Sermons

Summary: Faith, Pleasing God, Risk, Reward

FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE UNKNOWN - The Journey Begins

January 14, 2018

Hebrews 11:6 (p. 843)

Introduction:

When he was 88, the Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes found himself on a train. The conductor called for tickets, but Justice Holmes couldn’t find his ticket and seemed terribly upset. He searched his pockets, looked through his wallet, and even on the floor all around his seat, but with no success. The conductor was sympathetic. “Don’t worry Mr. Holmes…The Pennsylvania Railroad will be happy to trust you when you reach your destination you’ll probably find the ticket and you can mail it to us.”

The Conductors kindness did not put Holmes at ease. He said, “My dear man, my problem is not where is my ticket, my concern is where am I going.”

Unfortunately, we are all too often like this in our spiritual life…Jesus purchases our ticket to heaven…we get on the train and then after a while we forget where we’re going. Hebrews 11:6 says: “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.”

Our test tells us “without faith it is impossible to please God.” So we’d better take seriously how important faith is to every aspect of this journey we call Christianity…It begins with faith…“We are saved by God’s grace THROUGH FAITH.” (Eph. 2:9). It is made step by step with faith, and even our ultimate destination is one of faith.

Impossible is a word we toss around while trying to solve a math problem, or do a Rubik’s Cube. But, impossible doesn’t mean hard or difficult…It means it absolutely cannot happen. It cannot be accomplished.

So please understand…if you want to be a follower of Christ, it absolutely cannot be accomplished without faith.

How does God’s Word describe this essential ingredient? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

If you get on the train and then forget where you’re going, welcome to a journey full of stress, worry and anxiety.

If you remember where your final destination is…and who is waiting for you there…even the short, in between stops, in Test Town are bearable.

It’s no wonder we read these words about Abraham…

HEBREWS 11:8-10 (p. 844)

When called…He went…for “he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.”

That’s faith…If God calls you…whether it’s for salvation or to a specific ministry you and I have to make a choice…Do I go, or not…It takes faith to begin this journey and trust God that the destination is what He promised…Two powerful words are at play here…Risk and Reward…and

I. FAITH IS A RISKY BUSINESS

[I love the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis…and in one of my favorite sections Mr. Beaver has just told the children that Aslan ( A Lion who represents Jesus) is on His way to Narnia…They ask if He is safe…and Mr. Beaver says, “No, He is not safe…but He is good and He is King.”]

I need to tell you by my understanding of God’s Word and 40 years of following Christ…Jesus, the Lion of Judah, isn’t safe, following Him isn’t comfortable, it’s hard and painful at times…but He is always good.

Our text tells us “Anyone who comes to God must believe He exists.”

And maybe you think…“Well…yeah…Duh!!!”

But before we pass over this too quickly…Let me state the obvious. God is Spirit…He’s invisible…And Jesus is no longer here on earth with us in a physical body…So, I cannot see Him.

And, whether we like it or not its stuff we can see that appeals to us…I like watching UK play on my big screen TV. I like my car (like Kari’s better), my house, my food.

I can see these things…touch them…taste them…I know they’re real…when I hold money in my hand I feel a sense of power. It brings me what I want…real stuff.

Jesus knew that as well…He tells Thomas after physically touching His wounds… “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Not seeing and still believing in the very essence of FAITH.

Faith comes by hearing God’s Word…not seeing…He calls you and I through the message of the gospel…and when that happens we must choose obedience or rejection…on one side is a God we cannot see promising us eternal life through His Son…and on the other is Satan, the god of this world showing us stuff we can see with our own eyes.

Faith is risky because it chooses to walk through the small gate and down a narrow road when almost everyone else picks the super highway.

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