Tag Archives: faith

(I Kings 13-16) For Generations To Come

Why did God not wipe out the blatantly disobedient people of Israel? One king after another – on both sides of the Israeli teams – obeyed God to differing degrees. Most disobeyed Him unashamedly. Their open rejection of everything God stood for would seem to be reason enough for God to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Why didn’t He do that? First of all, Scripture makes it clear God doesn’t delight in the deaths of His enemies, that His Sovereign will is that no one die without His saving grace. God didn’t – and doesn’t – destroy the Jews because of that one person whose heart is stirred, that one who is softening toward Jesus, and who will receive what the Messiah died to provide.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. (Psalm 103:8)

But here is what occurred to me this morning as I sat here praying about these chapters in I Kings: God had made promises about Israel’s preservation to Abraham and to King David. Why? Because these men had vital relationships with God based on complete surrender and great faith. Neither man was perfect. But both men trusted God, and confessed and repented of sin. They were faithful to God, and He was faithful to them.

I am sure we are all praying for our children. We want God to bless and protect them today and every day. But I’m wondering how many generations of our descendants will be touched by God’s hand of protection, His grace and mercy, because we are living lives of obedience here and now? How many of our children and grandchildren will be blessed because we ourselves are surrendered to God, and demonstrate complete faith in Him? How many years will God continue to answer our prayers long after we are gone from this earthly body?

Our lives are lived in a few decades on this earth. But our prayers live into eternity. Our example goes on without us in the hearts and minds of our children. Our influences influence them whose influence impacts our grandchildren who will have children and grandchildren of their own.

What example of obedience are those dear ones seeing in us today? More importantly, what is God seeing in us that would cause Him to want to answer our prayers for the next generation and the next?

Abraham’s and David’s prayers are still being answered today because they were faithful to God while they had that opportunity. May the same be said of us a few thousand years from now.

(Joshua 1-5) The Forever Miracle

Do you believe in miracles? Some people read things like the Israelite’s crossing of the Jordan River, and because it would be impossible, write it off as fantasy, folk-lore, imagination. Others come up with what they think are plausible answers like the pull of gravity on that particular day at that exact time…

What these people don’t seem to understand is, if the event could be explained, it wouldn’t be a miracle. If we can understand the “how” of it, it isn’t miraculous. So the question again is, do you believe in miracles?

Do I believe the Jordan River water stopped flowing, that a new generation of Jews crossed over on dry ground like their fathers had crossed the Red Sea? I do.

Can I explain it from a scientific perspective? No.

Have I ever seen river water stop flowing like reported in the book of Joshua? Never.

Then why in the world would I believe it to be true?

Because I believe in the God of the Bible. And because I believe in Him, it’s not that hard to believe in miracles. In fact, I’ve seen even greater miracles than the Jordan River crossing.

Every time a sinner repents and is changed from the inside out through the blood of Jesus, there’s a miracle. There is no greater miracle than true repentance because it’s eternal. All other miracles had a time frame. Not so salvation.

It’s the forever miracle.

(Numbers 33) Unnecessary Detours

If I counted correctly, the Israelites moved 44 times during their forty year romp through the wilderness. God had brought them right to the door of the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were forced to turn away and roam the countryside.

I taught school for almost forty years. During that time I made eight moves. One was during the worst snow storm Ohio had ever seen. None of the moves I made were fun. I can’t imagine picking up and moving 44 times. That’s more than one a year! No thanks!!

What makes this a tragic tale is the fact they didn’t have to have moved at all. If they had only trusted God, He would have given them the land He’d brought them to. It was right there. It was so close. It’s what God wanted for them. But they just couldn’t trust Him, and God closed the door. Such an unnecessary detour.

As you look back on your life, do you recognize the unnecessary detours you’ve taken because you hadn’t trusted God? It happens. God brings us right to the door of blessing, but we hold back. We try another route. We question, and doubt. And God closes the door.

We find ourselves taking that detour that includes hardships and heartache. Yes, there are blessings in the detours. Yes God can and does use us during those times. But we miss what was beyond our doubt at the time God wanted us to accept it.

God is speaking to me about trust today. Are there areas of my life I keep to myself, things I think I need to handle on my own, ministry opportunities I decline because I think the hurdles are too high? What am I missing if I don’t trust God with it all?

I want God’s perfect will in my life. Not just because there are blessings there, but because it’s God’s perfect will for me. I would rather not take unnecessary detours to get there.

My Response (Hebrews 10)

Mom would have been 96 today. I would have enjoyed celebrating with her. But since she’s in heaven, she has no age, no birthday, no need for candles or cake. She’s in glory!

Reading her Bible today gave me a special connection with her. I love that woman! I was touched my some verses that touched her. Chapter 10 talks about the amazing work Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice and what it means for my life and my eternity. Here is what she underlined:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (22-25)

I want my response to Jesus to be exactly that! A sincere heart, full of the assurance of my faith in Him, a guiltless conscience because of the decisions I make as His representative. I want to hold unswervingly to the hope I have, even when my hope is not politically correct or “woke.” I want to encourage you even more as we see the very real possibility that the end of life as we know it may be coming to an end. Let’s stand together in the Truth that is Jesus!

