Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Service for Loreta Kauk

What can I say about Loreta?  I only knew her for a couple of decades out of a long and full life.

I can say that when I delivered meals on wheels to her home, I always signed the book.  She had a book and everyone signed it.

Often, some of the other churches would come up short on help for meals on wheels and I would get the call to deliver.  I would tell Loreta that I was just here last time and my name was already in the book, but she insisted that I sign in again anyway.

What can I say?  I can say that we have one of those doylies-sort-of-things with SPENCE on it.  I have been told that she made more than 300 but not quite 400 of those.  She made them as long as her hands would let her.  The general consensus is that she made 370-something of these.

I’ll bet that she kept a book with all that she made.

What can I say?  The GOD LOVES YOU – LOVE ONE ANOTHER wristbands that we have given out for years now, were a little too small.  She would have to stretch and stretch and if she wore it, I am pretty sure that her blood pressure was more on one side of the band than the other.
We know Loreta had a big heart but she had some big wrists too.

What can I say?  I served her communion while she was in the home at Corn but was not quite ready for the company she had.  By that I mean she had a twin sister and then another set of twin sisters.  The only time that I got to talk was when I said, “This is my body…”

I imagine that I know some other things that will come to mind in a week or two.  That’s the way my memory works these days, but I was told of some very interesting things.

I don’t think that Oklahoma has a Rose Parade.  That’s a southern California thing.  But western Oklahoma had a Rose Bush Queen.  I don’t think that there was a pageant or parade or even a football game to go with this title, but evidently, Loreta was the “go to” person for anything having to do with roses and rose bushes. 

I’m guessing this was just a title bestowed upon her by family or family and friends, or family, friends and anyone who needed to know anything about rose bushes.

I was told that she liked to cook, can, and crochet.  I mentioned her crochet skills earlier.

What I haven’t told you is that she was also renowned for her Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.  Pam told me that she tried to make it but it didn’t come out the same and come to find out that Loreta used Miracle Whip in her chocolate mayonnaise cake. 

Pam put in real mayonnaise.  Now I didn’t know Loreta back in her cake baking days, but if you grew up in Oklahoma, everyone knew that Miracle Whip—even though the label says salad dressing or something like that—Miracle Whip was mayonnaise in Oklahoma, unless you were some of those really rich folks that splurged on real Mayonnaise.

Pam, you are going to have to take a shot at making that cake again before the next fellowship meal.

I am sure that I did not cover so many things that many of you know.  I hope that you shared them during the meal and all are welcome to return here later just to have a place to gather and share such stories.  Many younger folks will only know Loreta by what you share.

Loreta loved being a mother, grandmother, and a farmer’s wife.  There are countless stories and testimonies in all of these, but here is the thing that stuck with me after visiting with family a few days ago.

Loreta had a peace about her.  She had God’s peace abiding in her.

If there was potential trouble on the horizon, Loreta would say, “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

As I listened to her family talk about her and her twin who had preceded her in death was sort of her opposite, I thought to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke’s 10th chapter, just after the story of the Good Samaritan.

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Now, I am not going to skip over the fact that Loreta ran the good race, fought the good fight, and kept the faith.  I like to do that when I know that the service is for a believer.

I am not going to leave out that there is in store for her a crown of righteousness.  There is.  I’m sure that she has tried it on a few times.  It’s way better than what you might have gotten her for being the Rose Bush Queen.

And don’t worry, I will remind you that there is a crown of righteousness in store for you as well—for all who have made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives.

So let’s go ahead and share those words of Paul to Timothy.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I always enjoy those words.  Maybe someone will say them at my funeral one day instead of recounting the number of corny jokes that ended up in the sermon.

When I think of Loreta, I think of Mary who had a special peace, a special countenance about her.

I think of someone who took the Lord’s counsel and did not worry about tomorrow.  Today has enough to deal with.  The Lord provides for the flowers and the birds and for the crown of his creation.

Loreta somehow had this divine peace dwelling within her and as Jesus spoke to Martha about Mary, I think he speaks to us today:  What she has will not be taken from her.

Loreta trusted God and lived in his peace.  As we think of her life stories, I commend you to think of her example.  Think of her trust in the Lord.  Think of living in the Lord’s peace.

I think of someone who lived the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Now she does dwell in the house of the Lord and will do so forever.


Monday, May 27, 2019

Faith without Love

When I was growing up, if someone mentioned the term gluten-free, I would have thought that it was some hippie protest in San Francisco.  What’s a gluten anyway?  Why do they need to be set free?

