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Previous Message From Virtual Church

A TANGIBLE FAITH

Part I of II

Romans 5:1-6 (NIV)

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

We do not normally associate the word "tangible" with the idea of faith or things spiritual. However, with faith in Christ, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, having a tangible faith is possible. Many people have no real faith. For these people the idea of things spiritual being tangible is ludicrous.

When you touch something that is tangible your sense of touch lets your know the object exists. What makes something "real" to us, is the effect of it. When something is touchable, we say it is real. When something comes into our senses, we say it is real. Concerning your faith, the effect, or result of your faith is just as real as an object you touch with your hand.

In this message and in the message to follow next week, we will explore the real world, day to day results of our faith. To often we fail to speak about how our lives are dramatically transformed by our faith. In some cases, we who have been devout in our faith since childhood do not realize or appreciate the result of being a person of faith.

In reality, sometimes our faith is strong and sometimes it is weak. Faith is seldom at a constant level for most people. Faith is often like the wind. Sometimes it is strong, and sometimes it seems it is non-existent.

Just for the sake of our discussion, let us say we have two people, one person with a strong faith, and one person with no faith. We will compare the lives of these two people to see how faith makes their lives different.

There are going to be profound internal differences between these two people.

For the person who has a deep, tangible faith there is…
Peace
For many people, at every turn of life, on the road of life, there is a roadblock, pothole, bad pavement, or a wall. However, with Christ as our infinite resource we can deal with the roadblocks, potholes, bad pavements, and walls. This is not to say we do not feel the effects of the rough road. Persons of faith just have an incredibly effective way of dealing with the rough times.

For the person who has no faith there is…
Turmoil
Without a deep and tangible faith, every time a person hits a roadblock, a pothole, bad pavement, or a wall, an all-out emergency is often declared. There is often panic, a feeling of being lost, a feeling of floating in darkness with no one to turn to and no place to go for answers. Not only does this person have to deal with the rough pavement of life; they also have to deal with the fact they have no spiritual resource to deal with life’s difficulties.

For the person who has a deep, tangible faith there is…
Buoyancy
With Christ as our friend and shepherd, we can live on a higher plane. We can float above the difficulties of life. Our spiritual connection to God gives us buoyancy…like a boat. Christ gives us wholeness not holes.

For the person who has no faith there is…
Sinking
You might have heard people say, "I’m sunk", and without Christ they truly are "sunk". What causes a boat to sink is its lack of buoyancy. Generally, we know that when a boat has holes in it, water will be taken in and eventually the boat is going down. Eventually, without God as a resource, accessed by our willingness to invest in Him through our faith, a person will sink because they have rejected God and are not reaching up to the hand of Christ, which is always outstretched to save them.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
"Connectedness"
When we have Christ alive and living in our heart, we have a spiritual connection to the power of God. Being a part of a church or faith community also gives us ties that bind us to other Christians around the world. These ties cement us to each other and to Christ.

For the person who has no faith there is…
Hanging
Who do you turn to when things look bleak? Who do you go to and ask for help? Who is there for you night and day? For many people the answer is…no one. Without a deep spiritual connection to God we lack the tie that binds us both to God and to other people in a genuinely healthy way. We can have non-Christian friends, but when things get difficult, we want someone who is connected to the ultimate power of love of the universe, to a person who truly understands. In addition, we want a person who will pray for us. The worst part of dealing with rough times is going through them alone, with no ties to God or to people with a strong positive faith in Christ.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Love presence
This love presence can be overwhelming, even in the darkest hour. The presence is the actual tangible nature of the Holy Spirit touching our heart, our mind, our body, and our soul. This remarkable and wonderful presence of Christ brings healing and gives us power not available except through faith in Him.

