John Gray - Foundational Faith
Do me a favor, let's go to 1 Corinthians 3. I'm reading from the new King James version. Last week, I talked about Finishing faith. Who was here for "Finishing faith"? Who was blessed by that word? Well, let me give you the title right now for tonight. I'm going to talk tonight from the subject, "Foundational faith", okay? Last week was "Finishing faith", this week is "Foundational faith". Somebody say foundational faith. And, I want you to go to 1 Corinthians 3:5, says this, this is the apostle Paul speaking or writing. Who then is Paul? Who was Apollos? This was his partner in the ministry, and he was serving Paul. "Who was Paul, who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed".
Somebody say, I believe. "As the Lord gave to each one, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters but God who gives the increase". Somebody say, God did it. Say it like you mean it, say, God did it. "Now he who plants and he who waters are one". We're on the same team. "And each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are all God's fellow workers: you", this is Paul talking to the body of Christ, "You are God's building".
Whether you know it or not, God is building something with you. You are actually building material for God. Your life, the good and the bad, the tears and the joy, are all literally being used for God to build something up that is going to produce glory and salvation in the earth. You need to get excited about the fact that God chose you to participate in his plan. He could have chosen anybody or no one, but he chose you, which means he trusts you. So, if God trusts you, you need to trust you. Stop doubting what God has placed in you, stop doubting your innate ability, stop doubting the calling of God on your life.
You, yes you, are called to be amazing. You, yes you, are called to impact culture. You, yes you, are called to change the world. When? I'm not sure, relax. He's building something. And God doesn't rush anything, he takes his time, because he wants to make sure that things are done right. "You are God's building", 10th verse, "According to the grace of God which was given to me as a wise master builder, I've laid the foundation and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ".
Somebody say, "Foundational faith". You are being pursued. Some of you are like, "I had warrants, how did you know"? They going to get you. But, you are being pursued, and you have been under surveillance you are in the middle of a not just high speed chase, but a Most High speed chase. Where the Most High God has been observing your behavior, checking your character, watching your growth, watching your development. Luke 2:52: watching you grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. And he has watched you closely from the time that you were a baby, making sure that you would get to this very moment in your life in these green chairs, or these purple seats, or on the other side of a computer, or whether you're listening to this on the radio.
Whatever it is, you are literally exactly where God knew you would be, because he's been tracking your every move. He's been writing your every step. He's been providing your every need. And he's been working out things behind the scenes, so that what the enemy has tried to do has utterly failed. And if I were you, I would be in a position of gratitude and thanksgiving because God has been pursuing you. God didn't just pursue you from your job to this church. He's been pursuing you for years. In fact, lifetimes he's crossed dimensions from eternity into time looking for you.
Oh, I feel the Holy Ghost. God has so determined to bless you that he literally wrapped himself in flesh, came through the form of a baby, birthed of a virgin to get to you so you could get back to him. Oh, I feel like stirring up some faith tonight. I'm a cook, but I don't have time to cook, but if I was, this is like gumbo. I just sprinkled in right now some of that zatarains. I just put that in there with some shrimps. You got to put an s on it if you from the country, it ain't shrimp, it's scrimps. You're being pursued. You should just kind of look over your shoulder real quick. Because whether you know it or not, Deuteronomy 28 declares that the blessing of the Lord shall overtake you.
I'm not here to preach a doom and gloom Gospel, Jesus took the doom and gloom, and he has promised us life and life more abundantly. You've shed enough tears, you've wondered when it's your turn. Let me be a living witness, your turn is now, it's your moment. The unexpected is about to take place. This is a season of the supernatural open door where the things you've been waiting your entire life to walk into are going to walk into you. You're about to bump into your miracle. Maybe a three second praise break. Just a short one. God's been chasing you.
The Bible says the blessing of the Lord shall overtake you in Deuteronomy 28. It literally means, God's tracking you down. He's been trying to get to you. Problem is, some of you all been running so fast. No, Jesus, just gone. He's like, could you please slow down. I was on the cross, I was in the ground, I got holes in my hands, I'm trying to get to you, would you please stop running? Holy Ghost go get him. Aren't you glad God didn't get tired? The only ones that will respond to that are the ones who know what they were before you allowed him to embrace you.
