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Living by Faith (Vol 08) - A Largeness of Heart!

Sunday English Service - 02 SEP 18

Transcript

Hebrews chapter 11 verses 1 to 3. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. We've been teaching on living by faith for the last several weeks. We've chosen to go about it from Hebrews chapter 11 which is a great faith chapter where faith heroes are mentioned here and there great exploits are mentioned here. Making this our starting point we’ll be going to several places in the Bible to look at what faith is and how faith works. Now we have been dealing with a definition which is verse 1, which says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. So we talked about hope. Talked about Christian hope. What is Christian hope? It’s different from the hope in the world. In the world, when we use the word hope, there is doubt built into it. When we say, “I hope to get the job,” we imply that I may not get the job also. When we say, “I hope it doesn't rain,” we are implying it may end up raining. That's the nature of how we use the word hope in the world. But if you use it biblically, the biblical hope is different. Biblical hope is not this uncertain wish that we have for something good to happen. Biblical hope is a confident expectation of something that is going to happen that is good. Confident expectation because it comes from God's word. Because it is based on the promises of God, it is a confident expectation. So when we say, “I hope,” in biblical way it means that I'm sure, I'm confident, I'm certain that this is what is going to happen.

Secondly, the second part of the definition says that it's the evidence of things not seen. Now this is what we've been looking at. We’ve been looking at this and verse three where it's talking about the unseen and we've been trying to show that faith has to do with things unseen. Been showing that there is an unseen world just like we have a seen world right before us. Seen world is easily understood, while the unseen world is always a mystery for us because we cannot see it. But just as there is a seen world even more certain is the fact that there is an unseen world. You are seated here, I'm preaching here, we are sure of that because we can see it. But I'll tell you, the fact that God is here, the unseen God is here, and angels of God surround us is even more certain. The spiritual things are like that. The unseen things are like this. Even though they're not seen, they are really more real than the seen. Why do I say that? Because everything that you see came from the unseen. The unseen created the seen world. So the Bible says that the seen are temporal, that the unseen are eternal. And so there is an unseen world and when we don't understand the unseen world and the things that belong to the unseen world, then it becomes very difficult to understand what faith is because faith has to do completely with the unseen.

In the unseen world there is God. We showed there is angels of God, we saw in the Bible how God opened the eyes of a man, these natural eyes, to see the unseen. Very rarely that happens, that God helps them to see that there are unseen things. But then there are more unseen things. Like we have a heart or we have the inner man, the spirit man. We are a spirit, basically. Just like God is a spirit we are a spirit, the Bible says. So there is an unseen part in us. We have a very important part of us is the spirit of man that's unseen. And another name for this unseen part of man is the inner man, yet another name is the heart. When the Bible says, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” it's not talking about heart, that is a physical part of your body. It is talking about heart, which means the inner man, the spirit man. So there is unseen part in us that's a very important part. Out of it are the issues of life. Everything in our life happens from the heart, from this unseen part of us that is there in us, the inner man.

Then there is the word of God also which is also another part of the unseen world. Here in verse 3 we are told, by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that we know that the things which are seen, or visible, were not made by the things which are visible. So here we are told that the word of God is part of the unseen world. It says the world was framed by the word of God, so that we know that the things that are seen were not made of things that are visible. So it puts the word of God in the category of unseen things. We have the Bible with us, we hear the word of God, God is speaking to us through these things. But yet the word of God comes from God, the Unseen Person, proceeds from His mouth and comes to us. So the word of God belongs to that unseen world, and therefore it is eternal. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of God shall not pass away,” Jesus said. So we need to understand this unseen world and how faith has to do with the unseen.

Last week, we began to show how that heart transformation or what happens in the inner man, this unseen man, inner man, brings a life transformation on the outside. Everything that happens to us on the outside came from the inside. We showed you a great example from Psalm 18 verse 35 where the psalmist, the guy who became a king but started out as a shepherd, a small time shepherd, became a great king and became great. And he talks about greatness and how greatness was achieved. The true pathway to greatness, he says, “Your gentleness has made me great.” We explained the meaning of that. It doesn't mean that God looked at this guy and felt sorry for him, and just made him great, just like that. No, there is a process to it. God doesn't just take you and just make you great just like that. It has to happen through us because we are not just dumb objects. We are not just things, we are human beings with a will, with a mind, with an ability to think and decide. So God always works through us and this inner man and all of that that belongs to the inner man. So when God wants to bring greatness to us, how does he bring? He says, “Your gentleness has made me great.”

What is gentleness? Jesus said, “I am gentle and I'm lowly. Come and learn of me,” He says. Jesus was a powerful person, walked on water, turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead and so on. Yet He was gentle. He’s known for His gentleness. He had great power, but great control because He was gentle and lowly. Humility, the Bible says so many times, if you read Proverbs it says, humility goes before honor. And psalmist is simply saying that, humility, that heart of humility, that heart of gentleness, that God has given His heart to him, that His gentleness, God's gentleness has now come into him, and that is what has made him great, he says. So God reaches out to David gives him His own heart, and thereby makes him great.

