Archives for category: Faith

lighthouse

In the tidal waves of life, what is competing for our soul and time?  Are our moorings anchored in the faith harbor of Christ? Are we bright beacons of God’s light?  Are our role models and heroes from God or from the world?  These are tough questions that each of us are faced with on a daily basis as well as, sometimes, a minute by minute moment.

When things are going smoothly and the waters of like look like a smooth piece of glass, and we think life is perfect, we are easily lulled into the concept that all is well.  However, there is always a storm brewing somewhere. As with most storms, we don’t always see them on the radar of life, nor are we often even looking for them.

But, if we are honest there is always work to be done in the area of our faith and that takes a lot of the “old heave ho” and swabbing of the deck of our souls and lives. These storms , that come from God calling us to faithfulness and holiness can be bigger and rougher than other life events.  Actually, our faith is the only real life event that matters because our faith is the foundation to eternal life.  So how do we handle the storms of life?

We always have two choices in a storm.  We can pay attention to the “Light”house of Jesus Christ where we know the harbor of real rest and peace is, or we can be tossed about on the rocks of life looking to worldly anchors and hope for a hero.

The world would like you to look to it to define what is perfect and what is a “hero” but the world never gets it right.  Most of whom the world lifts up as heroes today might play a sport exceptionally well, or they are a high level, successful, rich guy.  Another worldly hero is found in the fame and posh of the stardom of Hollywood and the rag mags at the grocery store checkout aisle. If you look at many TV heroes, today ,the lines are blurred and they tell you that a “good” hero can do bad things if the end justifies the means.  These type of anchors from the world will also drag you to bottom and drown you.

To successfully maneuver the waves of life takes looking to the faithful of the past, in Holy Scripture, and to those God has given us as positive heroes, role models, mentors and encouragers. It takes hard work to row against the current and without the bright beacons of the faithful we can easily get off course.  And if you have ever rowed a boat in strong current, you know it’s hard, sweaty, dirty work.  Can you do it?  Absolutely!  How do I know?  Because I  look to Scripture for my answer.

You see, the waves of life brought persecution and calamity to Paul and the Thessalonians.  The odds were stacked against them.  Many waves could have over taken them but God lifted them up as people to be followed, as examples, to be banner bearers of faith, to be bright beacons of His light, to be our heroes and role models.

From Paul, Silas, and Timothy. To the church in Thessalonica, the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you and mention you when we pray. We continually recall before God our Father the things you have done because of your faith and the work you have done because of your love. And we thank him that you continue to be strong because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you, because the Good News we brought to you came not only with words, but with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with sure knowledge that it is true. Also you know how we lived when we were with you in order to help you. And you became like us and like the Lord. You suffered much, but still you accepted the teaching with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. So you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Southern Greece. And the Lord’s teaching spread from you not only into Macedonia and Southern Greece, but now your faith in God has become known everywhere. So we do not need to say anything about it. People everywhere are telling about the way you accepted us when we were there with you. They tell how you stopped worshiping idols and began serving the living and true God. And you wait for God’s Son, whom God raised from the dead, to come from heaven. He is Jesus, who saves us from God’s angry judgment that is sure to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:-10 NCV

Did you see it in the passage?  These beacons of light were bright because Jesus Christ was and is their LIGHT.  Christ is the only Light that will house all we need for this life and into the next.  Christ always provides safe harbor. He shines brighter and fairer and gives us what we need.  He gives us examples to follow and look to as we row through this life.  May you not only have faithful examples to guide you along the way, may you in turn, be a beacon of His light.

 

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4577acda4bb3fb9aedb5097cb97eb514Right now, depending on the setting you are in, the word faith is being bantered around. Olympic Athletes are talking about the faith their parents, coaches, and/or teammates have had in them.  Others are talking about their lack of faith and confidence in the US political system and the Presidential Nominees.  Still, others use the words “just have faith” as feel good comment to try and encourage people who are going through difficult and tryng times.  So what is this “faith” thing and what might it look like?

To get a better handle on things, we first need to define what we mean by faith. The dictionary has several explanations and depending upon if your eyes are world focused or God focused will determine the outcome.  If you take faith in a simple explanation, faith can be a strong belief in someone or something.  In other words strong conviction and/ or loyalty.  If you take a higher definition, faith is belief and trust in and loyalty to God:  firm belief in something for which there is no proof:  complete trust.  There is quite a contrast between the two.

The worldview will always leave us short because people fail, convictions and loyalty are often sacrificed to get the next promotion, more influential circles, or higher positions of power and politics.  Even in the Olympics you hear of athletes and coaches who will sacrifice their faith in the system of hard work and perseverance and throw it away to “juice” and try and beat the system to get a medal.  When your back’s up against the wall and there is no where to turn, will a piece of metal part the pathway for you?  Will that “golden calf” deliver you?  When your body is failing and your heart is broken under the weight of trials, will that medal sustain you?  This is not the faith we want to aspire to.  We want to talk about God’s Gold Medal of Faith.

Faith, loyalty, and trust in God is a firm belief, for eternity, that will never leave us wanting more.  God never disappoints and more than a gold medal, He promises and delivers so much more.  The Lord not only gives us more than we deserve in faith, but He is the one who gives us the faith in the first place.  Once faith is given to us, what we do with the faith is up to our own free will.

