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.

Gladness and Joy

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 7:48 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The King is Coming.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 51:1-11 (NASB).

Look to the Rock (vv. 1-3)

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
“Look to Abraham your father
And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.”
Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.”

Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Lord, is the promised seed of Abraham: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.” “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” “It is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (See: Gal. 3:16, 29; 4:22-31; Ro. 9:8). So, we who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives are Abraham’s offspring. We are the children of promise, of the free woman, not of the slave woman. We are the Jerusalem that is from above, not of the earth.

Through the promised seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ, ALL nations on the earth are blessed (See: Gen. 22:18). When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died for the sins of the whole world. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (Gal. 5:21). When he died, Jesus redeemed us, i.e. he bought us back for God with his blood. Through faith in Jesus Christ the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. Amen!

One of the things Jesus accomplished through his death is that he destroyed the barrier that stood between Jew and Gentile. Jesus’ “purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility… For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:14-18). What this means is that the Jewish nation is no longer the children of promise. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be heirs of the promise. The division is no longer Jew and Gentile, but it is Christian (saved) and non-Christian (lost). The Jewish nation is now no different from Arab nations in that they are both of Hagar (Gal. 4:25).

So, our Rock from which we were hewn (fashioned) is Jesus Christ, the promised seed of Abraham. If we seek after God, we are to look to Jesus and to his righteousness for our consolation. He is our only hope of salvation. Only through his death and resurrection, and through God-given faith in him, can we be delivered out of slavery to sin and enter into God’s eternal kingdom. We who believe in Jesus Christ are Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, his temple. He will comfort us with his mercy and grace. Whereas we were once dead in our sins without hope, God made us alive in Christ. He forgave us our sins, and gave us new birth unto a living hope. Through faith in him we now are filled with inexpressible joy.

Pay Attention (vv. 4-8)

“Pay attention to Me, O My people,
And give ear to Me, O My nation;
For a law will go forth from Me,
And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples.
“My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait for Me,
And for My arm they will wait expectantly.
“Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane.
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.
“For the moth will eat them like a garment,
And the grub will eat them like wool.
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation to all generations.”

God’s people now are those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile by physical birth. We are his nation: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We who believe in Jesus with God-given faith – which is persuaded as to God’s will for our lives – have been given the gift of salvation from sins. Yet, our salvation is not complete until Jesus Christ returns for us and he takes us to be with him forever.

While we live on this earth we will see much wickedness and we will experience much sorrow. We who follow Jesus Christ with our lives and who bear witness to his gospel of salvation, as taught by him and his NT apostles, will be hated, persecuted, ill-treated, falsely accused, rejected, despised and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel. Although it is our joy to serve our Lord as his ministers on this earth, our time here will have many trials and tribulations, and we will often long for our heavenly home, and for the time of our Lord’s return.

So, this is an encouragement to be faithful, and to be steadfast in faith and in hope, knowing that the time when our salvation will be complete is not that far off. There is a time coming when God will judge this earth, and he will put an end to sin and to suffering. What we are going through now is temporary. Also, we must understand that our Lord is absolutely sovereign and completely in control over all things. So, we should never fear humans or what they may do to us. They can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. And, one day God will put an end to their injustices and their rebellion against him. Yet, our Lord, His Word and His Salvation will be forever!

Arm of the Lord (vv. 9-11)

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord;
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces,
Who pierced the dragon?
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This is a call to the Lord to fulfill his promises, and to deliver his people out of this sin-sick world and to take us home to be with him. Yet, it is also a call for him to work miracles in our lives while we still live on the face of this earth. The call acknowledges that our God is the Almighty God, our creator, who is all powerful. It calls to remembrance all the many ways in which he delivered his people in times past, which includes all the many ways in which we, individually, have seen him work miracles of grace in our lives, too.

On the basis of what we know of God, and of his history with humankind, and on the basis of his promises given to us in His Word, we can pray for what we know is according to his will and his purposes for our lives. We can believe him for daily deliverance from the evil one, from giving into temptation to sin, and from the fear of opposition from sinful humans. And, we can trust him to be with us, to not forsake us, and to lead us through troubled waters while still filling us with his perfect peace and joy.

