Faith Heroes -“Super to us is faithful to God”
What is bold faith?
(Video Clip – 2010-This year will be different.) Say it with me folks, “This year is going to be different.” Is it? Really? How so? Is 2010 going to be different because 2009 could not have been any worse? Are you thinking to yourself, “Last year was a year full of difficulty - 2009 could not end over soon enough for me!” I’m not being pessimistic here, but if 2009 was bad what guarantees 2010 will be any better? 2009 was the year my Dad died. I have now experienced a Thanksgiving and a Christmas without my Dad being physically present. And I will not kid you – the holidays were different this year BUT 2009 was not a bad year – not for me at least! How about you? What grade would you give 2009? A+ / C- or an F!
Sometimes we create our own problems! Here I thought the whole balloon boy incident was a publicity stunt. In reality it was a gigantic advertisement for jiffy pop. Just kidding. It’s my understanding the father, Richard Heene, must spend 90 days in jail for that whole incident.[i] I don’t think that’s what he had in mind. No pug really wants to dress up like Darth Vader. Give the dog a break. What Mom would name her daughter Marijuana Pepsi? Maybe the same type of parents who would name their daughter Tahiti Starship or their son Bronx Mowgli. Meet Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer. She’s now a grown woman and works as a college counselor. Marijuana said, “I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be.”[ii] Some problems are handed to us and we choose to be strong. Others are ones we create. And still others are simply the stuff of living life in a fallen world.
Did you notice the little prayer prayed at the end of the video I showed you? “God, would you take this little bit of faith that I have? Maybe that’s the answer. That’s the answer for any year. It’s not that the year was good or bad. Things happen all the time. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are awesome and others are horrendous. What makes the difference is our faith!
Now what again is faith? Faith is belief. But that belief is in a person. Faith is fidelity. Faith is assurance. But that assurance is in a person. Faith is belief that results in action. But we act because that person is alive, not dead! Dr. Mark Moore said that faith is “taking God at his word.” I was reading Dr. Ken Boa’s book, Conformed to his Image. Man, did Boa ever school me on faith. Boa said, “A faith that pleases God involved three components: knowledge, trust and action.”[iii] Let’s take knowledge first. “The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects. Faith is founded on fact. Biblical faith is not a leap into the dark but a step into the light.”[iv] National Geographic published a book called, The Letter and the Scroll. What archaeology tells us about the Bible? This inscribed limestone is called the Caesarea stone. It was discovered in 1961. This slab contains three lines of partially legible Latin which includes the name of Pontius Pilate.[v] The same Pontius Pilate that asked Jesus in Matthew 27, “Are you the king of the Jews?” When you read the Bible you are reading actual history. But it’s more than that. When you read the Bible your knowledge grows and so does your faith! We have a gift for you today. Chad Maxeiner, an elder here at Westerville Christian gave me this book. It’s called Know Your Bible. We have enough copies today for every person Junior High through adult. This little book will help you summarize each book of the Bible. Once you know why the book or letter was written you can determine the AIM. The Author’s Intended Meaning. Once you determine the AIM you can make practical application! A 2nd component of faith is trust! Remember, “faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.”[vi] Proverbs tells us not to put our trust in chariots, horses, riches or in the legs of men! Put your trust in God because chariots, horses, money and people fail. Do you trust your spouse? Sure you do as long as they tell you the truth. A man in Panama City Beach, FL lied to Police about being robbed of $100 because he did not want to tell his wife he actually spent the money. He was released from jail after posting a $750 bail.[vii] Here’s what’s astounding about God. Even when our faith is weak, God is not. God does not lie. God does not change. Our faith is as only as good as the God we place it in. That’s the challenge of every new year. Did I put my trust in a God or did I revert back to my old ways and did what I wanted to do. I think what I’m about to say will sound crazy, but here goes. The last thing we need in 2010 is more faith. You have enough faith. Just grow what you have. How? Take God at his word - choose to trust Jesus. Once you place your trust in Jesus – it doesn’t come down to having a good year or a bad year. You realize that God made this world, he made you – he knows what he’s doing. Trust him and your faith will grow. One more component of faith. Action! Let’s put into good use the little book I gave you. Find Hebrews on page 85. In ten words of less summarize the letter. “Jesus is better than any Old Testament person or sacrifice. Written to Jewish Christians or “Hebrews”, this long letter emphasizes the superiority of Christianity to Old Testament Judaism. Jesus is so much better than angels, Moses, and the previous animal sacrifices.”[viii] Here you have Jewish Christians who are seriously thinking about abandoning their faith in Jesus. Times were too hard. For them in was persecution. For us – it’s a bad economy, job loss, death, or nasty negativity. Please know that whatever you consider to be the focus of your life (hobby, job, and relationships) – Jesus is better! But that will not become real until your faith leads you to do something for God. Turn in your Bible this morning to Hebrews 11. Do you need a Bible?
