Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Do We Believe? What Are We Waiting For?

Everything has a beginning. Whatever we do, whatever project we are working on it all has a beginning. Before a project can be started a lot of planning has to take place. Before any building can be constructed a foundation has to be planned, dirt or rocks have to be moved, and the foundation laid.

Without any planning, without dirt and/or rocks being moved, without any foundation, no building is going to stand very long. Buildings need something solid to rest on, something that walls can be anchored to, so they won’t tilt or lean after a few years. You’ve all probably seen buildings that were built on poor foundations. After a while they begin to lean one way or the other or maybe both ways and pretty soon all the nails and screws just can’t keep it together any longer.

The writer of Hebrews says the same thing about our existence. “…trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.” Just as buildings need a good foundation so do we. In order to understand why we are here, in order to make sense of life and make our time here worthwhile we need faith in the One who created us and everything around us.

Faith is trusting in God. Faith is believing that there is One who is in charge of everything. Faith is putting our trust in someone we can’t see, someone we can’t touch, someone we may have never heard speak. Faith is starting out on this journey of life believing that our God has thought of everything and we don’t have to worry one minute about the details.

What gives you confidence? What or Who do you trust? Why do you trust or believe what you do? Is there one thing that you can put your finger on that you can point to and say, “This is why I believe. This is why I have faith.” Is there one book you can pull off your shelves, is there one particular sentence that you have memorized that gives your faith the strength it needs to go on?

How do you define your faith? If you have faith is your life a success? Is faith about the present or is it about the future? Does your faith help you connect with God? These are all personal questions that we can only answer as individuals.

The author of Hebrews gives us examples of people whose lives exemplified faith, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah. Are there people you know who are examples for you of living by faith?

In Luke’s gospel we heard this morning Jesus tells his listeners to sell their possessions and give to the poor. That takes faith.

Most of us would have real difficulty selling our possessions let alone giving the proceeds to the poor. After all they probably wouldn’t use our gifts the way we think they should. We don’t have faith that they would be any better off after our gifts than before. And so we hold onto our possessions, our treasures. Our faith doesn’t extend to the poor because we don’t believe they can change.

Do we really believe Jesus is coming back? If our faith says that He is coming back are we expectantly waiting for Him? Are we prepared for his return? Are we faithful?

The NIV translation of Hebrews 11:1 says that, “…faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” My friends, are we hoping to see Jesus return, are we certain that he is coming back? If this is what we believe can our neighbors see our faith by how we live, by the things we treasure?

For me, faith is believing there is a God who loves us. My faith is based on God loving us enough to send his Son to live here on earth, to die for us, and to rise again so we could have the assurance of life eternal with our Creator, God. What I believe is bolstered by God’s Word for us in scripture. I can’t explain why. It’s a mystery to me and my only response is that it’s God’s grace.

Can any of us make our faith stronger? Can we get faith if we don’t have it now? Why do some seem to have stronger faith than others? I don’t know the answer. Faith comes from God and as someone told me this week He has given us the freedom to choose. So some choose to believe and some choose not to believe. Why, only God knows.

Friends, God has called us together as a community of faith. As a community of faith he has called us to go out into the world to care for those who are struggling to make it day by day. As a community of faith we strengthen each other by holding each other up in prayer every day and caring for each other as brothers and sisters, members of God’s family. By answering God’s call and caring for the poor and those who need a hand our faith grows and God’s love is evident to those who are helped. God’s kingdom is present when we share God’s love and faith with those we have been called to help.

What do we believe? What are we waiting for? Believe in God. Believe in Jesus, God’s only Son. Believe in the Holy Spirit, our Counselor, our Advocate. Believe in God’s one holy apostolic, universal church. Believe in God’s forgiveness of our sins through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Believe in His resurrection. And don’t wait one more minute. Answer God’s call to serve his children. Have faith in the One who loves you more than anyone or anything else.

Thanks be to God for his amazing grace and love. Amen.

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