Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: Hello, Calvary. I'm out of the country today sharing messages from our I Dare You series with believers in Lebanon. Though I'm sorry I can't be with you, I'm glad to welcome a friend who got his start in ministry right here at Calvary Albuquerque. Robert Furrow served as our youth pastor in the early eighties until he was called to establish Calvary Tucson where he is now the senior pastor. Would you please give a warm welcome to Pastor Robert Furrow.
Pastor Robert Furrow: Would you guys pray with me. Father, we want to set our hearts on you. We want to open up our lives. We not only invite you in, we know you don't need permission to do things in our lives, but we want to give it to you. We open up our hearts, we open up our lives, we pray that you would fill us with your Holy Spirit. Speak to us today.
Where we need encouragement, we pray that you would encourage us. Where we need to be rebuked, we pray that you would rebuke us. Where we need to be warned, we pray that you would warn us. Do your work within us that we would be those men and women that you want us to be, making a difference in the lives of those around us: friends, family, coworkers. We have been called to shine as lights to our world; we pray that you would empower us by your Spirit to be able to do so, in the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
You can open up your Bibles with me to Hebrews, chapter 11. We'll be covering the last half of the chapter from about verse 28 until the very end. We'll also be covering verses one and a couple of them that are up front. I want to say, first of all, that really glad to be back here with you guys. It's been about three years since I've been here sharing with you. Really glad to come back.
I was the youth pastor here in 1983. I gotta say though, you guys look great for all of those years. I'm looking around here seeing some of you guys look a—I look, of course, exactly the same as I looked in nineteen eighty—it's an amazing, amazing. You can say, "You looked that bad in nineteen—?" No. Anyway.
Hebrews, chapter 1, let me get there—excuse me, Hebrews, chapter 11. We'll be starting in verse 1. Let me get there and we will get into our study. Pray with me one more time, would you. Father, we want to thank you again for your Word. We thank you for the work of your Spirit in each of us, and that you have preserved your Word from generation to generation. And that even though flowers fade and grass withers, your Word never fades away, and it's alive and active and it responds.
It gets into our hearts, and if our hearts are hard or stony or weedy, then your Word is not as effective. And, so, Lord, break up the ground of our hearts. Remove the stones and remove the weeds. Again, we want to be impacted by you on a regular basis, and so we pray that your Holy Spirit would fill us. We thank you for this, in the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
I want to talk to you today about how to be a hero of faith. Hebrews, chapter 11, is called the "Hall of Faith," and we get that from the Hall of Fame, right? Instead of the Hall of Fame, we have the Hall of Faith. These are men and women that were used by God in incredibly, powerful ways that are listed here in this chapter.
Little bit of background about the book of Hebrews: you remember that Hebrews was written while the temple still stood. We believe that the book of Hebrews is written about 63-64; the temple was destroyed in 66. And they were tempted, these guy who had been Christians for almost three decades, these early Jewish Christians were tempted to go back to legalism. They were tempted to go back to the temple.
They were tempted to go back to an earthly high priest instead of Jesus as our High Priest. And so he lays out in the first ten chapters of this book that Jesus is superior to anything in the temple, superior to anything in the law. And that he is not only our High Priest, but he is the sacrifice. And where the law was weak and couldn't save you, Jesus, it says in Hebrews, chapter 7, "Jesus could save to the uttermost." He could save you completely and totally.
Now, as he gets to the end of that section on showing the superiority of Jesus, he wants to give them examples of the importance of living by faith. It's not about going to a temple, it's not about being religious, it's not about having a high priest go into the Holy of Holies for them; it's about walking with God by faith. And he starts off this whole list by giving his definition of faith.
We know it, we memorize it, but sometimes it's one of those verses that we read or we memorize or hear, and we go, "That is a really good verse; I just don't really know what it means." "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," it says there in verse 1. Faith is the means by which he gets a hold of those things we hope for.
What do we hope for? First of all, we hope for heaven. We hope for eternity. We hope that when our lives are done here, we could have said to us, "Well done, good and faithful servants." We hope that God would move in our lives. We hope that God would use us as the salt of the earth and the light of the world to shine among those who we are called to minister to where we work, where we go to school, friends and family.
