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Faith -- the confidence we can have in realities that are unseen -- is a powerful force. Even in the secular affairs of life, it is confidence in truths that are unseen that motivates most of the great work that is done in the world. But the faith that accomplishes such great things is far different from what many people think of when they think of faith.
In spiritual matters, the Bible teaches that genuine faith moves us to obey God, to do the things that He has commanded. Without such obedience, faith is dead (Jas. 2:26). Faith is not merely a passive feeling that we have about God; it is an energetic willingness (based on trust and confidence in God Himself) to do His will in our daily lives.
There is no better example of faith than Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith" (Hb. 11:7). Noah's confidence in the reality of God and in the certainty of anything that God promised moved him to build the ark, a project that surely would have looked foolish to anyone of less faith. Whatever his skeptical neighbors might have thought, Noah obeyed God because He trusted God. His inward confidence in the reliability of God made a difference in his outward deeds.
Like Noah, we ought to have an obedient trust in God. It is not enough for us to say that we "believe" in God if we don't trust Him enough to do what He commands. "Faith" that balks at obeying God is not really faith because it does not trust God where trust really counts: in our actions. As the saying goes, "talk is cheap." Anyone can claim to have faith, but the ultimate test is in the way we make our decisions and conduct our lives.
Throughout the coming week, let's devote some time to thinking about the quality of our faith. In areas where we may not understand the rationale for what God commands, let's trust that God knows what He is doing. Because we have faith that God is wise and that He will never lead us astray, let's obey whatever God's will is.
Monday: Hebrews 11:1
Key Idea: Faith is the assurance that certain things are real even if we can't see them physically.
Questions for Family Growth: What is meant by "the assurance of things hoped for"? What is "the conviction of things not seen"? Does faith mean believing things just because we want to believe them? Has God ever asked us to have faith without sufficient evidence or reasons?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 17:21.
Tuesday: Hebrews 11:7
Key Idea: It was faith that moved Noah to build the ark.
Questions for Family Growth: According to this verse, what had God told Noah was going to happen? What was it about building the ark that required faith on Noah's part? By his faithful act, how did Noah "condemn the world"? What is "the righteousness that comes by faith"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 17:22.
Wednesday: Genesis 6:11-22
Key Idea: Because of his faith, Noah carried out God's instructions exactly.
Questions for Family Growth: Why had God decided to destroy mankind? What did God command Noah to do? What instructions about this did God give Noah? What does v.22 say about Noah's obedience? Without this obedience, would Noah have been saved from the flood?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 17:23.
Thursday: 2 Peter 3:1-7
Key Idea: Faith enables us to have confidence in some things that are hard to believe.
Questions for Family Growth: Concerning the return of Christ, what did Peter say some scoffers would argue? What mistake would these scoffers be making if they thought this way? What parallel does Peter make between this situation and that of Noah's day?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 17:24.
Friday: 1 Peter 3:20,21
Key Idea: For us, baptism is an act of faith similar to the faith of Noah.
Questions for Family Growth: In Noah's day, what enabled eight people to be "brought safely through the water"? How, according to v.21, is baptism parallel to the saving of Noah's family from the flood? By building the ark, did Noah earn his "salvation"? If not, was building the ark optional?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 17:25.