Posts Tagged ‘ Faith ’

True Boldness

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15 NRSV

MP900438373[1]When it comes to speaking with God, the writer of Hebrews urges us to approach God with boldness. Boldness is an interesting attitude. It sometimes goes with arrogance. Arrogant people tend to be more bold, but  their arrogance can blind them to their need for God. Driven people also tend to do bold things. The problem is their drivenness tends to deafen them to God’s call, and distract them from God’s work. Brave people can also be expected to be bold. The only problem is their bravery can cause them to ignore risks, and keep them from counting the cost before they act.

So what kind of boldness are we supposed to have when we approach God’s throne of grace? I think God wants the kind of boldness that comes from a humble heart. That boldness steps forward from a position of submission. That boldness recognizes our many shortcomings, and the great need we have for God’s mercy and help.

I also think God wants a boldness that steps forward in faithful expectation. After all, we go to God because we want help. We believe God has the strength, love and wisdom to step in and provide the grace that meets our needs. We pray because we are bold enough to expect that those who seek will find, and those who asked will be answered!

MP900401980[1]Humility and faithful expectation are two attitudes we can cultivate. Wise people don’t approach God with a bold arrogance, a driven deafness or with reckless bravery. They  approach in grateful humility and faithful expectation.

Go to God today with the kind of boldness that truly seeks God’s mercy and help in times of need.

The Maximum Promise

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NRSV

A university professor, Mark Edmundson, suggests that for many, the moment of maximum pleasure is "the moment when the choices had been multiplied to the highest sum…the moment of maximum promise." (1) It’s as if having infinite possibilities is the ultimate pleasure.

MP900438761[1]Maybe that’s why smartphones are so popular. They promise to keep us connected to whatever we want or could imagine we want, and offer apps that let us pursue almost any interest or activity we want to try whenever we want to try it. According to Edmundson, using that kind of device holds maximum promise of maximum pleasure.

Psychologists like to study the things that influence us and shape our lives. New technologies certainly influence our MP900443361[1]behaviors and change how we go about our days. But they don’t change us. They hold out the promise of a new and better day, but they fail to transform the human soul, or meet the needs and longings of our hearts. Having almost infinite possibilities in a handheld device is nice, but it fails to touch who I really am and fulfill what I most need.

Well, what about faith? What does your faith do for you? Does it open the door to infinite possibilities, or deliver maximum pleasure? Does it touch you at your point of deepest need? Does it offer you new life and the power to be transformed?

MP900443036[1]My faith in Jesus Christ delivers! It doesn’t give me an app to help me search for truth, it gives me truth. It doesn’t let me download e-books about finding fulfillment, it fulfills me. It doesn’t give me list of gods to believe in, it puts me into a relationship with the One who created me, redeemed me and sustains me. It doesn’t track my movements with GPS, it shows me how to follow the Good Shepherd.

I’m not about to abandon the use of technology. Neither am I going to put my faith in a smart phone. The promise I am putting my faith in is the promise of God’s redeeming, life-changing grace. That’s the maximum promise that gives me maximum pleasure!

(1) Mark Edmundson, "Dwelling in Possibilities," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 54, Issue 27, p. B7.

Ask & Affirm

Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. (Psalm 69:16) NRSV

MP900177811[1]“I need help, Lord, and I need it now. I know that you are full of love and mercy. So turn to me. Meet me in my moment of need. Let your face shine upon me and be gracious to me.”

The psalmist spoke words like these just as he was about to be destroyed by those who hated him. His sight was growing dim, and he was sinking fast as he waited for God. Caught in a mire of lies, insults and threats, his faith clung desperately and tenaciously to God, as he waited for salvation.

Cling tenaciously to God!

There are few prayers that are more beautiful in their simplicity. In just a few words, the psalmist asks God for help. He affirms who God is, and what God is like. Then he pleads for action.

What makes this prayer so unique is the way it combines asking and affirming. God is ready, willing and able to meet every need. God can help us overcome any circumstance. There is simply no limit to God’s love, or end to God’s power. So when we approach the Lord with our requests, we know our God is up to the challenge!

God’s love and power know no bounds!

