West Franklin Family,
Zaccheus climbed down a tree and opened his home. Lazarus walked out of a tomb. A centurion obediently walked back to his house. Peter stepped out of a boat. A former demoniac went back to his hometown. Four friends lowered a paralytic into a room. A young boy turned over his lunch. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Servants filled water pots at a wedding.
Abraham left Ur for an unknown land. Moses left the wilderness for an encounter with Pharoah. Rahab received messengers. David grabbed five smooth stones and approached a giant. Daniel prayed three times a day. Esther approached the king unannounced. Joshua marched around a city seven times. Nehemiah walked back to a incomplete Jerusalem. Ruth clung to Naomi when it made no sense. Elijah set up a drenched altar. Nathan confronted a friend’s blind spots.
I could go on.
Responses. Physical acts. Obedience. Works revealing faith. Actions directed by God. Demonstrations of belief. The author of Hebrews said, “faith is the confidence in we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.” Jesus’ half brother wrote, “faith apart from works is dead.” In other words, if you confidently believe, it will be accompanied by action. No action, probably no faith.
Zaccheus didn’t go home later that day and just think about Jesus’ invitation. Lazarus didn’t wonder what it would be like to take off the grave clothes. The servants at the wedding didn’t do a study of what Jesus meant by filling water pots. Moses didn’t post on Facebook he saw a burning bush. David didn’t brag about his slingshot skills and stay in the woods. All of them acted. Instances of obedience. Examples of responding to God. We know they believed because they actually did something with what they knew to be true. The Bible would be pretty thin if all they did was think about things.
Christianity includes action. Not busy-ness. Not “to-do” lists. Not non-stop hoops to jump through. But actively responding to God. Eagerly responding to God. Obediently responding to the God who is near. Sometimes it means sitting at His feet to listen. Other times it means offering your lunch. Sometimes it means going into your closet to pray. Other times it means walking away from home to an unknown land.
Did you know the Torah is the name for the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy? The Torah contains the nuts and bolts of God’s Word to His people. From infancy (Genesis) to adulthood (Deuteronomy). And have you noticed how the book of Psalms is divided into five books? I read recently this is because God’s people are expected to respond to God and His Word. Psalms are prayers for the people of God. Responses to what God has said and how He has led. Five books of God’s Word and ways. Five books of Spirit-inspired responses.
My point? We are to be a people who don’t just “sit and soak.” We are called to be a people who “hear and obey.” God didn’t talk just so He could hear His own voice. He spoke expecting a response.
West Franklin, I fear we have fallen into an unhealthy rut of not actively responding to what God is saying to us. I think we want to respond. I think many of us actually hear the Lord and experience His Spirit leading us. But I fear we don’t do much about it. I fear we think about it. But by the time we get to lunch, we’ve moved on. I fear a lot of it is my fault. I believe COVID-19 restrictions accelerated it. I think we’ve tried some things that “didn’t work,” and refused to press through to create a culture. I also fear that we fear what others will think. We fear the gossip. We fear the false assumptions. We fear the judgment that comes with showing need.
Would you do something with me? Would you pray for West Franklin to be a community, a culture, that expects God to speak and reacts to His voice with a response? Pray for me to have wisdom to know how to best call you to appropriately respond. Pray for courage to respond obediently. Above all, pray for the Holy Spirit to speak, to lead, to prompt, to give clarity. I believe He’s working. But I fear we have become good at holding His directions at an arm’s length. Let’s pray for a culture of actively responding to God. And let’s see what He does.
I look forward to seeing you in the morning, with my Bible open to Ruth 1. The next four weeks are going to be INTENSE as we study this book together. Cannot. Wait.
Because He Lives,