Now today I want to go a little further. Now, we talked about largeness of heart, how that largeness of heart is necessary, that is how we can really achieve the things that God wants us to do in our lives. There are two definite signs of a narrow heart and a large heart. There are two definite signs. One is a narrow heart, a heart in which you cannot put things, you cannot speak to, you cannot get the truth of God's Word in, that's a narrow heart. That narrow heart is first of all characterized by fear. You will find such people majoring on fear, they're fully filled with fear, and they live by fear, not by faith. Live by fear. The second characteristic of a narrow-hearted person is selfishness. These two things go together, fear and selfishness. Therefore, I say to you, the narrow heart is the heart of a fallen man. It is our fallen nature. Ever since Adam and Eve fell, you remember in the garden, they went and hid from God, they were afraid. Adam says, “I was afraid.” Fear which was unknown until that time came into their lives. He went and hid himself. And selfishness creeped in right there. When he ate the fruit, he ate it because his wife ate and she has fallen, and he wanted to go along with her, and he ate it. Even though he saw what has happened to his wife, he ate it, and came down to her level and her position. The fallenness was taken by him, literally, voluntarily, because his wife had fallen, he had chosen to fallen. But when God came and he said, “What happened?” He said, “The wife You gave me,” he says, “Deal with her.” Selfishness has come in. “I want to save my skin, I want to look after my welfare, she's the one responsible,” and so on.

So these two things are signs of a fallen man, fallen nature. And that is what makes a narrow heart. In that heart, success cannot enter in, good thoughts cannot enter in, large vision cannot enter in, because the fallen man is made for failure. It is difficult for him to be successful, it is difficult for him to be truly successful. When I say successful, I'm not talking about world success. I'm talking about God's success. God said, “You will have good success.” He told Joshua, “You'll have good success.” There is such a thing called good success, where there is a wholesome success. Not just success in some parts of life and failure in the other part, there is a wholesome success. That success is achieved by the newly created man through the help of God, through God reaching out to his heart, and putting His word in his heart, and changing him in his heart, and bringing about new possibilities in his life. So this is how things happen in the new creation, in the newly made man, in the born again person. So the fear and selfishness is the two signs, definite signs of a not only a fallen man of a natural heart. What are the signs of an enlarged heart, a large heart, a good heart? Exactly the opposite. Instead of fear there will be faith, instead of selfishness there'll be love. This is the characteristic of a heart of faith, a man who's been redeemed, a man who’s born again, a man with a new heart.

Now, let's keep that as a base and I want to go a little further. Now, even Christians, sometimes you'll find having a narrow heart. Why? Because of various things that they've heard and believed and embraced, their heart becomes narrow. Even though they are redeemed, washed by the blood of Jesus, and are saved and if they die they'll go to heaven, very sad that sometimes their heart becomes so narrow. Their heart is just like unsaved person's heart, they cannot believe anything great. They're basically negative, they're full of fear, and they're full of selfishness because even though they have a new heart now, it is narrow because they do not open it up for the thoughts of God to enter in. And therefore, it is very difficult to take those people and lead them into the will of God for their lives. Now, man's traditions and religion makes a man narrow. Sometimes it's very unfortunate, even though people know as far as the salvation is concerned, they know, their heart becomes narrow because they're so traditional and they want to keep the dead traditions. And I've told you the difference between tradition and traditionalism. There are traditions that are good. But traditionalism is bad. I told you that traditionalism is simply believing and embracing things because this has been the way that you've been doing it from your grandfather’s days. Even though you know that it’s not altogether right, you just continue just for the sake of tradition. But there are good traditions that we need to uphold, and we need to continue and so on.

So, such people it's very difficult to deal with. Most of the world is dead in sin. The Bible says, the sinners are dead in sins and trespasses. They're described as dead people. What is a dead person? Dead person doesn't know the world around them, cannot feel anything, cannot see anything, cannot be impacted by anything that happens. It can rain, it can shine on them, it doesn't matter because they're dead. The rest of the people, there are other people that are asleep. A person asleep is basically the same thing also. It is like a dead person only because the sleep is so deep. He cannot feel anything, he cannot hear anything, he cannot know anything that's happening around. The spiritually unsaved person is a dead person. The spiritually darkened person who has not come to light, truth has not reached his heart and his heart and mind has not been enlarged and renewed and so on. Such a person is a person asleep.

There's a verse in the Bible in Ephesians where Paul is quoting from the Old Testament it says, that's why the word of God says, arise you that sleep, arise from the dead. Christ shall give you light. He’s talking about people living in ignorance, like in the old times. He’s telling the believers, there are people that are living in total ignorance of what the word of God says and there is no difference because they're either dead or asleep. Such people don't know that there is a bigger world around them. The people with the selfishness and fear that I talked about, the two characteristics of a small, narrow heart. You find such people they'll always be worried about themselves. They'll always be thinking about themselves. Their problems, even though they are very little problems, they'll be the biggest concerns, they'll be always worried about that and talking about that. You know there is fear because when they open their mouth that's what will come out. You can talk to them for just 10 seconds, they'll start with their problems. “You see, this is what has happened and that's what my problem is,” because that is what they're full of. Their heart has been filled with these things and they express those things from their heart. That's why the Bible says, Christ will bring light to you.

