Tag Archives: faith

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of or faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was willing to die for you. He was willing because He knew the final outcome of His sacrifice. How then, can we not trust Him to intercede on our behalf when we have need? We have not because we ask not and we ask not because we trust not. If we are to have a strong walk with Christ Jesus, we have to look to Him as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. We have to look to Him and not take our eyes off Him. We take our eyes off him when we are lured in by the weight and sin of the world which clings so closely.

Peter walked on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. Then the problems of this world drew him away-and he sank. What better example do we need to keep our eyes on our Savior? When life’s storms come our way, the first action we should take is to look to Jesus for our salvation. He will always intercede on our behalf when we pray according to the Father’s will. Keep your eyes on Him.

The voice of a man

Joshua 10:12-14   At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”  And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

What would you pray for if you knew God would hear you and answer?  What would you have the faith to believe Him for if you knew, with no doubt or fear, that He was on your side?

The story of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in the sky is often centered around his bold prayer and God’s answer, but shift your focus just for a moment back on verse 8 of this story.  Notice that before Joshua had the bold faith to pray for a mighty miracle, he heard from God.  The Lord told Joshua that He was on his side and that Israel would win over their enemies.

With that knowledge, Joshua was able to pray with complete faith, knowing that God was with him.  We too can be courageous in our prayers if we first hear from God that He is on our side.  Are you living for Him?  Is He on your side?  Consult God’s Word and find where He wants you.  When you are there, He is fighting on your side, and your voice too will be heard.

———-  So what would you pray for if you knew He would answer?

Faith alone

Romans 3:28  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own.  Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian.  Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.

There is no biblical support for this view.  To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10).  To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross.  James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.

The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God.  The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor.  Justification is found through faith in Christ alone.  This is a wondrous, glorious truth.  God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him.  What an awesome God we serve!

 

Incorruptible love

Ephesians 6:23-24 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

There are few things as awe-inspiring as the love of God that He showed in Jesus Christ. When God put on flesh and dwelled on the earth, He professed His love in a way that is hard to understand, but powerful to feel.

His love is incorruptible, and since we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), ours ought to be incorruptible as well. If it’s real, and it’s true, then there is nothing that can stop it. We know that there’s nothing that can stand between us and the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s love comes with some things, like peace and grace. You want to really know peace? Experience God’s love for you. You want to really know what grace is? Turn to the Father in your lowest moments. He’s real and He loves you. Don’t take it for granted, bask in it. Breathe it in and let it fill you with awe.

Shield yourself with faith

Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one

What sustains you when you face trials in your life? Is it the good works you’ve done? The good books you’ve read? The respect you’ve earned or the status you’ve achieved in your job? How about the possessions you’ve acquired? Or is it faith that keeps you going?

In spiritual warfare, there are offensive measures and there are defensive measures. We are proactive in some ways, and reactive in others. It’s no secret that the enemy of our souls is prone to attack when we are gaining momentum. It should be expected. When that happens, we’ve got to be ready to put up our shields to counter him.

Satan’s attacks can come in the form of doubts, depression, failures, trials, or any number of other struggles. When we’re going through them, they hurt, but faith is effective at keeping him from succeeding.

Faith isn’t just about looking ahead. Sometimes it’s about looking back at how the Lord has kept us up to this point and remember that He always will. Recalling all that He’s done for us is very often the thing that keeps the enemy’s attacks from being effective. Knowing that He’s on our side is very comforting. Keep your shield ready.

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

 

For as beautiful as faith is, for as wondrous as the hope that it brings can be, the devout and determined Disciple meets with challenges to it daily.

I sat across from a friend recently, and I had to ask, “How is your faith?” I could hear it in his voice, the pain and the struggle. Life, it gets hard for all of us, and in those moments as we feel the weight of it bearing down on us, we can’t help but wonder to ourselves. We feel angry but once the anger subsides, as the fairness, or lack thereof, of it weighs down on us, it turns to a sort of quiet depression as we try to figure out what’s the point of trying when all trying seems to do is lead to disappointment.

After a brief moment of silence he met my eyes, and with a slight sigh, shrugged as he answered, “Not as strong as it used to be…”

His problem, his challenge, the question that lingered on his mind was a simple one, one that we all perhaps battle with now and then, but that we don’t give much thought to during the good times in our lives when things seem simple and easy for us. When the rough times come though, it plagues us as we try to hold on to our faith while remaining a good person, while trying to live the life that we know we should live.

“Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?” That was the sum of his problem, the one question that he couldn’t quite wrap his head around. The truth is that I’ve been there, I’ve toiled and struggled with the same question, with the same thought rolling around my mind. I’ve wondered why and how a loving God, a caring God, one who is meant to draw His children so near could let them slip so far away from Him. In the depths of depression I wondered how He could be so far removed from the toils of us mere mortals He so loved, that He loved so dearly that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for. (John 3:16)

The question though answers itself. Yes, it seems as if “good things happen to bad people” while “bad things happen to good people” but the question of why that is the case isn’t so much a mystery, or at the very least, isn’t as big of a mystery as we perhaps let it become in our own minds.

