Beth Moore - Unswerving Faith
This is something I wanna speak over you before we head on to review and get into this morning's lesson. I can tell you this much. That what he has called you to do exceeds your natural gifting. It exceeds your skill set, as skilled as you may be. It's not that those things aren't important. Those are part of the things that he uses. How you have been educated, where you've grown up, the environment you've been in. We are just this whole conglomeration of person, the people that have poured into us, where we've been taught, where we were mentored in the faith. These things all make us very distinct, but we come to a place to realize that whatever our purpose... remember, in our earlier session, we were talking about taking hold of that for which God has taken hold of us through Christ. That would be Philippians chapter 3. This is what I'm talking about. Whatever it is he has taken hold of you to do, and you to do, it is beyond what you can do.
I need to know if anybody's tracking with me. It's beyond what you can do. Because it requires the Holy Spirit to do it. See, he's set it up where, in order for you to serve God, you have to have God. The only way you can do it, I mean, you could pretend. I mean, you could do the actions, but you will not have the filling of the Spirit that energizes instead of depletes. It's not that you wouldn't be tired afterwards, but there would be an energizing of the Spirit that makes you able to do what you cannot do. And so, you keep that in mind because whatever it is, it's not just gonna be the kind of thing you can do off the top of your head and never think about it again. It's gonna stretch you past that. You're gonna have to press. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3, you're gonna have to "strain to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of you".
Now, I've gotta tell you a little story. I pray that you will like this story and that you'll not make something out of it that it's not, but some of you may know that I am no longer in the denomination that I was raised in and that I dearly loved and dearly love now, I dearly love these people. These were my people. And so, it didn't have anything to do for the most part with your neighborhood Southern Baptist Church. This was something that was of a much different matter that went way high up and you're just, you are responsible for knowledge, and it just became a point of conviction and something I just could, that was just, it couldn't be negotiated. Do you understand what I'm saying?
I know now that the Holy Spirit was doing something and I know he's doing something there, and I will love them and serve them as long as they will have me. That is my heritage and nobody gets to take that from me. I love it and I will love it forever. But I will tell you a couple of years ago when God led me to make that decision, I was in full-fledged crisis. I'm gonna try to explain this. This is gonna be hard for someone to understand that hasn't had my background. My church was my safe place. My home was not. So when I walked in, and thank God that one of them was. But I didn't have the experience that many others have had where they have been hurt inside the church or within the fellowship of believers or even abused or misused in the church. I'm not, that has not happened to me.
I'm so sorrowful that it has happened to many because it ought to be the last place, the last place, that can't be trusted, the last place. But for me, walking in those doors, that was my safety, it was my harbor. I have never been without a church home in my entire believing life. And so, suddenly, I was without a church home and didn't know what to do. I had been a member for a number of years of my son-in-law's church. They had moved. All of this crisis had happened, which has gotten much better, and I'm so thankful to God, but it sent me, I cannot say enough, into a state of grief that would have been like not just losing a person, but losing a whole group of people, like, it was like a death. It was like a death. It was everything that I knew. It was so much a part of my identity and suddenly, that had all been shaken.
And Keith and I had done some visiting for...we knew. I mean, there was no way I wasn't going to find a church. I don't even know how to operate like that. There was, it had to be a place where we could invest our lives and we could be part of the fellowship of the saints. And so, we started visiting, and I want you to understand something when I say this. There was no place we were not welcome in, we tried to go in our own tradition, and so we would go, you know, we went here and we went there, to different denominations, but ones that were extremely similar to the one we were coming from, because that's what we were accustomed to, and that's what we were just longing for. But what happened was that my presence was so loaded at that time. It would not be near as loaded today as it was 2 years ago. Loaded, loaded. In other words, I could tell from their faces and from their responses, and sometimes from their words, that they just had strong feelings about us being there.