What happens when light comes? It's like a person receiving life. What happens when light comes? When the sun shines what happens? Have you seen the flower that is all closed up and shriveled up? All of a sudden, when the sunlight falls it begins to open up, it becomes more beautiful, it becomes enlarged. When the truth of God's word comes into the believer, reaches the heart of the believer, that's exactly what happens. When Christ gives light, when the word of God brings light, when you begin to see things as they are, when you begin to understand that there is a lot more than what your little problems are, there is a big world, there is a wonderful God, there are great promises of God, there are great possibilities, when you begin to see that, all of a sudden you find that your heart is being enlarged, it becomes beautiful, it becomes wonderful, it is like a blooming flower, it becomes.

All right. Let me take you to an instance where you see the hardness of the heart and how people become so closed to the truth that they cannot understand truth because of the hardness of heart. And then I will go to two examples where people open up their hearts and they begin to see the truths and understand the truth and open their heart and they get filled with the truth of God's word and how it changes their lives. That's all I'm going to show you today. First, let's turn to Mark's gospel chapter 8. I'll show you how people that have a hard heart, a narrow heart, cannot even understand the truth. The truth cannot make an entry into their hearts. Mark's Gospel chapter 8 and verse 15 onwards. Then He charged them saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” I'm sure that you've read this. I don't know if you've ever understood this. Jesus is telling the disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” What is the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod? Leaven is always likened to some evil in the New Testament, as well as in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, there's only one instance where leaven is likened to something good, when Jesus says that in the parable of the leaven. Where a woman took some little leaven and hid in three measures of meal, and the whole thing got leavened. “And this is how the kingdom of God works,” He says.

So that is the only place where leaven is referred to as something good, the kingdom of God entering into us, and influencing us and filling us and so on. But in all other places, wherever leaven is mentioned, it's mentioned as something evil, that we should not have. In the Old Testament also, it's like that, people brought grain offerings to God, they said, “Be sure that you do not add leaven to it,” but there is one instance where leaven must be added, except the one place in the Old Testament and the one in the New Testament, in all other places, leaven is something bad and evil, you should not have and you should put it away. So Jesus here says, so He's metaphorically using this thing. He says, “Be careful or be warned, or beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and leaven of Herod.” And the disciples immediately start reasoning among themselves saying, “It is because we have no bread.” See, they're not able to understand truth, what he's talking about. He's talking about something spiritual, they're talking about something natural. They thought, “Well, we haven't brought any bread.”

But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? Now, what is Jesus talking about? He says, “Why are you thinking about bread?” See, the context is this, that is why they went to bread and started thinking about, “We have no bread. That's why he's talking about leaven.” They got all confused because just now Jesus got through doing a miracle. If you begin with the first verse of that chapter, Jesus did a miracle where He fed the 4000. There were seven loaves of bread, and a few small fish, it says. And Jesus multiplied it just like He multiplied the five loaves and two fish and fed the 5000. Here, there is another feeding event that happens where Jesus feeds the 4000, using seven loaves of bread, and few small fish as it says. Seven baskets were left over. After such a great miracle, the Pharisees come to Him, and they say, “Show us a sign.” Now you feel like slapping such people. Just now He fed 4000 people with seven loaves and few fish, you want another sign? How many signs do you want? He’s already shown that He can heal people, He can do all these things. And here the Pharisees are still unable to believe, they cannot.

See, the religiosity is such. They are so steep in their tradition, human tradition, they just cannot open their heart to anything new. Their unbelief is of such nature. It's unbelievable that they can see Lazarus being raised from the dead yet they don't believe. The Bible says so, that they all came, these Pharisees came for Lazarus’ funeral and stayed on. And then when Jesus came, they came and saw how He raised him from the dead. Some believed but yet so many did not believe. It's amazing that they won't believe at any rate, no matter what happens, they won't believe because many things that Jesus taught was different from them. The way He interpreted the Ten Commandments was different from how they interpreted. The way He understood the Old Testament is totally different from how they understood it. So because of so many differences, and because they are so steeped in human tradition, religious tradition and religion, they are not able to accept Jesus at all. They’ve decided we won't accept. Therefore, no matter how great a miracle He does it doesn't matter to them. So He just did the miracle, they're saying, “Show us a sign,” I'm sure Jesus felt like slapping them.

Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach the disciples. He says, “Listen.” He's telling the disciples who were there following Him. He says, “Listen, don't become like these fellows,” like the Pharisees, because they just came and said, ‘Show us a sign,’ and Jesus says, “Disciples, I'm telling you, you're following me, do not become like these fellows, because they can be standing right in front of the Son of God who has come in flesh all the way from heaven, and still go to nothing and perish.” They can be in touching distance from God and still not receive anything from God. Nothing can happen to them because their unbelief is of such nature. That's the kind of unbelief they have. So Jesus is telling the disciples, “Listen, be careful about the leaven of the Pharisees.” In the New Testament, particularly one time Jesus said, the leaven of the Pharisees is their hypocrisy. Another time He said, the leaven of the Pharisees is their teaching but here... So it can mean different things according to context. Here, it means unbelief. Their refusal to believe, their hard-heartedness. He’s really telling them, “Don't be hard-hearted like they are. No matter how much they see, they won't believe. Don't be hard-hearted as they are.”

