Abstracts of Faith
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
In this series, we examine the ways we can demonstrate Faith, guided by Psalms 95 - 96 & Hebrews 11. All 3 chapters should be read in their entirety for greater context.
“By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and through it he being dead still speaks” Hebrews 11v4
As a young Christian, reflecting on Bible stories, I often did not understand the basis for the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice. My conclusion is that God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice and rejection of Cain’s sacrifice was not a reflection of the gift items but of their lives. Hebrews 11v4 says Abel’s gift witnessed that “He was righteous”. Also, in Genesis 4v7, God says to Cain: “Why are you angry?...If you do what is right, will you not be accepted”. Note that to God this was not about the gifts offered, it was about the lives that offered them. What Cain and Abel gave were their gifts, what God saw were lives (not sacrifices) that reflected their faith in God (Abel) or not (Cain).
This lesson is further emphasized by Christ’s reflection on the widow’s mite: Mark 12:41-44. it was much less about the size or beauty of the gift, what Christ appreciates is the faith that the gifts reflect.
How does our life reflect faith in Christ? We use Psalm 95 & 96 as a guide.
Acknowledgment (Psalm 95v1-5)
“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11v6
It seems like the obvious but the place to start living a life of faith is to acknowledge his existence of God. Not just in knowing but in reflecting in our everyday lives. For many of us, acknowledging God only happens in specific circumstances: in church, in Joy, in trials, in pain, when experiencing loss, etc. Living and walking faith require more than a circumstance-specific acknowledgment, it requires a lifestyle of acknowledgment.
For the heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11, their Faiths were not circumstantial, they lived their lives in God even when He seemed absent.
Circumstantial Faith means that a lot of us treat God like a light switch, the bulb is always there but we only switch him on when we need Him. This does not translate into living a life of Faith. The first challenge for us is to bring God into our daily living in acknowledgment and reflection, then we will have begun to live a life of Faith.
Genuflection (Psalm 95v6-7)
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” Psalm 95v6
This is probably difficult to acknowledge in today’s world but Faith in God requires that we subject our will to him, unconditionally. If we trust that God is, then we must trust that His will be done regardless of how we feel about it.
Every hero of Faith would have done things another way; from Noah through Jesus and even after but they all learned to submit their wills to God even when there was no hope of seeing his promises come through (Abraham).
It is just as well to say “submit your will to God”, I think many readers will have known this in theory. The question is do we? and if not why?
Honestly, I don't, I still struggle with myself. I am so often focused on what I want or do not want that I forget to acknowledge His presence or His rulership over me. If I never acknowledge His leadership, I would never consult Him in my decision making and if he does not guide my decisions, how then can I possibly be living in Faith?
Through learning about Christ I have found a few tips that help when I need to be more conscious of God to subject my will to his.
Consciously make time out to listen to God through His word. Note, this is not necessarily a time to pray and make requests, rather a time to study and be silent before God
God-Focused Fast. There is a reason fasting is sometimes coined “waiting on God”. Fasting means we de-focus a topic that takes up a huge part of our days. Consciously switching the effort/time spent making or eating to God (not other indulgences) also makes a difference
Create a word habit. There are many resources today to help us find opportunities to reflect on God’s words: radio shows, email devotionals, bible plans on our phones, podcasts, etc., find one and commit.
These tips specifically help me stay conscious of seeking God’s will and do not replace valuable personal devotional time or time worshiping with other Children of God
Obedience (Psalm 95v8-11)
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,..” Psalm 95v8
Did you know it took the Israelites less than 30 days to get to Canaan? Numbers 13 & 14, Deuteronomy 1v2. But because they disobeyed God and refused to enter into Canaan, it took them 40 years to enter into God’s promise.
It scares me, but the Israelites’ disobedience cost them 40 years and for many of them, their lives. They were promised the land but failed to inherit it because they disobeyed.
If God has made a demand of you, just trust and obey.
Worship & Praise Him (Psalm 96v1-6)
“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” I Thessalonians 5v18
Whether there is a reason to or not, Praise Him. Singing and psalms are definitely an aspect of praising God, but he asks us for even more:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” Romans 12v1 (New Living Translation).
Beyond the songs, our lives must be worship to God in every aspect. let our bodies and minds reference Him.
Give (Psalm 96v7-8)
“Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to
the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts” Psalm 96v7-8
Here we return to the beginning, what and how we give reflects our Faith in Him. Not because of the gifts themselves, but because in line with all that we have said above, if we live a life of Faith, when we give to God, we give with our lives.
Abraham demonstrates this. His son was his most valuable possession and achievement. After praying to God for so many years and having his prayers answered, that same God asks that he slaughter his son. Abraham certainly was willing to do this but God stepped in.
Even without giving anything, Abraham’s sacrifice was accepted - only after this does God send a ram so that an official ceremony could take place. But if you think about it the ram sacrificed on the altar meant nothing, Abraham’s faith had touched God’s heart.