Faith

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					WHO ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR FAITH IN?                           MODBURY

         What or who do you put your faith in? When we are young we put all our faith and trust in our
parents and you will see children jump from great heights into their parent’s arms, or allow them to
throw them up in the air, trusting that they will catch them on the way down. The kids who have faith
in their parents laugh and really enjoy that, but those who don’t have faith will scream their heads off.

        Faith and trust are two different things but they are in some ways closely related. We usually
only put our faith in something or someone we trust. If they let us down then we remove some of that
trust and we may even lose our faith in them. Faith, in the biblical sense, is being sure of what we hope
for and certain of what we do not see. Trust, on the other hand, is believing in something we can see.
We trust that a chair will hold us up. We trust that our family will be there to support us when we need
it. But when trust is eroded then we struggle to have faith in that thing or person.

        I can remember the time when Trish and I were in a singing group and we did this gig in
Ballarat and as part of our presentation we did this skit about trust. It was a Charlie Brown and Linus
thing where Charlie Brown held a football and Linus had to come along and kick the ball, only to have
Charlie Brown take it away at the last minute and Linus falls flat on the ground. Well, in the skit I was
Linus and it was in the days of really tight pants and as I came in to kick the imaginary ball, it was
taken away and I fell on the floor. The only problem was that when I did, I split my pants right around
the seam. It was very embarrassing and I had to wear a jumper or something to cover the huge split.
But it was a lesson about trust and how that trust can be broken which also takes away the faith we may
have in someone.

        I have a saying that a friend in Hobart wrote a song about and it simply says, “When you can’t
see God’s hand at work, trust His heart.” Faith and trust are closely related. But in many different
areas of life we need to learn who we can trust and who we can place our faith in. If we just go around
trusting everyone, then we will get burnt by someone who is not worthy of that trust. The other day I
was watching a TV show and there was this little old lady who trusted this nice young man who said he
would fix her roof, but all he did was keep taking more and more money off her. He was a real conman
and in the end he got killed because he ripped off the wrong person. This lady’s faith was misplaced.

         But any of us can get caught if we’re not careful. There are plenty of internet scams going
around that simply rip us off. There are mobile phone scams and schemes that can be signed up for
and it might sound good or interesting, but in the end all they deliver is a guarantee to rip you off. The
latest I have heard of is to sign up on your mobile phone to find out what name you should call your
children. You text in your name and the name of your partner, and hey presto you have the perfect
name for your child. I wonder if you would get the same name for a second child using this same
method??? But I think I heard or read in the very fine print at the bottom that it actually costs you
$10.00 a week for a contract of three years.

        There are also plenty of people who have put all their faith in their finances and in their
superannuation and now with the economic downturn they are really struggling, not to just make ends
meet and pay the bills, but their whole sense of well being is eroded because their faith in their ability
to earn money or have a large superannuation to live off is disappearing.

        There are other people who place their faith in idols of worship like is mentioned in the Old
Testament. It might be something only made of wood or metal, and yet some people worship their
gods, their idols, and somehow trust that they are helping them in their life.

       You might remember the story about the Israelites and how God rescued them out of slavery in
Egypt and how he miraculously gave them water from a rock and how he gave them food that fell from
the sky every morning for forty years, and how they did what Moses told them even though they
grumbled quite a bit about their pay and conditions. But when Moses went up into the mountain to get
the Ten Commandments and was gone a bit longer than they thought was reasonable, they took matters
into their own hands and made Aaron make a golden calf so they could have something to worship.
Very quickly they turned from having faith in almighty God and following Moses, into worshipping
this man made calf. They were having a great old party when Moses came down from the mountain
and saw how they had turned away from God and were bowing down to this golden calf. Righty so
Moses got really angry and threw down the stone tablets that the commandments were written on and
broke them.

         But there were many times when the Israelites and many other nations worshipped carved
images that couldn’t do a thing for them. How someone can have faith in taro cards or palm reading or
Ouija boards or any other practice like that is beyond me. I think it takes a lot more faith to believe in
those things than it does to believe in a God who created the heavens and the earth and who sent his son
to this earth where he was killed and then God rose him from the dead again. And then, to top it all off,
Jesus proved he was alive by showing himself to over 500 people before then ascending into heaven
right in front of a group of people. It is much easier for me to believe in this God and in his son, Jesus,
than in an inanimate object that has no power.