For the person who has no faith there is…
Emptiness.
This emptiness, is an emptiness a person so often tries to fill with alcohol, drugs, sinful activities of every kind, and distractions that try to keep the mind busy while the heart and soul spiritually bleed to death. Every heart and soul needs God. If only every heart and soul would admit it, then every heart and every soul would begin to find a transformed life. Jesus said in Matt. 28.20 "…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is the experience or sensation of being…
Found
When we are truly connected to God we can look around us and know where we are. We have our bearings and even if we do not like where we are, we still know who we are and we are not lost. We know we are children of God, regardless of our situation...we have a sense of being in the arms of God. We have a sense of the Great Shepherd leading and guiding us as we move through our life.

For the person who has no faith there is the experience or sensation of being…
Lost
Without a connection to God, we are constantly scrambling around. Often we do not know where we are or where we are going. We have the sensation or experience of being on a treadmill with no purpose and no meaning attached to anything we do. We then survey our life and we look around at what we have and we constantly want more things, more money, more friends, more, more, more.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Purpose
When we have a purpose and reason for living, we have fuel or nourishment for living. Jesus said, "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God who sent me, and from finishing his work." Jesus knew his purpose on earth. Our purpose is to do the will of God in every way possible, every minute we are alive. When we dedicate our lives to this purpose, the love of God pours into our being and we are nourished and fueled up for the daily grind of life.

For the person who has no faith there is…
No purpose
When there is no purpose to what we are doing, it is as if there is no fuel in us. However, we do need something or someone to keep us going. When a person has no faith, the person must continually look outside of themselves to something or someone to keep going. We need God. When we have no purpose, we bounce around in life from one circumstance to another, often with very bad consequences. With no purpose in life, there is little nourishment in our souls. We end up feeling starved for "something" but we often have no idea what that "something" is or where to find it.

Once upon a time, there was a small, humble church in a very proud and important city. At first there were but a few people in the church. However, they loved Jesus, they loved one another, and God was present in that place. Slowly the church began to draw notice. It attracted some of the prominent citizens of that very proud and important city. The love of Jesus and the serenity of the Holy Spirit touched many lives. People from all walks of life streamed into the church. . The church grew. Soon it was no longer a small church of a few humble people who loved Jesus. It was a large enterprise. No longer did the people wait upon the Lord to guide them or direct them because they had their own ideas about what should be happening and when it should happen. Organizations like that need management charts and business objectives and a budget. Professional management techniques took over. And the church continued to grow in that very important city. However, something had happened. Jesus had gotten lost among the many programs and departments and committees and meetings and agendas. People who once loved Jesus deeply, now saw only themselves reflected in the church. They argued about nonsense; things like who was the better preacher, or which was the more accurate translation. Zeal for the Lord had grown cold. The people polluted their lives with the same indulgences as the pagans around them. A small, humble church had become large, well known, and influential. However, the problem was not their size. The church the Lord had blessed so richly became detestable in the eyes of the Lord because they were just like the people around them in that very proud and important city. The members had lost their deep, tangible faith.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
A Goal In Life
In the game of football, the goal is a line at the end of the field. In basketball, the goal is a metal rim with a net hanging from it. In archery, the goal is a round target. In any of these sports, if the goal suddenly disappeared there would be no game. The same truth applies to our faith. By having a deep, tangible faith we find we have a goal to shoot toward. We are able to "joyfully look forward" to our future, regardless of our present condition or circumstance. In other words, we always have a future. Even in our last hour of life, we have a future, we have a goal, and we have a game to be won.

For the person who has no faith there is…
No goal
With no goal, there is no game to be won. There is no opponent to be defeated. There is no one to cheer on. There is no allegiance to God; instead there is just an allegiance to ones self. There is no goal to strive for except a goal the person chooses for selfish reasons. For most people of no faith, there is just an aimless wandering through life with a yearning for a way to dull the senses and end the horrible misery of no game to play.

Conclusion:

What a power we have, and what a friend we have in Christ Jesus who died for us. In Christ, we have power and a friend who looks over us and lives in us all day, every day.

Part II to be continued next week.

 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018