Tag Archives: faithfulness

How to have faith that pleases God

10 Oct

Image result for what is faith

Do you know what faith is?  Do you know if your faith is pleasing to God?

Yesterday I mentioned a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1.  After teaching that description of faith, the writer of Hebrews begins to describe some of the heroes of the Bible and how they demonstrated faith in God. First he mentions Abel and Enoch.

Then in verse 6 he says this: “Without faith it is impossible to please God…” 

That’s pretty serious.  If we want to please God, we have to have faith.  What kind of faith? How much faith? What will it look like or feel like?  Will we know if we have true faith that pleases God?

The writer goes on, still in verse 6: “…because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

It seems to me that the writer is mostly talking about the intellectual side of faith.  The New Testament often refers to it as “belief”.  It is saying, “I believe God exists.”  That alone is quite an astounding thing to say and believe in this day and age.  Statistics point to a rise in those who do not believe in God.  Belief in God can be construed as crazy.  “You believe in God?  How quaint.”  In our scientific world, belief in God can be ridiculed, or said to be a crutch for the weak minded.  So when we believe in the existence of God, we are stepping out in faith.

Faith, then, is a matter of my mind, what I believe.  But that’s not all the writer of Hebrews says about faith. Look at the last part of the verse.  He talks about “those who earnestly seek” God.

He describes an active faith, how we live our live. God rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As we continue along in Hebrews 11, this concept of an earnestly lived out faith is what the writer of Hebrews wants to illustrate for us through more heroes from Bible stories.  He has already mentioned Abel and Enoch.  Now he mentions Noah.

I want us to think about Noah’s faith.  Was it just a belief in his mind?

Not at all.  Noah did something totally bizarre.  He built a giant boat in preparation for a great flood.  And the only reason was because God told him a flood was coming, and he better build a boat.  For those of you that are woodworkers, carpenters and builders, what would you do if God came to you and said, “I want you to build the Titanic out of wood, because I’m sending a giant flood?”

If I heard God say that, my first thought would be, “Uh…what did you say? I don’t think I heard you right.”

But Noah?  He started building a giant boat.  It takes much more than just intellectual belief to choose to do what Noah did.

Next comes Abraham.  Abraham, an old man, gets a wild promise from God: “You and your old wife Sarah are going to be the parents of a great nation.”  In other words, “You are going to have a baby.”  Those of you who are in your 50s, 60s, 70s, what would you do if you had a dream, a vivid dream, and in it God says to you, “You are going to have a baby?”  Many of us would laugh, just like Sarah did.

But in the end, Abraham and Sarah believed and followed through, and God gave the a son.  It takes much more than just intellectual belief to choose to do what Abraham did.

Interestingly the Old Testament Hebrew does not have a strictly intellectual concept faith or belief. Instead the Hebrew is the word “faithfulness”, which is active.  Noah’s faith was pretty active wasn’t it?  And Abraham’s faith was too.

Our picture of faith is starting to fill out.  Faith is intellectual beliefs, and it is physical action.  How does your belief and life match up to this picture of faith?

Projection gear, Mystery Light, Membership Application – The Monday Messy Office Report – February 24, 2014

24 Feb

My Friday, tidy office is mysteriously messy by Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

1. Mystery light – I saw this on Sunday, much to my surprise, because I had no idea how this got in my office or why.  It’s a pretty cool little light with a hanger that pops out of it’s back and a magnet.  I had a hunch how it got in here.  I had two people working in my office during the past week.  The first was a guy from Comcast who came to replace our modem.  I doubted it was his light because he was here early in the week.  The other guy was here on Thursday to work on our copier.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, we found out about Tech Soup, a company that provides donated software for churches and non-profits.  So this week we installed Office 2013 on our computers.  Unfortunately, after the install, our secretary’s computer stopped printing to the copier, which led to the service call.  I asked my secretary if he knew anything about the light and sure enough, it was the copier tech’s.  Maybe he wanted me to have it?

