Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for the gift of saving faith. Today, enable us to never take it for granted, or to became lethargic when it comes to our spiritual growth. Instead, keep our faith fresh and vibrant all the time. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH!
TEXTS: TODAY’S LESSONS AS LISTED BELOW
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
This is a tough time of the year for fresh fruits and vegetables. The apples are a few months old having been in cold storage. The tomatoes aren’t worth buying. The shipped in produce from southern climes isn’t like getting it from the farmstand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m appreciative of the bounty the grocery has vs. years ago. But the taste and freshness of stored vs. fresh picked just isn’t the same.
Today I want to look at all three readings which talk about our Christian faith. I want to consider them under the general theme of: KEEPING YOUR FAITH FRESH
John 4: 5-26 This is the famous story of Christ interacting with the woman at the well of Sychar. She is a Samaritan, who were at odds with Jews. Or perhaps we should say: the Jews hated Samaritans. They came from Canaanite/Babylonian lineage. Shipped into Israel during the Babylonian captivity 500 years before and intermarrying native Canaanites. They brought their heathen religion and customs with them. Over the centuries they also adopted some Jewish insights, too. In any case, they didn’t interact with Jews who considered them: unclean.
It’s mid-day and she is at the community well to draw water. Christ is there, too. She is shocked that Jesus asks her to draw some water for him. This just wasn’t done. Then He engages her in conversation and mentions God. He talks to her about living water and eternal life. Now that sounds good to her so she responds: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here.”
With that “in” Christ probes her life. He asks her about her “live-in” boyfriend and the 5 other men she has gone through. She deduces He’s a prophet. The conversation turns to God vs. the Samaritan religion of heathenism. Slowly and carefully He draws her out. He wants to plant the seed of saving faith within her. He’s gentle with her unbelief. And finally, He gets her to the point of her asking about the Messiah and then declares: “I who speak to you am He.”
Thus begins her journey of saving faith. It doesn’t happen immediately. It isn’t a thunderbolt. It is a methodical process. Later on we’re told that that seed took root. She went back and told others about Christ and confessed His gentle, insightful words. And we’re also told that many came to faith. Yes, God’s word has the power to create faith in place of unbelief.
Genesis 12: 1-8 The journey of faith is clearly seen here as God calls Abraham to go to the promised land. He’s a grown man with a wife and a whole household of retainers and servants. He’s no impetuous youth. He’s also a child of faith in God’s ancient promises concerning salvation via the Messiah.
God talked to Abraham and gave him a tripartite promise: He would make him into a great nation (even though Abraham had no children), He would make his name great, and He would bless all the world through Him (a prefiguring of the Messiah coming from his line.) To accomplish this Abraham would have to leave his homeland and undertake a journey to an unknown land. He would have to totally trust in God the entire way. So the whole clan journeys to the promised land. There they settle and he builds an altar to the Lord.
This was totally a journey born of faith. I wonder how many times those with Abraham said: “Are we there yet?” And Abraham must have wondered that, as well. So for him not one day was taken for granted. Every sight, sound, mountain and sand dune was fresh. Every sense of heightened with every step. The result of the journey wasn’t apparent until they arrived. And then the fulfillment of God’s original promises took another 80 years of walking by faith and trust and not by sight. For Abraham, faith was about living each day and appreciating each day and growing each day. He didn’t just live for the future as some Christian’s do. He embraced the journey of faith until it reached fulfillment.
Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17 St. Paul was writing to the church at Rome which was comprised of many former Jews. They embraced Abraham as their spiritual father and honored him. They wanted to emulate him. What saved Abraham? Was it his adherence to God’s Law? Was it the result of his covenant with God in circumcision? Many thought that. But Paul says this: “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified (declared right with God) by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’”
The book of Hebrews states: “Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things not seen.” So, I ask you this: “Is your faith a journey or an end result?” Right now you and I live on this earth here in time. We cannot see the future with our eyes. As Christians we cannot see heaven or fully grasp the glories that await us which Christ won on the cross for us and confirmed with His resurrection. We can only hope for them and trust God’s promise that: “Because I live, you will live also.”
But what often happens with believers is that their faith goes a bit stale the longer they live. When a person comes to faith it is new and fresh and vibrant. They’re excited and they show it.—Like that woman at the well. With time it becomes a bit lethargic—heard that, seen that, done that. The freshness fades.—Think of Abraham’s nephew Lot who came with him to the promised land. Lot appears to me to doubt a bit, then goes on to being bored with Christianity and someone who just put in each day without savoring the journey of faith. The same is true of many early Jewish Christians such as in Rome. We want glory now. We want the end result now. And if God doesn’t meet our timetable, we attempt to create our own little slice of glory as proof of His grace.
I’ll admit it’s difficult to retain a fresh faith. But it is more juicy and delicious when it comes. And such freshness, feeling alive and blest every day, is made possible by Christ alone Who gives us each day to savor our blessings. We don’t merely live for the future, we live for God. What wonders will He give us later today? What insights will He provide tomorrow? That daily anticipation is what keeps us going until His appointed time for us to live with Him in heaven. So keep on walking and looking around and saying: “Thank You dear Jesus!” Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox