Living with confidence is a gift… quit playing the games, quit worrying what other people think… the desire of the Lord is that you live with confidence today… we all know what its like to live with the “some day” attitutude… some day I’ll go on a diet, someday I’ll start saving my money for a rainy day, someday I’ll be able to keep the house clean… someday I’ll be more faithful in following God./// Today you are called to live with confidence. If you are waiting for your life to quit being in crisis that day will never come. Living in Confidence is an opportunity right now. I cannot make promises about that needed job, but I can guarantee that the peace and satisfaction that comes as you live with confidence will change you and will change the people around you.
Ron Thomas was at the Pastor’s retreat last Monday, he’s the top guy of our small denomination. At the time when he was called to be the executive director he was living in Florida, his mother was in a care facility at Dowling Park, and he was torn because he felt an obligation to live near his mother in her last years. So among the people he called was his Uncle, Clio Thomas. And Clio said, “God will sort it out.” So in fear, Ron settled on accepting the position. He went to his mother and said, “Mom, I have something to tell you.” She blurted out, “Your leaving.” “Yes” he said. “Where are you going?” To Charlotte, NC, to work for the denomination. “Thank goodness” she said, “I thought you were going to Honduras!” God did work it out. His mother blessed him. His mother declined the invitation to move with Ron into their new home. And the Lord is good. Living with confidence is the only way to live, the decisiveness, letting God work out your world. At times you may not see how it will work, but it will.
You know what the problem is in the church at Rome? The Church to which Paul writes is controlling. They are overly particular about who is allowed to be a leader and who isn’t. Control is a form of mistrust – not wanting any surprises, uncomfortable if you let too many people around you that are different from yourself. Control is a way to minimize the likelihood of failure, a way to hide your fears. This is why, for example, back in Rom. 3:10 it says, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” Paul is saying expand your circle, don’t think you alone have it all together with your cozy group. “there is no one righteous” so don’t put yourself on a pedestal. you haven’t made it either on your own merits. Your control is a façade, a ruse. Let go of control and let the spirit of God guide you. To live in hope, to hope against all hope, is risky, it is to believe God has even more for you… it is to let go of some of that control that seems to be our only lifeline. To trust God is to step into the unknown…
I know this is a little thing. I have to take baby steps in my own trust issues of God. One of the phrases I love that Denny uses a lot is “God’s divine assignment.” I know this doesn’t sound very spiritual, but often in Sumas there are days when I have a list of a few things I need to do, but then I have more time… sometimes I flip through my messy phone book and think through who should I call, I use my logic, but ultimately I go with my gut…// many times a week, I get a phone call and I have an opportunity for something completely unexpected, not very spiritual I know, but I go with my gut… sometimes I am driving along and I decide to stop and knock on a door… God’s divine assignment… I cannot tell you how often the timing seems to be perfect, I can only be one place at a time, but everyday is an amazing journey, the best job in the world… It’s God’s divine assignment… Against all Hope, Abraham in hope believed. No reason to believe, but yet he does. Letting go of some of that control, distancing yourself from those triggers that drag you down, staying away from the patterns that compromise your life, and simply let the spirit of God guide you. To live confidently in God is an adventure. Like climbing in a wheelbarrow and letting a Tight Rope Walker push you across. (Didn’t I see a wheelbarrow in the back of the sanctuary?)
Live in confidence. It’s an invitation from God for how to live your life. READ Rom. 4:19. Living in Confidence is rooted in reality…. Abraham is conversant with the problems of life… If I have learned anything this past few years as the pastor of Sumas AC Church, I have learned the depth and breadth of the problems people have… the issues they face… the addictions, the heartaches, the questions, the fears, the doubts, the stress, the uncertainty. I am learning to live with more confidence, WE are learning to live with more confidence in God. The more we know, the more of an adventure, far from being overwhelmed, it makes me more assured of the need for Jesus Christ. Abraham did not abandon the world to turn to God, he become more realistic than ever… “I don’t get what you are saying God, this makes no earthly sense for a baby to be born in old age, but if you say so…” rooted in reality.