MP900443146[1]But the question isn’t really whether God is ready. The question is whether our faith is ready. Are we ready to step up to the plate, like the psalmist, and affirm who God is? Are we ready to declare to God’s steadfast love? Are we ready to stand on God’s promises of mercy? Are we ready to ask and affirm?

Prayer is so much more than telling God our laundry list of wants and needs. It is so much more than complaining about the problems we face. Prayer involves asking and believing. Prayer is inviting God into our challenges, and then affirming who God is. Prayer is laying our requests before the throne of grace, and then fully trusting in the steadfast love of the Lord. Prayer is pleading, and then believing in God’s wisdom, mercy and power!

Invite God in. Affirm what God can do.

A child of God in need is never ignored by God. God is ready to respond. We have to begin by asking and to affirming. Why not ask God to meet your needs today, and then trust in God’s steadfast love and great faithfulness!

Trust God and affirm God’s gracious goodness!

Prayer:

Gracious and faithful God, I am like the psalmist. I need help. You know the struggles I have and the pressures I face. I place my life in your hands. I trust in your abiding love, and know you will stand with me and work all things together for good. You are great, and I give you all the praise and glory I have to give!

Amen.

Bless

Living To Worship

…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31 NRSV

MP900216072[1]By this point in the week, Sunday seems like a distant memory for many. Lots has happened since we were last worshipping God and bringing praise to the Lord. There’s also lots more to come before we will return to our churches and focus fully on God next Sunday.

That gap bothers me. I don’t believe faith is designed to work like a gas station. I’m not supposed to go to church to fill up, and hope I have enough to get me through the end of the week, when I fill up again.

Faith is to be lived out in the gaps. Faith is to be proclaimed, engaged and practiced everyday. When that happens, the way we live becomes the way we worship God!

Today’s video reinforces that idea. Click here to view it.

Then let your faith energize you to live a life of worship!

Standing Strong

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9b NRSV

MP910216389[1]Standing is a good thing. When the winds of trouble blow, storms roll in and dangerous waves come crashing into my life, I want to be left standing. I don’t want to be knocked over, swept up or washed away.

Ahaz was king over Judah. A terrible storm was rolling his way. Nations were surrounding him, preparing to invade his country and end his reign. He was scared, and shook like a tree in the wind.

God sent Isaiah to call Ahaz to faith. Even though he hadn’t been faithful to God, this was his chance to step up, align himself with the Lord and come under God’s protection. But he didn’t. He turned to Assyria instead.

God’s call is a call to faith.

MP900216140[1]It’s hard to stand firm in faith when you are under attack. It is especially hard if you’ve turned away from God most of your life, as Ahaz had done. It’s really much easier to trust someone you can see and weapons you can hold in your hand. The Assyrians had weapons and an army. What did God have? Just a prophet with words. In the end, Ahaz did not stand firm in faith.

I’m not like Ahaz. I’m not a king, and I don’t have nations plotting to overthrow me. But I do have storms that blow my way, and dangerous winds that whip up trouble around me. I believe God’s message to Ahaz is a good one for me too. I could put my trust in alliances I forge, or in resources I have. But the only way to really succeed is to stand firm in faith. Trusting God, whom I can’t see, is the only response that really makes sense.

Our success depends on standing firm in our faith.

MP900227508[1]Well, my faith is in God. Some people may believe that is misguided, but I believe it is what has allowed me to stay standing all these years. It is faith that has brought me safe so far, and it is faith that will bring me home!

Why not join me, and stand firm in your faith this week? Otherwise, you may find yourself standing on sinking sand!

Faith in God is the only firm foundation!

Prayer:

Great God of all, your word is calling me to faith. Your word is calling me to put my trust in you so that I can keep on standing strong. That’s what I want. Help me to always lean on you and to walk in your ways!

Amen.

 

Faith Sees

A Man of Authority

“For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:8-9 NRSV

MC900410935The stories of Jesus’ miracles bring hope and encouragement to many of us. When we read what he did, it opens our minds to what he can do in and through us.

But when I read the miracle stories, I don’t just want to be reminded of Jesus’ love and power, I want to learn from the mindset of those he healed. What was it they were thinking that encouraged them to go to Jesus? What kind of faith did they have? What was their response to our Lord?

