Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GROWING OUR FAITH: Our Faith on Trial!

Right now, at First Baptist Church, Lexington, Tennessee, where I am the pastor, I just started at new sermon series called “THE JAMES EXPERIMENT: Does faith really work?” The Bible is filled with many things to say about faith. I thought I might write a few things related to this series to help encourage others in their faith. 

Today I want to share a few words about how God tests our faith through Trials:

Trials test our faith as the people of God! The New Testament alone is filled with God’s commands for believers to obey. These commands are the things God tells us we should do or not do. These commands are not presented to us as options, but as obligations. Someone has said there are just over 1000 commands in the New Testament alone. Some of them seem irrational or even crazy to us. Others are very inconvenient, hard, trying, time consuming or they seem quite impossible. These commands are trials in our lives. What is on  trial? Our faith in on trial to determine if it is real or not. They are there to try our faith.

When we face a trial of our faith in relationship to God’s commands, what we are ultimately deciding is this: Who am I going to trust? Am I going to believe what God says to do or am I going to believe what feels right to do? For example, when Jesus tells us to “Turn the other cheek” or the “Love your enemies”, we are on trial. Our faith is being challenged at its very core because on the surface we might disagree with the command, not understand it, or find it to be really hard to accomplish. It is at that point in our lives when we decide, “Am I going to trust what God says to do? Am I going to obey what He says is right? Or am I going to trust my own opinion or my feelings and do what I think is right in my own eyes?"

The Bible is filled with examples of God putting the faith of His people on trial. One that is hard for me to grasp is God demanding of Abraham to sacrifice his only son Issac. That makes no sense to me. I cannot wrap my mind around that. Still, ole Abe trusted God. He exercised faith in God, went with his son to the top of the mountain, and there on the mountain God provided a ram as the sacrifice rather than the son. Wow! Would I have been willing to have done that or would I have rationalized it and chose to bury my faith rather than exercise it? 

Often God asks us to do the impossible or the difficult. He often asks us to take action without us having a lot of advanced details. Why? He wants to grow our faith. Our faith is on trial. What we do next shows in whom we truly trust! 

Sometimes God commands us to build a boat in a desert because he’s going to send a rain storm. We might not be able to see a cloud in the sky and the long-range forecast may look dry, but God always has a plan! Just ask a guy by the name of Noah. We realize that Noah not only obeyed God, but he did so immediately. Everyone laughed at his faith. No one else would obey God, but Noah persevered. The result of his faith is that he and his family lived! When we exercise our faith in God it brings new life to our otherwise dry, desert lives!

So maybe today God is talking to you, calling you, commanding you, or convicting you about something. Maybe you do not have all the answers. Maybe, just maybe your feelings and emotions are conflicted. When this happens, it is a trial. Your faith is on trial. Will you trust God or trust yourself? The issue is your faith! What will you choose?