Summary: Without faith it is impossible to please God.
The Crisis Of Belief
6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
This is the third week of our "Sharing the Gifts" stewardship focus for this year. I am convinced that God has been moving among us during the past three weeks and probing the depths of our hearts concerning our commitment to Him. That really is the core issue of our stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us. Far too often churches and pastors, when talking about matters that pertain to stewardship, focus on the church budget, but the budget is a peripheral issue. Most budget difficulties that are faced by churches are only symptomatic of deeper issues that are going on in the hearts and souls of God's people.
If the people's hearts are right, if we have surrendered to God and His will above all else, then preachers and teachers will never be tempted to prod us, manipulate us, or plead with us to give of our material resources. We will give with a thankful heart knowing that God has called us to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. Why do we see so little of this happening today? There can only be one answer to the question and that is that we have a heart problem. Our hearts are not right with God, we take for granted His good gifts given to us, and therefore we are unwilling to give freely and generously to His work going on around us.
What is happening in the hearts of individuals spills over into the collective heart of churches. Let me explain this way. On an athletic team you have many individuals who are working together to achieve a common goal - winning a championship. If, on that team, some of the players are unwilling to give it their all, unwilling to surrender their own personal comfort for the betterment of the team, then you have a team that will achieve only a substandard level of performance. How can the team maximize their abilities and improve their skills if half of the players possess a half-hearted commitment? It is impossible. The half-hearted players will not keep the committed players from giving 110% during practice, but they will effect the overall performance of the team.
As it goes with teams so it goes with the church. Those who have surrendered their souls to God's will, those who find great joy in giving their all in every area of their lives to God, will continue to do so no matter what comes their way. But the overall impact that the local church will have on their community will be greatly hindered.
The heart of the matter is "Will the church, all of the people who are part of the church, decide in their hearts that God is calling them to surrender every aspect of their lives, including their checkbooks to God's purposes above their own? Are the people convinced that God will meet all of their needs when they are faithful to His call on their lives?" This is the real issue. If the answer is "Yes" then the church will decide to trust God for things that only God can do and they will see Him move in ways that only He can move. If the answer is "No," then the church will only see happen in their midst things that they can do on their own -- which amounts to almost nothing.
Throughout the Bible we can see that God calls His people to join Him in doing things that only He can do. You will never find one instance where God says, "Do what you can. Give it your best shot. Don't make it too hard on yourself." This is the way that most of us view life, but it is not God's way my friend. God's way of doing things is to give us assignments that are too big for us. Tasks that could never be done by our own strength or will.
You may be wondering, "Why would God give me something to do that He knew I could never do? What kind of God is that?" Oh, you are a sharp group of folks and you ask such good questions. The Bible tells us over and over again that God is love. The Bible also teaches us that every action towards us flows from the foundation of His love for us. If this is true then why would God give us challenges that we could never do on our own?
If we stop with the understanding that God gives us tasks that we could never do then we do not have the whole equation my friend. Whenever God gives us these God-sized assignments He always concludes the assignment with a promise - "I will be with you." God has promised us that if we will accept His assignment that He will be with us every step of the way as we watch Him work and accomplish what we could never accomplish on our own.