Soaring Higher Still

In order to soar higher still, you need to exercise faith.

Soaring Higher Still

I had never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane before. Strapped to a seasoned Skydiver, we stepped to the open door of the aircraft some 12,000 feet above the ground. He said, “On Three we jump.” It is a very unnatural thing to do. Go ahead, jump. Sounds like it should be a song lyric to some 80’s rock song. This is one of those things in which you have to face your fear, believe, and trust. Your fear is well-founded, “This could end in sudden violent stop.” You have to believe that parachute will open and you will land safely and relatively softly after falling a few thousand feet. You have to place your life in the hands of another and trust that your seasoned Skydiver knows what he or she is doing. When you jump, you’re all in, there is no turning back. What a thrill! What an experience! Obviously, things turned out well or I would be much shorter today.

As disciples of Jesus, we are expected to grow up in our faith. To grow you’re going to have to go ahead and jump.

2 Peter 3:18 (MSG)
Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ

We’ve explored this idea in a series of messages entitled Grow Up and one called Practicing Growing Up. You can find these teachings on our website as videos, podcasts or manuscripts if you would like to do a little more exploration of this topic.

Grow up, mature in the faith, become more like Jesus, this is what is expected from a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is one who has believed the gospel, acknowledging their inability to live their life to the full, they have committed themselves to follow Jesus. Having asked God with sincere heart they were forgiven of every sin, the slate wiped clean, God declared them reconciled to Himself and adopted them as His child, then the Holy Spirit took up residence within, guiding and empowering them to grow, mature, to become like Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (MSG)
And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

I trust you have grown to be more like Jesus as you have put action to your belief, added good works to your words, and kept in step with the Holy Spirit. I want to encourage you to grow Higher Still. I want you to grow up even more by exercising your faith. Faith is like a muscle, through constant use and exercise a muscle grows strong, without constant use the muscle atrophies becomes disfigured and useless.

As a disciple of Jesus you have faith. Our savior and Lord was teaching a particularly hard lesson on how to live in the Kingdom and afterwards his closet followers came to Him had said “Give us more faith.”

Luke 17:6 (MSG)
But the Master said, "You don't need more faith. There is no 'more' or 'less' in faith.

Jesus is saying you have all the faith you need, all you need to do is exercise it. You have to face your fear, you have to believe God, and have you to trust God, and then go all in. Just like when you jump out of an airplane.

To become a disciple of Jesus you have already exercised faith. You believed the gospel, the good news that the Kingdom is now open for whosever will to enter in through Jesus. You trusted God to provide everything you needed to become an heir to life eternal.  In confidence, being thoroughly convinced you bent the knee to Jesus, identifying with Him completely in your testimony of baptism.  Can you remember that time?

For me it was early March 1975, when I prayed a skeptics prayer, “God if you are really there I will believe in you, but you’re going to have to prove it.” That doesn’t seem like much faith at all, but 44 years later, I find God is still gracious and has not abandoned me because of my sin, mistakes, infirmities, my disobedience, my lack of love, and my temper tantrums.

Psalms 103:8-13 (MSG)
God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he's rich in love. He doesn't endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who [respect and revere] him.

This is the God in whom I have trusted and believed. He, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is faithful even when we are faithless. But let’s not be faithless, instead, let’s find out how to exercise our faith.

There is an infinite number of challenges that will give you opportunity to exercise your faith. I guess we should define what we are talking about when you are talking about faith. Probably the most famous definition of faith in scripture is

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is the action that demonstrates absolute certainty that what is believed is expected to be realized. “It is not the hope which looks forward with wistful longing; it is the hope which looks forward with utter conviction.” 
(Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Go ahead an jump.

Faith chooses to suffer with God rather than prosper with the world.

Faith looks beyond the temporal and stakes all on the eternal

Faith knows that truth, justice, and righteousness will prevail.

Faith will sit in a dungeon worshiping while awaiting God’s verdict

Faith is seen in loving sacrifice, devoted obedience, and fidelity to God’s will and God’s way.

Faith is relying on God when facing the challenges of life and obeying even when we don’t fully understand all the details, or how we are to deal with the situation.

The 11th Chapter of Hebrews, lists examples of the things done in faith by ordinary people just like you and me. People who demonstrated that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (ESV).

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (MSG) & 7 (KJV)
“That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.” “For we walk by faith, not by sight…”

When you do these things you are exercising your faith and by doing so you are partnering with the Holy Spirit who enables you to grow up, to grow higher still, to become that much more like Jesus.

The area we all need to exercise faith is in our obedience, that 6th habit of a disciple. Obedience is basically compliance to an authority. First place a disciple finds the authority to which compliance is expected is in the Scripture.

There are many things we can rightly believe about the Bible and one thing in particular is that it reveals the way a Christian is expected to live. Here are three examples, and as we read ask yourself “what is it that God want me to do?”:

Galatians 5:13-14 (MSG)
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom.

What does God want you to do?

Ephesians 4:1-3 (MSG)
I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

What does God want you to do?

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG)
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

What does God want you to do?

Do you get the impression that maybe God wants you to love?

Love for God is compliance to the things He has revealed to you. When you love you are exercising faith.

Love for others is showing each person respect and meeting their need as opportunity arises. When you love you are exercising faith.

Love for the earth is being a good steward of all the material blessings God has given you to manage. When you love you are exercising faith.

Love for self is keeping in step with the Spirit, partnering with God to bring about your transformation into holiness.  When you love you are exercising faith.

To love you have to step out of your comfort zone. A comfort zone is the place that you are in control of, or at least you believe you are in control of. Everything is as you expect it to be; safe and secure. Love makes you vulnerable to being hurt.

Faith is exercised when you choose to love instead of playing it safe. You have to face your fear of “I can’t.” You have to face your of failure. You have to face your fear of ridicule. You have to face your fear of rejection, hardship, persecution, and failure. So you obey, and in obedience encounter God, and in the encounter grow up higher still

Faith is exercised when you choose to love instead of sitting in church. You believe that God intends to prosper you. You believe God will never leave you or forsake you. You believe God can squeeze good out of every situation. You believe where God guides, God provides. So you obey, and in obedience you encounter God, and in the encounter, you grow up higher still

Faith is exercised when you choose to trust that God’s way is the only way.
You trust God to safeguard what you have entrusted to His care. You trust God for the results in your labor of love even if you never see it. You trust that even if you die, there is a resurrection awaiting. So you obey, and in obedience encounter God, and in the encounter grow up higher still

This is my suggestion for you. If you want to grow higher in your faith, becoming more like Jesus, get out of your comfort zone, into that unnatural place, doing things that may not feel normal, in order to be a lover.  Face your fear, leave the comfort zone, get off the sidelines into the game, take action. Believe that obedience to God’s will is the best thing you can do. Trust that God will honor your obedience no matter what happens and that love, His love that moves through you to love others will prevail. Go ahead a jump. It’s a thrill. It’s a rush, and God guarantees a safe landing.


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