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Bible Search
Becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus
Faithful!
Galatians 5:22-23
 
While doing some research this week for a project I’m working on, I came across a youth Sunday School conference title that really intrigued me. It was called “How to become a FAT HOG”.  It was aimed at teaching kids who have a strong desire to be more Christ-like in their lives and how to be a more dedicated Christian.
 
Now I suppose at first glance, there are all kinds of things wrong with that title.  First of all, no animal gets more bad press in Scripture outside of the serpent than do swine. We first encounter them as an unclean animal that Jews were to avoid. One of the Proverbs reminds us that a beautiful woman who has no discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.
 
Jesus allowed the demons from the demon possessed man in Gadara to enter the herd of hogs, giving us the first occurrence of deviled ham. He told his followers to not to cast their pearls before swine. Peter described those who play around with religion, but can’t leave the world alone as a washed sow that would rather be wallowing in the mud.
 
So a scriptural basis alone would probably be enough to leave it alone. And then there’s the logical side of things.  I doubt that there’s anybody here who would receive it as a compliment if someone came up to you and said, “I hope you become a fat hog.” You can try it right now if you’d like. Just turn to the person next to you and tell them, “I hope you become a fat hog.”
 
In fact, I want to take the next six weeks and see if I can’t help us all become fat hogs. 
 
Perhaps seeing that title as an acrostic and coming to understand what it stands for will help. 
 
F-aithful
A-vailable
T-Teachable
H-oly
O-bedient
G-rowing
 
Now let me ask you, wouldn’t you be a better Christian and church member if you could be more faithful, available, teachable, holy, obedient and growing? 
 
That’s why I want to help us all become FAT HOGs!  So what we’ll do for the next six weeks, beginning today, is explore those characteristics one by one with the goal of becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus. 
 
Let’s start with what it means to be faithful.  All of us are familiar with the word and are examples of it.    
 
For instance, there are more than 200 geysers in Yellowstone National Park. Yet, one has stood out for many, many years. It is not the largest. Its waters do not reach to the greatest height. But it is by far the park's most popular attraction and its popularity is due to one thing: its faithfulness.
 
For years, people have stood in lines, over a mile long, in the hot sun, to watch as every 65 minutes it shoots a stream of boiling water more than 170 feet into the air. 
 
It is so dependable that people have literally set their watches by it; thus, deservingly giving it the name, Old Faithful!
 
Many of will remember the Sunday morning, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when the U. S. Marine barracks in Beirut was bombed. Hundreds of Americans were killed, and thousands were seriously wounded. A few days after the attack, Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly visited some of the wounded soldiers in a Frankfurt, Germany hospital.
 
Among them was a man by the name of Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body, that a witness said he looked "more like a machine than a man."  Yet, he survived.
 
As Commandant Kelly neared the wounded soldier, he noticed that the soldier struggled to motion for a piece of paper, and a pen. He wrote a brief note, and passed it back to his commander. The note consisted of two simple, short words: Semper Fi. It is the Latin motto of the Marine Corps which means, "Forever Faithful."
 
I read this week about the airport in Columbus, Ohio being renamed in honor of John Glenn. He was the first American to orbit the earth. He was part of NASA’s historic Mercury Seven crew.  In fact, he returned to space in 1998 at the age of 77. He also served a s US Senator and is now 94 years old.  But what struck me more than anything in the article was the little line that said he was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife, Annie, of 73 years.   
 
 
 
There are many things in life that can be considered reliable, dependable and faithful. The sun rises every morning and sets every evening. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. The government taxes and spends and then taxes and spends some more. All of these are faithful matters.
 
But one of the great questions of the Bible is found in Proverbs 20:6 when Solomon says, "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" That is a great question, and one that deserves our undivided attention, as well as our unwavering answer.
 
I read the story this week of a certain track and field event held a few years ago. In one of the races, the command came, "On your mark, get set," and then the pistol cracked and the race was on. A fine athlete sprang to the lead, and when the race was over he had broke the state record. Only a few other runners even finished the race. Many dropped out when they saw they could not win.
 
As the field crew was bringing out the hurdles for the next race, one of the judges yelled, "Get those hurdles out of the way. This race is not over. Look!" And around the turn came a runner, panting, & staggering. The crowd stood in silent disbelief as he made his way over the last hundred yards, and literally fell across the finish line, grinding his face into the cinder track.
 
One of the judges ran to the boy, turned him over on his back, took his handkerchief and wiped the blood and sweat from his face and said, "Son, why didn’t you drop out? What are you doing in the mile race anyway?"
 
