Faith

Promises… Promises

Promise I grew up with 4 older brothers who, in my opinion as a kid, were bigger than life. If they said it, I believed it period! They were my heroes and they knew it. The stuff that they would “talk me into” was amazing. They once convinced me that I could parachute off our roof (2nd floor) with a bed sheet. Let’s just say that the law of gravity is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

I fell and I fell hard. The promise of the parachute wasn't very reliable. The reality of this and life is simple…A promise is only as reliable as the one who makes it. This is why it would have been smarter for me to focus on my brothers and their motives (which was to have fun), versus what they asked me to do.

Think about the scenes from scripture we have looked at so far and consider what we have learned about God. From the very beginning, God was Lord over all creation. He created it good and when it came to us, it was very good. He put mankind in the perfect environment without need for anything. The promise of His care and protection was as reliable as it could ever be. Yet, man decided they would trust in God and His promises, which led to separation.

Still, God demonstrated His faithfulness, even with man’s repeated unfaithfulness. He went to Adam and Eve even after they failed to trust Him. He warned Cain even before He committed murder and expressed the promise of His acceptance. Yet, Cain gave into the sin and the rebellion that was once crouched at his door but suddenly invaded his life. What was God’s response to Cain’s rebellion? Grace and love even in the judgment of the sin.

Then we see Noah and the rainbow. The rainbow was the symbol of God’s promise to never again destroy all living things with a flood, even though people’s thoughts and actions are bent toward evil from childhood. The Rainbow is the opportunity for all creation to remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature.

Remember God’s promise to Abram. God committed to make him a great nation and bless all the families of the earth through him…a man who was old and without a child. Yet, we will discover later in the story that one of his descendants fulfills this promise. We were asked this week to consider this idea of PROMISES as it relates to God. The question was asked like this…

“What would my relationship with God be like if I believed everything He promised would come true?”

What do you think??? Do you believe that? Let me share a secret with you that I learned a few years ago from a wise man named Charles that might help you as you consider it. He taught me that the Bible has only two types of promises. Before I tell you the types lets make sure we know what I mean by a PROMISE. A promise is a spoken or written commitment to preform a certain act or to refrain from doing something.

In the Bible, here are the two types of promises the Lord makes:

UNCONDITIONAL – This is a commitment made without exceptions.

CONDITIONAL – This type of promise is subject to certain mandates.

Romans 10:9 offers us the promise of salvation but it is conditional upon faith in Jesus Christ. This is key for us in our belief because there is a tendency for us to question or become disappointed in God because we think He’s not keeping His promise to us. The problem with this isn't God’s faithfulness but our understanding.

Remember that desiring something and believing God will do it doesn't always mean He’s promised it to us. Sometimes the hindrance or delay isn't God – it is us. Just like sin separated Adam and Eve in the garden – it separates us and can create barriers in our relationships.

Remember what I said at the beginning… A promise is only as reliable as the one who makes it. Consider so far what we have learned about God in the story…His character and His ability to make a promise and keep it. I would say we have learned He is both willing and powerful enough. He is truthful and faithful. He is gracious and loving. He is powerful and unchangeable. He cares for us and wants to provide for us. So I ask you again… “What would my relationship with God be like if I believed everything He promised would come true!”

Find a promise today in God’s story and claim it! If there are any conditions, do it and trust that He will do what He says He will do. If it is unconditional, make sure you see who it is for and what its for and claim it as well. May not be for you but for someone else. God loves you and He loves me – trust it!

Hope to see you this weekend as we live life and gather together as family to celebrate the promises of God! Be there and invite a friend!

Amazing Faith - Pivotal Circumstances

View the lyrics "The Hurt And The Healer"

Psalm 31:14-15 But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands.

Why? As the video says, we all want to know that we didn't go through trials and pain for no good reason. We go through times when we think that God isn't paying attention to what is going on. Sometimes we wonder if he is late or why he just won't cooperate.

