Patiently Waiting

Isaiah 40:11; Hebrews 10:32-39

Speaking of patiently waiting, a turtle family went on a picnic. They had prepared seven years for their outing, then left home, searching for a suitable place. During the second year of their journey, they found it. For about six months they cleared the area, unpacked the picnic basket. They discovered, however, that they had forgotten the salt. A picnic without salt would be a disaster, they all agreed. After a lengthy discussion, the youngest turtle was chosen to go back for the salt. He agreed to go on only with one condition: that no one would eat until he returned. The family consented and the little turtle left. Three years passed, and the little turtle had not returned. Five years. Six years. Then in the seventh year of his absence, the eldest turtle could no longer contain his hunger, announced that he was going to eat and began to unwrap a sandwich. At that point, the little turtle popped out from behind a tree shouting, “SEE! I knew that you wouldn’t wait!”

How many of you have trouble waiting patiently?

A man in Los Angeles, California recently ran out of patience and was arrested for negligent discharge of a weapon after shooting his toilet bowl five times with a 38 caliber handgun. His daughter had flushed a hairbrush earlier in the day and it clogged the pipes.
He had been using a snake to try to clear it when he just lost it, so he shot the offending toilet. I have no word on the toilet’s condition, but the man’s patience was long gone.

Don’t you just love to wait? We wait in lines; we wait to hear about a new job. We wait for a decision to be made. We wait to grow up, wait to find a spouse, wait for children to come along, wait for them to grow up, and then wait for them to get it together. We wait to retire. We wait for someone to change his or her mind. We wait on traffic. Boy, do I love to wait in traffic; almost every day I go crazy trying to turn left onto North Court Street and enter into a solid line of stop and go traffic all the way up to the square.

By the way, if you are growing weary of waiting for red lights to turn green you can purchase a MIRT (mobile infrared transmitter). They’ve been available to police and fire/rescue crews for years in order to speed their deployment to the scene of a crime, a fire, or an accident. But you can purchase one for about $500 and never have to wait again. Never mind that it is a felony for an average Joe like you and me to use one.

Patiently waiting on God to answer our prayers, change our circumstances, or open closed doors is very much like sitting at a very long red light. Wouldn’t we all love to push a button and magically force God to give us a green light for all our plans and desires?

But it doesn’t work that way, does it? His timing seldom coincides with ours. But the Bible says, “God makes all things beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). + Read More

Exercising Faith

Hebrews 10:32-39

Most Bible scholars are in agreement that the historical context behind the writing of Hebrews is the terrible persecution being suffered by Christians in and around Rome sometime after that city was burned by the emperor Nero. He pinned the crime on Christians; thus one of the worst waves of persecution began to wash over the fledgling church. This persecution in its extreme called for some Christians to either renounce their faith in Christ and live, or if they chose not to; die.

Hebrews 10:39 indicates there are two kind of people:

  1. There were “those who remained steadfast” in their faith, and
  2. there were “those who faded.”

As I stated last week, the purpose of this series of messages is to help us grow our faith in a faithful God
so that we remain in the former group.

So let’s begin by talking about ‘faith’ in general. The Greek word translated ‘faith’ occurs 245 times in the NT always of faith in God or Christ or in things spiritual. The word means ‘confident assurance. Perhaps the best synonym would be ‘trust.’ Those 245 uses can be categorized in three ways.

The first is the one most familiar to us; it is called saving faith. The best known saving faith verse is probably Ephesians 2:8, “We have been saved by grace, through faith, not as a result of good works.” This, of course, is the initial faith that we exercise when we first come to embrace that Jesus died so that we could live.

Then there is what we would call doctrinal faith. This is the composite of Christian truths that make up our basic beliefs. References of such faith are contained in verses such as: I Corinthians 16:13 where Paul encourages his readers to “stand firm in the faith.” And Jude 3, where the writer encourages us to “contend earnestly for the faith.”

Thirdly, we come to the faith we are talking about in this series; practical faith. This category refers to the faith principles upon which we must operate in order to rise above the weight of our own personal circumstances or the times in which we live. When practical faith is hitting on all 8 cylinders, we can think of it as a deep, abiding, unswerving confidence in God rather than ourselves. It has to do with relying on and trusting in God to help us through troublesome times. One of the best known verses of practical faith can be found in II Co. 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

We can think of practical faith as a muscle. And like any muscle it needs to be exercised for it to be most useful. In Hebrews 10:32-39, I see the writer giving us 3 ways to exercise our faith muscle; one of which we will consider today and the other two will have to wait till next time. + Read More

Developing Enduring Faith

Lamentations 3:19-25

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky in 1866 and grew up in a ‘dirt poor’ family. He only received an elementary education in a little country schoolhouse, but even so was recognized as being one of the smartest kids in the county and at age 16 became the teacher at the same school. Ten years later, he walked the sawdust trail at a revival meeting to give his life to Christ. In the next few years, he developed a passion to become a pastor and although he had no college or seminary training he was ordained to the Methodist ministry at age 36. Unfortunately for Thomas, he was extremely frail and suffered from increasingly poor health that required him to give up his ministry after only one year. His poor health plagued him until the day he died.

But even so, he didn’t give up on God. He turned to writing Christian poems. Over 1200 were published in several Christian periodicals of the time. In 1923 at the age of 57, he wrote a poem about God’s continual faithfulness over his lifetime despite his difficulties.
That poem was so moving it was set to music and became one of the most loved hymns of all time. + Read More

State of the Church, Part II

Revelation 1:1-3, 9-20; 2:1-7

We were having our weekly staff meeting Thursday morning when I mentioned that I had been reading in and was planning to preach on Revelation. Chuck Lemmon said, “I remember that you once said that people make the mistake of getting bogged down in the details of the book; that in order to grasp its significance, we should instead focus on the big picture which is that in the end, ‘God wins!’

But can a fellow change his mind? I have always had difficulty in understanding how the seven letters to the seven churches fit the remainder of the book that contains the apocryphal vision of John. It had seemed to me, as to many, that those seven letters in chapters two and three were at one time a separate book that was later joined to the vision that begins in chapter four and runs through the end of the book. But after re-reading the book several times, I think I finally figured it out.

+ Read More

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