Whether it was strong feelings of being good feelings, or whether it was strong feelings of bad feelings, they just had a lot of feelings about it. And so, I told Keith, I mean, you talk about just, like, nearly having a panic attack. I said, "I don't know what I'm gonna do. I don't know what I'm gonna do," I said. And I mean, I just freaked out, and Keith said, "I'm gonna tell you something". There's kind of a story to how we got here, where he mentioned, this is what he says: "Here's what I want you to do," because we needed something that was outside the traditional way we had worshiped but that had all the same ideals which was lifting up the name of Jesus and there is no other name, an extremely high view of the Scriptures that held to the things that are very important to us.
And so he said, "Listen, I just want you to look up Anglican Churches in Houston, Texas, and we're gonna go to the closest one". Now, listen, I'd never been to anything like this, anything, anything. I just went, "Well, you think that's gonna", he said, "We're just gonna go visit, Elizabeth. We're just gonna go visit". So we go there, and I'm completely, I don't know that they're gonna process in. I don't know anything. I think, we've come, I don't know the whole robe thing, nothing. I'm there, just going, like, I said, "We've come on a special Sunday and we don't know what we're doing". And I mean, I just can't even tell you what it was like and we come, the group of 'em, there's the leadership and then there's children holding, you know, candles and that kind of thing, all at the back.
And we're going, like, "'Scuse me, 'scuse me, 'scuse me," kind of like... And they're so welcoming to us. And they laugh when I say this because I say a small church. You've gotta understand I've gone to mega churches all my life, so I say that, for a lot of churches, the average size of a church, it's plenty big, but for me, about 120 people in a service is smaller than what I had known before. So, we're scooting through it like this, and so this wonderful man, just warm-hearted man, reaches out his hand to me and introduces himself to me. He's the rector, I would find out later. And he says his name, and he said, "And your name is"? And I said, "Beth Moore". And he said, "Oh," like, "That Beth Moore". And I went, "Unfortunately, yes". It was the most hilarious thing.
What I'm gonna tell you is that, afterwards, a group of ladies just came around me and said, and I mean, totally spontaneous: "We don't have any idea what you're doing here, but we just want you to know you're so welcome here". And I sobbed, so. I could not control my tears. I could not say a word. I just sobbed and sobbed, sobbed, all the way to the car. And what I'm gonna tell you is never minimize the power of a welcome because let me tell you, they stretched out their arms to me and said, "We'll take you just like you are," and I'm telling you, I could say to them, "I'm a mess. That's how I am. I'm a mess". I needed love so bad, and I got it. And then, when we were doing, so what we were doing when I told you that it was the first I'd ever done any of the creeds. I can't tell you what it meant to me to look around that room and go, "We believe, we believe".
I say all this to tell you one funny story that happened just last week. This is how awkward I am, and I texted the director and told him this story, said, "Did you happen to notice"? And thank goodness he didn't. I've never been to a church before where you could go light a candle. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? Does anybody go to a church where you can go light a candle? See, y'all don't know it either. See, we're just all, we just don't, none of us have any idea what we're doing in this, you can go over there if you want to and pray for somebody. You can go light a candle. There's all these little votives like this, and so I thought, "You know what"? There were three different people. I thought, "I'm gonna go light some candles. I've got three people I really wanna pray for".
Now there's not anything mystical about the candles. It's just, you can go do it. It's just a way of just praying for, so here I am, you know, and everything's very formal, very formal. And I'm, you know, I go over. There's this part of the service, I go over to the candles. They're all here. There's a number of 'em lit and some that are not lit. And I reach under and I get some lighter that has that long stem on it, you know how you do for your fireplace and stuff like that? And I keep trying to click it, and it won't turn on. And so, I just keep trying to, you know, that's awkward 'cause I'm there, you know, 5 minutes, trying to... so then I look under and, oh, there's matches. Well, I know how to use matches, for sure.
