Jump Start # 2253
Luke 17:5 “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”
Welcome to a New Year! This begins our ninth year of Jump Starts. There are a couple of exciting things that are in the works to be launched this Spring. As they are up and running we will let you know. On the Charlestown Road website (www.charlestownroad.org) we post a Quick Quote every day and starting this Friday, we post “Fridays Five.”
Here we are at a brand new year. Resolution time. Goal time. What drives resolutions more than anything else, is not the flip of a calendar, but rather a tired feeling we have within us. When a person is tired of what he sees in the mirror, he will exercise or diet. When a person is tired of being broke, he will set up a budget and stick to it. When a person is tired of shouting and slamming doors in his house, he will try better communication and parenting. When a person is tired of spending every night watching mindless TV, he will pick up a book and start reading.
Our verse today is a request made by the apostles. They wanted more faith. That’s something we should all want. However, it’s not up to the Lord to increase our faith. That’s something we must do. The Lord will give us reasons to believe. The Lord will show us the great value of deeper faith. The Lord will even illustrate the consequences of having little faith. But, the increasing part, belongs to us. It doesn’t belong to the church. It is something that each of us has to do. Faith, we remember, comes from the word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith must be used, daily.
And, so when we get tired of sitting week after week in a church building, without much changing in our lives, then we will take the steps to increase our faith. For the next three Jump Starts, I want to explore the theme: “What Can I Do?” What can I do to help myself? What can I do to help my family? And, what can I do to help my congregation? Another year. Will this be any different for us than the last year? Much of that answer is found in “What can I do?”
Let’s begin at the beginning: What can I do to help myself? How can I get stronger in the Lord? What can I do to increase my faith? Great question.
First, take advantage of what your congregation offers. This very simple step is missed by so many. And, because it’s missed, some continue to drift and never grow as God wants them to. Get to services. As often as your congregation has worship services, you be there. Good things happen. The Bible is taught. You are connecting with God’s people. Do you go to Bible classes? You need to. And, not just once in a while. Be there, like a college student is going to class. You’ll never get a full knowledge if you show up for the first class, then miss four or five, and then at another one, then miss another three or four. Any college student that follows that example with his classes would flunk. Is there any reason we don’t seem to be getting things when that’s our pattern. Does your congregation invite preachers in for special meetings? Be there. Another opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Bring your Bible. Take along a pen and a notebook. I’ve been preaching almost forty years now. I still take notes when others preach. Why? Because I want to learn. They teach me. It increases my knowledge and my faith. Those that need this advice the most, are likely the very ones who do not read this, but you can pass this on and share this with them.
Second, begin a daily spiritual habit of reading God’s word. Like saving money, like sticking to a diet, it’s the little things, every day that make the difference. Impulsive shopping kills the budget. Eating chips and watching a ballgame kills the diet. We tell ourselves one donut won’t hurt anything. That was yesterday. We say the same thing today. That diet is derailed because of the little choices we make every day. There are many daily Bible reading programs. Find one that fits you. Stick with it. Print out a list and keep it on the frig or on your desk. Check off every day what you plan to read. And, don’t speed read. Really read. Look at the words. Look at the concepts, the principles, the teachings. Learn. See. Put yourself in that passage. Every day. Every day reading God’s word. You stay with this, in a couple of months, this will be as normal as getting a cup of coffee to start your day.
Third, start and end every day with a prayer. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to cover every item on a list. In the morning, pray about what you plan to do today. Pray for the safety of your family. In the evening, thank the Lord. Thank Him for blessings and prayers answered. Every day, pray.
Fourth, find a good book to read. Not a novel. Not a murder mystery. A book that will help you spiritually. A book about parenting. A book about leadership. A book to help you. There are so many. On my nightstand is a book about Martin Luther, the great reformer. Sitting here on my desk is: Crazy Busy; Awake at Night; Leadership and Self-Deception; Why we stayed. Those are all books I plan to finish this month. Next month, there will be another stack of books. These give one ideas. They challenge. They help with issues one faces. These add value to your soul and are much more useful than falling asleep each night with the TV on. Some are not readers. We are moving away from books in this culture. Get books electronically, if that helps. But make a list of books that you want to work through.
There are more things, a lot more that a person can do. But this is a start. Will this year be better for me spiritually than last year? Will this year put me in the position to help more people and will I do that? Will I go to the next level in faith and leadership for the Lord? Or, are we merely getting older, but not getting any better?
It sad to me to see a congregation provide so many opportunities and tools to help someone and then to see those tools never being picked up or used. And, those who are most often troubled and bothered and roughed up by Satan are the very ones who not take advantage of what is right before them.
Increase our faith! It can happen. But the Lord’s not going to do that without you putting some effort and desire behind that. It takes more than just sticking your big toe in the water once in a while. Strong faith results in right choices and right decisions. Strong faith builds stronger families. Strong faith becomes the backbone of strong congregations.
Will your faith be stronger this year? It starts with you. It starts with today!