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Truing Up Our Faith – Tom Waddell

Philippians 2:1-5

1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

: Transcript :

Transcript could contain unintentional errors.

Brother Tom Waddell:

So all of you are painfully aware that we’ve been remodeling our house for the last 187 years. It feels like. And I’m just tired of talking about it, as you are of hearing about it. So. But one of the things you find out when you’re doing remodeling, especially an old house, is that the lines aren’t always true. You know, you find that some of the walls aren’t exactly square. Some of them are in exactly plumb. Some of the floors aren’t quite level. And you’ve got a and you’ve got to try to do workarounds to make it look like you’ve trued it up. You’ve got to put a piece of molding somewhere to cover a gap or cut a board angled so that it fits the where it’s off kilter. Or you got to put a little more tile cement under the tile to make it look like the floor is level. When it would have been much better if the original carpenter had treated up in the beginning and threw up as a phrase that’s even in the dictionary, it’s to shape, position or adjust something to make it exactly level balanced or square.

Let’s pull it out just a little bit. Down, out or backwards. Okay. Okay. Get it for me. STAGEHAND Technical support for. Yeah. We all hate them. Yeah. Okay. Got it. Great. So, what are we going to talk about today? Is truing up our faith. And this is not a correction. Just in asking me out in the hall, you know what I was preaching about and it occurred to me, you know, doesn’t just preach this great series on faith, which was right on. So when I say we’re turning up our faith, it’s not correcting anything. He said he he had it right. And in fact, I’m drawing from some of the stuff that he talked about and and basically, you know, I don’t even want to have a ministry of correction. I don’t want to be one of the preachers who stand up and say, well, those people teach that, but we believe this.

We’re right, they’re wrong and we great. Ain’t we proud? You know, that’s that’s not who we want to be. This is really more of a just a shift in emphasis in how we how we view our faith and how we view exercising our faith. And to do that, we want to look at our or whatever we call this, the three pillars or the three fundamental values that we have at Jason being Jesus centered, presence driven and and mission focused.And, you know, Jesus centered is in embodies the object of our faith presence driven, talks about the motivation for our faith, how we exercise our faith and mission focused as the very big question is what is the capacity of our faith to accomplish that mission? So we want to we want to hit those, and I’m going to do them in reverse order.

We’re going to start with mission focused and we’re back. We’ll go where the the mouth of the river and work our way back to the source of source of being Jesus. So if truth is just two words true to you and up, up through of. Yeah, so no, that’s a that’s an old carpenters word. So, so if I guess so I had had a subtitle for this.

It would be and it would be. It’s not about me. I mean, Dustin, in his opening prayer, pretty much summarized the theme of what I want to talk about today, and that is thinking of ourselves less, you know, not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. Because I mean, too often I come to church thinking about, okay, what’s my experience going to be?

How am I going to experience God? What’s my worship going to be like? What am I going to get out of the word today? How am I going to find something to meet my needs? And Paul, in Philippians chapter two verses one through five said this If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any, come and sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or a vain conceit rather in humility. Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. So we want to look at faith through that lens, you know, through that filter.

That’s the square or the level we want to use to true up how we how we view our faith. That should be our standard, and that’s the culture we want to permeate. Hasan I think so. Let’s start with mission focused. What’s the capacity of our faith? And Dustan touched on this somewhat and when he preached his message, faith today.

But I want to I want to make this statement and I’m going to repeat it and make it and repeat it. And the capacity of our faith should not be measured by what we can obtain or how much we can accumulate for ourselves, but by how much God can use us up for His glory, his purposes, and his people in the capacity of our faith should not be measured by what we can obtain or how much we can accumulate for ourselves, but by how much God can use us up for His glory, his purposes, and his people.

Not the first time I ever preached on faith. It was about 40 years ago and preached a sermon based on that concept and that statement. And I get you can imagine it got mixed reviews and I think it’s probably not any more popular today than it was then. But but I think it’s true and wise, because we live in a fallen world that is hostile to the gospel and we live in mortal bodies that are subject to the consequences of that hostility and are subject to the selfish desires of our own flesh.

And Second Corinthians Chapter four. Paul put it this way, but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not abandoned. Struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death, for Jesus sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So true faith is costly because we’re waging a spiritual war in mortal bodies. And what God has called us to do and how He calls us to do it takes a toll. It just does.

So I want to go through a few examples of the Bible that illustrates this so we can we can get a grasp on on how to look at this, the exercise of our faith, and to realize that the standard for whether we’re exercising our faith according to God’s will or whether we’re doing what He wants us to do is not how are things going for me?

