Vernon Joyce - Brisbane, Australia Convention - 2018

Hebrews 11:1–4, 6: “Now faith is the substance of the things hoped for, the evidence of the things are not seen. For by the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which she obtained witness that he was righteous, testifying of his gifts; and by it being dead yet speaketh.” But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The reason we are gathered here today is to have our faith strengthened and encouraged. I suppose it would be safe to say that most here today have chosen to follow Jesus and taken steps and have declared by your life that you have your faith in God. You believe that this Bible is God’s Word. It is a great privilege to grow up and to be going to gatherings like this. If you had that privilege, just be sure to take time and in your private prayers to thank God for that privilege. It is so easy to take it for granted.

I do not remember the first convention I was at and I was probably up the back with the other crying children and not spending much time in the meeting. I am thankful for parents who took me to convention and took me to special meetings and took me to the Sunday morning meeting, and the Wednesday night meeting, and to the gospel meetings. Long before I could listen or comprehend what was being said, I was sitting in an environment where faith was being poured out upon us. Listening to workers that were living by faith, going to Sunday morning meetings where the elder and his wife lived by faith.

Faith is a substance. Faith is something you cannot grab with your hand and hold it, but we can feel it. We know when we have it and we know when we lose it. It is something and it is a substance, and because of this, we have hope and we just don’t live for this world alone. We have our hope that is far richer and something that is far more enduring and lasts forever and it is eternal. Because of faith, we have hope. Because of this faith, we do not have any fear of any political upset, and we have hope in that which is stable, and we hope in that which is eternal and that is our anchor. It is in the word of God and it is in the Son of God. Our faith is being fed today, because we all made a choice and a decision to come here. It is a very special and important time and we know it is important to spend time reading every day and we need to spend time praying and we need to spend time feeding our faith. Our faith being a substance is being encouraged and is being fed and strengthened today and our faith will help us to continue to walk in such a way it shows to each other and to a needy world that we have hope. We live for that which is beyond. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. We accept that as a fundamental basic truth of God.

I know some people that are very gifted with brains and we don’t have to depend upon our brains to do the thinking. I feel sorry for people that are gifted and very intelligent and they have a burden to bear because of the tendency with those kind of people to depend upon their own intelligence instead of faith. It doesn’t say here without intelligence it is impossible to please God. A little four-year-old can have faith and can be smarter than the most intelligent teacher at University. It is not that we don’t appreciate people that are smart as we need them. When it comes to faith and pleasing God, Jesus said we must be converted and become as a little child in order to enter the kingdom. If you have faith and even if it is only a little and take time and thank God that you have something from Him in your heart that will help you pray to Him.

Earlier on when Cain was older and he was a farmer and we need farmers and Abel was herder and he was a shepherd and we need both. They offered to God their best. Apparently Cain did not have faith. Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable and it tells us here in Hebrews 11 and it was faith that helped Abel to sacrifice that which was acceptable unto God. Faith will help us offer unto God that which will be acceptable by God and the way we live and what we have to offer to God faith will help us offer that which is pleasing to God.

The 11 chapter of Hebrews is like the Honour Roll of the Bible and it is a chapter of faith and it is something we can read every day. As you read it, just enjoy what faith prompted people to do and it is wonderful reading. That same thing that helped Moses to choose to suffer affliction than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and that same faith is working in our lives today and helping us to choose and helping us make choices so that our lives can be of use unto the Lord. It is a great privilege today to feed our faith.

In this chapter, it tells us a little bit about Abraham. Verse 17–19, “By faith Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said that in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also He received him in a figure.” We all know the story about Abraham being tested by God and to offer up his son Isaac and the son that was a miracle child. It was a promise given and through him the seed would be multiplied greater than the sands of the sea. By faith, he believed it was God speaking to him and he did not question and he listened and understood and were willing to do what God had said and asked him to do. He started to take steps to show that he was obedient towards what God was asking him to do and he gathered the wood and took his son and took two servants. "We have the wood and we have the fire. Where is the sacrifice?" That is what Isaac asked Abraham and Abraham’s reply was God will provide.