In fact, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world." Then he said, "You're the salt of the earth." But then he added this: "If salt loses its savor, it is good for nothing but to be cast in the road and trampled underfoot." If you lose your saltiness for Jesus, then your life is pretty much just vain, it's just being lived out in the end. What matters for us is that we make that stand for him.
And so what we hope for is that God would fill us with his Spirit that out of us would gush torrents of living water that the glory of God would shine in our lives spiritually. The Bible talks about in the book of Colossians about Christ in us, "the hope of glory," that the world around us would see it. Faith is the means by which you grab a hold of that. It is the "substance." The word substance means that it has—it's something substantial; you put your hands on it.
Faith is the means by which we put our hands on the things we hope for, and it is a proof or the evidence of what's not seen. Those things that we cannot see, it is the evidence that it's going to happen. It goes on to say in verse 3, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed"; that is, by faith we believe that God created the worlds. Jump ahead to verse 6. "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."
Without faith it's impossible to please God. You can be full of worship, you can be full of the Word, you can be used by God; but just like without love it doesn't mean anything, without faith it's impossible to please him. Faith, the Bible says in Romans chapter 10 verse 17, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." God speaks to you, and when you are obedient to that Word, that's when you have faith in your life.
You can't just randomly have faith in faith. You can't say, "Well, I'm a man of faith, but I don't know what God said." In order to have faith, in order to grow in faith, in order to be a man of faith, in order to be a woman of faith, then you have to know God's Word. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." In other words, when the Bible says in Psalms, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart," you walk in faith when you delight yourself in the Lord and believe now he's going to give you the desires of your heart.
When you delight yourself in the world, when you delight yourself in a hobby—nothing wrong hobbies, but when you delight yourself in the hobby above God, when you delight yourself in some sinful activity, when you delight yourself in things of this world, then you are not walking by faith. Because the Bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and then he will give you the desires of your heart."
Another example: Jesus said, "If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, then you'll have whatever you desire." Again, if you walk by faith, then you go, "Well, he said that I need to abide in him and his Word needs to abide in me. I'm growing in his Word and I'm abiding close to him. I'm diligently seeking him, and I believe that God's going to change my desires, and I believe he'll give me anything that I desire." So, faith is the means by which we get a hold of things, and obedience, which is my first point, is the means by which we live out faith. That is shoe-leather faith. That's where the rubber meets the road.
Now, if you're taking notes, let me give you a basic outline for our study. The first point is: faith and obedience. Now, without obedience you won't have faith, and you need to be obedient. The second point is: faith and power. That God wants to demonstrate his power, as we're going to see, even in your weaknesses. Some of you guys feel like you could never demonstrate God's power, but if you're a weak individual, you're a candidate. And everybody goes, "That's me; I'm weak." You're a candidate.
And finally: faith and courage. That to walk by faith takes courage. It takes a willingness to say, "God, I'll do whatever you want me to do, and I will receive whatever you want me to receive." It's living out what we just sang in the song "10,000 Reasons." If I am facing difficulties and hard times, may God be glorified in that; and if God is using me in great ways, then may God be glorified in that.
Faith and obedience, faith and power, and faith and encourage. We pick up faith and obedience in verse 20, in verse 20—wow, where am I at? Let me get to the right page. We pick up faith and obedience in verse 28. The writer of Hebrews is going through, started in verse, really, 2. Started going through the history of the Jews and how these men in the Old Testament were used in faith.
And he spends a lot of time in Abraham, and then he spends a lot of time in Moses, and then he runs out of time. He's like the typical preacher that spends way too much time on his intro, by the time he gets to his text, he didn't have any time left. And so in the middle of what we're studying today he finally says, "What could I say? Time would fail me if I spoke of Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah," and he starts to list people. Instead of giving all the details of their life, he just starts going bam, bam, bam.
Well, he's still at the end of Moses' life now; he's making his way from Moses to Joshua to Rahab. He does that in these few verses, and he begins to talk about their obedience. In other words, they live by faith because God told them to do something and they did it; sometimes without great confidence, no doubt. But they did it. And Jesus said, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Be removed,' and cast it into the sea."
