Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 27 April, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 14, (Chap. 14, Part 1)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 103-105)
Believing and Living – Hearing and believing the principles and Biblical tenants of our faith are primary. We must then live according to what we have been taught, and become examples of the precepts we have learned from the scriptures. James, in perhaps the first letter written to the Christian community, said it is a form of self-deception when we fail to apply what we’ve learned from the scriptures (cf. James 1:22-25, NLT). Mere recitation of the scriptures is not the same as living according to their tenants. In our current world people are more “religious,” than they are genuinely demonstrating their faith. Jesus addressed this problem over 2000 years ago, when He sternly warned some of His followers that their religious declarations were disingenuous. Jesus said the test of faith is when a person lives according to Christ’s teachings (cf. Matthew 7:21; 24-25, NLT). Faith is described in the New Testament in two different ways. When the scriptures mention the faith, it serves as a noun meaning “a body of beliefs.” Jude, the brother of our Lord and James, wrote to early Christians to warn them of false teachers and to defend the faith. He said, “But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to His holy people (Jude 1:3b, NLT). Here, Jude is referring to the teachings, which were handed down through the holy scriptures, and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Faith is also described as being demonstrated through “action” (pisteuo). James speaks of aligning our faith with deeds and acts (cf. James 2:21-23, NLT). Even as we begin a new season in our journey with Christ, we must be willing to hold to the teachings (the faith) we’ve received, and to engage a meaningful life living by our faith principles. Timothy was encouraged to remain faithful to what he had been taught, and to not abandon the principles that guided his decisions and actions (cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-15, NLT). In his devotional. Max Lucado comments: “Facts evolve into faith. Isn’t this what happened to Timothy? What begins in the head must descend in the heart.” Lucado admits that what should happen with us in terms of our beliefs, and our faith in response to those beliefs, does not always happen. Journeying forward in life involves our ability to act on what we truly believe about God’s promises. This is our path forward!
Learn, Receive and Do - We can truly live our faith, because God lives in us. Through our faith in Christ, we are inextricably attached to the presence of God. Since our knowledge of God and the meaning of reconciliation to Him has been demonstrated through the teachings and sacrificial life of his Son, Jesus Christ, we can live according to the principles we’ve received (cf. I John 1:12-13, NLT). The Church at Philippi were encouraged to “put into practice” the Gospel teachings they had learned from the Apostle Paul. They also were to model the godly aspects of character that the mature believers demonstrated (cf. Philippians 4:8-9, NLT). The first response of Christians is to learn and believe the faith; and the second aspect of the Christian life is to exemplify our beliefs through daily living. There often is a disconnect between what a person professes about God, and what they genuinely experience with God. This message was made clear even in ancient times to Israel when they spoke of god with their mouth, but did not follow his ways (Hosea 4:6, NLT). People can be taught God’s truth, but they may never grasp that truth, nor its meaning for their lives. When Paul was incarcerated in Rome, the governor expressed an interest in learning about faith in Jesus Christ. Felix and his wife, Drusilla, received the fundamental and clear teachings of the Gospel from Paul. However, after all of the teaching and learning, Felix sent the Apostle away, and never made a profession of faith (cf. Acts 24:24-25, NLT). Similarly, King Agrippa had extensive knowledge of the prophecies which confirmed the Messiah, but it was not enough to convince the King to receive Christ as his Savior (cf. Acts 26: 27-28, NLT). Faith is more than intellectual or rational assent to belief in God.; it I entering a relationship with God through faith in His Son. Max Lucado commented on Felix’s encounter with Paul: “He knew the facts. He heard the truth. He filled his mind with knowledge. But Felix refused to let the facts touch his heart.” Lucado explains the process of Christian growth this way: “Facts enter your head, descend into your heart as faith, and exit your hand as energy. Deeds of kindness…”
What We Believe
When we receive the Word, we must believe and act on it!
1. Listening to and reciting the Word is not enough!
2. Effective Christians will learn, receive and do!
James 1:22-25, NLT
“But don’t just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in the mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free,and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard,then God will bless you for doing it.”
Matthew 7:21;24-25, NLT
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord! Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter…Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwater rise and the winds beat against the house,it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”
2 Timothy 3:14-15, NLT
“But you must remain faithful in the things you have been taught, you know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from child-hood, and they have given you the wisdom the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”.
I John 4:12-13, NLT
“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him, and He in us.”
Philippians 4:8-9, NLT
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true,and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Hosea 4:6, NLT
“My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God,I will forget to bless your children.”
Acts 24:24-25, NLT
“A few days later Felix comeback with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Jesus Christ. As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment,Felix became frightened. “Go away for now.” He replied.“When it is more convenient,I’ll call you again.”
Acts 26:27-28, NLT
King Agrippa, “Do you believe the prophets? I know you do – “Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think