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Message Monday: Exercising a Dangerous Faith

24 Oct

Intro:Image result for dangerous faith

  • For the past few weeks Jack and I have been preparing the study guides for our next Sunday Night Bible Study.
  • The book we are using for the study seeks to describe the lives of missionaries with one key Scripture.
  • After preparing several of these study guides I am amazed at how great each of these missionaries lives impacted the world for Christ.
    • In the midst of great persecution and trials these missionaries did not relent.
    • The faith of these Christian missionaries seems unbelievable and heroic.
    • That faith propelled them into dangerous and difficult missionary assignments.
    • But in each one of the studies that we have prepared, the missionaries we studied would not have looked at themselves and seen heroic efforts.
  • For instance listen to a quote by Jim Elliot.
    • If you were not aware Jim Elliot is the missionary that the movie The End of the Spear depicts.
    • He went to Ecuador and tried to reach the Huaorani Indians and was martyred by them in the 1958.
    • He says in his journal, “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

Hook:

  • If Jim Elliot’s faith was ordinary either I do not know the definition of ordinary or my faith is paltry in comparison.
  • How about you? How dangerous is your faith?
  • Could you say that you were thinking of souls as you were being prepared for surgery like one of our members was this week when I visited her?
  • As a church, where is the next Poland partnership or church that we feel led of God to support?
  • What ministries do you sense God leading you to participate in, and perhaps give your time and talents to start?
  • As our world and country become more hostile to Christianity, how long will you identify yourself openly as a believer.
  • This morning we will examine three exercises can begin to develop a more dangerous faith.

Message Points:

  • The 1st exercise of our dangerous faith that Paul commends to the Philippians and us is a workout With God (2:12-13).
    • Notice that Paul commends them for their obedience, however do not think that they are merely obeying a man.
    • Paul said of the Philippians in 1:5 that he prayed for them because of their partnership in gospel from the first day until now.
    • The Philippians are obeying the call of God to the gospel of Christ.
    • Some have had difficulty with this passage because of the encouragement “to work our your salvation”.
      • Such an encouragement does not seem to square with a Protestant’s sentiment that we are saved not by works, but by faith.
      • Paul is not telling us here that salvation is by our works but by God’s work in us.
      • Look at verse 13. Because we have been saved, God is working in us right now to will and act according to his good purpose.
      • The aspect of salvation in this passage is not our justification but our sanctification. EXPLAIN.
    • That said, as we discussed this passage in staff meeting this week, we focused more on the phrase “with fear and trembling”.
      • Chris brought up a great example for us to consider.
      • Think of animal trainer and the thrill audiences have when they see a man seemingly control such a large, dangerous creature.
      • Think of how that trainer must feel as he steps into the cage with that trainer.
        • No matter how prepared and how many other times he has completed his task, do you think he can ever relax?
        • Every time he goes to work, he must do so with fear and trembling or else he might be injured or consumed.
    • Imagine this friends: As a believer God has invited you to exhibit in your daily life the great Lion of Judah, Christ himself.
    • Let’s draw some applications using this illustration …
      • We exercise our dangerous faith by not assuming that our past experience of salvation has tamed Christ.
      • We exercise our dangerous faith by staying alert to Christ’s presence in our lives and the opportunities that gives us to display his glory.
      • We exercise our faith as aware with fear and trembling as we attempt the most dangerous activities to demonstrate our trust in Christ.
      • We exercise our faith as we practice exhibiting our relationship with Christ day by day.
  • Charles Schulz captured the next area in which we need to exercise dangerous faith with one of his Peanuts characters who said, “I love mankind… it’s the people I can’t stand!”
  • Our 2nd exercise that will develop dangerous faith is a workout With Others (2:14-16a)
    • Look at verse 14.
      • Paul tells us that should do everything without two of our favorite activities: complaining and arguing.
      • We do not have to work very hard to discover one or two or a hundred reasons to complain, but how many of us want to listen to a complainer?
      • Neither is it a challenge to pick a fight with someone, most of the time we just have to say exactly what is on our minds.
      • The challenge Paul puts before us is that we would exercise our dangerous faith by not feeding our desire for complaining and arguing.
    • This leads to Paul’s next statement in verse 15-16 where he tells us to shine like stars in this world.
      • Notice that he begins by telling us to be blameless and pure children of God.
      • He then points out that we should live without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.
      • Further he says that we should hold out the word of life.
      • When we live differently from this generation and hold out a unique reason for our life we exercise a dangerous faith.
    • In today’s world one of the new fronts where we complain and argue instead of shining the light of Jesus is in the realm of social media.
      • How many posts on your page are about that person who cut you off or the way you were mistreated at a local restaurant or store?
      • How often do you comment on posts with the belief that you are standing for what you believe in only to have an online debate?
      • In this political season how many people would look at your page and think you are a campaigning against a candidate instead of campaigning for Christ?
    • In light of Paul’s teaching, can I encourage you to think of these seven warnings Thom Rainer offers about social media usage? These are his points that I have adapted for us.
      • Do not post anything you would not want to be permanent.
      • Do not post if you think there is any possibility of someone misunderstanding.
      • Do not post cute emoticons in an attempt to soften you harsh words.
      • Do not cowardly attack other people’s character or positions from behind your keyboard instead of personally confronting them.
      • Do not post if you are in the heat of the moment over an issue.
      • Do not post if you would not want your employer, family, church, or Lord to see it.
      • Do not post if you think the post would be a stumbling block to someone receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.
    • Maybe the best way some of us can exercise a dangerous faith today by going home and cleaning-up our social media pages, and email inboxes.
    • Certainly we exercise a faith dangerous to those who oppose God when we refuse to give in to complaining and arguing in any form so that we can shine forth Jesus Christ!
  • Finally, Paul comes to offer the 3rd exercise that will develop a dangerous faith, by working out With Yourself (2:16b-18).
    • Notice that Paul says that he wants to boast on the day of Christ that he did not run or labor in vain.
      • Like most of us Paul wants to feel like his life has no purpose of meaning.
      • But he uses the example of a drink offering to describe his service.
      • A drink offering would begin evaporating just as soon as it hit the fire and would be totally gone in just a few moments.
      • If our life and service are so fleeting and temporary, it is easy to see why we so easily struggle with depression and sadness.
    • But Paul says something that should surprise us in light of our common response to similar circumstances.
      • He says he is rejoicing with the Philippians and that they should rejoice with him.
      • Far from being depressed, Paul says he is rejoicing.
      • We exercise a dangerous faith when we begin to see our life and service not as a waste, but as a fragrant offering that brings rejoicing.
      • Think with me for just a moment about the aroma that comes from a grill at a home barbeque.
        • Our family loves to grill out for birthdays and family celebrations.
        • As I start the fire and the charcoal heats up I add wood chips or logs.
        • Before I put the meat on the rack, I fill a pan with some sort of liquid that will keep the meat most and give it flavor.
        • As I put the meat on the grill and the smoke billows out of the chimney, for the next few hours the aromas of that grill serve to heighten my hunger for the joy of sharing the meal with my family.
        • After the meal, the meat is consumed, the ashes get discarded and the remaining liquid is poured out but they were not wasted.
        • The purpose of the entire activity is the opportunity and joy of sharing that meal.

Conclusion:

  • It is dangerous to view your life as an offering to our God.
  • It means that you will be spent, totally consumed, and poured out for the opportunity to fellowship with Christ and His followers.
  • That said, if you offer yourself to Christ, the rejoicing you will experience in fellowship with Him will last an eternity.
  • So let me ask you to exercise your dangerous faith by offering yourself to Christ today.
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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