So I get out the matches and I do it like this. I try to be very, like, nobody sees me. And I start lighting those three candles and then I go to blow out the match, and I blow out all the candles. So I've now extinguished the flames of others that I don't even know. I don't know whose flames I've put out, not one, not one. I panic. I start trying to light them all again. I blow it out again. It hasn't dawned on me yet that I'm blowing out the match and I'm blowing out the candles. I do it again. I blow out three more. Listen, finally, I just do it again. I nearly burn my fingernail off. I finally do it again and I just turn around and walk away and I go, "Lord, thou knowest. You know who needs prayer. You sit at the right hand of God interceding for us. You know who needs prayer". I am so awkward, I am so awkward. But let me tell you something. I can tell you this. This is the body of Christ.
All right, now I want you also to remind me what our three points were last night. Now, remember, this is all about taking it home with you. The reason we don't wanna just come here and do a bunch of performing is because the only thing that is going to bring forth a harvest when this is over is the Word of God, that if we sow the Word of God, he will bring up a harvest from it. So that's what we're after. We're after his words and not ours. So I want you to look at those three points so that you can remember 'em and I can remember 'em.
Number one: "LET US HOLD ON FIRMLY TO THE FAITH WE PROFESS". Number two: "LET US BE CONFIDENT WE HAVE A GLORIOUSLY GOOD CONFESSION". We're not gonna be intimidated by the cynics and we're gonna fight cynicism because we have an articulate worldview that makes sense of what has happened to the world and then what Christ has done for the world. And number three is this: then "LET US," what? "LET US LEARN TO ARTICULATE OUR GLORIOUSLY GOOD CONFESSION". In other words, what this particular LPL is all about, is getting you where, and getting me where, we could articulate to someone where we know how to recognize what is Christianity and what is not. Is that fair? And it seems like, "Well, I mean, that's just such basic 101". Ah-mm. Not in this culture that we're in. I truly do not believe that a lot of people understand the fundamentals and the first things of our faith.
We're taking second, third, fourth things, making them first things and it's, like, whoa, whoa, where did Jesus go? How did we disconnect from the head? We would say we were doing all of that in Jesus's name. No, but Jesus himself. What is our doctrine of our gospel? What does it look like? What are the essential elements? So, they're absolutely key. So I wanna go back over them with you. All I have set out today is the letters. So you're gonna have to really, really think and come back to this and say these with me. We're gonna start with "S" and go all the way through. These are 12 words, thematic words, of great importance from Hebrews, so the first one is Jesus Christ. audience: Son of God. eternal, incarnate, sinless, crucified, dead, buried, raised, ascended, seated, returning, reigning.
Now, let me ask you a question. Doesn't that feel good? I mean, just to be able to have some kind of way to express it? That these are the essentials. This is how we would tell someone, if we had just a capsule of time, just a little measure of time, how we would tell someone, "This is the story of Jesus, who came in fulfillment of the Scriptures, the new covenant, not being detached from the old, but fulfilling the old in every way". These are the things of our faith.
Would you turn back with me to Hebrews 4 and then 10. We're gonna do both of our texts, Hebrews 4 and then 10. Get this back on our radar. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness," everybody say "with boldness," "so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need". Now turn with me to Hebrews chapter 10:19 through 23. "Therefore, brothers and sisters," we hear it again, "since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus", Hebrews speaks of the blood of Jesus and access seven times in its 13 chapters, and I just love that.
So, over and over again, when it speaks of access, it's telling us how it happens, through the blood of Jesus. "He has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is," what? No matter how far we feel like we are out of control, we may not be able to control those circumstances, we can't control some of the things that have happened to us, that have caused us to suffer, we can't control that we may have been diagnosed with a cancer.
There are so many things out of our control. We can't control, perhaps, that our spouse has walked in the door and said, "Actually, I'm done with you". There are so many things out of our control, but we can control this. We can decide that we wanna be faithful to Jesus because he was faithful to us. That is within our control. And it says then, in verse 24: "And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching".