I hope you’ll read Hebrews today. It always makes me love Jesus more every time I read it. He did it all. The old is gone, the new is come. I want my response to His sacrifice, to bring Him joy.

Immediate (Mark 8)

I find it interesting, and personal, that it took Jesus two tries to heal the blind man in Mark 8. Or did it?

Some people had brought the man to Jesus for healing, and Jesus took him by the hand and led him to a private spot. This was not going to be a public display of God’s power. This was personal.

Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and laid hands on him. But the man was only partially healed. He confessed he saw, but not clearly. Jesus touched him again, and he was healed.

Now I know Jesus could have absolutely healed him immediately – with a word. (He’d healed people immediately many times before.) So why was this healing a two-parter?

I think it’s something to consider in our day of instant gratification, impatience, entitlement, and self-absorption. We pray and, knowing Jesus is able to answer, we expect immediate results. We don’t want to wait, and we certainly don’t want our request answered in stages.

Then, what if the end result isn’t exactly what we’d prayed? What happens to our faith? What if, when the man in Mark 8 realized his sight wasn’t fully restored the first time, he left in a huff, if his faith was only as good as the immediate? He would have missed the complete healing.

I think of a fellow-blogger who was diagnosed with ALS 24 years ago, is confined to a wheel chair with a mind that is sharp, and a body that will not move. I didn’t know him back then. But I imagine he and those around him prayed for healing. I imagine those prayers are still being brought to God. Those prayers were met in other ways, besides a physical healing. If you want to know more about his journey, check out Unshakable Hope.

Our Good News club is looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s another example of a believer whose physical body was not healed, although there were a lot of prayers to that end. The answers to those prayers came in stages, and the end result looked much different than those praying imagined. But both of these people have ministries today they would not have had if they had been healed of their physical challenges.

As I think about these people, the man in Mark 8, others I’ve prayed for without seeing the results I wanted, I have to ask myself if I really trust God even when my requests aren’t fulfilled in my timing or in the exact way I’ve prayed?

I find it’s not about the outcome of my prayers, but the faith I have along the way. of course I believe God can do anything. He could remove Covid from the world right this minute. That’s not what God wants me to see today, though. God wants me to see Him, to trust Him, to have a faith that is not shattered if answers to my prayers aren’t immediate.

If God answers my prayers in stages, I pray that I will have the patience to see Him working in my life and in the lives of others in the situation with me while we wait. I pray that if the outcome isn’t what I demanded, I will trust Him enough to know and do what’s best for eternity.

I think God is reminding me today to pray, to trust, to have faith that He does all things well, and to rejoice in every step of the way.

God’s Power In Me (Joshua 1-4)

Rahab’s testimony spoke to me today. She was a prostitute living in Jericho. She most likely had never met a Jewish person before. But when Joshua’s two spies came to her house, she welcomed them based on Israel’s reputation. Hear what she said to them:

I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts sank and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. (2:8-11)

Rahab went on to save the lives of the two spies, and later we’ll find out her faith and obedience saved her own. But what spoke to me today is what she said about God.

She told the spies that she and everyone around her trembled in fear because of the great things God had done for Israel. They had heard about Israel’s great victories, the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel’s reputation as the children of God made them realize how weak and helpless they were against Him.

In fact, in the case of Rahab, she put her faith in the God of Israel in response to the power she heard about in the lives of the Jews. Which got me to thinking.

Is God’s power seen in me? Is God recognizable in my life to people who are lost without Him? I don’t want people to see me and think what a religious, good person I am. I want people to see what a great God I serve.

The world is experiencing something in this virus outbreak that I don’t think has ever brought us together before on common ground in such a way. It’s not just the US who are practicing social distancing. Countries all around the world share the same restrictions, face the same challenges, and are searching for that last roll of toilet paper. For the first time in my lifetime, I feel we are one in something.

And that puts a responsibility on the shoulders of we who know the Lord. And believe me, people all over the world are watching how Christians handle this pandemic. Let me ask you, what are your family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers learning about God as they watch how you act and react to what is going on? Do they see a powerful God, the God of hope, the God who saves? Or do they see a God who can’t be trusted because you are in a panic, wringing your hands, and hoarding the TP?

Rahab came to faith in God by watching Him demonstrate His power through the people of Israel. Let’s pray that people will come to faith in God by watching Him demonstrate His power through each of us.

December 24; Faith in Action

Hebrews 10:19-12:29

Do you know what I noticed about the people listed in Chapter 11, the “Hall of Faith?” Each one put their faith in God, but none of them sat on that faith. It wasn’t enough to simply believe. They all did something as a result of their faith.

They warned, went, obeyed, blessed, spoke, refused, left, passed through the Red Sea…. All of these people were commended for their faith yet none of them actually saw the One in whom they’d placed their faith. None of them knew the Messiah Jesus whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow. But that didn’t stop them from having faith in Him anyway.

Everybody has faith of some kind. I have loved ones who have faith their belief there is no God won’t usher them into hell. Some people have faith in false gods, in religion, in goodness and kindness, in the stars, or in themselves. We all have faith that what we believe is true.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (12:2)

So who has authored your faith? I pray you will place your faith in the author of creation, in life itself, in love, and in eternity. I pray you’ll place your faith in the One who went to the cross for the joy of forgiving your sins.

Then, with the saints listed in Chapter 11, let’s do something with that faith. Let’s warn, and go, and obey, and bless… because the truth of the matter is, people need to know there is only One who is worthy of our faith.

December 20; Everything You Need

Jude 1:17-25; 2 Peter 1-3; 2 Timothy 1

Do you realize that, if Jesus is your Savior, you have everything you need to make it through this life? Peter tells us the divine power of God Himself gives us everything we need for life and godliness.

Don’t miss the word, “everything.” And don’t underestimate God’s power.

But then Peter says; For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith…

I recently read an article about a woman in our town whose name is Shawn, One day Shawn noticed a very tired woman walking along the street. She stopped to check on her and found out the lady walked to work every day. And it took her three hours one way to walk to her job at McDonald’s. Shawn decided to help, and for some time picked her up every day and gave her a ride. When Shawn wasn’t able, her sister or her son made the trip so that tired woman wouldn’t have to walk to or from work.

Then Shawn did something else extraordinary. She bought a car, put it in the woman’s name, paid for insurance for two months, and filled the gas tank. She handed the woman the keys to the car.

That woman now owned a car. No strings attached. I ask you, wouldn’t it have been a waste if she never put the key into the ignition? Wouldn’t you wonder about anyone with such an amazing gift who DIDN’T use it? What if the woman insisted on continuing to walk to work, a car in her drive, gas in the tank, and keys in hand? You’d think something was wrong with that picture.

At least I would. Here’s the thing. That car belongs to the woman. But in order to take advantage of  that gift, she has to use it.

In 2 Peter 1: 5-6 Peter tells us to add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. Then verses 10-11 the apostle says:

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yes, God has given us everything we need, but Peter reminds us if we want to make our election sure we need to use what is given, and to grow it. What a waste it is to have everything we need for life and godliness, and not use it.

 

November 22; With Words and By Example

Acts 17:1-18:17; I Thessalonians 1:1-2:16

We know that Paul went from town to town sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that many people were saved as a result of his ministry. But we also know there were certain people determined to stop Paul in any way they could.

That’s why, when Paul was in Berea where the people receive the message with “great eagerness,” some men from Thessalonica showed up to stir things up. The Bible tells us they agitated the people to the point that the believers in Berea felt they needed to send Paul to the coast to get him out of harm’s way.

When Paul had been in Thessalonica, many people believed and were saved. A church was started in that town. But there was also a contingent of people from there whose goal it was to make life miserable for anyone who believed in Jesus. And they weren’t just satisfied with opposing the Gospel at home, they tried to stop Paul’s ministry in Berea, too.

That’s the context as my chronological reading plan has me reading Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica today. Paul talks about the suffering the Thessalonian Christians endured from their own countrymen, the strong opposition they faced.

But Paul also speaks about their work produced by faith, their labour prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope in the Lord (from I Thessalonians 1:2). I think that is awesome.

If you are discouraged in your witness for Jesus because you are faced with opposition, or even apathy, let me encourage you to read Paul’s letter to a people who knew exactly what that was like. Let the words God breathed into Paul strengthen you as you continue to share the Lord’s message.

Who knows? You may become a model to all believers in your town; the Lord’s message may ring out from you as your faith in God becomes known. (see I Thessalonians 1:7-8)

It’s not only words God uses to speak the Truth, although people need to hear the words in order to be saved. Your life, your faith, your example can also be used by God to point people to their need of the Savior.

So let’s keep speaking the Truth, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And let our actions speak as loudly, our faith ring out the message that Jesus saves.

November 19; Faith

Galatians 1:1-4:7

Does reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians thrill you as much as it does me? Salvation comes from placing my faith in Jesus.

I can’t be good enough, generous enough, even religious enough to earn what Jesus freely gives to those who come to Him. He bought the right to forgive all who believe. That in itself thrills my soul.

Receiving forgiveness is the same for you as it is for me, as it is for that murderer on death row or that sweet little old lady down the street. We all must be born again by placing our faith in Jesus, the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Consider Abraham; “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham. (3:6-7)

Abraham believed. Do you?

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised (righteousness), being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (verse 22)

Isn’t that thrilling? Believe, and receive. Then this:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (4:7)

Oh, dear one, I pray that you have placed your faith in Jesus. There is no joy greater than having your sins forgiven, no blessing better than being a child of God, nothing more thrilling than knowing you are going to heaven.

I am praying for you.