Monday, June 17, 2019

Give us more faith

Jesus told the woman in John 8 that nobody was left to condemn her and neither did he.  He sent her on her way saying go and sin no more.

No more sin!  Do you hear me?  No more sin!

In Luke 17, Jesus said, You are going to stumble here and there.  You will sin.  He goes on to say that if you are the instigator of sin, you will wish that you weren’t, especially if you are leading children in the wrong direction.

Then he tells them to forgive each other.  If your brother sins against you and then comes to you seeking forgiveness, then forgive him.  If it happens again and he comes in repentance, then forgive him again.

That’s enough though, right?

No.  Forgiveness must continue so long as there is repentance.  Elsewhere we might read that we forgive our brother seventy times or even seven times seventy times.

That’s pretty staggering.  It’s no wonder that the disciples thought that they needed more faith. 

I can forgive once, maybe twice, but seven times is really pushing it.  I’m going to need some superpowers to keep on forgiving.

I’m sure the disciples were thinking about other directions given by their Lord. Love your enemies.  Turn the other cheek.  Go the extra mile.  Render unto Caesar.  The list of things that challenged the disciples just kept on going.

How could they do all of these things?  Jesus was going to have to give them more faith.  That’s all there was to it.

God’s chosen people left Egypt with great possessions, flocks, and even some folks that did not come from the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They left slavery behind them.  They said goodbye to bondage.
Then some started wishing they were slaves again.  At least they would know where their next meal would come from—eaten in slavery but guaranteed nonetheless.

Some started longing for the days of bondage again.  At least they were not thirsty as slaves.

God provided water and manna and meat to his people.  They were never going to starve or die of thirst, but the people could only see what they didn’t have right now. 

The disciples could only see that what Jesus had been asking them to do was more that they believed they could do.  They needed something more.  They needed more faith.

While we are told to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence; sometimes our requests can be somewhat irreverent.

Why did you lead me here to this place with no water?

Why don’t we have anything to eat?

How can you expect me to obey your commands with this little bit of faith that you gave me?

So, Jesus puts his disciples in the shoes of being the master.  Your servant comes in from a long days work in the field.  Do you:

a.    Tell him to sit down and take a load off.  Bring him the remote and tell him you will make his supper.
b.    Thank the servant for doing what is expected.
c.     Tell him to make supper.  I’m hungry.  That’s your job.

Jesus said you just need to do your duty.  You just need to do your job.  Quit complaining. Quit whining.  Do what you are supposed to do.
So how do we in 2019 relate?

If you would just take the faith that you do have and do the things that Jesus told you to do, you would be amazed at the results.

We need to stop asking Jesus to increase our faith and start demanding more of ourselves.  Jesus gave us life when we were sentenced to death.  This gift of salvation that we call grace came by faith.

Will that same faith not take us to greater things?  Jesus has taken our burdens.  The battle belongs to him.  Can we not step out in obedience to him with the faith that we have?

Jesus has promised to forgive every sin that we confess.  Can we not step out in faith knowing that when we try and fall short, we are confident of his forgiveness?  We never really fail for he will put us right back in the race with the pardon that he promised.

What if I used my faith to do the things I know to do?

Would I still have enough time in the day if I read my Bible for a full half hour every day?

Would I still have enough to pay my bills if I trusted God with the first 10%?

Would I still be able to accomplish all that I want to accomplish if I used my Spiritual Gifts more each week?

Would I still be okay if I worked at everything as if I as working for God and not for men?

Would I still enjoy my life if my prayer truly was thy will be done?

God loves to give us good gifts, but how do you think he feels when we think what he has given us is not enough?  How do you think he feels when we say gimmie, gimmie, gimmie?

He has given us all a measure of faith.  What if instead of asking for more faith, we put more of our faith in action.  What if we did what we knew to do with the faith we have?

Think of the woman In John 8 again.  She was brought before Jesus to be stoned.  Jesus told the mob, let he who is without sin throw the first stone.  Slowly from the oldest to the youngest, the stones fell and the crowd disbursed. 

So he asked the woman, who is there to condemn you?

None sir, she answered.

Then neither do I.  Now, go and sin no more.

Now what if she had continued the conversation?  What if she said, that was a neat trick how you got rid of the crowd?  Thanks for that but if you are serious about this go and sin no more, I’m going to need some more self-discipline or a better husband or something that I don’t have now.

She might have received the same lecture from Jesus about the servant coming in from working in the field.

What about us?  Having received salvation that we didn’t deserve—let’s call that grace—and promised eternity, how would Jesus feel about us saying that we need some extra faith to live the way you want us to live?

I think he would tell us that we are beneficiaries of a wonderful gift called grace.  It was a gift that was not earned.  It was a gift of the Father that came by Jesus and was received by faith.

I think he would tell us to take the same faith by which we received this gift and put it to work.

Instead of granting our request to increase our faith, I think he would say increase what you do with the faith that you have.

Do your duty.

If 20 years ago, someone had dropped half a million dollars in the collection plate, I don’t think we would have enjoyed the same journey of faith that took place in this congregation as we stepped out with little in our bank account but full of faith as we acquired, reconfigured, and paid for this building.

If just over a decade ago, someone on the session would have said, we’ve never done that before, we likely would have never stepped out in local evangelism that we call Walk A Block for Jesus.  We had zero experience but had the faith to do our duty.

If after a season of serving meals on Tuesdays with few in attendance, we would have thrown in the towel, Chewy Tuesdays would have been a flash in the pan.  While our first efforts fed few with much, our faith prompted us to change the model and take meals and love to kids and some shut-ins in our community.

If when you leave this place, you find a place to quietly dispose of the cards you were given, you will likely never know the joy of fulfilling your commission.  But if you did your duty and talked with at least three people each week, you will find that when the cards run out, your desire to share the good news and invite people to come into the covenant community was still going strong.

Your faith will help you fulfill your commission.

We have the faith that we need to do the things that we have been told to do.

We don’t need God to increase our faith.  We need to increase what we do with the faith God has already given us.

Let’s work on our prayers.  Instead of asking God for more faith, ask him to help us put what faith we have to work.

Lord, help me increase my response to your great love by putting my faith to work.

Lord, help me to do my duty.

Lord, help me to forgive and love and share your good news with the faith that is already within me.

Lord, help me do more with the faith that I have.