Let’s consider, for a moment, the nature of this world. Despite the imperfections of it, despite our own imperfections, God is not removed from us, nor is He, even in His own perfections, distant from this world. (Romans 3:22-24) Yet in this He warns us that this world that we live in, because of its flawed nature, is going to be a battleground, it is going to be a place of a deep and lasting spiritual warfare. The temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) itself is very telling of just that, not just because our blessed Savior faced the challenge of the sin and the Devil as we did but because he tempted Him in every way he knew would possibly make Him stumble.

This is what he does with us. He looks into our hearts, he examines and he explores our spirits and our souls, searching them for the weaknesses that we have, for those small shreds of self-doubt, for those little bits of vanity, for any piece of pettiness or pain that might plague us. He uses them against us, he turns them against us, to swallow us whole in them and thus devour us himself. (1Peter 5:8)

Why though would he use such tactics against “The Bad” when he knows already that he has won with them? Why would he use them against “The Bad” when he can hold them up as an example of the good things that can happen if you just succumb to temptation and yield to him, relenting in your effort to try and live that good life, that righteous life you have been called to? This is a weapon in his arsenal that he uses to wage his war, that he uses to win his battles and he is going to use it against the faithful Disciple in order to try and win that they may fall on the fields amidst their struggles and their wounds.

Our Heavenly Father, He does not abandon us during these challenges (Joshua 1:5) regardless of how distant He may feel. He arms us that we can stand (Ephesians 6:10-18) knowing that, through Christ, we can find the strength we need to stand triumphant in all the battles, in all the adversity that we may face. (Romans 8:37) This is the promise He has made to us in the love that He has for us, and it is never removed from our lives even as our old and ancient Adversary seeks to put a wall between us and Him that we may not gaze upon the love that He has for us in the faith He has granted us.

It isn’t a question of God’s grace or even a question of faith, but rather a question of how you stand, how you push back when you feel the weight of your enemy, the weight of someone trying so hard to steal your peace from you. Good things may happen to bad people and bad things may happen to good people in this world, but the real victory, it comes not just from knowing this but knowing that the truest rewards, they come to those who accept that and live with faith, hope and love in their hearts, refusing to let this have any power over them, understanding that the real power comes from the blessing they can be despite it all as they hold fast to the wondrous miracle of grace in their life.

God is there for you, He always has been and He always will be. This is His promise to you, hold fast to it in the love that He has for you and you will stand firm against the challenges that this world has, refusing to let imperfect notions, thoughts and understandings create imperfections within you.

Want and Need

What we want isn’t always what we need and what we need isn’t always what we want. That is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons that God teaches us in our lives as we struggle with purpose and meaning, searching for a reason, wondering to ourselves if He is even listening. Sometimes we just, well we have this image in our head of the way things should be or ought to be and it becomes such a prevalent thought that we can’t picture it any other way. Other times it’s that we look around and we can’t seem to understand why it is the way it is when we know it should be different, even if we don’t necessarily know how or why that should be the case.

It’s the question of divine purpose that so often gets to us, that so often weighs us down as we know what we want or how we want it, and yet, as we do, we have a hard time reconciling it to what God knows that we need in our lives. The thing about it is that we’re not even trying to be that terribly difficult, we aren’t trying to make it that much harder, we just want to know why it is the way that it is, we want to know what the plan and the design of it is, and we don’t necessarily get why it has to be the way that it is.

The deepest questions of who we are, and who we need to be, of where we need to be, they aren’t ever questions that come simply or easily. We don’t just become people, we grow into them. Perhaps, along the way or path is changed or altered, it might be that it we are affected, even shaped by the interactions we have with others, sometimes our road is hard, sometimes it is easy, but any way that you look at it, it doesn’t just happen overnight where, one day, we are suddenly who we are at this very moment in our lives. So why would it be any different with a God who knows how we grow, how we evolve as a person, how we learn and we change with time? Why would He make the answers clear to us in a way that He knows would be unclear because it was given without any thought or consideration to who we are and how we became that person?

What God promises us isn’t an easy path, nor a simple one in any way but to our salvation through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:8) What He does promise is that, through the fires and the floods, through the dangers and the perils, He will be there for us and with us, (Isaiah 43:2) never leaving us or abandoning us. (Joshua 1:5) What He tells us is that what we need, in those times when we question the purpose and the plan of it is all, is trust and patience, because those who trust in the Lord will find His goodness (2 Samuel 7:8) and those who are patient with Him will find their strength and purpose, uplifted in His love. (Isaiah 40:31) This is the wondrous miracle of His hand in our lives even as we find ourselves questioning where He is when we want the most.

