Freedom Follows Following: Not a Period, a Pivot
Most people will hit a crisis of faith in their lifetime – some hit this crisis before knowing Jesus, but others will experience a crisis of faith after having known Jesus. The outcoming of these crises determines the quality, substance and trajectory of our lives.
FAITH CRISIS - BC
Before Christ, a crisis of faith looks like encountering something that we cannot personally overcome with our current resources. The event exhausts our resources whether they be physical resources, mental resources or emotional resources. This faith crisis is a crisis that has outstripped our self-ability our faith in ourselves.
- Road #1 - Addiction.
A self-medicating process to mask the pain and/or deny the circumstance.
- Road #2 - Quitting.
Quit a marriage, quit a job and even quit life????
- Road #3 - Settling.
“Life is going to be so I might as well get used to it.”
FAITH CRISIS – AC
After Christ, a faith crisis looks like an encounter with something we feel Jesus should have shielded us from or something we don’t believe He can bring us back from. You can’t successful fight a spiritual fight with natural strength and resources. Spiritual fights are won by hanging onto God in worship, prayer and community.
Instead of trying to hide from God or running away from God, give ourselves to God even more fully than before. Instead of the crisis making us more independent what if we let it drive us to be more God dependent. In this way the crisis won’t defeat us or define us but will in the end highlight the magnificence of God and the overcoming life that can be lived in Him.
3 Symptoms of a Faith Crisis
1. Jesus Displaces Fear with Presence & Peace.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
2. Jesus Replaces Confusion/Doubt with Purpose and Commission.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
3. Jesus Renews strength by giving the Holy Spirit.
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus doesn’t wipe out who we once were when we come to Him, He resurrects us. He reframes our lives in His love and He re-purposes us for His plans. He does all of this through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Your “God Story” Outline
1. BC = Before Christ
2. CE = Crisis/Christ Encounter
3. AC = After Christ
Paul’s God Story
- BC = Acts 26:2-11
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently. 4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? 9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
- CE = Acts 26:12-18
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
- AC = Acts 26:19-29
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
4 Acts Takeaways
Your faith crisis doesn’t have to be an end point it can be a turning point. It doesn’t have to be a period, it can be a transformational pivot.
The peace, power and purposes of God are applied through the person of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Father, Son and Spirit transforms us and our circumstances. The Holy Trinity is wholly active.
Each of us have a God story. We are the best witness to that God story. Don’t keep freedom a secret.
The Holy Spirit works on both sides of an open “story” door. Telling our God story frees us and others.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.