I’ve let the post topics get a little monotonous lately around here. I certainly have more going on than following Harding basketball games and baseball’s hot stove. Melissa and I are getting closer to finishing our basement; I’ve been playing in a rec basketball league (averaging a whopping 4.5 ppg in two games for the Golden Nuggets, if you’re curious); plus, we’ve spent some time lately getting involved in some new activities at church, like small groups.
The small groups at East Brainerd meet all over town (usually in homes) at the same time as the church’s Sunday evening worship service. We have a pretty large group that meets in our neighborhood in Ringgold.
On the fourth Sunday of each month, the small groups meet at the building to participate with everyone else. This past Sunday night was the fourth Sunday, and I had the opportunity to present the invitation during our devotional service.
The theme on Sunday evening was faith, and we had scripture readings from Hebrews 11, James 2, and Luke 12 to direct our thoughts for the devotional. I shared the thoughts below, and we closed with a reading from Psalm 63. Perhaps you’ll find these thoughts helpful as you contemplate faith. (You can even stand and sing if you want. We sang “Nothing But The Blood” as the invitation song.)
Faith – An Invitation
January 25, 2009
I don’t know about you, but when I’m given the chance, I like to be in control. A lot of the time, that’s not a bad thing.
Personally, I like the security of having a job because I know I’m going to be able to make that house payment at the beginning of the month. That’s one form of having control. I like to think I drive safely most of the time, and that’s another way of maintaining control over my life. I have a couple of TV remotes at home, and my wife knows I like to be in control of those. She gets to watch a lot of college basketball this time of year. All kidding aside, though, control is absolutely necessary in a lot of situations that you and I face.
Most of you are probably like me, at least a little bit, when it comes to control. You like control in your life, too, but a lot of us who are here tonight have made a decision that requires us to give up control. It was one of the most important decisions we ever made, and it was the right decision, because ultimately you and I are not supposed to be in complete control of our lives. We were created by a God who put us on Earth and gave us free will, but He wants to have the final say in our lives.
One of the great things about being part of a church family like the one here at East Brainerd is that we’re surrounded by people who have faith in God and demonstrate it every day. We have members in this congregation who work long hours during the week and still prepare diligently to teach class on Sunday morning. Others here have developed a keen sense of meeting each other’s needs. This person might take some time on Saturday morning to rake an elderly neighbor’s yard. Others get up early on Sunday to make sure everyone in the family is ready in time for worship. From big things to the very smallest, all of these demonstrate faith in God and the willingness to become the living sacrifices that Paul talks about in Romans 12. But the best part about all of this is that our faith isn’t limited to these works. They really only scratch the surface of God’s power.
We’ve read some selections from the Bible tonight that highlighted individuals who gave control of their lives over to God. Noah was told he was crazy, but he built the ark anyway. The story of Abraham and Isaac is powerful, probably even unfathomable to you and me. But that’s ultimately what faith is. Not all of us will be asked to sacrifice a child on an altar as Abraham was, but we are all asked to have faith in God in some way.
Faith is one of the defining characteristics of being a Christian, if not the defining characteristic, and to have it, we give up a little bit of that control we often hold so dear. We admit that we don’t have all the answers, that we don’t have it all figured out, and God does.
Just like knowing that we can make a house payment or buy bread and milk, these things that keep us in control, giving up control of your life to God can also be a tremendous feeling. God told Paul, who faced some amazing persecution: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace is sufficient for all of us, and to receive it, we need to have faith. If you’d like to have that feeling tonight, to receive God’s grace and become free from sin, God can take your weakness and make it perfect with His power. If you want to profess your faith and be baptized, or if you have any other need we can address, please come as we stand and sing.
(View this in Google Docs)