Posts Tagged 'faith'

The Living Word: What Can’t You See

What Can’t You See

John 9:12-41

There are at least three kinds of blind spots: the physical blind spot~ where the optic nerve enters the back of the eye; the angular blind spot~ where certain angles can’t be seen (like in a car); and the psychological blind spot~ attitudes or biases that are present in our personality that we can’t see ourselves. As we read today’s Scripture, let’s ask ourselves: who’s REALLY blind here?

Sometimes, What ISN’T Seen Is

* The Fallout ~ (verses 12-17)

: the Pharisees heard this man was blind, but can’t accept his account that Jesus is sent by God (He does religious things they can’t do)

  • 16 caught in a dilemma: either miracles are from God, or not – but then how can this miracle be true?

* The Fact-check ~ (verses 18-23)

: the Pharisees can’t accept his testimony, so they want to discredit him as a person (if they accept it, then Jesus IS from God and they’re in trouble)

  • 18 easy answer: he wasn’t really blind! Fake news!
  • 19/21 troublesome testimony: he really WAS blind, and he really CAN see

* The Frustration ~ (verses 24-34)

: the facts check out; the testimony is sound; they have no logical reason to disbelieve, so they retreat into fear and frustration

  • 24 they hold to their belief regardless of evidence “this man is a sinner”
  • 28/9 THEY ARE RIGHT no matter what facts are found
  • 33 the reasonable conclusion
  • 34 the rejection of reason

* Final Faith ~ (verses 35-41)

: the previously blind man can now see Jesus, and connects his previous experience with Jesus at work.

  • 35/8 Jesus asks: “do you trust Me?” HE STILL ASKS THIS OF US

Is our hindsight leading us to faith as well?

Aha Moments: The Partnership of Faith

Aha Moments: The Partnership of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-7, 39-40

One farmer said to another: “Friend, I heard that you asked the Lord for that good garden. Is that correct?” “Yes, sir, it is,” proudly replied the man whose flourishing garden was his delight; “only I never pray for a good garden unless I have a hoe in my hand. I say, `Lord, you send the sunshine and the rain, and I’ll keep down these weeds.’ “

How Can We Partner With God?

We Build Our Base Through Faith ~ Hebrews 11:1-5

  • 1 “being sure”=related to foundation; faith is foundational
  • 3 faith here is a verb: we are to use our faith to help us understand the universe
  • 4 Abel used faith as his reason for sacrifice, and it was credited to him as righteousness (like Abraham)
  • 5 “was taken”=translated/transposed/changed; God brought him home; ask: how could you use your faith in a way that would please God?

We Receive Our Rewards Through Faith ~ Hebrews 11:6-7,39-40

  • 6 “rewards”=lit. BECOMES A REWARDER: as we seek God, He rewards us with HIMSELF
  • 7 “in holy fear”= moved to minister because of reverence;
  • 7b “condemned” Noah judged the world not worth his time compared with saving his family through obedience to God
  • 39 people of faith might receive individual blessings, but these saints had not received their salvation BEFORE they acted in faith; they stepped out in faith FIRST
  • 40 better for us: Jesus! OT saints trusted God to save them through faith; NT saints (us) trust God the same way: but we have a NAME TO USE

CLOSE: Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

We Persist To Perceive It – God Completes His Promise

We Persist To Perceive It – God Completes His Promise

Hebrews 6:9-20

There’s a “new-ish” way to make money. Called cryptocurrency, it’s the idea that you can make something of tangible value out of a mere idea. If you’re the first to guess the exact huge random number, you “mine” Bitcoin, for example. It’s all based on a promise: that being the first to discover something is valuable. But the target number to guess always changes, so mining the “value” is tough. Compare that to gold: a naturally occurring finite resource which has been valuable for thousands of years. Permanence has value.

God promised His people thousands of years ago that He would send a Savior. Why should we believe Him? What’s the point of Christmas?

Why Is God’s Promise Worth Trusting?

The Basis of the Promise ~ Hebrews 6:9-12

  • 9 “better things”: better than the idea of falling away from God
  • 10/11 we don’t work to earn hope from God; rather, we eagerly desire to fully live IN hope
  • 12 “not sluggish” but actively hold onto God’s promises

The Bedrock of the Promise ~ Hebrews 6:13-20

  • 13/14 God’s promises are based on HIMSELF, not our response
  • 15/17 God’s promise doesn’t change because God HIMSELF never changes
  • 18 two unchangable things: God’s nature, and God’s oath
  • 19 this is OUR hope: God keeps His promise to us, because His promise is based in His unchanging self
  • 20 The promise: God saves us! NOW (through the first coming of Christ as our savior) and FOREVER (though His second coming as Jesus our King)

Why hit this point over and over? Because we don’t often believe it. It’s much more common to think that God gives us what we deserve, and when we hit a rough patch, we conclude that God is punishing us. That’s NOT how faith is intended to be used, as a bat with which you beat yourself. Faith is a GIFT. Enjoy it, and thank the Giver!

