Our Faith

There are days, and we all have them, when we do not understand life. Questions flood our minds. We carry the burdens of every day; and some of us carry even heavier burdens. Maybe it is divorce or a death of a loved one. Maybe it is a financial struggle or a health issue.

We look around at other people and often it seems their lives are good. Why me? Why am I suffering while he prospers? What did I do wrong?

Job found himself in a similar situation. Life for Job had been good. He was prosperous, well-educated, a righteous man. In fact, according to Job1:1-3, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”

Sometimes we become complacent in our lives; in our relationship with God; in our every day activities. Sometimes we are doing everything we know to do to have the right relationship with God. Sometimes we are not living the way we should. And trials and struggles come our way. Matthew 5:45, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

It is something Jesus prepared us to have. He did not sugar-coat life. Jesus warned us of difficulties and tumultuous days.

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

At the most unexpected times, trouble and tragedy can find us. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, tall or short, male or female, life can deliver some rough blows.

But there is an answer in 1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Whatever you are facing, know God will overcome it. Trust in Him. He alone holds the victory.


Walk

Acts 3:1-7, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

This story in Acts intrigues me for several reasons. It is interesting that there is a man who has been crippled since birth and people helped him daily by bringing him to the Temple gate called Beautiful.  Why?  So he could beg to acquire the basic necessities of life. I assume, they would pick him up at the end of the day and take him home as well. What a blessing these people were to him.  Without the coins he received each day, he would not be able to live.  Without their help getting there, he would struggle to survive.

When he sees Peter and John, he asks them for money. Peter and John do not have silver or gold to give him; instead, they tell him “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Those words give me chills because of the power behind them. They take the man’s right hand, help him to his feet, and he takes off on strong feet and ankles.  His life has forever changed.

Which was the better help for this man? There is no way to answer that because both acts offered him assistance; yet, Peter and John’s way changed his life.

It brings me to this thought: how often do we encounter people struggling with life, and we want to help them in some way. We see what they need to change themselves, but it is easier to bring them to the Temple gate to beg instead of truly changing their lives. Maybe we do not feel comfortable telling them about Jesus of Nazareth, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We would rather offer sweet words and move on. When is the last time you’ve asked someone if they have Jesus in their life or is it just easier to drop a coin in the cup and walk on by.

I feel stronger than ever that we must become people with the faith and vision to take someone’s right hand, help him to his feet, and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth tell him to walk – in the fullness of Christ, in faith, in obedience, in a life centered by God.

Who needs your help today? Will you drop a coin and pass by, or will you change their life forever? Think about it.


Esteemed by God

There are very definite scriptures which explain to us how to be esteemed by God.

Isaiah 66:2, “…This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

He tells us first to be humble. Matthew George Easton wrote in his Bible dictionary regarding humility, “a prominent Christian grace. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; it  preserves the soul in tranquility and makes us patient under trials.”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Psalm 25:9, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”

Second, He wants us to respect His Word.

Psalm 119:16, “I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

It seems simple enough – be humble and honor His Word; but we make it so complicated. Christianity should not be on display; and yet, many of us make it so. Some put on a show on Sunday and a different show on Monday. For some, it will take a lifetime to get what God is trying to say. We live in a world which lusts for power; money, greed, self are the norms. God expects just the opposite from us. He tells us that power resides with the humble; wisdom dwells in His Word.

Today, meditate on His Word. Evaluate how you measure up against humility and obedience to His Word. Talk with God about it. Become esteemed by God.

 


Faith Relies

Fear. We project it in many ways. Sometimes we express it, “I’m scared to death!” Other times we panic and use substances to make us feel better – food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or shopping. Some may take it out on others – yelling, using sarcasm, cursing, or cutting people down. There are those who give up, retreat, crouch into a corner, and pull the covers over their heads.

My question is why? Why do we allow fear to consume us, direct us, and cripple us. Could it be that we accept some things without believing them?  Consider one example: could it be that a major flaw in Christianity is accepting that the Resurrection is true while not really believing in it? Before you storm my house and burn me at the stake, let me qualify what I mean. There are many things we accept but don’t believe. I might accept what our government does; it doesn’t mean I believe every part of it. I might accept what my friend does, but I may not believe in what he does. When we believe something, we buy into it. We sell out to it. We go the extra mile for it, because our inner most core BELIEVES it!  If you believe in the Resurrection of Christ rather than just accepting it, your fears will be influenced.

Salvation is more than the Sinners Prayer.  Some pray the Sinner’s Prayer because they accept Christ.  Salvation requires that we believe in Him.

Fear questions our belief. Fear is the defining factor in whether we accept Christ or believe Him. Sometimes its hard when you are standing in the doctor’s office, and he tells you terminal cancer is knocking at your door. Acceptance questions God, “How can this be? Where are you? Why are you doing this to me?” That’s fear talking. Belief rings in our head, “I know You destroyed death. I know who YOU are and no matter what, I’m believing You will turn this for good. You will not forsake me because I believe in YOU!”