In 2019 if you don’t know the term gluten or gluten-free then you are a caveman.

I probably googled the term gluten-free a year ago.  I was tired of being the only person who was in the dark.  I discovered that gluten occurs naturally in most grains.  It is the component that lets us make bread that doesn’t fall apart.  It is something of a binding agent among the grain’s molecules.

We have ordered gluten free bread for the Lord’s Supper and sometimes even remember to put it out when we celebrate the sacrament.  What I noticed is that the wafers don’t hold together very well.  All of the elements for bread are present except the gluten.

Enough for this morning’s health and public safety announcement.

We continue our exploration of faith, so let’s begin with what should be a very familiar defining verse from the King James Version.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If we can see it or touch it, taste it or feel it, then it’s probably not faith; but if we truly have faith we see that which is not seeable.  We touch that which can’t be touched.  Our faiths lets us act upon this world by knowing things that can only be known through God’s Spirit.

We have gained a greater understanding of Paul’s words that instruct us to live by faith not sight.

I think of faith that brings us to these words that we can say with greater and greater fidelity.  I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.

Our faith lets us deal with our trials and tribulations knowing that if we hold on to our faith we will grow.

Along the way I may have challenged your faith asking, “Is Jesus your Savior?”  That was the easy part.  We all like being saved from the eternal consequences of sin and death.  Here’s the challenge:   Is Jesus your Lord?  Do you have such faith that you don’t fit Jesus into your life?  He is your Lord.  Life fits in around what he calls you to do.

I think to the Son of Timaeus when I think of faith so great it was as if you could touch and feel it.

I think of faith proved genuine as we face trials and tribulations in this world. 

I think of those faith only moments that jump started our journeys of faith. 

And now I ask you to think of faith that’s not worth a hill of beans without this one element.  What is that element?


Actually, it’s love but love seems to be sort of like gluten when it comes to making a good loaf of bread.  Don’t extend the analogy much farther.

Paul’s thirteenth chapter in his first letter to Corinth is wedged in between his discussion of Spiritual Gifts in chapters 12 and 14.  He didn’t lose his train of thought and just catch the next train. This is about as deliberate a placement of this topic as anything we will find in the New Testament.

Paul concludes what we mark as the end of the 12th chapter with these words. 

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Paul begins this next chapter with words you know so well.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

We have been talking about faith for several weeks now and I have suggested we covet the faith of men like the Son of Timaeus.  I have challenged you to keep your faith in times of trouble, knowing that Jesus said we would have trouble in the world, but we are to take courage.  He has overcome the world.

We think of having faith the size of a mustard seed that could move a mountain and now Paul tells us that if we have faith that can move a mountain but do not have love, we are nothing.

This really should not surprise us.  We spent a considerable amount of time on the topic of love. 

Our exploration of love brought us to the golden rule.  We see what Jesus did for us on the cross as not just a sacrifice but the ultimate act of love. 

We understand that the law and the prophets come together in love—love for God and love for each other.

We understand that we can’t love God and the world at the same time.  We can’t love God and money.  We can’t love God and anything else that we elevate to divine status at the same time.  Yes, you can still love your kids.  You can still love your favorite team.  You can still love chicken friend steak and gravy, but none of these at the same level that you love God.

You will love one and hate the other.  We must choose:  God or the world.  Whom will we love?

Love governs so much of our discipleship, but then again, so does faith.  So where does that leave us?

Faith and love must be intertwined.  It seems that in some areas faith or love could be a stand-alone entity, but truly faith and love are two elements in a three-strand rope of discipleship.  The third strand is hope, but that’s for another day.

If I have such faith that I step out every morning not concerned what the world thinks about me, just fulfilling the directives found in the Bible; I might still miss the mark if I don’t live in love.

If I believe all of the promises of God but don’t have love, I am proficient but not productive.

If indeed I have faith that can move a mountain but don’t have love, I am a pitiful creature. 

If I have the faith to fulfill my commission but do it without love, what’s the point?  Well, I passed on the information, right?  I checked the blocks, right?

I want the faith of Bartimaeus who threw off his cloak and went to Jesus knowing that the Son of David would heal him, but I need love to govern my steps. 

James tells us that faith without works is dead.  Paul tells us that faith without love amounts to nothing.  What is it about love that is so essential to faith?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 

We all had that faith only moment when we came to profess Jesus as Lord.  We let go of the world’s grip on us and leaped into the loving arms of God.  For us, it all began with faith, but with God it all began with love.

