I love how God speaks and then connects the dots for me through the word spoken at church.
Pastor Chad brought a message called Break Your Heart, the first message in the series called Hope in Action. He unpacked the scripture section of Nehemiah 1:1-11.
Nehemiah asks about those who were left at Jerusalem. He hears about the conditions of the people there and the happenings in Jerusalem. His heart broke for Jerusalem as he cried out, he fasted and prayed for his homeland. He began to ask God for help. As he poured out his heart for them. He asked God for favor with the King, to whom he was a cupbearer.
Pastor Chad brought out the fact that God often starts something new from the places of brokenness. He gave us some question to ponder our path this week:
- What lies in the rubble in your life, or around you, that you need to stop walking past, and simply call out?
- Take time this week to bring these to Jesus. How He is compelling you to respond in action?
- Don’t do it alone! Who can you ask to help encourage and keep you accountable in living out your hope?
The question that caught my attention was, “how is He compelling me to respond in action?”
Earlier this week I was pondering the verse Proverbs 29:18 that talks about “where there is no vision the people perish.” If we can not see – people perish. If we can not call out what is in our lives then we drift or worse we perish, meaning that we have no forward momentum, no growth, no hope, no life!
The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “we walk by faith, not by sight!“
FAITH + WORKS = LIFE
Therefore: FAITH – WORKS = DEATH
Meaning our faith must be active for life to happen.
How do we activate faith then? WE PRAY! Prayer is faith for action.
Faith is an interesting thing. For many, faith is difficult to grasp because we cant hold it in our hands. Often we think of faith as wishful thinking or simply as having hope but as Pastor Chad said, or as I heard it, “Hope by itself doesn’t do much for us. But hope in action changes everything.”
Faith then must be taken seriously not shallowly.
The word serious means requiring effort. Faith requires effort. I know, I know. Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” But in James 2:14-18 it says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
So here is my question: What if saving faith is not the same as growing faith?
If so, then, Growing faith requires action! Faith + Works = LIFE or GROWTH
So, what stops us from developing faith, isn’t it struggle, suffering, burden? Pastor Chad says, “What if burdens are for your blessing? Brokenness is a requirement for hope to have action.” Scary huh? Kinda sounds like we have to see the problem, enter the pain, and pray for solution then move. Especially since doing nothing does just that – nothing! Dallas Willard said, “Works are simply a natural part of faith. It is impossible to separate works from faith – just as it is impossible to separate burning and shining from fire. Faith is a powerful life force for doing good.”
Faith + Action – or I have come to see it – Faith mixed with prayer + Action = a powerful life force!
Everyday becomes a new day to keep my heart turned on toward God. And it’s not something that just happens I have to put faith into action. Jesus said in John 10:10 I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. You want the abundant life the kind that Christ came to bring. Then we must learn to walk as Jesus walked. He saw the true conditions around Him. He cried out to God and wept. Then He prayed and acted! He did this as a man, in a real flesh body! A body that got tired, that felt pain and that needed refreshing. He walked out faith in fullness and in obedience! Heb 5:8 He learned obedience through the things that He suffered. Obedience is something to be learned. Our Religion – or our faith cannot exclude our bodies.
What if we are wasting our lives trying to avoid the burden, the suffering, the struggle? We work and work and work to mitigate our troubles. Did you know that trauma is the Greek word for “wound”. When we are wounded we build walls mental, physical, emotional walls to keep from feeling the wounds that can come in this world. Trauma does something very specific – it burns the neurons in the brain so that neurosis (mental, emotional or physical reactions that are drastic and irrational) becomes the default response to minor problems. What does that mean? It means that the very simple way that Christ gives to see, feel, pray, then move turns into ignoring, manipulating, hyper-focusing, fixing, controlling, over-functioning and so much more when we do not walk in simple faith. No wonder we are a culture that is burnt out!
What then is legitimate suffering? Its faith building!
1 Peter 1:6-7 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We must learn to grow through what we go through! Its truly the only way to live like Christ!
All is grace,