God shows himself in our inadequacies… I say it all the time, I am not a natural speaker… in my mind, this is the craziest joke of all… at he retreat earlier this week, I get around a new group and I have so little to say… they started talking hunting and fishing and I have nothing to add, no stories, little connection… and most of them think I’m a quiet and shy person. The truth: that is my nature. To live confidently is to be rooted in reality, and letting God take you places you never thought possible. He’ll give you the confidence to do that which are beyond your earthly capability. What joy to see so many of you volunteer, to get involved, and to see a glow around you because of the satisfaction, doing that which you never imagine, never thought possible. Living confidently is rooted in reality and letting God take you places you never dreamed.
READ Rom. 4:20… did not waver… consistency… I grieve over the turmoil some people are called to live on a daily basis. A transient society. People coming and going. Too many young people see too much death too early. To live confidently is to live consistently holding firm to what you believe and acting according to your convictions. Inconsistency is a killer… intending to stand firm but then falling… wanting to get involved in a small group but then finding excuses… the slow erotion that wears you down, one more pill, one more time, one more, one more… the guilt, how tired it gets fully intending to improve your life but being dragged down…
I like this contrast: Do you live with a preference, or a conviction…
“A preference is a strong belief, but a belief that you will change under the right circumstances. Circumstances such as: 1) peer pressure; if your beliefs are such that other people stand with you before you will stand, your beliefs are preferences, not convictions, 2) family pressure, 3) lawsuits, 4) jail, 5) threat of death; would you die for your beliefs? A conviction is a belief that you will not change. Why? A man believes that his God requires it of him….A conviction is not something that you discover, it is something that you purpose in your heart (cf. Daniel 1, 2-3). Convictions on the inside will always show up on the outside, in a person's lifestyle. To violate a conviction would be a sin.” -- (David C. Gibbs, Jr)
You can live for Christ as a preference. The world wants nothing more: “if it’s good for you then knock yourself out, but don’t impose your beliefs on me.” Many Christians buy into the idea that Christianity is a personal preference. But that means a life of wavering, trying to make heads and tales of every challenge to faith. To live for Christ as the conviction of your heart means you’ll stand up for Christ when challenged even if you are the only one. You will live with confidence that the God of the universe knows you personally and guides you. Abraham did not waver. Living by a conviction of who God is and his calling upon your life is to live with confidence. The world may call you narrowminded. But faith in God and confidence of who he is gives absolute assurance…
Live with conviction, live with confidence… Tony Campolo recalls a deeply moving incident that happened in a Christian junior high camp where he served. One of the campers, a boy with spastic paralysis, was the object of heartless ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way. One night his cabin group chose him to lead the devotions before the entire camp. It was one more effort to have some "fun" at his expense. Unashamedly the spastic boy stood up, and in his strained, slurred manner -- each word coming with enormous effort -- he said simple, "Jesus loves me -- and I love Jesus!" That was all. Conviction fell upon those junior-highers. Many began to cry. Revival gripped the camp. Years afterward, Campolo still meets men in the ministry who came to Christ because of that testimony.
“Yet he did not waver…” Living confidently is to be consistent, to keep believing even when you have reasons to give up, pressure to quit….
Rom. 4:21… convinced of the promises…being fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he promises. Noah lived confidently when he built the ark. Think of any person you admire for their faith, and undoubtedly more important than anything they do, you admire the confidence, the conviction, the unwavering belief. Even those that don’t believe in Jesus Christ are drawn to those who live with confindence. Every few years the Lord seems to cause this little story to surface on my desk, perhaps a personal reminder to myself, but really a word of insight to all of us. David Hume, 18th century British philosopher who rejected Christianity, once met a friend hurrying along a London street and asked where he was going. The friend said he was off to hear George Whitfield preach. "But surely you don't believe what Whitfield preaches do you?" "No, I don't, but he does."
Living in confidence in Christ is the best defense against temptations. Confidence hones your character, for you allow the Lord to control you. Faith in God is everything. Confident living is rooted in reality, consistent living no matter what problems cross your path, living with an absolute conviction. I admire the confidence in Christ that is a hallmark of so many of you – you are in inspiration. The confidence we have in Christ will give you rock solid assurance in your own life, and it will draw other people to Christ, to know him, to live with the same realistic, unwavering, conviction. God’s desire for you is that you live with confidence. Amen.
-- Pastor Carl Crouse