He first loved us.  We can step out and do what God has called us to do but if we do it without love we are missing the mark. 

Our response to God’s overwhelming love is first faith.  We receive his grace by faith.  Then comes our response to this great love.  We trust, we obey, and we love one another as Christ loved us.

We are his disciples and as such we find both faith and love intertwined into our very being.  We don’t quite comprehend all of it now, but we trust our Lord.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

It takes a lot of faith to love like Christ commanded us. We can’t please God without faith, but it takes a lot of love to make our faith produce the fruit expected from a disciple of our Lord.

And there is no way that I end this message without finishing the chapter.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We will talk about hope in the near future, but for now know that love is the binding agent here.

We grow our faith by putting our Master’s words into practice but for our faith to truly grow, it must be more than simple obedience, it must include love.

Our hearts are being shaped like those of our Master.  Trust, faith, belief, obedience, hope, and love are all in play here, but the one that binds the others together is love.

Whatever it is that we do to please our Master, let’s make sure it always includes love.  You can have your bread gluten free but you can’t have your faith love-free and please our Master.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Faith not resting on Human Wisdom

We continue our exploration of faith, so let’s begin with what should be a very familiar defining verse from the King James Version.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

This morning, I hope that you all understand that we have received God’s grace in the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  Regardless of your story, this is a main element. 

We all have that faith only connection.  For all the studying, for all the fancy preaching you may have heard and all of the terrible jokes you have endured in so many sermons, it was faith and faith alone that brought you to salvation. 

Faith in the Christ and his victory over sin and death stood alone, at least at one point in your life. 

There may have been a verse in a hymn or a sentence in a sermon that prompted you to come forward and profess that faith, but it was faith alone that brought the gift of salvation into your life.  We all received grace by faith.

We grow and mature now, but at the inception of this journey, it was faith alone that put it all in motion.

In Chapter 16 of Matthew’s gospel, after the religious leaders wanted a sign from Jesus and after admonishing them for being so worldly-minded, he told them that all they would get was the sign of Jonah. 

Jesus then warned his disciples about the worldliness of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Their teachings were void of God’s Spirit and intent.  They knew the words but did not know the divine heart of God.

Jesus then asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

The world says, “seeing is believing.”  Faith says, “believing is seeing.”

If we see it and can touch it and it exists in the physical world, it’s probably not faith.  Paul would say that we walk by faith not sight.  We live by faith not what we can see and touch and feel. 

Faith says, there is more to us than what we can actually see and touch and feel in this world.  There is more to our life than what human wisdom can comprehend.  Understand that because we have faith, we can see God’s hand in so many things of this world, but the other way around never gets you all the way there.

What am I saying?  We can’t get to God through human wisdom.  Logic may get us close.  Examination of the creation may get us close.  Math, science, literature, and a well-rounded education may get us close, but there is always an element of faith involved.

Sometimes our own understanding, our own human wisdom, actually gets in the way.  Sometimes it is easier to come to Christ by faith unencumbered by math, science, or any human argument.

Paul told his readers in Corinth that when he first spoke to them, he was not eloquent.  He did not hone his metaphors the night before.  His analogies were few.  He said that you received the Christ, you proclaimed Jesus as Lord, that you believed not because of any human wisdom on his part or theirs, but because God’s own Spirit was at work.

The message that they received was not built upon human wisdom and therefore no barrage of human wisdom can tear it down.  That holds true today.

Our faith is not built upon human wisdom.  Just as God’s own Spirit revealed to Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, so too God’s Spirit has revealed to us that Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is the way.

He is the Son of the one true God.  He did enter this world in the flesh.  He did die for our sins.  He did rise from the dead.  He lives!

God has revealed this to us.  We may have had a lot of help along the way, but we still had to receive his grace by faith.  Our own spirit had to receive this gift of faith that came by God’s own Spirit.

Paul would go on and use many metaphors and analogies and various figures of speech to get his point across to this church and others, but his initial invitation was void of his own human understanding.  He did not want to get in the way of the Holy Spirit. 

Once you have received this gift of grace that comes by faith, then our disposition should be one of a teachable spirit.  We should hunger for God’s word.  We should long for those daily conversations with God’s Spirit.  We should desire wisdom.  Our new nature will desire to rightly divide the word of truth.

As we embrace God’s wisdom, we can discern what is from God and what is of the world, but we all begin with faith.  Paul explains it this way.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The person who has not received God and his Son by faith just can’t understand.  They don’t get it.  They have not yielded their human understanding to the Spirit of God.