Sola Fide: Only by Faith

Sola Fide: Only by Faith

1 Peter 1:3-9

In my junior year, got in as many pictures in year book as possible – FBLA club – but never actually did anything with any of them! Intent does not equal accomplishment. DOING is considered important. Must we DO something to gain faith?

Why such an emphasis on faith ALONE?

Faith is GIVEN (not earned) ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5

  • 3 what job does the baby accomplish to be born? NONE: it’s the RESULT of love
  • 4 where is salvation/faith based? NOT in us; it would fail!
  • 5 what fuels our faith? NOT our strength, but God’s power

Faith is GENUINE (Provable) ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7

  • 6 “this”-salvation; “trials”-prove through experiment/experience
  • 7 God doesn’t test our faith; God already knows its depths. WE TEST IT (2 Corinthians 13:5), and what do we see when we do that? Christ IN us – our hope of glory (Col. 1.27)

Faith has a GOAL ~ 1 Peter 1:8-9

  • 8 faith not based on SIGHT, but GOD’S CHOICE (Eph 2.8-9)
  • 9 “are receiving”= not a one-time thing, not an ongoing thing.

More like a wide receiver on a football team; we’re receive because we’ve been chosen to receive (Jesus is our quarterback???) Eventually, the game will end, and we will be on the winning side. THAT is the content of our faith: JESUS WINS!

Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship

Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship Sermon Audio Here

Acts 2:42-47

Moving from “Saying Grace” to receiving gratefully; the simple act of eating reminds me every day that God gracefully gives me what I need. Food does that. Eating together with others who recognize it as well adds layers of meaning. Fellowship is important!

What’s The Function of Fellowship?

Fosters Devotion Together~ Acts 2:42 (Fellowship builds our faith)

  • 42 A} “devoted”=continued steadfastly 1) ongoing choice 2) consistent
  • B} “THE fellowship” =NOUN; group of participating partners
  • C} “breaking of bread” same verb used to describe regular meals as well as Lord’s Supper, early church practice was to share a regular meal followed by Communion =POTLUCKS ARE BIBLICALLY IMPORTANT

Furthers Desire For God~ Acts 2:43-47 (Fellowship helps others see God at work)

  • 43 God kept on working among them; they responded in careful awe
  • 44/5 NOT “live in a commune” but shared their lives together
  • 46 Notice again the emphasis on the meal; they even shared the location among themselves (house-to-house-to-house); you may not realize it, but when you have people over for a barbecue, that CAN BE A SPIRITUAL ACT
  • 47 fellowshipping, done rightly, draws people into God’s presence and enables them to be saved

“The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard… travel may be a flight from confronting the scared– this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”
― Abraham H. Maslow

Others understand what the Christian life is like when they see it in US.

Snapshots from Mark: A Shout In The Darkness

Snapshots from Mark: A Shout In The Darkness Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:46-52

If you have Dish satellite TV service, there’s a neat benefit you may not know you have: the Dish Remote locate button. It finds the remote even in the dark. In those times when you feel lost in the dark, don’t you wish the Lord had a button like that?

Are You Willing to Shout for God’s Help?

Share Your Need ~ Mark 10:46-48

  • 46 the blind man is paying attention to his surroundings
  • 47 shouting BECAUSE HE CAN’T FIND JESUS ON HIS OWN
  • 48 he won’t shut up about his need

Follow His Lead ~ Mark 10:49-52

  • 49/50 when Jesus calls, JUMP
  • 51 what does a blind man want? Our need might be obvious to US from within it, but still needs to be shared
  • 52 what is Bart’s response? Follow Jesus after Faith works!

We know God is there, but let’s be honest: too often, we’re unsure whether we should call out for help, because we don’t know if God will respond the way we want. Here’s the example: call out to God in darkness BEFORE we know He’s going to respond. Don’t give up: ask, seek, knock… SHOUT.

Thriving In Thessalonica

Thriving In Thessalonica Sermon Audio Here

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

In our first week looking at First Thessalonians, we tested thankfulness. Our second week, we measured motive. Today, we talk about flourishing faith:

Faith That Thrives Or Is Merely Alive: What’s The Difference?

Living Faith Is FUSED With Life ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:9-11

  • 9 preached=heralded; called out the truth; while working among them, the gospel was talked about (less pulpit, more participation)
  • 10 among you: Paul & team immersed themselves in the lives of others
  • 11 like a good father does

Thriving Faith is USED Throughout Life ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13

  • 12 encouraging, comforting, urging: father/pastor/coach => movement towards worth/value
  • 13 the Word “which is at work”; we’re not intended to just sit

How do we know that God has ACTUALLY called us? How do we know that our FAITH is real (and we’re not just fooling ourselves)? Because we CHANGE. We’re DIFFERENT. The presence of God’s Grace does something in us, and we walk with God into His Kingdom.

