FAITH: The Value of Values Sermon

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Mon, 10/08/2018 - 11:15am

Message for 10-07-2018 at Harbor Church

“Faith: The Value of Values “

Christopher Columbus Has gotten a lot of bad press these days, and much of it is probably warranted.  He seems to have had a role in the extinction of the Taino people, promoted slavery, treated women deplorably, and behaved tyrannically towards Spanish colonists. All of this notwithstanding, on this holiday weekend, I would like to remember one of his virtues,  that being his single-minded determination to pursue something that he could not yet see. He was searching for a western trade route to the Orient. He wasn't  even sure it existed, had never seen it, but believing that it did, he continued to pursue a sponsor and funding for an voyage of exploration, when others probably would have given up. He went to the king of Portugal, the king of England, and He then petitioned the Catholic monarchs and where his proposals were soundly rejected.  Finally, after repeated attempts over the course of more than two years, the sovereigns of Spain  King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella finally agreed to support him in his quest.

Columbus had a type of faith in the unseen, a believe or a conviction in something that he had never laid eyes on. Columbus faithfully pursued his goals, worldly as they were, he sought fame and fortune And as Christians we place our faith in an unseen God.  We have an example in Columbus, but we have a much higher calling than he did, as we faithfully seek to pursue a relationship with our God and trust him with our lives.

Others from our national heritage And we can think of others  like Columbus, who contributed to the formation of our emerging country in significant ways. Hebrews Chapter 11 It’s been described as the faith Hall of Fame in the Bible.  Here’s a reimagining of this passage that highlights some of them:

By faith, the Founders commenced a way of life that left its lasting mark in history. By faith, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery found their way to the shores of Virginia. By faith, the voyaging Mayflower found harbor in Plymouth Bay. By faith, these pathfinders dedicated to God, vowed to do his will on earth as it would be done in heaven.

By faith, Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues dared to draft a document of political independence that gave vision to new concepts and procedures in government.

By faith, George Washington left his spacious mansion and espoused the cause of the tax-burdened colonists. By faith, he forsook ease and comfort to be with his men amid the rigors of Valley Forge.

By faith, Alexander Hamilton established the financial credit of the nation, and thus revived the economic life of the young country.

By faith, James Madison gave generously of his brilliant mind to frame the Federal Constitution.

By faith, Andrew Jackson fought the battle of the impoverished and the underprivileged.

By faith, Abraham Lincoln saved the Compact of the Pilgrim fathers.

 Such was the faith of our founding fathers and mothers, a faith expressed through bold and resolute deeds.

Others from our Spiritual Heritage

As we return to the actual text of Hebrews, We read about numerous biblical characters Who Expressed their faith in God through concrete actions.

Abram made a journey that affected the course of a a nation.. Abel offered a sacrifice. Noah built a boat that preserved his people. Sarah conceived and gave birth to the children of promise.  Joseph delivered his family from famine. Moses rescued his people from slavery. Gideon conquered an army and protected his tribe. Daniel tamed lions and bore witness to the power of God. David subdued kingdoms and established an everlasting legacy.  All of these heroes of the faith demonstrated their faithfulness by the things that they did. Faith in God is starting point for our relationship with God, but it is also the proof of our faith as well.

Faith in Action

This is the point that James is making  in our second reading when he declares that all faith without action is meaningless. Our faith is expressed in and made real by the that things we do and the choices we make each day. Faithfulness Is our track record of how we live In the light of God’s reality  in our lives.

Pulling On Both Oars

An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word “Faith,” and on the other oar the word “Works.” Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.”

So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again—this time the other way around, but still in a circle.

After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, “You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and “faith without works is dead” also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing.”

Campus Crusade for Christ analogy

 being a zealous young man, and striving to be faithful to my fledgling  understanding of Christian witness at this time in my life, I would give a booklet to others called The 4 Spiritual Laws. In it was a diagram depicting a great chasm separating sinful humankind from Holy God. But There was a bridge between the two, and the bridge was Jesus Christ. The bridge was there for anyone to cross, but it required faith to step across  the bridge , to trust it to carry our weight. Faith without feet gets us nowhere.

 

 Umbrellas And Faith

A story is told of a church congregation that gathered together to pray for rain to end a drought. The preacher looked at his flock and said:

“Brothers and Sisters, you all know why we are here. Now what I wants to know is—where are your umbrellas? When faith needs rain, it brings an umbrella. When faith asks for sunshine, it puts on sunscreen.

The faith that God desires in us requires more than mental assent or intellectual belief. It is a commitment that takes the form of tangible actions that can transform our character and shape our world.

 

Setting The Sails

When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was becalmed, and it was slowly drifting shoreward unable to go about and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.

The captain came to Mr. Taylor and besought him to pray for the help of God. “I will,” said Taylor, “provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.” The captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling in a dead calm. Taylor said, “I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.” And it was done.

While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there?” The captain’s voice responded, “Are you still praying for wind?” “Yes.” “Well,” said the captain, “you’d better stop praying, for we have now have more wind than we can manage.” Faith requires us to set the sails even before the Spirit of God begins to fill them with the wind of his Spirit.

Faith as a Mirror

Demonstrating faithfulness in our relationships with others is an expression of personal fidelity and integrity  which mirrors the commitment that God has already shown toward us. As Christians, Saving faith  requires depending  on the Redemptive activity of the Lord in our lives . It asks us to trust in a God who has showing himself to be actively involved in our lives. God has shown himself be faithful time and time again. God demonstrated this in the history of our faith in the OT by physically delivering the Israelites from slavery in the land of Egypt. In the NT God demonstrated this by spiritually delivering all of us from sin and death, we  are told that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” So mirroring this faith in the way we interact with others involves commitment, fidelity and trust on all our parts. This stands in sharp contrast to casual attitudes that many people take in  relationships that are short-term, conditional and uncommitted. Faith deepens relationships and enables people to explore more fully the meaning of their own life and the beauty of the lives of others. This kind of faithful living  knits together all kinds of family and other social relationships. It expresses itself love and mercy, in justice and compassion. This is the value and virtue of our faith. Seen in this light, the way in which we exercise our faith in Christian community and in daily life becomes a crucial expression of this essential value:

 Faithfulness between members of the church community, So we strive for faithfulness in our church as we pursue a unity of faith that is centered around the leading of Gods spirit.

Faithfulness in family relationships means loving those who are close to us. Parents are  committed to the good of their children, children learn to faithful in honoring their parents and grandparents, and faithfulness in marriage is expected of husbands and wives. Faithfulness as practiced in families is an important human value which reflects the image of the relationship which exists between a perfect heavenly parent and all of Gods children.

Faithfulness in all other social relationships is value that that reflects the Lord's high calling for us to love all people. Faithfulness to others is not determined by gender, class, social group, ethnicity or nationality. Fidelity to others extends beyond any such categories and is a way of speaking of the commitment Christians have for the good of the other, whoever they are, and where ever we find them.

This is the faithfulness that God wants us to live out, to demonstrate each day.

Epigrams on Faithfulness

When the great protestant reformer Martin Luther was asked  about how he lived his life, he said, “ Even if I knew tomorrow that world would go to pieces, I would still plant Apple trees and pay my debts”

It is said that  once, while Saint Francis of Assisi was working in his garden, he was asked what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he was to die at sunset that day He said “I would finish hoeing my garden.”

Brothers and sisters, faithful living requires faithful actions on our part each day. It asks us step out with both feet as we follow God and to be the hands of Jesus was we serve others in this world.   The faithful example  of our forebearers urges us to practice  is to employ our faith  for the good of all Gods children, and to the glory of God forever,  amen.