I want you to see these words again as it says in verse 23: "Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering". Now, this is a place where I really, really, really love the, I believe it's the NIV rendering that says, "Unswervingly". "Let us hold unswervingly to the faith that we profess," because we can get that feeling. That's not just a word. When I say "swerving," that's not just a vocabulary word. It causes a reaction in our insides, doesn't it? Because we know what it feels, any of us who have been behind the wheel of a car, know what it feels like to think that you're losing control of it and you're swerving. Would we say that? That feeling, talk about a loss of control. And it's talking about holding on when we think, of course, they were not thinking in terms of steering wheels, but it's one of the best ways we have of talking swervingly today.
Think about that, that 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, holding on to that steering wheel as tightly as you can when life is just going nuts, the whole culture is out of its mind. You're thinking, "Somewhere we landed on Mars. What happened here"? All of these things, how do we hold on and stay on that road of faith, with the confession of our faith? How do we do that? Couple of years ago, I was driving in Houston, and I hit a patch of water and I think it had just been, it had been mixed with maybe car oil, I don't know what all, but I lost control of my car and it just started swerving and, you know, everything just goes in slow motion, don't you agree? Where it's just like, and I'm trying to think in my mind how does Keith say?
You turn into it, instead of away from it. And I kept trying to think what are the rules here? And my heart is just pounding out of my chest, and I think, you know, my life is flashing before my eyes and I'm trying to get control of it and, finally, it straightens up. And then I pulled out of the car wash. I wish I was kidding. I have trouble in the car wash, I don't know why. Does anybody else? I had gone, I specifically try to avoid the kind where your tires have to go in those things, because I cannot get mine in. And when I go to the Buc-ee's in Texas, and they are there at the car wash, and it's men and women that are trying to be dignified telling you how to turn this way, so you can get your tire in that groove right there, and they just keep going to me, like, "No. No, no, no. No, no, this way, this way".
Anyway, it just doesn't work for me. So I go to one that doesn't have those, only I lost control of my car and when I tell you that I swerved all over that thing before I got out, I did everything but turn in a 360. But that feeling of just like, swerving, losing control, hands on the wheel, staying centered in what we believe. Now it says in both of those passages that we are to approach the throne boldly. I want you to look at this.
Number four, we've put together three points. Number four is this: "OUR BOLDNESS IN PRAYER WILL NOT EXCEED OUR BELIEF". What happens, and we're using this as this veil of going before the throne of grace. We are not going to be any bolder here than what we believe about what happens here. Is that fair? You getting that with me? That what we do when we come before the throne, when we come before what they're calling, what they're making that parallel between the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle or the temple, that which was like a cube.
If you think in terms of the tabernacle, think in terms of a rectangle, and this is all the first part of it, is the outer court and then there is the inner room, the Holy of Holies, that is a perfect square. And there's a big heavy veil in front of it, same was true in the temple. It was just a permanent structure instead of a tent. But what happens in this representation of going before this veil, going before the throne of God, which is depicted in the tabernacle and temple as the arc of the covenant. We'll come back to that in just a moment. We find that it's what we believe about here that determines how we pray here.
So our prayers are going to match our faith. And you may be saying, "Well now, how am I supposed to come up with that"? This is where we pray, "Lord, increase my faith". Something that this gathering is about is increasing our confidence in God whom we are called to completely trust and is trustworthy. Our boldness will match our belief. Okay, so I want you to think through this with me because I want you to think in terms of the freedom of faith. I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I suppose that it could be fair to say that God assigned nothing with any more liberty than he did faith. In other words, by his sovereign plan, he has chosen that faith cannot under any circumstances be forced. It cannot.
Forced faith is false faith every single time. And this sets us free because some of us are trying to force faith on our loved ones. And the reason why we're doing it is because they'd be so much happier if they had a faith life in God. Am I telling the truth? The motive's good. We want them in Christ. We want them to be able to flourish. We want them to know how gifted they are and that it is God who has put them on this earth and he has purpose for them. We want them to know Jesus, but we find that we're just, like, toiling, beating our heads against the wall, because we cannot make anyone believe.