Today we are wrapping up our series Your Next Great Adventure—all our campuses are joining together today as we talk about Impact. Hebrews 11 has been the most life-changing chapter of scripture for me, and I’ve been sharing with you some of my past journey of faith–actually living out what I’m teaching. Today I want to talk about the impact your life can have when you walk by faith.
Hebrews 11 is all about God’s Successful. Not those the world counts as successful, but those God will reward as eternally successful. And I told you week one how I was sick and thinking about how my dad had “succeeded”— in the worlds eyes, yet told me on his death bed, “I’d give it all back to have my health and family.” And I read this key verse that day “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. – Hebrews 11:6. And I’ve repeated this over and over—the reason Faith matters most to God is because God created you for relationship with himself. You are God’s masterpiece, his child, his hijo, his deti, his kinder—he is crazy in love with you like I am with my granddaughter, son and daughter. But as much as God wants relationship with you, in a world that’s turned away from God (and we all have) it requires faith. God doesn’t make us love him or follow Him. Faith or belief or trust are all synonyms—it’s how you relate to anyone, it’s how you grow close to anyone.
And from Hebrews 11 we discover a practical definition of faith is Faith is having confidence in God, to act on His word, despite the circumstances. And I’ve given you some of my personal lessons I’ve learned living this out. That your confidence must be in God, so as you learn about God from the reading the Life of Jesus, his teachings, the Bible’s promises you understand God’s character and what you can count on—all that helps. But not if you don’t ACT—you have to ACT on his word—maybe what you read, maybe a prompting thought you get that’s in line with scripture. Unless you act in faith, you won’t see God working in your life. It’s as you step out and DO what you think God wants you to do, that’s when you look back and see.
I’ll give you a recent example. After the service last Sunday, I went surfing. It’s the craziest thing in the world, but I surf with Hawaiians and Californians all the time—in WACO! Yes, Waco has a perfect wave that people from all over the world come to surf. Last month I’m coming out and I meet Matthew McConeghey—and I asked if he’d come do an Austin culture interview for Gateway. Why not? But just think of all the jokes I’ve made about Waco over the years—I’ve been humbled. I’m not worthy! So this summer, I’ve been talking to this young 20-something who works there, and he found out I was an author, asked what I wrote—he said, “I’d read that.” So I gave him a copy of Imagine Heaven about 6 weeks ago. Last two times, I’ve noticed Zach kind of avoiding me. So either he didn’t read and didn’t want me to ask, or he read it…and doesn’t want me to ask. So Sunday, I’m driving to Waco I’m talking to the Lord—I talk to him all the time about everything. So I say, “Lord give me a good opportunity to talk to Zach today, and I will do it.” Turns out Zach is out in the water with me, and I ask, “Okay Lord should I ask him if he’s had a chance to read any?” I have a thought, “No—ask him to coach you in surfing.” So I did, and he loved giving me pointers and I needed them–really helped me. And when I came in, he came over. He said, “Hey, I wanted to tell you, I’ve read about half your book, and you’ve changed my life.” Really? I said, “Sit down, let’s talk.” We talked for an hour—he’s never read the bible, no church, absent parents—but when I told him how much God loves him and just wants to do life with him. He said, “Man, you’re making me feel so good.” I said, “It’s true.” I explained how he can give his life to Christ, and he’s thinking about it if it didn’t already—and he’s reading John in the Bible. But looking back, I see that God didn’t want the conversation in the water, but after when we had more time to talk.
Those little prompting thoughts, as you pray with an open, willing heart—that’s often how God leads you. And the more willing you are to act in faith, the more you see God’s hand guiding, working in and through you—it’s the Adventure of a Lifetime. But it’s RISKY sometimes as we talked about last week. Circumstances may not look good, and sometimes you’re doing the right thing, honoring God and acting in faith and you get hammered for it. We live in a broken, evil world that is against God and his ways—so if Jesus did everything right and in love, yet was betrayed and crucified—sometimes following Jesus will feel like that—even though you’re doing everything right.
And what I want to talk to you about today is the Impact you willhave when you walk by faith. Hebrews 11 reprise is by faith, by faith, by faith. They walked with God by faith, but it wasn’t always easy to see the results. IT says, They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them…All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. – Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40
The Impact and success they were living for is a much biggerstory than the story Earth can tell. God has a plan to do something through your life that touches other lives—and life by life God is changing eternity, not just this world. And we don’t always get to see the “success” of our lives until God shows us what He accomplished through every little act of faith—the ripple effect through humanity of our faithfulness to God. God is a rewarder Heb 11:6 says, and that reward and that story will only be seen the other side of this life. And that’s why we can’t judge our success by the things we see on the outside—what we have or have not done—or what others have or have not done.
Jesus reiterated what God told Moses 1500 years earlier Matt 22. What’s the greatest commandment—what’s most important to God? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. That’s why faith matters most to God, you love God by walking in trust with God more and more. Second – Love people as much as you love yourself. Solove the people He puts in your life—that’s equally important. One can’t be separated from the other. That’s what it’s all about—success—is loving God, and in faith doing those simple acts of kindness, faithfulness, love care compassion shown to the people God puts in your path. Starting with your family, your roommates, coworkers or fellow students. Using your gifts, abilities and resources to love and serve people. This is God’s Plan to change the world.
See God doesn’t need you to do some big huge thing for him—He didn’t need me and Kathy to start Gateway. What He needs is for me to Love the people around me. If I will do that, and you will do that, then God can create a wave through humanity of his love—that changes eternal destinies. But if I’m too busy building a “successful” church, or business, or whatever, but not out of love—not for the sake of loving God and people—I’m missing my main purpose. You’re missing your main purpose.
So how do you live your purpose—it’s simple. After Heb 11 comes Heb 12:1 says “Therefore” – with the example of people who walked by faith, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. – Hebrews 12:1. God has a unique race marked out for you to run. It’s not my race, not your neighbors race—it’s your race. And you run it by keeping your eyes on Jesus daily. And It’s never over, not until this life is over—God wants us all to walk of Faith.