You might have seen a report in the newspaper several months ago of three elderly people who had taken off in a light plane when suddenly the wife noticed that her husband, who was flying the plane, had slumped over the controls. She grabbed hold of his wrist and discovered that he had had a heart attack. He had actually just died at that moment. The ladies were in their late 70s and they managed somehow to get him away from the controls. The other lady got in behind them but of course she had never flown a plane in her life before.
You can only imagine what then happened. The air traffic controller was now talking to her and saying, "Okay ma'am, I just want you to put your whole attention on me. I don't want you to even look out of the windows. I just want you to put your attention on me and listen to me."
Lady: She's looking out and saying, "But there is... (for the first time as if she had never noticed it before), "There's nothing under us, there's nothing under us."
Air Traffic Controller: "It's all right. That thing will stay in the air if you do what I tell you. I don't want you to think of what you know about planes or what you don't know about planes, just listen to me."
Lady: "But it's beginning to lose height, we're beginning to go down."
Air Traffic Controller: "Ma'am just be quiet. Listen to me. Do you see the air speed indicator? It's like a speedometer on your car."
Lady: She's beginning to look for it and sees the needle.
Air Traffic Controller: "Tell me what it's at?"
Lady: "It's about 50-56."
Air Traffic Controller: "All right now, ease the throttle forward, just do what I tell you, and trust me."
Lady: "But you can't even see us, you can't see us."
Air Traffic Controller: "Yes I can. I have you on the radar screen. I can see you exactly, I know exactly where you are."
Lady: "But I don't see how that could be? I don't see how you can see us."
Air Traffic Controller: "I can. I can see exactly what height you are. Now, ease the throttle forward. Is the needle going up?"
Lady: "Yes, it's going, 70, 80, yes it's going."
Air Traffic Controller: "So you're increasing speed, now ease the wheel back, ease it back, and is the nose of the plane coming up?"
Lady: "Yes, it's coming up."
Air Traffic Controller: "All right, now you're gaining height, now just trust me."
Lady: She of course is beginning then, as we all do, to feel just a little safer and starts to think, "Well, now I can do some things myself." Then she touches a few things and of course it tips over.
Air Traffic Controller: "No, no don't, get it back even and just do what I tell you."
Lady: "This is madness, there's no way in which you can get us landed."
Air Traffic Controller: "Ma'am, I have landed that plane in this airport a dozen times. I know exactly how that plane will react. I know exactly what will happen if you do what I tell you to."
Lady: "But what about the weather? What about if we run into rain?"
Air Traffic Controller: "I have that on the scope, I can see it, there's no bad weather, everything's clear, I have everything in position, everything is set for your landing. Just do what I tell you."
Then, half an hour later she manages to get the plane down as he talked her right the whole way down.
Not by sight, but by faith. It's not by sight at all, but all by faith. It's by faith in him, a man that she couldn't see, by faith in his knowledge of the plane even though she was the one sitting in the plane, by faith in his awareness of how the weather was, by faith in his awareness of how to deal with the air currents, by faith that he had the whole thing under control and refusing herself to walk by sight. It's all by faith.
Loved ones that's what I'd love to bring to your mind again today, for your own sake and for my own sake. We walk not by sight, but by faith. I'd like to show you that, it's 2 Corinthians 5:7. I have a friend in California and his license plate is that: 2C57. He is amazed how often somebody comes along and says, "Oh, so you walk by faith and not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Almost 3400 years ago, one of the leaders of the Israelites was in the same spot. He had come to the border of the Promised Land and was facing the gateway city that was shut up from within and without so that no one could go in and no one could go out. He knew that they had to take that city if they were to move into the Promised Land. And the air traffic controller spoke to him and said, "Behold I have given this city into your hand." And if he had not believed the air traffic controller at that time, he would never have got into the Promised Land.