You know, how is this how is this working out in my life? So the first one is in a Ezekiel, you’ll know. I don’t think we don’t have the rest of the scriptures up. But this is Ezekiel Chapter 24, and we’re going to look at verses 15 through 18. And Ezekiel, I think, is one of the most underappreciated prophets in the Old Testament.

He had a man who was a man that gave great words of God, did great things, and had incredible faith. So Ezekiel, 24, 15 through 18 and the Word of the Lord came to me, son of man, with one blow I’m about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears, groan quietly Do not mourn for the dead Keep your turban fastened, your sandals on your feet Do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.

So I spoke to the people in the morning and in the evening. My wife died the next morning. I did as I had been commanded. So God took Ezekiel’s wife and commanded him not to even mourn outwardly. I mean, why? Because God wanted to use him as a sign to Israel because of Israel’s sin, God was bringing Babylon to lay siege to Jerusalem and he was going to desecrate his own sanctuary, which was the delight of the people’s eyes.

It was the delight of the Jews eyes. And he was going to give their sons and daughters over to the sword. So he wanted to use Ezekiel as a sign to them, This is what’s going to happen to you, because of your sin. He was a sign of God’s judgment, and he took away his equals wife. I mean, how how do I even get my head around that?

I mean, what was the capacity of Ezekiel’s faith to be used of God that way? I mean, earlier in the cycle, there was a time when he when God told him is equal, I want you to go lay on your side for 390 days to represent the sins of Israel, a year and a month. And then when that’s over, I’m going to turn over and lay on your other side for 40 days to represent the sins of Judah.

What’s the capacity of Ezekiel’s faith to be used of God that way? Isaiah and Isaiah, chapter 20. I’m not going to read the Scripture, but it basically God came to him and said, Isaiah, I want you to strip bear and go barefoot and go naked for three years. And he did it as a sign against Egypt and Kush of how he was going to strip Egypt because of its sin.

I mean, what was the capacity of Isaiah’s faith, this great prophet of God, to go around naked for three years, to be to be seen, that ridiculed and thought of as probably nuts, but how great the great leader God use him and think about Hannah first. Samuel one Hannah wanted a child but is said that God closed her womb.

God did that and she cried. She every year she went to the temple year after year and sacrificed and cried and prayed for a child and prayed for a child. Her husband’s other wife tormented her because she had children. And Hannah didn’t. And finally, Hannah got to the point where she prayed, Okay, Lord, you give me a son.

I will give him back to you all the days of his life. But it took her to the point know. He said she prayed and wept and bitterness of soul. But when she finally got to that point, she got to the point God wanted her to be. And God heard her and answered her. But she persevered in prayer and faith to get to that point through lots of pain and lots of misery and lots of struggle.

Why? Because God did not want to give Hannah a child. He wanted to give Israel a Samuel, a prophet leader that would change the course of the nation. And he had to get through Hannah’s blind spot, get her looking away from herself to say, I will give this child to you for whatever you want, for however you want to use Him.

And God was able to use her in an amazing way because he knew she had the capacity of faith to keep persevering and praying until she got to that point. When you think about Mary, she had enough faith to bear the savior of the world to to carry God incarnate in her in there. But but are you an unwed teenage mother?

What price did she pay? How much did it cost her? I mean, and then later on, she had to watch that precious gift be tortured and crucified. I mean, God picked her because he knew the capacity of her faith, but it was still costly. It accomplished it. I mean, what it did accomplish for us, I mean, you know, we’re here.

We’re here now because she had the faith to bear to bear that and go through that. And then the apostle Paul is this look in his own words how he talked about his own ministry, what he gloried in, and second Corinthians 1123 through 28, Paul says, Are they servants of Christ? I am more. I’ve worked much harder. I’ve been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, been exposed to death again and again.

Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes, minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was pelted with stones. Three times I was shipwrecked, spent a night and a day in the open sea. And I don’t know about you, but if God had called me, I thought God called me to go somewhere. And the ship I was on foundered on the shores and I was lost in the sea.

I would stop and think, Did I hear that right? Did I hear God right? I mean, am I am I where I’m supposed to be? But shipwreck three times he kept on going shipwrecked three times. I have been constantly on the move. I’ve been in danger from rivers in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, in danger from false believers.

I think he lived a dangerous life. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst and have gone without food. I have been cold and naked and besides everything else I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches, you know, that’s not much of a burden, right? Carrying the pressure of the church and the pressure of children’s homes and the pressure not.

But what did God accomplish through him? Because he had the capacity to endure all that. So why am I talking so much about all this misery and mayhem inflicted on God’s people? It’s not to discourage us in fact, it’s just the opposite. I mean, it is to exhort us so that we can remember and not be surprised that when we’re exercising our faith in God, in a fallen world, it’s going to come at a price.

It’s going to be costly. And to realize that our standard, again, for whether we’re exercising our faith correctly, is not how are things going for me, things could be going really bad for me, but it’s not about me. It’s about what God can accomplish through me if I can endure. So what about in the church? What about as God builds his church in this place?

I mean, the church is about relationships. And relationships are hard. They’re hard. They take work, they’re not easy. So what’s the capacity of our faith to stick with each other when things get uncomfortable, when we have miscommunication and misunderstanding and disagreement over doctrine or whatever, or where to eat, what time to go. All right. Yeah. So, I mean, do we have the faith not only to go through that, but to thrive in the midst of it?

I think we want a culture here that embodies that expectation and builds that kind of faith that we’re going to stick to it and we’re going to be here until God tells us to be someplace else. Right. So how do we do that? I think if we’re going to exercise our faith successfully and expand our capacity for faith this way, it’s imperative that we have the right motivation behind it, a motivation that says it’s not about me.

So presence driven, the motivation for our faith. You know, when I when I think about biblical faith, I think about God doing really big, extraordinary things, right? I think we all want that. We want to see God heal and do miracles and do all the stuff that, you know, we look for him to do. But if I’m 100% honest, sometimes my longing to see healings and miracles and hear prophecies and all that comes from a need to see God confirm his word.

To me, you know, Lord, I believe, but it sure would be nice if you could just keep confirming that for me and for all the other people and show them I’m not crazy. Stick with all this. You know, I’ve realized that many times my my motivation behind wanting to exercise my faith in God is just a hope that God would confirm his word to me.

In essence, that is unbelief in disguise, you know. You know, Jesus said multiple times a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign. And the only sign that’s going to get as the sign of the prophet Jonah. I mean, it was a hard realization for me, too, to know that I sometimes I still look for a sign, but, you know, God doesn’t have anything to prove to me, you know, a crucified, resurrected, glorified savior who lives in me through the Holy Spirit of adoption.

There’s all the sign that I need, because he’s the basis and object of my faith. But if we want to be like Jesus, shouldn’t we ask what motivated him to do the miracles and the healings and all the things he did during his ministry on earth? You know, why did he do that? He did what he did out of love and compassion.

That was what motivated him. That was his. That was what drove him love for the world and the lost. You’re just just a few examples just out of Matthew of this. In Matthew 935 and 36, it said Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were fast and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 1414. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 1532. When he fed the 4000, Jesus called His disciples to him and said, I have compassion for these people.

They’ve already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry or they may collapse on the way. Matthew 2034. When he healed two blind men outside of Jericho, says Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes immediately. They received their sight and followed him. He was he was a driven by his nature and nature that loves fundamentally and unreservedly.

First, John 416 God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. If we’re really to be a presence driven church, we have to recognize that his presence embodies his nature. Then, if he is love, we will be driven by love. His presence ought to drive us in love to the world. The motivation for exercising our faith should be the same as Jesus.

Love for the world are lost in the church. You know, I should want to see people healed because they need to be healed. I should want to see God do the miraculous because people are hurting and need a miracle. Not not because I want to see some divine fireworks display, you know, but I mean, you know, does God use the miraculous to confirm his word?

Absolutely he does. I mean, you all have seen it. I mean, especially in a in the sphere of evangelism. He does that. But that’s not because that’s the end in itself is a means to an end. You know, the end of it is God’s love for people, his desire to see them return to him fully and to be made whole.

What about faith operating in the church? Am I exercising my faith to meet my own needs, or am I looking to the needs of other people? Sometimes my motives aren’t right. I don’t get what I want because I’m looking for it for myself. James For three when you ask, you don’t receive because you ask with the wrong motives that you can spend what you get on your pleasures.

Know, I used to wonder why Paul put what we called a love chapter first Corinthians 13, where he did it always seem kind of like a nice little aside parenthetically plopped down between this teaching on the gifts of the spirit. But in my later years, I’ve come to appreciate it as one of the most important chapters in all of Scripture.

