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Faith, Future, and Suffering - 2013-08-18

Faith, Future, and Suffering - 2013-08-18

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Published by John Partridge
When someone says that they have faith in you, they are not saying that they think you are Harry Potter or the Wizard of Oz. They are saying that they know you well enough to trust you. Our relationship with God is not built on magic, but trust.
When someone says that they have faith in you, they are not saying that they think you are Harry Potter or the Wizard of Oz. They are saying that they know you well enough to trust you. Our relationship with God is not built on magic, but trust.

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Published by: John Partridge on Aug 18, 2013
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“Faith, Future, and Suffering”
August 18, 2013
Isaiah 5:1-7Hebrews 11:29 - 12:2 Luke 12:49-56
Have you ever 
had to
trust?Have you ever trusted that your friend or family member would pick you up at the airport, or at school, likethey said they would? Were you nervous when they weren’t there exactly at the time you thought they would be, or did you have faith, did you trust in their character, that they would be there, simply because they saidthat they would?I have argued with friends online, that faith is not about believing in some magical, fairly tale mumbo jumbo.Faith is not a magic wand, nor is it simply the unreasonable hope that something spiritual, magical,metaphysical, or supernatural will rescue us.Faith is hope and trust, based on reason, character, and past experience.The story is told of a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat becamevery dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found awater pump with a small jug of water and a note.The note read: "The well is deep. Pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you willget all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water intothe well, and it worked, he would have all the water that he could want. But if it didn’t work, he would havethrown away the water that he needed and he might die. But if he chose to
drink 
the water in the jug and getimmediate satisfaction, he would throw away any chance that there really
was
an abundant supply of water inthe well, the little bit of water in the jug might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it theman decided to risk that the well would work. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work thehandle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. Somuch water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find.Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note alsosaid: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveler.” The man refilled the jug and added tothe note: “Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!The man who was wandering in the desert had a choice to make: either choice was a risk. Either he woulddrink the water in the jug and risk losing all the water he could ever want, or he could risk pouring that water down into the well and losing what little that he had if the well was dry. Both choices were something of agamble. He could
hope
that one choice was a better choice, but he had no faith. Faith doesn’t enter the picturein this story at all because faith is absolutely a matter of experience. The man in the desert had never been tothis shack or to this well, he had never hand a drink from this well, nor did he know its owner or who mighthave written the note.The Greek word that we translate as “faith,” can also be translated as “trust” or “persuasion.” The phrase, “Ihave faith” can also be translated as, “I am persuaded.” We know that our friend will pick us up at the airport because we have a lifetime of experience that has persuaded us to trust him (or her). Had the man in the story1
 
visited the well many dozens of times and each time it had never failed to produce abundant water, or if he hadknown the owner of the shack and the well for many years and was confident in his or her honesty andintegrity, only then could he have
faith
that the well would produce an abundance of life giving water. Faith isnot some magical hocus-pocus, it is, simply, trust that is borne out of long experience and personal knowledgeof the character of the one in whom we place our faith.Having said all that, from time to time, most of us have discovered that we have placed our faith in the wrong people. Once in a while we trust people who let us down. Sometimes it is an accident, but other times wediscover, after a while, that it is simply that they are untrustworthy. Even worse, in
Isaiah 5:1-7
, God tells astory in which he explains that it is his own people that have betrayed his trust.
 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2
 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well.Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
3
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
4
What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
5
 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.”
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel,and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
God says that his people are like a vineyard that he planted. He built a wall and a watchtower to protect it, he planted it, tended it, fertilized it, he did everything that could be done to make his vineyard productive, but nomatter what he did, the vineyard only produced rotten fruit. God looked for justice among his people and onlyfound violence. He looked for righteousness and instead found people who were needy, hungry, andoppressed.God’s response to this breach of trust is to tell the people that he had trusted and that since his trust was betrayed, over and over again, he was no longer going to waste his time tending and caring for them. Hewould take away the walls and the watchtower that had protected them; he would no longer tend the gardenand care for them, so that the weeds and the wild animals would be free to do whatever they wished in hisgarden and among his people. God tells his people that while they had a choice of whether to listen to him, or not, and to follow him, or not, their choices had consequences.God lost faith in his people because his people had lost faith in Him.The writer of Hebrews, on the other hand, wants us to know that we have good
reason
to have faith
(Hebrews11:29 - 12:2).
2
 
 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, theywere drowned.
30
 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31
 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who weredisobedient.
32
 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about  David and Samuel and the prophets,
33
who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and  gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34
quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped theedge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed  foreign armies.
35
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured,refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.
36 
Some faced jeers and flogging,and even chains and imprisonment.
37 
They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they werekilled by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 
38
theworld was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,
40
 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2
 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3
Consider him who endured suchopposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart 
.We can have faith, in part, because of those who have gone before us. They put their trust in God and foundthat God was trustworthy. Because of their faith, we are told that these men and women conquered kingdoms,administered justice, and gained what was promised. They witnessed lions whose mouths had been shut tight,weakness that was turned into strength, wimps who became warriors, and they saw the dead raised. But therewere others, who went to their graves holding tight to their faith in God, knowing that even in death, Godwould be faithful. While their stories of faith remain to instruct us and inspire us, all of these men and womenof faith surround us, watch us, pray for us, encourage us, and are witnesses to our lives.God has been at work in our lives for a very long time, even before our lives began. We do not have faith andtrust in Him because of some mystical mumbo-jumbo, but because of God’s character, his trustworthiness, and because of our person experience with him. We know that we can trust God. We know that God always keepshis promises. We have seen God at work in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. We have heardand read the stories of the martyrs and other great people of faith. It is for these reasons that we have placedour trust in God and say that we have faith in him. But we also remember that having faith does not mean thatour lives will always be full of wealth, prosperity and good times. Jesus warned his followers that there was atime coming when things would be terrible for God’s people and for his followers. In
Luke 12:49-56,
Jesussaid…
49
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
50
 But I have a baptism toundergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!
51
 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
52
 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three
3

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