Do you see your faith as a finished product or a work in progress? In this message, we discuss what it looks like to have an active faith that will persevere through life’s ups and downs.
David Marvin: Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth; Houston; El Paso; Rogers, Arkansas; Phoenix. Wherever you're joining us from, we're so glad you're here, and especially friends here, we're glad you are here. Tonight, we have a treat. A friend of ours, a young adult pastor in town named Trip Lee, is joining us. We're going to take a departure. He is from Concord Church, a church we love dearly. So would you guys put your hands together for Trip who's coming to teach us from God's Word?
Trip Lee: How is everybody doing? I'm excited to be here with you tonight. I just want to shout out real quick. My wife is here. Y'all say, "Hi, Jess." We also have some folks from Concord, some of our young adult leaders who are here hanging out in the front. Y'all just make some noise for them real quick. I'm excited to be here with you all.
One of the ways we know there may be some cultural difference between the churches is that when the sports activities were listed it was like soccer and softball and Ultimate Frisbee and Spikeball. What is Spikeball? I've never even heard of that. There are whole sports y'all are keeping from black people. Ours would have been like basketball, 3x3 basketball, knockout, you know, all kinds of basketball-related things.
Again, I'm excited to be here with you tonight and to preach God's Word. I'm grateful for Watermark, grateful for The Porch. I love what you all are doing and excited to serve you. I want to pray one more time, and we'll dive right in.
Father, we thank you so much for your Word. God, thank you for everybody who's here tonight. Thank you for bringing them. God, we know you love them, you care for them, Father, so we pray this would be a good use of our time. We pray you would speak through your Word, Father. We pray you would unearth the stuff in our lives that doesn't look like you. God, I pray for my friends who don't know you. Help them to see you, God. I pray for my friends who know you. Help them to see you more. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.
David just told you really quickly who I am. Just to tell you a little bit more so you know who you're listening to, I'm from Dallas. I grew up here. I lived a couple of other places before I came back, but God has been really gracious. When I was really young, maybe about 14 years old, the Lord took someone like me… I had assumed, because I grew up in Dallas, which as you know is a really churchy place… I grew up assuming I was a Christian just because I went to church with my family and I had repeated a prayer after a children's pastor, and that made me think I was a Christian.
I assumed it for a long time, and then fast-forward. I got dragged to church by my parents when I was 13 and 14. There was a sign-up for a summer retreat for the youth, and I was like, "I'm not trying to sign up for that." Then I saw some cute girls in line. I was like, "I'm going to go sign up for that." And I did. Really bad reasons, but the Lord had better ones.
The youth pastor at Concord (Concord is the church where I met Jesus) was a good youth pastor. Meaning, we did more than just have fun. He also opened the Bible and preached the gospel of Jesus. As he opened the Bible and preached the gospel, the stuff I hadn't understood that I assumed about myself being a Christian before, about who God was, who I was, what Jesus did… The Lord made that stuff clear to me.
Since then, the Lord has given me the opportunity to be able to do what my heart beats for, which is I want to help people see the same Jesus I've been shown. So I'm praying we have the opportunity to do that tonight. I try to do that in a lot of ways, with music and with preaching God's Word, and I'm excited to do that tonight.
What I want to talk about tonight is The State of Your Faith. It'll become clear what I mean by that. One of the problems with talking about something like this, one of the problems with how we think about our faith is that those of us who call ourselves Christians, we sometimes see our faith as a finished product instead of a work in progress. When we think about our faith, we just think of it as a finished product instead of a work in progress, and when we are confused about what stage we're in, everything is thrown off. It is in every area of our lives.
We're all familiar with the phrase kids will say on a long trip: "Are we there yet?" Before I had kids, I thought this was fake. I thought this was like a funny thing in movies. If you don't have kids, I just want to let you know…this is real. Kids actually say this, and they say it so often that you really want to be like, "If you want to be there, you can just get out right now, and we can just keep going where we're going."
Kids ask that over and over again, but it's not just kids. We all do this in different ways. Just think about when you are on a trip somewhere, even if you know… Like, we're on the way from Dallas up here, and we're looking at our phones. As you drive, even if you know how long it's going to take, you keep looking. Even if you know you have a good 45 minutes left, you're still looking, like, "How long do we have left?" Just hoping it gets there a little bit closer.
