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Following is the sermon notes from the service this past Saturday at Suite Living in Blaine, Mn. Cornerstone Church of Blaine provides a church service for the residents on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Saturdays of each month at 10AM. Feel free to join us if you are in the area. The folks always enjoy the visit.
Faith and Action
January 22, 2011
Faith is something that everyone has, that many claim to possess, but few can easily explain or define. While it is true that all people have faith to some extent, the object of that faith can be very different from one person to another. For example, we all have faith that as we inhale we will receive the proper oxygen, our lungs will do their job, our bodies will correctly process and distribute the oxygen and we will continue living for another breath. Some people will attribute this to their brain monitoring and doing what needs to be done while others will attribute it to the grace of God. Either way, there is the exercise of faith that the necessary task will be accomplished. Both are actually correct but one carries the explanation a step farther and gives the glory to God rather than to man.
The Bible defines faith in the letter to the Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
What does that mean? This is really two phrases that mean nearly the same thing and is written in a style of Hebrew poetry that is seen in Psalms.
The word substance could also be assurance, so the assurance of things hoped for. When trusting in the promises of God that are found in the Scriptures, we are trusting in God to fulfill them. The object of our faith, or the substance or our assurance, is the trustworthiness of God and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
The word evidence could also be conviction, so the conviction of things not seen. When faith is exercised, conviction is placed in the result that is as yet unseen. Again, trusting in the promises of God, our conviction is that the promised result, yet unseen, will be produced. Evidence in this case is not evidence as may be presented in a court case; rather, it is divine assurance upon which we can hold our conviction or belief.
So faith is accepting with conviction the truth that is yet unseen in our situation. We accept the truth that is presented in the promise though it is yet unseen in the reality of our current experience. We base the conviction of our belief upon the reliability of the object, in this case the trustworthiness of God and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
Perhaps we have heard the term, misguided faith. This is not to say that the faith was in error so much as to say that the object of the faith was faulty. The term implies that the object of the faith was insufficient to produce the result of our conviction. Some people may consider faith in God to be misguided. To assure ourselves that our conviction is properly placed we need to build our trust in the trustworthiness of God. This is the beauty of Scripture as it reveals the character of God and all of the stories reflect the consistency of His character. We read how time after time God fulfilled each and every promise, or will fulfill those promises which are actually prophetic, for future events.
Our faith is built upon the proven track record of God and is strengthened by our experiencing His faithfulness, or trustworthiness, in our lives. Nobody as far as I can tell ever starts out with great faith, but rather builds and strengthens faith over a period of time. As we exercise our faith, or put it into practice, our confidence and trust grow. Things can get to a point that we take them for granted, unfortunately, as in the case of inhaling. Nevertheless, our faith grows and we move on to bigger tests.
We like to look at faith as a noun. We want to know what it is so that we can get a handle on it and understand it. Much like love, however, to understand faith is to look at it as a verb. Faith is an action that we sometimes refer to in the phrase, stepping out in faith, or in a secular sense, a leap of faith. Faith needs to be put into action or it is worthless. In the Epistle of James, there is a lengthy teaching on this subject concerning both saving faith and enacting our faith in our daily lives. He basically sums things up in two statements.
James 2:17 (King James Version)
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
James 2:26 (King James Version)
26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
If I know how to play the piano and I have faith that if I depress the proper keys the result will be the tune or melody that I desire, it is worthless if I do not actually sit down and play the piano. My faith would be dead in that it is of no use until I bring it to life by actually performing the action. The action that allows the opportunity for the desired result to come about is the necessary ingredient for living faith. Putting faith into action is the power that we have as we trust God in our daily lives.
Let’s take another look at Hebrews, chapter 11.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (King James Version)
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3Through 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.
We see here that through faith and the exercise of it that the elders obtained good report. That is to say that they found favor in the sight of God for putting their faith into action. The verse is not there to merely inform us that a few select people were able to find favor in the sight of God. The lesson is that this is how we are likewise able to find favor in the sight of God, by putting our faith into action. Read through the entire chapter which is sometimes referred to as the Faith Hall of Fame. Read it with the understanding that the people listed here were men and women that were no different than us. They, however, put their faith into action. When God called upon them, and others, they listened, eventually accepted, believed and obeyed the Word of God. That is no different than the call upon our lives to listen to, accept and believe the Word of God and then put it into action. Read it and look at the faith steps that were necessary for each person. Go back and read the account of each person. Look at the obstacles that had to be overcome and the doubts that had to be put to rest. Look at the convictions that needed to be established in order to put the faith into action.
Here are a few of the examples from chapter 11.
4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. (And it goes into the story of Moses and his steps of faith.)
There are many stories that show faith being put into action. We are responsible for putting faith into action and that action is what allows God to work through us and in our lives to have a positive impact for the Kingdom of God. Without such action it is not possible to please God as we see in one example that I passed over. Verses 5 and 6 tell of Enoch.
Hebrews 11:5-6 (King James Version)
5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6But 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.
“Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Don’t miss the order here. The testimony that he pleased God was established before he received the reward. Can that be said of us, that we pleased God? The answer is most likely, sometimes. It saddens my heart that I can only say sometimes as I know that my self-centered ways are not pleasing to God. It is also an encouragement to know that Enoch was not perfect and was a man just as I am. He was a man who had sin and who had need of a Savior. He was a man who strived to act in faith and to please God. He was obviously a man who repented of his wrong doing and trusted fully in God for his deliverance and salvation.
Look at verse 6 again. “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.” What do we see here?
- Faith is needed to please God.
- It is necessary to believe in God.
- It is necessary to believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Putting faith into action and ascribing the proper object to that faith is necessary both in daily life and in our eternal destination. To walk with God requires belief and trust that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. If we fulfill these two requirements and put actions to our faith, we will be pleasing to God as we diligently seek Him. And for eternity sake, he is our salvation unto eternal life free from the curse of sin and death. The alternative is eternal life in suffering the wrath of God for our unbelief in the lake of fire which was prepared for Satan and the angels who rebelled against God. Where will your eternity be spent? Cry out to God now to show you the truth and to deliver you from the reward of sin and unto the reward of faith.
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Cornerstone Church of Blaine Fantasy Football League, Gridiron Saints, trophy presentation party during the NFC Championship Game.
Redeem This Soul
What be there in me, Lord, that be worth redeeming?
What be there in me, but my soul, which is me?
Cast away this flesh, Lord, which in sin restrains me.
Redeem my soul, Lord, which doth belong to Thee.
What can I do, Lord, without Your redeeming?
What part of me, even my soul, belongeth to me?
I have no power in myself, no hope to redeem me.
Redeeming my soul, Lord, resteth with Thee.
When will I see, Lord, my soul Thou redeeming?
Will deep in my soul, believing, see You free me?
Even my believing, is not enough to redeem me.
Only believing, Lord, that proceedeth from Thee.
What good in my life, Lord, there be worth redeeming?
What good in this soul, Lord, hath originated with me?
But for Your mercy, there be no one to redeem me.
But for Your grace, Lord, love that floweth from Thee.
When is the time, Lord, for me, Your redeeming?
When will this soul, Lord, truly be free in me?
I’ll be Your new creation, a new body about me.
No more corruption, Lord, from my presence with Thee.
Why should I fret, Lord, about Thy redeeming?
Why should my soul, be troubled within me?
For it is Your promise, Your peace deep within me.
It is a faithfulness, Lord, that comes only from Thee.
I anxiously await, Lord, that time of redeeming.
That day when with You, be forever with me.
I’ll remember no more, this sinful flesh upon me.
Only clothed by Your grace, Lord, forever with Thee.
This was born out of my prayers as I lay in bed at 11:45PM last night. As I was conversing with God I thought it sounded poetic. Good poetry? I guess you can decide for yourself. As for me, it was the yearning of my heart and I like it. I wrote it on QuickOffice in bed, in the dark, on my Droid 2. It cleared my head and I was asleep by 12:45AM.
Finally posted the Christmas message. Challenge your way of thinking.
Yesterday began like many other Fridays as the alarm clocks began making their existence known at 5AM. I awaken fairly easily in the morning as I become healthier and thus sleep better. On this day I was able to rise immediately and head downstairs go through my normal morning routine. After checking my bank balances I got sucked into viewing a couple of web sites that I enjoy and lost track of the time. It was at that point of realization that the morning became rushed as I would be getting to my truck an hour later than I had originally planned though thankfully I had no early work scheduled.
I gathered up the briefcase, laptop and lunch cooler and hurried to the car to make the 20 minute journey to my work truck. Passing through town and turning south, I found myself second in line behind a slow start driver. The driver was the sort that seemingly makes a three count before depressing the gas pedal after the light displays green, proceeds at 5mph below the posted speed limit regardless of what it is and never closes within fewer than 8 car lengths when traffic is moving. I don’t recall praying for improved patience, but it was a testing of my attitude as I was trapped until this person turned off just after crossing the bridge over the Mississippi River.
Anxious to pick up the pace, I raced up to the mini-van in front of me only to find that the driver of said vehicle evidently approved of the driving style which I thought we were escaping. At that very moment I realized that the semaphore was now displaying red. I was in a hurry and paid my dues in this traffic so I was not stopping. Well, maybe not such a good decision. It was one of those times when I immediately knew the choice was not good and that I could pay the price for it. This was the time that upon checking the mirror I spied the squad car swinging around the corner taking up residence behind me.
I did all the right things as I pulled over and greeted the officer safely out of traffic. I had all the proper information ready for him on the cold winter morning. Basically I made it easy and safe for him to do his job. While he was running a few checks as he put it, I said a short prayer. I told God that I knew I was guilty and that I didn’t deserve any mercy, but if He would somehow allow the officer to see past my actions and grant me a warning rather than a fine, I would certainly be appreciative. I was resigned to the fact that my clean driving record was now to be stained once again. To my surprise and delight mercy was granted. I was handed a warning and told that tickets are expensive so I ought to be more careful.