So, some of you guys say, "Well, I'm not like you, Pastor Robert. I don't have faith. I don't have a lot of faith. I may have a little bit of faith, but I don't have a lot of faith." Remember what Jesus said to his disciples? At one point he got really frustrated with them, he said, "How long? How long am I going to have to be here with you guys? I told you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed . . ." It's not about the amount of faith that you have, it's about using the faith you already have.
Each of us have what we need to see God move in great ways. So, we pick it up in verse 28 where it says, "By faith they kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them." So, it starts off by saying, "By faith they were told to keep the Passover." Remember, this was the tenth of the ten plagues that would deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt.
God started off and the plagues were kind of light—I guess we could say that, we didn't really live them—turning the water into blood, giving them a plague of frogs. In fact, when Moses said, "If you don't let God's people go, you're going to get frogs." Pharaoh kind of laughed at him. "Really? Go ahead." And he kind of taunted him, "Frogs? Go ahead and bring it."
But after a while Pharaoh came to Moses, called him before him and said, "Please, take away the frogs!" Imagine rolling over in bed—squash. Getting up at night—squash, squash. Opening up your oven—"Oh, there's frogs in the oven." But by the last plague God said this: "Israel is my firstborn, and since you won't let my firstborn go, then I'm going to kill your firstborn." God said in essence, "I'm done playing, and because you won't let my firstborn go, I'm going to take your firstborn."
See, God didn't randomly choose to kill all the firstborn in Egypt, God weighted it, because they had refused to let God's firstborn go; now God was going to take their firstborn. And he didn't make a distinction between the Jews in Goshen and the Egyptians. He said to the Jews, listen, the Hebrews, "You guys need to slaughter a lamb. Have them live with you for fourteen days. And then kill that lamb, smear the blood on the door, and then the death angel will pass over, and your children will not be killed."
I wonder if there was any of them that said, "That's silly! I'm not going to do that," and their child was killed. We might go, "No, certainly all—every family in all of Egypt, every Hebrew of every family in all of Egypt they did it." But remember these are the guys that tormented Moses for forty days in the wilderness. These are the group of people who wouldn't trust God over and over again. As soon as they got delivered, as soon as they got delivered, you know what they say to Moses? "God brought us out here to kill our children." That's why.
I have to doubt that some of them struggled with that. Maybe others thought, "You know, I don't know if this is really going to work. First of all, I don't know if God's going to kill all the firstborn; secondly, I don't know if it really means anything." And so they did it; they killed the lamb. "We're going to eat it. We'll eat it for Passover." And they smeared the blood, maybe without much confidence. But then when the death angel passed through, it didn't matter if they were angry about killing the lamb, it didn't matter if they were just kind of—just didn't care at all about it.
If they'd done it, the death angel passed over. And if they did it with great confidence, if somebody out of fear said, "I don't want my child to be killed," and so they slaughtered the lamb and smeared it on there, trusting that God was going to do it, the same thing happened to them. The person with great confidence had the death angel pass over. The person that didn't have confidence, walked in faith in obedience, and the death angel passed over.
Look at the next one. It says, "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned." So we all know the story, right? Moses stands up in front of the children of Israel; he holds his staff up in the air, and the Red Sea parts. And the Bible says the waters are piled up on both sides. And Moses turns to the children of Israel and says, "Okay, go in."
Can you imagine being one of the first ones, and you're right there on the shores, and it parts, and there's the water standing on each side? And Moses says, "Go ahead and go through." And you go, "You go through; I'm not going to go through." Maybe someone a little bit ways back had a great deal of faith. Maybe somebody back in the back kind of rushed to the forward, and they just ran into the Red Sea and they ran across.
And it gave those guys with a little bit of faith, those guys that didn't have much confidence, they watched them: "I'm going to wait until he gets at least halfway through." [laughter] And then once he got—"Okay, I'm going." And then they went. See, that's how I think faith works. That's how you guys that have the gift of faith, you guys that have great confidence in what God has done, you guys when God gives you a promise, you do it.