Some of us, while we're at school or at work, spend more time looking at the clock than we do our actual work, just hoping that somehow we can will time to go a lot faster. We're constantly asking this question, "Are we there yet?" Here's what happens. Once we assume we've arrived, what do we do? We relax. You're happy when you make it to your destination. It's a good thing. The only problem that comes in is when you think you've already made it to your destination but you're still on the way, because then you've relaxed way too early, when you think the task is over.
Here's what happens. When we assume our faith is just this one-time event that gets us entry into the kingdom, when we assume that with our faith we've already arrived, that's a problem. What Scripture shows is just because we've believed doesn't mean we've arrived. If you walk away with one thing today, I want it to be that. Just because you've believed in Jesus does not mean you've arrived.
When we treat our faith like a finished product instead of a work in progress, it will get neglected. It means we will relax too early because we think we have arrived. So I want to look at two points in a particular text. Turn with me to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 3, and I'll read. In this text, Paul is writing to some Christians in Thessalonica, and here's what he says to them:
"So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God's service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.
In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain." I want to look at this passage in two points to remind us that just because we believe doesn't mean we've arrived.
1._ Your faith needs work. I don't assume that everybody in this room is a believer in Jesus, but for those of us who are, I don't want you to think that because you're a believer you've arrived at the end destination. So the first one is that your faith needs work. Here's what I _don't mean. I don't mean Jesus will not save you until you do a bunch of good works. What we know about Jesus is Jesus is perfectly capable of saving us on his own.
What Jesus did on the cross is he purchased our salvation. So I'm not saying for Jesus to save you you have to add some stuff to what he has already done, but I am saying faith is not a one-time event that we look back on. Faith is a lifestyle. Faith is a lens we see everything else through. Faith is fuel for every good work we do.
So I want to ask you how you would respond if I was to ask you this simple question…How is your faith? Think about it for a second. How would you respond if I asked you, "How is your faith?" When I ask you that, do you just think about some one-time event that happened a long time ago when you walked down an aisle or you repeated a prayer, like I did when I was a kid? I hope not.
As Paul writes to these Christians in Thessalonica, he's writing to these folks who… He went there and preached the gospel, and Jesus saved some people. What happens is people get mad at Paul for preaching the gospel, so he ends up getting pushed out, and Paul writes back to them. He sends Timothy to go check on them. This is why he says in verse 1:
"So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God's service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them."
Paul sends Timothy, almost like a doctor making a house call, to check on their spiritual health, to give them a little bit of a dose of what they need to continue to grow in health. The fact that Timothy was sent to check on their faith should tell us something about what faith is like, that faith is something that needs to be sustained and checked in on.
I know you all are in this series talking about self-care. Well, Paul wants the Thessalonians to understand that even though you've believed in Jesus, there's still some care that needs to happen. You're not at the end yet. So why does Paul think the Thessalonians' faith would need to be checked in on? Is there something specific about the Thessalonians? Well, what Paul understands about them is that their faith is fragile, that they are fragile. The same thing is true about us. We are fragile.
I wonder if you ever think of yourself as fragile. That's not a way we like to think of ourselves. We like to think of ourselves as strong, especially dudes in here. We don't like anybody to see any weakness ever. That's why half of you get hurt every time you go to the gym. You're trying to lift all kinds of weight. You have never lifted this before, bro. Why do you think…? Just praying before like the Lord… The Lord wants you to stop being a fool. That's what he would like. That's what you need power for.
We don't like to think of ourselves as fragile. We like to think of ourselves as strong, and our pride blinds us to this, but there's a reason why when people trust Jesus the Bible uses language of new birth. When a new child is born, they're fragile. My sister had a baby recently, and I was just reminded that babies are so fragile. Not to be rude to babies, but they can't do anything. I mean, they can't do anything.
My niece can't even hold her head up. It's like if there's one baseline of something you can do for yourself, just keep your head up, and she can't even do that. There's nothing wrong with her. She's just fragile. This is the kind of language the Bible uses of those of us who have just started to follow Jesus. We're babies. We're fragile. We need to be cared for. It's not that the life hasn't really begun; it's that that life needs to be cared for in order to be sustained. It needs to be looked after, and there is all kinds of strength that's needed to build that up.