Between gasps, the boy explained that his school had a good miler who had gotten sick just a few days before. The coach had promised to have a man in every event, and so he had asked the boy to run the mile.  "Well son, why didn’t you just drop out when you saw that you had lost?"  The boy answered, "Judge, they didn’t send me here to quit. They didn’t send me here to win. They sent me here to run this mile and I ran it!"
 
I’m afraid that far too many people stop doing what they know God put them here to do, long before they accomplish their task. All too often what should be a natural expression of the Spirit’s work in our lives is sadly missing.
 
I believe it was Charles Colson who said there was a time when Christians told the world to stop sinning, tragically, now sometimes it’s the world telling the church to stop sinning. How sad!
 
Our lives as believers should be different because we have God living in us. The Holy Spirit is working in us to produce fruit. How can our lives not be changed? That’s a valid question. The fruit of the Spirit speaks of the outworking of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.
 
When a person is a Christian they should demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in all ten of the areas mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. If you are a believer then you have the Holy Spirit inside of you working to produce the things we read about here.
 
Let’s read about the Fruit of the Spirit from
 
Galatians 5:22-23
Notice in the middle of the list, we find the word “faithfulness”. Did you ever think about that? One of the evidences of my Christianity is my faithfulness. So what does that mean? Well, perhaps it would be helpful to define the term. 
 
1. The Definition of Faithfulness
 
The word for faithfulness here in Galatians 5:22 is found in a number of places in Scripture and what it means is determined by its usage. Sometimes it’s translated as “faith”, other times as “faithful” and also as “faithfulness”. Three of its usages are found here in the book of Galatians and each of the three has a different meaning. 
 
For instance, it’s found in Galatians 1:23 as “faith” where it speaks of the "the content" of the Christian message. The verse is speaking of the faith as what Paul believed in. He had formerly prosecuted the Christian faith, now he became a follower of the Christian faith and he is preaching that message. 
 
Then we see it in Galatians 2:16 as an act of believing. 
Paul uses the word to speak of faith in Jesus Christ. The idea is of us placing our confidence in Jesus’ death on the cross for us. It’s not enough to merely believe the facts about God, which was the first meaning of faith, we must also place our faith or trust in Jesus and what’s He did for us on the cross.
 
In fact, it is this way that the word faith is most often used in scripture. Over 400 times in the New Testament, we find reference to faith leading to salvation, or believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You might say it’s "the theme" of the New Testament.
 
Then here in our text for today we find the word translated as “faithfulness” as a part of the fruit of the Spirit. And here Paul is speaking of living the Christian message.
 
It’s committing ourselves to Jesus Christ and then letting the reality of that faith permeate our lives on a daily basis. It’s being faithful to the life God has called us to. In a practical way it’s the quality of being true, trustworthy and reliable in our dealings with others. It’s the characteristic of doing what we know we should even when it’s not easy.
 
This is the trait that William Carey demonstrated when he asked his friend John Williams to pray for him after serving eight years in India with few visible results. He needed encouragement and asked, "Pray for us that we may be faithful to the end."
 
Now whether we like to admit it or not, that attitude isn’t nearly as common as you might think, even among Christians. I would daresay most people think they are a lot more faithful than they really are. If you don’t believe that, just challenge them on their absenteeism from church or confront them about why they don’t tithe or come to prayer meeting. They will very quickly tell you how holy they are and how they don’t have to meet anybody’s expectations and no preacher’s going to tell them what to do!
 
And their defensiveness reveals their heart. They know they aren’t faithful. Everybody else know they aren’t faithful and the truth of that bites! When it comes right down to it, their "faithfulness" is more a matter of convenience than commitment.
 
 
And the reason there is such conviction about that is because the Scripture places such a high premium on faithfulness. When you find a person who is faithful, you know you have someone special.
 
It’s kind of like those two ladies who were walking down the street when they came across this frog. The frog said, "Kiss me and I will turn into a handsome Oklahoma oil tycoon."  One lady reached down, grabbed the frog and put it in her purse.  The other looked at her and said, "Aren't you going to kiss that frog?" She replied, "Absolutely not!  A talking frog is worth something!”
 
I want you to know a faithful church member is worth something!  In fact, this verse is a reminder that God wants faithfulness to characterize His followers.
 
I like the way Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, has defined faithfulness. He writes, "Faithfulness means you stick to a commitment after the shine wears off... Faithfulness means you keep saying no a thousand times if you must to the temptation of cutting a corner and taking the easy way out... Faithfulness means you refuse to jump ship even when the waves of adversity are splashing over the decks of your marriage, your relationship with your children... or your relationship with others. Faithfulness means you stay true to your relationship with Jesus Christ no matter what it costs you." That’s what it means to be faithful. 
 
