What does it look like to have a model faith? I’m not talking about a perfect faith. The faith journey is never one of perfection, but it should be one of progress. I’m talking about a way to practically model faith. Can you envision it?
My vision of a model faith is like a North Star. It doesn’t mean you’re there already, but it means there’s something that guides us and it’s something to look towards. I’ve told you this before, I’m a goal setter. I have about 10 categories for all the goals I’m setting out to accomplish … to be a better husband, dad, pastor, golfer (sometimes it’s more wishful thinking) but … it’s a very long list. Will I achieve them all? I certainly hope so!
By definition, a vision is: The future state of what you want to accomplish over time.
As a church we have a very clear vision. We’ve talked about it regularly all year long. Our vision is to become a model church in serving, caring, loving, and reaching our community in producing Champions for Christ. At the beginning of 2020, I asked God for a word of the year for our church. I wish I could say it was … COVID, Slam Diego, or something prophetic … but no, I didn’t know what 2020 would bring. The word God gave me was “model.” I want us to be a model church. A church that others come to with questions on how to bring the Gospel to more people! We often ask, “What would the model church do in this situation?” It guides us like a North Star.
Throughout the pandemic, we haven't lost sight of our North Star. In fact, we have studied the COVID virus to ensure the safety of our community, we’ve connected with our people in a daily devotional called Today Matters, worshipped in person and online, served and blessed our first responders, held prayer meetings to pray for our governmental leaders, cleaned up various areas in our community, seen over 600 people make decisions to follow Christ, and even sent out a new church plant. All of this during a season where churches chose to close and remain closed for 8 months now. God doesn’t stop the kingdom advancing when the world decides to stop.
We reopened in person services in June and found a way to continue sharing the gospel with those looking for hope! We are very thankful to the Lord that Skyline Church has thrived and set an example of what it looks like to both love and serve our community during extremely trying times. This group of Skyline pastors and staff is truly amazing. I am so grateful to be a part of this team.
Now, let’s bring this home. How do we individually live out a model faith day in and day out in front of those 8-15 people we commonly connect with (even during this time) the New Testament calls our Oikos? The place we’ve got to turn to is, Hebrews 11. Here, God walks through examples of what a model faith looks like. Let’s look at three.
Right away in the first verse of Hebrews 11, it tells us exactly what faith is. “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead” (Hebrews 11:1). People often say things like, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But the first thing we have to do in order to have a model faith, is to believe it when we don’t see it.
The second thing we have to do in order to have a model faith, is to obey when it doesn’t make sense. In Hebrews 11:7, we read about Noah building an ark to save his family from a worldwide flood. The funny thing about Noah building the ark and preparing for a downpour was that it had never rained before. Or what about Abraham in Hebrews 11:8? He was called to move, leave his country, and go to a foreign land. Some of you may be thinking, that’s not so bad. But let’s remember, at the time, Abraham was 75 years old!
So often, we want a guarantee before we move. But God wants to stretch our faith in order to grow us. Are you going to listen to God, or listen to your gut? Are you going to wait for security, or are you going to step out in faith even when you don’t understand it?
The third habit we need to exercise in order to build a model faith is to give when we don’t have it. If you’ve been a Christian very long, you know I’m not just trying to get you to empty your pockets because YOU have seen first hand how God has blessed you abundantly for giving in faith. The first example that Hebrews 11 gives is of Abel who offered a gift to God. It wasn’t how much Abel gave, it was HOW he gave. It’s never the amount, it’s always the attitude. It’s why one of our core values is You can’t out give God!
I’ll never forget one of my mentors who spoke into my life when he said, “Pastors are always afraid of talking about money because it turns people off. But you need to tell people, you need to tell business owners, the best time to give is when they are in the dumps. Tell them to give because that is when they need God the most!”
Now, those who are well off and want to give, bless you. But, no matter who you are, you need to know that it’s not about the amount. It’s always about your heart.
Many of you gave to Skyline Church at the end of the year last year when we talked about finishing strong in 2019. Little did we know that we’d be walking into an unprecedented season like the 2020 pandemic. Each of you that stepped out in faith and gave to the Lord through the church, have helped us keep the main thing the main thing … we’ve been able to live out our purpose of helping people find and follow Jesus seven days a week. Hundreds of people have made a decision to follow Christ and several more have found a church home when there were no churches to go to. Thank you for your faith!
I realize this is a crazy time for so many people. But, I want to encourage you to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. Make it a goal to grow your faith in these unprecedented times. I want to encourage you to keep moving toward the North Star of a model faith by believing when you don’t see it, obeying when it doesn’t make sense, giving when you don’t have it, and just KEEP going.
We don’t know what the elections will bring, what the holidays will bring, or even what 2021 will bring, but let’s be certain of what we hope for, with a confident assurance, that it WILL happen.