Let me give you another example. My wife is here tonight, and she's great at many things. She has given me permission to say this. My wife is great at so many things. I mean, I could give you a long list. One of the things she's not good at is keeping plants alive. She loves plants. I'm of the belief that plants are outside for a reason. That's where they should stay: in the ground outside. My wife loves to have plants on the inside of our house, but what happens is they always die terrible, painful deaths. She always kills them.
You know how the Bible says, "You say you love your brother, but do you really?" That's how I feel about her and plants. I'm like, "You say you love them, but do you?" She's a serial plant killer. Because of that, I felt like I had to put my foot down and be like, "I don't think we can have plants in our house anymore, because it's unjust."
The exception I made was this: if those plants are fake. Here's the great thing about fake plants: they're fake, and you don't have to pay attention to them. You can't kill a fake plant. You don't have to water it. You don't have to put it in front of the sun. You can forget that the plant exists for four years and come back and the plant looks exactly the same. Fake plants are wonderful in that way.
Here's what happens: sometimes we treat our faith like it's that fake plant, like it's something that exists that we can forget about entirely, that we don't have to water, that we don't have to put in front of the sun, that doesn't need anything to thrive and grow or flourish. We expect to show up and for it to be in exactly the same state, but that's not true. Our faith is more like a real living plant that needs stuff in order to grow, that needs things in order to thrive and flourish.
What Paul is saying is, "I've sent Timothy to check up on you because there are things that need to happen if your faith is going to survive." Timothy is checking in on them to see how they're doing, because believing in Jesus doesn't mean you have arrived. So Paul understands that there are dangers in our world that are a threat to our faith. We're under attack.
Paul talks about two threats. In verse 3 he says he doesn't want anyone to be unsettled by these trials. In verse 5 he says, "I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you." Our faith is under attack by temptation and pushback from the world and from the Devil. This is part of what's important about not seeing our faith as a finished product: not ignoring the threats.
So I want to talk about those two threats he talks about. One of them is trials. This is one of the things that's a threat to our faith. He's talking mainly about affliction that comes from persecution, people opposing them because they followed Jesus. Remember, Paul got pushed out of this place for preaching Jesus. They were persecuted in ways much harder than we are today, but even so, that pushback can make us want to leave Jesus.
People do push back when you are serious about Jesus. I remember when I first started following Jesus in high school. There were a lot of people who were cool with me liking Jesus as long as I didn't like him enough to actually do what he said. When I began to try to do what Jesus said, that's when people were like, "Trip, what are you doing, bro? You're doing too much. You're extra. I'm a Christian too. Why are you out here trying to be a super-Christian?" I thought I was just doing what Jesus called me to do.
He's saying these trials, this pushback… The reason that's a threat to our faith is because it's human instinct to always want to lean toward whatever seems easier to us. If you touch the stove and it hurts you, you try not to touch the stove again. In the same way, there's something in our minds and hearts that says, "If I said that and I got this kind of pushback, I just won't say that anymore."
Paul is saying that could tempt us to walk away from Jesus, but avoiding trials and pain is not worth that. The other kind of trials besides persecution that can threaten our faith is losing a loved one, losing a job, mental illness, disease, being broke, being lonely. That kind of stuff, those kinds of trials can shake us if we're not careful.
Not only trials but also the tempter. He talks about the tempter, Satan. Satan can also tempt us away. Satan can make all kinds of stuff seem more appealing to us than Jesus. He'll throw sin at us. He'll throw doubts at us. Satan has authority in this world. I don't know if we recognize that Satan is a master of false advertising. He knows how to make stuff look better than Jesus. This is why Paul is saying there's a danger for the tempter.
Have you ever seen a commercial for some food on TV, and then when you see it in person you're like, "That is not what y'all said"? Every time I see Wendy's with those pictures of those perfectly square burger patties, I'm like, "Now y'all know them patties don't look like that. They're never square. They look really jagged." One time, my wife and I were watching TV, and they were advertising Mac n' Cheetos. Ew. That's right, whoever said that. That's not how I would have said it, but it's true.