Next, let’s think about  
 
2. The Demonstration of Faithfulness
 
How does faithfulness express itself in our daily lives?  How are we to be faithful?  Well, to answer that let’s see what Jesus had to say to a church that was known for its faithfulness. He wrote them a letter and delivered it through the pen of His servant John while he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. We have a copy of the letter in our Bibles, found in Revelation 2.
 
Let me give you a little background to the letter. This is the second letter John recorded in a series of seven letters that were written to the churches in Asia Minor.  This particular letter was written to the church at Smyrna.
 
Revelation 2:8-11
 
Now obviously, this church had gone through some difficult times, and it wasn’t over. You will notice in verse 9 that he’s speaking in the present tense. These were the things the church was going through at that time.
 
However, notice in verse 10, he moves into the future. He says, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. He was speaking of what was on the way. To put it another way, times were hard and they were going to get worse.
 
So how do you prepare someone in that situation for what’s to come? And maybe a better question would be “How do any of us prepare for the uncertainty of what lies ahead?”
 
At the risk of being overly simplistic, may I suggest that the way we’re to prepare for any future eventuality is always the same.
 
 
Notice a key phrase in verse 10.  We are told to “be faithful until death”. In other words, faithfulness is being totally and absolutely committed to God no matter what the cost.
 
And I’ve got news for you: you will find it very difficult to develop faithfulness after the crisis show up. I’ve known far too many whose faith has been shattered when an emergency came because their faith hadn’t been developed before that time. 
 
Our preparation for those uncertainties begins with being committed the way we should be now. Serve faithfully now. Study faithfully now. Worship faithfully now. Then when the crisis hits, you’ll be equipped for it. You’ll have something to sustain you and steady you and strengthen you.
 
For the believers in Symrna, it meant being committed to the point of death. Now you and I may never be put to death for our faith, but shouldn’t we be that committed whether we’re ever called to make that particular sacrifice or not? Obviously, yes!  And by the way, you’re going to die one way or the other!  Just be faithful until death!
 
On Sunday January 6, 1850, John Egglen of Colchester awoke to a town buried in snow. Why bother going to church, he thought. But being the good deacon that he was, he walked the 6 miles to the Methodist church. Even the pastor couldn’t make it that snowy morning. Indeed, only 13 people showed up: 12 members and one visitor, a 13-year-old boy.
 
 
 
 
Some suggested going home. But Egglen refused – after all, they did have a visitor. But who would preach? Egglen was the man, even though he never preached before. And it showed – his sermon was only ten minutes long and was far from elegant.
 
The text was Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Gathering a bit of courage, Egglen looked straight at the visitor and said, “Young man, look to Jesus. Look. Look. Look.” The boy did look, and was instantly and gloriously saved.
 
It’s a good thing Egglen didn’t stay in bed that day. That young boy was Charles Spurgeon. When he told his mother he wanted to be baptized, she replied, “Ah, Charles, I often prayed the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.”
 
Charles Haddon Spurgeon has often been called, the "prince of preachers." God blessed his preaching and when he was still less than 30 years old he became the pastor of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle.
 
His sermons were so powerful that although the building could hold 5,000 people, the crowds who came to hear him were so thick that they would line up outside trying to hear his sermons.
 
And that amazing life of faith all started on a cold Sunday morning with the faithfulness of a deacon who had never preached a sermon before that day. Faithfulness means being committed to what God lets us have the chance to do, whether it looks like a big assignment, or a small one.
 
 
Giving the sermon to a handful of people on a Sunday morning when almost no one shows up doesn’t seem all that significant, but it demanded faithfulness and God blessed John Egglen’s faithfulness by touching the world with the Gospel.
 
Finally, I want to say a word about 
 
3. The Distinction of Faithfulness
 
Why do we find it so hard to be faithful? Part of the problem is that we live in a society where faithfulness isn’t in style. People aren’t accustomed to someone being what they should be and living the way they should.
 
Many people aren’t committed to God, to their church, to their friends, or to their family. And we find all kinds of way to justify our unfaithfulness.
 
We cheat our employers out of wages because they are unfair. We justify our extramarital affairs by claiming we are incompatible with our spouse or they don’t meet our needs or we have irreconcilable differences. We cheat the government because we are overtaxed.
 