The bills are piling up. You are two months behind on the mortgage. The baby is sick. You receive the pink slip at work. Things happen that do not line up with what you read in God’s Word. You know God IS good but what you are seeing ISN’T good! Things in life happen that do not line up with what you bought into when you became a Christian; but Christianity is knowing the more you need Him, the more faithful He will show Himself on your behalf. Fear questions; but Faith relies.

In your darkest hour, never doubt where He is. Fear tells us He’s gone; Faith shows us He is right beside us. Fear questions His Word; Faith believes His Word.

Daniel 3:16-20, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

We need the “Even if belief…” that sheer confidence that NO MATTER WHAT – we are all in with Him. Today, choose to have confidence in the God you serve.


So Much More

Ephesians 3:16-19, ” I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

In walking with Christ, we are called to something more. We’ve become new people because God has filled us with His fullness. Do you realize, if we could grasp how much Christ loved us, it would be so overwhelming and rich for us, we would almost be floating. And maybe some of us would actually float.

I remember when I first met Connie. I was so crazy about her. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like a little boy in a candy shop. She was then and still is the most beautiful woman in the world to me, and all I wanted was to be near her. Christ’s love for us is so much more. It isn’t even comparable. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Because God’s love flows through us, we have the ability to share His love with those around us. What an awesome thought to be “rooted and established in His love.”

This morning, ask God to fill you with that richness and power so that you can share it with those you meet today.


Under Great Fire

Deuteronomy 7:21 -23, “Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed.”

At the time of the writing of this scripture, the Israelites are threatened by many nations: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – seven nations who are much larger and stronger than they are.  Some of you may say, “That sounds like my life right now. I feel like I’m being hit from all sides.” And some of you are under great fire right now.

Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God – For me, this is the most powerful part of this scripture and our lives. Acknowledge and accept that the power with you is our great and awesome God. You are not alone in your problems. You will not be fighting this battle alone. God has a solution. He has a plan. He is rolling up His sleeves. You have no reason to fear. God is near.

You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once – This is the tough part of the scripture. Even though God could flick His fingers and everything would go away, He doesn’t. Because He knows what is up ahead. Something far worse. Something that will harm His plan. Something that needs readjusting. Whatever the reason, He isn’t going to wipe out all your trials at once; because He sees a better way.

or the wild animals will multiply around you – God knows that if He just flicks His finger and destroys seven nations, a greater problem awaits the Israelites. The wild animals will multiply and the Israelites will be overcome by them. Sometimes we just want an answer. We want God to take it all away. What we don’t realize is a bigger trial is lurking on the outside we don’t know about yet; but God does. I’m sure the Israelites just want their enemies to ‘GO AWAY’! They aren’t thinking about the wild animals around them because at the time, the wild animals are of little concern. There is enough population to keep them away. God doesn’t do anything haphazardly. He sees the whole picture not just the part we are in.

But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed – Understand that God sees you. He knows you exist. He knows your pain, your problems, your dilemmas. He has not forgotten you. He may need to take care of things a little by little; but, He will deliver you.

I want to encourage you, God has heard your cries at night. He sees the problems you face and He knows the outcome. He is preparing the way for you, little by little.


Wherever you go…

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The first time I heard Leslie sing, I was standing at the bottom of a stairwell at school. Her voice flowed gracefully through the air like honey dripping from a spoon. The keys of the piano worked in rhythmic patterns, further enhancing her voice. I had never heard anything so beautiful.

I later learned Leslie was auditioning for a scholarship to one of the top universities in the nation. That afternoon she was standing in line behind me at lunch.

“You sing good,” I nervously approached a conversation with her. At 15, talking to a Senior girl is a tad intimidating. Her confused look caused me to explain further, “I heard you practicing.”

“Oh! Thank you,” she said with a smile.

“When are your auditions?” I questioned.

“This Saturday,” she responded.

“With your voice, you have nothing to worry about!”

“I don’t know about that, but it is my ticket to college,” Leslie’s eyes drifted anxiously away and I knew how important this must be for her.

Several months later, I overheard a teacher saying Leslie had not been chosen. She had made the initial cut but at the final selection, Leslie’s name was not on the list.

No matter what we do in life, sometimes we are going to be selected and other times we are not. When I consider this verse, God is not telling us everything will always work-out. He is not telling us we will always win. He is however telling us to be strong and courageous because He is always with us. The reality is, when the Creator of the Universe is on your side, the King of kings – the Lord of lords – how could we not be strong and courageous?

Leslie did not go to college her first year out of high school; she went her second year. And it wasn’t to the college she had auditioned to go and been rejected. It was to a different college called Juilliard, the world’s best institution for performing arts located in Manhattan, New York.

Years later, I coincidentally sat next to her on a plane heading to New York. She told me she sang for the New York City Opera. The opportunity to hear her story encouraged me. Leslie did not quit after she was turned down her Senior year of High School. She worked harder than ever vocally during that year after high school, and she auditioned again. Leslie told me that she did not allow her failure to rule her because she determined in her heart that she could do it – and she did. God used her disappointment to make her stronger, bolder, and more confident.

Maybe you are facing a disappointment. Maybe you are discouraged and feel you’ve hit a dead end. Realize that God is with you in every victory and every let down. Wherever you go – whatever you do – God is by your side.