Good afternoon brothers and sisters!
Last Sunday we saw that righteousness requires trusting God. Abram “believed in the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Are you surprised that Abram didn’t have to do anything other than trust God’s promises to be called righteous? While the Bible teaches that there are definitely ethical principles for disciples of Jesus Christ, God really wants us to trust Him. Trust is the foundation for a healthy Christian faith (Galatians 2:16).
We also saw that this isn’t just a blind trust. We can wrestle with God as we’re seeking to know him better. Twice in chapter 15 Abram questions God about the apparent delay in fulfilling His promises and, both times, God responds favorably. We saw the principle that God wants us to “know” that He can be trusted based on a knowledge from experience with Him. Sometimes we really need to wrestle with God so that our relationship with Him continues to grow. How are you growing in your intimate knowledge of God this week? What’s something that could strengthen your relationship with God during this season of your life?
Genesis 15:6 emphasizes that righteousness requires trust, but this trust isn’t an abstract requirement that we believe in God, like kids are sometimes encouraged to believe in Santa Claus. We are meant to trust God for illuminating our path. That is, we are meant to trust God for showing us how to live our lives to the fullest. We are meant to live life walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit of God in how to more fully live our daily lives. James notes that our faith is “perfected by works” (James 2:22). That word perfect is the Greek word teleióō and includes the idea of making something complete. God wants our lives to be complete and this requires that our faith be expressed in action!
One group of faith actions makes us more aware of God’s presence: Spiritual disciplines. In addition to knowing about God from studying His Word, we also need to be growing in relationship with Him. Individually, we need to take ownership of this aspect of our faith practices. Are you actively practicing various spiritual disciplines so that you are experiencing God’s presence and power in your life? If you don’t feel God’s presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, try practicing some of the different spiritual disciplines  and see if they don’t reinvigorate your relationship with God.
Another group of faith actions that bring us closer to God is service. We grow in our knowledge of God and strengthen our relationship with Him when we serve others. James says, “Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works” (James 2:18 NET). There are two very productive ways we can serve others.
First, we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others (i.e., evangelize). We took our first group out to evangelize last Saturday and each of us experienced God’s power and presence in surprising ways! We saw God at work and we benefited! We invite you to join us this coming Saturday at 10 am at West Valley so that you can have this same experience, growing in your relationship with God (note, you don’t actually need to do this as an official, organized church activity like this, but it may help you to get started).
Second, we can serve others in need. We are planning a monthly service event each month so that we can marshal our forces and make a positive contribution to our community (again, note that you don’t actually need to do this as an official, organized church activity, but it may help you to get started). You have to experience the peace and joy that comes from serving others like this to fully understand the benefits (ask someone who participated in our December homeless feed to talk about their experience).
Our community is suffering. And there are no political, technological, or social solutions that will solve the greatest problems of the people in our community. God, first and foremost, will solve the suffering and the lack of hope, peace, and joy. So as God is transforming our lives through his steadfast love and bringing healing, peace and hope to us, we need to spread the Good News that God wants to do the same healing work in others’ lives. What faith actions is God inviting you into? Will you trust Him? Will you allow Him to complete you through your actions for His kingdom?
Grace, mercy and peace,
(1) In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster describes 12 disciplines: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.