I believe that I've probably written more material than the Apostle Paul at this point...unfortunately there is no room left in the God's Word for the "Epistles of Spencer" portion, as God did not appoint me to write Scripture, so I'll just include them here for your personal reflection!
My church family knows that for the past several Wednesday Nights we have been journeying through a series entitled "Great Words of the Gospel". We're talking about all of those words we often throw around, but few Christians know what they actually mean. Words like regeneration, justification, salvation, glorification, indwelling, sanctification, faith, assurance, repentance, and conviction.
But as I reflected on the study of "Faith" a few weeks ago, it's quite evident that many are aware of faith, but many also refuse to live by faith. I can be aware of faith, I can believe in faith, but belief alone is useless. Faith requires action. We often like to present our opinion on what color the carpet should be while updating it, but rarely will we seek the Lord about individuals walking down that carpet to come into a relationship with Him. Or maybe we like to gloat about our perfect Sunday School attendance, yet rarely do we pick up the Bible on our nightstand during the week and read the pages in between that leather bound study Bible in which our name is stamped. It possibly might be that you're in the position of ignoring God when things don't quite lean in your favor...questioning why God doesn't hear you when you pray when it all blows up before your eyes.
Faith. Do you know what it requires? It requires you and I to leave the comfortable position in which we find ourselves in, and place ourselves on the edge. When I get comfortable in my recliner, it is quite difficult to get up and change the channel when my remote still sits on the coffee table....but that channel isn't going to change by itself. We like to say that God is omnipotent, and therefore He has the power to change someone's situation. We'll be sitting in the back with our feet kicked up on the table if He needs us, while we silently hope that He doesn't ask us to do anything. I've found that God often uses people. Everyone's problem soon becomes no one's problem. Prayer meetings are a prime example. Everyone is asked to pray for those on the list, yet rarely do we pray over it until we are reminded next week of more prayer requests.
So what is faith? The first three verses of Hebrews 11 provides us with a powerful presentation of some proclaimed principles. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."
Verse 2 cuts deep. "Gaining approval" is something that all humans desire to achieve. We all want to be popular, whether it be in the eyes of society or in the eyes of God. We all want to be a somebody! Friend, we're a nobody without the sustaining power that comes from God. That the power of the cross provided prolific grace for pitiful sinners which extends throughout eternity. I've always pictured a lost sinner as a malnourished animal that ought to be humanely shot; deprived of the nutrients they so desperately need. But not only is it a commonality among the lost individual, but it is becoming a commonality among the members of churches. So inept in their spiritual understanding and biblically illiterate in their practice it makes me wonder if they've been living under a rock for several years. My mouth drops when I hear lifelong "believers" botch Scripture as if they're trying to recite the pledge of allegiance in Swahili. You would think that the Bible isn't a foreign language in the Bible belt, but oh my soul are we in for a shock.
I praise God today for those pastors, youth pastors, evangelists, and missionaries who, week after week, boldly proclaim the Word of God to their respective groups. Some get discouraged because of deaf ears, wicked hearts, and bickering biddies. It's the minister's calling to step out in faith and proclaim the Word of God. It is the Christian's responsibility to act on the word of God.
James 1:22 - "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
Faith requires us to step out. It requires action. Read through Hebrews 11....you'll see that complacency in the life of a Christian is never successful. Some of the greatest religious movements in history stemmed from generations of prayer and sowing seeds. I believe that if there is one thing that the Lord cannot tolerate in the church, it is the hopeless future of complacent believers. Friend, faith is more than a sinner's prayer, a firm handshake with "brother pastor" after the service, and a little socializing among folks you see only once a week. Faith is action. It is doing more than nothing. Living life on the edge and allowing the Lord to take us out of our comfort zone so that He might use us for His glory. Friend, I'm pretty useless.....but with God's grace I'm useful. We all can be useful with God, without Him we can't. Go to church tonight, wherever you attend, and allow God to use you in ways you never thought possible. Don't get comfortable, get busy!