Sunday, August 16, 2015

Faith and Trust in Action

There are times we arre afforded the opportunity to pray alongside those who are struggling through trials. We are quick to step out in faith and stand on Gods word when we aren't the ones struggling. But what happens when the tables are turned? How does our faith add up when we are on the other end, going through the hardships that life throws at us? Are we built up and steadfast in The Lord enough to endure and press on with same faith we are so quick to tell others about? And why does God reveal His word in such ways to us? Why do we have to struggle in so many areas of this life? It almost seems as if we can never get a brake! You always hear folks talking about, "If it ain't one thing it's another.” Why is that?

Well the answer is right here in the Word of God. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says this:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. THESE HAVE COME SO THAT YOUR FAITH, OF GREATER WORTH THAN SILVER AND GOLD, WHICH PERISHES EVEN THOUGH REFINED BY FIRE- MAY BE PROVED GENUINE AND MAY RESULT IN PRAISE, GLORY AND HONOR.......

God will build us up and reveal His Truth to us, so that our Faith and Trust may only be in Him. Then, at some point, He will allow us to go through various trials to test our Faith. This testing allows us to see just how pure out faith really is.

There are many scriptures that reveal faith through the lives of those who believed enough to step out in it. James says Abraham was considered righteous by “what he did” when he presented Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar (James 3:20). Verse 22 says that both Abraham’s faith and his actions were working in conjunction together. Ultimately, his faith was made complete by what he did.

James is also clear that faith without works is dead…just as the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26). True faith is indicated by the steps we take, rather than the words we speak. James 2:18 says, “Show me your faith by what you say and I’ll show you mine what I do!”

We know Hebrews 11 as the faith chapter. Everyone in this chapter had on thing in common; they proved their faith by what they did. When Abraham was called to go to a place that he would later receive as his inheritance, he obeyed and went. Even though he did not know where he was going, he stepped out in faith. Noah, when warned about things not seen, in his holy fear, built an ark to save his family. Rehab hid the spies, because she knew the Israelites were Gods chosen people.

Hebrews 11:1 states: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet seen.  When the disciples were battling a storm in the boat, and Jesus came to them walking on water, Peter had faith that the figure walking on the water was Christ. Christ, it could be said, represented the substance of Peter’s faith. The evidence that Christ was Peter’s substance was manifested when he stepped out of the boat.  

In Luke 18:38 the two blind men heard Jesus was walking by and started yelling “Jesus Son of David have mercy on us”. Everyone tried to tell them to be quite but they refused. The substance of their faith was Christ.  The evidence that Christ was that substance was their persistence in reaching out and yelling, despite the crowd’s demands. 

What about the paralytic man and his four friends (Mark 2:4)? Those guys knew Christ was the only possibility of healing for their friend.  Christ, once again, was the substance of their faith. The evidence, in this case, was that in spite of the pressing crowd offering no way to get in, the men climbed on the house, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend to Christ. 

Scripture demonstrates over and over that our faith is proven genuine by what we do. Just to list a few more: the woman with the issue of blood, Zacchaeus climbing the tree, the ten leapers healed, the official’s son being healed…the list could go on. 

We all know the familiar story of the two farmers. Both farmers prayed for rain so their crops would grow. One prayed standing in faith that God would answer. The other prayed standing in faith also, then he began preparing his field to receive the rain. Who had more faith? Of course, it was the second farmer.

We must have faith, and that faith being only in Christ. More importantly, however, we must trust in God’s provision with so much assurance that our faith is translated into action.

Faith and trust are two very important words to the Christian experience. However, while Faith and trust go hand in hand, they are not the same thing. The following is a good analogy for the difference between faith and trust...

Let’s say there was a well-known tight ropewalker that came to perform at the Grand Canyon, and you and I went to check it out. We had heard of this guy on the radio, the news, and read about him in magazines. This guy was the real deal. His plan was to tight ropewalk the corner of the Grand Canyon with no safety net. We were right up front watching when he turned to us and said, “Do you guys believe I can do this?”  
“Oh yes!” we told him, “We know you can! We have “faith” in you. We have heard about you on radio, and watched you on TV, and read about you in magazines.” 
He then said, “Not only am I going to walk the highline, but I’m going to do so pushing this wheelbarrow in front of me. I’ve added the wheelbarrow to the act for a couple of reasons. One, to help me keep balance, and the other…just to make it interesting.” He then looks and said, “Do you still believe I can do this?”
You responded, “Absolutely”.
But then, to your surprise, he said, “Awesome, then get in the wheelbarrow!”

WOW…Things just changed! I may have faith he can walk that tight rope, but do I trust him enough to do it with me in the wheelbarrow?

Guys, that’s the mindset of many Christians. We have faith that God can do anything. We have witnessed Him do it on many different occasions. However do we trust Him to do for us what we have seen Him do for others? We must get to a point in our relationship with our Savior that we trust Him in all areas of our lives. Not just when it’s convenient and comfortable, but in all areas, all the time. Today, lets make a commitment to draw into a closer, more intimate relationship with our Savior. Let’s seek Him for a deeper faith, let’s trust Him at His word, and prove that faith by what we do. 

