Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Sermonette on Faith

Today was UMW Sunday at church.  That's United Methodist Women. Lots of the women of the church were asked to participate in some way.  I was asked to speak on faith.  The theme for UMW this year is Faith, Love and Hope in Action, so I was the first of three speakers.

As anyone who knows me can attest, a 3-5 minute speech is hard for me to do.  It's not the speaking that's hard, it's limiting myself to just 5 minutes.  So I wrote out everything I said and practiced.  I was 5 minutes on the nose!

I would love to post a picture or a video or something from this morning, but I don't have anything.  Sorry.  So instead, I'll post my sermonette.  Read it below if you like.

Faith. It’s a simple word, but incredibly complex. When I looked up the word in the dictionary, there were 8 primary definitions plus a whole slew of descriptions and definitions on the web. Yet when I look at the definitions and discussions about faith as a whole, I see a prevailing theme. This theme is that faith is an inner attitude driven by our decision to believe in something. This inner attitude becomes the foundation for everything we do and everything we are.

Let me say this again, our attitude, yes, the very expression of our life is a personal definition of faith. For what we believe and who we are is the mirror of our faith to the world.

Hebrews 11 :1 says

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

But it is more than that! Hebrews 11 gives a list of a few people and their actions and how they were used by God because of what they believed. For example:

Abel offered a better sacrifice.
Noah listened to God and prepared an ark.
Abraham set out on a journey not knowing where he would end up.
and Sarah at 90 years of old was promised a child.

These are just a few of the examples given. I urge you to take the time to read Hebrews 11 and be reminded of the miraculous work of God in the lives of people who choose to live by faith. People who heard God and responded with an attitude of faith. People like Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Rahab. These people were not perfect, not even close, but they allowed the attitude of faith to become the foundation for action in their lives.

What I find so amazing in this reminder of the faithful followers is that they acted in obedience because of their faith in God. They wholeheartedly, completely believed that when God asked them to do something they should do it. The benefit of doing what God asked was not necessarily a tangible reward, but knowing that the presence of God in their lives and the hope of eternity was a far greater gift.

Look at Moses as written in Hebrews 11: 24-27.

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

So Moses, a recognized son of the pharaoh’s daughter had the opportunity to live a rather easy and pleasurable life, but because he identified with those that believed in God, he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses’ actions were those of a man who fully and wholeheartedly believed in something greater.

While some of faithful mentioned in Hebrews saw the benefit of doing what God asked them to do, many did not see a reward. Verse 39 states “and all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better…”

Something better. How many times have we chosen to forgo the something better that God has for us because we wanted the immediate and easy answer. It’s hard to fathom that we would be called to act and to serve, to live a life a faith and to not seek an immediate reward. But that is what we are called to do. If we have “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen, we have a foundation that is strong enough for us to take the next step and start the next journey.

The book, Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan, challenges our mindset of doing just enough to please God. In fact, he says “True faith means holding nothing back, it bets everything on the hope of eternity.” This true faith is the foundation that allows us to do crazy things that God has called us to do. It’s the faith that Moses had as he walked on dry land across the red sea. It is the faith that asks us to serve others in ways we could have never imagined, it is the faith that calls us to speak kindness and mercy, it is the faith that calls us to live frugally so that we might give more, it is the faith that calls us to action.

So that is our challenge, that we would have an attitude of faith because we believe in God. And finally, from the Message version of Philemon 1:5 “I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.”



  1. Awesome words and insight. Hey, maybe you can write my portion of our women's conference speech?

  2. I LOVE IT! I prayed Hebrews 11:1 for my sister in law this summer when she was on the verge of death. God inspired and God written thanking you for sharing such a powerful word.

    I could listen to your playlist all day!!! :)