Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faith

I'm thinking about faith this morning. Hebrews 11:1 tell us "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (ESV)

I have a friend who has been under an unusual amount of trial and tribulation mostly pertaining to money and her child but also a few other things that challenge her on a daily basis as well....things like organization or lack thereof and fear. She sent me an email yesterday morning outlining the things that had particularly been causing her a great deal of stress and hurt, and I offered to assist her in a couple of things. We talked on the phone a few minutes yesterday, but for some reason we got cut off. I had settled it in my mind and heart (with God's prompting) how I was going to help her, so I went on about my day. I got another email from her this morning talking about "childlike faith". Which is how I started thinking about faith.

Everyday we get up taking for granted that the sun will rise and set, the earth will revolve around the sun for another complete day, the birds will chirp or sing, the fish will swim, the rains will fall when we need them. We learn that from birth, from everyday seeing that God has made the world in a way that repeats itself daily and so we can have assurance that it will keep on doing it just that way. To me, it is evidence that we have the Great Creator watching over all that He made. He is keeping it in line with His plans for the day. Child-like faith.


Childlike..assurance of things hoped for.....conviction of things not seen (the KJV uses the word "evidence" of things not seen). And so, with all the things that are not going in a manner that has always heretofore been known, how can my friend to keep the faith, the assurance that God is for her and not against her? What might be evidence to her of the fact that God is watching over her and therefore convict her of His presence in her life? Me, doing His Will. If I listen to His voice and hear what He has to say to me about what I am supposed to be doing to help her. I can help her keep the faith.

Okay, so that's childlike faith. How does one increase their faith to, say, the level of faith of the martyrs? I received a Voice of the Martyrs newsletter just before Christmas, and I found myself crying, sobbing actually, as I read about a group of Christ following mothers who had been captured by the North Koreans. They were given a chance to renounce their faith in Christ, but would not do it. They were given another chance to renounce their faith or their children would be hanged. The newsletter tells of how one mother reached down to her "small" child and told her that today she would see her in Heaven. The children were all hanged. The mothers were given one last chance to renounce their faith, and they were then all run over by a steam roller! Can you imagine it? I can't. I'm asking, Oh, Lord, how do I build my faith to the point that I can trust you and love you so much that I put my child's and my life in your hands so completely -- even to the point of death -- that I can stand against anything knowing that you are there with me?

James 1:3 says that the "testing of your faith produces steadfastness". Has your faith ever been tested? I don't really think mine has, but I think it's coming, and all I can do is trust God's Word which tells me that he will give me strength when I am weak and give me power when I am powerless. (Again, ...faith!)

Romans 5:3 tells us that "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen).

And finally, in the book of James we are told:

Jam 1:2 KJV - "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"
Jam 1:3 KJV - "Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
Jam 1:4 KJV - "But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Jam 1:5 KJV - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Jam 1:6 KJV - "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Faith that Jesus is/was who He said He is/was is the foundation of our walk with Him. We know that faith in Jesus brings on worldly trials and tribulations which makes us choose to endure for the sake of our faith, and that endurance of trials and tribulations causes us to be patient and be steadfast in our faith which produces more faith, and on and on and on....

James says it exactly as it should be said, "Count it ALL joy," when you are tempted and tried.....

So let's put these two things together. We need to help each other build our child like faith by being there for each other and doing what we can to be the hands and feet of Jesus for our brothers and sisters. This builds their faith (and ours). If we are all true to the calling of God, it's a continuous circle and we are all touched by it. When we have the company of our like minded brothers and sisters to help us through the rough patches, our faith is strengthened. So when trials are coming at your constantly; first, rejoice in the Lord; then ask Him to help you: endure, be patient, and for an outpouring of His wisdom.

2Tim 1:12 ...nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

If we truly know him that we have believed on, then there is no way that we can't also know that He is faithful and true to keep our lives that we have committed to him against that day when we see Him face to face.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did You Have a Merry Christmas?

I sincerely hope you did, but if you did not and you live in the USA, there is something horribly wrong. To date, in America, we still have more freedom than most places on the earth, and there is more assistance in the form of aid from the kindness of people available than you would ever believe (based on the actions of our governmental representatives).

What do I mean? I, personally, saw ministry to the masses in action in my own community and church. As a member of the National Association of Realtors, my local board of Realtors took part in the US Marine Corps. Toys for Tots program. In my office of employment, approximately 38 colleagues and my husband and myself supported two local families with gifts, toys, food and money to pay utilities. In my church, the message of living simply so that others can simply live was brought again for the sixth year as UMCOR and Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church encouraged sacrificial giving to help educate, feed and provide water to the people of Darfur, Sudan, Africa as they fight genocide and crimes against humanity that are ongoing in the area. And last, but certainly not least; personally, my family supported all of those entities and more for Christmas this year giving more to charitable organizations than we gave in gifts to our family, friends and loved ones.

