outside the church family to speak in defense of the church?" I knew what it was. They were going to have nobody speak in defense of the church. They're going to vote it down. Mr. Shanahan stood and began to walk down the middle aisle.
The mayor said, "Mr. Shanahan, I know you're opposed to the project. I heard it last week. I want to know is there somebody to speak in the defense of the church."
He kept walking. He said, "My name is Jim Shanahan. I live at 891 Clyde Avenue" (or whatever the address was). He said, "I don't know why I'm doing this, but I want to speak in defense of the church tonight. I really can't tell you why I'm doing it but I think you ought to let them build."
The mayor said, "I've never seen anything like this in my life."
In just a matter of moments, they pushed the buttons. Seven green lights came up and said, "Let them build."
It's been that way every step of the journey. Ladies and gentlemen, faith is the substance. It's the under support. It's the foundation. It's the evidence. The word "evidence" deals with conviction. It's the conviction of things not seen. I don't see it tonight, the 3 million dollars, but I know it's there. I know it's there. You say, "Pastor, you understand this is a terrible economy?"
"Yes, and praise God, we're building the largest auditorium in America at this time, and we're living in the valley that has the worst employment right now in America." Twenty-five of you are unemployed. Others have moved away but I want to say that God is able. God is not tied into Wall Street. God is not tied into the Silicon Valley or the stock market. God is God.
It's the things hoped for: the evidence of things not seen. I'm so excited about it. One year from tonight, by God's grace, we're going to be getting ready. I'll be talking, and if the Lord tarries his coming, all the staff and all the men and ladies of this church will say now, "What do we have to do this week? We're planting flowers. We're hosing down. We're washing the windows. We're getting the nurseries all ready. We're getting the building ready."
I want you folks to be part of this. We're going to start working right after tomorrow morning early next year at this time getting that building ready. I know what that Friday night's going to be like, next year on Friday night one year from now. God put peace in my heart before we ever started. I'm going to start with my wife and family at the back of that auditorium. I don't know the exact time - maybe 5 or 5:30. I'm going to say to my kids, "Stay right here if you will." I will walk down that aisle with my wife to the pulpit area and have a word of prayer and dedication. I'm going to ask my family to come and say, "Let's have prayer together." Then I'm going to have not just my family. About fifteen minutes later, I'm going to have the deacons, their mates and the staff. We're going to start having prayer. Folks are just going to sit in that auditorium. Then I'm going to have the Sunday school teachers, and the bus workers and the ushers, and crowd after crowd about every fifteen minutes. We're going to have the Philippino and the Spanish and all the ministries come in. We'll have the choir come in and we'll do a practice run on a Friday night to see how it feels where you sit, to hear how it sounds on a Friday night.
We're going to get ready on a Sunday morning and have a one-time special service at 10:30 in the morning on anniversary Sunday by the grace of God - our twenty-ninth year, and that choir of 200 voices, and that orchestra, and preaching the Word of God. God's going to meet with us.
"How do you know?"
We have the story here tonight of Enoch in verses 5 and 6. Enoch was one of the many that were known to be people of faith. Enoch was the man in this chapter that we find - there are two men in the Bible - that never had a death. Perhaps they're the two witnesses to come back in that tribulation time because everybody has to die. Enoch was one of those men. Three times in that verse five it says that God translated him. God moved him from here to there. Oh, one day we'll be translated from here to there. Oh, I shall know him by the print of the nail in his hand. When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
The Bible says that Enoch had this testimony that he pleased God. You don't need to turn there, but back in Genesis chapter 5, verses 22 through 24, the Bible says that Enoch walked with God. Enoch and God were walking one day on their journey, fellowshipping together. I just wonder as night began to fall if God did not turn to Enoch and say, "Enoch, we're closer to my house tonight than yours. Why don't you just come on home with me tonight." God translated him, and took him. Why? Because he had the testimony that pleased God.
Abraham walked by faith. He took his son to Mount Moriah that night to slay his son. It was by faith.
Noah walked by faith when he began to build an ark when it had never rained before.
Moses walked by faith when we went before Pharaoh and said, "Let my people go."
Gideon walked by faith when he gathered 300 men and had a mighty victory.
