1 Thessalonians 5: 12-24
JOHN 14: 15-27

‘Building My Faith; A Workout for Life’ Part 6

November 10, 2019

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“Give me your tired, your poor … your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …”

 Yes, I know that those words sound like Scripture and these days I am wondering how many people if they were put to the test would answer yes if asked if those words are from the Bible.

Of course, any of you who have ever paid attention to your studies in American History or social studies or who have travelled to Ellis Island before taking the ferry to see the Lady in the Harbor know that these words symbolize an outward message of hope that for many generations this great nation of ours represented to those who were hurting around the world. I am sure all of you know that Emma Lazarus penned those words that are a fixture to our Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor.

However, this morning isn’t a civics class nor a refresher in what you learned in high school … this is our continuing journey in creating a WORKOUT for LIFE … the means to building up and strengthening our faith in God and in Jesus Christ.

We have now shared two Holy Communion meals since this series started. We have talked about getting ready through 3 simple stretching exercises that in themselves will open up a whole new world of God connectiveness for you if you are just willing to invest in your faith walk. But today I want you to consider that God understands the tired, the weary, and the worn … people of faith in a journey towards the eternal kingdom of heaven. People who have embraced Jesus Christ as more than a name. Church going folks who know its not about an hour social gathering but about living a life that puts the God who created the universe first rather than the time consuming gods that humanity offers us daily with bright colors, glitter, and false entrapment.

The challenge of building up our faith friends is making the active decision that we like Paul when considering what the world has to offer together can loudly and clearly state … “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things … consider them rubbish so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” Church, this morning do you want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection? Church, when I declare HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> is your response coming from your heart knowing you are on a faith-focused journey of love, forgiveness, mission, and caring for others … the lessons of Christ admitting that “we are not yet perfect but together as a church we are pressing forward to take hold of everything that Jesus Christ has given back to us?”

If we are to understand that God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit is ready to tend to our tired souls … we need to understand that God is looking to us as believers, as God’s people, as people to whom God has gifted personal and unique abilities regardless of our age, our economic strata, or our health to step up in faith and take on the challenges put right in front of us not necessarily in the global mission fields of Africa or Central America but right here … right now … here in Gloucester County, New Jersey.

I know you know of mission needs … I know you know of places and people who need Jesus … I know you have heard of the poor and struggling who need some love and perhaps will gain some Jesus if people of faith step up to be difference makers caring for those lives young and old who are hurting. Lazy faith … faith in name only … Christians who worship the world’s gods and seek to satisfy the world’s call … are not truly ‘straining towards what is ahead and pressing on to win the prize for which God calls everyone homeward in heaven.’ But, church that’s our call .. that’s our mission and God is ready to give us rest when we embrace God. After all, God’s earliest lesson to humanity is to purposively rest and worship God 14.285714% of our waking days. You can read about that right here <SHOW BIBLE>. In fact, the Bible shares this about God, “God saw all that God had made and it was very good. By the seventh day God had finished the work God had been doing; so on the seventh day God rested. God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy because God rested.”

But, have you finished the work God is calling you to? Have you seen that the work is good? It makes it hard to put your feet up when there is work to be done in faith.

And, that means it is time for us to consider who we are and are we the ones tired and worn because we have taken on God’s work or the world’s? God offers hope. God offers strength. When athletes are running a race or involved in a sporting event they often refer to having something deep inside them that helps them get past tired … succeed when victory seems impossible and that is what people of faith are provided with by God. Are you willing to ask God for the added strength or is your personal rest more appealing? Paul as he closes out his first letter to the people of Thessalonica in northern Greece adds this prayer, “May the God of peace Himself cause you to be completely dedicated to Him and may your spirit, soul and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming … the One who is calling you is faithful and will do this.”

Those folks in Thessalonica needed just what we need … they were called by God through Jesus Christ. Their rest .. the peace … the comfort … their being kept intact is directly related to being completely dedicated to God. Friends, if you are seeking this extraordinary rest … if you desire to have peace deep within your very soul … if you need comfort and pray that you are comforted in the worst of times by the Holy then you and I must be completely dedicated to God and Christ. We cannot get past tired and human distractions when we dismiss God and Jesus as secondary considerations … when our excuses are easier said than taking on actions for God how are we God’s people?

When I taught about our personal trainer in faith a few weeks ago, I reminded all of us that God’s Holy Spirit … the rushing wind of faith … is a gift of God exclusively for people of faith who open themselves up to receive this gift. Jesus taught in today’s Gospel lesson, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments … I will ask the Father and God will send another Companion who will be with you forever. The Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. PEACE I LEAVE with you. MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”

God’s gift … Jesus gift … the means friends for those of us who do our best to walk a faith life … to take on God’s challenges … the means to regain our direction, our energy, and to dispel the world’s whispers that you have done enough … you are tired … let someone else do it because you can’t be expected to do everything … that tiredness and weariness that the world imposes can be lifted off of our shoulders when we allow the Holy Spirit to lift us up! Peace is the ultimate answer to being worn down … sometimes we are troubled … sometimes we are afraid but with Jesus Christ … with God … Jesus said that He was leaving but His gift … God’s gift … the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Truth will not only be the messenger from God whispering what we need to know but that same Spirit will provide you with the peace you need … the peace I need … when we are tired and weary and think we can do nothing more for God because the truth is …

We are called to be the people of God not the bench warmers; not the naysayers; not the ones waving the white flag saying we have already given our time … when we are tired .. when we are weary … that is when we need to stretch out once again … to pray without distraction … to read God’s Word with intention … and to rediscover the Holy’s awesome reality. If we are living in this short term life on earth with the goal of heavenly eternity then we need to build up our faith not break it down .. we need to be in an ongoing workout for God not finding a cushy chair and turning our backs on God. We may be tired but we are still in the race and God needs every team player.

Paul wrote it to the Thessalonians … in our Holy Book … God’s Word … “Live in peace with each other … Comfort the discouraged … Help the Weak … Be patient with everyone … Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong … always ALWAYS Paul wrote … ALWAYS PURSUE the good for each other and everyone else … AVOID every kind of evil … EXAMINE EVERYTHING CAREFULLY and HANG onto what is good … REJOICE ALWAYS; PRAY CONTINUALLY; GIVE THANKS IN EVERY SITUATION because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We are to be busy people … folks when we live lives for God and Christ we are the ones who can not the ones who easily say no.

Jesus … you do remember Jesus, right … Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

In my Kitchen Table Bible whose print is a bit bigger there are 304 pages in the Gospels so if you don’t know what Jesus commandments are and want to discover them before Christmas arrives it means reading 10 pages of Gospel each day.

Friends of faith … fellow believers who have discovered as I have that God’s love came to us through Jesus Christ … God is calling you and me not do reduce our load but to take up our own cross, put it over our shoulders with all the weight that comes with walking a faith life and then we are called to be difference makers. When you are tired … when I am tired … let God’s Holy Spirit lift you up and give you peace.

Just remember as Paul wrote … “Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages …” because God may need you today not in six months and God may be calling you to take on a small challenge right here in West Deptford … perhaps in Camden or Philly … or who knows that Spirit may be calling you to go across oceans for God. Just remember that it was Jesus who said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me and you will find rest for your souls.” And, you wondered where Emma Lazarus received the inspiration for the words on the Statue of Liberty … those words reflect the words of Jesus Christ who is ready to take on all and love all and rescue all!



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