They have not taken a leap of faith.  That could seem like a huge leap for many.  It may be a mustard seed’s leap in reality.  Some don’t like the term leap of faith but I think it’s accurate.

We step out in faith all of the time, but our journey began with a leap, perhaps of a very small distance.  What’s the difference?

With a step, only one foot loses contact with the ground and any time.  With a leap, you lose contact with where you are and can only land where you are going.  At some point we all had to do this.

Imagine someone going off the diving board and trying to hold on at the same time.  Consider small children learning to swim for the first time.  They do just that.

They try to get into the water and hold onto the edge of the pool at the same time.  At some point, you have to let go if you want to swim. 

At some point, we all had to let go of the world’s grip on us.  We had to depart from human wisdom and take a leap of faith to truly know God.

Since then, we have studied to gain wisdom and understanding so that we can continue in faith by putting our Master’s words into practice.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,  for,

Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

Our human nature wants God to fit inside of our model or paradigm.  Our human wisdom says that we can make him fit.  Any God who fits into your box is not really the one true God. 

He defies our human wisdom and the world calls us fools because we believe God over human understanding.  We put God’s words into practice in spite of what the world has to say about it.

We trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding and do it on a regular basis because somewhere along the way, we took a leap of faith.  At some point in our lives, we acted solely, exclusively by faith.

Somewhere along the way, we had to act solely upon our faith.

Paul told the church in Corinth that he had divested himself of his own best arguments and persuasion so that the people could believe by faith alone. 

When we examine ourselves and try to figure out what’s next, remember where our journey started.  It all began with faith unencumbered by human wisdom. 

When we do our best to put God’s kingdom and his righteousness first in everything we do, remember, this journey began in faith alone.

When we try to apply the power, love, and sound mind that we have been given, remember that those things only bring us to godly choices.

When we are of sober mind and seeking God’s wisdom, remember that we do not care if the world calls us fools.

When our human wisdom does its best to convince God that our way is better, consider Paul’s words that we heard earlier.

Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

Our faith has taken us from being governed by human wisdom to be directed by the mind of Christ.  Our starting point is faith unencumbered by human wisdom.  Our present location is that we have power, love, and a sound mind. 

Our true wisdom is that we have the mind of Christ.

At some point we let go of human wisdom and received the grace of God. 

Since that time the world has been calling you to come back.  Sometimes, it makes a convincing appeal.  Sometimes, living as a stranger in this world seems too tough.  Sometimes, human wisdom is just so much easier.

So remember, this journey of faith began with faith alone.  God has not ceased the good work that he began in you and your faith must not be cluttered by human wisdom.

We must continue to be people who trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and people who do not lean on our own human wisdom and understanding.

We all began with the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  We began this journey with believing is seeing.  Let us not return to the wisdom of the world.

Let us continue to live by faith alone.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Faith Proved Genuine

I don’t know how much longer that the world I grew up in with still be with us.  I don’t know how long our social norms will generally reflect godly values.  I don’t know.

We have heard that the end is near for decades.  Each generation thinks it couldn’t get any worse, but it seems that it does.  The current generation does not understand because it has no perspective and these days it has no traditions or customs of goodness passed on to them.

This is surely generalization as I know many in this generation who have been brought up in the way they should go, but even the generalization must not be ignored.  These are tough times.

Now, I say this, knowing I will drive home in a nearly new car.  I say times are tough but have a good roof over my head.  I say that things seem to be getting worse but have enough money to meet my needs and bless others.

I might say that the world seems to be closing in on the church, but in the same breath I will tell you that the church is invading this godless world with love and good news.  Some days seem better than others.  Somedays it seems that we celebrate victory after victory and other times it seems like we just hunker down and ride it out—whatever it may be.

Life has struggle.  It has trials.  It comes with troubles.  And we are called to navigate this life with faith. 

We continue our exploration of faith, so let’s begin with what should be a very familiar defining verse from the King James Version.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The world is full of trouble, trouble that directly impacts our lives.  Jesus said that we would have trouble in the world.  But in spite of our troubles, we can have peace.  Jesus said, take courage, I have overcome the world.
We must have faith in the victory that we know in Jesus.  It can be tough.  We are called to have faith in the middle of our troubles. 

I want you to think of a young man named David.  David wrote so many psalms.  Some of them you know by heart.  I like this one in the King James Version.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There is no poetry here except for the experience that brought these words to David. There is no poetry here except that these words transcend millenia and touch our lives today.