Until next time, keep seeking the TRUTH.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Distant Christian

Good Day Truth Seekers,

It is an honor to share something with you that the Lord has laid upon my heart over the past few weeks. Often, in my life, when the Spirit begins to speak to me, He has to do it repetitiously until finally I take hold of what He is communicating. Allow me to illustrate what I'm saying. Let’s pretend I am driving down an unfamiliar county road and I notice a sign that reads “Reduced Speed Ahead”, followed by the new speed limit sign, which is then followed by the “s” (winding road ahead) sign. Ultimately, the moment comes in which I see the importance of yielding my attention to the fair warnings I previously encountered. I had neither reduced my speed, nor did I obey the direct sign that told me the new speed limit. By time a see the “s” sign, it is almost too late. As I enter the curvy section of the road, I panic and do what comes natural; I let go of the wheel and ditch my car in an attempt to save my life...all while screaming “God Help Me!!!”

Well, perhaps the tail end of the fictitious story is a little ridiculous but if you will follow where I am going, you may be able to relate more than you realize.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing David Markham speak a message that was “on-point” with what the Spirit had already spoken into my own life. David’s told the story of how Peter, time and time again, spoke of the love he had for the Lord. The 26th chapter of Matthew records him saying “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you”. We later read that the soldiers come to arrest Jesus and Peter draws out his sword and with all his might, cuts off the ear of servant of the high priest. Jesus immediately rebukes Peter and heals the servant as they take Jesus to present him to Sanhedrin. Peter then begins to follow Jesus and the guards, but only from afar.  What is interesting about his actions is this; just a few hours earlier he was telling Jesus how he would never disown him, even if it meant death, but he is now following Jesus from a distance. Just close enough so that no one would surely be able to identify Peter as a Christ follower. In David’s message he went on to bring to light the times that we, who are “in relationship” with Christ, are often found to be the same as Peter, warming his hands by the fire and disowning Christ. Maybe, eventually David will have the opportunity to publish his message and you will have the chance to let it challenge you as it did for me. This is when I knew that it was time to listen closely to what the Spirit was speaking. After all, I found myself in the same scenario as aforementioned. This was not the first time over that past few weeks that this has been brought up. After pondering further what the Lord was trying to communicate, this is what I believe him to be saying.

I believe that we all can identify with Peter...much more than we want to. We have all been in a particular time in our life where we have chosen the world, and it’s desires, over the Lord. Unfortunately, this only gets easier to do the more times it happens. At first, you feel the conviction, but after a few times, it really is not that big of a deal to you anymore. Is this not what happened with Peter? The Word says that after Jesus’ death, Peter went back to fishing. Let’s relate. Often we have our transforming experience of salvation, we encounter the Lord, and begin to follow Him closer and closer every day. We are spending time in devotion and letting the Sprit perform It’s life changing work in our lives. But then something happens, we begin to pick up some of the old things we used to do, hang around the old crowd, or in my case, get so busy and caught up in the whirlwind of life that our relationship with Christ suffers. My father-in-law has an acronym for the word BUSY...

                                                   B-U-S-Y: Bound Under Satan’s Yoke. 

Once we create a busy life we are more prone to becoming distant, and when that happens, we become vulnerable to the enemy. Eventually, we will get to a place where we will say in our hearts that we love the Lord, when our lives tell a completely different story. It brings you to a place where you wonder… How Did I Get Here? I know I am saved, I know that I love Him, so why do I feel so distant from the Lord?  Why is it that I find myself being more reactive to my circumstance instead of being proactive by seeing God’s signs of direction? I believe that it always comes back to the basic disciplines of being a disciple: Pray, Fast, Study, and Follow. When I find myself in that distant place, I can always go back and find one or more of these four disciplines is lagging behind. It is difficult to only participate in only one of these and not disregard one, or all, of the others. Prayer and fasting normally go hand in hand, but they both demand that you study the Word. Once you read the Word of God the only thing left to do is faith it out and follow.

You see, we are not that much different from Peter after all, we often find ourselves loving the Lord, but only following Him from a distance. The great news is, not all was lost for Peter. After Jesus’ death, He returns and finds Peter and the other disciples fishing. Once Peter realized it was Jesus on the shore, he jumped out of the boat and swam to him. This paints a beautiful illustration of a great reunion of a man who was distant and leaves all he has to be back, hand in hand, with his Savior. Maybe you have read this and can relate; you are not where you once were in regards to your relationship with Christ. I can assure you, you are not the only one who has felt distant. The great news is that all you have to do is pick up where you left off. I encourage you today, if you have found yourself Bound Under Satan’s Yoke, take a step back and realign your priorities. It might save you from having to ditch your car in a panic.  

Be Blessed and Thank You for reading.