190818 What Faith Does

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Daily Bible Readings:

Monday, August 12.  Read 1 Samuel 24:18-24.  1) What did God ask David to do at Araunah’s threshing floor?  2) What did Araunah offer to David?  3) What was David’s response?

Tuesday, August 13.  Read Joshua 24:14-18.  1) What did Joshua tell the Israelites at the beginning of this text?  2) What alternative did they have, according to Joshua?  3) Why do you think this could be relevant today? 

Wednesday, August 14.  Read Matthew 19:16-22.  1) What did the young man ask Jesus?  2) What did Jesus tell him?  3) How did the young man respond?  4) How would you have responded?

Thursday, August 15.  Read Philippians 2:5-11.  1) What did Paul say Jesus did with his God-form?  2) Where did that lead Jesus?  In other words, what did he ultimately do, according to Paul?  3) What does Jesus’ life call for in YOUR life?

Friday, August 16.  Read Hebrews 10:32-36.  1) What did the Christians this writer was addressing struggle with “in those earlier days?”  2) What were they in danger of abandoning?  3) What did the writer say they needed?

Saturday, August 17.  Read Hebrews 11:29-12:2.  This is Sunday’s sermon text.

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Father, please remind us of the cost of our redemption.  May we cease to be guilty of turning the grace of our Lord into something cheap and expendable.  May we understand the true cost of being a disciple of Jesus.  In Whose name we pray.  Amen.

Hymn of the Week:

O God of Bethel
by Philip Doddridge, 1736

O God of Bethel, by whose hand
thy people still are fed,
who through this weary pilgrimage
hast all our fathers led;

Our vows, our prayers, we now present
before thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
of their succeeding race.

Through each perplexing path of life
our wandering footsteps guide;
give us each day our daily bread,
and raiment fit provide.

O spread thy covering wings around
till all our wanderings cease,
and at our Father’s loved abode
our souls arrive in peace.

Devotional Article of the Week

Heaven’s Window
Doesn’t discipleship involve more than just saying the right words?
by Phil Ware

When asked who Peter thought Jesus was, he replied:
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus didn’t praise Peter for giving a smart answer. Yes, the Lord did bless Peter for sharing these words, but he also made clear that Peter didn’t come up with his answer on his own. Peter’s answer didn’t come through human insight. Jesus said it was revealed to him by the Father:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Let’s pause and think about these words of Jesus. Whether it’s an episode of “Family Feud” or a teacher in class or the whispered voice inside our head, what do we expect to hear?

“Great answer, great answer!”

Our tendency is to give praise to the person who gives the correct answer.

In this situation with Jesus and his apostles, the whole interaction [CONTEXT] shows that Peter didn’t have a clue what his answer meant. He had the right words, but not much else than those right words. He received these words through heaven’s window with no idea what they really meant on earth, much less what they might mean for his own life.

So much of our approach to biblical truth today is about acquiring information and having the right words. It’s like we’re trying to become thumb drives full of biblical truth. The issue for Jesus, however, is not about having information. It’s not about having the right words or the correct religious formula or saying things in the exact and proper way.

We can know words and miss what they mean for our heart’s allegiances.

We can recite truth, and the truth never challenges the conceptions we have of life in our minds.

We can proclaim the truth of heaven, but never live it with grace so that truth is totally lost to us and to those around us.

Jesus reminds us in his most definitive teaching on being disciples—the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7)—that knowing truth only makes us a fool if all we do is recite the words of truth and expect them magically to do something for us:

[Jesus told his disciples,] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
…everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:21-23, 26-27).

In a day where so many religious salvation peddlers offer quick and easy word formulas for people to be saved, Jesus’ words appropriately sound harsh. When we command people to recite prayers or say words not even found in scripture, then give them assurance that they are saved, these words of Jesus are jarring… shocking… even confusing. In our day, there is little or no call for life and heart change (repentance) or for following Jesus as Lord or for placing our total trust in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in baptism. But all of these things were associated with believing and practiced consistently in the book of Acts when people came to Christ.

So have we made faith mean something the Bible doesn’t?

Have we reduced faith to saying a magic formula and getting the words right so we can feel good about our future?

Before you are ready to criticize me for trespassing into salvation by works, take a second to ponder a few things…

Re-read Jesus’ words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount and compare his words to our practices, formulas, and definitions of faith.

Think a minute about what happens to Peter in this story of his confession of Jesus’ identity. He was divinely inspired to speak true words about Jesus’ identity. He even believed those words based on his flawed definition of the terms.

What does Jesus say to Peter when this inspired disciple revealed his wrong-headed notions of what these words meant for Jesus?

What good Is having the right words when Peter rebuked Jesus’ description of what those words would actually involve?

[Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Faith isn’t just about saying the right words. It never was. Yes, we have to believe the truth about Jesus. No one is denying that. But, faith is about trusting in what Jesus has done to save us and investing our lives in following Jesus as Lord because of what we believe. For us to have this faith, we’ve got to be willing to walk with Jesus as Peter did.

Like Peter, we’re going to say and do some dumb, uninformed though often well-intentioned, things. We are going to have flashes of insight given to us through heaven’s window and then be dumber than a hammer about what to do with those in our lives. However, the issue is not saying the formula, but following the Savior. We follow Jesus. We keep following Jesus even when we don’t fully understand. That is what believing in Jesus means. We follow Jesus until our life is caught up into his life and his life becomes seen in our life. Being a follower of Jesus has never been about formulas or magical words (Acts 19:13-16; James 2:12-17); it’s about Jesus and his way of life being formed in us (Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:28-29).

To paraphrase James, “Words mean very little until faith puts our lives where our words are” (James 2:18).

Let’s refuse to trust the formulas, the magical word sets, or the “easy believism” often pedaled today by those who want to notch their belts with the number of decisions they’ve led people to make. Instead, let’s seek Jesus.

Let’s have Jesus’ words shape our lives.

Let’s trust Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as the basis of our hope.

Let’s have our faith in Jesus call us to live a life like his.

Then, our words will match our lives, lives that flow from hearts of profound devotion, love, and trust. Which is, after all, a whole lot of what it means for us to truly believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Israel’s anointed one, the very Son of God!

the very Son of God!

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