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Faith and Its Work

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Daily Bible Readings:

Monday. Read 1 Timothy 1:18-20. 1) What athletic metaphor does Paul use in this text? 2) How is the metaphor appropriate for the Christian life? 3) What was Paul’s goal for Timothy?

Tuesday. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 1) How many metaphors does Paul use to describe the Christian life? 2) What can you learn about the nature of discipleship and the Christian life from this text?

Wednesday. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 1) What metaphors does Paul use for the Christian life? 2) What is he trying to say about his life?

Thursday. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. 1) What metaphor does Paul use in this text to describe the Christian life? 2) What does an athlete do that resembles the Christian life?

Friday. Read Philippians 3:12-14. 1) How did Paul regard the goal of his life? 2) What word does he use to describe his discipline? 3) What would Paul say is the ultimate prize?

Saturday. Read James 2:14-26. This is Sunday’s sermon text.

Prayer of the Week:

Dear Father, we want to be like you. We want to turn our lives over to you, to get out of the driver’s seat. Not that there really is a driver’s seat. We want to acknowledge you as the only One who sees perfectly and knows thoroughly what we need to be like you. Please walk with us on this path. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.

Hymn of the Week:

O for a Faith that Will Not Shrink
by William Hiley Bathurst, 1831

O for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by every foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe.

That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chastening rod,
But, in the hour of grief or pain,
Will lean upon its God;

A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without:
That when in danger knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt;

That bears, unmoved, the world’s dread frown,
Nor heeds the scornful smile;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan’s arts beguile;

A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life’s last hour is fled,
And with a pure and heavenly ray
Illumes up a dying bed:

Lord, give us such a faith as this;
And then, what e’er may come,
I’ll taste, e’en now, the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.

Devotional Article of the Week:

C.S. Lewis and the Struggle to Find Faith
The final destination of our journey to faith often depends upon the orientation of our hearts.
by James Nored & Phil Ware

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Faith! Faith? Faith can be a struggle whether the struggle is intellectual or based on hard life experiences with withering losses.

How can we find faith?
In finding faith, can we also find ourselves in a better story?

Jesus had just revealed himself to Peter, James, and John in his heavenly glory during his transfiguration. These three closest disciples had been startled into a new understanding of their Teacher. Moses was Israel’s greatest leader and lawgiver. Elijah was considered Israel’s most important prophet. They appeared next to Jesus in his glory. Then, Moses and Elijah suddenly disappeared from their sight. Only Jesus was left for his closest three to see. God then forcefully spoke to these disciples and told them that Jesus was his beloved Son and that they must listen to him (Mark 9:2-13). Jesus must be the goal of his disciples’ faith. His words must be his disciples’ guide to their lives.

As Jesus and his three disciples descended from this glorious experience, they were met by the rest of the twelve caught in the middle of an embarrassing mess (Mark 9:14-21). These other disciples couldn’t help a man whose son was controlled by a demonic spirit. As a group of teachers of the law and Jesus’ disciples argued with them, a crowd had gathered. The father was frustrated at these other disciples because they could not help his son.

The father of the boy begged Jesus: “[I]f you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).

Jesus responded by saying, “If you can? … Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). To which the father immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

The father’s words ring through the centuries and bring you and me back to the core issue of life.

Faith! Faith? Faith can be a struggle whether the struggle is intellectual or based on hard life experiences with withering losses.

How can we find faith?

In finding faith, can we also find ourselves in a better story?

Today’s video with James Nored focuses on C.S. Lewis’ early struggle with unbelief. This struggle was rooted in a series of painful losses, emotional wounds, and intellectual doubts all experienced at a young age. Despite this unbelief, common mythic stories appealed to Lewis’ heart.

Their common themes challenged his scholarship. With the help of friends, the call of God gradually led him back to faith. This faith then sustained him through late life challenges and losses. His life of honest struggle with belief and unbelief has, in turn, blessed countless thousands.

If you can’t see the video, and you sure don’t want to miss it, view it online. For additional ideas to consider and some things to discuss with others, we encourage you to see the Study Guide.

Struggling with faith is a challenge nearly every believer goes through at some point in life. That struggle can leave us crying out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That struggle can also leave each of us unwilling to continue our search for sustaining faith during the dry times in our heart and in our dark nights of the soul.

Life, however, drags us in and out of experiences whether we are ready to face or not. The Holy Spirit can use these experiences to reawaken us of our need to make sense of life with faith.

Our Father in heaven can use the beauty of creation to call to our hearts. He can use the arts and stir them and beckon them through music, dance, sculpture, and painting. He can invite us closer through the timely presence of friends who bring us comfort, help us process our intellectual doubts, and survive our most painful experiences. God even uses the stories of books and movies to tap into our heart and pull us back to his unfolding saga of grace.

Many of the best secular stories echo the hope we find in Jesus’ story. This parallel doesn’t discount Jesus’ story but rather reminds us that God wired us to respond to these kinds of stories so that we could connect with his great story of grace. These stories help us long for the day when our story could be caught up in God’s grand story! C.S. Lewis would go on with his group of friends — “The Inklings” — to write beautiful, imaginative, and faith-awakening stories to make us think of faith for this very reason.

Our final step toward faith, or back to faith, can be clothed in mystery. A seeking heart may never be able to discover precisely how this faith happens, just as C.S. Lewis’ trip to the zoo began with him not believing and ended with him believing before he arrived. However, the final destination of our faith journey often depends upon the orientation of our hearts.

Are we seeking the truth? Jesus promised us:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-10).
Do we recognize our yearning for God? Paul told the philosophers in Athens:

God [created us] so that [those he created] would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own prophets have said, “We are his offspring” (Acts 17:27-28).
The final destination of our journey to faith often depends upon the orientation of our hearts. Are we seeking a better story than the one in which we find ourselves? The apostle Paul promised us long ago that faith in Jesus offers us a fresh start for a whole new story:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Like the father who desperately wanted his son healed by Jesus, each of us can cry out to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Our Savior waits longingly to meet each of us personally on our unique journey. He longs to do for us what he did for that desperate father: He answered his cry for help and changed his story for the better, forever.

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