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Previous Message From Virtual Church

A TANGIBLE FAITH

PART II

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

In last week’s message, we began comparing the lives of two people. One person is a person of deep, tangible faith. The second person has relatively no faith.

We said we do not normally associate the word "tangible" with the idea of faith or things spiritual. We also said, that with faith in Christ, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, having a tangible faith is possible.

By using our physical senses, when we touch something that is tangible our sense of touch lets us know the object exists. 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. More importantly, your faith can make the in-dwelling Holy Spirit as tangible in your life as any object you experience with your senses.

In this message, we continue to build upon last week’s comparisons of a person of faith compared to a person with no 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.

May this review of the advantages of our faith and the appalling disadvantages of a lack of faith, inspire you to work diligently to come closer to our Lord Jesus.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Someone to live and die for
In our faith, we are called to sacrifice. We are called to give.
Jesus said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." Matt. 10:8 (NIV)
Jesus’ call is to sacrifice. In our humanness, we do not always readily respond and become a giving and sacrificial person. However, with a tangible faith we have someone to live for and if need be to die for. That person we have to life or die for is Christ, as well as all believers everywhere in the world. When we respond to Christ’ call to give and sacrifice there is for us a heavenly reward.

For the person who has no faith there is…
Not always someone to live or die for
Millions have given their lives for their countries in time of war, or given their lives in times of political upheaval or purges. Hundreds of thousands throughout history have heroically given their life to save the life of another. Our Christian faith calls us to give up our life if necessary. A person who has no faith may sacrifice his or her life to save another. However, to often, a person with no faith will turn away when a sacrifice is needed. The character trait of selfishness remains strong in the person with no faith. With no faith, there is not a call upon the heart to give because Christ gave. Christians treasure life. We treasure life here on earth and our eternal life in Christ. We do not need a call to arms to make the ultimate sacrifice. We do not need danger to give up our lives. We will not turn away.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Power
Our faith gives us a power to deal with or overcome many obstacles in life. Christ gave us examples of the power available to us. The power available to us through Christ and the Holy Spirit can produce miracles. Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God."(NIV) Just about everyone, at some point in his or her lives, would like to tap into that power. The fact that we have the power available to us does not always mean it is God’s will that the answers to our prayers will be answered like we want. Nor does the fact that we have the power available to us mean we can use the power for anything we want at any time we want. The power we have available to us too real. The power has tangible effects. The power works, however, only as God wills it to work, when He wants it to work. The fact remains we do have a power because of our faith. We have a power that Jesus quantified as strong enough to move mountains. Mark 11:22 "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. 23"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

For people who do not have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Powerlessness
We all have power. However, we do not all have the kind of spiritual power Jesus was speaking about in Mark 11. When we do not have a deep, tangible faith we have cut ourselves off from the power of the universe. We have cut ourselves off from the power of love. We have cut ourselves off from the power that can heal and restore. Without a connection to God through Christ and the Holy Spirit, there is a sense of powerlessness. With no deep, tangible faith there is no source of power that can heal relationships, heal the body, assure us of eternal life, or make miracles happen.

 For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Wisdom
A deep, tangible faith results in our having a guiding light in our lives, which produces wisdom. So many of the decisions we make everyday, even the decisions that seem insignificant, require wisdom. Wisdom is not something with which we are born. Wisdom is acquired. Our faith that produces in us a hunger to know about God and about how to live our life according to His guiding Hand produces in us a starting point for acquiring wisdom. Persons of faith should always want to do the right thing. We should always want to do what God wants from us. As we hunger and thirst to do the right and smart thing, we acquire wisdom. Psalms 25:9-10 (Living) "The Lord is good and glad to teach the proper path to all who go astray;9 he will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to him. 10 In addition, when we obey him, every path he guides us on is fragrant with his loving-kindness and his truth." Notice in this verse, the Psalmist says we must be students. The word "students" is not used, but we are told God will teach us. As our faith becomes deeper and more tangible our minds become more "humble" and we become better students. When we are willing to go God’s way rather than our own way, tremendous wisdom is the result.

For people who do not have a deep, tangible faith there is…
No wisdom
Have you ever made what you would consider a "dumb mistake"? Most of us have. When there is no hunger for wisdom, mistakes are evident in the lives of those people who have no tangible faith. With these mistakes, there is no hunger and thirst to permanently fix the mistakes. There is no hunger and thirst for the inordinate common sense of the scripture. There is no desire to live according to the ways of God. People who break the law consistently want to go their way not God’s way. When people of no faith have a selfish impulse, the impulse becomes behavior. There is no voice of reason, no voice of God, no urging or unction of the Holy Spirit to stop selfish behavior. Hardened criminals never learn the wisdom of true humility because they are caught up in idiocy of true selfishness. Persons addicted to alcohol or drugs are driven by their cravings to be selfish and the wisdom of humility is cast aside. No common sense is evident in these people. When we come to Christ in repentance, our spiritual eyes are opened. Consequently, we have a desire for the wisdom of God.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
A full life
Jesus said, John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." If you were to ask a person of deep, devout, tangible faith whether their life was a full one, the answer would undoubtedly be "yes." This does not mean person’s of faith do not have pain or problems. What it does mean is that faith produces in us an overflowing with special energy that fills our lives. This special energy is one of the mysteries of God. This energy inspires us to fill our days and nights with thoughts of God, thoughts, and prayers for others, thoughts about our Christian walk, and a passion to learn and grow in wisdom, truth, and faith. The fullness of a person’s life can be measured by the thoughts they think. Persons who have a deep, tangible faith always have a life that calls them to look forward. Even in the last moment of earthly life, the person of faith continues to look forward to the beauty and wonder of Heaven.

