September 19, 2020

How Can I Believe? (Proper 29A)

How can I believe is the cry of our hearts as we seek the truth about God in a world full of chaos, evil and divided opinion. The short answer is YOU can’t on your own - but with God’s help you can. Like Moses and the Pharisees we need to experience Gods power and presence personally. Personal relationship and experience of the divine is the gift of faith. The readings help us understand:

·     What belongs to God?

·     How do we know we can trust God?

·     How do we get this gift of faith?


1. What belongs to God?

The Gospel story of Jesus response on paying taxes to Caesar dramatically clarifies our relationship to God.  The short answer is everything belongs to God:

·     We belong to God because we have been created by God and bought with a price – the sacrificial death of Jesus

·     Other people belong to God so we must love and respect them – and care for them if needed

·     Our love of others includes sharing the Good News of what God has done for us 


2. How do we know we can trust God?

Moses (Exodus 33.12-23) insisted that God go with him as he leads the Hebrew people through the desert. Like us he is not alone. He asks “What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the earth?”

·     God gives Moses a glimpse of His glory

·     God promises to be with himin power

·     Our God is real because He answers uswhen we cry out for help

3. Faith Is Caught Rather than Taught

Paul is reminding them how they caught faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit and became “imitators” (1 Thess.1.6) of him through personal experience of:

·     Paul’s outreach to them, connecting them to the truth about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit - Orthodoxy

·     Holy Spirit guiding them to forgiveness, healing and hope that was relevant to their lives 

·     Experiences of divine power bound them together as a community that became a model for other churches

·     Gifts of love, joy and peace that moved them to reach out to others, sharing the Good News of forgiveness, right-relationship with God and physical and spiritual healing

·     Hope enabled them to endure persecution and the challenges of life


4. We Can Believe Because God Is With Us As We Grow In Faith

The first step is to make a decision to turn to God and seek help. We may be in a serious crisis. We may have heard or seen something that caused a light to flash on in our heads. For men this is often their first experience of “intuition” – seeing or understanding something as true outside of the human rational thinking process. We just suddenly know something. This may be our personal spirit talking to our rational mind. This is what helps us discern the truth, know what to do and what to believe. This intuitive or spiritual wisdom guides us through the work of growing in our faith:

·     As we study the Wordor listen to a teaching, certain words or ideas suddenly come to our attention

·     As we worship and go deeper in our spiritual life we begin to experience the Wordas Gifts of the Holy Spirit

·     As we suffer persecution or hardship in proclaiming the Word we begin to become the wordand experience joy

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