I want to read First Corinthians 13 one through three. If I speak in the tongues of men and or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gone or a clinging symbol if I have the gift of prophecy and confer them all mysteries and knowledge. If I have, if I have a faith that can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give my body over the hardship that I may boast. I do not have love. I gain nothing. So first Corinthians 13 is how the body of Christ ought to exercise faith. We look to the needs of others, not to the needs of ourselves. First, that’s the Kingdom of God and as I seek the Kingdom of God first, all my needs will be taken care of, mainly because all the rest of the church is looking out for my needs, right?

If I’m looking to everybody else’s needs and all of you are looking to my needs, my needs are likely to get met. I don’t have to worry about them so much. But, you know, I need you exercise the gifts you have through faith for the body and let the body exercise its many gifts through faith for you. When you think about the paralytic that was brought to Jesus, you know, his friends brought him.

He couldn’t get in. They went up to the roof, took tiles off, lowered him down. And Jesus said, because of their faith, your sins are forgiven because of their faith, you’re healed. Get up and walk. You know, they were exercising their faith for him and he got his needs met right. So, I mean, how do we get and maintain that motivation?

You know, I think it depends on what is the object in the center of our faith, you know? So let’s talk about that a little bit. And this this part of truing up our faith, I’ll admit, is probably a little bit subtle, but I’ll ask you to just to bear with me and maybe think about it over the next week.

But but Jesus centered the object of our faith. You know, the exercise of faith always has to start with Jesus established as the object and center of it, because we want to exercise that faith under his authority and consistent with his will in nature. He’s got to be in the middle of it. Mark 11 2224 Jesus said, Have faith in God.

Jesus answered, Truly, I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, Go throw yourself into the sea and does not doubt in their heart, but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe you’ve received it and it will be yours. So before Jesus said, Go talk to the mountain, before he said, Believe in your receive, he said, Have faith in God.

That’s where you start. That’s your anchor, that’s your object. You know, everything Jesus did flowed out of that relationship with the father. He only did and only said what the father told him and showed him to do. It kind of begs the question, can you exercise a kind of faith outside of establishing God as the center of it Jesus?

Said Matthew 722 and 23. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name, drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles. Then I’ll tell them plainly, I never knew you away from me, you evil doers. It’s pretty sobering to think that you can exercise that kind of faith, do miracles in his name, drive out demons in his name, and he never knows you.

I mean, how is that even possible? Well, I think it’s because God, God’s word is invested with his power and it doesn’t return to him void. So it can be powerful and do miraculous things, even if you’re not centered on Jesus, when when you do it, when when someone focuses on the words apart from the person of Jesus or apart from the relationship, the Bible.

If, if you’ll hear me, the Bible becomes become something akin to a book of spells. You’re just casting words to try and get what you want. Because, I mean, what else is witchcraft other than someone trying to force their will to get what they want using supernatural means apart from God, faith has to first fundamentally establish God at the center of its exercise.

The verse that we think about probably most often related to faith as Hebrews 11 six says, and without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek in faith, starts believing in his existence, believing the I am, you know, he is establishing his presence.

Then you go to the reward and seeking. Sometimes we want to gloss over the AM and go straight to the rewards. So, you know, we don’t we don’t just claim promises for healing. We establish first Jesus as the healer at the center of it. We don’t just claim scriptures for provision, we establish Jesus first as the provider at the center of our prayer.

We’re not to have faith in the words of God per se. We to have faith in the God of the Word. You know, we believe in Scripture and stand on the promises because we have ultimate trust and faith in the one who spoke them right as his. I mean, his words flow from his heart and his nature. And we want to exercise his faith to accomplish his word under his authority, in concert with his desires and consistent with his nature.

I mean, I know that that’s a little bit subtle, but but it’s important. I mean, because, you know, we don’t want to be a church centered on the word. We don’t want to be a word church a the words. We’re not a church centered on vision or purpose, even though we believe the vision we have is from God.

We’re not a church that’s going to be centered on a doctrine or a set of doctrines. We’re a church centered on the person of Jesus, the true word of God, right? Galatians 220 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me and the life I now live. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Just the close. I mean, if Jesus is the center an object of our faith, our faith will be motivated by His presence of love. If our faith is driven and motivated by his presence of love, the capacity of our faith will be greater than we could have imagined to accomplish our part in the Great Commission. All right. So, you know, true faith is not about me.

It’s about Jesus and all the people that he loves. And, you know, that’s okay because he loves me, too, and he wants to do it through you right.

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