Monday, January 4, 2010

Believing Ahead

"Believing Ahead"

Genesis 12:1-2; Matthew 14:29-31; Hebrews 11:1

Pastor Tom Millner

SpiritSong Worship Center


I read a story recently about a missionary to China at the turn of the 20th century. He was traveling to China in a sailing vessel. As the ship was approaching the channel between the southern Malay Peninsula and the Island of Sumatra, the missionary heard pounding on his cabin door. As he opened his door there stood the gruff and weather worn captain spouting his request to the missionary. "I hear you are a man of faith. We have no wind and are drifting toward an Island that I understand is inhabited with cannibals." "But what can I do," said the missionary. "Pray for wind," said the captain! "Alright then," said the missionary "but first you must set your sails." "That's ridiculous," shouted the captain, "there's no wind." "If we pray for wind, we must be prepared for its arrival," said the missionary. The captain complied and set his sails. A few minutes later, as the missionary was on his knees, he heard the knock again on his door. "You can stop praying now; we have all the wind we need."


We've all, at one time or another, made resolutions for the New Year. The SpiritSounds News Letter has an account of a successful one from 2009. Many of our resolutions, however, are simply wishful thinking, lacking preparation or substance, dreaming that the fairy of future fame is somehow going to tap us with the wand of deliverance! Unfortunately, this kind of "wishful thinking" often turns to horse manure at the least and idolatry at the most. What makes for successful "resolutions?"


  1. Listen for God's direction. How many resolutions have you made that have been of your own creation, your own imagination? More often than not, we dream of changes that we think will enhance our lives, make us more appealing, better looking, self-willed, self-made, self-directed! When we read this morning the story of Abraham, did you note that Abraham resolved to leave his father's household and go to a strange land to become himself a great nation? Do you recall how Peter, when seeing Christ walking on the water, asserted "I can do that," and jumped out of the boat and onto the water? Didn't happen that way, did it? In both cases, God spoke and the servants listened. When we put our own desires (no matter how noble we think them to be) above the will of God, we have steeped ourselves in the land of idolatry – a territory so familiar to all of us – and a land far away from the God of our salvation. This is what we know to do – "if it is to be, it is up to me!" "I am my own special creation." Wow – it takes a special person to be the god of his own creation! Every time we declare, resolve, determine, to make it on our own, we've taken the God of our creation out of the equation! In Genesis, God called Abraham out to do as God directed. In Matthew, Jesus called Peter out of the boat – granted it was after Peter's request to have his own doubts calmed – nevertheless, it was Christ who did the calling. Doing things our way may be the American way, but it's the doorway opposite to His way. Paul in Romans 12, after having asserted the gracefulness of God's forgiveness and inclusion of all people in His mercy states: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will."


  1. Let go of the old. Anyone here had any problems, heartaches, disappointments or conflicts during 2009? Good to see that I'm in the perfect church, filled with imperfect people. We've all been touched by one or more of these during the past year. Today is the foundation of tomorrow. The future will smell like mold if we hang on to the things that are old! None of us can drive forward looking in the rearview mirror – that's a sure collision waiting to happen. What makes us think that life is any different? My unresolved problems, heartaches, disappointments and conflicts cloud my vision of today and unduly steer me in the wrong direction for tomorrow. Last year, we talked about the "iceberg" that we carry around with us – this was during our Soul Encounter series. If you missed these, you missed an opportunity to allow Christ to work in your life through the process of intentional love – catch them on our website! That iceberg bumps into everything in our path. Some of us have long standing bergs and some of us created new ones in 2009 (and some of us added new ice to already existing ones). God calls us to let go – when unresolved, we tend to resent – resentments lead to un-forgiveness. God calls us to forgive to the degree we have been forgiven – that translates to COMPLETELY! Un-forgiveness blocks in us the very forgiveness for which Christ died. In His forgiveness we have already received more than we could ever have achieved had things gone "our way." In fact, I submit that we often find ourselves in the midst of our proverbial pickle because things HAVE gone our way! The way of weak faith, poor vision, unforgiving decisions, and historical revisions. It's time to forgive and truly live! What's in your rear view mirror?


  1. Faith your way through each day! You've heard the old statement; "fake it till you make it"? The more accurate sentiment is; "faith it till you make it." Abraham didn't fake it away from his father's household, he "faithed" his way to the new land (which became Israel). Faith requires action. Faith without action is wishful thinking. Abraham acted on God's call to him. He let go of the old and moved forward with the faith that God was faithful when He calls. Abraham had times of wavering faith, and even doubts – but he persevered and "faithed" his way through each day. When Peter was called out of the boat, his faith was demonstrated by his act of stepping onto the water. As he kept his eyes on the Lord, he did the impossible – when he allowed the distractions around him to diminish his focus on the Lord, he sank…but, looking up to the Lord again, he cried for help and Christ was faithful to deliver! But you don't understand, Pastor Tom – my plight is REAL… I have no money, I have this that or the other ailment that needs correcting, etc., etc. Real problems take REAL faith! Surrender takes faith! Fear takes faith…that the "worst" will happen. We know that nearly 90% of what we fear never happens. The time and effort do we waste worrying about what might happen is like rocking in a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but you don't get any where! In James we read that "faith without works is dead." In other words, until we put what we call our faith in God into some tangible, observable, and even measurable action, we've done nothing of substance! We can't always see where the faithing will lead, but He knows where we're being led. …. A fire one evening drove a young boy from his bedroom to the roof of his family home. The father had escaped and was stand on the ground looking up at his frightened and bewildered son. "Jump," said the father to his son. The boy ran from one section of the roof to the other as he sought to get a better glimpse of h is father – the smoke and flames growing larger by the moment. "Jump," repeated the father. "But I can't see you," responded the boy. "That's OK," said the father, "I can see you." The boy leapt in the direction of the father's voice and was rescued from harm's way. We can't see Him, but He sees us and is there to rescue us from the danger of our own doubts.


So we are called to listen to His direction, discard the old, and to faith our way through each day. How do we do that? By becoming, as one preacher put it, F.A.T. in Him.


Faithful - to read His Word, to worship Him in all we are, in all we have, to listen to his voice as we pause in prayer and test what we hear against His Word. He never contradicts Himself.


Available - to do His bidding – the work of His church – to His glory alone, and not your own. Jesus didn't feel like being crucified – but He made himself available at the call! The result changed the universe forever! Roman's 12 reminds us to be living sacrifices – available to know and do God's will.


Teachable - to be open to instruction. Ignorance is curable – it doesn't have to be terminal…but we have to want to be cured. None of us knows it all- we all need instruction. God has placed leaders in this body who have knowledge to teach others, and each of those leaders seeks to learn from each other and from His Word. When we've placed ourselves above our leadership in our own self-determination, we're no longer faithful, available, or teachable. 2 Timothy 2:15 states: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." The KJV translates this as "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."


As one who resolves to live each day anew, listening for His direction, discarding what is past, and believing ahead (faithing the future), will you do it by being F.A.T.? Faithful, Available, Teachable!











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