I point out to those of you who tend to see a dichotomy between faith and works. There is no dichotomy between faith and works. That lady in that plane worked hard and no doubt she was perspiring by the time she got that plane down. She did things that she never thought she could do. So she worked but she worked by faith. She worked on the basis of faith in the air traffic controller. She worked on the basis of faith that the plane would stay up. She worked on the basis of faith that the radar would work. She worked on the basis of faith. She acted wholly differently in faith than she would have acted had she been going by sight. In fact there was a moment when she did go by sight and she certainly worked, but the actions would have brought disaster to her.
This man was in the same spot. The city was shut from within and without. If he had gone at it the way generals normally do: with his army around him, the best weapons, and the best fighters to the front to tackle the city, as a military campaign it would have been disaster. But he didn't. He listened and believed this air traffic controller, the greatest air traffic controller in the whole universe. He listened to Him as He said, "Look I have flown this plane before, and I have landed it a dozen times in this airport. I have been over this ground before. I have been along this way before. I foresaw that you would come this way and behold I have given this city into your hands. I am going to tell you what you have to do and you have to listen to me. You have to walk by faith in me, not by sight."
Then the air traffic controller said, "I want you to march around the city walls." That man, Joshua, must have felt the same as that lady. He must have felt, this is madness, you can't see where I am, you can't see what we're at. If you knew, you'd know that walking around walls won't do anything to get the city into our hands. He must have felt the same pressure that you and I feel when we get into hideous situations domestically, professionally, financially, socially, and martially. We get into hideous situations, crisis circumstances, and we all feel the same. We feel, "No, no I see it. I want to walk by sight. I see it." Joshua must have felt that way but he believed his God. He believed that his God had given the city into his hand. God had already done that, and all he had to do was do what his Father told him and that would be manifested here in time and space.
Now brothers and sisters, I don't know how much God was able to explain to Joshua. And we don't know how God exactly explained to the people of the Old Testament what we now know in the New Testament. But let me just point you again to the basis on which God dealt with Joshua. It's Galatians 6:14. And it's the same basis on which He deals with you and me in our chaotic circumstances and situations in which we find ourselves.
Galatians 6:14. "But far it be from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." We've shared several times these last weeks that Calvary is not only a victory over the guilt of our sins, it does not enable God only to forgive us our sins, it does not enable God only to change us inside and to crucify the old self but on Calvary, God crucified the world.
I really don't know how much of it God was able to explain to Joshua but He somehow got over to Joshua that the protons and neutrons that make up that apparently solid wall around that city of Jericho, (that Joshua was thinking of tackling with battering rams), those protons and neutrons have been changed by Me into raw energy and I have placed them in My Son who will be manifested as dying in 29 A.D. This is years on, Joshua, from where you are now. But in My great foresight, he (Jesus) was crucified before the foundation of the world and I put in him everything that would destroy my will in any of the lives of my children. I put these walls of Jericho in him and I destroyed them there and made them fall flat. Now I have everything in position. Everybody is ready at the airport. I have you on my radar screen, I have everything under control and if you do what I say, I will manifest this destruction of matter that I have already wrought in My Son. And Joshua obeyed.
You remember he walked around those walls through the days of that week, and then on the last day he walked around them seven times. They blew the trumpets, they all shouted, and the walls fell flat. It was all arranged by God. You and I are in the same situation. Even when you think you've achieved something by all your worry and anxiety and effort, the thing only happens because God, in His graciousness, allows to be manifested what He has already completed and wrought in His Son Jesus. That's true.
Actually, in your own dear heart you suspect that at times. There are certain situations that you have slogged and slogged and slogged at and suddenly they work out and it's hardly due to you at all. They just happened. If I really pushed you hard, I think you would agree that the whole philosophical theory of cause and affect is very questionable in our minds. It's very questionable if we cause anything. There are skeptical philosophers that say, there's no such thing as cause and effect. It's just that one thing happens to happen after another often enough so that we think one causes the other.