Nehemiah walked by faith when in 52 days he put the walls around the city.
Joshua walked by faith when he walked around that city, and the walls came tumbling down.
This church must be a church of faith. I want to speak to you in these closing moments on walking with God by faith - on one word: faith. The Bible says in verse 5 that he had the testimony that he pleased God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6)
Faith first pleases God. Faith pleases God. If you come to the point, and I come to the point in my Christian life that all we want is to please Him. Is that what absorbs your day, and your mind, and your life? All I want to do is to please Him.
In John 8:29, Jesus said:
"…for I do always those things that please him."
I'd like to insert to you children that you'll never please a heavenly Father until you learn to please an earthly father. You'll never learn to please a heavenly Parent until you learn to please your earthly parent.
"I just struggle with my mother. I just struggle with my dad."
It's because of your pride. It's because of your self-will. The goal of your life, young person, ought to be, "I want to please my mother. I want to please my daddy so that when I leave their home and when I begin to make decisions on my own, they please my parents and reflect a testimony that I walked with my mother and dad."
When we love someone, we live to please them. We can sing, "Oh, how I love Jesus", but if we love Him, we will please Him. I ask you this week to please him. I ask you on Friday night what would please Him. I ask us to exercise faith. I want to take you back to Numbers 13 and 14 where the children of Israel sent up the spies - Joshua did - to check out the land whether they were strong, whether they were walled, whether there was good land or bad land. They came back and not only did they give a report, they gave an opinion. They said, "We be not able."
God did not have Joshua ask the people for opinion. He asked them for a report. Please don't give your opinion that it can't be done. Please don't give your opinion that we can't get 10 more bus drivers. Please don't give your opinion that bus kids used to come, but don't want to come anymore because it's a different era. Please don't give your opinion that teenagers used to live for God, but don't want to anymore. Ladies and gentlemen, the phones are ringing every day around the country and coming in here saying, "I want to come to the Bible College." Don't tell me that kids still don't want to live for God.
I know our buses are down right now, but almost 700 came today on the buses.
You say, "Why all these kids?" Because those kids one day will know what it is to be saved, and trust Christ as Savior, and begin to walk in faith to please Him. That bus kid over here did a pretty good job on the piano tonight, Dr. Mike Zachary. That bus kid Jim Carey for 27 years has been preaching to our junior church. He did a pretty good job teaching the Word of God this morning. There are bus kids scattered all over this church tonight. You came on the bus, and now you're an adult. There's a Chris Kissell who's a godly businessman in this church and now a father of two twins. I want to say he came on the bus - bus 5. There's a young man over here that's an assistant pastor in Woodland, California tonight - Jason Garcia that came on the bus years ago. Brother Tim Sparks came on the bus. He drove a bus this morning. He came twenty-something years ago. I want to say there's a man that preaches the Word of God in West Virginia today, and his wife was on the bus years ago. They're all over the place. We'll keep running the buses.
You may say, "Well, I don't see…"
We don't want the opinion. We want the report "It can be done." See, when something looks too great for us, it's not too great for God. I'm looking back on twenty-eight years on this little one acre of land. With one acre of land: to think what God has done on one acre of land in twenty-eight years. Nearly 50,000 people have walked these aisles. We've got them all over the world serving God. There are godly laymen in other churches, too. I could take you to scores of churches tonight that could not make it if they did not have our members. I don't way that faulting any pastor. I'm just saying tonight when I go to preach somewhere, generally speaking, I've got members all over America.
Tabitha said this past week, "We were in Kentucky or Tennessee (I don't know where they were), one of our former members came, husband and wife. I began asking about their married children. They said, Oh their homes are a wreck and they're divorced, and they're ruined, and on and on."
That man with tears in his eyes said to my daughter, "The worst decision I ever made in my life was to leave my church."
I'm not preaching against anybody. I know we've got good people who feel God led them to move. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying the rest of you ought to take inventory. This is what God wants.
I think of a man who was a leader in this church a few years ago. He emails me on a regular basis or calls and says, "Oh, I made the biggest mistake in my life. My family is destroyed."
You walk by faith, not by opinion, and not by sight. Walking by faith pleases Him. I want to remind this church that walking by faith pleases God.