Mac n' Cheetos, which sounds disgusting, but they were trying to make it seem like it was revolutionary and amazing. This is what Satan does. Satan came up with Mac n' Cheetos. No, but this is what Satan does. He will take something that's not good, that's not good for your soul, that's not good for the people around you, and he will try to sell it to us like it's good and convince us that it won't make shipwreck of our lives and our faith.
Paul is saying, "Look. I'm sending Timothy to check on you all. Our prayer is that trials and temptation won't have pushed you away from Jesus." Whenever I've talked to people who don't want to follow Jesus anymore, it's always because of one of these two dangers: because of some kind of pain or some kind of sin. We're hurt by something or hurt by somebody that makes us reassess what we think about Jesus or some kind of sin draws us away and makes us reassess what we think about Jesus. We are vulnerable in those moments.
So if you are in a season of trial or a season of temptation, I want to ask you to guard yourself, to watch out for these dangers. I want to encourage you to watch out for each other. If you know a friend who's in a season of a lot of trial or temptation, I want to encourage you to watch out for each other, because when we understand we're under attack it changes our posture.
Most of the time, we don't live like our faith is actually under attack. We casually stroll when we should be treading carefully. When you know your faith is under attack, you're careful. When you think everything is good, you're careless. Too many of us are careless with our faith. We don't think about the fact that it's under attack.
My son one time started having some cold sores. He was like six months old, so we didn't think it was a big deal, but what happened was it got infected and he ended up in the hospital, and he was in the emergency room. When we realized, "Oh, this is more than just cold sores," our whole posture changed. It went from just being at the house like it was no big deal to going to the emergency room to get it taken care of.
The problem would be if we treated the emergency like it was something regular. When you know something is under attack, it changes your whole posture. You're not careless anymore. So, what are some ways you might know you're a little careless with your faith? Never showing up to worship with God's people, not keeping up with relationships with people who are in your life who can check on you, hiding your sin.
You know how sometimes we'll have some sin we're struggling with that we don't want anybody else to know about, and we like to hide it in a corner in the darkness where nobody else can see it. We think we're protecting ourselves when really we're putting ourselves in danger. Not reading the Word at all, just kind of coasting. Not praying. There are so many ways we can be careless with our faith.
I'm not trying to call you to be afraid and fearful. I'm just calling you to be careful. I'm not saying retreat; I'm saying watch out, because the danger is real. But God has said he'll keep those who are his. He'll hold on to us, but he has told us some ways that we need to hold on to him. I want to look at verse 6. This is what Paul says. He said, "I sent Timothy to check." Here's what Timothy found out.
*"But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. *
For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith."
Timothy brings back a good report. They're doing well. They have fond memories. People are trying to convince them that Paul and them were lying to them. They remember what's going on. He says in verse 8, "…we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord." Before that he was saying, "We didn't want you to be unsettled by trials." There's a big difference between being unsettled by trials and standing firm in the Lord.
It's kind of like the terminal trains at the airports. Before it moves it always says, "This train is about to move. Hold on." There's always somebody who doesn't hold on, who's just looking at their phone. The train goes, and then they go. I never feel bad for them, because I'm like, "They told you to hold on, bro." So before it goes I kind of look around like, "Who is about to fall?" Y'all should probably pray for me. That's not nice. Saying it out loud, it didn't sound very nice.
It's the same way. God is saying, "Look. This world is difficult." There are threats for us to be unsettled. He's saying, "Hold on." The way we hold on… We hold on to God. We hold on to his people. We hold on to the stuff he has given us for our faith to be able to persevere. God's voice, God's people are telling you to hold on. He says he wants to see them face-to-face to complete what is lacking in their faith.
Again, the implication is something is lacking in their faith. Their faith needs to mature and grow. He's not saying there's something lacking from their faith for them to be saved, but he's saying there's some maturity that needs to occur. I just want to remind you that what saves you is not the power or perfection of your faith. It's not just because you believe a lot. I want you to know that faith itself is not even a virtue.