2. Projector, cords, and computer speakers – We have a lot of techy gadgets at the church, and the spare projector is not normally sitting on my counter as it was when I walked into my office on Sunday.  The reason is that we hosted the Lafayette Fire Company appreciation banquet on Saturday.   A bunch of people from Faith Church gave a lot of donations and time and energy to pull off what one Fire Co wife told me was “the best banquet they ever had”!  I’m thankful for the Fire Co., the relationship we have with them, and for the people of Faith Church who arranged the banquet.  At one point during the program, they used our projector to show pictures and video.  Since it is a $5000 piece of equipment, we normally store in my office cabinet for safekeeping.  And now you all know that!

3. Membership Application – I was surprised, but pleased to see this, as a couple from the church is applying to be members.  I’m thrilled that they are taking that step.  When I think of membership, I have to admit a bit of a quandary in my mind.  The Bible never speaks about a formal process of membership such as we utilize. As I look back over the little bit of church history that I know, I can think of abuses of formal membership processes.  I wonder if it would be better to have shorter-term covenants?  I do think it can be very helpful for people to have a public way of declaring their intent to join a local church family and be committed.  What if people would make a covenant to a local church for a year, then have the opportunity to renew their vows annually?  Interested in your thoughts on that.

4. The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken – I just finished reading this book, and because I referred to it in my sermon, I was the one who left it in my office.  I was challenged and encouraged by Ripken’s stories of God at work among persecuted Christians around the world.  These disciples of Jesus, in places like the former USSR, China and Muslim areas are imprisoned, beaten, and yet they demonstrate maturity in faith.  What concerns me is that our freedom, as wonderful as it is, along with our affluency, has led to a less-than-passionate faith in Christ.  Would you agree?

Now it’s time for me to clean up!

Follow-up to What does faithfulness to God look like in the middle class?

27 Aug

We had a gorgeous day Sunday morning for worship in the park!  Afterwards the food and fellowship were great too.

The only glaring omission was our weekly sermon discussion group…  It is one of my favorite hours of the week.  Over the last couple years since we started it, we’ve had conversations that have ranged from thought-provoking (including the recurring “why didn’t I think of that for the sermon???” in my own mind), to emotional, to risky, to hilarious.  The past couple months, it seems to me, have been especially meaningful.

So let’s have a little sermon discussion here.  We do from time to time, but perhaps this week we have more of a reason.

I gave you an introduction to Sunday’s sermon with my post late last week here.

In the sermon I expanded on the difference between faith and faithfulness.  Do you remember what the difference is?  What are your thoughts and questions about that?  Perhaps you might read James 2:14-26 for a bit more on that.

I also discussed what it means to be faithful as middle class Americans.  Our lives are filled to the brim with all kinds of opportunity, the rat race, bills, entertainment, and having to balance it all with sanity.  School just started for our kids, so many of you are breathing a bit easier now that there is more of a schedule in your life.  Some of you have 7 free hours that you didn’t have a few days ago!  But with school comes homework, and sports, and early mornings trying to get it all together to make the bus, and so on.  Is there any time to grow the fruit of faithfulness in our lives?  Maybe you want to discuss that.

Finally, we talked about how God is the source of faithfulness, because he himself is perfectly faithful.  And yet, you might be wondering about God’s faithfulness.  You might be waiting for what seems like an eternity to have a prayer answered, a sickness healed, a relationship restored.  God doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon.  Is he faithful?

So let’s discuss!

What does faithfulness to God look like in Middle Class America?

23 Aug

I’ll let you define whether or not you feel like you are Middle Class.  When I use the word “Middle Class”, I’m referring to pretty much everyone that is a part of Faith Church.  Not ultra-rich, but not in extreme poverty.

So what does faithfulness look like in middle class America, when we are swamped with bills, with work, with a million events, loads of entertainment options, sports, hobbies and we are just trying to keep it together?  We are much more focused on whether or not God is going to be faithful to us. 

For some of us, to think that we need to grow more faithful to God can feel overwhelming.  And so we have to ask why?  When we know that God’s way is the best way, the way of abundant life, why do we inwardly rebel? 

For some of us there are roadblocks to faithfulness. What causes people to not be faithful?