What is the leaven of Herod? You know, Herod was a murderer, adulterer, and a power-hungry person who’ll do anything to obtain power. That's the kind of person he was. He’s a king of the Jews, but he had no faith in God, he’s not a godly man at all. Just the world was in him from head to toe. Filled with the worldly ways, and so on. That is why he was always in conflict with Jesus, he hated Jesus. So the Herod or the Pharisees could have meant his adultery, it could have meant his power-hunger, hunger for power, and the power plays that he conducts in the nation, and it could have meant his murder. It could have meant all these things but in this context, again, it means his unbelief because after John the Baptist was killed, he heard about Jesus going around preaching, and people are following him. He hears about it and immediately you know what he thinks? Jesus is doing all these things so that people will know that He's the Son of God, and acknowledge and come to Him and open their hearts to Him and receive Him. He has come as the Savior. He wants them to see, that is why all the miracles are happening. But you know what Herod says when he about Jesus? He says, “Maybe John the Baptist has risen from the dead.” He didn't believe Jesus. He's all stuck up in his own world. He can only think as far as that. Maybe this is again John the Baptist and he didn't care about who Jesus is, what He has come to do. No matter how many more miracles Jesus would do, it won't impress him. So again, I think it's the unbelief of Herod.

So the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod is their unbelief. So He says, “Be careful.” He says, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod,” but they just could not get the truth. This is such an important truth. They are missing out on a great blessing. The Pharisees and Herod are missing out on a great blessing. Here is One who has taken seven loaves and few small fish and fed 4000, for whom all things are possible. The One who created the heaven and earth. He can do everything for them. This all-powerful God is available to them, making Himself available. He’s reaching out to them, coming to them. He wants to save them, deliver them, be their Lord and lead them into their destiny. They're missing out on the whole chance because they've shut their heart. Their heart is narrow, they don't want to open up their hearts.

And now listen, it's very interesting now. Verse 16. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?” See that's the reason they could not understand this truth. “Having eyes, do you not see? Having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” This phrase, this whole verse, having eyes you don't see, having ears you do not hear and don't remember, is again and again a rebuke in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, it comes more than once. They are rebuked. Israelites are rebuked for not remembering. Having eyes but they don't see, having ears they don’t hear. Remember Jesus said, “They that have ears let them hear.” Now, you and I might say, “Well, everybody's got ears.” This is a ear that cannot hear. That’s the kind of ear they had and they were rebuked for it. He says, “Now you don't remember. You have eyes you don't see, you have ears you don't hear,” that's the kind of people they were. Nothing goes into them. Because the heart is hardened, they cannot receive anything.

Then He says... See, now He gives them the explanation of what He meant. What is the real meaning? What was He trying to say to them? What is the lesson? Listen to this. When I broke... It’s very, very interesting. I don’t know if you noticed this? “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” See, He’s reminding them of the feeding miracle happening twice. One time with the 5000. He said, “How many baskets were leftover?” They said, “Twelve.” “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” And the story closes there. How is it you don't understand?

He says, “Once I fed 5000, how many baskets were left over? He fed with five loaves and two fish, how many baskets were left over? They said, “Twelve.” “Now I fed the 4000 with seven loaves and few fish, how many baskets were left over?” They said, “Seven.” He said, “Why don't you understand?” And quit with that. What does He mean? He means this. Hey, there is no real correlation between the size of your problem and My ability to meet the need. When there were 5000 people, there was less resources because there was only five loaves and two fish but I met more needs, 5000 people, ate and there was more leftover, right? When there’re 4000 people fed, there were more bread, seven loaves and few small fish. There's more than the other time, seven loaves and few small fish. And how many baskets where left over? Less. Seven baskets were leftover. What do you get from this? He says, with very little He fed more, with much He fed little. Therefore, there is no correlation between how big your problem is and what He can do. It doesn't matter how big or small, it doesn't matter to Him. He can meet all your needs, He can supply all your needs. He is an almighty God, He can do everything for you. That's exactly what He's trying to say.

What a blessing it would have been if they would understand. What a blessing it would have been if they could understand what He's warning them about. What He's saying is, “These Pharisees and Herod, they missed the whole point, they missed the point about how I am the supplier of every need of life, the spiritual as well as material, that I cannot only fill the hungry stomach but I can fill the hunger of the soul of every man, that I have come as the Bread of Life from heaven.” The great message, a message that they really need, that's the real problem that they have but yet they missed out a great blessing because their heart is hardened completely. Totally could not see what He was trying to say. The hardness of heart, their religion, their religiosity, their tradition, shut them from the blessings of God. And I'll tell you, this is in so many ways true today. “Guard your heart with all diligence,” Proverbs says, “For out of it are the issues of life.” The same warning is given in so many ways in the Bible in so many places and I'll go into more in the weeks to come. It says, be careful about your heart. In Hebrews we read, don't have that heart of unbelief, referring to the people of Israel and how they failed to enter the promised land and perished in the wilderness. He says, “You don't have the heart of unbelief, that heart of unbelief.” The author of the book of Hebrews says, “Don't miss out on the promised land. No, don't miss out on milk and honey, don't miss out on the large and vast land, don't miss out on the good life. Don't miss out on the blessings of God that God has ordained for you. Don't miss it out. Don't be like them. Don't have a heart of unbelief,” he says. And I can tell you that if Jesus was with us today, He'll be warning people also of the heart.