One of my favorite miracles was the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10). As healings go, this was pretty typical. The really memorable part is the attitude the centurion had toward Jesus, and Jesus’ response to that attitude.

U.S. Army First Sergeant Epaulet --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThis Roman centurion was wise enough to realize the extent of a person’s power and ability depend, at least in part, on that person’s authority. Centurion’s had the power to make a soldier do whatever they commanded, because the centurion had authority over that solider. That means the power Jesus had to heal and perform miracles was related to his authority.

What the healings and miracles Jesus performed revealed was that his authority extended far beyond any Roman commander, far beyond any Jewish elder, far beyond any government official, and far beyond the authority of anyone else who had ever lived. Jesus’ power revealed he had authority over disease, over demonic forces, and even over death itself. With that kind of authority, Jesus had the power to do anything!

This centurion understood the connection between authority and power. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s insight and show of faith. But really, how hard is it to believe that Jesus could do a miracle, if you understand who Jesus is and the authority he has? Maybe the problem many of us have is not a lack of faith, but lack of fully appreciating the authority Jesus actually has, and what that means to those who love and serve him.

The most foolish people I know think they are something they are not. This centurion knew who he was, and knew the limits of his own authority. He also recognized the reach of Jesus’ authority. That recognition opened the way for Jesus to do a miracle in his life!

Laughing Man Head and ShouldersI know what I can do and what I can’t. I want to be as wise as this centurion and recognize the authority Jesus has. Then I know Jesus’ power will be able to work more fully in and through my life.

The Obedience of Faith

…but now is disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made know to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. Romans 16:26 NRSV

MP900411797[1] Paul is just finishing up the longest of his letters. He wants his readers to have a systematic presentation of the truth about God and the redemptive plan that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. As the letter draws to a close, Paul realizes that revealing truth is only half the battle. He has done his part. The results depend on the response of his readers.

Revelation always requires a response! When faced with new information, people react. Some react with a cold indifference. For them, the truth about Jesus Christ goes in one ear and out the other. Others respond with polite attentiveness. They look like they are listening, but they have no intention of changing. Then there are those whose minds and hearts are open. When revelation crosses their path, they respond with faith. They believe what they hear. They put their trust in the truth.

Revelation requires a response.

Stock Photo of Children Discovering ReadingThe truth that we put our faith in becomes the truth that sets the course for our lives. It guides our actions and determines our destiny. So, when it comes to God’s revealed word, faith is always the right response! 

If I put my faith in the good news of Jesus Christ, then I will live by his words. God will be at the center of everything I do. The Holy Spirit will guide my actions. I will live as a humble servant of Jesus Christ.

The bottom line is that we obey what we believe. If we say one thing and do another, then we really don’t believe what we are saying. Paul knew this. That is why he talked about the “obedience of faith.” He wanted the Romans to know that just hearing the gospel is not good enough. What God has so graciously revealed to us must be met with faith. Once we respond to the truth with faith, then it becomes a part of us.

We obey what we believe.

MC910216397[1]Those who believe God’s word are those who are defined by that word, guided by that word and inspired by that word. They enthusiastically take up their cross and follow Jesus Christ. They live Christ-centered lives. They become the people God created them to be!

What we trust, we will obey. So let’s put our trust in God’s word and in the truth about Jesus Christ. Let’s be more than hearers of the word. Let’s be believers!

Then let’s live out what we believe. Let’s be doers of the word too. Let’s show the world the obedience of faith!

Trust then Obey!

Prayer:

Giver of truth, your word shows me the way. Help me to keep on believing the truth, and responding to all that your word asks of me. Make me a hearer and doer, so that my life might be a witness to the world of a life changed by the obedience of faith!

Amen.

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Stop Doubting & Believe

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”John 20:27 NRSV

MP900435912[1] This was the moment for which Thomas became famous. He firmly refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He wanted to put his hand in Jesus’ side before he would let himself believe. Thomas required tangible proof. He had no interest I believing the ravings of bewildered men having what seemed like grief-triggered hallucinations.

