Labor Day Edition: The Work of Faith.
Labor Day Edition: The Work of Faith.
I hope you enjoyed a blessed Labor Day weekend last week and are experiencing a wonderful beginning to the new school year. As I pondered on this idea of labor, I thought of our labor for the Lord. We are each engaged in two kinds of labor, which I will address in this newsletter: our work in our family and our labor for God.
The Work of Family
I recently received an email missive from my friend Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Resource Institute, or NHERI for short. He conservatively estimates the number of homeschooled students in 2021 to be 3,721,000. This is up from 2,650,000 in 2020.
This increase is not surprising in the present climate in which we live. From speaking around the country this past year, I have observed that there are many reasons why people choose to train and teach their children at home. A dear friend of mine told me that his motivation for home education was similar to Noah’s, who by faith “built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, Who warned him about things that had never happened before.” (Hebrews 11:7 NLT)
Like Noah, my friend was concerned about what was coming upon the world, and in faith, he brought his children home. It was not a lack of faith on his part, but a conviction born of faith. Perhaps the same Spirit that motivated Noah has motivated you in these difficult times.
Regardless of your motivation, I congratulate you parents who are making significant sacrifices to raise your family. I hope that you know that your labors are not vain in the LORD and will bear good fruit. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“The righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This expression is used three more times in the New Testament. We are called to live based on our convictions. These convictions are not easy to explain to an unbelieving world, for faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Paul similarly explains the importance of living in light of what we do not see with our eyes. “Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25)
You have made your decision to raise your children to live forever. That is a work of faith. It is living by faith in the light of eternity. Kudos to you, and may you remain steadfast and immovable in your resolve.
The Work of God
Faith is not only important in our homes but in how we view the world in which we live. The crowds following Jesus asked Him how to do the works of God. “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.’” (John 6:29)
Believing God and having faith in His Word is good work. My faith is increased as I marinate in God’s Word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NASB)
One of the many benefits of reading through the Bible each year is the sense of perspective it provides. I am encouraged knowing that what God chose to record in scripture was designed to give His followers hope. “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
I find encouragement reading about the three worthies standing before the emperor Nebuchadnezzar. With the fiery furnace in view, we wonder if they will bow to the golden image and preserve their lives or if they will be true to the One True God. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) They were willing to die for their faith in God.
These three men were not alone. God has always had a remnant of faithful followers, even when it seemed that there were none. Elijah felt completely alone in his day, yet God patiently painted a different picture. “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have demolished Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (Romans 11:2-5)
In every age, men and women of God have had to make hard choices whether to bow to God or give their allegiance to false gods. When the early disciples suffered and were persecuted for their faith, they gave thanks for the privilege. “They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. ” (Acts 5:40-41 NLT)
Instead of fearing persecution and shrinking back, let us also embrace these trials as opportunities to stand firm with those saints who have gone before us. May we be of the same mind as the writer of Hebrews, and not be numbered with “those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39)
Will He Find Faith?
There is an interesting and convicting verse in Luke. “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) I know from reading the Gospels that in the last days, the love of the many will grow cold, but it seems our faith will also be tested. I want to be among that remnant who keep God’s commands and has faith when He returns. “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
Faith continually reminds me that our enemies are not people or politicians who are seen in the news or who appear in memes on social media. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:12-13) Faith thus encourages me to resist the devil and bind the strong man in the name of Jesus, for he is the enemy.
Faith gives me hope for my family and for the world. I like to remind God that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW to Jesus based on the following passage in Isaiah which is also quoted in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10: “I have sworn by My own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on My word: every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to Me. ” (Isaiah 45:23 NLT) Amen!
Since faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen, I am assured and convinced that every word of Habakkuk 2:14 is true. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Amen!
In the midst of our current events, I am standing by the God of the whole earth, cheering Him on, and resolutely persuaded that this declaration is powerful and accurate, “Know therefore this day, and lay it to thy heart, that Jehovah He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 ASV)
Faithful and True
One of the names for Jesus is Faithful and True. In my morning devotions, I like to begin by studying one attribute/name of God, followed by singing a hymn, giving thanks, and blessing/praising His name. In the book Come into His Presence, there are 43 such studies. I keep a PDF of this book open on my computer for easy reference. You can download your own free copy here. I hope this one will encourage your faith. (Jesus, Faithful and True, PDF)
I am trusting that God will help us each to be strong in faith and live by our faith, not only for our family but also for the world. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
In 2020 I had a request to provide transcripts for each podcast. Since you can read faster than you listen, these transcripts are efficient and hopefully edifying. As I was transcribing 291 (being released this week) I was edified reading the plethora of Scripture about hallowing God’s Name.
Podcast 285 is about “Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our Faith.” 286 explores “Who we are in Christ.” 287 teaches about the “Accuser of the Brethren, our Enemy.” Numbers 288-289 help us grow in our understanding of being “Clothed in Christ.” You can listen to the podcasts here.
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