Faith Isn’t “Believing in God” ~ Its Trusting in God

1341194_84514919On Sunday we looked at the topic of faith. And rather than seeing faith as belief, we talked about how faith is really all about trust. Faith is about trusting in God, and putting that trust in action. Those are the two aspects to faith: trusting in God, and putting trust in action.

And this is such a different, healthier, and more biblical way to look at faith. Rather than seeing faith as a set of intellectual beliefs or doctrines, see faith in a relational way. See faith as putting trust in a person, not just believing certain things about a person.

That’s what we looked at on Sunday. How Hebrews presents faith as an active thing, a trusting thing, not just a belief thing.

We ended asking a serious but important question: do you trust in Jesus? This moves the discussion beyond just debating doctrines, and positions and moves to a heart level. Do you trust Jesus? Do you trust him to guide you? Do you trust him to care for you? Do you trust that his way of living is the way of living?

Because this is really what is at the heart of faith. Living a life of trust.


Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Faith is trust in Jesus, and putting that trust in action.

Teaching Points:

  • Culture sets our normal.
  • Faith as belief is the normal way of thinking about faith.
  • Faith is trusting in God, even in the dark.
  • Faith is trust in God, and putting that trust in action.
  • Trust without action isn’t real.
  • Placing our faith in God is never wasted.
  • Are you willing to trust Jesus?
  • Trust can begin with a decision.
  • Is there some junk in your life you need to get rid of?

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? How amazing was that camel picture?

How have you thought of “faith” before? Why is it important to place trust in Jesus in the tough times? What helps you to do that? How is your trust in Jesus right now? Is it high or struggling? Is there any junk you need to get rid of? Who can help you do that? Can you bring them in?

Questions for Young Families:

Talk with your kids how faith isn’t just about believing but actually trusting. Why not try it out practically to show the difference and do “trust falls” with your kids to talk about how trust means stepping out.

Weekly Challenge: Trust in Jesus and live out that trust.

What is Faith?

1264648_14417319This Sunday we are looking at the topic of faith. And we want to peel back some of the misconceptions about faith. Because the most common answer to “What is faith” is: belief.

But I don’t think that answer is helpful, healthy, or even all that biblical.

  • Because if faith is belief – what happens to it when you doubt?
  • Because if faith is belief – what happens if you believe the wrong things, or have been taught the wrong things?
  • Because if faith is belief – does it matter how you act as long as you believe?

These are some of the difficulties with “faith as belief”

So that’s what we want to explore and clear up on Sunday, by looking at Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 is the classic chapter on faith, but it presents a different view of faith that differs from “faith as belief”

So that’s where we are going, but before we get there why not read Hebrews 11 yourself. It’s a great chapter, and it’s one that not only is about faith, but asks us to put our faith into practice. Which as it will turn out, is what faith is all about.

Hot or Cold? – Letter to Laodicea


On Sunday we explored the letter to Laodicea in Revelation. The letter begins by Jesus saying, “I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

His point here isn’t connected with passion or enthusiasm (as is often thought in our “feeling” orientated culture) but with usefulness. The two major towns nearby Laodicea were each known for their unique water properties. One town had naturally occurring hot springs that was thought to be a source of healing. The other town had natural cold springs from the mountains, which is incredibly useful in the hot middle east. And what would happen is the water that would travel to Laodicea would become lukewarm by the time it got there, and because it picked up many of the minerals along the way in the aqueducts it would become undrinkable. You’d have to spit out the lukewarm water.

So what is Jesus’ point? It’s simple, he would rather the church be useful like hot water, or useful like coldwater, but right now they are like the water in Laodicea lukewarm and useless. Jesus continues that because of their wealth, their style, and their dreams of grandeur they have become indifferent towards him. And Jesus says “I stand at the door and knock” asking to be invited in. Their indifference and lack of action has actually expelled Jesus from the church. He stands at the door, on the outside, asking to be let in. So he says repent, start following me and not wealth, start focusing on my kingdom and not your standing, stop focusing on your style and focus on being faithful. This is the message of the letter to Laodicea. It’s not about passion for Jesus per say, it’s really about being useful for Christ. This is a letter that encourages action. Jesus encourages us to buy gold from him, to buy ointment, and to buy white cloths. These are all things connected to action.

So on Sunday we landed on the main idea of what is Jesus asking us to do? How can we be active in spreading his grace and revealing his Kingdom? How can we be either hot water or cold water actively demonstrating his gospel rather than being listless and lazy lukewarm water?

And I think these are questions worth asking during Lent because they reveal a remarkabel truth. God wants to use you to spread his grace. God wants to partner with you in his Kingdom. God wants to reveal himself through you. That is an amazing calling. So this week focus on revealing God in all things, focus on being hot or cold, focus on actively following and watch what God might do in and through you.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Be useful for Jesus

Take Aways…

  • The Jesus Test: if a passage doesn’t look, sound, or love like Jesus…dig deeper
  • Jesus is always more concerned with action than passion
  • Jesus is saying…be useful
  • Jesus isn’t judging their enthusiasm but their usefulness
  • They have focused on what they have, rather than what they are called to do
  • Long-term indifference can push Jesus aside and out of the church
  • Jesus wants to partner and use you
  • You might not be called to change the world for everyone, but you are called to change the world of someone around you

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What would Jesus see if he examined your actions? How are you being useful for God’s kingdom? What gifts has he given you? What abilities? What talents? How does it feel to have Jesus actually want to partner and use you in his Kingdom?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk with your kids about how not only does Jesus love us, but he wants to use us to make the world a better place. Ask them if they have any ideas how to make the world a better place…and no matter how out there or amazing, act on their ideas and try them out!