        But the danger is that we still put our faith in the wrong things. We still put our faith in money,
because that’s what we worship and have as our central focus in life. We still put our faith in things,
and the collecting of material possessions, without giving God a thought. We still put our faith in our
friends more than God, at least until they let us down and then we wipe them off our Christmas card
list. We can still run the danger of putting our faith in a person instead of Jesus Christ.

        I remember a church in Geelong that had very few kids in the youth group. But then they got
this bible college student who came in and he had a really charismatic personality and all of a sudden
kids were coming from everywhere. They had one of the largest junior youth groups in the city. It was
really pumping. I think all the other church youth groups were quite jealous of the rapid growth and
fun they were having.

       But at the end of that year the student graduated and left town to take a job in another state. But
sadly, within just a few weeks that youth group shrunk back to basically what they had at the start.
You see, the kids put their faith in the man, and not in Jesus Christ. They followed him and he was not
wise enough to help those kids come to a saving and real faith in Jesus Christ. They just had fun each
week. And that’s the danger of putting your faith in a person, other than the person of Jesus Christ, the
one who will never let us down.

        The thing about putting our faith in anyone is that they must be able to honour that faith and not
abuse it. Jesus Christ will not abuse that faith. But for us to place our faith in someone it means that
they must be worthy of that faith. If Jesus was not worthy of our faith and trust, then he would have
soon disappeared off the radar and we would not have churches all over the world we would not even
have the calendar we now have that is centered around the life of Christ. If Jesus was not worthy of our
faith he would have abused that faith and left us out in the cold.

        But if we are to see and understand Jesus as being worthy we must know who he is. The people
in Jesus’ home town of Nazareth didn’t see him as God’s son. They only knew him as Joseph the
carpenter’s son. They knew him as the brother of James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and his sisters.
They didn’t want to see him as anything or anyone special and so we read in Matthew 13:58, “And he
did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

        Who do you see Jesus as? Is he just another man who grew up in Nazareth and is no-one
special to you? If that’s all you see him as then you will struggle to place your faith in him. But if you
see him as God’s son, the one who came to this earth at what we celebrate as Christmas, this is God
incarnate, God with skin on, and if you see him and believe in him as the one who later died so he
could take all your sins onto himself so you don’t have to face the eternal consequences of them, then
you will find it much easier to place your faith in him. Jesus Christ is the one, the only one, we can
truly trust and place our faith in.

        You look at the stories in the gospels and the results of those who put their faith in him. The
woman in Matthew 9 who had been bleeding for 12 years, she had such a faith in Jesus that all she had
to do was touch the hem of his cloak and she was healed. The guys who hacked a hole in the roof of a
guys house in Capernaum, just so they could lower their paralytic friend down for Jesus to heal him had
such faith in Jesus that Mark 2:5 says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your
sins are forgiven.” And he was healed right there and then. Jesus saw the faith of this guy’s friends
and chose to heal the man. There were some blind men in Matthew 9:28-29 and it says, “When he had
gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do
this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it
be done to you”; and their sight was restored.”

         But even more miraculous than these wonderful healings of Jesus is to see the changed lives of
those today who place their faith in him. When we take on board Jesus Christ and put all our faith in
Him, the Holy Spirit comes into us and transforms our lives from the inside. I’m sure many of you
have either experienced that change in yourself or you have seen it happen in others. A couple of
weeks ago we had Damien share his life story with us and how Jesus Christ had made such a huge
difference in his life. He still has his struggles, as he said, but Jesus is still transforming his life. God
is still working miracles in him.

       But we all have to make that choice as to what we do with Jesus. This series of talks have all
been about the choices we make. We can all make some really stupid choices, and often get ourselves
into hot water over it. But we can all make some really good choices that will enhance our lives and
make us better people because of them. The choice is ours. The important thing to understand is that
we are responsible for all the choices we make.

       We all have choices to make every day. But the choice that’s most important of all, is, who are
we putting our faith in? If you are yet to do so, can I encourage you to put all your faith and trust in
Jesus Christ so that he can impact your life and free you from the eternal consequences of your poor
choices and wrong actions? Jesus is not some magic formula, but he is the one who can help us and
give us life and direction and purpose for our lives. If anyone wants to ask Jesus into their life, then
make sure you talk to someone you trust straight after the service.

				
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