Summary: Exercising your Faith. Faith is a strong spiritual muscle but if it isn't exercised it becomes weak. Faith is not stagnate, It moves and shakes. Faith needs action to work to its fullest strength.
What is faith? Faith is a little word that is often taken for granted. The word faith is thrown around by a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. Everyone has faith to some degree or another. An atheist may not have faith in God but he or she has faith in something. If they drive a car, they have faith it will start and carry them to their destinations. If they live in a modern home, they have faith the lights will come on when they flip the switch or that the hot water will be there when they desire to take a shower. Faith means many things to different people.
I have a somewhat different view of faith. Faith, at least to me, has four components, God’s word, God’s presence, obedience to God’s word, and action on our part. We read God’s word; we reflect on it and recognize God’s presence around us; we are obedient to God’s word, and follow God into work among his people. To me this is faith and I believe this is what faith requires of us all. I believe that faith has great power when it is exercised and put into action. Has there been a time in our lives when we prayed for something that God provided but required that we step out on faith to secure the promise?
Have we been presented with choices where we had to trust God that we made the correct one? Have there been times in our lives where we just had to trust God that the way before us was the road we should travel?
I think the answer for us gathered here is probably yes. We’ve all had to at one time or another trust God and put our faith into action. The fact that we’re here is an act of faith, obedience, and action on our parts. When we turned our faith into verbs in our walks with God, was there any time that God was not present around us?
I can remember a time in 1983 when I was required to leave my home and family in North Carolina and move to Israel for my job for about a year and a half. I can remember praying and seeking God to know if this was really the path I was supposed to walk. God had opened the doors for this opportunity but I still had some reservations about leaving my family.
I can remember being excited about going and about the chance to see the sights I had read of in the Bible but I worried for the wife and three small children I had to leave behind for this journey. I can remember my wife gently saying that everything would be okay; God would take care of them so I need not worry.
I remember saying my goodbyes at the airport, gave kisses and hugs all around then I boarded the plane for the long trip across the pond still wondering if I had made the best choice for my family. I was going into the unknown and leaving everything that was familiar to begin work in a land that was very different from the one I left on faith that things would be better for it.
I was putting my faith into action. I was working for an Israeli company at this time and I needed to make this trip to reach higher in the company. My career and my livelihood for my family depended upon this trip. To fail was to go back to a mediocre existence of dead end jobs, struggle, and poverty so I had to have faith that the sacrifice we were making would be worth it. I stepped out of my box and moved forward. My family and I were better for it. Was it hard to do? Absolutely, but the rewards of exercising faith were certainly worth it.
I’ve discovered that when we exercise our faith and are obedient to God good things usually happen. I can’t remember an incident where someone exercised their faith when God called them to something and then withheld the blessing. The new nation of Israel as they were being assembled to enter the land, into an unknown, had to put their faith into action to enter the land of promise so very long in coming. They had to realize that God now required something from them. God required that they turn their faith into verbs, wait on God to move, and then follow in God’s footsteps.
Stepping out on faith is not easy; in fact it can be very frightening. I can remember what it was like when I finally answered the call of God to become a minister of the gospel and discovered I was going to have to come up to COS at Duke for a whole month away from the parish, every year, for a minimum of 5 years? Now I not only have to get to know our congregations, write sermons, do all the things required of me by our respective churches and our vocation, I now have to re-enter the educational world I thought I had left behind me, many, many, years ago on top of everything else.