Four Marks of Faith in the Trenches
A group of Geography students studied the Seven Wonders of the World. At the end of that section, the students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes: Egypt's Great Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Panama Canal, Empire State Building, St. Peter's Basilica and China's Great Wall.
While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."
The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are: to touch...to taste...to see...to hear..." She hesitated a little and then said: "...to run...to laugh...and to love." And a little child shall lead them…
Today, we are talking about having “Faith in the Trenches”. It is all about real-life faith. It’s about faith that works in the real world. “Faith in the Trenches” is full of wonder and yet is firmly rooted in reality.
We are going to use the book of Colossians in the New Testament. It is one of many letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church. This particular church was a good church, whose reputation had come to the attention of the Apostle Paul through his personal networking with a guy named Epaphras. Epaphras had shared the good news of Christ to the people at Colossae and then also connected with Paul while he was in prison in Rome. That’s where Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians and where he shares with them what he has heard:
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints" (Colossians 1:3-4).
Great things were happening in the Colossian church. Before we go much further, let me share just a little bit of backdrop on the context and the culture of this book. Colossae was located in the region of Phrygia, in the Roman province of Asia, in what is now part of Turkey. With nearby Laodicea and Hierapolis, it was part of a triad of cities in the Lycus Valley, about one hundred miles east of Ephesus.
The population of Colossae was predominantly Gentile (cf. 2:13), but there was a sizeable Jewish community. The church at Colossae was a young church, like ours, and it had lots of life, but also had some problems. One of the major problems had to do with some false teaching that would impact their faith. Paul reacted strongly to this teaching and in the process he teaches us about “Faith in the Trenches”. Let’s start unpacking what faith in the trenches is all about. We’ll start that by looking at a prayer that Paul prayed.
Marks of Real Faith in the Trenches
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
1. Filled with knowledge of God’s will Faith that works in the trenches is based on truth. It is filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Truth is not arbitrary. Truth matters. It really makes a difference in how you live and what you experience in the world. Spiritual life and real faith are based on knowledge of God, His Word, and His will.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
2. Growing in spiritual wisdom and understanding
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Wisdom is knowledge applied to real life. If I had to choose between lots of knowledge and little wisdom or a little knowledge and lots of wisdom, wisdom would win every time! Faith in the trenches has to know what to do when the chips are down, the pressure is up, and the decisions of life matter. When your life is starting to have more ebb than flow, you need wisdom that makes a difference.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere“ (James 3:17.
The purpose of all this real faith in the trenches is not some kind of esoteric head knowledge. It is real wisdom that makes a difference in daily life. It is growing to know God better with a knowledge that comes from experiencing Him.
3. Walks worthy of God’s great gift
“Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17).
Faith in the Trenches knows where it has come from and where it is going. When you think of all that God has done to share His love with us, our response to Him is to walk in a worthy fashion of His gifts to us. [The New Testament describes several features of the worthy walk. We are to walk in humility (Eph. 4:1-3); in purity (Rom. 13:13, kjv); in contentedness (1 Cor. 7:17); by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); in good works (Eph. 2:10); different from the world (Eph. 4:17-32); in love (Eph. 5:2); in light (Eph. 5:8); in wisdom (Eph. 5:15); and in truth (3 John 3-4). ]
“Obey God in the thing He shows you and instantly the next thing is opened up. God will never reveral more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already” (Oswald Chambers)
4. Bears fruit with increasing knowledge of God
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
“Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).
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