Roaming Through Romans: Faith Accounted

Roaming Through Romans: Faith Accounted Sermon Audio Here

Romans 14:1-12

Ever hear of S.M.A.R.T. goals? Specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound. Should we use comparisons in our faith?

How Is Faith Measured?

Faith Works Even When Weak ~ Romans 14:1-4 small faith is still faith

  • 1 weak faith is working faith; children are weak, but their faith is real
  • 2/3 regardless of your faith stance, don’t be a snob!
  • 4/5 God is in the judging business, not us! We are SERVANTS; why would one servant judge another? None of us have that right

Faith Counts When Considered ~ Romans 14:5-9 according to your capacity

  • 5 fully convinced faith; put the work in!
  • 6 “to the Lord” a life of dedicated discipline
  • 7/8 We are not LORD of our own life
  • 9 Jesus rose again to prove His rightful place as Lord of ALL

Faith Weighed in Worship ~ Romans 14:10-12

  • 10 God’s judgment/bema seat for all (cf. Rev 20:10-15)
  • 11 Sentencing is based on this: is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life by confessing Christ through faith, and not fear?
  • 12 We are weighed (2 Cor 5:10) for what we DO…

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

  • …but we are sentenced (Rev. 20.15) by Who we KNOW

If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Faith is measured, yes. But it’s measured by the Master alone, not for mere servants to split hairs and scrutinize!

Gems from Genesis: God Knows Our Need

Gems from Genesis: God Knows Our Need Sermon Audio Here

Genesis 24:42-49

I saw a news report a while ago about exoskeletons: powered robotic suits that enable the body to do what it cannot do on its own. Medical uses include physical therapy and helping the paralyzed to walk again, while military uses focus more on enhancing already present abilities. But for these to be effective, one thing is most important: to determine the actual NEED that the exoskeleton would fulfill…

If God Knows Our Need, What’s OUR Part?

We Look For The Lord At Work ~
Genesis 24:1-41

  • SETUP: 1-9: Abraham charges his servant to go back to the old country to get a wife for Isaac
  • 10-14 How to choose? Lord, let the right girl do THIS…
  • 15-28 She did!
  • 29-41 She takes servant to meet the family and he tells his story, which is where we pick up the text:

Genesis 24:42-44

  • 42 “if you will” – remember GOD’s agenda
  • 43/44 rely on GOD’s GUIDANCE (Gideon’s fleece: Judges 6)

We Act WITHIN God’s Work ~ Genesis 24:45-49

  • 45/46 God knows our need (often before we do)
  • 47/48 Thank God AS He provides (right in the middle of occurrence)
  • 49 Involve others in God’s work (“this is what I think God is doing, what do you think?)

Romans 7:22-25a: For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God– through Jesus Christ our Lord!

We have to remember that our flesh wants to go its own way; we can WANT to be Godly in our hearts, but our lives are stuck in a sinful world. God knows this; the Lord knows we want to be better than we are, and has provided a way to make that happen: Jesus Christ our Lord! As we submit to His Lordship and let Him lead us, His righteousness is placed on us, like a exoskeleton, enabling us to do with Him what we couldn’t do alone.

Gems from Genesis: God Sees Our Sacrifice

Gems from Genesis: God Sees Our Sacrifice Sermon Audio Here

Genesis 22:1-14

I have a friend who is extremely sensitive to light; too much exposure leaves them bedridden in great pain. But this friend is willing to come into bright situations to help others, knowing in advance how much it will hurt. How do we face these faith challenges?

Respond To Faith Challenges With

Strategy for Sacrifice ~ Genesis 22:1-8

  • 1/3 Abraham is faced with a terrible choice: obey God or kill your child. How to make that choice? GO
  • 4/5 “we will come back” I choose to interpret this as a statement of faith: “I don’t know how God is going to fix this problem, but I know He will.” GO IN FAITH
  • 6/8 God gives the problem; God gives the solution: GO IN FAITH TOGETHER

Preparation For Provision ~ <a title="Genesis 22:9-14<" href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis 22:9-14Genesis 22:9-14

  • 9/10 at THIS point, Abraham does NOT KNOW what God will do; OBEY GOD IN THE DARK
  • 11/12 God already knew, but now both Abraham and Isaac knew, too. God knows that they know that God knows LISTEN FOR GOD IN THE DARK
  • 13/14 “ahar-behind him” LOOK AROUND FOR GOD’S PROVISION

Romans 6:13, 19 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

We sacrifice our SELVES: we give up our rights to call our own shots. We can’t do this in our own strength; God provides what we need so we can follow His way.


Pastor Ed Backell

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