I'll say it again. Aren't you glad God didn't get tired when we were running into the wrong relationships, when we were running into the wrong doors, when we were running into the wrong opportunity, when we were running in the wrong direction, and he still pursued us with an everlasting love, when he pursued us with a ferocious dedication and an un-human commitment? And it was not a human commitment, it was a supernatural commitment. It was God saying, I am committed to you, even though you don't even know me, you don't even want to know me, you think I'm out to get you, and you're right I'm out to get you to keep you from getting gotten.
I'm glad God doesn't get tired. If he did, I wonder how many of us he would have stopped chasing. Many of us, it took a long time for God to realize in. Anybody in here ever been fishing? You see, you ever had a fish on the hook and he was just, I'm not getting out the waters, this is crazy, I saw what you all did to my cousin. You fried him up, took his guts out. Just fight like, come on in little fish. But God, he reels you in. He could have cornered you, he could have forced you, but that's not the nature of God, that's not the character of God. He says, no, I'm not going to judge you, I'm going to go ahead and put all the judgment on my son. What I'm going to do to win you, I'm going to love you.
I wish the church globally would catch this. It was with love and kindness that he drew us. When we were dirty, he was like, you so fine. Stop a God, no, I'm not. I'm i? Yes. Oh my gosh. You have an eternal nature. You have the fragrance of destiny. No I don't, do i? Oh, you're fearfully and wonderfully made. You're my daughter. Look at you. You have so much power. Look at the way you walk, look at the way these men look at you when they walk, don't look girl, don't look 'cause you single, you don't get caught up, just keep walking, keep walking. Walk with your daddy, walk with me. I'm proud of you son. I'm just so proud of you, but I failed. No, no, no, you're talking about today, I'm already looking at next year, because I know where I'm taking you. And I'm going to give you credit today for what I'm going to do tomorrow, because I'm not bound by time, I'm from eternity. So I can look at the end and treat you like you're at the end even though you're at the beginning.
Is there anybody grateful for a God that relentlessly pursues us? This word foundation, I want to talk about foundational faith. Foundation, the word foundation is themelios. The Greek says, where we lay down a foundation, the foundation, the beginning and institution of systems, or beliefs, themelios foundation, it's where we get the word theme from. So I want you to write some things down. I need you to get some takeaways. I'm trying to grow as a communicator and as a pastor in the Lord's church, I want to honor your time by giving you some things that you can take away.
So I want you to write these things down or put them in your phone or your tablet. But the first question I want to ask you is, what is the theme of your life? What is the theme of your life? When you go to a movie, you know the plot, right? That's probably why you bought the ticket. You know generally what's going to happen. You don't know everything, but you kind of have the theme of the movie. Okay? And so, what I want to ask you is, what is the theme of your life? What does this mean? The thing that drives you, what are the guiding principles? What is the thing that you believe you were created for? What is the thing that you can identify that God has uniquely positioned you to do? What makes you uniquely you? What's the theme of your life? Are you a people person? You just love everybody, like get on in this house. I don't even know what's in your backpack and I never met you, but you got that mask on your face with the hockey thing.
Come on in. What's your name? Jason. Come on in here Jason, come on, let mama cook you some food Jason. Are you a people person? That you just believe the best about everybody? Or are you of an isolated individual, you kind of like your quiet time, you need your space. You don't like people all up in your face. You know, just kind of like, "Hey, how are you? Scoot back. Just, you breathing on me, you breathing". Are you more of a casual individual when it comes to important things like bills and paying things on time? I'm only under red notice dude. When I get the red notice in the mail, that's when I pay it, like they coming tomorrow. And they always come for you, wake up, so your clock just blinking. Just, man, you all know about that yo. They never cut your power off.
That was a long time ago, don't judge me. My wife's different, she needs to have things done. Everything has to be you know, like this. Do we have the money in there? I'm going to put it on auto pay. And like, you don't need access to my account. See, I need to check things, make sure it's safe, and I got to switch things from the savings over there. No, I'ma pay it when it comes. What is the theme of your life? Stop laughing at me, my notes went away, so, I can't even find what I'm supposed to be saying. The theme of your life.