Will we work at faith and relationship with God?  This work that we are talking about is like an athlete that learns the routines, exercises faithfully, eats right, submits themselves to the coaches teachings, and continue, to strive even when it gets difficult.  As Christians this means we should desire to move beyond the infant stage of only wanting the “milk” and move on to the solid food of all of God’s Word. We should desire our faith to impact every area of our lives and rid us of those sins and actions that are not in line with God’s Word.  Our lives should reflect the abandonment of the world and show the signs of loyalty to God at all worldly cost.  Faith that is rooted in God and watered by the Word produces stronger faith so we can continue to run the race of Jesus with endurance.

This life on earth is hard on Christ Followers and that is nothing new. This has always been the case because Satan wants us to fail and lose the crown of glory that God has waiting for us at the end of this race that finishes in heaven.  All we have to do is look at Scripture and see the difficulties that the faithful have endured.  When we look at this same Word of God we see what a rich reward faith offers.   By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 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 endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our 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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 11:17-12:3 esv

As you can see, Faith in  Jesus is “Risk Taking” by worldview and it will stretch you, but just as Jesus was big on the walk in loyalty to the Father’s plan of Salvation, may we follow in His footsteps and be ever faithful even unto death for His namesake.  No matter what comes may faith be our defining moment. 

Want an extra shot of encouragement?  Take a listen to New Songs’ hit “Defining Moment”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF64-zFONzk

In our current culture, it isn’t to hard to find what we would deem the “big sins.”  We see and  hear about murder almost daily.  We see lying, cheating, and just down right ugliness on most nearly all headlines.  We are a culture growing to mistrust and hate everything around us and then we lash out in the most ugly of ways – you know those “big sins.”

fearWe get so wrapped up in the “dramas” of each day that one of two things tends to happen.  We either join in the “drama pool” or we bury our heads in the sand, circle the wagons, and sing “kumbayah” pretending like nothing is wrong.  Both of these are relying on human ways to conquer the issues of the world and our own lives.  In all reality, we are falling victim to the very, very subtle sins of “unbelief and doubt.”

We don’t like to admit it but we make God out to be a hamstrung god who can only do what our minds can think or imagine.  We put God in a box of humanness, logic, and limited power.  We walk around thinking that God might fix that issue but “will He fix it or help me fix my BIG problem?”  It’s easy to forget God’s promises as we wait, move, and trudge through the mountainous times in our lives.  We start focusing on the summit of the problem and doubt the One who created the highest earthly mountains.  We focus on the pain and hurt around us and forget that Christ suffered the mountain of death, defeated Satan, and rose to bring us new life.  Those are no small hills, folks!

We live in a world where struggle and pain and disappointment just aren’t acceptable. We just want pleasure and fun.  Sometimes, God allows or puts enormous obstacles in our way so we have to trust Him and rely fully on Him!  In the struggles and pains and desert times we are taught much more than when life just goes along happy, happy, joy, joy.  Happy, happy tends to make us think “we’ve got this.”  But pain, agony, difficulties, disease, death, and destruction well, these make us stop and evaluate Who can handle this?  In our faith we either start down the path of unbelief or we turn down the road to “Illogical Obedience” Following God when it makes no human sense.

In the worldly view, the entire walk of Faith in Christ is illogical.  But as Christians, we know that nothing is impossible with God!  We have a track record, over 4,000 years old, that proves our God looks at impossible and laughs.  As we walk down the Biblical Memory Lane, we see that God takes and uses all the impossible people, places, and things and makes STUFF HAPPEN!

In our verses from Genesis, we see “Illogical Obedience” in action.  And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on – since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:1-14

Sarah doubted God and laughingly mocked at His words.  We might throw stones at her but we do the same thing when we go it on our own because we are tired of waiting on God or believe that He can’t or won’t come through for us in our times of distress.  We know from looking at Abraham and Sarah that when they started doubting God, they started making huge messes.  God allowed the messes and obstacles to happen.  They felt the pain of “their way” and the world still feels the pain of that mess.  The best part of it is, that God didn’t stop His Impossible Plan.

There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that knew Abraham and Sarah, that only God could make these two, in their geriatric ward days, become biological parents.  In them becoming parents, God kept His promise and showed His mighty power.  God took the young boy, David, and David’s Illogical Obedience, and slayed the Giant Goliath.  Not in mighty conflict, with brazen weapons, and mass metal armour, but with a simple sling shot and a stone. Again, God showing His Impossible Plan and Power.  The list goes on and on and is recorded in the Bible so that we know where to go to find God’s Plan and Will and Power.  We are never going to find it on our own, in worldly powers and governments, and we will never know the full power of God until we know His Word and it is in our DNA and is our DNA.

So, How Big is God?  Bigger than anything you can dream, think, or work toward.  Our God is so big that He defeated the biggest problem and issue of any day, SIN.  Jesus looked Satan in the eye and beat him forever, not with anything man could do but with His sacrificial blood on the cross, and rose and said I AM the way of the IMPOSSIBLE.  Even in these days of chaos, God still makes it possible for us to live and move and have our being because the Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk on the road of Illogical Obedience and follow in the footsteps of Christ.  So drop the hat of unbelief, take off the armour of doubt and disobedience, and put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the clothes of Christ and march on as soldiers of the Cross and carry the banner into the world and show them that with God, All things are Possible!

Lord God, turn our laughing and mocking of You, into pure faith and belief, that You can do anything in the world and in our own lives.  Help Your children in Your Church to believe Your promises, power, and passion to do the Impossible.  You have never been bound by human reason or worldly things.  You are limitless!  Cure the unbelief in Your Church and Your People by returning them into the Banner Barriers of Your Holy Word. Make Your Word our desire to become our DNA for You.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.