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Josh Cordell: A Life of Faith, Hebrews 11:1-12:2

July 17, 2023

Audio Recording

On Generation Sunday, Youth & Family Pastor Josh Cordell shares on the life of faith. Drawing from Hebrews 11, he studies the individuals who lived by faith and the significance of their stories for our own lives. Josh also discusses the power of repentance and turning towards God, calling for a reorientation and a focus on Jesus.

Westside Church Podcast
Westside Church Podcast
Josh Cordell: A Life of Faith, Hebrews 11:1-12:2

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon.

00:04 Thanks for joining us. This has been an incredible year for me. I've had just so many blessings and great opportunities, but I also had a health concern this year, and my doctor last week had me get an MRI to check on something and I had, I know that a lot of you prayed for me and I got back amazing results, thankfully. And, and so just a huge blessing, just a real, real thankful for that. And in the midst of going through this, you, you take a pause, you take a moment and you kind of evaluate things and you kind of take a step back. And, and I looked at my life up to this point and thought about my life moving forward from this point. And, and the real overarching thing that I felt was, I don't wanna miss out on the opportunities God would give me.

00:57 I don't want to miss out on the possibility that God has for my life. And this wasn't a missing out on this sense of like, am I going to be alive or not? This is putting things in perspective and thinking about missing out because of my focus being in the wrong spot. This idea that if I'm not seeing what God would have for me, that I'm really gonna miss out. And if I'm not trying to be obedient and, and walk in faith and, and live within the will of God, that I'm going to miss these incredible possibilities because all things are possible through God and, and I can try to make things about me and less things are possible when it's about me. And so we're gonna talk about what does it mean to live a life by faith? What does that, what does that look like to live a life by faith?

01:49 And I can tell you a recent moment. This was a, this a few months ago. And, pastor Steve told me one time, you never tell a story for the first time from the stage, but I'm going to because he is not here. So we, so I, I haven't, I haven't, there's a couple people who I've shared this with, but a few months ago, I had a moment, I had a morning where I was like, I don't know. I don't know. one of the, we're we're in the process of we're trying to buy a house. I made the mistake of playing on Zillow a little bit and looking at other places and, and I just hit this low point in my day and I said to my wife, Emily, who was the only person who I led in on this, I put every, I got rid away from everyone and I kind of hid.

02:37 And I just had this hard, hard day where I said, is this what I'm supposed to do? Is this, what I'm going to keep doing? Is any of this working? it doesn't feel like it is. I I'm not sure if I need to just totally change courses. And Emily found me. I was kind of hiding and she found me and she said, what's going on? And I explained what I was feeling and what I was, what I was thinking. And she is pretty straightforward with me. And she said, what do you think God wants you to do? And I said, exactly what we're doing right now. And she's like, well, I think you've got an answer there. And a life by faith is not always easy. We can get very distracted. We can look for other things. We're going to jump today into Hebrews 11, which is this beautiful explanation of what faith is and all of these examples of people living life by life, by faith.

03:48 We're gonna start with Hebrews 11 versus, one through three right here. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith, we understood that the universe was formed at God's command. So that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Faith is unseen. Faith, I like to use faith, trust, belief. We can kind of interchange them. I like to separate faith from those other words. I like to think of trust as in like kind of the things I trust in, in life. Maybe you have a sport that you play and there's a certain aspect, like I've got a lot of trust in this part for me. I'm a tennis player and I have the most trust in my backhand volley, not as much trust in my forehand on the run.

04:42 Okay? So we, we find these things that we, that we put trust in. Faith, I believe is different faith. I reserve for the things of God. And the faith is our following after Jesus. That's the faith that we've been called to. So as we look at a life by faith, we have to really wrestle with what faith is and where does it come from? How do we get it? We see in Romans that faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of Christ. So faith comes from listening to God, from reading his word. That's that's where faith is gonna spring up from. Part of living by faith is trying to live within the will of God. And that's a question that a lot of young people ask. Like, what's, what's God's will for my life? And hopefully we ask all the way through our lives as we get older, we ask like, what's God's will?

05:32 What would God have me do? And I love the verse in First Thessalonians, that's just such an answer to what God's will is for us. Rejoice, always pray without ceasing in everything. Give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Rejoice always in everything, give thanks. And here's the key part, pray without ceasing. Pray without ceasing. Pray continually be in a constant conversation with God. One of our youth volunteers, Katie Muller said something to our youth the other day that really hit me. And I was like that, that's so beautiful. She said that her spiritual life really grew when her prayer changed from a monologue to a dialogue. So her spiritual life really took off when she started talking with and listening to God.