Key to fulfilling life is being clear, not only on the theology of your life, but the theme of your life. What's your intended purpose? How many people know what their intended purpose is? Let me see your hands, let me see. You know your purpose. If you would like to know your purpose, put your hands up right now. Keep your hands up for a moment. Don't put 'em down, there's no shame in this. I'm getting ready to pray for you.
Father, there are people who have come here this evening, who want to know their intended purpose. They need to know the theme of their life.
Because the theme of your life gives you direction for every decision you make. Once you have the theme of your life, you will allow the Holy Spirit to begin to build your life from the inside out. It will help you in who you connect to, and who you relate to, and who you interact with. Hands up.
Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of your Holy Spirit, will you send clarity of purpose and intentionality for every hand that's lifted. There are people tonight who need to know what they are called to do, and when they're called to do it, and how they're supposed to get it done. Would you please be God in their lives and give them a foundational theme so that they are not moved by the devil's tricks. This is my prayer in Jesus name. Amen.
There's a couple things about foundation that are critical. I want to write these down: foundational essentials. We're talking about foundational faith. Somebody say, faith. Talked about Finishing faith, now we're talking about foundational faith. I can't really tell you when I knew God was real, but I'm here to tell you right now that God is real. He is real to me. I'm not here to convince anyone else, I'm not here to beat anyone up who doesn't believe what I believe, nor do I have the authority or the right to judge anyone who believes differently from me, but I cannot be talked down from what I know. I know God is real. I just want to know if there's anyone else who knows that God is real. And when you know something, you cannot unknow it. I know he's real. What do you believe?
First foundational essential, number one, what do you believe? Why is this important? Because what I believe becomes the vantage point for what I become on a personal level, how I engage people on a relational level, and how I handle life's issues and challenges, and literally it helps me to understand how to deal with things on a mental and emotional level. When things happen that are out of your control, it's best to have an anchor beyond your limitations. You and I have limits in our ability to process, in our ability to see. And what you believe about life, what you believe about God will literally color every other area of your life.
I've been around people who say they believe God, but their life does not reflect their words. Then I've seen people who don't talk about it, but I know they believe God in the way that they love people and in the way that they serve the community and the way they cover other believers. They're not caddy and whispering and waiting for somebody to fall. People who love God have grace for other people because they know where they were when God found them.
What do you believe? You believe Jesus is Lord? I wasn't, I mean it was rhetorical. I'm glad you told me like, "Yes! Yes I do, sir". The reason why you need to know is because the enemy's going to try you. He's going to push you. He's going to poke you. He's going to challenge you. And what does the Bible say? Resist the devil and he will what? He's going to walk away slowly? He's going to what? He's going to stand there? What's he going to do? When you know what you believe, you stand flat-footed and you are not moved by anything that happens and the devil literally can't get you off your position because you are so firmly rooted in a foundation that cannot be moved.
Does anybody want a foundational faith that says, "I know in him whom I believe"? Hallelujah. What do you believe? Second question, who do you believe? Who do you believe? Let me tell you something, before I believed in God, I watched people who knew God. I watched my grandmother, Mame Davis. I watched my mom, Alice Gray. And the question was asked to me a couple days ago, who's your favorite preacher? And I said, "Alice Gray". I said, "Now she doesn't, she's not a pastor. She doesn't preach in the conventional sense. But I watched her give a sermon every day of her life". Because she lived the word. Do you know it's better to live this thing than to talk this thing? Can I get any amens in here? Who do you believe?
I believe in a generational God. This is how God introduced himself. He said, "I'm the God of Abraham, Isaac", and, a generational God, a relational God, and this is important for parents because your kids may not understand the ability and not be able to grasp the eternal concept and nature of God so their first introduction to the character and nature of God is by observing your life. Couple of you like, "Oh". And I'm not being funny but maybe that's why some of our kids aren't on fire for God. Could it be us that's not giving them an accurate picture of the word that we tell them they need to be reading? Is it more than just going, you need to go to church? No, we're supposed to be the church. I knew I wouldn't get a lot of applause on it but it is the word. God, the name, is very common.
You say, "Who do you believe in"? Ask people, "I believe in God". What God? 'cause there's capital g, then there's lowercase g. There's a lot of Gods. People can make Gods. People make up Gods. They turn things into Gods. Your relationship can become a God. Your TV can become a God. Your appetites can become a God. Addictions can become a God. Who do you believe? Saying the name God is very general but when you make it clear the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, now you're talking about a God who can speak and the earth is created. This is a God who can talk and stars show up. This is a God who picks up dirt and makes a man. This is the God you are now speaking of.