Remember, it is not our wanting that exalts us, it is God, our Heavenly Father, and God alone who does that. (Psalm 46:10) It could be, at that moment, we don’t quite get how He is exalting us, but it’s only when we put those feelings behind us, when we let go of them, in the blessings of His hope that He lets us be of one mind with Him, (Romans 15:5) to see as He sees, making more and more apparent the glorious nature of the lessons He is teaching us to become as we need to be as He makes all things possible to us through the power of His grace made perfect in Christ through us. (Philippians 4:13)

Take a moment today, and look at your life, look at what you are struggling with, what is challenging you. Take the time to look at what you have laid at God’s feet, the burdens you still feel weighing on you, and instead of mistaking want for need and putting what you want out there, say to God, “Lord, show me as You will, teach me as You must so I can be as You intend for me to be.” Let go not just of the struggles but of the wants and the desires you have in them, and make it about what the Lord, your blessed Father, intends for you and let Him, in trust, patience and hope, guide you to where you must be.

It is only then that you will find the true path to the peace you are seeking, the only way you will find the true reconciliation of your will with God’s to the glorious ends of the love He has for you as He makes it about you rather than you making it about yourself.

What if God Doesn’t Care

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if God actually even cares.

I mean we know He does, or, at the very least, we think He does. It tells us in Scripture He does, and what are the words to that children’s song? “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” After all, if He cared enough to create us, if He made the promises that He made, assuring us that they are the same, that His love, bound to us through Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) there has to be something to the idea that He actually cares. Yet, sometimes it feels more complicated than that, does it? Sure it’s the faith of a child that saves, making way the path to Heaven, (Luke 18:17) but we don’t stay children forever, eventually we put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and adult problems follow us.

During those times God can seem so far distant, He can seem so far removed as we pray for a sign, for any sign that He still sees us, that He still contends with our cause, that He still cares. There are those times when, for as much as we know that He is there, we just don’t seem to feel it, at least not like we did, at least not like we should, and it’s hard. More than anything else it hurts as we just want so badly for Him to make His presence to be known, to let us know He’s still there, that He still sees us. If there is a Hell, if it is being removed from the presence of God, then those moments sure seem like they are as close as you can get to it on earth, aren’t they?

The thing about it is that, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we see His hand or not, God is there, and there isn’t a moment, a second, an instant where He doesn’t care. (Matthew 6:25-34) We know this not just because the Bible tells us that He loves us, that He is always there for us, that He cares for each of us individually with hope and grace, mercy and faith, but because He is the God who gave His only Son as the great sacrifice to wash away our sin and our guilt, to chase away all those problems big and small that would keep us separated from Him. (John 3:16)

You see, this temporal existence is the last great battlefield, and the Devil, our old adversary, he does everything he can to prove to us that Hell does exist, not just as a spiritual plane but as physical one too, and that this, right here is it. After all, if he can convince us that God doesn’t see us here, if He doesn’t see our pain and our anguish here, then is there really a God, is there really a Heaven or a Hell beyond any of this or is it just a moral argument devised millennia ago? After all, for as much as it can be made to feel as much like Hell as it can, our existence this side of Paradise can’t really be made to feel as splendid as Heaven itself, for however close we may wish or want it to be.

It’s not that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t understand. It’s that it’s easier for us to believe that He doesn’t see it than it is for us to accept the truth: amidst this life there are going to be struggles and hardships that seem like they are more than we can handle, there are going to be things in it that are going to cause us so much pain we don’t necessarily know what to do, and yes, God doesn’t necessarily stop them from happening. Why? Because even through them He has a plan for them, He has a lesson He teaches us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows nothing the Devil can throw at us is more powerful than we are when we put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just because we know something is painful now doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something amazing in our future now if we let God show us what it means, just like we can’t know if God takes something painful from us now it can’t lead to a greater pain or a deeper anguish in the future. The nature of faith has to be in the trust, as we put everything we don’t know in the hands of a God who does.

Never for a moment believe that God doesn’t care. He does, and, even in your hardship He is sparing you from some greater challenge, some greater hardship, waging a perpetual battle against sin, death and the Devil for you. He is doing it in ways we can’t understand and can’t conceive, and all He asks of you is a little bit of faith as He guides you through it all. It’s here then that we realize that when we can’t see God or hear Him we need to rely on our other senses, on a greater spiritual sense to find Him. When we do, we know then not only does He care for us, but that He also carries us. It’s then that though that purpose may be lost on us for the moment, we are drawn to the greater moments nearer to eternity when all purpose is revealed to us.

God Says “Trust Me” And He Means It

If I could just be as faithful as God is to his promises.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him, we will also live with him.

If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.