The heart is the thing that stands in between God and us. It's not what God can do. If you decide to shut your heart, if you allow your religion to shut your heart, if you don't open your heart and if you don't pray that prayer that Paul prayed in Ephesians chapter 3... Remember that prayer with four points? Be strengthened in the inner man with might so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, so that we may know the length, the breadth, the height and depth of God's love, and know the love of God that passeth all understanding so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. What kind of prayer is that? It's a prayer that has to do with God change my heart. God, take Your heart and everything that's in Your heart and put it in my heart. Make my heart like Yours, oh God. I need Your heart. Fill my heart with Your intentions, with Your goals, with Your purposes, with the knowledge of who You are and how great you are.

See, some of you may say, “Well, he didn't ask for a car. He didn't ask for a house, he didn't ask for land, he didn’t ask for money.” Yeah. Why? Our problem is not that we don't have this and that, our problem is that our heart is not right. And when the heart is right, all those things will come. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. So get a heart like that. Get an open heart. Get a heart that can be taught, get a heart that is kept guarded from all the evil, from unbelief. Get a heart which is open, get a heart that is willing, get a heart that seeks God and cries out to God for God to fill that heart with good things. That person will be filled with every good blessing of God. Amen.

Now, let's go to real examples. Genesis chapter 15, where we see it really happening. Let me read to you from verse 1 itself. After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” I told you one of the signs of a narrow heart is the fear, and here is a classic example. The New Testament uses Abraham to teach us faith. And how did Abraham begin? He began with a narrow heart. God comes to him, the first thing He says to him is, “Don't be afraid.” God knows before you tell Him that you’re afraid, God knows. Before you open your mouth, God knows what's in your heart. So God says, “Don't be afraid. I am your exceeding great reward.” Now here God Himself comes in a vision to Abraham and appears to him and talks to him. That means, He can now come to God and really be changed and really receive every blessing of God. God has favored him, has come to him and reached out to him. But look at Abraham, he says, Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” In those days there was a practice that if a couple did not have children, and especially they're wealthy, they were always worried about what will happen to their assets after they're gone. So, the custom was they'll take a person from their household, servants or slaves that they had, find a faithful one and adopt them legally and bestow all their assets upon them at their death. So Abraham was really getting worried days are going and he's not having any children. So he was probably considering in his heart making Eliezer his heir.

Eliezer was a faithful servant. Remember, he’s the guy that Abraham uses for everything. He's been with him and says, maybe Eliezer is the candidate and maybe I'll have to give everything to him. And Abraham had much. He had gold, silver, servants, lot of everything, cattle, and so on. So he thinks of that and he's worried about that. He tells God, “Seeing I go childless,” he says. See, fear talking. This is this fear that’s filled his heart. See, fear... All of us get afraid of certain things now and then if you noticed. Fear tries to come in. It comes in but we reject it, we overcome it, we act against it, we refuse it. That's very important. Just because it came and found some place for a minute inside of you, you're not going to die or anything. You need to deal with it. You need to get rid of it. But when you allow it and continue to talk it, continue to think it, continue to meditate upon it, and fill your heart with it, then fear fills your heart and then your words will show that fear is in your heart.

That's why I say, for such people if you talk for 10 seconds, they'll immediately start with their problem. “You see my little toe.” And then they'll pick up the phone and talk for hours together on their problem, I mean, you need to watch out for these little problems, there's no doubt about it, but they're overly preoccupied with it. That's what I'm trying to say. They give it too much space in their life. It's like they can't see anything else. They can’t see that there is a God and there is a better life and there are better things. None of that comes into the scene. They only see that, the problem. They only see the fact that they don't have money. They only see that they have a bill and they only see that, nothing else. We all think about our obligations in this world, and we all have needs, and we think about them, there's nothing wrong with it. But the thing is, when that becomes your life, and you're constantly worried, and that's what fills you then there is something wrong. And here he is, he shows what is there in his heart. And Abram said, “Look,” he continues, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” He’s mentioning everything again, goes on and on.

And now notice, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who shall come from your own body shall be your heir.” God says. See, God has come with a big program. Please understand. When God came to Abraham and chose him in the first place in chapter 12 and pronounces blessing upon him, “I’ll bless you, make your name great. Those who bless you I’ll bless, those who curse you, I will curse and in you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” God was doing this with a great program. He was choosing this man, even when he came here now, God has come with a very large vision about him. He is choosing this man to become a father of a nation, which is the Israelites, and through the nation of Israelites, through his descendants, will come the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and He will die for the sins of the whole world, not just Israelites, and become the savior of the whole world. Jesus is the son of Abraham, and through Him, salvation becomes available to everybody. And all of us who have believed in Christ can become the sons of Abraham, literally. So that is why the Bible in the Old Testament talks about the blessing of Abraham. Why? Because that's the blessing that should belong to everyone that's in Christ. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed, the Bible says in Galatians 3:29.

So Abraham is a very important figure. God has a very big vision. He plays a very important role in redemption. Through him Messiah is going to come, through him things are going to happen. So God's got an unbelievable program about Abraham and He comes to him and He says, “No, Abraham. Your servant Eliezer is not going to be your heir. A child that is born to you will become your heir because he's got the program.” God says, “That's not possible. The one born to you will be the heir.” And then listen to the next verse. Then He brought him outside. Thank God He brought him outside because he was between the four walls. Four walls is what he’s into. He's always looking enclosed with his problems. One side he looks, he looks at his old wife. The other side he looks, he looks at Eliezer, he’s going to be the heir. The other side he looks, someone is saying, “My master has everything but poor man, he doesn't have a son.” All four sides he can only see negativity. Everywhere he turns he cannot see anything. So God says, “Come out.”

