II Corinthians 6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” [from Isaiah 49:8] I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
To my co-workers:
“Now” seems like such an insignificant little word compared to these other words in the verses; God, grace, favor, helped and salvation. How important could one little word be? I can answer that for you.
If it weren’t for that one little word we’d have to settle for other words like “then, later, eventually, and sometime.” Ask yourself: how significant faith would be if those words were all God had to offer you?
“Now” may be a small word but it’s an indispensable part of the grace we are urged to receive and respect. “Now” is why God’s Word is called “living.” “Now!” Is the whole point of the narrative of faith.
God – Now! Grace – Now! Favor – Now! Helped – Now! Salvation – Now!
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for…13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Oswald Chambers said “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him.” The mystery of living by faith is how easy it is to forget that. Sometimes circumstances seem more real than faith
Hebrews 11 is called the “By Faith” chapter. The real life stories of those notable “ancients,” elsewhere in the Bible, tell us the human side of their lives as well. They were not perfect. Their circumstances were very real. Faith was just as mysterious, and the evidence just as elusive, for them as it is for us today and yet they were commended for it. Why?
Twenty one times Hebrews 11 gives us the simple answer to what makes “living by faith” a reality that works even today for our lives. It’s all summed up in that one small preposition, “By.” That little word is the agent of change that makes possible a faith that impacts what we’re able do. Remembering our most intimate moments with God is what makes living “by faith” something that’s more real than circumstances. That’s commendable.
Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
There’s a warning here about letting your heart be turned away from the living God. It becomes a matter of faith when we recognize our imperfection and our first thought is to cover it up. That’s how “a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” can happen.
Imperfect People aren’t a problem for God. He’s got a good handle on how to deal with them. What does deeply concern him is the ease with which we can make that wrong choice when confronted with our imperfection when the whole purpose of faith is to keep us connected and close to him.
That is a dismal reality that sometimes happens but there’s also hope “Today,” “so that none of [us] may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” I saved this quote from Richard Dahlstrom’s writing. http://stepbystepjourney.com/?p=1605 “All of us know our inadequacies pretty well – what we need is to be told how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine.”
“We have come to share in Christ” because that is how God has chosen to deal with our imperfection. We can choose to accept his anger and be left out or we can enter into our connection to him and be changed by choosing repentance. Repentance is often humiliating and painful, as pieces of that hardened heart are broken off for all to see.
What if humility and hurt are really the two halves of Grace? What if God chooses to show us “how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine” through the humility and pain of repentance? I know for sure that’s the kind of Grace that moves my heart from the pages of a great book to a life of faith connected to the “living” God.