And when God tells you to turn away from the world and turn away from sin, you do it. And by your zeal and faith you lead those that have a mustard seed of faith and they follow in after you, and all of them made it through dry land. See, sometimes we confuse faith with confidence. We think, "I've gotta—I don't have a lot of confidence." Nope, all it takes is obedience.
The person that didn't believe that they were going to make it to the other side but did it, that person got safely to the other side. And the person that believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were going to make it all the way across, they made it across as well. In the end there was no difference between the two. That's why Jesus said to them, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Be removed,' and cast into the sea." Because all you need is to trust what he says. Faith and obedience.
Now, let me say this: First John says, "If you say you love God, but you don't keep his commandments, you are a liar." Now, I didn't need to say that with that stinging "liar" at the end of it, but that's exactly what the text says. Some of you guys may say, "Well, I'm a Christian; I'm just not one of those real sold-out Christians." "I'm a Christian, but you know, I got this relationship with this gal, and it's sexual, and it's okay. For us it's all right. I'm a Christian, I'm saved, it's okay." "I'm a Christian; I get drunk once in a while. Well, no big deal, that's okay. I'm a Christian."
I don't know; I'm not telling you you're not saved, but I'm telling you I don't know how much confidence you have in that salvation. See, when you're born again, there is a radical change that takes place in you. When you are born again, there is a desire that you would have righteousness. And the Bible says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
And if you don't have a hunger for that righteousness, if you sin—now we all struggle, right? God knows that we're weak, but if you sin and you're not struck with that sin, if you aren't broken like David that was finally broken and contrite over his sin, then I think it's time to reevaluate where you are with God. If there hasn't been a radical transformation of your life, if the only difference between you and the you BC, the you "before Christ" is that you go to church, if that's the only difference, then there needs to be a new commitment.
Again, I'm not saying that you're not saved, I'm just saying you're not living the way you should. And I'm saying there's a question as to whether or not you're saved. Your life will be radically changed. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation," it says in the Bible, "old things pass away; and behold, everything becomes new." Now, the second point that we see is that they believed and by faith they were obedient. The second is that the power of God is used when we have faith.
It says in verse 32, it says, "And what more shall I say? For time would fail me if I tell you of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets." Now, one of these names doesn't belong; one of these names is not like the other. Let's just play a little game. I'm going to read these to you, and you tell me which one doesn't belong here. And if you were at last night's service or the first service this morning, you can't yell out the name, all right?
This is just—this is the interaction part of our service this morning, all right? So I'm going to ask you guys to yell out who you think is different, all right? Let me read them to you, okay? Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. All right, which one doesn't belong? Nope. Anybody else? Nope. David! Who said David, raise your hand? There it is, all right, you got it. Why doesn't David belong? Because David is a king; all the rest of them are judges, right?
Samuel was the last of the judges. You can break the history of the children of Israel into two parts, maybe three: the judges, the kings, and the prophets. And the prophets really were used during the whole time, but he uses all three of those. Time would fail me if I told you of the judges, time would fail me if I told you of the kings, and time would fail me if I told you of the prophets and how God used them.
But then he gives us some examples of these three different groups that he gave us. He says in verse 33, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms." Kingdoms were subdued by judges, by kings, and by prophets. And they "worked righteousness"; that is, by faith they were able to do great outward things, subdue kingdoms, and by faith they were able to do great inward things like work righteousness.
Faith not only does great outward things, but it does great inward things in you. You become that person that God wants you to be by faith, worked righteousness, and you do great things with those around you by faith. It goes on to say then, "obtained promises," God had given promises and they obtained them; "stopped the mouths of lions," like Daniel; "quenched the violence of fire," like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; "escaped the edge of the sword," like so many; "out of weakness were made strong."
"Out of weakness were made strong." God is not looking for you that have great talents; although, God could use your talents for him. God is not looking for you that have great skill; although, if you're a skilled person, you are used in the kingdom of God. If you're a drywaller, and drywall needs to be done here, you guys show up and get involved in it. And I love it; it's great. But he's not talking about your skill, and he's not talking about your talent.