You need to go out once in a while. Your world is not just between these four walls, there is a bigger world, there is a sky up there and there are stars up there. Stars that you cannot even count and there is a God who made all these things. You begin to see that there is a bigger world, bigger possibilities, there is greatness, there is a great God to whom all things are possible. So God brings him out and says, “Look towards heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” Of course he can’t. He probably didn't care to look up at the stars much. He’s very busy looking at all the four walls. His wife, Eliezer, his problem, his wealth, how many cows he’s got, how many servants he’s got. This is what he’s busy looking at and he's worried, “Who's going to take it after me? Who am I going to give it?” God says, “Look up. Do you see the stars? Can you count them? Would you count them for me?” Then God says, “So shall your descendants be.” Amazing promise. God is saying, “Look at the stars. You can't even count them. Your descendants are going to be like that.” That means so numerous.

Just imagine what Abraham would have thought and the next verse says. And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Now you're reading a Bible that was written, so you need to read it carefully here. Verse six doesn't mean that God told him your descendants are going to be like the stars of the sky. And it doesn't mean that immediately Abraham believed and it was done. No, it is written like that. See, even when we write some things, we write the conclusion very early and then we later on explain the process sometimes. That's what is happening. Because if you read on Abraham says, “How shall I know that these things will be so?” Few verses later. And then God takes him and makes him cut the animal into two and walks in between it and makes a covenant with him, and promises and prophesies certain things about his descendants, and what will happen to them and all that. The fact that they'll go into Egypt for 400 years, and all of that. It’s prophesied in chapter 15 itself.

And then in chapter 16, Abraham now has seen the stars, he’s heard the promise, his heart is thrilled. He had little doubt. He said, “How shall I know that this will come to pass?” And God made a covenant with him and saying, “Surely I'll do it. If I don't do it I'll be like the dead animal, that sacrifice that you sacrificed. I will do it on my life. I promise you I’ll do it,” He says. So he comes home and there is his wife. Now, wives are very influential. God has made them like that. If you didn't notice so far. God has made them like that. Very powerful they are. And for a purpose. You should never think lightly. They can influence a lot of things. That's why you see boy goes to the father and asks for something, the father said, “No way. You're not getting it.” And the mother says, “Don't worry, you go to school and come back. I will fix it.” And by the time he comes back, the father is willing to buy him anything he wants because she can fix it in no time. He can have a change of heart, she can do the miracle. That's why when Jesus was raised from the dead, the first thing He did was appear to a woman first. And she ran everywhere and told everybody. If He started out with Peter and John, those guys would have delayed the whole thing. It would have been many days before they even started talking about it. Paul Yonggi Cho uses only women for cell group leaders. Do you know that? He’s got thousands and tens of thousands of cell groups home gatherings from his church people. Only women are allowed to be the leaders. He says, “They're influential, brother. You put them in charge, they will gather everybody. They'll fill the house.” So you got to understand that they were made in a particular way.

So here he goes home and there is Sarah and he tells her probably, “See, God said, ‘Look at the stars. Do you see them? Count them if you can.’ And I said, ‘Oh God, my God, how many stars. You can't even begin to count,’ and He said, ‘So shall your seed be.’ Sarah, he made a covenant with me. I cut an animal in two and laid it before God. He walked in between it. He said, ‘If I don't do what I said to you, I'll be like the dead animal. I make a covenant with you. I'll surely do it. Surely this will happen.’” Sarah says, “Look, don't be daydreaming. This is too far-fetched. You don't even have one son and He's talking about pie in the sky. He’s talking about stars and how your descendants will be like that. Forget it. This is too far-fetched. I have an immediate solution, quick solution. Let's take this slave girl that we have. Have a child through her. After all it’s going to be your child, and give all the property. When we die, we’ll leave all the property to that child. Let him live. You will still have your son. Why go through all this trouble of believing like the stars of the sky, I'll have descendants. It’s easy. You can do it tomorrow and within a year you’ll have a child, and everything is over.”

And lo and behold, Abraham did it. Because Adam did it, Abraham goes the same way. Woman had such influence. He did it. That is chapter 16. What I'm trying to say is, in chapter 15 he's promised the things did not happen immediately. When the Bible says he believed and God counted him for righteousness, it doesn't mean that the matter was settled right then and then. It's not that God just promised him and he said, “Yeah, I take it.” And it was said... No, it was not like that. There was a big process. The man's heart was resisting it so much. God was unable to get it into his heart, what he's trying to say, the promises, but later on, he opens up and things begin to happen. So in 16th chapter, he goes in reverse. Instead of believing in God's promise, he went and had a child through Hagar. And in chapter 17, again God visits him. And Abraham says, “Look, God, don't bother, let Ishmael live.” This is his request. “Let Ishmael.... This is enough. God no, no, no, no, I don't want any stars in the sky and all that. That's too much. Too far-fetched. Let Ishmael live, just bless Ishmael. That's enough for me.”