Abraham’s faith was so strong he believed God and if God asked me to do this and if I have to kill my son and I do believe in the promise that God will bless my son Isaac and that the multitude will be so great that you will not be able to count them. Abraham was willing to do something we would never ever want to be asked to do. He gets to the point of obedience and to the point where the altar is made and his son is put upon the altar and he is tied there and the knife is ready to strike and he went that far in obedience. Then he hears, "Abraham, Abraham." Abraham was obedient because he had great faith and faith helps us to obey and faith helps us to obey Jesus and faith will help us to obey even when it costs us personally. Faith in God and in His Word and in His Son. Our faith is in the living God and that which is the eternal. We may be asked to deny ourselves a little while we are here on this earth and God will give us so much in return.

Jesus speaks in John 14:1–4, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you and where I am you shall be also," and that is a wonderful promise and great promise. We can enter into this promise and being with Jesus and with our heavenly Father also and that is forever. Jesus tells us that He is coming back for us and that we can spend the rest of the time in eternity with Him and that is a wonderful promise. That is an eternal fellowship with Jesus and also with our heavenly Father. Abraham believed in that promise and it seemed impossible to believe and to offer up his son. Do we believe in promises? Do you think that we are going to be with Jesus and He is coming again and that Jesus will take us back?

As I said, I was very privileged to be able to go to convention when I was growing up. Convention was the highlight of my summer and in the fall, you would go back to school and children would be saying where they went and how much they enjoyed themselves. They would ask me, "What did you do?" I would tell them, "I went to convention." They did not know what convention was, but I did and that was the highlight of my summer. The teacher would say draw a picture of the highlight of your summer and I would draw a picture of some tents and some people and some food.

It is wonderful we can have fellowship with our brothers and sisters every Sunday morning and it is sweet fellowship and it is rich fellowship and it is encouraging fellowship. That is with the struggles of human nature and can you imagine fellowship in heaven for ever and ever without the world, flesh and devil. That is going to be the most wonderful fellowship and as Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you," and that is the most wonderful promise. Jesus said the most wonderful words, "I will come again and receive you unto Myself and where I am you will be also." Why do we want to go to heaven to be with Jesus? Faith helps us believe these promises.

Verse 26-27, “But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” So this is another wonderful promise and what Jesus talked about the comforter and the teacher and the helper and the spirit of the Holy Ghost. Jesus said that God would send us a teacher and a guide to each of us and that is a wonderful promise and for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. We are entering into that peace that God has given us despite living in a world that is full of turmoil and strife and through all this God gives us peace. It is not a peace the world gets but a real peace. Our God can even guide us with peace and with the peace of God ruling in our heart and if you lose your peace go find where it is and get it back. It is a wonderful promise to have a comforter and the guide and to have peace.

We read of a story in Matthew 14 that we are familiar with after Jesus had fed the multitude and the disciples were in their ship and along came a storm. Then Jesus came walking on water and they were afraid because they never expected to see Jesus in this situation. They are probably hoping Jesus would come to help them as they were in the storm and they were afraid. Matthew 14:26-27, “And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled saying, 'Is it a spirit?' And they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them saying, 'Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.'” You know the story of Peter getting out of the ship and walking on the water and he got within arm’s length of Jesus and Jesus reached out and caught him and then he looked around him and saw the wind and the waves and he began to sink. Then Peter said, "Lord, save me," and it is the shortest and most effective prayer you can pray. Jesus put forth His hand and they walked back to the ship.

Verse 31, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him and said unto him, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?'” Peter had a little faith and isn’t it amazing what a little faith can do. As far as I can read, no one else got out of that ship that day and all the other disciples recognised it was Jesus as He spoke to them and Jesus spoke the same was true all them. Peter was the brave one and Peter said, "If it be Thou, bid me to come or ask me to come to You," and Jesus said, "Come." It is really amazing what a little faith can do and it got Peter close to Jesus. Peter walked in conditions and positions he could normally not walk. I have walked on water that was frozen and of course, it was ice. We take steps in faith to please God which is impossible to do in our own strength and even a little faith and we can do it. May our days here increase our faith so we can have a little faith to become a little stronger and we can take steps to be with Jesus and we can please God and without faith it is impossible to please God. Do not be discouraged even if you have any other little faith and it is our faith that will help us please God and may be so. For Jesus Sake.