You may be an artist, you may be artistic, you may be a musician, these may be talents that you've had, you don't even have to work at it, it just happened naturally. But God's looking for your weakness that he can be made strong. And if weakness is the qualification to have strength in faith, then which one of us here doesn't qualify? If it was talent, if it was skill, then a lot of us would go, "I could never be used by God in great ways." But it's weakness, so we all go, "Amen, that's me."
Who's the weakest among us here, huh? Anybody? You, you and you and you. And those of you who didn't raise your hands, I don't know, you're left out I guess, and see the great things that God is going to do.
Charles Swindoll, one of the most eloquent speakers in the United States—is there anybody that speaks as eloquently as Charles Swindoll does? Do you know that he stuttered as a child? Isn't that just like our God? Takes someone who is weak and turn them into someone that is strong by the very power of God.
D. L. Moody, one of the great—he was the first great evangelist. D. L. Moody held campaigns in New York; 14,000 people a night for nine months, that was his crusade—14,000 people a night for nine months. He did the same thing in Atlanta, he did the same thing, well, just different—in Chicago, in New York, in different cities. There was a huge campaign overseas. Revival broke out in England and he went and preached in just—venues couldn't hold him. He was illiterate when he began to preach.
He went and started a Sunday school in "Little Hell" in Chicago because he felt like he couldn't do anything else. And so he went and began to tell children, disadvantaged children about God. It turned into a huge Sunday school. A pastor grew out of it. He started doing these campaigns. He was a chaplain during the Civil War.
And when you read his first letters, he can't even put two sentences together. He uses everything wrong, and God took someone like that and used him as one of the most powerful evangelist that the world has ever seen. Isn't that just like our God to take someone who is weak and make them strong?
What weakness do you have that God might be able to turn around and use as a strength? And we all qualify. It goes on to say, "their weakness was made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight armies and aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again." All powerful things, and we want the power of God. But there's a word here in the middle of verse 35—others. There were some who walked by faith and they didn't see God do great things. Their lives were taken from them.
"Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two"—Isaiah was sawn in two lengthwise, by the way. I don't know that I needed to say that, but I did—"were tempted, were slain with the sword; wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented."
Have you ever thought that faith could bring these things in your life? That at the end of the Hall of Faith he would switch and say, "There's some that didn't subdue kingdoms, that didn't see God do great things." But they had these things happen. And then it says in verse 38, "Of whom the world was wasn't worthy." The world wasn't worthy of these men. "They wandered in deserts and mountains, and dens and caves in the earth. And all of these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise."
It says they "obtained a good testimony." There are those who teach nonsense and would say, "Well, the reason that these guys didn't see the promises of God, and didn't subdue kingdoms, and wandered around in wildernesses, and they were caught and tortured and their lives were cut short is because they didn't have faith." That's not what it says there. Read it again. What does it say in verse 38? "Whom the world is not worthy"; then in verse 39, "And all of these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promises."
Faith not only is obedience, we're obedient in faith, faith not only is God demonstrating his power through our weakness, but faith is the courage to face difficulties. Faith is the courage to say, "I will follow God no matter what comes my way." Like around the world today: Northern Africa; Egypt, which is northern Africa; Afghanistan; Lebanon, different places where today people are giving their lives to Christ.
They know when they do it that not only are they putting their lives on the line and they might be killed because of their faith, but they know it might cause their children to die. They know that they are forcing their family into a situation that is difficult, because there is greater persecution in the world today than there has been in the last fifty years.
When I first started preaching, I used to say, "There's really not persecution in the world today." I learned later on I was wrong; there were the persecuted church, China especially back then. People were dying for their faith. But for every one person that died in their faith for their faith in the middle of the eighties, there are a hundred that die for their faith today.
The world is marching toward the last days and people are giving their lives to Christ and are being captured, tortured, and killed because of the very faith that you guys have. And they are courageous as they do it, because they give their lives to Jesus knowing that it might cost them their lives.
Two men very much alike, two brothers, James and John the sons of Zebedee, part of the inner circle, right? Mount of Transfiguration—Peter, James, and John; little girl that was risen from the dead, "Talitha koum,"—Peter, James, and John; in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus took in the three disciples—Peter, James, and John.