God never changes His plan. God says, “No, no, no. Your wife Sarah will have a child.” God is insisting, “I have a program and that's how it’s going to happen. Your wife Sarah will have a child.” So God, what does He do? He changes his name and his wife's name, because that's his problem. He's always saying, “I'm fatherless and I'm childless, and Eliezer my servant is going to take all my property.” This is what he's lamenting all the time. So God said, “Listen, listen. Hereafter you’re called Abraham, which means father of many nations. Your wife will be called Sarah, mother of many nations.” So every time they open their mouth to tell what their name was, they have to say, “Father of many nations,” instead of saying, “I am childless man.” He fixed their mouth because the miracle should happen.

And then in chapter 17, another thing happens. He actually laughs at the proposal. After seeing the stars and God saying all those things he laughs, “Can an old man and an old woman have a child?” He laughs. But God says, “No, no. I'm going to change your name. Everything is going to be fine. Your wife Sarah will have the child. All right?” And in chapter 18, Sarah laughs and God caught her laughing. Said, “You laughed.” She said, “No, no, no I didn’t laugh.” He said, “Why are you laughing?” God said, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” See, God is teaching him faith. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Do you think it's hard. That's why you're laughing?” For an old man and old woman to have a child? I'll show you. Nothing too hard for the Lord.” And then he seemed to have believed. Because in chapter 21 is where we read that Abraham and Sarah had this child Isaac.

So it took a long time to be talking about it in years, from the time God first promised Abraham a child to the time that he had the child there was approximately 25 years. Now don't be discouraged because some people have said to me, “Brother, you're teaching faith is going to take 25 years for me to get anything from God? Is it going to be 25 years?” Well, it took so long. Why didn’t Abraham have a child the very next year? Why did it have to be 25 years? God took that man and used that man and worked faith into his life so that he can be used it in the New Testament to show all that believe in Christ, how faith works. That is why in the New Testament Abraham was used as a lesson on faith. The process God wanted us to see that is why He uses Abraham. And do we have to wait 25 years? Is this what typically it takes to get things done with faith? No, Abraham had to wait 25 years because Abraham didn't have a nice church. Abraham first of all didn't have a new creation, a new heart. Abraham didn't have the Holy Spirit to help him believe and all that. Abraham did not have a nice church. Abraham did not have a good pastor to teach faith. Abraham didn't have anything. Just imagine putting yourself in Abraham's place. He didn't have anything. Only the promise of God. God appeared in a vision and told him. That's all he has. When he goes home, his wife tells him something else and the problems tell him something else. But God wants us to see all these things and how faith has worked in a person's life.

So 25 years it took. Should it take 25 years for us? I believe not because we are in a totally different situation, a far better situation. We are in a better covenant, with better promises, with better scope because we have a heart, new creation, the Holy Spirit is there to help us, there's a church, there's a pastor, there’s a Bible to teach us the word of God and systematically we can look at what faith is. And I can tell you, it's not going to take 25 years, it can be a lot sooner. We can have results quite quickly. And just like God promised Abraham it was realized his seed became like the stars in the sky. There are millions of Abraham's seed in heaven today, already gone to heaven. There are millions on this earth, not just the descendants of Abraham, physical descendants. Like I said, if you're Christ’s then you are Abraham's seed, blessing of Abraham belongs to you referring to all of us who have put our faith in Christ. Just like Abraham believed we have believed. So all of us are Abraham's seed. All of us are Abraham's descendants. We are all recipients of Abraham's blessings and the things that are promised to Abraham. So millions up in heaven already, millions over here, like the stars in the sky. God brought to pass all that God had promised to Abraham. Amen.

Finally, turn with me to 1 Kings so you can see in Abraham's life that he was full of fear, he was only thinking about his problems. His all world was thinking about his problem. But he became a changed man. He got the vision of God. His heart had to be enlarged to accommodate God's great vision for his future. God saw into the future, not just Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but saw many, many hundreds of years later how that Jesus Christ would become and the born. And further down the road, many thousands of years later, how so many people will become the seed of Abraham, will become the children of Abraham, through faith in Christ. And when God spoke to Abraham, all of that was in God's mind, and God's heart. Very big thing for Abraham to believe, and grasp and accept. But in the end, it happened.

And I tell you something, when God chooses you and saves you, the Bible says, that He chose you and saved you for the wonderful works that He has prepared beforehand, before the world began. He has chosen you for the path that you should walk in and fulfill God's purposes in your life. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10 says that. Talking about salvation, it says that God had planned the route that you're going to take, where you're going to go, your destiny and then only came and saved you. He has designed your life, designed your destiny, then only come and got you to go and walk in that path and accomplish that purpose. And I say to every one of us has great purpose. We're not born just to while away our time here on this earth. Our life ought to be fruitful, blessed, blessing to many. We're all different. God's purposes are different, but everyone has a purpose in God. And God can bring His purposes to pass and that is when true success really happens. And that happens only by faith. For that you need the word of God to get into the heart and do it.

