Belief is what gets a person into an airplane. Faith is what gets someone to jump out of it.
When you think about jumping out of an airplane – How do you feel?
If you are jumping out intentionally, you know you will be wearing a parachute.
You know that parachutes have been used for over 100 years.
Generally, they are safe, sound, and effective?
Do you believe in parachutes?
Do you believe that will keep you safe?
If you answered yes, you have come to the first part of my opening statement.
Most believe in airplanes.
Many believe in parachutes.
But it takes more that simple belief to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute on?
After all, once you jump…that it.
Pure and simple, it’s a leap of faith.
Once you drop from that plane, you are either going to float safely though the heavens, or you are going to spin disastrously to your doom.
Those is the skydiving business will tell you that they put their trust in certain styles, types and brands of parachutes.
For some it’s a matter of comfort, for others they simply do not trust anything but the chute they have come to know and trust.
They all agree, however, that jumping without a chute is a bad idea.
Now, among skydivers there are the occasional few who jump alone. And they do OK with it.
Many others only dive in tandem or in groups. When these two or more are gathered together for the leap, they strengthen and support each other.
They are there for each other should someone start to fall.
Some, however, and those in the know will tell you that this truly the safest way to jump, will only leap with the teacher very close to them, even strapped to them, guiding them every step of the jump.
The teacher, after all, knows all about leaping in faith. And staying as close to him as possible is the best, most certain way to assure a happy landing.
Three things seem clear about parachutes:
You must have one.
You need a good one, one that will actually save you
It’s very good to have the teacher close at hand.
Because without a parachute, it’s just a free fall.
If you pick the wrong one, or don’t put in on safely and securely, it may not open when you need it to.
If you have the teacher with you always, he will always be there to hold your hand and lead you to safety,
The same goes for following Christ, and having faith in God.
You can believe in Christ. You can believe in God.
It’s that belief that might get one into a church, a bible study, a prayer meeting.
But it’s faith that gets one to leap out of it.
And making that leap in faith is so important.
Just look at Peter. It does not appear that he believed that he or anyone could walk on water.
But his faith in Christ made it possible for him to take the LEAP and just walk out onto the water to meet Jesus.
Once he engaged his brain, his mind started filling with fear and doubt and he started sinking.
He leaped, in faith, and could walk on water.
But let’s look at our reading from Exodus today.
Exodus Chapter 3 [from the NLT – New Living Translation]
1 One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro,* the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai,* the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
4 When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.
5 “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father*-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey-the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9 Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.* Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,* the God of your ancestors-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
16 “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors-the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. 17 I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey-the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”‘
18 “The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord, our God.’
19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.* 20 So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. 21 And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. 22 Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”
Moses is curious and excited to jump.
He seems like a man who believes very much.
And when God appears to him in a burning bush that certainly couldn’t have hurt matters.
Verse six says he is standing there afraid. Afraid to see the face of God. Afraid to hear what might come next. He’s standing there with his parachute on, at the edge of the open hatch, afraid to look.
God says to Moses. “Here is your parachute. My name is “I Am who I am” or simply “I am” for short, should anyone ask.
My name is the very best parachute you can have.
When you leap, you will be safe.
You will land is a sweet spot of milk and honey.
Oh, and as I can see you are still a bit uncertain, I assure you this.
“I will be with you always”
I will be making this jump with you holding your hand.
Things will be fine, if you have faith in me.
Go ahead and leap!
I know that it’s scary Moses, I hear your concerns.
I know I am asking a lot. Anyone would be scared.
The whole thing sounds good, and I know you believe in me.
But now I am asking for a leap of faith.
Take My people out of the Egypt and to the land I promised your ancestors.
But remember, follow the three rules of parachuting.
1.Be sure to wear a parachute. Don’t leap without one.
2. Make sure it’s the very best one you can find – And “I Am the Eternal God” is the best one you can find.
3. Keep the teacher close at hand – Remember God’s Promise “I will always be with you.”
No different with us today.
Your beliefs may have gotten you in the door today, it might get you to open the bible, or spend some time in prayer.
You may have a few, or a great many beliefs.
But those beliefs won’t necessarily get you out of your seat, on to your feet , or leaping into action.
It takes faith, to get us to leap!
And leaping is scary sometimes. Especially if it feels like you are leaping all alone.
Leaping is not a safe thing to do all alone.
So are you wearing your parachute? Do you have a parachute of fear to jump without fear?
IS it the best parachute – Christ’s parachute, the one you can really depend on?
And finally, and many most important, are you keeping the teacher, Christ Jesus himself close….really close…..are you letting Him hold your hand and keep you safe….are you letting Him be close to you?
He’s promised and promises to be there every step of the way.
To hold you close, to care for you, to love you and although the leap may be scary, and the ride a bit bumpy.
With the teacher close, the promise of your salvation is assured.
(c)2007 Timothy Henry