Yes, there's something rotten in Washington, D.C., but there's still plenty of people of who love God and want to share His love and overflowing goodness with those less fortunate. I know it. I saw it. Are there those who were without this year. Of course, there was, and we just have to work harder to find them - those who are without not because of laziness or wanting to have something without working for it but truly because they are widows, orphans or people who have been unwillingly side swiped by the world and its economy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you consider how the government in this country is rushing to implement its "programs" for the masses, you would think that people in this country are so stingy that if the government didn't step in, there would be no one would step up to help the under privileged However, I believe if enough people would give their hearts and lives to Jesus, we could get to the place where we all take care of each other!

As this Christmas passes, I will remember it with great appreciation and fondness because this is the Christmas where God opened the door to the stable and showed me the reason for this season (even though it more than likely was not the true date of Christ's birth) and allowed me to draw close to the baby born that day. Oh, how I praise Him for that!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Try Jesus!

I've seen that bumper sticker and/or T-shirt around for years and it never really had an impact on me. I just didn't think much about it. This morning, though, as I sat talking to the Lord, an analogy came to me that I think the Lord wanted me to share.

There are many trials and troubles in this life. If you're older than five years old, then you know that as well as I do. For most of us, when trials assail us, we begin a relentless quest of how to overcome. Most specifically, I think about illness. As a person who suffers from imperfect health, I know this for a fact. We begin with the general practitioner, exhaust that person's knowledge; proceed with intensive testing and then begin seeing a specialist. We try one medication and then another, and we add one here and another there. It's a neverending spiral into this, that, and the other to see what benefits us the most in at least preserving the appearance of health.

So, too, it is with our spiritual life. We know we're sick, separated from the spiritual perfection that God created in the garden when he walked with Adam and Eve, and we're dying from it. We do things that we don't even really believe we would do if we were presented with an opportunity. And so, we begin to try to heal our soul sickness. There are so many ways to try to heal ourselves that I don't know if I can even begin to list them but here are a few that specifically come to mind: we choose a friend to confide in and ask for their opinion, we then progress on to counseling, sometimes, depending on the sickness, we might have to progress to a de-tox if you're dependent on or addicted to something, and it seems like almost always we progress to the point where the healing of our soul comes down to a "religion" so to speak whether it be "Buddha", "the inner physician" of the New Age Movement (old), and on and on and on.......

Well, why not try Jesus? His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He is the great physician and besides, His word proclaims Him to be the creator of all, so it stands to reason if He can create it, He can fix what's wrong with it. The world and its lies and deceptions can overcome just about everything but that singular name of Jesus. It is a hated name by many just because of what it stands for, or maybe it's because of what that name stands against.....soul sickness, sin, rejecting God the almighty creator of all that is, the things we know about and the things we don't know about.

Mankind is so cocky. We think we know better than the Almighty what is good for us. I know this from personal experience. He has a purpose for putting restrictions and limitations on us - it's for our own good. But ever since that day in the garden when tempted with the chance to be "as God", we have thought to know better than Him what is best for ourselves. Jesus taught about being at one with the Creator, to let Him live in us and direct our lives. We don't have to try, we just let Him BE in us and He shows us the right way which restores the balance of good (doing what is good and righteous) and bad bacteria (using an emotion or thought that is "bad" in nature for good - like mourning over sin, or righteous anger) in our souls and eliminates sickness and restores us to spiritual health and prosperity.

I say, Try Jesus, because if He is, indeed, who He says He is, isn't it worth it? I mean, isn't it worth it to have spiritual health and rightness with God? And if He wasn't who He said He was, His teachings are still teachings that lead to wholeness and spiritual health. You win either way. Interestingly enough, there have been many through the 2,000 years since Jesus' birth who have decided to give Him a try and ended up devoting their entire lives to Him because they have found Him to be exactly who He said He was, i.e. our provider, our restorer, our salvation, our righteousness, our healer, the prince of peace, Emmanuel, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Alpha, Omega, Beginning and the End.

For years I sought medical help for my physical problems and I had a friend who kept telling me that I should try natural medicine because allopathic medicine only covered up the symptoms and did not treat the root cause of the problem. I wouldn't listen, just kept limping along the road of what is well known and taught as science and truth until I reached a critical point where I had to re-evaluate my thinking. Once I began the trip down the "natural" road the one most in tune with nature and the creation, I became more and more convinced of its reality and truth. So it is with Jesus and soul sickness. He told us that He is the way, the truth and the life, but we want to make sure we wear our the ways and the truths that man has to offer before we reach that critical point of reaching out and trying Him.

Hey, what do you have to lose.....except your soul to soul sickness and death if He is, indeed, who He says He is.