I love the whole psalm but I think to this one sentence.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,

Face to face with my enemies, the Lord throws a banquet for me.  Imagine that.  Now imagine enjoying that.  In the presence of people who want to kill you, you enjoy a banquet prepared for you by the Lord. 

Now that would take some audacity.  Actually, it takes faith.

Think to the life of the man we know as David.  He wasn’t even his dad’s first choice when he was told that Israel’s next king would come from his son’s.  This ruddy young man went through some stuff.  That’s a generalization.

·       He defeated Goliath while the rest of Saul’s army was shaking in their sandals.

·       He was hunted down like a wild animal.

·       He had a chance to kill Saul and end being pursued as an enemy of the state, but didn’t.

·       He killed tens of thousands in battle for his nation.

·       He consolidated his authority and power and was great king.

·       He succumbed to the beauty and allure of Bathsheba.

·       He was cut to the quick by the truth from a friend named Nathan.

He was a poet and songwriter and revealed his soul to us.

David went through some stuff and yet whether he was on the run or self-indulgent, the Lord was always his Rock and his Refuge. 

Whether he was making wise choices or foolish ones, he was a man after God’s own heart and a man who lived by faith.

He knew that his victories came from God and his sin he confessed to God.  He lived!  He really lived. 

We are blessed that this man who really lived was a poet and songwriter for we gain an insight into a full life. 
Who would have thought that salty shepherd boy was poet?  We are blessed that he was.

Sometimes we think the Christian life will take us down the primrose path.  Sometime we think it is nothing but suffering and hardship, that every reward lies in the life to come.

I hope that we understand that both victories and hardships are part of refining our faith.  Sometimes that feels like a roller coaster ride.  That is our journey.  Some call it a walk.  Some, like Paul, considered it a race. 

What it is for all is a time to refine our faith—to know it to be genuine.  It is a time to embrace both victories and troubles knowing that God is sovereign. 

It is a time to believe that sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.

It is a time to know that abundant life is more about being connected to other believers than the stuff we can drag around with us in this world.

James said, when we face troubles in this world, consider them as discipline (not punishment) from the Lord.  What does that mean?  Grow in times of trouble.  Learn something.  Keep the faith and grow.

Paul reminds us that nothing we suffer here will amount to a hill of beans compared to what is in store for us.

Peter in his own style affirms the words of these other two New Testament authors.  For this all three seem to be on exactly the same page.

Everything in life is just grist for the mill for the believer.  God is already working the circumstances of our lives for the good.  What’s our part?  Faith.

How do we know that we are being faithful, especially in our trials?

Let’s think about this.

Am I still sharing the good news?
Am I bringing God’s love into the world?
Am I bringing God’s light into this world?
Am I faithful in my tithe and other giving?

Can people taste the goodness of the Lord in me on my worst day?

Do I trust God with all of my heart, especially when my human understanding does not want to?

Do I obey God by doing what the word and his Spirit lead me to do?  Let’s put that one this way?  Am I putting his words into practice?

Do I seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness above anything my selfish heart desires?

Do I rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances?

Is his word the main part of my daily diet?  Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Do we listen to God’s Spirit even when the world makes a great sales pitch?

That’s a long list and it’s not all inclusive, but here’s one that might be a viable litmus test for you.  Can I be still?  Can I be still in this middle of this troubled world that’s gone bonkers in so many ways?  Can I be still and just trust that God is God. 

Can I be still and cling to God as my Rock?
Can I be still and know that I am redeemed?
Can I be still knowing God to be in control in the middle of my tribulation?

If we are doing these things, then our faith is being proved genuine even though the world around us does not seem to give way.  Perhaps the reading and praying and tithing is easier for us.  Sometimes the being still—being fully in the God’s grace—is the harder part.

If we hold fast to the words of our Master that say he has overcome the world, our faith is proved genuine.

If in spite of what the world demands of us, we put our Master’s words into practice in our lives, our faith is proved genuine.

Luke 18 begins with the story of the persistent widow.  I won’t include that in this morning’s message except to say that this short pericope ends with a question.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith upon the earth?  We read about the faith he encountered when he lived and died and rose again as God with us.  That leaves us to ask ourselves, what account will we give?

Because in good times and bad, we hold tight to our faith, the answer for us is the Son of Man will find faith with us.  Because our faith is genuine, we are going to make it easy for him to spot us amidst this godless world.

My prayer for us this morning is that our faith be proved genuine, that it leads us to discipleship, and that our discipleship is pleasing to God.

The Lord will find genuine faith among us when he comes.  He will see it so readily in our responsive love to his grace.