Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day

Sunday is Father's Day.  I know it will be another hard day for me as I remember my father.  The last few days, I've been thinking about the things my father did with me as I was growing up.  One of those things was hiking and camping out with Boy Scouts.  Now as my son is growing up so fast, I'm planning on a camping trip next weekend.  Why...because my Dad took me camping...and I'll never forget him for that time he spent with me.  It made me feel special...and I want my son to know how special he is to me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Faith - 1 John 5.1-13

July 3, 1949

Faith has been defined by our friend Mr. Webster as “Belief in God”, while another writer has defined it as “Believing what is true and being loyal to it.” As true as these statements maybe they are not complete or binding enough for Christians. The first – a mere belief in God is to broad a statement. Jews – Mohammaindeans – Buddhists Hindus and many other people believe in God. The second definition of believing what is true and being loyal to it better fits us as Christians but still it does not tell us what is true. In the front of our Hymnal you will find sixteen articles that give a brief statement of what we as Presbyterians or the Reformed faith follows and believe. But the one definition of faith the Christians all over the world follows is the so called Apostles’ Creed. Since the time it was written in the fourth century it has been the basis for all other creeds and is the key stone of all Christian churches. So our definition begins thus, “We believe in God the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our lord…” To Christians every where this is what they mean when they speak of faith.

But as we attempt to define the word “Faith” let us remember all of these creeds are merely attempts on the part of men to put into words what they believe. However, faith is something more than all of this. It is something that cannot be put into words; it is an individual experience that each and every one of us must have. No man can give his faith to another, anymore than he can give another his imagination, or his private history. Faith is personal—it belongs only to you and God – you are the only two that can share it or know its full and true meaning.

Jesus said that unless we become as little children, we shall not enter into his kingdom. A little child is of a pure heart and believes without signs or miracles. When we become adults we need to have a reason for everything, we have to be shown before we can believe.

Faith healers are making great numbers of conversions now days because a vain and wicked generation is seeking for physical signs. Jesus warned people in his own day that they were wrong in looking for miracles before they believed in God. He was more pleased with those that accepted him in pure faith rather than those who sought to see him perform wondrous works. Many people have never learned to accept Jesus on Faith – they want to see miracles before they can believe.

Today, in the city of Pittsburgh and other such cities throughout the land people stand in long lines to hear a preacher that promises their bodily health – they have not learned the meaning of the spiritual kingdom – they forget that even Satan is able to perform wonders and miracles.

Faith in God is not a three ring circus—it is not a spectacular show of any sort – nor is the worship of God any of these things. Jesus wants us to believe in Him. Not because of what he has done, or what he can do for us. But we should believe in Him because he first loved us and we in turn should love him. Love, alone, is the basis of belief in God – if we are motivated by any other reason—self interest – worldly pleasures – physical needs – we are wrong. God does not need to give signs or perform miracles to prove that he exists. We must learn to love him regardless of what we think he should do for us. We should love him even if he never done one single thing to make our earthly life better or easier.

Except ye become as little children—have you ever considered these words and just what they mean? The little child that trust and believes anything his parents tell him, a stranger may tell a child something that he doubts and he will run to his mother and say “Is it true?” He does not question the answer she gives but accepts it because he has faith in her and above all loves her. The story is told of the coal miner that set out one wintery day for a nearby salon. As he carefully made his way through the deep snow drifts he heard a voice behind, “Go ahead Daddy, I am following in your steps – He looked back and there was his little four year old son carefully steeping into his steps. It was a hard job for the little lad, but he believed his father would lead him safely – he never doubted that his father could lead him astray – as the miner looked at the small child he thought – how can I let him follow me? I would have leaded him to the salon – He picked the boy up and together they returned home. The miner had decided that if his son was to fool him he must set an example.

When I first heard this story I thought how good it would be to file it away until Father’s Day. But as I thought of it, there is also a lesson of childish trust and faith in it. A Child learns to trust and accept without question all their parents do. So it must be with us. We must become as children and follow in the footsteps left by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must believe in him as honestly and truly as children trust their earthly parents.

But another strange thing about children is that they accept God in the same faith that they do their own parents. A little child does not ask to see some miracle before he believes in God. The child looks at the wonders of nature and gives God the credit for them. The stars, the moon the sky, the trees, the birds, just everything belongs to God.

One day during the drought in the Midwest a small country church announced that it would hold a prayer meeting for the purpose of praying for rain. That night as the congregation gathered one little girl arrived carrying an umbrella, everyone laugh and asked her what she was going to use it for. She replied “to keep dry on the way home.” A little child was the only one that believed their prayers would be answered – she believed it so much that she came prepared – yet this is not the end of the story that might as the congregation made their way home the little girl got to use her umbrella, while the rest got wet. Except ye have faith as these little ones – is it any wonder Jesus loved little children so very much?

We are told that we have no proof for the claims of Christianity outside of the Bible. And the Bible is only a book that must be accepted only on faith. We are taking someone else’s word for it, and that is not proof enough. If we must then cast aside the Bible because it is not proof, then we must also cast away our History Books and all books of learning, for all fields of knowledge must be accepted on faith or not at all. Can you prove any facts of history any more than facts of Christianity? Are you positive? George Washington, lived—if so why? You never saw him – you don’t know anyone else that did – so how do you know there ever was such a person – you know because of the written record – you know because you have seen the results of his work – so it is with Christ. You have read the record and you can see the results of it in the lives of believers.

Faith is not a strange to us – as children we walked because we trusted our mothers – not because she showed us any facts or reason as to why we should walk – we had learned to place our faith in our mothers. Later we learned to read and write because put our trust in our teachers – if you have ever been sick you will know that in order for the doctor to cure you, you must have faith in him. Trust that he knows what he is doing. So it is we humans must accept more than religion on Faith – almost everything we do is accepted in Faith.

But after we receive something on faith, it proves itself to us. We know that we were right trusting our parents, the doctor, and teachers. If we then accept everything else in faith why can’t we have faith in God in the same way!

The only true way to prove the Christian life is to try it. Put your trust in the Bible and in God. Give Him a chance and He will prove Himself. So try it, however, you must give it a fair chance. You can’t go half way and expect full results.

In John 14:17, Christ foresaw men’s doubts when he said “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it with him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.”

Man does not want to accept God because he cannot reach out and place a hand on him. He cannot see Him face to face. So he looks for a god out in the world instead of within himself-he seeks gold – wealth- physical needs – power – and other worldly desires – the aim of man are worldly so he feels that he must have a god that will give him what he wants.

The Jews did not follow Christ because he was not this kind of a messiah – we must learn that God is not worldly - and we must not seek him as such. Remember Christ does not promise any worldly pleasures, He only promise rewards in the future life.

Let us not go out into the world seeking for God, but let us look inward to our own hearts and souls to find him. He is not at some distant point but within each of us. Because Gods world is not of this; men do not want him. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but I have chosen you out of this world, therefore the world hateth you.”

Do not try to bring God into your world, but rather you go into his. He is willing to have you – are you willing and ready to go with him. If so then have faith, and believe the Lord Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.

A Pastor's Heart

My father passed away on  8 January 2008.  Some of the things that were passed on to me were his old sermons.  My attempt with the blog is to share some of his best sermons and a little about his life.  I hope you enjoy.