Faith, it all Starts with God

By Stan Johnson, pastor emeritus, Flagstaff Christian Fellowship


Yosemite National Park
Photo by David F Menne

Theme: Faith, it all Starts with God

Scripture: Hebrews 11:3
Scripture Reading:
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”


I have enjoyed reading and slowly memorizing Hebrews 11, emphasis slowly. I find that scripture memory is a great Bible Study tool, not to just memorize the words. Therefore, memorize by understanding and putting phrases together as a clear thought. So, with Hebrews 11, I want to understand: what is faith, how do I live by faith and why is it important to God, “for without faith it is impossible to please God.” (11:6)


By Faith We Understand

Near the beginning of Hebrews 11, verse 3 reads:  “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God.” Faith begins by believing that God, by His word, made all of creation. So, this is consistent with Genesis 1:1 where we read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John 1:1-3 reads “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Here, “Word” refers to Christ who shows us God just as a particular word  pictures an object to us in our minds. Christ who is God, shows us God and He by His word created the world around us. So, this is where faith begins, and believing this pleases God. Subsequently, the author of Hebrews continues his point about faith in verse 6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Give credit to God

We honor God and show our faith in Him when we give credit to God for creating our beautiful world. Do you thank and praise Him for the complexity of our biological systems that work so well together? In Psalm 19, David helps me recognize God’s handiwork all around me. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” In Psalm 8, David helps me give God honor and credit in His creation. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for Him?” (8:1,3)

Bryce Canyon National Park
Photo by David F Menne

All of creation

All of creation points to a beautiful, loving and wise creator.  Let us heed Paul’s warning in Romans 1:25 to worship the creator and not His creation. “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

It is a significant phrase to say “thank God.” But, do we give God credit and honor due Him in our conversations with others? Do we take away from giving God credit and honor by not thanking Him out loud when we need to? So, there is significance in our living by faith to not only believe that God created our world, but that we recognize this before others. Give testimony to this and then thank God for His amazing creation.

My wife gave me an illustration of how to naturally bring God into our daily conversation. She was working as a nurse at our local hospita. Looking out of a third story window toward the San Francisco Peaks, she commented to her patient, “Isn’t God’s creation beautiful?” And from a hospital bed, no one ever disputed it.


In short, how might you recognize God as creator by thanking Him in your conversations. Or cause curiosity about God as creator with a timely question?
Lord, thank you for creating the world we live in. Help me recognize you as creator in my conversations this week.   (7/8/2021)

Escape from Guilt and Shame: God’s Remedy

I wonder if even one person in all of history has arrived at adulthood without feeling guilt and shame. As humans, we seem to have a continual sense of shame hovering just below the surface of our consciousness. We might even remember the guilty feelings that descended on us when a parent or teacher said, “Shame on you!” Shame is so pervasive that whole societies are built on the concepts of honor and shame. One receives honor if he adheres to the norms; but is shamed if he does not. Feelings of guilt and shame are everywhere. Why is that so? Can I escape from those feelings?

Escape From the Land of If Only is available as an eBook, paperback book, and as a Hardback book. The cover image portrays a woman who is looking with hope up towards a source of light.
Escape From the Land of If Only
By Martha E Menne

My new book, Escape from the Land of If Only, has a chapter devoted to the subject of Guilt ad Shame. You can ORDER it on Amazon.  You can read an overview of my book right here on my website.

The Origin of Guilt and Shame

We are born in shame, but God can cancel it out.
We are born in shame, but God can cancel it out.

To answer that question, we have to go back to the very beginning of human existence. Sin, guilt, and shame are the results of Adam and Eve eating fruit from the one tree in the Garden of Eden God told them to leave alone. As soon as they took the first bite, our first parents felt guilty and ashamed. They reacted by diving into the bushes to hide from God (Genesis 3).  

Mankind has been hiding from God ever since. Even while we’re hoping he doesn’t notice that we are sinful and full of shame, we yearn for a way to get back into his good graces. We try to please him by keeping rules and thinking good thoughts. We attempt to conform our actions to the norms of society, thinking that might do the trick. But it seems like we fail more often than we succeed. Rather than getting close to God, we find ourselves in an endless cycle of disobedience, guilt and shame, confession, and resolutions to do better. But we just keep messing up. And after every offense, we suffer guilt and shame again. We are helpless and hopeless when it comes to pleasing God.

God’s Plan to Take Away our Guilt and Shame

Realizing our dilemma, God made a plan to remove our guilt and shame. And he worked out his plan throughout history. He established commandments so people would know right from wrong. But when they broke a commandment, they felt guilt and shame. So, God instituted animal sacrifices as a tangible way for them to experience his forgiveness. During the Old Testament period, God instructed his people to offer animal sacrifices to remove their guilt. But the blood of bulls and goats didn’t really cover their sin. We humans need a perfect and effective sacrifice to remove our sinfulness and free us from guilt.

God provided just such a sacrifice by sending his Son to earth in human flesh. As a man, Jesus suffered the same temptations we do. But because he was also God, he was able to resist them (Matthew 4:1-11). That’s why he could be the sacrifice that paid the death penalty we deserve because of our sin. God graciously placed our guilt and shame on Jesus as he died on the cross. He accepted the blood of his Son as the perfect and effective covering we need for our sin, guilt, and shame.

How we Benefit from God’s Plan

God made the plan and gave his Son to die as the perfect and effective sacrifice. So how do we take advantage of his plan? First, we have to agree with God that we have broken his holy standards of behavior. We have all lied, cheated, lusted, and hated, if not in overt actions at least in our minds. Then we must believe that Jesus is the sacrifice God accepts to cover our sins. His death on the cross paid our penalty. So, God can forgive all our past, present, and future sins and failures. He places them on Christ and gives us his perfection. Since Jesus paid our sin debt, we are able to come out from behind the bushes where we have been hiding in guilt and shame. In fact, he allows us into his presence so we can enjoy an intimate relationship with him.

Once God has removed our sins in response to our faith, he sees only the perfection of his Son when he looks at us. He takes away our sin, guilt, and shame and covers us with the goodness of Jesus. He promises to care for us, guide us, and transform us into godly obedient servants in his kingdom. Without Jesus, we are helpless and hopeless to take care of our guilt and shame. But God is ready to remove them and make us new. This is our hope for this life and for eternity.

Here is a link to an article about how to deal with shame biblically.

How can I know if I am a christian? Check out this article: Salvation