"Clothed in Faith" - March 14th, 2021
Updated: Mar 28
Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith you will receive.”
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Pastor Michael's Sermon
March 14th, 2021
If you Google who invented Penicillin, the name Alexander Fleming will immediately come up. Fleming told the world how he had actually invented Penicillin by accident and that's pretty much the story that you may have heard. However, there's a little bit more to the story than that.
It's true, one day Alexander Fleming had neglected to clean a container in his laboratory and when he left it unclean a huge ball of green mold formed and it had the power to kill bacteria. But on that day, Fleming was not jumping up and down and yelling “Eureka!” As a matter of fact, instead, he just looked at the mold as basically useless. Apparently, he didn't take any notes about what had happened and he didn't look into it any further.
But apparently within the scientific world I guess people talk, because Fleming had told several people about how this mold had appeared that could kill bacteria, and some of the people thought it would be worth looking into its possibilities. But it wasn't easy because, as I said, Fleming hadn't taken any notes and he didn't have any interest into looking deeper into the mold so to speak.
Ten years later, there were some scientists at Cambridge who became very interested in the possibilities of this mold and they got began working to try to recreate it. But they had a whole lot of trouble trying to make just the right kind of mold and even when they came close, they struggled with pulling the Penicillin part out of the mold that could kill the bacteria. They worked for years trying to figure out how to pull out enough Penicillin for it to be good for anyone who might need it to be part of their treatment.
Finally in 1940, they were able to figure it out and they treated a patient with a certain type of blood poisoning, and it worked! And when they did this, guess who showed back up and took all the credit. That's right. Alexander Fleming.
So yes, in scientific journals and among scientists, it is acknowledged that the real credit when it comes to inventing or discovering Penicillin goes to the team at Cambridge, but in history books and as far as Google is concerned, all the credit goes to Alexander Fleming, who really did nothing but forget to wash a laboratory container. Alexander Fleming boasted and took credit for something that really wasn't his doing.
Today's scripture passage warns against boasting and taking credit for something that is not our doing. But in this case, we're warned against taking credit for our own salvation. It is not by our own hand that we are saved. Yes, we are saved through our faith. You know, faith that we possess, faith that we work on, faith that we build. But that faith is merely our ticket to salvation. And although it is an important ticket and it is a necessary ticket, it is God who punches that ticket and invites us into life everlasting.
Also in today's passage we’re reminded that it is not God's obligation because we are faithful to offer us salvation. We are reminded that it is a gift, that it is by grace that we are saved.
So let us never boast that we are saved because we are so faithful. Let us never boast that we are saved because we earned it. We are saved by the grace of God.
But that's not to say that we still don't need to do our part. Indeed, we need to create that ticket for God to punch. We need to maintain our faith and to do that,
we need to tend to our faith. We need to cultivate our faith so that we're not simply, that is, our faith is not simply a part of who we are. Our faith must be the essence of who we are because that's how we keep it strong. We shouldn't carry our faith with us, but rather we should be clothed within it. We should be living within it, because how strongly we live within our faith, how we clothe ourselves within it, is our protection against all that attempts to chip away at our faith.
So many things can occur in our lives that can challenge our faith if our faith is not strong. Over the years of being a pastor, I have seen many times when people struggle with their faith. Maybe they've lost a loved one, or a relationship has come to an end, or any number of challenges that can take place in life.
When I say struggle with faith, I'm talking about when we question our relationship with God. This is actually pretty common. People will ask, “How could God let this happen?” We've heard this before, all of us have. “If God is of love, how could God allow me to be in so much pain?”
Legitimate questions and questions worth asking ourselves, but as we ask these questions of ourselves, we need to be asking them from a place of faith because when we don't ask these questions from a lens of fully knowing that God is loving
and fully knowing that God is a caregiver, then we leave ourselves open to place blame on God and we can weaken and even destroy our relationship with God. And I've seen this happen.
After a death or some other life changing event, I've seen people completely turn their back on the church, turn their back on their faith, people whom I baptized, people who once had a beautiful relationship with God and what seemed a heart of faith, I've seen turn their back on God and walk away. And really it is so hard to watch because the truth is when we turn our back on God during a time of loss in our lives, we are only adding to that loss. We are widening the hole in our heart and we are excusing the greatest supply of strength that we could possibly ask for.
It has been four months today, Sunday, since Pastor Bill passed away. And over these past months, I have been asked more than a couple of times if my faith has been challenged, if my relationship with God has changed because God called Pastor Bill home at a time that most of us felt was way too soon.
And I tell you each time I've been asked that question, my answer was immediate “No.” My faith never once wavered. My relationship with God remains just as strong. And I'll tell you why.
Because I know that the God that called Pastor Bill home is the same God who
blessed each of us by allowing us to know him. This is the same God who gifted us the opportunity to be shepherded by Pastor Bill. The same God who called him home before any of us were ready is the same God who allowed the lives of those of us who knew him to be brighter because Pastor Bill was part of our walk.
Our relationship with God should never waver based on what is going on in our lives. God does not waver on God's relationship with us.
The God who is with us during our highest of highs is the same God that is with us during our lowest of lows. Let us thank God for all that we have been given and all that we will be given. For we know that through our faith and by God's grace we shall be saved.
Holy God, we thank you for your presence and for your grace. Help us to keep our faith strong and may our devotion to you never waver. It's in your son's holy name we pray.