What saves you is not faith; what saves you is Jesus. Faith is not good unless you believe in something worth believing in. What saves us is Jesus. The object of our faith is what saves us. That faith needs to grow and mature. Jesus is a great Savior. So we want our faith to be in good shape. We know it's in good shape when it's thriving, growing, standing firm, and holding on.
Before I go to this next point, I just want to ask you how often you check in on other people. How often do you ask somebody else, "How's your faith?" The Scripture seems to say our responsibility isn't just our own growth but one another. I also want to say this. How often do you let other people ask you how your faith is?
Some of you, if someone sends you a text saying, "How is your faith?" you're going to be like, "How is your faith? What do you mean how's my faith? I'm good, but how are you? I've seen your Instagram. Who was that?" You know what I'm saying? You don't have to do all of that. But we want our lives to be open and vulnerable enough that we can check in on each other and we care enough to check in on each other. So, first, your faith needs work. Just because we believe doesn't mean we've arrived.
2._ You need God to work_. Your faith needs work, but you cannot do that work on your own. I do not want you to hear me saying that we play some part in saving ourselves. Our faith needs work, but what we don't do is kind of assemble our faith to some perfect level and then just present it to God. God is behind all of it. I'll give you an example. I know I talk about my wife and my kids a lot. It's because I like them.
Here's an example. My son has loved Legos as long as he could. When he was younger, he liked Legos; he just wasn't good enough with them to do anything. We would build stuff together, which really meant I would build it and I would let him put his finger on it and I would press it down, that kind of thing. There were some times he wanted to hurry up and do it, and I was doing something.
He'd be like, "Daddy, can I just do it by myself?" I was like, "I don't think it's going to turn out the same." He was feeling himself. I was like, "I don't know." He's like, "No, can I just do it?" I was like, "Okay. Go ahead." So, it was the Batmobile. He came back, and it looked like a bunch of black bricks stuck on top of each other. It did not look anything like the Batmobile. Here's the thing. He started to feel good about it, and he thought he could go and do it by himself.
This is what we do with God. We say, "Oh, I think I'm at a point where I can go put my whole situation together and present it back to God," not understanding that it's really God who was putting this thing together, that he just graciously included you in the process of your growth. How foolish and proud can we be to think we need Jesus to save our souls and then we could just take it from there?
"I can sanctify myself. I can grow myself. I can make myself more holy." You cannot. We're still dependent on God for that. We need God to work. That kind of "I've got this" mentality may seem like it works in other areas of our lives. It does not work with our pursuit of God. Listen to verses 11-13.
"Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Amen."
This is a prayer for them. He's praying God will allow them to go visit them. Then he asks that God would cause them to increase and overflow with love for one another, that God would cause them. God is the one working this within them. I want you to know he's not just talking about their faith. Overflow also with a love for one another. I want you to know that faith is always side by side with love. It's almost like faith and love are best friends who are inseparable. Whenever you see one you see the other.
The greatest commandment is to love God and to love neighbors. Paul is praying they'll overflow with that. Jesus is always the main example we have of love in Scripture, and we want to look more and more like him. Sometimes when we begin to gauge even our own maturity as disciples, what our faith looks like, we'll just look to particular activities, like, "Oh, did I go to this, and did I read this?" but we rarely really look in our lives for love.
Sometimes the questions you need to ask yourself to see whether or not you're growing and how you're doing with Jesus isn't just "Do I show up in a building sometimes?" It's "Do I actually love my neighbor? Do I actually love my brothers and sisters? Do I seem to even be growing in affection for God? Is God at work in my life in that way?" Faith and love are always side by side. Your love for God shows up in the way you love others.
Then the third thing he prays is, "May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." Blameless in holiness. Would anybody when they're putting in their dating profile on some dating app… It's like, "How would you describe yourself?" They'd be like, "Uh, short, blameless in holiness…" No one would do that, because that's a high standard.
Blameless in holiness means there is no fault to be found in you. There's nothing you can be blamed for. He's talking about a perfect holiness. It's one thing for us to seem blameless in holiness before our friends or our coworkers, but he's saying may God make us blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of Jesus. That is a high standard.
We're talking about the God in the universe who knows everything about you, who knows what you're thinking right now, who knows your thoughts, your actions, your past, the stuff you feel like you can hide from other people. He's saying Jesus is going to make us blameless in holiness before him. Again, if you have tricked yourself into thinking you can do this on your own, I'm just not sure how. God has to do this work in us.
