Prepare your faith

During the writing and the speaking of the last sermon I gave on the Trinity. One thing captured my attention and created a strong passion and desire in me, to make sure you too also stop and think on it too.

It was where I mentioned, you each have a choice. A real and truly life altering choice. The choice to either accept a relationship with God or to resist a relationship with God. I then went on and linked this personal relationship, we each individually have, with God, to how successful we are as a church. And that this success is not calculated by how many people turn up on Sunday morning, or how much money we collect or can save. But how we as a church in our collective faith, Go for Christ, how we glorify Christ and reflect his love in the world outside these walls. I wonder how our church is thought of outside these walls?

Now, I appreciate by your attendance at Church here today, you have all chosen to have a relationship with God and as such, that is why you are here.

You all have chosen to be followers of Christ, that’s why you’re here today.

But what do you choose when you leave these doors?  In the safety of your home? In the safety of anonymity, the world outside provides?

Now please this is not directed at anyone, and if anything, I use myself for the examples I provide,

Do you choose to swear when frustrated because things aren’t going your way or do you choose to be patient – stop and pause, exercise self control?

Do you choose to blame others and get angry, stewing on things or do you seek thankfulness and goodness to accept it and ask for help to move forward and let it go?

When You’ve been hurt. Do you seek Revenge or do you seek prayer and council?
When your self-pride is challenged and you disagree, Do you seek to Judgement and ignore or do you seek Understanding and patience?

These are all choices we have, every day, maybe even right now in choosing to listen or not.

Either way, they are choices we find ourselves in, which when revisited and reflected upon, enables humbleness and growth in our personal faith and trust in God.

You see, although we are Christians, we are still sinners, and the way to sin, is so easily pathed for us, if we chose to take it. Again a choice. And in my experience with humans, we generally take the easiest path, the path with least resistance.

This is where the phrase, it’s not meant to be easy being a Christian comes into effect. And in turn, our personal relationship with Christ is not easy. Why? Because it too, takes work. It requires us to listen and take in his words, to pray, reflect, read the bible.. and to say no to sin all while accepting whatever the current suffering and trouble we may have in our life.

Last week, Abbie felt like fairy bread, so she made a plate full, it was about 4 slices of bread. She prepared it all by herself with her plan to share it with, Scarlet, Klaire and Oliver. Including her, it would be one piece each. However, when it was her time to sit down, there was only one piece left. Scarlet, Klaire and Oliver had each had their slice, and Oliver asked Abbie, can I have your slice, without hesitation Abbie replied, yeah sure. So Abbie got up to make more. But…Klaire had already got up, with the taste for more and used the last two pieces of bread, to make her and scarlet one. Poor Abbie wasn’t thought of and missed out altogether. When she realised what had occurred, She didn’t start world war 3, she turned to her Nanny who was watching the whole episode unfold, she expressed her sadness and with her Nanny’s help, they found one more piece of bread, I think it was the crust piece, hidden in the bottom of the scrunched up bread bag. regardless Abbie was provided with her own fairy bread slice and also showered in praise by her Nanny for the goodness, kindness and love she showed from her heart that was displayed, by her.

Now this story I mention, as all 4 of them, love each other. They are family. They would each tell you that they love the other. Yet, in this moment who showed through actions true love?

And what was the choice of Abbie in response to missing out. She sought a personal connection founded on love. She chose to seek counsel from one she knew loved her, personally. She didn’t choose anger or hate. She choose peace and comfort.

Like us, we are all Christians, but who of us displays Gods love, through our choices and our displayed actions.

We have the choice to either feed our faith and trust in God through his Word and obedience, or instead, we can resist it, turn away and feed our flesh by neglecting those things, and instead feeding on our desire for worldly pleasures for our comfort and happiness.

You see just because we call ourselves a Christian. It does not mean, that, that’s that. the job has been done, I’m in, I’m special, I’m okay, and that we can now just all relax and wait out our days, checking in every Sunday until Christ returns.

Being a Christian requires our ongoing focus and personal growth in our wisdom of God to help us, in not just bearing the fruits of the holy spirit but being prepared to do Gods will in the here and now, anywhere anytime, though gracious love. But it also to be prepared for Christ return.

This is where our first reading comes into play, A parable Spoken by Jesus, in the last weeks of his ministry. And of particular note, it is a parable spoken and addressed to persons already with a faith and part of Gods Kingdom on earth. More directly. Us!

The Ten Virgins – Matthew 25:1-13
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready, went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

We read this parable and it is a definite wake up call and a warning to all of us in our faith.

The 10 virgins, all invited to the wedding, each holding lamps. asked to wait outside for the bridegroom. Obviously, the bridegroom in this parable is a reference to Jesus and his return, with the wedding being that of Jesus and the church in the kingdom of heaven. Us, Christian, the church, the virgins

 The 5 wise virgins took their lamps and oil, the 5 foolish, only their lamps. They fall asleep, indicating it was a longer time than they expected to wait for Christs return. Nether less, Christ returns unexpectantly. The 5 foolish ask the wise, for some oil and are told no, yet the 5 wise tell them where to get some more and they leave, only to find them selves locked out of the kingdom.