06:30 And I think of listening to God, what does that mean? That's something for us all to wrestle with. That's something for us all to wrestle with. And I love the example of Elijah when, when he heard from God, and it wasn't in the thunder, it wasn't in the storm, it wasn't in the earthquake, it was called the still small voice. It was in the whisper. And so faith comes from hearing from God and sometimes that voice from God is just a whisper. So we really have to be listening. We have to be in this constant communication with God. So we hear from God and we get this idea of something we're supposed to do. And I like the idea that faith is moving forward. Like you think of the term taking a step in faith. So faith is this forward going thing, but there's a tension in a life.

07:26 By faith there's a tension because living by faith is this active, doing the thing and being patient and letting go of the results. That's hard. That's hard to choose to do the thing that God has called you to do. But let the outcome and the results be in his timing and up to him. And there's always gonna be a tension if we live a life by faith. And it's going to mean we have to hear from God to what, what that thing is that we're called to do. Then we be obedient and we step into it. And I love this term. it's a book title, a long obedience in the same direction, right? We have to focus on this thing that we've been called to do. Focus is so important. When our focus gets mixed up, we get mixed up, right? We get off course.

08:23 So we're gonna jump in right here to Hebrews chapter 11, verse four. By faith, Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did By faith, he was commended as righteous. When God spoke well of his offering. And by faith, Abel still speaks, even though he's dead by faith, Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death. He could not be found because God had taken him away for before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 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. It is impossible to please God without faith. And I love the Bible. Doesn't make the Bible gets it all right? The Bible like is very intentional about everything and how it's laid out.

09:28 And I love that it starts by giving the faith examples of living a life by faith of Abel and Enoch. Two very different lives. I would love an Enoch life. That sounds great. God is like, Josh, our communication is so good. We're so close. Come on up, don't worry about that hard. Let's get up here. Abel's was a little different, right? Murdered by his brother. That's bad news, right? That's a, that's a hard way to go. But we see both are by faith. Both are by faith. So my question for you guys is what is our life by faith? And I'm used to working with young people, so I ask them to do things and I'm used to all different kinds of reactions. So I'm gonna ask you guys to do something and I will not be surprised by your reaction. Sometimes, a young person might be like, yes, and other times they're just gonna look at me like I am such an idiot. So you guys could not surprise me by what you do. Here. We are going to, I'm gonna ask you to say not my name, but I'm gonna say by faith Josh. And I want you guys to say by faith and say your name and I want you to say that, go ahead by faith.

10:43 And I want you to think about what is your by faith story, right? What is by Faith Maddie or by Faith Emery, what does that life look like? What is our life by faith? Because here's the thing, our stories really, really matter. Our stories really, really matter, especially when it has to do with faith because that's God's story. Our faith, our faith journey, our story of faith is us following God and having open hands and allowing it to be God's story. One of my heroes is a guy named George Mueller, who's the, the father of orphanages. Basically, he really, he really changed the world and he just kept creating new orphanages cuz he just saw the need. He just saw the need and he kept, creating and God kept providing. And at one point someone said to him, George, you must be a man of great faith. And he said, no, I'm a man of little faith, but it's in a great God.

11:52 And that's the power of a life by faith, is that it's not about us. It's not about us. It's about a flawed group of people serving a perfect God about a weak group of people. I'm pointing at me saying, God, I trust you. I believe that you have a plan and I wanna walk in that, and I want to be patient as I walk in it and see what you would have for me. And I want to hear your voice so that I would know what you would have me do. As we go through the book of Hebrews, we see all these different by faith stories. And we all have our own by faith story and they're all going to look different. And they're all going to matter because we are significant. We matter to God. We're loved by God, we're created in his image.

12:51 So our faith journey matters. Each of us individually, and yours is gonna look different than mine, but can we walk in it? Can we walk in it? As you go through the book of Hebrews, you see by faith, Noah by faith, Abraham by faith, even Sarah. And Sarah's story is so beautiful because she couldn't have kids and she believed that she would. And it says she believed in the promise that God had made her because she knew that he is faithful. So our faith is based on God's faithfulness. Whatever we put our trust in is only as valuable as that thing, right? We, you know, if we put our trust in a bad thing, we're going to be let down. But our faith in a faithful perfect God does not disappoint. It does not disappoint. It doesn't mean that we necessarily have a smooth road, though it doesn't mean that it's a, it's always a clear path or a clear course because there are lots of distractions, there are lots of roadblocks. And you know what I found on my journey of faith on my life by faith, is that many of the distractions are not actually from the outside. They're ones that I create myself.

14:19 Many of the roadblocks and the obstacles and the hindrances to me living a life by faith are right here. Me trying to own the results, me trying to strategically put myself in a position to get the thing that I want. And when I let go, I'm really giving it over to the one who not only perfectly loves me, perfectly loves me, but holds this whole thing in his hand. The whole thing, all the outcomes, the, the fact that we exist, it's all in him. And when I can let go and walk by faith, then I can experience the what that has for me. But again, there's that tension, right? It's like, it's like patiently moving forward. It's like doing the thing, but, but like giving up control of it. Because faith isn't just idly sitting back. Faith is stepping into that thing that we've been called to

15:32 All these 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. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were looking for a better country, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a city for them. God is not ashamed to be called the God of people who live by faith. That's nice. That's nice to know that that's how God feels about us. So what does my life by faith look like? What does your life by faith look like?

16:30 It's steps, right? It's this moving forward. And some of you have maybe been walking in a very long obedience. And so your life by faith is continuing to do the thing. Some of us may be like, oh, my life by faith needs to start now. Like this needs to be. I think of the prayer wall and, and I, I went to it this week to read some of those and I've got one up there and I went to read and the very first one that God directed me to said, increase my faith. Pray that God would increase my faith. What does a life by faith look like for us?

17:11 Sometimes it looks like it, it's not gonna work, but you keep moving. About two years ago, I believe it was, I started a men's Bible study here. There was not a men's bible study on Monday morning that worked good for my schedule. I was like, let's do a men's Bible study. So let, got the word out and showed up on the first day. And it was a great time. It was me and just me, right? So nobody showed up. There was no one, it was just me. And I, I had prepared myself a little bit. I was like, these, you know, this is very potential. There's, there's the potential that, that no one will be here, but it was just me. And, and I waited and I was like kind of watching and I did the thing. I'm, I'm weird about stuff like this. I, I don't admit like no one saw, but I'm gonna tell you I did this.

17:57 I kind of ran a little bit around the building checking other doors they could have parked at the wrong door. Like I need to make sure that like if someone did pull up, I'm gonna catch them. But there was no one who came the first day. And then I came the next week and somebody came, right? And here we are two years later. we've got this group that knows each other. We've got this group that comes to the men's bible study on morning Monday morning and we know each other. And one of the guys in our bible study, Tim, I asked him if I could, if I could share this, Tim is battling cancer right now. Tim is battling cancer. And we went to his house to pray for him this past week and he asked for two specific prayers. The first one was for healing that the cancer would go into remission.

18:43 But then the second one to me was such a picture of what a life by faith looks like. He said, would you pray that I would know who I'm supposed to be because of this? That you would know who I'm supposed to be as I come through this? Would you pray that I would know what God has for me as far as what I'm supposed to do with my life on the other side of this right now in this that's a life by faith. That's a life of open handed saying, God, what do you have for me? And there's so many in this room, living life by faith. I think of, Jean is in here and Jean and her husband Eric moved to Bend recently and she's running fellowship of Christian athletes and just like taking things to a new level by faith, she made that decision to come here.

19:37 And I know many people who are making decisions by faith to really alter parts of their life because they want what's best for their kids. I'm seeing that a lot of where, you know, maybe it's making the move here or maybe it's, you know, sacrificing something that you were focused on because by faith you're called to do this thing. One of my favorite stories here in West Side is by faith Jason and Crystal Hammond, who have taken in around 50 foster kids in the last four and a half years. And he would downplay it and say that's, we only take 'em in for a short time. That's you. It's not always a short time. That's a by faith thing. That's an obedience thing. That's a, having a calling from God and walking in it. I think of by faith, all of our volunteers with the youth, so many in this room I see by Faith Cameron, I see him sitting right there of he's just stepped in.

20:35 He just, he has this attitude of he's like, God, use me. What, what would you have me do next? What would you have me do next? And then being obedient in it, and there's so many in this room who are living lives by faith, but we can get off course, right? We can get distracted, things can pop up, and we have to continue to focus back in because we have to realize that as we just read right there, the the reward is not behind us. The reward is not turning around and going to that safe place that we are. Like, you know, if, if, if we had just kind of not done this, maybe things would be easier. The reward is realizing that like this is not our home. And having this picture, this vision of, of what God has for us and this dream of being close to God and, and seeing Jesus and have him say, well done thou good and faithful servant because we lived a life that was about him, a life that was focused on him.

21:42 We see also as we look down at verse 21, by faith, Jacob, by faith, Joseph by faith, Moses's parents, by faith, Moses, the stories go on and on and on and on by faith, Josh, by faith, Evan by faith, any of us, right? By faith, what is, what is my by faith story? And am I actively pursuing that? Am I listening to God? One of the things that's been incredible is in our youth, we've, my wife Emily really started this in the fourth and fifth graders and we've, adapted and, and added it with our, our youth group is taking some time to just be quiet, to just be still, to have an opportunity to listen to God. And I think that we can think that God will speak to us maybe at the waterfall or on top of the mountain and that I'm not opposed to that.

22:39 Like that's, that's a beautiful thing. But God is ever present and he'll speak to us if we have ears to hear, and we just have to make the room, make the time, make the intentionality of not just having our conversation with God be a monologue, but having it be a dialogue where we're available to hear from him where we have, we have time set where we can just be still and listen to God. So how do we do this? So how do we do this? Faith comes by hearing the word of God. We listen and then we walk in faith and we be obedient to that calling. But, but how do we do this? Do we just try harder? Do we just like, oh, I I need to like be better, try harder. Like I could do this. No, we don't do it that way.

23:31 There's a, there's a very direct way we do it. I, am involved in a lot of sports. So I, I go to a ton of sporting events usually to like see a kid, playing in a sporting event or some, I've done a lot of coaching. So I'm at sporting events and I play this game before the contest where I watched them warm up and I predict who will be the top performers and I'm pretty good at it. I'm pretty good at predicting, like watching a group. And it could be, it could be warming up for a cross country race or a basketball game, like pretty, pretty wide range. And sometimes there's dead giveaways. Like when the kids all walk out and they're this big and there's a kid that is this big, you're like, I'm pretty good at this game. I'm gonna guess that he's gonna have a decent performance today.

24:18 But more often, here's the thing, I look for focus. I look for focus. What kid is focused. If you've ever, here's the one that's so clear. If you've ever, coached or seen kindergarten or first grade soccer, yeah, okay. If you've been around that age soccer, then you can watch a group of kids and you can be like, that kid is gonna leave the field at any moment. Who knows where they're gonna go? that kid is gonna score 10 goals today, right? That kid who is just laser focused, that's gonna be a different result. So, so what does that mean as far as us? What do we do with our focus? How do we do this thing? How do we live a life by faith? The answer is in Hebrews chapter 12. You guys, I want you to take some time and get into Hebrews.

25:08 I want you to read 11 and 12 and I want you to, to feel this, but here's, here's the first part of Hebrews chapter 12. Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin, which so easily entangles us. And let's run with endurance the race that is set before us looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfector of the faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. We have to reorient and focus on Jesus. That cloud of witness part that's talking about all of 11, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, we have all this cloud of witness of, oh, that's what a life by faith looks like. That's what a life by faith looks like.

26:03 You know what's great? None of those guys were perfect. None of them were perfect. Sarah is so commended for having faithful, having, faith in God's promise, knowing that he was faithful. She wasn't perfect, right? You're not perfect. I'm not perfect. But that cloud of witnesses speaks to it. In one translation it says Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. So our faith comes from Jesus and we have to reorient and look towards God. When I was younger, I had a hard time with the word repentance because in my mind, repentance looked kind of like this. It looked like someone on the side of the street yelling at me saying that I needed to repent. And I've grown to see the beauty of what repentance is because repentance is Jesus with wounded arms open wide beckoning us back to him, calling us to turn towards him, and we have distractions and we get off course and we have to constantly be repenting and turning back towards God.

27:19 A life by faith is a life of repentance where we not only turn away from the dark things, but we turn away from the very good things that we've elevated too high, the things that have taken us off path because those are our things because those are Josh things. I have to take the Josh things and they may not be bad, but if I've put them here, I need to put them in their place and repent and I need to pivot towards God. Repentance is a constant turning towards God. And as we take communion, it's such a beautiful opportunity to repent and to turn towards God and to say, God, what would a life by faith look like for me? What do you have me doing? Is this thing you've called me to do What I need to just continue to be obedient in? Or do I not know what you have for me? Is this the moment where I need to say, God, here I am. What would you have me do.