I wonder if you ever think about your faith in light of the second coming of Jesus, that Jesus is coming back, and the only way we have this eternal joy to look forward to is if we're blameless in holiness before him. The good news is our future, us being blameless in holiness before God, is secured by what Jesus has already done in the past. You're not trying to come up with some new strategy and plan to get yourself the perfect blameless in holiness.
You need to do what God has commanded you, and he'll grow you in your faith, but at the end of the day, our confidence is in the work of Jesus. Our confidence is in the power of Jesus. For some of us, it's hard for us to look forward, to have joy, because all we see is the ways we fall short. We see our flaws and our failures, but I want to encourage you not to base your confidence mainly on yourself but in Jesus.
When the Bible talks about our boast being in Jesus, our glory being in Jesus, our confidence being in Jesus, it's in part having to do with this. Jesus is going to work this in you. He can finish the work he began in you. Blameless in holiness. If you're here today and you know Jesus, I want to encourage you not to let your current sin overshadow the power and promises of God. Don't let the fact that you're weak make you doubt the strength of Jesus. Just because you're weak doesn't mean Jesus is. I promise you Jesus can do this work in your life, and he has promised to.
If you're here and you don't know Jesus, I want to ask you whether or not you think you can live a life that is blameless in holiness before God. Do you think that when you stand before the Judge of the universe and he knows everything about you that you would come off as blameless in holiness? That's a really high standard, one we cannot meet. There's plenty of stuff we should be blamed for.
Even when we try, there are ways we want to do better, but we find ourselves falling short. We try and fail. We try to do better on our mistakes, but we know we can't. Even if we could from this point forward live perfectly, we can't go back in time and erase our mistakes, but I want you to know you can have hope that you will be blameless in holiness before God, before Jesus himself.
You might say, "I'm guilty of making a lot of mistakes." I want you to know Jesus says, "I can make you blameless." You might say, "Oh, but I've made a lot of people hurt," but Jesus says, "I can make you blameless." You might say, "I'm guilty of lies." Jesus says, "I can make you blameless." You might say, "I'm guilty of lust." Jesus says, "I can make you blameless." You might say, "I'm guilty of bitterness." Jesus says, "I can make you blameless." You might say, "I'm guilty of unforgiveness." Jesus says, "I can make you blameless."
Put whatever you want to at the beginning of that sentence; at the end is Jesus can make you blameless, not based on what you can do but what he has already done. Jesus on the cross paid for our sins. So if you don't know Jesus, I want to invite you to begin this journey that begins with faith in Jesus and the perfect life he has already lived on our behalf. If you don't know him, I want to encourage you to talk to some folks tonight about what it means to know Jesus.
So, we're always asking that question, "Are we there yet?" when it comes to our faith in Jesus. I would say this: no, we're not there yet, but we will be. We will reach the end, and it'll be by God's power and God's strength, and the anticipation. Knowing what Jesus is going to do in us, knowing what Jesus desires, knowing what Jesus paid for, should be part of what fuels our obedience.
We should be excited about the opportunity to obey Jesus, knowing we're getting a little foretaste of who God saved us to be. I don't want holiness to feel like a burden to you; I want it to feel like an opportunity, a goal, something God has in mind for you, a beautiful dream and vision that you get to be who God called you to be.
I don't want you to feel like you'd be throwing away your years while you're young by being holy and obedient to Jesus. Instead, you'll be throwing away your years if you don't pursue holiness and obedience to Jesus. I want you to be who God created you to be right now, and God has invited us and given us the chance to do that. Just because you believe doesn't mean you've arrived, but by the power of Jesus you can. Let me pray.
Father, we thank you so much for Jesus. God, we know the only solid hope we have is Jesus. God, we know our only boast is Jesus, our only glory is Jesus. So, Father, we thank you so much for Jesus. Father, I pray for my friends here tonight who don't know Jesus, Lord, that you would help them to see him in a way they've never seen him before, God, that they would see him as a gracious, loving, kind, powerful Savior.