Now let me show you another example 1 Kings chapter 3 and verse 15. The famous passage about how God appears to Solomon and Solomon prays. Verse 5. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. See, Abraham’s children are already like the countless stars. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 

Now, Solomon became a king very young and he reaches out to God and says, “God, I want you to give me an understanding heart.” Everybody say, “understanding heart”. How many think that's a good heart, and understanding heart, as opposed to a heart that doesn't get anything, that doesn't understand anything, that is shut and closed and narrow? Give me understanding heart. This is his prayer. Now, this is a high-class prayer. Just notice the similarity between this prayer and Ephesians 3 prayer that I taught you a couple of weeks ago. How similar the two are. Both are about the condition of the heart. There Paul says, “Fill my heart, oh Lord. Let Christ dwell in my heart through faith. Let Your heart become my heart, Your thoughts become my thoughts. Enlarge me. Fill me with understanding of Your love. Let the fullness of God fill me. Let me be strengthened in the inner man with great might.” And this prayer, “Give me an understanding heart.” Words are different, essence is the same. Give me an understanding heart.

The speech pleased the Lord. The next verse says. God loved this prayer. He didn't ask for a car. He didn't ask for a house, he didn’t ask for this, that and anything. Nothing wrong with asking these things but he asked for something better. This is better. This is bigger than all those things. Bigger than anything that you can ask materially. Because, listen to this, all material things that we need and require in this world, they come from the spiritual. Because the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that we know that things which are seen were not made by things visible. It came from an unseen world. Even today, everything that we need materially in this world comes from this unseen God from that unseen word, going into our unseen heart, our inner man, and doing the work. That is how every seen blessing, material blessing comes.

So instead of praying for material blessing, I think we should pray more for the heart enlargement, because this is what brings all of these the other things. Yeah, we need all other things and God knows. In Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” God knows that you need all these things. But pray. For what? Pray for an understanding heart. Speech really pleased God. And God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall anyone like you arise after you. What a blessing. I guess, nobody ever prayed like this man. Everybody wanted this and that. And here this is the man that wanted right. And God was so pleased at his prayer. God says, “I'll give you such wisdom there will not be anyone born here after like you. And there has not been anyone before like you.” Behold I've done according to your words. See, I have given you a wise and understanding heart and so on.

Verse 13. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. The thing that he did not ask automatically God gave because God knows that he needs a lot of those things. And he gave it in such measure that the world traveled long distance in those days, when there was no planes and cars, came to see the cup out of which he drank, and the plate on which he ate, and his servants who served him the food. He was living in such style and grandeur. The whole world came to just stand and watch the way he ate and the way he lived, and the way he went about and so on. Because he was so blessed. God made the blessing, even the material blessing, a testimony before the world. Everyone that came and looked probably said, “Your God is the living God.” That’s how much God blessed him.

But listen, his prayer was very spiritual prayer, understanding heart. Now listen to one verse. Chapter 4 verse 29, you will love this and I love this verse. And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, listen to this, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. How do you like that? You need to write it down and put it somewhere on your wall. God gave Solomon largeness of heart. Everybody say, largeness of heart. Like the sand on the seashore. Have you seen the sand on the seashore? If you get all the sand that’s on the seashore, if you put it in a man's heart, it'll never hold. But God says Solomon's heart had the capacity. The new birth is such that God made us a new creation. You know why? By making us a new creation, He’s totally recreated our heart, our inner man, so that the capacity is now unlimited? How much wisdom can God give us? How much understanding can God give us? How much can we know? How knowledgeable we can become, it's unlimited.

That's why I say to you, you can be thousand times bigger on the inside than you are on the outside. Don't worry about how you look on the outside, you can be thousand times bigger on the inside, you can be a mighty person, a powerhouse on the inside, because God can give you the largeness of heart like the sands of the sea. Amazing. The man was able to talk about big trees and small plants, and even the plant that creeps on the wall, it says. Anything and everything he is able to talk. He’s talking about fish, and birds and animals and reptiles and he’ll talk about everything. Such knowledge. The man just knew everything. Understanding. And he knew how to judge and how to rule and how to govern. Amazing. And the man who was given the largeness of heart as the sands of the sea was the richest man of his time, as far as wealth is concerned. He became the richest man of his time. And the man who was granted the largeness of heart like the sands of the sea was the man who carried out in someone's calculation, some 30 years ago, that calculation said that the temple that Solomon built was a 1 billion US dollar project.

How can a man build something like that? How can a man come up with such an edifice and build such a big project and do something so great? For a man is it possible? I say to you, it's possible, if you can have largeness of heart like the sands of the sea. If God can depend on you to receive the word of God, and make your heart a receptive heart, if you can receive the word of God, give place to it day by day and be taught by God's word, and be enlarged in your heart, I will say to you, nothing is impossible. Whatever God has willed for you to do, whatever your destiny is, you can fulfill it in your life and through your life because God can get the word into your heart and that's how everything that you see happens, because that's how the whole seen world came into being. Even today, everything seen, all results that are seen outside comes as a result of the word of God, which is from the unseen world coming into your heart, which is unseen, produces the seen results. Amen. God bless you. Let's stand up together.

Praise God. So pray the Ephesians 3 prayer. This high-class prayer, not the low-class prayer but the high-class prayer. This must be your priority. God cares about your every little need, don't mistake me. He cares about your every little need. But all those needs, little or great, is covered in the prayer for a good heart and a large heart. Amen. Let's lift up our hands and give thanks to God.

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