It was James and John that came with their mommy, and the mommy said to Jesus, "Can my two sons—they're good boys—can they sit on your right and left hand—you know, I don't care which one—when in your kingdom?" Jesus said, "Can they be baptized in what I will be baptized in?" And they piped up because they were there with mommy, "Yeah, we can." And Jesus said, "You will. But who sits on my right and left hand, that's not for me to say. James and John, you will be baptized in what I'm baptized in."
Two different brothers, James is older, John is younger. John's the youngest of the disciples. John lives—he's the oldest of the disciples to live. He lives so long that in Ephesus when he's pastoring there, they call him the old man. They don't call him an elder like he's a pastor; they call him "the elder" because look how old he is.
He was boiled in oil and survived. Jesus said, "You will be baptized in what I'm baptized in." He was exiled to the island of Patmos. He wrote the books of First, Second, Third John. He wrote the Gospel of John, and he wrote the book of Revelation. God used him in Ephesus as a pastor there for decades; powerful man of God used in powerful ways.
His older brother James was killed only a few months after Jesus. Couldn't God have used James in great ways like John? Couldn't he have used James to live until he was an old man? But God chose one the privilege of martyring, dying for him; God chose the other the privilege of living to an old age and being used by him.
But I want to ask you this question: from a human perspective we know which one we think is better, but from a heavenly perspective which one's better? I don't know if we know the answer to that, but look what it says here; look at verse 40. "God having provided something better for us, that we should not be made perfect—that they should not be made perfect apart from us." Those that didn't obtain the promises even though they had a testimony of faith, they are not apart from us.
As I think about those that have gone to be with the Lord, I can't help but bring up my wife. Many of you guys know seven months ago Lisa went to be with the Lord. It was September of 2011, she just had chest pains, and I thought maybe there was something wrong with her heart. So we took her to the emergency room, and they found a mass in her lung. We, finally, through a couple of weeks of tests found out that it was lung cancer. We then found out that it was stage IV lung cancer.
And you guys began to pray, and we really appreciate your prayers. And I appreciate your prayers since she's gone to be with the Lord as well for me and my family. We have three children; I was married to Lisa for thirty years. We—the first treatment that we tried was a targeted gene therapy. It was cutting edge, and it took away all evidence of the cancer. Within just a few weeks we went back in for a PET scan and it was gone—it couldn't be seen. Nothing but a little scar where it had been, that was it.
And we didn't know—did God heal her? Is God using the medicine to heal her? We just praised God that it was gone. And for the next nine-ten months God really blessed us, blessed our time. We had a new little grandson that was born. We have a granddaughter who was four. We have a grandson now, he was two months old when Lisa died. The last picture that I have of Lisa—the last one I took, it's on my phone—is of her holding Evan, laying back with a smile on her face, and she's holding her grandson.
And I've gotta tell you that Lisa fought to the very end. She had a lot to live for. She fought to the very end. She never surrendered. She never said, "Okay, I'm going." She fought until the end. But I've also gotta say that she faced death with as much courage as I have ever seen anyone. We both had the question—you can imagine both of us talking these things out—Why? Why, God, would you do this? Why wouldn't you heal her?
God was using her in powerful ways. She taught in September of last year only a couple of months before she died, she taught at the women's retreat. God used her in powerful—she ran our Practical Christian Living Foundation. My radio program—-our radio program at the church is Practical Christian Living, it's our television program. And so Practical Living Foundation is our church, our radio program, and our television program all coming together to work out practical help for people.
So, through Practical Christian Foundation we feed people, we give them water, we clothe the naked, we visit those in prison, and those who are sick. So, it's the kind of a ministry where we're doing what Jesus told us to do through that. Lisa headed that up for years, and God used it to reach out and make differences in all kind of people's lives.
And so I found myself saying as we finally—and this is a hard place to get to—when I realized God hadn't healed her, and then realized that God wasn't going to heal her, we both had to get there. Two weeks before she died, Skip had come to speak for me. I just needed my friends to come and fill in while I was with Lisa. And Skip graciously—I called pretty short notice and said, "Can you come this weekend in December?" and he graciously showed up.
