What is faith? I don’t have faith in my parkour abilities. My lack of faith comes from several factors: basic safety awareness, physique, and reality. Because of this, I have little or no confidence in my ability to scale walls. Faith is rational confidence. We’re confident about things we understand and have experience or proficiency with.
Faith in God is confidence. We’re confident that God exists. We’re confident that he made everything. We know he loves us. We know he’s coming back. We know that faithful people get to live with him.
A faithful Christian is a rationally confident Christian. When we’re doing our best to live moral lives, we’re confident in grace. We’re confident in our destination. We have reason to have confidence in God because we’ve worked on knowing him. We have the Bible and creation itself to help us know God. The more we know him, the more confidence we have.
What if I want more confidence in my parkour abilities? I’d have to hit the gym like crazy and somehow become graceful. I’d have to want to develop that skill. Confidence comes from experience and knowledge.
What if we need more faith? Get to know God more. Pay attention to all of the ways life points to a much higher power. Get close to other Christians. Get excited for heaven. No one can walk away from that without more confidence in our awesome God.
It was 2008, just 20 days shy of his 90th birthday, when Fred Baur died. On the way to the funeral home, his kids decided to stop at a nearby Walgreens to pick up some salty snacks. They debated for a bit, should it be sour cream and onion, cheddar cheese maybe? Larry and his siblings finally decided on Original.
You see, Fred adored his kids, but his passion was snacks. His accomplishments included a variety of frying oils and freeze-dried ice cream.
Fred was an American organic Chemist that had received both his masters and PhD at The Ohio State University, and it was 1966 when P&G came calling. Evidently, in the 1960s, there was a problem with the packaging and shipping of potato chips. By the time the consumer would pick up potato chips at a store, well, they were merely in pieces. This is where P&G thought Fred could help solve this problem.
After two years of experimentation, Fred developed a chip of dried potato flakes, added a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients, and cut them into thin hyperbolic paraboloids. With this shape, Fred could neatly stack his chips into his vacuum sealed tube.
By this time, you know that I am referring to Fred’s invention of Pringles, but the story doesn’t end there. Fred still wasn’t done with his invention.
There were problems:
First and foremost, they tasted like sawdust, so Fred spent another 2 years to improve the taste. Then, another issue. Frito-Lay sent lawyers because they said Fred’s chips weren’t potato chips at all because they were just 42% potato.
After some time and haggling, they decided to call them potato crisps.
He gave birth to an iconic brand that many of us still enjoy today. Through years of experimentation, development, and disappointments, lawyers-at one point P&G wanted to trash the idea.
But Fred persevered.
He was able to see his brand break 100 million in sales. He was able to see it break 500 million in sales. However, he wasn’t there in 2011 when P&G sold Pringles for almost 2.5 Billion Dollars.
That brings us back to 2008 when Fred’s children showed up to the funeral home with the Original flavored can of pringles. Fred’s wish was to have his ashes be placed in a Pringles can when he passed.
Fred got his wish.
As great as this story is, we wouldn’t have this story if it wasn’t for Fred’s perseverance. And as great as Fred’s perseverance was, we have so many examples of greater perseverance in the Bible.
Consider Joshua, Job, Jeremiah, Nehemiah and our greatest example of perseverance, Jesus. These are just a few of the many examples the Bible gives us.
Two points I want to quickly make about Perseverance, and the lesson is yours.
Number 1. WE HAVE A NEED FOR PERSEVERANCE.
It’s not a matter of if, but when…Christians Will Face Tribulations in Life. Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Christ never promised us that this life would be a bed of roses. The Gospel never said we’d go to Heaven on “flowery beds of ease.” Rather, we are promised that we shall have hardships and tribulations in this life, especially if we are faithful Children of God.
Only those who persevere receive the reward. Revelation 2:10-11 tells us, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Number 2. PERSEVERANCE IS DEVELOPED IN TRIBULATION.
Romans 8: 18-28 can be summarized as this: Viewed in faith, tribulation is a friend rather than an enemy. I don’t know a lot of adversity that is necessarily fun, but we can learn from it, and we can grow from it.
In Deuteronomy 8, the Israelites failed to see the benefits of their trials.
