An Active Practice
Faith requires an active practice. It seems most of my life I have heard quotes like “practice what you preach”, “practice makes perfect”, and my personal favorite to quote to my children, “actions speak louder than words”. We hear these quotes and often repeat them in short sermons to other people but do we really follow what we are saying? Do we put to practice our own quotes of making our words equal to our actions?
Every year I want to plant a successful vegetable garden. I’ve read articles, attended seminars, and listened to my mother and other gardeners with their advice. I have yet to really have a successful vegetable garden.Â Every year I have a plethora of excuses on why my garden does not yield the measure or quality of vegetables that I would like to say it does.
This year’s excuse is the deer. Bambi withÂ all her family and friends have eaten their fill and then some. The plants do not have a fightingÂ chance to make a fruit or a vegetable because Bambi and friends eat the plants and flowers before they form. Last year, the excuse was late planting.Â I planted too late and because of this the plants really didn’t get a good startÂ as they were little and then it got really hot. The year before that, well it was theÂ drought.Â I was not at home like I should have been to keep it watered and so the plants didn’t provide as they should.
I could keep going on with this but it really amounts to the fact that I do not want to put to practice the knowledge gained in order for the garden to yield the desired amounts. My lack of success is not because I haven’t read and heard the knowledgeÂ or information; it is because of my application of practice. Gardening takes time, energy, and most important of all planning and thinking throughÂ whatÂ actions and reactions should be whenÂ problems arise. It boils down to the fact that gardening takes work and it isn’t always the type of work that is fun or that I really want to do. In the lull of the cold winter and cool spring it sounds like a beautiful thing to have a lush, flourishing, andÂ producing garden.Yet as the weather gets warmer and warmer, the soil drier and drier, and the weeds higher and higher theÂ desireÂ fades asÂ easier and more selfish activities present themselves luring me away like an idol,Â from the difficult, the actions of practice, and ultimately myÂ original goal.Â I do not however have any problems giving others gardening advice. I can tell everyone else all the information IÂ read and recommend whatÂ and how they shouldÂ do but I do not practice my own words. I just sort of limp along with the gardening and the end results show that evidence every year.
Practicing our faith is much like practicingÂ the knowledge of gardening,Â practicing a sport, musical instrument, or anything else one may wish to do for achievement. We will yield what we have put into it and how we have practiced. We must do so much more than just hear the word of God. We must make our knowledge evident.
This week’s focus verse is Luke 11:28;
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. (NLT)
Benefits of Practice
There is a benefit to practice and a particular benefit when we look to the practice of our faith. We often think in our society that to move forward we have to have connections and that knowledge doesn’t matter. When Jesus spoke the words of this week’s focus verse to the woman who yelled out that His mother was so blessed because she had borne Him,(Luke 11:27) HeÂ corrected her with His words, that yesÂ blessed she is but more so are the people who are hearing and putting to practice God’s word. We are allÂ part of the family of God when we hear and obey. (Luke 8:21) The blessing is not in who you know but itÂ is in receiving and acting uponÂ what you know.
The result of practicing faith is certainly evident in our belief as we move from earthy life to the kingdom life. This is the big bounty or yield to hard work. However with the practice of faith there is more than just the end of season harvest. There is harvest all along and a harvest that we should want to share because of the goodness we taste as we practice.
We do not normally think about the benefits received during practice as we so often look only at the results at the end of practice. However when we practice faith the benefits are much like building a good foundation on a house. Jesus illustrates this in Luke 6:46-49 as He describes the importance and benefits of a solid foundation. This particular choice of verses brings back the fond memory of the children’s Bible song The Wise Man and the Foolish Man written by Ann Omley in 1948. Perhaps you remember it also, as it had wonderful hand motionsÂ but it speaks such a timeless message of the benefits of a solid foundation builtÂ upon practicing faith.
The wise man built his house upon the Rock, The wise man built his house upon the Rock, The wise man built his house upon the Rock, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, But the house on the Rock stood firm.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand, The foolish man built his house upon the sand, The foolish man built his house upon the sand, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, And the house on the sand fell flat.
So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, And the blessings will come down. The blessings come down as your prayers go up, The blessings come down as your prayers go up, The blessings come down as your prayers go up, So build your life on the Lord.
When we practice faith we can stand the storms of time, the crisis, or daily troubles because weÂ hear and we have obeyed. This practice doesn’t seem important when there are no storms but a solid foundation is better than anyÂ insurance plan in lifeÂ as it is theÂ assurance that we will see the light of better things. Practicing faith takes more than just making a traditional appearance on Sunday morning. It takesÂ dedication of study and development of a relationship with God. It takes the knowledge of all that we know and continue toÂ learn about Christ and then going out into the world showing others that our actions do indeed speak louder than words.
The practice of faith isn’t always easy as we often can be lured away by what seems an easier way of doing things but inÂ the end the result of the practice of faith will outweigh all. Just like my garden if we want to reap the winter benefits of the harvest we must begin planning now, putting our knowledge to work, and keeping up with the weeds and water when they get high and it gets dry. If we will practice our faith in this matter we will have harvest all along with so much that we will want to share that harvest with others so they too can reap the benefits. We do not want ourselves or anyone else to find a bare cupboard in the bitter end of winter. We must practice our faith to build aÂ solid foundation. We must allowÂ our actionsÂ to speak louder than our words to the world showing them how to have a bountiful harvest during the cool times and bitter end of winter.
This week and beyond let us all practice diligently our faith, building a solid foundation for an ongoing harvest, and then further show an active practice by taking the telling and beautiful words of 13th Century friar and preacher, Giovanni Francesco de Bernardone, – Saint Francis of Assisi to heart;
Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.
Love in Christ,
The deer have not been able to destroy all of my vegetable garden plants.Â I am growing some fine tomatoes, basil, parsley, peppers, watermelon, green beans, and hopefully cantaloupe in pots on my deck. Bambi and her entourage cannot reach those luscious delectables. Now if I can just practice actively staying in tune to the water needs there might be a harvest to share.
What are Your Thoughts? Are You Practicing Your Faith?
Do you have a story to share of how you have survived a crisis because of your practicing of faith? Do you find it easy to be lured away from your faith because you want to take control or the world offers a better alternative? Do you hear and practice Sunday’s sermon or did you miss the sermon planning out your afternoon? How is your foundation? Will it stand the storms of time because of your faith practices? Join us in discussion on these topics or other related thoughts you would like to share.