For people who do not have a deep, tangible faith there is…
An empty life  
Without knowing it, all persons have a sense of either the emptiness or fullness of life. Each of us knows, instinctively, where the fuel gauge is pointing in our lives. For many people, the gauge points toward the "E" side. For these people, who do not have a deep, tangible faith in Christ, the emptiness within them is like a consuming fire. The emptiness comes out in their lives as a hunger that cannot be filled. The emptiness drives people to drink alcohol, take drugs, and the emptiness fills their lives with the pleasure of sin, which leads to death. For these people there are not only the normal pains and problems of life, there are also the added pains and problems caused by the terrible emptiness. This emptiness cannot be filled by things of this earth, or by the self-generated thoughts of man. This emptiness produces a hunger which cannot be filled except by the love and in-filling Holy Spirit.

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Vision
A five-year old girl attended a formal wedding with her grandmother. Although she had been in Sunday school, this was her first time in a formal church service. During the wedding, the minister said, "Let us pray." Every person bowed his head in prayer. The little girl looked around and saw all the heads bowed and all eyes turned toward the floor. In her confusion she yelled out, "Grandma, what are they all looking for?" John 9:25 "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

People of deep faith have a different vision or outlook on life. In many ways, people of faith see the world through special eyeglasses. As Christians, we see sin and its consequences, we see and experience grace, we see the outcomes of scriptural wisdom, and we see suffering and pain and want to minister to the person suffering. However, if there is one dramatic difference between persons of deep, devout Christian faith and those who have no faith then the difference is how we look at death. Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior look at death as a send-off event propelling us into Heaven and an eternal life of joy, peace, grace, and no pain. For us there is eternal hope and a truly unlimited future. This viewpoint filters into our everyday lives on a minute to minute basis. This idea of an unlimited future is not taken in as a selfish or greedy way, but places our hearts and minds into profound gratitude. This viewpoint towards death, brings us to the Cross of Calvary, and makes us kneel at the foot of the Cross in profound contrition. This view of our reality enables us to see our through the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life because of our faith in God and our belief in the future.

For people who do not have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Blindness
You have probably looked back at decisions you have made and realized how hindsight really is "20-20". For people of no tangible faith there is a certain "visual" problem. Sin of any kind takes place in a form of darkness and is a result of spiritual blindness. This blindness to God and His love, grace, wisdom, and His power causes people to bump into "walls" in their life. Living in darkness causes people to make the same mistakes repeatedly, and blinds them to the consequences of sin in their lives. This blindness from living in darkness also prevents the person of no faith from seeing the consequences of their sin in the lives of others. One of the major arguments or statements the person who commits a sin uses to justify their sin is, "It’s my business what I do. It isn’t hurting anyone else." This statement, of course, is not true. The mistakes made by living a life of sin is like a cancer and indeed does spread to others lives. Conversely, the life of Christian faith, as difficult as it is, does bring love, truth, and enlightenment to those around us.

 

For people who have a deep, tangible faith there is…
Freedom
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."(NIV)

As each of us pursues our life in Christ, we find we have a freedom to be who God made us to be. In spiritual terms, we are able to express the persona of God’s child created by Him. Although we are all born into the darkness of sin, our acceptance of Christ and our pursuit of a deep, tangible faith liberates us from the chains of sin’s slavery. There is in the Christian faith an idea not often spoken about. This idea is that God saw in every human heart a person worth saving. Although the human heart is born with the stain of sin, God can see past the stain. God can see the real beauty, the ultimate potential, and the real capacity each of us possesses. God was and is grieved when His children do not throw off the chains of sin and then experience the freedom to become all that God knows we can become.

For people who do not have a deep, tangible faith there is…
No freedom
When a person walks through life with no faith in Christ there are innumerable problems, difficulties, pains, stress points, conflicts, and "blank spots" in their life. All of these negatives serve to enslave the person while the person desperately seeks and even proclaims personal freedom. There is on the part of a non-believer a race to see how free they can become. There is an on-going search for new experiences in life to find the ultimate freedom. To often, this search for ultimate freedom is conducted in the dark places where sin abounds. In addition, where sin abounds, so do the chains of sin. Persons, who have a deep, tangible faith in Christ, are not in a search or race to achieve freedom because we have found it. The blows of life tie down all persons, at one time or another. In our lives, there is sickness, unemployment, financial problems, family strife, lost love, and problems so numerous we could not count them all. It is bad enough that we all experience these difficulties. What is even worse, is going through these difficulties without a deep, tangible, personal friend in Christ.

Conclusion

How do you get the tangible from the intangible?

A tangible faith is not possible without a tangible God. Each of us has available to us a tangible God in the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We do not need to reach up to the stars, we do not need to search for God in the trees of nature, nor do we need to search for Him in the clouds. God, Christ, and Holy Spirit are within us. What keeps them from our conscious experience is not their inaction or lack of will to touch us, but our inaction at confronting ourselves. We must be honest with God. We must be honest with ourselves. When we are honest, we will admit we have tried to go our own way and not His way. When we are honest and genuinely desire to turn away from the sin in our lives and turn toward Christ, then His presence in us becomes deep, tangible, and real. You do have to believe. However, believing that Christ will touch you and save you is not all you have to do. You must turn away from every darkness. You must turn away from every sin. You must reach up or reach in to where Christ lives in you. Eventually, you must kneel at the Cross in total contrition and utter the words, "Lord, I am sorry." It is at that point, where faith becomes deep and tangible because Christ touches us in ways more tangible than any of our five senses can comprehend.

   

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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