Getting Fit for Heaven: Living by Faith March 1, 2015

Romans 4:13-25 Mark 8:31-38

In order for us to get fit for heaven we need faith. Now this faith is not a trust in our own goodness, or righteousness. For when we trust in our own goodness, we can barely get by in this life, let alone get fit for heaven. This faith that we live is in the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

Living by faith means that we trust God to get us through this life. Living by faith means that we trust God to be with us no matter what comes our way. Living by faith means that we trust God to make good the promises that He has for us.

I think that Abraham’s story helps us to know about living by faith. For it is by his faith in God that Abraham was made righteous. That word “righteous” means that in the relationships that a person is involved, all the requirements are meant. So, to know God as Lord, a person trusted that what God said would happen, happens.

A. Abraham’s story (Genesis 17)
+++1. God makes a covenant with Abraham
++++++a. Between Abraham, & his descendants, and God
++++++b. Abraham will be exceedingly numerous (and he is 99 years old!)
++++++c. Ancestor of a multitude of nations
++++++d. You will be fruitful
++++++e. You & Sarah will have a son, Isaac
++++++f. This covenant will be eternal, for all of Abraham’s offspring
+++2. Abraham believed God
+++3. Abraham had to live his faith in God for years. God had first mentioned this covenant with Abraham when he was 75 years old. Now, 24 years later, God speaks to Abraham again. And Abraham believes God. What does Abraham’s faith have to do with us today?

B. Faith now is part of our Story (Romans 4)
+++1. Like Abraham being justified by faith (4:1-2), so are we
+++2. Justification
++++++a. Even though we have sinned, since we have belief in Christ, we will receive what God has promised
++++++b. Abraham was told to be blameless (Gen. 17:1), we also are to be blameless
++++++c. Yet, we do sin and are not blameless
++++++d. Christ came to give us what God promised, despite our sins
++++++e. This means we are forgiven, or justified before God
++++++f. We know this forgiveness/justification as the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts
+++3. Will our faith in God be counted as our justification? Will we recognize the promises God has for us as being fulfilled? There is a caution for us as we seek to claim the promises of God.

C. Living by faith, even when life is hard, is not easy (Mark 8)
+++1. Jesus was to suffer, die, and rise again (and he did all 3)
+++2. If we are to follow Jesus, by faith, then we deny ourselves
+++3. Save your life (toys, money, power), then you will lose it
+++4. Lose your life (give up toys, money, power), then you save it
+++5. If you say believe Jesus is the Son of God, then show it by losing your life
+++6. If you are ashamed of Jesus, then he will be ashamed of you
+++7. Faith in Jesus requires us to give up what can harm us. Living by faith in God’s promises, life through Jesus, means we do not seek life through anything else. As we are getting fit for heaven, we place faith in Jesus to get us there. Along the way we find there are activities, habits, and favorite pastimes that we lose so that our lives are saved. Yes, during Lent we give up something so that we can draw closer to God. It might even turn out that what we give up, we don’t need anyway.

As we follow Jesus and get fit for heaven, we may actually take on a needed task. There was a woman who each Sunday at church would come up to Scotty. She would say as she was giving him a hug, “God loves you. I am praying for you. I know that God has good things in store for you.” When Scotty would hear this woman, he would cringe.

But the woman would keep on doing this task. She would tell Scotty as she was hugging him, “God loves you. I am praying for you. And I know that God has good things in store for you.”

After about a year of this woman speaking to Scotty, she was not at church. Scotty found out that she was in the hospital. So he told his parents after church that he wanted to go see her in the hospital. Scotty’s mom said, “But we are going the other way. It will be alright.”

But Scotty insisted. So the family went to visit the strange lady in the hospital. When Scotty walked into her hospital room, the lady said to Scotty, “God loves you. I am praying for you.” And before she could finish, Scotty interrupted her and said, “Ma’am, I have come here to pray for you. By you praying for me, you saved my life. I want to pray for you.” And so he did.

Getting fit for heaven means we have faith in Jesus. This morning, I am asking the adults to speak to 5 children and youth. You are to let them know that you are praying for them and whatever good thing that you know about God. Children and youth, if an adult does not come up to you and tell you something good about God and that they are praying for you, then I want you to ask them to pray for you and to ask them one good thing about God.

Our children and youth won’t know about our faith unless we tell them. We want the children and youth to get fit for heaven. They need to know about our faith. So, tell them about your faith.

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