But in your own life you must admit, we have been in numerous situations where we have worked and worked and worked by sight and the thing works out. But we're never quite sure whether it worked out because of our work. The truth is, there is a better, a perfect way to go. That is to grab hold of the truth that you are not facing one financial situation, you are not facing one family problem, you are not facing one professional dilemma that God has not already put in His Son Jesus, destroyed and rearranged and resurrected perfect for the fulfillment of His will in your life. God has already done the work. It has already been done.
He wants you to accept that by faith and then to begin to walk by the directions He gives you. If you don't grab hold of that, you'll be like that lady. You'll thinks it depends on you and you won't listen to His directions. And if you don't follow His directions, the thing cannot be manifested. Do you see that? That's why the works are important. She would have never got down into the airport if she hadn't had the faith in the air traffic controller and if she hadn't obeyed what he was telling her to do.
So your actions are as important as your faith, but they have to be faith actions. It was the same with the lame man at the Gate Beautiful of the temple. He reached out to Peter and John and he said, "Will you give me some alms?" And they said, "We have no silver or gold, but we give you what we have." They knew that God had foreseen that that man would be lame all those years. God put him into Jesus from before the foundation of the world, and made him whole and well. All he required was the faith of someone, like that lady in the cockpit, the faith of someone, to act in accordance with reality.
I had hoped really that we would have an "open microphone" this morning but I don't think we'll have time so I'll just give my brief testimony to this. This year has been a wild year for me personally in a thousand ways and I could tell you all kinds of ways where this has worked for me. But let me share with you something that probably is true in your own life.
I would like to go on record today with my thanks to God for the way He has governed my own personal finances during this year. Like many of you, I have found myself in that situation where you just did not know where the next bill was going to be paid. It's the job of a guy like me never to be out of ideas and I have rarely found myself in a position where I was out of ideas. But I came to that point this year where I was out of ideas for my own personal finances. It was then that I realized that if God has not resolved these things, then there is no hope for me. I sensed him saying, "All the complicated system of your personal finances I know in detail and I have put them into My Son and whether you can see how they work out or not, I have put them into My Son and I have rearranged them so that they will come out right, just obey Me."
I felt very much like that lady. "But Lord, here is one coming towards me, it's going to kill me." And the air traffic controller said, "Look away from that, keep your eyes upon me, keep your attention on me. Do what I tell you to do and we'll land this plane." I need to go on record this morning for saying to you that looking back over this year; I know that it is God that has done it.
Most of you know the complex series of bills and checks that pass through all our hands. I'll tell you there is no way, just no way, no way, no way through coincidence, luck, and chance that the thing could have happened the way it did. I would like to thank the Father for not throwing money at me. He doesn't throw money at us. I don't know what your situation is financially. We would love Him to throw money at us because we think, "Oh give me a million dollars now and I'll sort it out!" And yet we all know that's the terrible thing about wealthy dads, isn't it? A wealthy dad can throw money at his child and all it does is convince the child that the father isn't really interested in them anyway. He has just given something that doesn't cost him anything.
I'd like to testify to the fact that the Father knows exactly where you are. I cannot believe that He timed it so close in certain weeks. It's that timing for me, that is the testimony, even more than the overall victory. That is the testimony that He won it by inches and at times by microns. But He won it. He had the whole thing planned and it convinced me utterly that He knows every detail of each one of our lives. He knows every moment and He has already put it in His Son. It's all arranged.
He can see the end from the beginning and He can see the beautiful conclusion. That's why He is saying to you and me, "Don't be anxious, don't be anxious for your life, just trust me and do what I tell you to do." And loved ones, if you will do that, I know you'll testify to the same deliverance, not only in finances, but in your own professional life and in your family life.