This is very different from a generic God or higher being. Not just that he created but then he saw us fall after he created us and had already had a plan in place to win us back by sending his son in his place to get us back to himself. Now that is a God I can serve. That is a God I can worship. That is a God I can praise. I'm talking about a God that's like none other and if you believe in him and the son whom he sent, you will have everlasting life. It's a scripture, we hear it all the time. I've read it so much or I've heard it so much, I stopped reading it but it's so profound. It's John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he... Sent his only begotten... Son. That whosoever would... Believeth in him shall not... Perish. But have... Everlasting life".
I believe that. And I believe it so much that my life now reflects my belief. The question is does your life reflect what you believe? I'll ask again, does your life reflect what you believe? And if it does not, then this is a time in the next six, seven days for you to assess the areas of your life that do not line up with your core beliefs. And if they don't line up with your core beliefs, then those things need to go because you need to make Jesus the foundation.
The scripture, in 1 Corinthians that we read said there is no other foundation but Jesus Christ. And let me just go ahead and shout out Jesus on this moment, this nice evening. Jesus is still the head of the church. Jesus is still the first and the last, the alpha, the omega, the beginning, the end. Jesus is still the water-walking, faith-talking, interrupter of funerals. Jesus is still that one. Jesus who can stretch out withered hands, "my Cherie amour" this is the Jesus that I serve. He didn't just do it then. He can still do it today and I need to just stir up that foundation.
I know I needed to encourage somebody that Jesus is still on the throne. He is still in control. He is still able to heal. He is still able to save. He is still able to deliver and he is still in love with the most broken people in all of humanity. Is there anybody that can testify that Jesus is real? You can praise him right there. You can sit down and praise him. You can wave a hand and praise him. Key to foundation is not only what you believe and who you believe but when did you believe? Can I ask you a question, when did you believe? Romans 13:11, and doing this, knowing the time, that now it is high time, say high time. To awaken out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
I want you to know that you are in the middle of a journey and I want you to know that you're getting closer to seeing the salvation of the Lord. Your salvation is nearer than when you first believed. This is a powerful faith statement. The reason why I asked you when did you first believe is because life can hit you in such a way that you'll forget that you started with God. You're in the middle of a walk with God. He hasn't left you. Maybe you and I have left him. I know there are times when I've walked away.
Judge me if you wish but it's true and too many preachers and too many leaders act like they've never done anything or never done anything wrong and never went through any challenges. That is not the truth and so I'm encouraging all my brothers and sisters in the Gospel, start telling these people the truth so they know that we're not just up here like we've made it, like we've arrived. But talk to folk and say, "Listen, I've got to apply this word, just like you. I got to fight for my marriage, just like you. I got to pray for my kids, just like you. I got to believe for healing, just like you. I got to fight tears and I got to fight fear, just like you. I'm not different than you, I'm a part of you".
And the reason why I asked you is when did you believe is because that's the beginning of your foundational walk. And you got to go back to the beginning to have faith for the end. I've been walking with him since I was seven years old, Bethel Baptist Church, 2712 Alms Place near Yale Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45219. I got saved at seven years old. I'm 42 now. I've been walking with him for a little while but even through that time, there have been times when I've doubted, when I've had fear, when I've wondered if God heard my prayers. But when I'm able to go back to my foundation, when I remember walking up to my pastor, and saying, "I want to give my life to Jesus Christ".
I wasn't just wondering if he was real, I knew that he was real and I got my certificate and they dipped me in the water and I came out a new young man and I've been walking with him ever since. I remember that moment and it gives me strength for the journey that's in front of me. Do you remember when you first got saved? You were excited back then. You would tell everybody about Jesus. "He's real. You're not even looking at me but it's okay". Just running around just, "Excuse me. Do you know Jesus and the free pardon of your sins"? "I'm the pastor". "I know, I just want to make sure". And then life happened.
I am a friend of God. I am a friend, uh-nah. You got to go back to when you first believed 'cause that's where your passion is. That's where your hunger is. That's where your humility is. You'll be nicer to people when you remember when you first got saved. Salvation is not for the perfect. It's for the broken. If you don't think you need to be saved, just keep living a little while. You'll mess up enough to realize you need something bigger than yourself to get you out.