Challenge for this Week

Let Jesus use you to grow his Kingdom

Open Doors and Open Hope

976656_70015868On Sunday we talked about the letter to Philadelphia. We also talked a little bit about Rocky and underdogs. We talked about how to preserve in the midst of difficulty, when the odds are stacked against you, and when hope seems low. Jesus realizes that the church in Philadelphia has little strength, that they are persecuted, and things are looking stacked against them. In essence they are underdogs. But Jesus believes that they can still succeed, overcome, and preserve. The reason that they are able to do this is the same reason that underdogs all over the world create upsets and win. It isn’t because of strength, skill, or even heart. Underdogs win because they begin to believe that they can win. That they can preserve. That they can make it.

The same thing is happening in the passage in Revelation. The church in Philadelphia can preserve because no matter how bad things get they can believe they can make it through. No matter how weak their strength gets they can still have hope. The reason for their hope is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus promises to hold open the door for them. Jesus promises that no one will be able to shut it. Jesus promises to be with them, to make them unshakable, claimed by God, and living in God’s city. So the Philadelphians can believe that these wonderful things will happen not because of their strength, but the strength of their Lord. They can trust and believe they will win even as the odds are stacked against them, because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is holding open the door to life and love, and no one will close it.

So on Sunday we landed on a simple point trust that in your difficulty Jesus is holding open the door. Let that truth give you hope, and strength. That even as things seem to stack against you, Jesus is holding the door open and no will ever be able to close it. Trust that he will lead you through it, and into a better future. Because the reality is our future depends much more on Jesus Christ than all the situations that surround us…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Jesus will hold open the door…

Take Aways…

  • We root for the underdog because we can relate to striving in difficult situations
  • Jesus examines our actions to see what we believe
  • What do your actions say about you
  • Don’t we want to have a life that is firm, secure, everlasting and in the presence of God?
  • Underdogs win and preserve because of belief
  • You might have little strength but you can still have hope. Why? Because Jesus is holding the door open for you
  • Your future isn’t dependent on just you, but on Jesus Christ who holds the door open

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What would Jesus see if he examined your actions? Where in life do you feel like the underdog? Where are you currently struggling? How might Jesus “hold the door open for you” in that situation? How would it feel for Jesus to claim you as your own? How might that help you keep going, and persevering?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk about with your kids that sometimes life gets difficult. Ask them when they’ve had difficulty in their life? Get them to share about any school troubles, or friendship issues. Remind them that Jesus promises even in the midst of real difficulty that he will be there for us, holding an open door to deeper life.

Challenge for this Week: Walk through the open door, and pray to Jesus as you do.

Goodbye “Leap of Faith”…Hello “Leap of Action”

We often think of accepting Jesus as a “leap of faith”. That you can learn all you can about him, but eventually you have to decide if he is true. You have to decide if Jesus is worth trusting, following, and believing in. We often call this in Christian circles a “leap of faith”. And I agree in all of that.

The thing I don’t agree with is the term “leap of faith”. It’s not that it’s wrong, or that we don’t need to do it. It’s that – that term or phrase is so misunderstood that it leads us down the wrong path. It actually can stop discipleship and confuse the whole process. So I’d like to replace that phrase with a new one. To no longer think of following Jesus as a “leap of faith” but instead as a “leap of action” because that is what true trust requires.

Following Jesus isn’t about becoming so mentally certain in Jesus’ salvation, divinity, or truth that we don’t have any disbelief. It isn’t about having a rational and intellectual leap of faith where we overcome all doubt and believe all the right doctrine about Jesus. Faith, in the biblical sense, is about so much more than that. To have faith in someone is to trust and follow them. It’s not about becoming intellectually certain of key convictions (though that is important). Faith is about becoming certain enough to follow, trust, and obey. And through trusting, following, and obeying Jesus, we become more certain as we experience faith in action and Jesus’ transformation.

Faith is much more about a “leap of action” than just a “leap of thought, belief, or faith”. Because as we know true faith and trust results in change in our lives. The point isn’t just to change what we know; it’s to have a deep change in who we are because of Jesus Christ.

So my point is simple. Following Jesus does require a leap of faith, but this leap of faith needs to lead to a leap of action. The point of faith isn’t to become convinced about Jesus, it’s about becoming changed by Jesus. So from now on I doubt I’ll use the phrase “leap of faith” but I might be using the phrase “leap of action”. Because what I’ve discovered over my years is that as I practice trusting in Jesus practically…my convictions on who Jesus is deepen dramatically…

What is “Faith”?

This Sunday we are starting a brand new series looking at one of the most important aspects of our faith, becoming an apprentice of Jesus. Dallas Willard writes this:“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”

I think this is true. The world doesn’t need more people who know about Jesus. The world doesn’t need more people who like Jesus. The world needs more people who are willing to follow, sacrifice, and become like Jesus. This is what the world needs; this is what your community, family, and neighborhood needs too. I know this is what I need too in my life.

So on Sunday we are going to start looking at how to become an apprentice of Jesus. We are going to discover how it starts and how we can start to practice our faith. Because I’m sure of one thing, becoming an apprentice doesn’t mean just learning more things about Jesus. It means starting to practice living like Jesus. In Matthew 7:24 Jesus says the wisemen hears his words, and puts them into practice. So on Sunday we are going to discover the very first and most important practice disciples are to take to start to follow Jesus. It has everything to do with where your heart is at and faith.

So before we get there I want to ask a simple question that I’ll try to answer on Sunday. What is faith?

Because I’ve seen pastors struggle to answer it, I’ve heard theologians muddle answers, and I think that’s where following Jesus starts. So how would you answer it – What’s faith?