And while we were there, Lisa said, "I really want Skip to come by." And Skip came by the hospital. And we had only the day before sat down and said—she said to me, "I don't think God's going to heal me." We cried. We don't know why. I said, "We're not going to give up hope. I'm not going to give up hope that God doesn't do something miraculous." But we sat down with Skip and we talked about heaven: what is heaven like, what we're going to, what's the promise that we have that's here.
Two weeks later Lisa passed away. And I'll tell you this: by her bed—the last women's conference that she did was on Hebrews, chapter 11. She did a thing on heaven, and she had for the stage made this huge picture of heaven. And then she hung a veil in front of it so you couldn't see the details, because we can't see the details of heaven. Before they made the huge backdrop for the women's conference she had a small mock-up made.
Well, she put that mock-up right by her bed. And as she lay there and went to be with the Lord, she would look over at that picture knowing that that was where she was going. And there was never an ounce of fear. As I said—courage. It's not that she wasn't heartbroken. She loved her granddaughter; she loved her grandson. She was very involved in their lives.
She had so much to live for, but there was not one ounce of fear as she went into eternity, even facing the pain that she did. It was quick, and in a way it was good and in a way it wasn't. In a way it was good it was quick because she was out of the suffering, but I had so much I wanted to say. Things moved so fast that I didn't get a chance to say everything that I wanted to be able to say to her.
And I'll tell you, I think this as well, when I consider my life today, and it is so different after thirty years, and now what we had planned, beginning to travel, beginning to minister in different places. Where we now had the freedom with our youngest son turning nineteen years old, and being free to go wherever we want to go, all of a sudden to have that taken out from under us. And all of a sudden to find myself alone and suffering like Mary and Martha, grieving and weeping even with the Lord.
For me to say, "You know what, Lord? I trust you. I don't like it. I don't like at all. I don't want it. If I could go back and change it, I would. But, Lord, I'll face the future that you have for me with as much courage as she faced death. Whatever you have, and whatever you want, and wherever you want me to go, and whatever you want me to do. And if you can use my suffering for your glory, then use it."
Now, there are no promises that you would be the recipient of the promises. You might be of those who do receive it, who subdue kingdoms and see great things; but you might also be of those who the next thing you know, your life is taken from you. One of them is an honor of living for God; and one of them is the honor for dying for God. One of them may be the honor of glorifying God through riches and wealth and health; and the other one might be the privilege of serving God in the midst of sickness or poverty.
But both of them are faith. Both of them are stepping forward in faith and saying, "God, I want to be used by you." The question for us in the end of our study today is: are we willing to live out what we sing when we sing a song like "10,000 Reasons"? I'll serve you in the good times, and I'll serve you in the bad times.
And like Job that said, "Even if he kills me." Poor Job, it just kept coming, right? Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! One punch after another punch, after another punch, and finally his wife said, "Just curse God and die already!" And Job says, "Even if God kills me, I'll serve him. I will not curse him. I'll serve him even if he takes my life."
And so at the end of this study we give ourselves to him. We come before him now and say, "We're yours and we will walk by faith out of obedience. And, God, through our weakness, may you be shown strong. But if it is through our suffering that we complete the sufferings of Christ, even as Paul said in Philippians, then so be it. God, we are there and we are yours; use us however you see fit." Stand with me and pray, would you.
Father, we want to thank you again for all that you are doing in us. And, Lord, we do trust you. We trust you not only that this life here and now is going to be better, that we are going to see that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, that we're going to have life and life abundantly; but we trust you with what Jesus said to Martha. "If anyone believes in me, they will not die. But even if they do die, they shall live."
And, Lord, we know that our lives are like a vapor. They are here one moment and they are gone the next. Before we know it our lives will be finished, and we pray now that our lives could be consumed for you and for your glory. Whatever it is that you have for us, we want to be men and women of faith. We want to be obedient to your Word.
And I pray for those that are struggling with sin now, strongholds in their life. I pray that they would be delivered from that, that they could give you righteousness, that they could give you purity and holiness and see your mighty hand in their lives. And we thank you for this, in the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
I'm out of time, God bless you guys. It's been good to be back here with you again.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.