And, we can rely on the strength of the Lord and the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit within us, as well as his guidance, to lead us through every difficult circumstance and to make a way for us where there often seems to be no way. Nothing can touch us but what God allows it, and that he has a purpose for it, and that he will bring good out of it. We have to keep remembering that. We have to keep trusting, and not be afraid. One day he is going to return for us, and all the hardships we have gone through in this life will fade away, and will become no more. And, we will live in peace and safety with our Lord forever, and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

The King is Coming
(Bill Gaither)

The King is coming, the King is coming
I just heard the trumpet sounding and soon His face I’ll see
The King is coming, the King is coming
Praise God, He’s coming for me

I can hear the chariot’s rumble, I can see the marching throng
And the fury of God’s trumpet spells the end of sin and wrong
Regal rolls are now unfolded, heaven’s grandstands all in place
Heaven’s choir is now assembled, start to sing “Amazing Grace”…

When Sorrow Comes

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Look to God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3 (select vv. NASB).

Be Harmonious (vv. 8-9)

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

In the previous verses we are instructed in the necessity of being in submission to authorities instituted of men who are there to punish wrong and to commend those who do what is right. In this submission, we do what is right in God’s eyes. We live as those set free from sin, but we do not use our freedom as a cover-up for evil, as some are in the habit of doing. Instead, we are to live as servants of God. Thus, we are to never compromise our faith in Jesus Christ, or his Word, in order to be in submission to humans, or to live at peace with all people. If human authority demands we do what we know is wrong, we must obey God rather than man. And, this applies, as well, to wives who are to be in submission to their husbands, and to slaves who are to be in subjection to their masters.

So, the point of all this is that we are to live in harmony with one another, as much as it depends on us. But, again, we don’t compromise our faith or truth in order to be harmonious. Remember, Jesus said he did not come to bring peace but a sword – to turn family members one against another. It isn’t, though, as though his intention was to pick fights, but rather he knew that when we stand for what is right against what is clearly wrong, we will be opposed, and we will be hated, rejected and mistreated for righteousness’ sake. So, we should seek harmony, but never at the cost of truth or righteousness. We should not be proud, but humble; not contentious, but peaceable; not resentful, but compassionate; and not spiteful, but forgiving.

Turn from Evil (vv. 10-12)

For,

“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
“He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

We were put on this earth for a purpose. We live, because God willed that we should live. We were created by God to give him glory. We are to honor him and give him thanks. We are to worship him as the One and Only God who created us. He made himself known to us that we might praise and exalt him for who he is, and that we might revere him and give him due respect. When he called us, he called us to holiness, righteousness, obedience, and submission to his will for our lives. He called us to leave our lives of sin behind us, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to his righteousness. When he saved us, he delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we might become bondservants of his righteousness and of his truth. This is the life he has given to us to live when are are “born again” of the Spirit of God. And, this is the life we should love; that we should desire.

So, if we desire life as God has given to us to be lived for his purposes and for his glory, to live at peace with him, and to experience his blessings, then we need to keep our tongues from all evil (wickedness, sin), as defined by God, not by man. We should not be those who practice telling lies and who willfully and purposefully say things to people in order to deceive (trick, cheat, betray, mislead and/or to defraud) them. We must turn from all evil and do good. This means we should cease doing what we know is wrong, and we should be in the practice of doing what we know is right. The peace we are to seek and to pursue is not peace with the world, by the world’s standards, but it is peace with God and harmony with his Word, which then flows (spills) over into our relationships with human beings. Again, we never seek peace at the sacrifice of doing what we know is right in God’s eyes.

Suffering for Doing Good (vv. 13-18)

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

In a perfect world, or even in a world where truth is truth and lies are lies most of the time, if we do what is right, we should not be harmed for it. Where justice truly prevails, we should be honored for doing what is right and chastised for doing what is truly evil. But, we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world where evil prevails most of the time, it would appear, and were lies, immorality and cheating are accepted as normal practice, even among many people who call themselves Christians. Thus, if we stand for what is true, and we hate what is evil, and we forsake sinful practices, and we cling to what is good, we are often rejected, hated, despised, ostracized, falsely accused, gossiped about and ill-treated for doing what is right. And, it isn’t just the world who treats us this way, either. Much of this kind of treatment comes from those closest to us, even from among those who call themselves followers of Christ, but who live in conformity with the world.

