Where Is Your Faith?

Last night, during Worship Out Loud at The Gathering, I spoke on Luke 8:22-25.  Here are the thoughts on that passage that led to that talk.

Jesus gave His disciples a command: “Get into the boat and let’s go to the other side of the lake.” They obeyed. First step of a good disciple…when you’re told to do something, you do it. These guys were called and they responded. In doing so, when you respond to a call and actually do what you’re told, you are expressing some level of trust in the Master that He knows what He’s doing and will take care of you. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t get in the boat. On the other hand, most of these guys knew the water. If there was ever a place they felt “in control,” it would be in a boat on the water (particularly Peter, Andrew, James and John who were fishermen). Of course, all that changes when a storm blows in!

Jesus has fallen asleep before the storm arises so it would appear that He is both unaware and, largely, absent the problem. How often does it feel that way? God has called you to do something and then left you alone in the trouble? (Here’s a hint at the Truth in spite of sometimes feeling abandoned: Joshua 1: 5,9 and Hebrews 13:5)

As the boat begins to take on water, desperation sets in as the danger closes in on catastrophic. The disciples do exactly what they should have done…just in the wrong way. They went to Jesus calling out “Master, Master…!” That was right of them to go to Jesus in this difficulty, but it was wrong in their attitude. It was not so much, “Jesus, we need you to deliver us,” it was more along the lines of “Jesus we’re going down!” This was not approaching Him as the one from whom salvation and deliverance is coming but a faithless act of panic.

Jesus responded in spite of their failure. He stood and calmed the storm. Jesus does not require our strength to deliver us to our appointed destination. He is compassionate and brings about His own purpose, but that doesn’t stop Him from using this as a teachable moment, asking them, “Where is your faith?”

So, where is my faith? Do I trust Him to complete in me what He has begun (Phil. 1:6) or when things go bad, do I declare in my thoughts, attitudes or actions that I’m going down! Do I come to Jesus with full certainty that He WILL calm the storm because of His purpose and compassion or am I simply calling out “Oh, God!” as I am certain I’m headed for a hard fall?

The disciples responded, asking each other in fear or awe of His power who this was that even the waves and winds obey His command. When someone like that has called and equipped me, who commands even the elements and they obey, is there really anything that should cause me fear other than the magnitude and extent of His own power?

Where is my faith?

Doubt-Less – 1 John 3:19-24

Have you ever had serious doubts about your salvation?  I think we all have from time-to-time.  Sometimes they’re well founded because it is possible to spend an entire lifetime going to church, doing all the religious ritual stuff, “doing good,” never having entered into a saving knowledge of Jesus (beyond head knowledge to the heart level, where Jesus–not the Jesus stuff–has become the center of your life).

Sometimes, though, even those who have trusted Jesus begin to have doubts…serious doubts…about the condition of our souls.  This should certainly give us pause, understanding that these are often times when we have drifted away from the relationship with God we have had, being blocked from him by sin.

Our conscience plays a vital role in remedying this as we listen when conviction comes, realizing what has happened, and moving back to Him through confession.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

This is really the key to maintaining a healthy and right relationship with God:  keeping His commandments, namely, loving Him with all our hearts and loving each other.  Love is the commandment.  This can take a thousand different forms, but that is the bedrock foundation upon which our faith is founded, having been loved to the extreme by Jesus Christ who makes this whole thing possible.

Some of the expressions come through sacrificing our needs and wants for that of others.  Giving sacrificially to those who do not have enough to sustain them (which is not a political issue–liberal, progressive, conservative or otherwise–so let’s stop making it one), or simply being there for a friend who is hurting.

So many ways are there of loving and yet I find myself often “condemned” in my soul, as John says, because I’ve not done any of them.  As we’ve said before, real faith is that of actions, not merely lofty rhetoric.  Keeping the commandment keeps the doubt at bay and, then, if those times when Satan is the one convicting, John reminds us that “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

It’s easy to talk big…but we need to stop long enough to listen to what are our hearts telling us.

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