Tag Archives: faith

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.

November 10: Ask Me

Matthew 28:11-20; Luke 24:13-53; John 20:19-22:25

I get that some people have trouble believing Jesus was raised from the dead. I mean, His disciples had trouble believing it, and Jesus was standing right in front of them with nail-pierced hands. The truth is, however, Jesus is alive.

There’s an old hymn we used to sing. “He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along the narrow way. He lives salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

I love that old hymn. But as I read this part of Scripture today I realize it’s not just knowing Jesus lives in my heart. I believe He lives because the Bible tells me He lives.

He’s not just a spirit in my heart (although that is pretty awesome in itself). He’s a living person with a real body who actually lives in heaven. He’s as real as you and me.

You ask me how I know that? Because I know Him personally; first through the pages of God’s Word, then through the precious blood of Jesus. He does walk with me, and He speaks to me from Scripture, He is my ever present help in time of need, and the One I want to share my day with.

Ask me about Jesus. I serve a risen Savior.

October 29; To Love God

Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-23:36; Luke 20:27-47, 10:25-28

I don’t think I can skim over what Jesus says is the greatest commandment. So I’ve sat here for a bit and pondered what it means to love God. Is it the kind of love we see on “The Bachelor?” Is it the kind of love we express when someone gets a new haircut? Is it a love that gets more than it gives, is is dependent on circumstances?

What does it mean to love God the way He deserves?

First of all, Jesus tells us we need to love Him with our whole heart, that part of us that is our hopes and dreams, our life and our emotions. It’s that which makes me me and you you. The question is, do I love God with all of me?

Jesus says we should love God with all our soul; the eternal, spiritual part of us. Does my love of God translate into complete trust, obedience, worship and praise? Is my love of God that which drives my faith? God is spirit, and we who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Does that define my love of God?

And Jesus says we should love God with all our mind. Love of God is not a mindless emotion. Can I honestly say I love God with good sense and thoughtful choice? Is my love for God simply a reaction toward His love for me, or is it a conscious decision to love Him because He first loved me?

The Ten Commandments would be so much easier to obey if we loved God like He deserves. Jesus said loving Him is the greatest commandment.

It’s that important.

October 25; How Far Am I Willing To Go?

Mark 10:23-31; Matthew 19:23-20:16; Luke 18:24-30; John 10:22-11:16

Lazarus was dead. But several days before he died, his sisters sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When Jesus got the news, he didn’t jump up and run to his friend’s side. He stayed put.

He could have high-tailed it to be with Lazarus.. He could have healed Lazarus from right where He was. He could have teleported Himself to Lazarus’ sickroom. But Jesus did none of those things. And Lazarus died.

Then, three days later, He told His disciples He was going to Judea, to where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha made their home. But His disciples remembered that the last time Jesus was in Judea, the people tried to stone Him. “Let’s think about this,” they urged Him. But Jesus insisted He was going, no matter what, so that they would believe.

Now here is what spoke to me today. Those disciples were very aware that Jesus could be walking right into the hands of His enemies. The Judeans wanted Jesus dead. Yet Jesus was determined to go.

Then Thomas, of all people, said to the other disciples, “Let’s us also go, that we may die with him.”

Sometimes I think old Thomas gets a bad rap. We label him “The Doubting Disciple” because he had trouble believing Jesus had really raised from the dead. But I think Thomas was more than that.

This is a man who was willing to die with Jesus. He sounds like a man of great faith to me, a man who was willing to go the distance with his Lord.

So today, God is asking me how far I am willing to go with Him. I’m not in danger of walking into a crowd of people who want to kill me for my relationship with Jesus. But what if Jesus wants me to go with Him to speak to my neighbor, or confront a sister in Christ of a sin, or to speak up when God is being misrepresented, and His Word is being twisted?

How far am I willing to go?

August 22; It’s Morning

Lamentations 3-4

 

Jeremiah is feeling old. He sees his wrinkled skin, considers his brittle bones and his toothless grin, and says, “All my splendor is gone and all I had hoped from the Lord.” I am going to my high school class reunion in a couple weeks. I hear you, Jeremiah.

But the prophet isn’t consumed with his failing body because he is vain. This chapter comes after his description of the devastation of God’s wrath on the people. Jeremiah feels helpless, useless in their situation.

But then Jeremiah changes his focus. He turns to the Lord. He was able to say things like:

Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. (3:25)

For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. (3:33)

I figure if Jeremiah, being feeble and discouraged, could have such faith and confidence in God in the middle of the famine and war, then I certainly can have the same faith and confidence in God in the middle of whatever situation I am facing. Because God’s faithfulness IS great. His mercies ARE new every morning.

And it is morning.

July 30; Questions Not Asked

Jeremiah 22:1-17; 2 Kings 23:31-37; Habakkuk

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “When I get to heaven the first thing I’m going to do is ask God why…?” “Why is life so hard?” “Why do bad people prosper and good people struggle?” “Why do non-Christians get away with making life miserable for Christians?” “Why are there diseases, wars, catastrophes…”

Habakkuk had questions, and his sound pretty much like ours. He asked, “Why are you ignoring me, God?” “Why do you tolerate wrong?” “Why do your enemies swallow us up?”

In other words, “Why isn’t life fair?”

What we see here in Habakkuk is a man’s frustration, expressing his honest feelings about life. Is there anything wrong with that? I’ve always been taught that the only stupid question is the question not asked. Now I’m wondering if that is true.

God answers the prophet. And he starts by telling him to “Write this down.” Whenever one of my professors used to say that, I knew that what was to follow was something I shouldn’t ignore, something he expected me to understand and remember.

God’s reply to Habakkuk is a wake-up call. In effect He is saying He really doesn’t need us to tell Him what is wrong in the world. And to be sure we understand that he is not unaware, He gives warnings to five different classes of people.

Woe to thieves and dishonest people. (2:6-8)

Woe to people who use people to get ahead. (2:9-11)

Woe to bullies and criminals. (2:12-14)

Woe to drunks, lewd and violent people. (2:15-17)

Woe to idolators. (2:18-19)

God’s not blind. He sees what is going on. And He will take care of it. Sin will be punished.

Then God reminds us, “But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” (2:20) In other words, “I’m God. You aren’t. Shut your mouth.”

In 2:4, God says something that hit me. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith.” I believe God is telling us that when we have the nerve to demand answers from Him, we become puffed up, we try to put ourselves on equal footing with God. Those questions don’t come from a good place in our hearts.

In fact, those who are truly His trust Him. The righteous don’t need answers, they live by their faith in God instead.

Habakkuk speaks again to God in chapter three. This time he says, “You’re right, God.” The prophet says things like, “I stand in awe of you. We’ve seen your glory in creation, your splendor in a sunrise. We’ve seen  your heavy hand of discipline and your control over nature. You scare me, God. And I rejoice in you. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk submits to the Sovereign God and says “…in wrath remember mercy.” In other words, “Do what you need to do, God. We deserve it. But please have mercy on us, too,”

Habakkuk starts out by asking God to defend Himself. God reminds Habakkuk who he is talking to. And Habakkuk replies by bowing before a Holy God.

He ends his book with,”The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enable me to go on the heights.” The answers to his questions don’t seem to be all that important any more. He turns his focus instead to God.

So, no. When I get to heaven the first thing I’ll do is NOT ask God anything. I’m going to spend the first billion years at His feet, loving Him, being loved by Him, simply drinking in His Presence. Then, after a billion years or so, if a question comes to mind, I’ll sit with my precious Savior another billion years before I ask.