EA Series Faith 4

Welcome back to the End Average Fundamentals series! If you are new to this, please begin reading the series from the beginning by clicking HERE. Although the messages work on their own, there will be more context for you if you follow them in sequence. Make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter and I’ll send these directly to you so you never miss a new post. You can sign up right on the EndAverage.com homepage. Now let’s get right to it!

Active Faith

What I’m about to write might upset you. I want to say upfront that I don’t say this from a judgmental stand, but rather from a mentor’s view, giving a wakeup call. The following is a concept that I heard several years ago in a Bible study on Revelation and it was a real gut-check that has stuck with me ever since. I want to share this perspective with you, and hopefully it will change you in the same way that it changed me. This perspective change is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to your faith. I want to pull the rug out from under anyone who goes to church on Sunday mornings and claims faith, but in between sermons does nothing to strive to become more like Jesus. This is not salvation through actions, it is actions that reflect real faith. Let’s get right to it.

Gut-check: faith isn’t alive in you if it’s not causing action and change.

Most of us can rattle off the fun and nice recurring themes we’re all familiar with from Sunday school. Things like love, no-matter-what forgiveness of your sins, acceptance, and joy. All of these themes are true and essential to our faith, but there’s also a flip side to the scriptures that our culture routinely ignores because it doesn’t fill church seats as much as the cuddly stuff. These themes are those that require change, stepping out by faith, taking action to actually improve yourself and your community.

How do we know what right looks like?

We can see this reflected in many places in the Bible. In the book of Revelation you will come across the idea of the Christians being complacent and feeling self-sufficient because of their wealth on earth. The exact words used against them are “because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16). Ouch! Jesus goes on to say that He is at their door knocking, meaning that He’s ready to come in if they accept that they need Him in their lives. Take the action of pushing your ego to the side so that you can see that you are nothing apart from God. We are a fleeting vapor on the timeline of history if we are not part of the mission God put us here to do.

The book of James was written by Jesus’ half brother who turned into a believer late in his life. He saw changes happen in his own life before writing about the practical change that we will see when our faith is active. He writes about growing through trials, enduring temptation, using words wisely, being peaceful, trusting God, how to pray, and he also digs into the dangers of being wealthy. All of these real-world lessons are absolutely applicable to our modern day lives. These lessons also have one consistent underlying concept: you are here to glorify God on Earth, to do so you must know His will and follow it. It’s not always going to be unicorns and rainbows in your time on Earth, but if you allow the Holy spirit to work in your life you will find the joy that God promises, and your treasures, the ones that really matter, will be stored up in Heaven.

In Galatians 5:22 we read that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control“. If you’re seeing these things in action in your life then you’re on the right path! Get to work on increasing the good fruit so that there isn’t any room left for road rage, resentment toward a neighbor, judgmental attitudes, debt, or gossiping.

So now what?

Salvation comes from a heart change. It is accepting that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross in your place to forgive your sins, then rose from the grave after three days. Truly believing these things will trigger the urge to become more like Christ every day, not because we have to, but because we want to. It’s not just saying some magic words or following certain rules. Truly believing in something triggers action. The Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart will require you to make change, and although it isn’t pleasant or easy, you will experience joy as that process unfolds. Change will show up in very practical ways in all areas of your life: the way you interact with others, the way you set priorities and manage your time, the way you see and handle money. I point out those specific ones because those are the exact areas I saw that I had to make a lot of change, and I still have a long way to go.

I want to encourage you here.

If it feels like there is too much work to be done and it feels impossible to fix some of those areas, remember that there is no “success finish line”. The only metric you can hold yourself accountable to, the only person you should be comparing yourself to, is the YOU of yesterday. For example, if your marriage is in shambles and you’ve made big mistakes – don’t look at the thriving marriage of your neighbor and get deflated because that feels like an impossible end-state. Instead, take joy that today you get to make progress with your spouse and work toward rebuilding a relationship. Take joy in the times that your small decisions get you one step closer to becoming the husband that she deserves, the father your kids need, and the man God intends you to be. Break down the huge goals and prayerfully set bite-sized tasks on paper with an accountability partner or a mentor. Create growth habits that will get you one step closer to becoming the person that glorifies God in everything they do.

Start now.

We’ve spent the last four sessions talking about faith… why it’s the reason, not just one compartment, in our lives. We’ve also covered the importance of Bible reading, and we talked about prayer. Today I gave you a call to action – allow God’s work in you to spread to every little corner of your life. Going to church and learning more by listening to sermons or reading Christian books is absolutely good and necessary. But if you’re not implementing the lessons you’re learning, or you consistently live with habitual sin and can’t point out real growth in your life, then you do not have active faith. Allow God in to start breaking down the sin habits and start building intentional growth into your daily routine.

 

Let’s get practical with our faith

Coming up in the End Average Fundamentals series we’re going to explore the practical lessons from the Bible that address the rest of the main categories of our lives: relationships, health, and finances. There’s nothing magical about these categories, they are just a guide to help show the major areas of our lives. I’ve seen many people become very successful in one or two of them at the expense of the others. Think of someone who is highly successful at work and becomes financially wealthy – odds of them having fantastic relationships and peak health are minimal. I want to show that with consistent faith-based growth in all four areas of life you can become increasingly balanced, content, and joyful.  Stop comparing yourself to the social media version of other people and focus on glorifying God through your own daily actions and victories over sinful human nature. Let’s change the world by starting with our own lives. This journey requires faith and consistency over time. You can do it.

Let’s end average together.

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