Father, I pray if there's hesitation for what it means to let things we love go to follow Jesus, God, you'd show us that Jesus is far greater. Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters in here who do know Jesus, Father, that you would help the power of Jesus to be shown as stronger than our own weakness. Father, give us the grace to love each other enough to help each other to grow in our faith.
Father, we pray you would be honored in our lives. Thank you so much for Watermark. Thank you so much for The Porch. Father, we pray you would continue to work in them. We pray you'd continue to glorify yourself in them, and, God, we pray they would care for these folks well. We ask in the name of your Son Jesus, amen.
David: What a treat, dude. It was awesome, so encouraging. I don't know if it's just women in general or I just have the same coincidental thing. I also married a serial plant killer. As I was listening to that story and I was thinking about the truth of that idea of the fake plant, I couldn't help but think there are some of you in the room who think you have a living faith.
Just like you can go into someone's house and see a plant and you're like, "Is that real or is it not?" and you get a little closer and see it and you're like, "Oh, that's a fake plant," some of you… I hope you hear this in as gentle of a way and as loving as I can say it. You think you have a real faith, and you have a fake faith. The reason it stays the same, just like year after year after year if you see a fake plant it never changes, it's not growing, it's not changing at all…
The reason you're not seeing any growth and any change inside of your faith is because you don't have a real faith. Maybe that's because you never actually accepted the free gift God offers you. Maybe it's because you just grew up in church. Some of you, honestly, have given up on the church and you've given up on Jesus. You grew up in the church, and you're like, "I've been there. I went to youth camp, and I tried all those things, and it just didn't work."
So you walked away and walked into the world, and you step back into places like this tonight, and there are scars on your back, rearview mirror. You hear messages like this, and you're like, "Dude, I feel like I've tried it before and it didn't work." The truth is you never tried it to begin with. You never accepted that free gift God offers. It's not just a one-time thing; it's a relationship day after day after day.
Let me be abundantly clear. You are not saved by anything you do; you are saved by in a moment placing your faith in the object of Jesus, the Savior of the world, and his death and resurrection on a cross. That is what saves us, and that gives us access to have a relationship going forward and to have a living faith. Some of you need to hear me clearly, as lovingly as I can say it: You do not have a real faith. You have a fake faith.
The problem is not Jesus and it's not the church and it's not Christianity; it's that you've never tried those things. You've never stepped into the relationship God wants you to experience day after day, not because he's angry or disappointed or anything other than crazy in love with you. Tonight is your night, man. The God of the universe brought an incredibly gifted friend and co-laborer in Christ to come and share that message to you, because he didn't want you to wake up and spend another day without experiencing a real, living, growing faith.
So if that's you inside of this room, there's going to be a team of volunteers who will be down front right after the message. We would love to pray with you. We'd love to talk with you. There will be volunteers who are wearing shirts just like this all throughout the lobby who would love to talk with you.
If you're walking through a season where you're walking through the valley of the shadow of job loss or heartbreak or a loved one dying and we can just pray with you, answer questions you maybe have… Maybe you're just wrestling with who Jesus is in general. Anything we can do to serve you. If you want to just know what the best tacos in town are, we'd love to talk to you. Anything we can do to provide for you, we'll have men and women who will be down here and spread all throughout who would love to connect with you.
In addition to that, there's something called First Step, where if you are interested in making this place that can feel so big… We know. You walk in here, and it feels overwhelming. It seems like everyone knows each other and they all have the secret handshake down. That's just not the case. Our heart is to make this place that feels big feel really, really small and help you get connected with other people who you are checking in on, just like he said, and who can check in on you.
One of the ways we do that is every month or so we offer something called First Step. If you want to take the first step in getting connected here, you can go right outside of these doors and be a part of something called First Step, finding out what it looks like to take your first step and get plugged in here, answer questions, hear some of the vision and values of Watermark.
In addition to that, we are so grateful for Trip being here. He will also be joining us at Awaken. I hope you will be joining us there as well. There have already been thousands of tickets sold. We want everyone in this room and, really, everyone who wants to be there to be there, so I would take advantage of that opportunity and go to awaken.live. Can we give it up one more time for our friend Trip and all of Concord? That is it. We love you guys so much. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord this week.