Building Blocks Week 1: Faith

Audio from Senior Pastor Vaughn Drawdy on Sunday morning February 4th, 2018.

Romans 10:17 NIV
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 NIV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Whether you are a seasoned Christian, strong in faith, knowledgeable of God’s living Word, and walking in His divine purpose, or you feel like you barely understand the Bible, you feel like you have more questions than answers about the Christian life, possibly still struggling in define your beliefs…I believe this new series will help and strengthen you. We are going to talk about the the Building Blocks of Faith. In this series we are going to look at Who is God, Who is Jesus, Who is the Holy Spirit, Why do we call the Bible God’s Word and How did we get it, What is the Church and Why is it Important, What is Baptism, Communion,… If you have a topic that you would like know more on, see me and maybe we can study this as well…

In Old Testament times, major cities would often be fortified with large stone walls surrounding them. Building these walls was labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. Once completed these walls served as an effective deterrent to invading armies. The bigger the wall, the harder for the invading army to gain victory.

Your life is a like a fortified city built through a series of experiences controlled much by your beliefs, values, talents and influences. Your faith in God was established like this as well, precepts built upon precept, stone upon stone.
Soon after 13-year-old Susan Ithungu came to know Christ in 2009, her Muslim father began to beat her, once even threatening to kill her with a knife. After trying for months to persuade Susan to deny Christ, he finally locked her in a small space in their mud shanty.

Six months passed before neighbors realized what was happening to Susan and notified the police, who rescued her and took her to a hospital. A pastor who visited her immediately after her rescue said she was extremely thin and unable to walk or talk. “Her hair had turned yellow, she had long fingernails and sunken eyes, and she looked very slim, less than 45 pounds,” he said.

Sadly, Susan’s story is not unique in Uganda. While 85 percent of the country’s population is Christian, those who convert from Islam to Christianity face persecution and physical abuse from family members if they convert from Islam to Christianity. Susan suffered from untreated malaria while locked away in the small room, and the months of calcium deficiency affected her growing bones. After two major operations on her left femur, she can now walk with crutches.

VOM paid Susan’s medical bills and provided funds that enabled her to travel to a hospital in Kenya. We also provided living expenses for her and her Christian caregiver, Dreda. She and
Dreda relocated to another village, where Susan is protected from her father. Through all of her difficulties, Susan has held onto her faith. “I feel very well,” she said with a smile, “because I’m now with Christ.” “This girl has gone through a tough time,” the VOM worker said. “She has, however, stood firm no matter what she had to go through, including rejection by [her] father and subjection to walking by crutches. She has pulled through and is growing stronger in the Lord every moment.”

1. Faith grows as we hear the TRUTHS from God’s Word, the Bible, not just once or twice, but repeatedly and repeatedly.
2. Faith grows as we live in, through and walk in obedience to God’s Word.
3. God’s Word is for us today and can be believed & trusted:
>Isaiah 40:8 (NIV) 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
>Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

From the foundation to the fortification… the Word of God teaches, reveals, and empowers us. When we embrace the truths and believe them… It renews our thinking… thereby changing our beliefs and perspective. Think about the relational process you moved through when you met your spouse. From strangers to soul mates. From a friendship to a “till death do we part relationship”…a love that is more than a word… it is something so deep inside of your being that it is hard to verbalize. FAITH is more than a word… like saying “I LOVE my wife. LOVE is more than a word…

Growing in our relationship with God comes by knowing Him, learning His ways through seeing His acts of love that are just as real and relevant today as they were when Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David and the disciples walked the planet. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We need to meet God on His terms, through His ways, in His Words and then obey as a heart action… when we do, we grow in faith. Obedience without heart relationship isn’t true FAITH. WE MUST BE CAREFUL.

Satan and our own sinful nature wantS to meet God on our terms. One of the big mistakes that many Christians make is limiting God to something His is not or adding to what He is. Sometimes people take God’s Word and conform it to their desires, and in doing so they add to it, twist it, take it out of context and ultimately make a new God and have faith it something is more of a false idol than a true FAITH in the ONE TRUE GOD. If we believe that the Bible is outdated, wrong, irrelevant to today's culture and worldview, then we will NOT grow in faith, NOT establish a relationship with God and we will NOT live in lasting peace and hope. We must understand the Satan comes to still, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Our own nature will lead us from God (James 1:15)

FAITH is truly an issue of the heart. (The core of belief)

Listen to Jesus Words:

Luke 8:4-15 (NIV)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

The key to strong FAITH in life’s struggles:
do you retain God’s Word, (OBEY) the truth and do you persevere (put it into practice through redeemed desire and obedience)

When we face life’s storms, the struggles, temptation to sin… OUR FAITH in PRACTICE determines whether we have hope, confidence, strength, or peace.

Later in this passage:

Luke 8:22-25 (NIV)
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

Matt 8: 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Mark 4:40 “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

I have heard this parable so many times… We tend to focus on the outcome - the storm ceased because Jesus stopped it. So we come away from this parable with:

If you have faith, your storms will cease.
But the true take away it this: Faith Says - Jesus is with me and because He is with me, why be afraid.

Romans 8:35-39 NIV
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long;we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So what about your faith?
Through life’s storms, trials, temptations… How does your faith handle those times? Could it be that much of the struggle comes from little or no faith. Or from not putting God’s word into practice.

We need really examine the foundation of our life, the core of our relationship with God.

Hear Jesus again, but this time not to the disciples but to you:

Where is your Faith?

You have no faith.

You have little faith.

Where do you stand? no faith, little faith, maybe you’ve had strong faith in the past but it’s absent lately…Ask God to inspect your foundation:

Psalms 139:23-24
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Don’t be ashamed of, prideful, or trivialize what God reveals. He desires that your faith in Him be genuine, strong and lasting so that you are not tossed around by false teaching which leads to a false witness. He desires that you place your faith in Him so that when storm's come, the enemy rages, doubt, worry, fear attack.. you have faith in truly knowing that God is with you. He desires that you reveal His true love and bare a true witness to those around us. My God is real... my faith is strong.