Why is God late? If there isn't anything that God can't do then why isn't he doing something for me? Take a look at the delays that Jesus made before going to see Lazarus, the delay didn't make any sense to Lazarus family or the disciples, nobody was pleased with Jesus for a few days. (John 11)

Why is God inattentive? Jesus cousin, John the Baptist, must have felt that Jesus wasn't paying attention. John had given everything for Jesus to prepare the people for the arrival of the Messiah. John's struggles were just like any of us would have. Why didn't his own cousin who is so powerful bust him out of jail? (Matthew 11)

Why doesn't God cooperate? How many times have you tried to pray away a struggle and God doesn't seem to be willing to answer? The Apostle Paul wanted to get rid of a "thorn in the flesh" but God had other plans. You may want that thorn to go away but it may be something that God wants to use. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Sometimes it looks like God isn't working in our lives, our circumstances begin to impact our confidence in God, we doubt that he loves us or if he cares about us. Our pain begins to distort reality and we think that God doesn't care when the truth is he cares and he wants to help grow your faith.

It is important to remember that your circumstances do not coincide with how God feels about you, the proof of that is at the cross, our knowledge of God's infinite love needs to be recalled when the doubts come our way. We went out of his way to prove his love to you and to provide a way for you to spent eternity with him.

We need help to see past our prison walls, our thorn in the flesh and the delays in our prayers and remember the goodness of God. As a gospel community we need to encourage each other to keep the faith and to grow our faith through these pivotal circumstances.

 

Amazing Faith - Personal Ministry

Matthew 14:14-16 Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick. That evening the disciples came to Him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." But Jesus said, "That isn't necessary--you feed them."

Have you ever been out in the middle of nowhere with Jesus and you heard him tell you to do something impossible? That's where the disciples found themselves on more than one occasion. We have all felt that internal nudge to do something, you see a need, you feel some tension inside, but just like the disciples you say "this is all I have."

Do you tell God that there is no way that you have the resources or the skill set, you are not equipped, you are scared but God says "I don't care, bring what you have."

You may tell God, "I am not someone that meets that kind of need, I am somebody that prays for somebody to meet that need. I'm just a prayer warrior" But God says "I don't care, bring what you have."

The disciples did what they knew how to do trusting that God would do the rest. They stood there in front of Jesus and took a little bit of food from him, they turned around, faced the crowd and handed the food to somebody. They walked back to Jesus and somehow he had a little bit more food to hand them to pass out.

Your faith muscle gets flexed when you say yes to something that God is urging you to do despite the fact that you feel inadequate, scared, or lacking resources. Every major move of God is accomplished through somebody that feels inadequate, somebody whose faith muscle is being stretched, somebody that believes they can't do it apart from God.

Have you felt that God was urging you to serve yet you refused because you felt unprepared or inadequate? Are you willing to do what you know how to do so God can do what only God can do? If you do you will experience God in a brand new way but if you don't you will never know what God would have done through you.

God wants us to build gospel communities all over Atlantic County and that means that we each have to take on a personal ministry in an area that God is saying to you "You feed them."

Amazing Faith - Private Disciplines

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Matthew 6:1-8 "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.

When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

"When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!

Matthew 6:16-18 "And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Discipline is a four letter word to most of us, we don't like being forced to do something that we do not want to do, it doesn't matter if it is exercise, budget, a diet or learning to play an instrument, we want to do what we want to do.

Sometimes we don't even like disciplined people, sometimes they are inspiring but a lot of the time they get on our nerves because they seem more motivated than we are, they make us feel bad, so we try to persuade them to be more like us.

Discipline is for our own good and that is even more true of spiritual discipline. Spiritual disciplines are another tool that God uses to help us grow closer to him. Our faith and trust in him will grow as our relationship with him develops, this doesn't happen by accident, there must be an intentional effort. This is the heart of what it means to be a disciple here at Grace Falls. INTENTIONAL EFFORTS that come from an OVERWHELMING BELIEF in who God is and what He has done for us.

Students are to be like their teacher. - Jesus (The one who INTENTIONALLY CAME TO US - so that we could be reconciled to Him!)

A disciple of Jesus is someone who is learning to be like him, most of that learning isn't easy, our nature doesn't naturally want to be like Jesus so we fight against what he wants to teach us. It is a struggle to "not be conformed to this world." We have to take deliberate action to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Romans 12:1-2)

Don't mistake the purpose for private discipline, you are not trying to earn God's favor by checking off a bunch of good deeds, doing these things does not change the fact that you have been saved by grace alone.

Becoming a better disciple is our goal and it is only by His grace and the gift of His Holy Spirit that we get the opportunity to do that.

Amazing Faith - Practical Teaching

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Matthew 7:24-27  "Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock."

"Though the rain comes in torrents and the flood waters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock."

"But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."