In Numbers, we see there was an Exodus of over one Million Israelites.
We later see that only two Persevered and reached the promised land.
In 1 Corinthians and Hebrews, Paul admonishes us not to imitate the Israelites.
Rather than complain, rejoice in God’s work in your life.
Difficulties and trials would not normally be considered an occasion for joy but think about James and Paul and how they exhort us to look beyond the immediate pain and discomforts of trials to the lasting effect they have on the character of the Christian.
It is the development of our character, that should cause us to rejoice in adversity. Always remember who wins in the end.
We all have mountains to climb and sometimes holes to dig ourselves out of. Perhaps you want to begin to persevere and put on the armor of God through Baptism. There is no better time than now. Perhaps you’ve been baptized, and you’re currently trying so hard to climb the mountain that you’re on and you’ve had setbacks. We would love to help you reach the peak.
We are imperfect people trying to get to Heaven, and we make mistakes. Throughout scripture is a distinction between people who live to sin and people who struggle with sin, but live for God.
I John 5.16, 17 and Romans 7.5-8.17 are perhaps the most encouraging passages for a Christian who struggles with sin. These passages demonstrate God’s willingness and great desire to keep us pure, even when we struggle with sin.
Paul teaches us that sin is something we struggle with and should hate (Rom. 7.15-20). We don’t want to sin, but we do. We love God’s law, we recognize that it’s good, and we want to live up to it, but we often don’t (7.22, 23). Paul even goes so far as to say, “I don’t understand my actions. I don’t do what I want, but I do what I hate” (Rom. 7.15). It causes him great distress, and he expresses a desire that all creation shares: release from sin’s power and life with God without the possibility of sin’s influence (7.24; 8.22-24). He says twice that sins we struggle against are not held to our account (7.17 and 7.20).
I John 5.16, 17 shows that a Christian who struggles with sin is still pure in God’s eyes. The key idea is struggle. We can’t fool God – He looks at our hearts to determine whether we hate the sin in our lives or welcome it with open arms (Rom. 7.27). If sin is something we hate, grace keeps us pure despite our weakness (I John 1.9, 10; 3.19-24; 4.13-19; 5.18-20; Romans 7.25)!
This is so encouraging because it shows that God does everything within His power to keep us pure. We are lost when we reject Him to pursue a sinful lifestyle, certainly. But if we hate our sin and fight our sin, He keeps us faithful!
Heaven is attainable, God is good.
Over 50 members came to pray Tuesday night for our soul-winning plans, including our “Fill The Void” seminar (photo credit: Randy Simpson)
Saving for retirement. Exercising and losing weight. Mending a broken relationship. Daily Bible reading. Many are the objectives, goals, and needs we all have in this life, but just as many are the excuses we often give for not addressing them. We fall back on lack of time, how we feel, whose fault it is, and generally why we cannot do what we know we should be doing. It seems that until we are convicted of our need to do something, we will always find ready excuses.
But, when we are motivated to do something, we will not let anything stop us. We find the time, muster the will, and channel the discipline necessary to keep plugging away until the objective is achieved.
Living for Christ is the greatest objective there is. It fulfills the very purpose for our existence. It benefits everyone around us. It is imperative to gaining heaven as home. It positively influences those closest to us. But, when it is not our greatest priority, we will come up with a bevy of excuses. These run the gamut from sports activities to work to hypocrites to personal weakness to whatever else may come to mind. Until we are motivated, we will find excuses. So, what should motivate us to live for Jesus?
His sacrificial love (Gal. 2:20).
Fear of judgment and eternal punishment (Mat. 25:31-46).
The debt we owe (Rom. 1:14-17).
The love we have for Him (2 Cor. 5:14).
Our love for our family and others close to us (Ti. 2:3-4; Eph. 5:25).
An understanding of our purpose (Phil. 1:21-24).
The hope of heaven (John 14:1ff).
A sense of obligation to our spiritual family (1 Th. 5:11; Mat. 18:12ff).
A desire to do what is right and serve Jesus as our Master (1 Pe. 2:20; Mat. 7:21).
All of these (and more) are excellent motivation for enduring the difficult in order to successfully overcome in this life. They will help us to eliminate every impediment that stands in our way. As the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).