20 January 2019
Pastor Mike Yamamoto
Today’s message is about faith, and our Bible passage comes to us from Matthew 13:53-58:
It’s very interesting to note that Jesus chose not to perform many miracles in his hometown of Nazareth, because the people there lacked faith. There seems to be a direct correlation between faith and God acting.
American evangelist D.L. Moody said this about “faith”:
The key note of all our work for God should be FAITH. In all my life I have never seen men or women disappointed in receiving answers to their prayers, if those persons were full of faith, and had good grounds for their faith. Of course we must have a warrant in Scripture for what we expect.
Unbelief is as much an enemy to the Christian as it is to the unconverted. It will keep back the blessing now as much as it did in the days of Christ. We read that in one place Christ did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. How can we expect to accomplish anything if the people of God are unbelieving? I contend that God’s children are alone able to hinder God’s work. Infidels, atheists, and skeptics cannot do it. Where there is union, strong faith, and expectation among Christians, a mighty work is always done.
In Hebrews we read that without faith it is impossible to please God. Let us have a heart that desires to please Him, and let us diligently seek Him today; let us have great faith; and let our expectation be from God. (D. L. Moody)
Before we go further, a little something on what faith is NOT. One, faith is NOT belief that God will do whatever we want Him to do. As D. L. Moody says, our expectation must have Scriptural validity, and what we expect must be in line with what God wants.
And, faith is NOT belief that God will do everything while we do nothing. Faith itself is an action, and faith also demands further action in response. Those actions please God, because it shows we trust Him.
This fact that faith is our action and our response is very important, especially in light of the fact that there is a definite and undeniable link between our faith and God moving. I found Moody’s comment to be particularly interesting, that Christians are solely responsible for hindering God’s work with our lack of faith.
We cannot blame God’s enemies for thwarting God’s plan, because, quite honestly, they cannot. They don’t have the power, because God is greater. So it boils down to our unbelief—our lack of faith—that gets in the way of God.
Let us be sober-minded about this. Our negativity, our over analysis, our hyper sensitivity, our extreme caution—no matter how well intentioned they may be—if they get in the way of God’s plan and what He desires to do, it is our lack of faith and our unbelief that are to blame.
Heading into this year, Pastor Andrew told me that I would have three opportunities to make my final encouragements to the church from the pulpit. I’ve been thinking about what the Lord would want me to share before Mayu and I return to the US. I believe that this topic of faith is very important, in light of the huge transition our church will go through this year.
The church leadership had an opportunity to meet together with Pastor Joseph and his wife Jo Ann at our leaders meeting last Sunday, and Pastor Andrew and I met with Pastor Joseph last Wednesday to talk more extensively about the transition.
Pastor Joseph is a wonderful man of God, a God-fearing servant, and we believe in faith that he is THE appointed person at THIS appointed time to shepherd our church. This is NOT some back-up plan in light of Pastor Andrew’s and my departures. We believe in faith that this transition is a part of God’s plan for our church, and we believe that God has great plans to take our church to the next level!
So, my brothers and sisters, I implore you: this is NOT the time to be asking negative questions like, “What’s going to happen to me?” “Is our church going to be okay?” “What if things start falling apart?”
I understand that any transition can be sensitive and difficult. I’m not being dumb and ignorant. What I am saying is that we need to have faith as a church and believe that God has great plans for our church. And if we believe that in faith, that means we believe that God can and will do it.
Do we believe this in faith as a church? I desperately hope so. And if we believe this, our actions will reflect likewise. We are to be full of faith to believe that God can and will take our church to the next level of maturity and glory through this transition. We are to love, honor, and support Pastor Joseph and his family in every way we can. We are to be strong and courageous.
The late American president John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
In the same way, don’t ask what God can do for you. Ask yourself, “What can I do for God?” Don’t ask what MIC can do for you. Ask yourself, “What can I do to serve at MIC?” Don’t ask what Pastor Joseph can do for you. Ask yourself, “What can I do to support Pastor Joseph?”
This is not a time to be afraid, brothers and sisters. This is not a time to be tentative, or cautious, or sad, or pessimistic, or any other negative feeling. This IS a time to take action that is reflective of our faith. Don’t just believe. Act in the way you believe.
I want to leave us today with a couple of Bible passages that I feel God put on my heart for our church. That’s each and every person here.
If any of us here calls MIC his or her church, then each and every person has a very important role to play in this upcoming transition. Let’s let our faith in action usher in God’s great plans for our church unhindered.