Jesus was surrounded by the crowds that came to hear him teach, they probably didn't realize that they were in for a long sermon that day, he taught about the lifestyle of those that follow him. Some of the things that he told them in this famous sermon was that they should be meek and humble, they should store up treasure in heaven and love their enemies. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus saying that if you had big faith then this is how you would live.

Jesus ended the sermon with a parable, he told the crowd that "anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise," he didn't want his audience to just know more he wanted them to do something with what they learned.

It’s one thing to know a lot about weightlifting and another thing to actually lift weights. It’s one thing to know a lot about nutrition and another thing to eat healthy. You can have every book on nutrition and weight loss, you can have a bunch of gym memberships, you can have the best looking work-out clothes but it isn't helping you one bit if you don't apply it to your life.

The Religious leaders of Jesus day proved that knowledge can easily puff up your ego and you can overlook the fact that the things that you know need to be put into action. It’s one thing to know a lot about the Bible and another thing to actually live out what it teaches.

Luke 11:28 Jesus replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."

That’s why the Christian life isn’t just about knowledge. It’s when our acts of faith intersect with God’s faithfulness that our faith grows. From Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders, we discover that hearing and learning are not enough. There has to be application because it’s obedience that makes all the difference.

James 1:22-25 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

The Sermon on the Mount is a great big list of things to do but there isn't any value in knowing all these things if you are not going to apply them and put them into action. Being in church every Sunday doesn't have any value if it doesn't affect the way that you live.

I shouldn't just read the Bible to know more, I need to study the Bible and look for practical application. If I go to the church and see myself in the mirror of God's word and then I walk away and ignore what I saw then I am just wasting my time and I could have stayed in bed.

Help me Lord to apply and live out what I know about you and your will for my life. I want to build my faith on a rock solid foundation.

What is it that God is teaching you that challenges you or pushes you? Is there something we have discussed at the gathering that has caused you tension? That tension is the Holy Spirit challenging you to trust and act.

As a gospel community we are here to help each other apply the most challenging teaching to our daily life. When we do that we will see our faith grow as well as our community change!

Amazing Faith

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Matthew 8:8-10 But the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have You come into my home. Just say the word from where You are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, 'Go,' and they go, or 'Come,' and they come. And if I say to my slaves, 'Do this,' they do it."

When Jesus heard this, He was amazed. Turning to those who were following Him, He said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel!

Have you ever seen somebody step out in faith in a big way and you thought to yourself "are they crazy?" A lot of times people with incredible faith are viewed as clueless, people wonder if they have considered all of the information about their situation. We even try and reason with them about what they are doing and try to make them have less faith.

Jesus was approached by a Roman army officer about coming to his home to heal his daughter. Jesus was happy to continue traveling across town to the man's home but the officer refused to bother Jesus with the extra effort. The centurion told Jesus that as an officer he has the authority to make things happen, he must have believed that Jesus also had authority to make things happen, he also believed that Jesus could speak the word and the healing would take place without even seeing his daughter.

A Lot Of People Were Amazed By Jesus

The shepherds were amazed by Jesus when they visited his place of birth, John the Baptist was amazed that Jesus asked to be baptized, hundreds of people were amazed that they were healed and there are plenty of scriptures that tell us that the crowds were amazed at his teaching.

But we need to realize that it isn't enough to find Jesus amazing, there are plenty of amazing people in the history books, we need to dig deeper and see how he is more amazing than any other man. The question is what will you do about this amazing person? Will you have faith in his promises? Will you trust him with everything?

The Man That Amazed Jesus

Jesus was amazed by this guy, wouldn't it be cool to have someone say that about you? This guy deserved to get a t-shirt that says "I amazed Jesus." If you want to impress Jesus you won't do it with knowledge and it wasn't obedience, the only thing that is recorded in the Bible that amazed Jesus was big faith. Jesus wasn't amazed when people did the right thing and refused to sin and he didn't get excited that somebody kept a long list of rules. He is interested in our belief that he is trustworthy.

There are incredible displays of faith recorded in the Bible that are much bigger than the faith that the average church member in the United States seems to have. What would our lives look like if we really had big faith? Can you imagine how it would affect our church family?

I cannot wait to see how God will grow our faith at Grace Falls Church. I am anxious to hear about the things that you have experienced that have caused your faith in God to grow.

Join us for the next five weeks as we look at the things that God uses to grow our faith.