Yet, we should not fear this kind of treatment. We should not even be afraid of being wronged, or of being slandered, or of being misrepresented. We should not go around fretting and worrying over what humans might do to us. We have no control over what other people are going to do. Hate is a very strong force, and it will lead people to do some really horrible things. All we can do is do what we know is right, and then trust our lives into God’s hands, and let him work it all out for good. He does not promise us that following him will be smooth sailing. In fact, he promises the opposite.

Instead, we are to make Jesus Christ the Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and allow him to direct our steps, and to watch over us, and to carry us through when life gets really hard. We should keep a clear conscience in all that we do, i.e. we should not be guilty of knowingly and willfully practicing what is wrong. We should make every effort, in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, to live holy lives, pleasing to God. Then, no one will have cause to accuse us of doing wrong. It doesn’t mean that they won’t falsely accuse us, though.

And, when we give answer as to what we believe and why we believe the way we do, we should be gentle (showing power with restraint), and we should show proper respect (concern for, consideration and value) to the ones to whom we are giving answer. We should not trade tit-for-tat or insult for insult, but we should be loving, kind and honest, speaking the truth in love. It is never kind to tell people lies. We should always tell them the truth that Jesus died that he may bring us to God, so we might live in love, submission, surrender, obedience, faithfulness, and in holiness. And, in all things, we should turn our hearts to God, and trust our lives into his hands, and let him lead us in the way we should go, and then we must obey him.

Look to God / An Original Work
November 11, 2016

Fear not. Look to God.
He will strengthen you. He is your Rock.
He’ll meet all your needs.
Rest in Him, and be filled with His peace.
When sorrow fills your life, pray to the Lord.
Believe His promises. Trust in His Word.
He’ll lead you each day.
Give your life to Him. Follow His ways.

Lean on Him today.
He will comfort you. Trust Him always.
Read His Word and pray.
Tell the world of His love and His grace.
When trials come your way, be not afraid.
God watches over you. Be not dismayed.
He’ll work all for good,
For the called of God. Jesus, they love.

Sing songs. Praise your Lord.
Lift your voice to Him. Shout out His Word.
He forgave your sins,
Cleansed your heart. You are made new within.
When you are faced with temptation to fear,
Remember God will be with you. He’s near.
He’ll take care of you.
He will keep you in His love, tis true.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Fear, anxiety, and worry must be universally troublesome to most people because God/Jesus Christ warned his people, and/or he encouraged his people all throughout scripture (and history) to not fear, to not be afraid, to not fret, and to not be anxious, but “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,” (to) “present your requests to God. And, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (see Phil. 4:6-7).

One of the antidotes for fear and worry, thus, is to pray with thanksgiving, believing that God is going to answer, and to put our trust in God, knowing he has all things under his control, for fear is the opposite of trust/faith. Yet another antidote for anxiety is to rejoice in the Lord always and to sing songs of praise unto God. So, when Satan throws his darts of fear or doubt our way, we need to pray. It is essential that we choose to put our trust in God, believing that he has our circumstances under his control. And, we must be thankful, we should rejoice, and it is necessary that we praise our God in life, word and in song.

Sometimes we worry because we have adopted the ways and patterns of this world, and because we daily take into our minds and hearts far too much of this world’s junk, philosophies, character traits, habits, and attitudes. Instead, we need to focus our minds, hearts and attention on what has eternal value. We need to daily die to our old ways of living in sin and for self, and we need to clothe ourselves with our Lord Jesus Christ, and take on his character and values. What is important to him should be essential to us. And, we should not only read or hear his word, but we should put it into practice in our lives.

Rejoice in the Lord Always! / An Original Work / January 26, 2013

Based off Phil. 4 & Col. 3

Rejoice in our Lord God always.
I say again: “Rejoice always!”
Let your love and kindness show forth.
Our Lord Christ will soon appear.
Do not let yourself be troubled.
Do not fear your circumstances.
In all of life’s complications,
Pray to God with thankfulness.
God will give you peace and rest.

Set your minds on things of heaven:
What is true and right and lovely.
Do not focus your attention
On the things that pass away.
Therefore put to death your old self.
Clothe yourselves with God’s compassion.
Put the word of Christ in practice.
Let God’s peace rule in your hearts.
Sing songs of praise unto God.

In all of life’s circumstances
I’ll learn to trust; be contented.
Whether I have none or plenty,
I will give thanks unto God.
I can live my life to please Him,
Because Jesus gives me His strength.
My God will meet all of my needs,
From his treasure chest in Christ.
Glory, praise be unto God.