Of course, Jesus knew exactly what Thomas needed, and he gave it to him. Then Jesus called Thomas to faith. In that instant, Thomas stopped doubting and started believing. His faith drove him to proclaim Jesus as Lord.

Faith puts doubt to rest.

Thomas is best known for his doubting. But Jesus told him to stop doubting and believe. That was Thomas’ whole problem. He didn’t really need to put his hand in Jesus’ side. He needed to stop doubting and start believing. MP900422224[1]

Jesus knows that as long as we doubt, we can’t believe. Doubt and faith are opposites. They make up an either/or proposition. We are either doubting, or we are believing. We simply can’t do both at the same time.

As long as we doubt, we can’t believe.

Doubt fills our minds with questions. It wraps our heart with the feelings of uncertainty. It casts a shadow across our path and blinds our eyes to the truth. Doubt suffocates faith. As long as we make room for doubt, there will be no room for faith.

But it works the other way too! Faith pushes away doubt. Faith floods the mind with truth. It opens our eyes to God, and our ears to God’s voice. Faith connects us to the Spirit’s power. Faith overcomes obstacles. Faith pushes us in new directions. Faith activates action!

So how do you stop doubting? Begin by doing what Jesus said to do, believe! As long as you are believing, you are not doubting. As long as you are believing, doubt can’t get a grip on you.

MP900422834[1] It’s time to let go of doubt and embrace faith! We face the same choice as Thomas did. We can cling to the doubts that lurk in the dark corners of our minds, or we can believe in Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and he is alive!

Greet Jesus with a heart of FAITH, today!

 

Prayer:

Jesus, I struggle with doubt too. Without seeing you, it is sometimes hard to be sure. But I know the truth, and the truth is you are alive. Live in me today, and help me to continue believing in and responding to your word each and every day!

Amen.

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From Doubt To Faith

“Do not doubt but believe.” John 20:27 NRSV

Mountain Crucifix The disciples watched as Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified. Their hopes were dashed, and their worst fears came true. At that moment the faith they had in Jesus must have seemed like foolishness.

What their eyes witnessed told them it was over. No more miracles. No more words of truth. No more dreaming of sitting at Jesus’ right hand in the kingdom of God. No more faith.

With Jesus’ suffering and death, Thomas went from faith to stubborn doubt. As far as he was concerned the story that Jesus was alive was a fairy tale. He was unwilling to be fooled again. Only putting his hands in Jesus’ wounds would convince him.

Jesus met Thomas, and gave him the proof he needed. That moved Thomas from doubt to faith.

I have doubts too. I imagine you do too. Jesus’ love and grace are able to meet us where we are, just like he did with Thomas. Today’s video recounts the struggle Thomas had and the power of our resurrected Lord to move his heart to faith. Please click here for the video.

Then give thanks to God for bringing life out of death, and for bringing us from doubt to faith!

Managing Your Terror

…if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 19:9 NRSV

Terror mamgement theory is one of the newest theories in personality psychology. But it’s not about terrorism, or managing radicals that threaten to destabilize governments.

World Eye This theory suggests that everyone is afraid of death. The solution to that fear is to commit to living by the principles of some worldview. The idea is that if we conform our behavior to some specific worldview, we will be less fearful of death. That worldview will make us a part of something bigger than ourselves, something that goes on even after we die.

Jesus had his own solution to overcoming our fear of death. He died, and defeated death itself! In the act of dying he completed God’s redemptive plan, and in rising from the dead, he pointed the way to eternal life.

What is so interesting to me is that terror management theory recognizes that every one of us has to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Christians are those who acknowledge and embrace Jesus’ worldview, which is the gospel.

MP900400141[1] As Jesus’ follower, I have put my faith in the god news of Jesus Christ. I believe the principles set forth in the Scriptures. I ascribe to the Christian worldview. Not only do I believe it and affirm it, I try to live by it. With every breath I take, I try to live out the principles of my faith. And you  know what? I am not terrified by death. Death does not seem like an end for me, it is a new beginning.

So maybe terror management theory is onto something. The question is, what worldview are you putting your faith in? The good news of Jesus Christ connects us to the truth, gives us a place in God’s kingdom, makes us into new creatures, and gives us the way to eternal life! That’s the best terror management there could possibly be!

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