If we deny him, he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Trust me! Usually when you hear those words you know that you need to proceed carefully, but not so when the one saying “trust me” is our God, when he tells you to trust him, you can take it to the bank.

“If” is a tiny little word with a lot of power, it is a word that invites us to make a choice, in this scripture we have an invitation to live a new life. Paul wrote this message to Timothy, who was being mentored by Paul, he gave Timothy an invitation to a new way of life.

Not an invitation like some preachers are offering today, it isn’t an invite to health, wealth and happiness, rather it is quite the opposite. Paul is saying that if we die to self and if we endure hardship, then things will be better. You have an invitation to live for Christ and make your life count, the invite that Paul gave says that we will live and reign with God, we will get a new life. It looks a lot like the invitation that Jesus gave us.

“If” means that you have a choice.

Mark 8:34-38 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

It is only an offer, nobody is pushing you into anything, the offer that Jesus made to us is to be his follower, sounds like a good idea, but what does it take to be his follower?

There are two things that I must do and two things that I cannot do. Jesus said that to be his follower I must not be selfish, or ashamed and that I must take up my cross and give up my life. Jesus said that if I want to really live then it has to be in a way that doesn’t indulge my human tendency toward self preservation.

God can be trusted.

Numbers 23: 19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Who are you going to trust in? Here are a few people that would help you with the answer:

  • Joshua reminded the children of Israel that “every promise of the LORD your God has come true” (Joshua 23:14)
  • Abraham knew that God would be faithful to his promise.  (Romans 4:20-22)
  • King David spoke of the Lord’s faithfulness over and over again. (Psalm 25:10, 31:5, 33:4)

God asks that we give up a lot to follow him. That shouldn’t be such a scary thing for us to do when we realize that his faithfulness is worthy of our trust.

Help me Lord to trust in you one hundred percent.

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Sometimes I take on projects that I know are well beyond my capacity, that are well beyond my own ability. Sometimes I just sit here in this chair and I’ll stare, my look perhaps a little hazy but my mind intensely focused, wondering how I’m going to go about doing this, tracing and retracing my thoughts even as I find I am unable to think about anything else.

There are moments when I just sort of let out this half laugh. You know the one? It almost sounds like a sigh but there is this chuckle that tries to find humor in it as you find yourself a little bit on the frustrated side. When I do, the prevalent thought that runs through my head seems to be I have no business pushing myself like this, testing the limits of what I can and can’t do, knowing full well just how far it is beyond my skill, talent and ability.

Yet I still try, pushing myself a little harder day by day. Maybe, in a sense, there are the times when I know that I am going to wind up disappointed. It doesn’t quite turn out the way that I wanted to. It could be that every step of the way I am going to end up frustrated, silently cursing what I am doing for turning out so bad, and myself for letting it. Invariably I know those moments may come and that, for as much as you warn yourself about it, telling yourself not to be disappointed if they do, nothing really prepares you for the reality of them if and when they do actually hit, do they?

But then, during these times, during these moments, we have to remind ourselves that though a wise man knows their limitations, it is a great man who not only knows them but does everything that he can do to push himself past them. Life is about understanding the boundaries that our limits have put up, and pushing ourselves past them with strength, vigor and courage in a hope, faith and trust that all things will work out as they must.

Faith is about a journey to the borderland of our boundaries, testing the limits of who we are and what we can do. Consider the words of the Lord to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) This is a testimony of a God who does not believe in limitations, a God who, looks to us, and, in the knowledge that all things are possible through Him (Matthew 19:26) sets us apart in the wondrous and boundless nature of His love that all things may be made possible through Him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Without a doubt there will be frustrations, there are going to be challenges that meet us along the way. There are going to be moments in our lives when we feel like throwing up our hands, thinking to ourselves why do we even bother trying? Why do we even bother when it all seems to slip away from us, and it just seems so hard? What we have to remember, during those times, is that we are created in a divine and holy image, in the glorious image of a God who loves us and sets us apart to be more than conquerors in Christ. (Romans 8:37) What we may believe is too hard for us, that we may believe is too difficult for us God has other ideas for. We just need to cast our cares, our worries, our frustrations, our self-doubt aside and look to a wondrous future, and a hope filled plan for our lives.

I have no illusions that I am a great man. Maybe someday I might be better than I am today in the belief that today I am better than I was yesterday. What I know is that if I keep pushing my boundaries, if I keep trying harder to do make what seems like it would be impossible for me to do possible then the best is yet to come for my life in the trust that God will always be there to help me along the way, to help me become more than what I am, perfecting me in His grace and love.

Look to your own life, consider your journey, and the borders it takes you to of your own perceptions of your capacity to grow and to be, to think and to do. God is ready with a divine design for your life to take you beyond. Trust in Him and He will carry you to new heights beyond anything you ever dreamed of before.