Secondly, and I'll close: Walking by faith gives rewards.
"But without faith it is…"
What's that next word, class? Impossible to please Him. The whole goal in life ought to be to please Him. But if you don't have faith, God says it's impossible to please Him.
"…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Diligently is that word of keen desire. When we get up tomorrow morning, say, "I have a keen desire to get to know God. I want to walk to Him. I want to talk to Him. I want to pray. I want to listen to His Word. I want to talk to God. I want to fellowship with God."
God says when you begin to have a desire for me and have a keen desire for me, He says, "I'm going to tell you, you're going to start walking by faith and that blesses My heart, and it pleases Me, and I'll reward that."
I believe He rewards it in this life and in that life. You see, tonight you pray for something so earnestly; you beg for something with such fervor, and God did not answer your prayer like you thought He should have. I've been there. God doesn't reward us according to my desire. He rewards us so that He gets more praise and He is more pleased. Your faith has been shaken tonight with your child that is wayward, or loved one who has passed away or some sorrow. You pray and now the old devil is trying to tell you, "See it doesn't work. God didn't reward you anything."
God has never made a mistake.
A way to give God more praise and to please Him more is to say, "Lord, I don't understand it but
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust You.
How I've proved you o'er and o'er.
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
Oh for grace to trust you more.
God has not made a mistake with your prayer request. I can think of the times and the years I've been here where I've prayed and went before God and fasted. I've walked the midnight hour and said, "God, what's wrong with me? What's wrong with me that you cannot bless me so that Your people could be blessed. You keep me stuck, at that time, on two-thirds of an acre." Now we have an acre. "God, what's wrong that we can't get land, and move forward? I think we can do more for You."
God had it all under control, and He still does.
People say, "Pastor, we're building this large auditorium but they'll still be no parking."
Well, we're moving from just 38 parking stalls to over 300. I know it's still a thousand shy of what we need on top of that. Man, there are buildings all around that building and they're closed at night, and on Sunday. You know what? God may want us to just run shuttles some more. When we get to heaven, we won't run shuttles, but we'll be in chariots just having a time saying, "You folks from over there from the other Baptist church, drive us around heaven for a while." Pull up (I don't want this to sound disrespectful), but pull up to the throne of grace and there's a parking stall right at the front for the members of North Valley Baptist Church.
Faith pleases Him. When it pleases Him, he says, "I'm going to reward you."
God has not let my journey be what I thought it would be at all. God has run it a different way almost every day of my life. The goal is not to get God on my page, but to get me on God's page because my God knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow. God knows the last day I'll pastor this church. God knows what will happen before the end of the journey. God knows if the trump's going to sound tonight, or if He's going to tarry his coming. We may have to suffer as Christians in America. Let's just keep walking by faith.
Living by faith in Jesus alone.
Trusting, confiding: that's where God wants us tonight. We sang:
We walk with the King, Hallelujah!
I walk with the King, Praise His name.
No longer I roam. My soul's journey's home.
I walk and I talk with the King.
Would you walk with Him this next week?
And He walks with me
And he talks with me.
And He tells me I am his own.
And the joy that we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known.
Jesus will walk with me down through the valley.
Jesus will walk with me over the plain.
When the sun's shining, when the shower
If He goes with me, I cannot complain.
Jesus will walk with me. He will talk with me. Tomorrow morning, will you get up and say, "Lord, I'm here to please you today. Give me my marching orders for the day. What do you want me to do today? Then you take those marching orders and say, "I'm going to please you, Lord."
Walking with Jesus is my soul's delight.
He guides me ever in paths that are right.
Holding communion most wondrous and fair
Walking together, what joy could compare.
I'd rather walk with Jesus than roam the paths of sin.
I'd rather have His friendship than earth's best hour's win.
My one desire is to please Him as daily I must trod.
So I'm walking onward, upward bound for Heaven and God.
Would you walk with Him this week by faith? Would you walk with Him in the midnight hour when everything seems like such impossibility? Would you say when it cannot be done that "God, you specialize in things that are impossible. I'm going to specialize in pleasing You. I leave the results to you. I don't understand the results but someday you'll make it plain to me.
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