Really, why I wanted an "open microphone" this morning was that I know there are others who can testify to the same thing. But I would encourage you in your hearts. See, that there is only one way to go in our practical everyday lives. We need to see that God has destroyed in His Son (miraculously in the ways that you and I cannot explain) everything that is wrong in your present life and He is asking you to start believing that and to start moving on the basis of that faith in quietness and confidence and to do what He tells you. And it will seem strange. You will have no money and He'll tell you to tithe. You'll say, "Tithe? What can I tithe, I have no money!" And yet you'll do what He tells you and you'll put the stick forward this way and you'll pull the wheel back this way, and you'll do what He tells you even though it seems to bear little relationship to the problem at hand. But if you do it, He will land the plane safely in the airport.
That's because our Father knows us. We're weak. We don't solve anything. We aren't great men and women, we're puny little insects. We can't influence anything. He has foreseen your whole life from beginning to end. He has arranged the whole thing. What He showed me last week was this: He has walked down this road and He has planted little lunch boxes here and there, little treats, little cans of coke and 7-up and ice cream. He has it all arranged. He knows there'll be a dip in the road over there and He's smoothed it out so that you'll be able to bear it. He has already done it. There is nothing to fear. There's nothing to fear.
I'd encourage your dear hearts, there's nothing to fear. God has already done it all in His Son Jesus and He is saying, "Look I've arranged it, the world is crucified in My Son, the world that would destroy you is crucified, just trust Me and now listen to Me and do what I tell you." Loved ones that's the life that he has for us. He knows how little and incapable we are and as soon as we realize that, he is able to move with us.
So I'd speak very seriously to all of you who have practical difficulties and problems in your life and have thought, "It's my job to solve those." It's certainly your job to act, for faith is not passive. But it's your job to act according to God's directions to you on the basis of your absolute faith in what He has done in Jesus.
So as you come to the end of 1984, I would pray that you put away once and for all, walking by sight -- and that you'll begin to walk by faith, even if the heavens seem to be falling upon you. You keep walking by faith and He will bring you through. Let's pray.
Dear Father, You know us, you know how incorrigibly independent we are. Indeed you know Lord we've been educated to be independent. We've been brought up to believe that it is manly, it is courageous to do the thing by our own strength. Lord, we've done it and we've sorted our way through so often to what are only half solutions, what are only partial answers. Lord, we see that we can do nothing but patch and tinker and tamper. We cannot really change things.
So Father, we would bring to You the situations in our lives that are unsatisfactory, whether it's an old marital relationship or whether it's a family relationship or whether it is some of us who don't know where to go with our careers and all we are doing is pretending and evading this thing and bumping into that. Others of us have real crisis situations on our hands physically. Others of us have family situations that need resolution. Lord, we want to go on record this morning. We believe that you have crucified the world in Jesus. You have foreseen that we would face all these things and you have taken the actual circumstance and situation and have destroyed it in Your Son Jesus. We want to say we believe that Father.
Now, we are going to start walking in that faith. You have some things for us to do that are going to be very different from the things we would do if it were up to ourselves. So we're going to listen to You Lord and ask you through our thoughts, through the Holy Spirit, at times through other people, at times through your dear word in the Bible, you are going to tell us what we are to do. We will act on the basis of that faith Lord. We will trust you to manifest the complete resolution that you have already wrought in Jesus.
We'll trust you to manifest it here in time and space in due season when it pleases you, when you have achieved in us what you wanted to achieve through the trial. So Lord, we thank you that even though we cannot see the airport, even though we cannot see anything but clouds at this moment, we thank you that we can start resting in You and start having peace through faith in You. So Lord we would take this position of faith now and we would take this position of authority over all panic and all fear and anxiety. We would tell you Satan, with all your spirits of unrest, to leave our lives in Jesus' name. And now, Holy Spirit, will you sit beside us as the dear co-pilot and will you guide us here safe into landing? We ask this that You may have pleasure, our Father, in having provided for Your children and that You may find us willing to accept Your provision, for Jesus' sake. Amen.