Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
Faith and Love…. Imagine what it would be like to be known throughout the whole region as a congregation of faith and love. Not as some PLACE where people gather to worship, not even as a people who are knowledgeable of God, but known as people of faith and by our love for one another, God, and others. How do we get such faith? First, we have to understand that Faith and Love are bound together, inseparable, in our journey. Our faith works through Love (Galatians 5:6).
They had no Bible, no New Testament scripture to turn to, all they had were the teachings that Paul and Silas had given them on that 1st visit and young Timothy’s after he was sent to strengthen and encourage them. They, of course, also received this letter as encouragement and for the building of their Faith and Love. Their faith was strong enough to keep them going in their persecution and that same faith was growing in and through their sufferings.
While we walk this earth and are obedient to the Lord out of Love, our faith is grown. Our faith starts out small, but as we learn more and more of God’s love, and we experience that love, and for each of us that is different, our faith grows. Your faith started small, you realized the love God has for you in His Son, you start your spiritual journey and pretty soon, as you sought God with the local church or through Bible reading and study, you have achieved enough faith to be saved by grace, there at that point, you accept the love and forgiveness God offers you through Jesus and the cross.
You are no longer your own, your allegiance has switched, you have changed direction; repented, and are now a Child of God, a citizen of the Kingdom, a member or God’s Church. You can now fulfill your God given purpose if you continue on your journey in the new life granted to you.
God then uses the circumstances and situations of life to mature our faith and conform us to the image of His Son, but only if we know Jesus and love God (Romans 8:28-29, 1 John 2:3, John 14:15, John 15:10). This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. Jesus said: If you love me, you will keep my commands.
He increases our faith. Let’s say that God calls you to do something that is way out side your comfort zone. You know that God has laid it on your heart to do this and you are struggling with fear or doubt, but knowing the love of God, you take the step of faith, and do what has been laid on your heart. The moment you took your “Next Step” your spiritual journey was shortened. But now, having taken that Next Step you have to rely on God. There will be trials and tribulations, problems will arise, things will happen, the enemy will attack, but as God brings you through these trials and tribulations your trust and love for God increases and grows your faith exponentially.
That is what happened to the believers in Thessalonica. Their faith and love grew as they were taught, encouraged, and experienced the love of God. This experience got them through their afflictions. Then they, in turn, encouraged and taught one another, and others that came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior through their faith and Love. They encouraged others that saw their faith, just as Paul was encouraged by their faith in vs 7.
Their faith and love were such that they lived Coram Deo, To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.
To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, that He is right there. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape from His sight.
It is in that knowledge that we take our next step of Faith, “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our faith is made stronger with each step we take, but just because our faith is made stronger as our security in God’s love grows, does not mean that we are saved or sanctified by our taking that next step, by works. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast,” we must continually strive to keep our faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As was noted last week, Jesus said, “you will have sufferings in this world” but in that same verse he also said, “Be courageous! (take heart) I have conquered the World.”
The enemy comes against us, tempting us, to make something else our focus instead of Jesus. He tries to get us to look for hope, love, and satisfaction in other places. The tempter would love to see us put our faith in people, places, activities or things. And in this world, in this day, we have far too many desires and interests that draw us away from God and His Church. Lives are being consumed and wasted on those people, places, activities, and things. We must examine ourselves to see if our priorities are Biblical, inline with God’s will, and supportive of God and the mission of His Church! We must check to see where our faith is placed.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”, Paul said right before his death by decapitation (2 Timothy 4:7).
Have you been faithful to God and His Word, to Jesus Christ and His mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)? Is it time to repent, is your faith dead or have you put your faith to work?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead so also faith without works is dead. – James 2:26
Do you need help, “For He says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!”
- What do you truly have faith in?
- Are people encouraged by your faith?
- Are you ready to take your Next Step of faith?