I was thankful and calmer for the remainder of the day and reminded of the greatest mercies that had been shown to me. Sinner that I was, and am, I have no right to demand forgiveness or pardon. Yet, in my sinfulness God did offer me that mercy. He showed me that Jesus had gone to the cross and took upon Himself the wrath of God that was meant for me. He paid the price for my sinfulness and unbelief. All that was required of me was to trust in Him and His sacrifice. I was offered mercy when I deserved punishment. The rest of my day was lived out with much better perspective and contentment.
The last four months have seemed out of control from a time management point of view. My last blog was September 11 Remembrance on 09/11/10. I have had plenty of things to blog about in that time, I just didn’t make the time to do it. In 2011 I would like to get back to the blogging and redevelopment of my web site in a more refined way than I have done in the past. I would very much like to have a blog and a site that is entertaining and that has fresh, quality posts that others can enjoy. My life needs to take a turn toward cleaning up, packing up and minimizing the stuff that surrounds me. Enough of the life of clutter and the half done. It is time for me to look at what is around me with a use it or lose it mentality that will simplify my daily living. In fact, I came up with a basic outline to implement while in prayer this morning.
Spirituality: Prayer, Fasting,Tithing
Time Management: Spiritual, Personal, Professional
Organization: Time, Diet & Exercise, Surroundings
Spiritual/Prayer: Specific with knee time.
Spiritual/Fasting: Done regularly with purpose and prayer.
Spiritual/Tithing: Time, talents and treasure.
Time/Spiritual: Regular, structured time for spiritual growth.
Time/Personal: Devoted to physical, mental and emotional rejuvenation.
Time/Professional: Regulate schedule; attention to detail.
Organization/Time: Schedule what is necessary, seek God on balance.
Organization/D&E: Dedicate regularly scheduled time; attain goals.
Organization/Surroundings: Clean up, pack up, minimize.
It is not that none of these things were being done in my life already; they all existed to some extent. The key for me this year is to get a handle on my time management and to be deliberate about what I am doing. My health has slowly improved in the final quarter of 2010 and I have lost a built in excuse for falling short. The truth is that I need to be disciplined if I desire to be productive. This doesn’t mean going back to the days of having a day planner with every minute accounted for when every little thing had to be scheduled. I do need to prioritize and work with a purpose in order to accomplish the things I would like to do. One key part is to leave open time for relaxation and for those things that God brings across my path.
One thing I ignored the past few months was writing on the church web site which was not only for others, but also helped me to study and keep focused. Today I offered the following post to my blog there, All About Prayer.
Resolution time has arrived once again. It seems a good time to evaluate actions of the past and to ponder the improvements that could be made in the immediate future. All aspects of our lives are in play from our physical condition, to our surroundings, to our mental and emotional state, even our spirituality. These are not stand alone areas since each aspect of our lives affects, or at least influences, the others. When determining how we will move forward from this point, all parts of our lives must be considered, evaluated and prioritized. This activity actually happens with every decision we make whether we are consciously aware of it happening or not. Perhaps our lone resolution for 2011 could be to become consciously aware of the process so as to make better decisions in our day to day lives.
For those of us who profess to be Christians, that is to be followers of Christ, our prioritization ought to begin with our spirituality. Does it really matter if we lose weight, exercise more or achieve any other goal if our relationship with God suffers set back or even stagnates? This brings to question whether we are actually living for Christ or living for self. So what are our 2011 resolutions? Do our lists begin with something of true spiritual importance?
It seems a good time to evaluate actions of the past and to ponder the improvements that could be made in the immediate future. How are we doing concerning some of the basic spiritual disciplines?
- Time spent in prayer, both personal and corporate.
- Giving of time, talents and treasure in service to God.
- Times of fasting to seek God, to grow closer to God, seeking His will.
- Ministering to the needs of others on a personal level, one to one.
- Ministering to the saints, the body of Christ, as a function of church life.
- Time in Scripture: reading, studying, learning, teaching.
- Taking up the cross: self-denial of the things of this world.
What will we do in and with 2011 that will improve upon what we did in and with 2010? A good place to begin would be reading, meditating on, and putting into action, Chapter Six of the Letter to the Ephesians. Remember that as Christians our first duty is to draw near to God, seek Him first and live a life of obedience to His call upon us. Are we at least wiling to begin this New Year in prayer to God asking Him to help us determine our resolutions? Prayer is the one activity that we know will give us access to the power that enables success. Are we willing to actually live out our profession and experience a spiritual revival within each of us that will spill over into all areas of our lives?
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A short story about today’s local event on my web site.
Saturday, 11 September 2010 13:20
Traveling east on Main Street in Anoka will bring one into the city of Coon Rapids and the bridge that passes over Highway 10 in Anoka County. The bridge is the site of today’s local remembrance of the tragedy of 09/11 when the attack occurred on the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center in New York, New York. Today local residents joined Marine enlistees, the Coon Rapids Fire Department and others as they flew flags and displayed banners reminding passersby of the anniversary.