Summary: If we could ever make a firm faith statement stand - still here; then our faith destination would be assured - over there, and our faith interval - our going - will be easier, clearer, and surer.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
“Faith: Going There”
Text: 2 Peter 1: 3 - 11
The overall theme of this month sermons is Faith Affirmation. Our purpose is to explore three basic ideas: the essence of a faith statement, the object of a faith destination, and the elements of a faith interval.
A faith statement is the here. A final destination is the there. The span between these two points is a faith interval. A faith interval is the span between an uttered prayer and an answered prayer. A faith interval is the span between your need for help and when your help comes. A faith interval is the span between when your praises go up and your blessings come down. A faith interval is the span between when a weapon is formed against and through launched; the reality that it will not prosper.
Two weeks ago on the dawn of a New Year we examined the Joshua text under the sermon title: Faith: Still Here. In that message we concluded that the ability to say still here was a faith statement. To be able to make a faith statement required a God consciousness, a God commitment and for one to wait on a God conclusion.
Last week, Rev. Dr. Lewis Anthony blessed our spirits by informing us that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s faith statement was his response to the call of God on his life by having a cup of coffee with God.
I believe that a faith statement is a foundational aspect of a Christian’s life. We all can say without reservation – still here. The questions we must answer is if here is the foundation, what is the destination - where is there?
Our text answers that question definitively; there is to be welcomed into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is where the wicked will cease from troubling and the weary will find rest. There is where the lamb will lay down with the lion. There is where we will beat our swords into pruning hooks and study war no more. There is where we will find peace in the valley. There is where God will wipe all tears from our eyes. There is where we will be welcomed into the eternal kingdom of God.
We can handle here. We know there. Our problem is the going.
You may remember the slogan: WWJD; what would Jesus do. It was on arm bands, posters, and had become apart of common language. After thinking about that slogan for a while, the proper question is not what Jesus would do; but what do you do since you say Jesus is in you? Since Jesus came into your life; what do you do?
The problem, the challenge, the difficulty in this life is the going. We can accept here. We have a vision of there. The challenge is the going. Don’t you find the going tough some times? Don’t you find the going an uneasy journey? Don’t you find the going an uphill climb? How many persons can honestly say that the going is a bowl of cherries? How many find the going a crystal stair? Very few, most find the going strenuous. Why?
Let be truthful. Sin so easily bests us. Sin find place in too easily in our hearts. If you say you do not sin, the truth is not in you. Sin, why didn’t God just create a perfect world? Why do we have to deal all the time with sin? What is sin? The Hebraic word picture for sin is an archer shooting an arrow at a target and missing the mark. Missing the mark established by God for holy and acceptable living. How do we miss the mark?
To get from here to there we have to move forward. Sin interrupts our forward movement in three critical ways:
1. Instead of moving forward; off times we shift backward. You take one step forward and two steps back. Sin has a way of stimulating our appetite that the further we move away from it, the more desirable it seems. We think of sin as pleasurable because we too easily forget the pain. Scripture says like a dog who returns to his vomit, we return to sin. In other words, we return back to that which makes us sick. Instead of moving forward, we move backward. The Book of Hosea is devoted to the idea of the slipping back of Israel to its old ways. Read the interaction between Hosea and Gomer and every time he would go to deliver her; she would return to that which is designed to destroy her.
2. Instead of moving forward; sometimes our steps are wayward. Wayward steps are those which veer from the straight and narrow way of God. Wayward steps are those you make when you operate out of the public eye. When you think no one is watching. When you resort to your own devices. Wayward steps are those contradictions you have that are against the will of God. Noah was a righteous man who walked with God. God gave him a divine assignment to build the ark of safety. He does and God makes a covenant with him. Soon as Noah departs from the ark instead of building an altar of praise and worship he gets naked and drunk – he was wayward.