TITLE: Moving From Fear To Faith SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:32-40
What does it take to be secure? That is a question with a thousand answers:
-- To be secure requires a good job, so we need to get a good education or to learn a good trade.
-- To be secure requires insurance to protect us against catastrophe -- life insurance, health insurance -- auto insurance. It probably makes sense to have an umbrella policy to protect against a wide variety of risks.
-- To be secure requires cash to tide us over in an emergency. Some people say that we should have a rainy day fund containing the equivalent of six-months wages.
-- To be secure requires good health, so we need regular medical checkups -- a healthy diet -- regular exercise.
-- To be secure requires us to be smart about first aid -- to be able to respond quickly and effectively to a medical emergency.
-- To be secure requires protection from accidents. Quite a number of people drive SUVs because, in a wreck, the person in the larger car wins.
-- To be secure requires a family plan so that everyone will know how to respond in a major disaster. How can our kids contact us if phones no longer work? Where will we go to re-assemble the family? How will we get there?
-- To be secure requires that we have basic emergency supplies -- bottled water for a week -- food -- a good first aid kit -- a camp stove -- fuel.
-- To be secure requires a government plan to combat terrorism -- to make airliners safe -- to catch the bad guys before the next attack -- to get emergency responders talking on the same wavelength -- to protect nuclear facilities -- to guard ports -- to establish evacuation plans.
-- And now they tell us that we need to get smart about the various kinds of attacks and how to respond to each of them. If a nuclear device detonates, avoid fallout by finding shelter in a basement. If it is just a dirty bomb, use a mask to avoid inhaling radioactive dust. In a chemical attack, go indoors and close the windows and doors tightly.
And those are just the things that come immediately to mind. As they say, the devil is in the details, and there must be a million details -- so the list goes on and on.
And even if we do all those things, how do we protect ourselves against drunk drivers? How do we keep our kids from doing something stupid?
Honestly, no amount of effort can protect us against every danger.
Jesus gives us words of Faith and Encouragement in our scripture today when he says,
“Do not be afraid.”
"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master find them watching when he comes.......You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
Jesus is reminding us that we are accountable to Him for the faith lives which we live. Our Lord challenges us to be faithful at all times as we walk our journey of trusting in Him. Our faith is not something which we turn on and off, but something which is always prevalent in our lives. Jesus wants us to be accountable in our faithfulness.
This faithfulness is based on the promises of God as we find them in Bible, as seen in the Old Testament story where God promised Abraham that he would have a descendant and through that descendant, his offspring would be as numerous as the sands on the seashore or the stars in the sky. Abraham trusted in God’s promise even though at the age of 100 he had no son, no offspring, but he had confidence in God’s word and as the text says in Gen 15:6: "And he (Abraham) believed the Lord; and he (the Lord) reckoned it to him as righteousness."
believed in God’s promises and they came true. This is no easy circumstance having reliance in something as intangible as a promise. But Abraham did and we are asked to have the same kind of reliance in God’s written promises as we see in the Bible. The gospel message is indeed a promise for our lives in which we are asked to believe.
Imagine you are in this situation.
Far away in a lonely desert stands a water pump in the sand. You are a solitary traveler, and your canteen is empty and you come upon that pump. Tied to it is a hand written sign put there by some pilgrim.
The sign reads "I have buried a bottle of water to prime the pump. Don’t drink any of it.
Pour in half of it to wet the leather. Wait, and then pour in the rest. Then pump. The well has never gone dry, but the pump must be primed to bring the water up. Have faith, believe. When you are through drawing water, fill the bottle and bury it in the sand for the next traveler." Having come upon this pump in the desert with this sign and being out of water, what would you do???
Will you dig the water bottle from the sand and drink from it?? Or will you believe and believing dare to pour that water every drop of it down into the old trusty pump?? Because you trust, you take a risk, both for yourself and for the next person who will pass that way. What will you do???
Will you be faithful in the written promises of God? God has promised through Christ to care for us, to redeem us, to provide for us in His unique way. And yet you and I want to rely on ourselves as did Abraham and Sarah in that Genesis lesson. Sarah had a slave girl bear a child just in case God wouldn’t provide, but God continues to promise Abraham that he will have a son. God will provide in His way, not in the way Abraham and Sarah have concocted. Faithfulness calls us to rely on God’s promises for our lives not our own promises.
Faith is trust. Faith is like swimming. When you go swimming you need not trust the buoyancy of water as long as you can touch bottom. But get out over your head and it is another matter. If you become tense and rigid and fight to say afloat, you will sink. But if you relax and trust the water to hold you up, you can float and live.
Faith is trusting in God’s promises each day, because we are accountable for our faithfulness at all times when we need it and when we don’t. Confidence in God’s promises is a way of life. We are held accountable for that way of life and because we believe and trust we will want to live a faithful life.
"A man owned a little grocery store. It was the week before Christmas, when a tired-looking woman came in and asked for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for her small family. The grocer asked her how much she could spend. "My husband did not come back; he was killed in the War and I have nothing to offer but a little prayer," she answered.
The storekeeper was not very sentimental nor religious, so he said, half mockingly, "Write it on paper, and I’ll weigh it and give you food equal to what it weighs."
To his surprise, the woman took a piece of paper from the pocket of her dress and handed it to the man saying, "I wrote it during the night while watching over my sick baby."
The grocer took the paper before he could recover from his surprise and, because other customers were watching and had heard his remarks, he placed the unread prayer on the weight side of his old-fashioned scales. Then he began to pile food on the other side; but to his amazement, the scale would not go down.
He became angry and flustered and finally said, "Well, that’s all the scale will hold. Here’s a bag, you will have to put it in yourself. I’m busy."
With trembling hands the woman filled the bag and through moist eyes expressed her gratitude and departed.
Now that the store was empty of customers, the grocer examined the scales. Yes, they were broken and they had become broken just in time for God to answer the prayer of the woman.
But as the years passed, the grocer often wondered about the incident. Why did the woman come at just the right time? Why had she already written the prayer in such a way as to confuse the grocer so that he did not examine the scales?
The grocer grew older but never saw the woman again. Yet he remembered her more than any of his customers. He came to treasure the slip of paper upon which the woman’s prayer had been written--simple words, but from a heart of faith, they said, "Please, Lord, give us this day our daily bread."
The lady’s written prayer was a great act of faithfulness. She believed God would provide and He was true. She didn’t know exactly how God would do it, however, the unique circumstances of the story with the scales being broken, people in the store, and the frustration of the grocer all lead to God’s way of providing for this young mother.
"And he (Abraham) believed the Lord; and he (the Lord) reckoned it to him as righteousness."
"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
God Will Take Care of You (BH #64; TNCH #460; UMH #130)
How Firm a Foundation (BH #338; CH #618; CO #452; GC #606; JS #404; LBW #507; LW #411; PH #361; TH #636, 637; TNCH #407; UMH #529; VU #660)
I Know Whom I Have Believed (BH #337; UMH #714)
Soon and Very Soon (BH #192, GC #770; JS #496; UMH #706)