Thursday, December 17, 2009

Having Faith and Living the Gospel

Originally posted November 16, 2004

"If I am going to experience a greater measure of God's power in my life, it will usually involve the first-step principle. It will usually begin by my acting in faith: trusting God enough to take a step of obedience. Simply acknowledging information about his power is not enough. I have to get my feet wet."
~ John Ortberg; If You Want to Walk on Water You have to Get Out of the Boat

I do not trust God's power the way I should. Sure, I talk about God creating the universe and doing all these other cool miracles that are recorded in the Bible, but when it comes to my life I don't trust Him. Rather than seeking God for guidance, I plan my own life. Why do I do this? I trust my plan for my life more than I trust God's plan for my life.

Let's face it, if Christians truly lived lives of faith then the world we live in would be totally different. Too many of us are willing to talk about what we believe, but we are unwilling to live a life that puts that believe into action. We don't sacrifice our comfortable lifestyles in order to support missionaries and charities, and thereby help others experience God's love. We don't make time in our busy schedules to help our neighbors or visit people in the hospital. While we might believe the right things about God we don't live like His way is the best way. We have a problem trusting God.

The Gospel, the Good News of God's Love and Forgiveness, is spread throughout the world by people of faith. The term "people of faith" means more than people who believe certain things about God; it also means people who trust God. Faith is not simple belief, but it is trust and action put together.

Acts 3 and 4 tells a tremendous story of faith. Peter and John go to the Temple to preach Jesus. Here are two disciples of Jesus going into the very heart of Judaism to preach about the salvation found in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Certainly they were aware of how dangerous this was because they knew that the Jewish religious leaders didn't like hearing about Jesus, just like they didn't like Jesus. Still they went to preach.

The two apostles caused a commotion by healing a cripple of 40 years, and as a big crowd gathered around so do the Temple guards. The result is that Peter and John are arrested and spend the night in prison.

The next day the two disciples of Jesus get their day and court. These two men made an impression on the Council: The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13; NLT).

Here is the point I want to make: Faith is the product of being with Jesus. If that is true then we have a problem. Peter and John spent three years learning from Jesus during the time He was on earth; but we are unable to have that type of experience. So how can we spend time with Jesus?

We may not be able to have the same experience Peter and John enjoyed, but we can still be with Jesus. Being with Jesus begins by our comment to spend time in Scripture and in prayer. If we are truly going to be followers of Christ Jesus then we need to be in the Gospels, the four biographies of Jesus that tell us how Jesus lived and what He taught. We need pray and ask for wisdom, guidance, and most of all His Spirit.

Prayer and Bible Study is where it starts, but we shouldn't leave it there. We need to begin to live the life God has asked us to live: love our neighbors, forgive one another, serve the helpless, and give to the needy. I am convinced, because I have seen this play out in my own life, that as we live in obedience God begins to affirm our actions. We gain more and more trust in God as we experience Him at work in and through our lives as we obey Him.

You want your faith to grow? You want to be like Peter and John? I know I do. What that means is that we have to start experiencing Jesus in our lives by doing what He has asked us to do, and as we gain confidence from doing the small things we are able to have more confidence to do the bigger challenges. Faith begins by hearing the Gospel, but it is grown through living the Gospel.

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