Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Faith Is In The Putting"

Isaiah 5:1-7,  Psalm 80:1-15,17,19,  Hebrews 11:29-12:2,  Luke 12:49-56

August 15, 2010

by James Greene

 

           Today’s sermon title is “Faith is in the Putting”.  I don’t mean to disappoint the golfers today, but it is Putting – not Put-ting.

           There is a saying from back in the 1500’s that “the proof is in the pudding”.  This phrase was a shorter version that the “proof of the pudding is in the testing”.  It is where the true value of something was in the actual test. 

By putting something to the test, it verifies the quality of the product.

            

Mother Teresa said: “If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”

 

           The testing of our faith, is where we place (or where we put) our faith.  The trials we go through is the test of that faith.           Our faith, is in the putting. 

Do we put our trust in the God of the universe, or do we place it in things that do not endure.  This is the subject in the readings we have today. 

 

In Isaiah we see the way God cares for Israel.  They are yielding wild grapes instead of the quality product of the “choicest vine” that was planted.  All the effort that God put into the vineyard seems wasted.  So God declares, “I will”,  take away, and “I will”,  lay waste to it.  Israel is the vineyard, and Judah is the plant.  They looked for God’s judgment but found oppression.  Instead of God’s justice,  they saw (like Jesus) bloodshed. They looked for God’s righteousness, but beheld a cry (like Jesus) the cry of “Crucify Him”.  In spite of all that God had done for them, they had not put, their trust in Him, and had gone after other gods. They had put their faith in Baal.    

 

In Psalm 80 we see an over view and outline of the purpose of the coming of the Messiah and the call to God to save and restore his people.  This is one of 12 psalms credited to Asaph, whose name means “God has gathered to himself”.  It is a plea of the psalmist who calls upon a righteous God “to be righteous”.  In this psalm he calls upon God to return and watch over Israel, thatthey may be saved”. 

The metaphorO Shepherd of Israel” is used to describe God, and God’s relationship with his people.  (This is mirrored in the 23rd Psalm)  The term shepherd is used in the prologue to The Code of Hammurabi, where it is the king’s role to lead and to protect the people.  This describes the personal relationship between God, and His people in the Covenant.  The Covenant was a binding promise from, the one with Power, to the powerless.

We also see the same metaphors of the vineyard used in Isaiah, and the same

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mechanics of breaking down the walls, and the ravaging of the vineyard. 

The request of the psalmist that God to “make your face shine upon us,- that we may be saved”, and is intensified with each request.  The face in the Old Testament was the part of the body through which a person’s attitudes were most clearly expressed.  For someone to, set their face against someone, was to reflect their hostility towards them, for them to make their face to shine upon them, was to reflect their acceptance.  The shining is a dwelling presence.  Just as God’s presence dwelled in the midst of Israel in the wilderness.  The Hebrew word is Shekinah which means “that which dwells”.   It is the nearness of God with his people, and God’s presence is in the “Shekinah glory”.  (Like Moses’ shining face that reflected his being in the presence of the Lord.  God’s faithfulness in dwelling with Israel is seen in His putting His Name in the Temple.  The psalmist is calling upon Israel to put their faith in the God and God’s Covenant Promises.

Again, like Isaiah, the Vine as a metaphor and as a symbol of Israel.  How God brought them out of Egypt, made them to prosper, and now to be destroyed by the nations that surround them, because of where they put their faith.  The psalmist calls upon God to watch over Israel, and uses the metaphor of “the son you have raised up for yourself”.  This is the image of the faith of the Messiah, (Jesus and his suffering) who put his faith in the Father.  We see the call for God’s hand (God’s power) to rest on the man at your right hand. 

 

It is a blue print of the coming of Christ and his purpose to redeem not just Israel, but all of creation.  We also recall Christ’s reference to himself as the Vine and we are the branches.  He is the True Vine, and God is the Vinedresser.  God’s presence is reflected through us.  It is where we put our faith in God.  It reflects in who and in what we put our trust.  In this we reflect the Kingdom of God because it is where we put our faith.  It is about the integrity of belief.  If Christ truly dwells in us then we are the branches of Christ, and we produce the fruits of the Spirit.  Faith is demonstrated in where we put our effort.  Faith is where we are putting our true focus, and efforts.  Our faith must be “in Christ”. and do not produce fruit, then God, the vinedresser, cuts off the non bearing branches.  In light of this, we must be putting forth fruitthat we may be saved.”

 

We see in Hebrews, God’s mighty acts demonstrated because, of the faith put in God’s blessing, protection, and power.  We also see that there is a price paid for where we put our faith.  It is in and through trials that our faith is tested, and refined.  It is tested through being destitute, persecuted, and mistreated.  We remember the Greek word for witness is martyr.  This gives us insight to the phrase “great cloud of witnesses”.  It is the great cloud of martyrs that have demonstrated their faith in action.  It is the proof test of their faithfulness and belief in God.  The faith of martyrs is proved in facing flogging, imprisonment, stoning, and death.  We are called to keep our focus on Jesus, who is the author and perfector of our faith.  He has endured the trial of the cross.  His faithfulness to the Father is accomplished with the salvation of mankind, and creation.                         2

He is, as the psalmist says “the son of man you have raised up for yourself”, that “we may be saved”.  Christ is the demonstrated faith in the putting, in trusting God, the author of our life.  It is in his faith through his baptism by trial that we see the Will of the Father.                                              

 

In our reading from Luke, we see Jesus talking about the baptism of fire he must undergo.  It is His faith is in putting God’s work, and purposes first.  He talks about the price we will pay for being faithful.  It is about what we will undergo because of our faith.  It is where we are putting our priorities in our life, in spite of the conflicts that will divide even our own families.  We can understand the weather and the seasons of the world, but we cannot understand the spiritual winds and seasons that surround us in the conflicts of our lives.

Our faith is in the putting!  Our faith is putting up with and enduring through the trials of this life to attain the prize, which is Christ, and His Kingdom.

It is in all of our putting: we are called to put on Christ.  We are to put off this world.  We are put our trust and our faith in God through Christ as our savior.  We are called to put our treasures in heaven, because that is where our focus and our hearts should be.  We are called to put our love and invest our time in God and God’s people.       

 

 

In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

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