02/02/T – Access by Faith

1 Chronicles 27:1-34; Romans 4:18-5:5; Psalms 15:1-5; Proverbs 6:20-26

NT: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:1-5‬ ‭CSB)

When we place our faith on Christ’s sacrificial death and powerful resurrection- that means we stop trying to become righteous through our own efforts and put our righteousness in the hands of Christ’s work and victory – then we are justified (declared righteous). That justified status puts us at peace with God, which then gives us access to our holy and righteous Heavenly Father. Not only are we justified by faith in Christ, we obtain access to God and His grace by faith in Christ. The only way that we receive grace is through faith. God gives grace to the humble who place their faith in Him and His Son. God resists the proud who place their faith in themselves or someone/something else. Faith becomes faithfulness through trials and tribulations. Abraham initially had faith in God’s promise. That faith was proven and tempered into faithfulness through time, testing, and trials.  The same will be true of us – which is why Paul said that we should boast (rejoice and glory) in our afflictions (pressures, troubles, burdens, persecutions) – because they prove out and strengthen our faith. Tempering is a process that strengthens steel by heating it up just below the critical point of melting. Untempered steel may be strong, but often times is to brittle to be useful. Tempered steel is much stronger and more able to withstand forces that press against it. Afflictions are our kiln and furnace. As we endure challenges and hardships by keeping our faith in Christ, it produces endurance – which sharpens and hardens our character, and instills in us an everlasting hope. Our faith gives us access to God’s grace through the indwelling Holy Spirit that not only empowers us to endure, but transforms us into mature and faithful disciples that can withstand the pressures of the world with hope. Do we merely have faith, or have we become faithful? Do we lose our faith at the slightest hint of push-back – or do we allow our faith to be tempered into proven faithfulness as we stand by God’s grace? 2020 was a year full of affliction. What is the status of our faith? Did we allow 2020 to work in us endurance, character and hope – or did we try to run away from the pressure and weaken our faith? If the latter is true, there is still time to repent from faith in man-made solutions and place your faith and hope fully in Christ.

Psalms: “Lord, who can dwell in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain? The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart — who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor, who despises the one rejected by the Lord but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his word whatever the cost, who does not lend his silver at interest or take a bribe against the innocent — the one who does these things will never be shaken.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭15:1-5‬ ‭CSB)

King David asked, “Lord, who can dwell in Your tent… who can boldly access Your presence and receive Your blessing and grace?” The answer: those who allow their faith in God to produce in them an honor and obedience to His word, will and ways. If you don’t have faith in God, then you aren’t going to care what His word says. However, if you have an enduring faith in God, then you will fear the Lord and honor His word, will and ways. Those who place their faith in the Lord and appropriately honor Him – they will have access to His presence and receive grace to stand and endure… they will receive grace to become faithful followers of the Lord… they will never be shaken.

Proverbs: “My son, keep your father’s command, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching. Always bind them to your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk here and there, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you wake up, they will talk to you. For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:20-23‬ ‭CSB)

In order to keep the Father’s command, you must first have faith in Him and His Word. That faith compels you to honor the Father’s word, will and ways, hold them close to your heart, and obey. Jesus said that if you obey My words, then you will abide in Me and My words will abide in You… If you obey my commands, I will consider you a friend and will share with you all that the Father is doing… if you keep my words and obey my commands, I will manifest myself to you and remain with you. Faith leads to honor and obedience, which leads to ever-present grace and guidance. It all begins with faith.

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