Let’s read the first three verses of Hebrews 11. Two words help us better picture faith. Sure & certain. Sure of what? Sure of God. Sure of his existence. Sure of his character. God is slow to anger and abounding in love. He is compassionate. Certain of what? Certain that he made the world. Spoke it into existence. Certain that he sent his only son. Certain that Jesus spoke the words of God. Certain in the living word of God. Certain that he will keep his promises – death is not the end of life. People of God became so sure and certain about God. Their faith led them to do! Next week we begin a five week series called Faith Heroes. We will study the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Isaac. All of us are sort of familiar with super heroes. Batman, Superman, Iron man, Spiderman. But those characters make great comic books. But these people of faith in Hebrews 11 are faith heroes – they truly lived for God. Faith has three parts: knowledge, trust and action. Their faith led them to do something for God. Even if that something was considered unbelievably crazy.
Will your faith lead you to do something for God? First, I want you to do something for yourself. Locate in your newsletter a brand new Bible Reading Calendar for the month of January and part of February. This calendar will take you through Proverbs, all of Hebrews 11 and the first 25 chapters of Genesis. As you read the word of God your knowledge of God will grow and so will your faith.
Now, how about doing something for someone else? I love the story Mark tells in Mark 2. Jesus is in Capernaum. Maybe trying to catch a little R & R with his disciples. He is probably staying at the home of Peter. But wouldn’t you know it – word gets out. “Jesus is at Peter’s place” and everyone shows up. People want to hear Jesus but they also want to see him heal. Four friends also come. They are carrying a paralytic on a stretcher. They want in but can’t get in. But they are determined. Since they can’t get in Peter’s house they’ll use the neighbor’s house instead. Homes in Jesus day were built nearly side by side. They go into the neighbor’s house – make their way upstairs and then climb over one porch onto Peter’s porch. But they’re still not IN! So one friend at least - maybe more start to dig. They dig through Peter’s overhanging porch. Jesus is teaching but now he has to stop. Dirt and straw are flying everywhere. Soon there’s a hole and then they lower their friend right in front of Jesus. And Mark says this, “When Jesus saw their faith.”
When will Jesus see your faith and mine? Are you a little nervous that God’s going to ask you in faith to build a boat? Noah took care of that. Typically, our faith in God is seen in the little things. Here are two tangible little things which shout faith:
For the month of January we are emphasizing staying WARM. First, we want you to bring canned goods for the Westerville Area Resource Ministry throughout the month of January. Help someone who is truly hungry. Or help someone who might be cold. Second, Westerville Christian has chosen to partner with Lincoln Park Elementary School located in Columbus on E. Markinson Avenue. Bring in hats, coats, scarves and mittens so kids and adults can see the tangible love of God and at the same time see your faith and mine! Time seems to be moving faster to me. Before you know it-it will be January 2, 2011 and we’ll be saying, “This year will be different.” No it won’t – unless we put our faith into action.
[iii] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 260
[iv] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 260
[v] Robin Currie & Stephen G. Hyslop, The Letter and the Scroll, 268
[vi] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 260
[viii] Barbour Publishing, Know Your Bible, Hebrews, 85