This parable is quite interesting and as you see in the last verse ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
It is a frightening warning for Christians to be prepared in your personal faith. A clear reference to a choice you each need to make. What choice, to keep watch, NO to be prepared. To concentrate on your preparation as a Christian for Gods will and plans for your life. This preparation never ends.

The 5 wise virgins didn’t share and give their oil to the foolish ones, Why? Well, it’s just like I can’t give you my faith, that I have, you have to have and find your own faith and nurture it strengthen it and prepare it.

But, Just like the 5 wise virgin’s shared their knowledge of where to get more oil for lamps of the foolish, I can point and show you the way to the bible where you can more find more oil in Gods words, and possess the knowledge he wants you to know and read. But you need to be prepared to pick it up and turn the pages, to listen to it and trust in it, before it’s too late.

Don’t waste your time as a Christian asleep content in your own distractions and pleasures. You need to be prepared. You need to be as written in Hebrews 2v1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

And what is one of the best guides to being a Christian we have in us. The Holy Spirit. Allowing the Holy Spirit to flow from us in our choices and preparedness, in the form of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Yes, that’s right. The fruits of the Holy Spirit. Bare these fruits. By personally focusing on these for our choices, prepared to be used, it will not only flow from us like a light for Gods Glory, it also in turn, will flow out of our church, and into the community beyond and in essence, we shall go for him as commanded by Christ before his ascension to heaven.

Today, the message I want conveyed, is that being a Christian is more to do with how you are and what you do outside these walls. Your choice of free will. To Resist or Welcome Christ.

To choose the easy quick reflex as little effort as possible or the uphill work, with eternal life, happiness and peace the reward.

Proverbs 3-4 NIV
[3] Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. [4] 4 Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man

 It’s about growing and seeking the knowledge of God, by making a choice to personally seek him and prepare your faith, to help be a loving comforting servant of Christ going for him and providing counsel and wisdom, lead by the spirit inside of you, to make an impact on those around you, especially your loved ones, who you may not even know are hurting and desperate for peace and comfort.

As a Christian not knowing what is next for me, or what do I do now, is one question not often asked or thought about, as we happily turn up on Sunday mornings, listen in worship, have a cuppa and return to our homes with the distractions of the world to keep our focus. But now, it’s being asked of you? What’s your answer?

What do I do now God?

 I’ll give you a hint. The answer you’ll be seeking will be found in prayer and this book. Gods book.

1 Chronicles 16:11
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.”

I say this as for some reason, we are hesitant to pick up our bibles. We need strength to do it. I used to be too, and still am on occasion. It stares at me across the room at home. I say to myself, “yeah, I want to read that.” But my body doesn’t move and my eyes are refocused somewhere else. Usually the TV and some silly reality program. Whose doing is that?

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Old Testament, with beautiful stories and knowledge just waiting to flow off the pages and into your soul. So much to learn from. Jonah and his resisting God, Samson and his wasted gifts for human pleasure, Belshazzar’s feast and the writing on the wall in Daniel. The term is still used today in mainstream society. I have but only named a few and in no way done their stories any justice. But they are there for you to read and explore

Proverbs 1:7 NIV
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:32-33 NIV
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; [33] 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm .”

Proverbs 8:17 NIV
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

These words are all ready and waiting to be read by your own eyes and heard by your own ears giving you counsel and encouragement in preparing your faith, which as we know, it is through our faith we are to walk, not by sight.

I encourage you and plead with you, in your personal faith, pick up and read your bible. It is so important and offers you so much. It not only feeds the spirit inside of you, but brings you closer to your God, who through Grace alone, sacrificed his only son on the cross for you so you could have the gift of love and the promise of eternal life with, your loved ones in the Kingdom.

What do you do now as a Christian? Continue in preparing your faith.

How do you prepare for an exam? you study, listen and read.

How do you prepare to cook a cake? again you study, you read the ingredients, and ensure you have all that you need.

Preparing your faith as a Christian is no different. You listen and read the bible, you collect the right tools for the job and ensure you have all you need. But instead of having a conversation with a text book or the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix packet, You have a conversation with God.

This week challenge yourself to begin preparations or re preparations of your faith, as that’s what you should be doing as a Christian. Just like Noah and the ark, preparing for a time to come which did.  And the ark he prepared saved his life and his family and served the purpose of God for which it was intended to do. BUILD your ark.

Now I’m closing with our second reading for today, not sure if that is best practice but it is fitting. Paul letter to Timothy
1 Timothy 6:11-16 NIV
[11] But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. [12] Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. [13] In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you [14] to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, [15] which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, [16] 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen