The Hard, Sweaty, Work of the Believer ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Hard, Sweaty, Work of the Believer

I've been prepping to preach at my dad's church tomorrow morning, and thought I'd post some of my introductory thoughts. Maybe it will help the message become more crystallized and focused. Or maybe it will make me feel better for not having written many Posts of Substance recently. Regardless...

Every once in awhile, someone poses a question something like this:

"What is the one area in your life you need to shore up in order to grow in your walk with Jesus?"
"What's the one thing you need to do in order to grow as a believer?"
"What's holding you back from really flourishing in your faith?"

And being a person who is good with lists, I am ready to play along.

My short list
Pray more
Have more focused times in the word
Great times with Jesus
Have empathy for my wife rather than trying to fix her
Don’t cuss when I get angry

What is more, once I make some progress on these, I’ll develop a new list that will move on to more advanced things like increased holiness and a more consistent witness… How am I doing, Jesus? Not bad, eh? And I’m just getting started.

About this time, Jesus says “Read John 6:28-29.”
OK, sure. That was on my list of things to do anyway…
Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." - John 6:28-29

You mean that faith is all I need? Awesome! That dramatically simplifies my life. Get faith. I will start doing that on Monday.

“You’re missing something. Faith is the gift of God and doesn’t come by exertion, lest anyone should get a big head. You struggle with spiritual realities, not flesh and blood. Therefore, you will beat sin, death, and the devil by learning to trust your Father and resting fully on everything he has done for you and given you. You will not beat sin, death and the devil by drinking a lot of coffee and working really hard not to get distracted while you read the Bible.”

Reluctantly, I admit that Jesus is right. Again. I tear up my list and start wondering, OK, so how do I go about this so-called "work" of believing?

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John B. said...

OK, so how do I go about this so-called "work" of believing?

I'll take a stab at this:

By working--that is, by living--as though you believe, even when there are times you might doubt what you believe. These are works that arise out of faith, not works substituting for faith.

Good luck tomorrow.

must_decrease said...

"Grace is opposed to earning, not effort" Dallas Willard

MySelf said...

Dear Ariel
For years when I saw you comming to the stage to prech I just say to my self. Oh, here is he again, but today's sermon was one of the best I have seen to the glory of God. "Hearing the Gospel with faith is our work as believers"
And what a test for that. Some Sundays after Church things seem to go smoothly, but this one just happend to challenge me. Am I willing to operate with forgiveness after my lovely husband tells me to eat slowly while we both are having lunch just after this commit-your-self sermon?
Well, her I go, I know Christ loves me, so an opportunity to enjoy His love; as you mention, is here. I must operate with forgivness and enjoy the "Jesus is for me and not against me". I then put everything away from the First level the ultimately level that only belongs to Him. The Gospel does not change. God does not change.
Therefore, this idol functional savior called husband could not take away my Joy from God. Because He already went to the Cross and die for my anger; that anger due to the need of recognition. As you say: our God is the ultimately giver of pleasure, so when giving the circumstanses to Him and seeing people thru His eyes; and by giving everything the place that should have; we will enjoy Jesus is our faithfull friend,and that His love is all we can enjoy in any personal relationship. "Promises are scatter in the Bible; our reality points to God". "God uses all things for his purposes"....Even a hard lunch time, or an Oh, here he is again, I will say from now on Oh when will he preach again!! Sure you are a Millionarie; you have millions to preach.
God bless you, Lindsay and little Aidan.

Oneway the Herald said...

Apparently, you didn't want to go after the low-hanging fruit from your dad's pulpit. I like your courage. Grace is a trip.

Ariel said...

John & Must_decrease, thanks for the thoughts. I wove both of your ideas into my message, and quoted Willard verbatim because he nailed the truth so succinctly.

Myself, thank you very much for your note. Encouraging. I appreciate you taking the time to write that, and I pray that God will engineer lasting results.

Oneway, thanks, man.

All in all, this is just a very grateful comment.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife