Sunday, May 15, 2011

Step Out In Faithfulness

Like the bright sun streaming into the sanctuary, Pastor Brad greeted us warmly again today. "We worship a God who is faithful. He's never made a promise He hasn't kept," Brad said in his introductory remarks. Then he made this point. "It's not just about believing in God, but believing God." Our sermon today would elaborate.

Announcements included the baby shower that was to follow our service this morning. And also a plug for VBS, which is approaching quickly. Brooke noted that if you wish to help you can register online or fill out a paper form in the back of the sanctuary indicating the ways you would like to help volunteer. The theme this year is PandaMania. A planning meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Darlene played a variation of Come Thou Fount as an introit, and then we sang the great hymn together to begin our worship time.

Today's Scripture reading was from Acts 2:42-47, followed by a time of prayer.

Step Out In Faithfulness

Brad opened by stating that "to live in faithfulness is the only way to live." He followed by noting that this is really contrary to the direction our culture has been going. Unfaithfulness is one of the things we most dislike in others and it is a disease running rampant in our society.

Faithful means firm, steady, rock solid. In the New Testament the word used is pistis, which is a synonym for reality. It's the real deal. It conveys a sense of sureness, steadfastness, honest and safe. Faithfulness is rooted in the believability of God.

In the sermon Brad elaborated on several aspects of faithfulness. He first indicated that faithfulness means persisting even when you don't feel like it.

Athletes understand this, as do musicians. Practice and persistence are the hallmarks of success in both of these fields. Runners and swimmers know that when they hit the wall, they have to keep going. Musicians put in their hours of practice whether they feel like it or not. It's the price of being a world class performer.

In contrast, the motto in our culture seems to be, "If it feels good, do it. If it doesn't, don't."

All too often we want everything now, and we want it to come easy. God, however, wants us to be in it for the long haul. We're to live by commitments, not emotions.

Brad then confessed that he has chosen not to live by feelings, because sometimes he just doesn't feel like being friendly. Sometimes he feels like being a grump. Sometimes he doesn't feel like putting his wife's needs first, or being attentive to his kids' needs. Or reading his Bible and talking to God. "But you know what I'm discovering? When I don't feel like it is usually the time I need to do those things most. And when I do those things, even when I don't feel like it, God does something inside me."

Godly men and women don't become that way by accident. They have made choices, choosing daily to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to do those things and develop good habits, whether they feel like it or not.

Successful people do the things that other people skip over because they just don't feel like it.

Another facet of faithfulness is keeping one's word. Numbers 23:19 states, "God is not a man that He should lie, nor a human being that He should change His mind."

David wrote in Psalm 145, "The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises, faithful in all He does." In other words, God is the ultimate promise keeper.

How about you? Can people count on you? If you're a young person, do your parents trust that you'll be where you say you're going to be? And if you're a parent, is your word golden to your children?

Brad shared a story that illustrated the pain and hurt caused when parents make promises to their kids and fail to follow through.

Proverbs 20:7 points to a better way: "The righteous walk in integrity; blessed are their children after them." The righteous keep their promises.

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don't always make sense. We have to learn that even when we can't see it, we have to trust. He used an incident from an Indiana Jones movie where Jones was told to take a step of faith (trust) that appeared to be into nothingness. He was told a bridge would appear, and it did once he took the step.

Hebrews 11:6 states that "without faith it is impossible to please God." The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews is an overview of men and women who trusted God, who acted in faith because they believed in His faithfulness. Brad noted, however, that faith always involves risk. The step of faith is one of trust, not certainty. Many people want guarantees. They want to completely understand first. God says, "Trust Me."

Faith is an adventure.

Someone asked a group of 95 year olds, "If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different." Many shared this sentiment: "I would risk more, reflect more, and do something with their lives that would live long after I'm dead and gone."

How are you going to live your life?

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