Summary: Examine four ingredients that are essential to staying faithful to God.
Last month we did a series entitled “The Finer Points Of Love.” That series lead into the focus for this month. This month we are going to focus on the concept of faithfulness. As a part of this focus we are going to do a renewal of marriage vows on March 15th. Throughout this month we will be looking at what it means to be faithful. (show Jonathan’s video at this point) I would like to start this series by looking at what it means to be faithful to God. Sometimes faithfulness can be a challenging task. In trying to be faithful we sometimes put undo pressure on ourselves. All of us live under a lot of stress. When someone exhorts us to be faithful it can put extra stress on us.
Illustration: There was a man who prided himself on being exceedingly punctual. He followed a precise routine every morning. His alarm went off at 6:30 AM. He rose briskly, shaved, showered, ate his breakfast, brushed his teeth, picked up his briefcase, got into his car, drove to the ferry, parked his car, rode the ferry across to the downtown business area, got off the ferry, walked smartly to his building, marched to the elevator, rode to the seventeenth floor, hung up his coat, opened his briefcase, spread his papers on his desk, and sat down in his chair at precisely 8:00 AM. Not 8:01 AM, not even 7:59. Always at 8:00 AM. He followed this routine without variation for eight years, until one morning his alarm did not go off, and he overslept fifteen minutes. When he did awake, he was panic-stricken. He rushed through the shower, nicked himself when he shaved, gulped down his breakfast, only half-way brushed his teeth, grabbed up his briefcase, jumped into his car, sped to the ferry landing, jumped out of his car, and looked for the ferry. There it was, out in the water a few feet from the dock. He said to himself, "I think that I can make it," and he ran down the dock towards the ferry at full speed. Reaching the edge of the pier he made an enormous leap and miraculously landed with a loud thud on the deck of the ferry. The captain rushed down to make sure he was alright. The captain said, "Man, that was a tremendous leap, but if you would have just waited another minute, we would have reached the dock, and you could have walked on."
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Jim Kane)
What does it take for us to remain faithful to God? For scriptural guidance we are going to look at a passage in Acts 9. In this passage a man named Saul comes to faith in Jesus Christ. However, after coming to faith in Christ Saul faced some major challenges. In verse 23 we read “after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.” They plotted to kill him! If that wasn’t enough, even the believers turned their backs on him. In verse 26 we read “when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.” The unbelieving world tried to kill him and the believers turned their backs on him. What a challenge! Did Saul give up? Did he stop serving? Did Saul turn away? No, not at all! In fact, Saul went on to become one of the greatest missionaries of the early church. Also, he wrote many of the books in our New Testament.
You and I may not accomplish such spiritual ventures. We can be faithful! That is all that God requires of us. In fact, I am convinced that all people want to be faithful to God. All people want to find a faith that makes a difference. I am convinced that all of us want to find what Saul found. We want to be faithful. The question arises, what happened in Saul’s life that established such a strong foundation? What motivated him to be faithful? I want to point out some ingredients that went into making Saul the unique and faithful man of God. You and I cannot duplicate Saul’s life but we can duplicate the ingredients.
What does it take to “Stay On Track.”
1. The first ingredient in staying on track is an encounter with Jesus Christ. Paul’s encounter with Christ is found in verses 3-5. “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Notice what happened in this encounter with Jesus Christ.