This is the second of three Sunday Messages on the FAITH5, a faith@home spiritual practice promoted by Dr. Rich Melheim and Faith Inkubators. My preaching text was John 15:1-8. This Message drew upon Dr. Melheim’s book Holding Your Family Together and was designed to be interactive and practical in nature. The first Message in the series is available here.
We’re continuing this morning with a three part Message Series titled “5 Habits to Hold Your Home Together”. Over these three weeks we’re learning about practicing at home a spiritual tool called the FAITH5. It’s a simple set of faith habits we can use in our homes to take in God’s word and care for each other in Jesus’ name. Last Sunday we looked at the first step in the FAITH5 – sharing “Highs” and “Lows” from our lives, usually near the end of the day. A “high” is a positive memory from the day. A “low” is a not-so-good memory or a challenge from the day. Sharing “highs” and “lows” as a daily habit is a great way of staying connected with what is going on in each other’s lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. If we’re not sharing our joys and our pains then we’re probably not really caring for each other either. Before we explore the second and third steps of the FAITH5 this morning, I am wondering if anyone would like to share what it was like for them to share “Highs” and “Lows” with others this week … (time for sharing). The different parts of the FAITH5 build on each other. I want to give you a sense of how the first three steps fit together by actually practicing them in worship this morning. So the first thing I want you to do is to think of a “High” and a “Low” from your past day or past week. If you’re next to someone, share that with them. Otherwise, write them down on a piece of paper… (time for reflecting on “Highs” and “Lows” and either sharing them or writing them down). We’re going to come back to your “Highs” and “Lows” a little later. The second step of the FAITH5 is to read and listen together to a Bible verse or a Bible story. In the first step we talk to each other and listen to each other. In the second step we allow God to talk to us and we make time to listen. In our human relationships we know how important it is to keep on communicating. When people stop talking to each other and listening to each other, they become distant and remote, even if they’re living under the same roof. It’s like that with God too. If we allow him to speak to us each day in our households, we will experience him as close to us, as present and active in our lives. James 4:8 says, “draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” But when listening to God isn’t a regular habit in our households, we can lose touch with him and what he wants for us. We can end up listening a lot more to other “voices” from day to day that simply can’t give what God alone can give. True love, true peace, true hope, true strength, true purpose, true and unending grace. Let’s practice the second step of the FAITH5 by looking at a single verse from our Gospel reading for today. Please join me in reading it aloud a couple of times: Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Now just sit quietly with those words for a while. What stands out to you? What strike you as key words or key phrases? …. (time for reflection). The third step in the FAITH5 is to talk together about the Bible verse or Bible story you have read or listened to. Here are some questions to help with that:
- What is this Bible verse saying?
- What is the Bible verse saying to me about my life?
- What is the Bible verse calling me to do or to change?
Take some time now to think about those questions for yourself. Let’s reflect on ways in which Jesus’ words about the vine and the branches apply to us, here and now. You might want to write down your thoughts. … (Time for reflection, after which people are invited to share their responses to the questions) In the FAITH5 this third step of talking is a good point to revisit the “Highs” and “Lows” that were shared. Talk about how the Bible verse relates to the blessings and the challenges of one another’s lives. When we do that we’re putting the context of our daily lives together with the text of the Bible. We’re recognising and affirming that God is very much in the midst of our joys and pains, successes and struggles. And as we put the stories of our lives alongside the big “God story” of the Bible, we see and understand differently. God’s Word gives us new insights or perspective on what is happening to us and around us. Think about your “Highs” and “Lows” and the Bible verse we have already looked at this morning. Does anyone see any connections, any ways in which God’s Word and the circumstances of our lives speak to each other? … (time for sharing Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” To “remain” means “to continue to be present”. Gathering around God’s Word in our households from day to day is a way we continue to be present with Jesus, and he with us. Christ journeys with us each and every day through our sharing, reading and talking as people of faith. Jesus’ promise is that as we do remain in him, our lives won’t be barren and dry but fruitful. God will produce good things in our homes and through our homes! Rich Melheim writes this: “When we attach ourselves to God’s Word, it attaches to us and won’t let us go until it blesses us. It does not change, but it will always change us.” Again this week, I encourage you to practice the FAITH5 steps we have looked at so far in your homes, or with your Christian friends, or with your small group. On the yellow insert in the bulletin today a single Bible verse is printed out for each day. Share your “Highs” and “Lows”, read the Bible verse for the day and then talk about how it speaks into your lives. In that way be present with Jesus and allow him to be present in you and with you.