Of Faith

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of faith.

Be Not Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think it is human nature to want to know the end from the beginning of a situation before we will venture into that area. It can be, in the natural, a fearful thing to step out into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead or how things are going to come together. Yet, when we walk by faith, we learn to trust the Lord in all things, and we believe him to work it all out according to his plans and his purposes.

In the natural, so many things could go wrong, and our plans could fall apart. But, when we are being led by the Lord, and he is the one directing our paths, he will go before us, and he will prepare the way for us. This is not saying we will never face obstacles, but that God is completely sovereign (in control), and that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him; who have been called according to his purposes.

So, we learn to trust him, and to rest in him, and to believe him to supply all that we need for what he has called us to do. And, so we inquire of him to know what we are to do, where we are to go, and what we are to say. We do what he says, and then we leave the results in his hands. We follow him and his lead in our lives, and we trust him, too, with the people in our lives.

Of Little Faith (Matthew 8:23-27)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

When we follow the Lord in obedience, it does not mean it will always be “smooth sailing.” Sometimes we will face storms, i.e. difficult and troubling situations which shake us, and which may be life threatening, as well. And, it may seem to us that God is asleep on the job, and that he is not paying attention to what is going on in our lives. But, he is still sovereign (in control), and he has it handled. Nothing escapes his notice. He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will see us through any and every situation.

So, we should not let the storms of life unsettle us or to make us feel as though there is no recourse or that there is no hope. We must be steadfast in hope and in faith no matter our circumstances. Walking by faith often means that we don’t know what lies before us, and how things are all going to work out. But, when we know God is in it, we have to know that he will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Why Do You Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, which they will sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus and we get lost in the details of what we are going through. And, that is when we begin to fear and to fret. And, that is because we are looking at the circumstances and we are focusing on them rather than focusing on the God who is sovereign (in control) over our circumstances. So, we may begin to listen to the lies of Satan, instead, and begin to think that God can do nothing about what we are going through.

And, even though Jesus is right there with us in our circumstances, we may not recognize him, and so our hearts may begin to sink. And, when we cry out to him, he reveals himself to us, and he shows us how he is there. Sometimes it isn’t just that he is there with us through our trials, though, but that he is the one initiating the trials in our lives, because he has a plan and a purpose for them to mature us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us patience and endurance.

We might, at times, step out in faith, and be walking with the Lord in obedience, and then along the way get sidetracked by troubles or hardships and forget that our Lord is in control. And, then we begin to drown in our difficult circumstances because we took our eyes off Jesus. So, we need to refocus our attention on Jesus, be renewed in our faith, and keep going forward, even when we don’t know what lies ahead. We must walk by faith and not by sight, believing God to do his work in our lives, and in the lives of those we love, even if we don’t see yet what has been promised.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.

Make Known the Gospel

Monday, January 2, 2017, 10:07 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB).

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Creation and Creator

The One True God is a triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three distinct persons in one God. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, existed with God from the beginning. He was with God and he was God. Through him all things were created (See: Matt. 28:18-20; Gen. 1:26; Jn. 1:1-34).

From what I understand, before God created the earth, and humans to live on the earth, he created angels, who are “ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:13-14). One of these angels, Lucifer, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, along with a third of the angels in heaven. So, he was cast out of heaven and down to the earth (See: Is. 14:12; Lu. 10:18; Rev. 9:1; 12:3-9). Lucifer is also called by the names “the devil” and “Satan.”

When God created man and woman, he created them in his own image, and they lived in the Garden of Eden, where they were without sin. God gave them rule over all the earth, and he gave them everything to freely enjoy, except he commanded them not to eat of just one tree. Then Satan, who was in the form of a snake, tempted Eve (the woman) to eat of the tree, so she ate and sinned against God. Then she gave Adam (her husband), who was with her, the fruit of the tree, and he ate and sinned against God, as well. Then God cursed the serpent, Eve, Adam and the earth, and he removed Adam and Eve from the garden (Gen. 1:26-3:24). Because of Adam’s sin, all humans have been born into sin and fall short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23; 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49).

God’s Divine Plan

Yet, God had a plan all along for how he was going to restore humans to himself and to save them from their sins (See: Gen. 3:15). God the Father sent Jesus, the Son, to the earth to be born as a baby to a human mother with God as the father – “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). So, when Jesus walked the face of this earth he was fully God yet fully man, and without sin, although he was tempted to sin in much the same ways we are. Even though Jesus was God, he “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (See: Phil. 2:1-11).

When Jesus was on this earth he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, comforted the sorrowful and preached repentance for forgiveness of sins. He did not conform to the ways of the religious leaders in the Jewish temple, so they hated him. They were also jealous of him and his popularity among the people and they feared that their own positions of power over the people might be in jeopardy. They also didn’t like it that he healed people on the Sabbath, that he claimed to be God, who he was, and that he confronted them with their sins of wickedness and hypocrisy. So, they arranged to have him put to death on a cross.

“For our sake he” (God the Father) “made him” (Jesus Christ) “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). Basically, when Jesus died, our sins died and were buried with him. Then, he was resurrected from the dead, at which time he rose victorious over hell, Satan, sin and death. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14).

We Must Believe

This was God’s plan to save us from our sins and to restore us to a right relationship with Almighty God. Yet, not all are saved. We must believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives if we want to be saved from sin and have eternal life with God in heaven. So, how do we do that? Well, first of all God the Father must draw us to faith in Jesus Christ, and then his grace gives us the faith to believe, but we must still appropriate that to our lives. In other words, we are not puppets on a string. We must each individually accept God’s invitation to his great salvation by the faith he gives us. So, what does that faith look like?

Well, the Bible teaches us that coming to Christ means we forsake our former way of living (for sin and self), that we are transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind, and that we are given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). This is called repentance. Basically, we were going one direction, and now we turn, and we go the opposite direction, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, and not in our own flesh. Saul’s (Paul’s) commission by Jesus says it well:

“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus didn’t go through that painful death on a cross just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to transform our lives out of darkness into his wonderful light. He said that if we would come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14). When we come to faith in Christ we die to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness.” (See: Ro. 6:1-23)

Now, going back to the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15, we are reminded here that by this gospel we are saved, if we hold firmly to the word preached to us (by Jesus and his NT apostles, in our case). To hold firmly means to embrace, to grasp, and to follow the teaching of the gospel, and to do so steadfastly and resolutely. In other words, if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk in darkness, we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). It is not enough to just say we believe. We need to live (in lifestyle) like we say we believe. If Jesus died to free us from slavery to sin, then we should no longer be enslaved to sin, but we should be servants of his righteousness.

Tell Me the Story of Jesus / Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.