Three reasons why it's important to go back to the foundational moment of when you first believed. Because you need to revisit your passion, you need to restore your soul, and you need to reset your mind. I'll give that to you one more time. You got to go back to your foundational moment of belief because there are times when you're going to need to revisit your passion, restore your soul and reset your mind. What was the feeling you had when you got saved? Remember that?
Some of you are like, "No". That's why I had to preach this sermon. Like, "No, I don't remember, I, life". Yeah, life happens but eternal life has already taken place. And you and I are participants in an eternal plan of God. You need to revisit your passion. When you revisit your passion, it'll give you that thing you need to share your faith with other people. A lot of times, you don't share what you're not passionate about. It's real quiet. That's somebody that does. Either that or they're crazy. Either one is cool because you have to be crazy, because a lot of times people think passion is crazy.
But here's what's funny. They call people who share their faith in Jesus crazy but other people who believe other things, they're just passionate. Wow, they're so committed. Wow, look at them. They're so determined. But then I talk about Jesus, "You're weird". No, I'm not. No, I'm not. I'm talking about something that'll save your soul. I'm talking about something that'll get you out of the flames of hell. And I am passionate because I was on my way out of here until Jesus picked me up, turned me around, placed my feet. Give him a praise right there, would you? You need to revisit your passion.
Number two, you need to remember when you first believed. Go back to your foundation because it helps to restore your soul. What did David say? "He leads me besides the still waters. He restores my soul". There are times when you need to go back to when you first encountered Jesus because he literally wants you to reflect on the journey and the goodness of God that's been showered over your life. Your soul is always under attack. Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. So life is always hitting those areas, always hitting you, whether it's having to deal with bills or relationship challenges or being single and trying to wait on God and he is taking so long. Trust me, I was 37. I was like, "Jesus, stop playing, for real. Been serving you, you need to speed it up, baby Jesus or whoever, hurry up".
You need to be quiet, be still, be reflective. Let him restore you. Restore those factory settings. Restore you back to your original state of passion and that intimate relationship that you want shared with Jesus before life made you so busy. And some of us have become so busy, we kind of push Jesus to the side. He's no longer the main dish. He's the side dish. Jesus needs to take center stage in your life. And then, you need to reset your mind, somebody say reset. Set you mind on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of the father. We got to set our minds. That means you have to make a conscious, concerted effort, a decision to set your mind. You cannot be moved by circumstance and situation.
You got to say, "I'm resetting my mind. I'm recalibrating my mind. I am re-framing the way I view my life. I'm resetting my mind". Because life can get you bogged down in circumstance and challenges and cause you to lose sight of the big picture. But it's important for you to remember that nothing you and I are walking through is new to God. And God already has a plan in place to either get you through it, over it, or out of it. So you need to reset your mind. What does that do? A resetting of your mind strengthens your faith. And there's three more points and if you were here Sunday, you know, I'm waiting on you all to try to scooch out of here, I'm just waiting on you, just. Just gimme a couple moments. I think you're going to be blessed.
Foundational faith. A foundational faith when you are rooted, here's three things that happen when you have foundational faith. A foundational faith declares unashamedly, believes emphatically and loves relentlessly. When you have a foundational faith, when you know that you know that you know that Jesus is Lord, when you have that encounter and that experience, you declare that thing unashamedly, you believe emphatically and you love relentlessly. Romans 1:16-17, you declare it unashamedly. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is an unashamed declaration and I don't just speak it, I live it anywhere I go.
My wife and I we were talking about the opportunity that was presented as far as the whole television opportunity and I said, "Let me tell you something". And I told the producers, I told everybody, "I serve Jesus. I'm not going to compromise the Gospel. I'm not going to shade the truth. I love Jesus and the moment you try to get me to step away from that principle, you won't see me 'cause I don't need a show, I don't need TV. I need Jesus and I need him to be proud of me and I'm not selling out Jesus for no money, no opportunity, nothing". I love God. I want to look my wife and my kids in the face and I'm not selling out God to make other people think I'm hip. I'm not hip. I'm old-school. I still believe holiness is right. I still believe Jesus is Lord. And this is my emphatic, unashamed declaration.