But deep down inside we know the truth. For instance, if a husband says, "I really love my wife," but then he has an affair, you might call him a liar, or a cheat, but most of all you would call him "unfaithful" because no matter how loudly he proclaims his love, he has shown himself to be unfaithful in that love.
 
And I think the truth is being faithful to God is such a challenge because we aren’t faithful to anybody or anything else in our lives.
We all deal with the temptation to be unfaithful to God, and that is especially true if you are committed to living a faithful life. 
 
But I want to encourage you by saying if you will fight the temptation to be unfaithful, each time you are faithful, it will move you to be more faithful.  And to illustrate that I want to pint you toward a Scripture that, at first glance, may not connect with what I’m saying. But a prolonged look will reveal an important insight.
 
James 1:2-4
 
Now, in verse 3, pay attention to the word “faith” because it is speaking of more than just faith as we typically think of it. Could it be that part of the issue here is not only the testing of our faith, but also of our faithfulness?
 
Let me show you what I mean. Remember, the words faith, faithful and faithfulness are all the same word in the original text. And while it’s true that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, it’s also true that the testing of our faithfulness produces perseverance as well.
 
We are not only called to be people of faith, we are also called to be people of faithfulness. We are called to be faithful people. And when we withstand the temptation to be unfaithful we’re taking a step toward the perseverance spoken about in James 1:3.
 
Now everybody faces the challenge of being faithful. Many couples decide to live together without the benefit of marital commitment.
 
They want to keep their options open and they don’t want to get hurt. Ironically, they nearly guarantee the very thing they are so anxious to avoid. Even secular studies show that couples who live together before they marry are significantly more likely to end up divorced.
 
But faithfulness is doing the right thing, whether it’s in style or out of style. It’s being faithful to remain sexually pure, whether it’s currently in style or not. I frequently hear of adults who want their children or grandchildren to have high standards sexually, but who aren’t faithful to those same standards themselves. We all need to be morally faithful!
 
Faithfulness is doing the right thing when it comes to our spiritual commitments as well. Are you going to do what you know is right or not? Are you going to obey God or not? Faithfulness is just that simple.
 
It doesn’t matter if it’s popular or it’s what you want to do or don’t want to do or if it will make you happy or wealthy. None of that matters. I will be faithful to God.
 
Back in 1940 a gentleman named Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss,wrote and illustrated the story of Horton the Elephant who is tricked into sitting on a bird's egg while its mother, Mayzie, takes a permanent vacation to Palm Beach.
 
While she’s gone, Horton is exposed to the elements, laughed at by his jungle friends, captured by hunters, forced to endure a terrible sea voyage, and finally placed in a traveling circus.
 
 
 
 However, despite his hardships and Mayzie's clear intent not to return, Horton refuses to leave the nest because he insists on keeping his word, often repeating, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred per cent!"
 
Now it just seems to me if a cartoon elephant can be faithful to a task, the blood-bought children of God outght to be able to demonstrate the same character trait!  Should it not be said of us as Christians that we are 100% faithful? 
 
After all, faithfulness is the natural fruit of the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives. That doesn’t mean however, that it happens without us being a willing participant. God wants us to honor Him by being faithful to the things we know He wants us to do and be involved with in our lives.
 
And by the way, there is nothing else that can take the place of being faithful to God. There is no other Christian discipline that can do what faithfulness can do.  When we simply do our best to faithfully serve God right where we are, our efforts can accomplish more than we could dare dream.
 
This week you may have heard or read about NASA’s solar-powered spacecraft named Juno.  After a five year journey, Juno will arrive at Jupiter tomorrow.
The plans are for it to enter the red giant’s orbit and circle  Jupiter 37 times over a span of 20 months gathering data for research. It is an amzing venture, but it’s not the first time we traveled to study the planets.
 
 
 
Back on March 2, 1972, we launched Pioneer 10 which was intended to photograph Jupiter and send the images back to earth. And it was successful in its mission.  However, it didn’t stop. It just kept traveling and sending back information. It went on to reach Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and eventually passed Pluto. But it didn’t stop then.
 
Radio communications were lost with Pioneer 10 on January 23, 2003, because of the loss of electric power for its radio transmitter, with the probe at a distance of almost 7.5 billion miles from Earth.
 
According to a time magazine on the mission a few years ago, those signals radiated from an 8 watt transmitter which puts out about as much power as a night light. Pioneer 10 was more faithful to her mission than anyone ever dreamed when she was launched in 1972. The tiny craft kept doing what she was designed to do. May the same be said of us.
 
You want to be a FAT HOG for Jesus?  It all begins with faithfulness.
 
Let’s pray.
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