By Faith We Understand; By Faith We Live

Imperative to a Christian’s salvation is our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  We know this truth as detailed in the key verses of Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”  But our faith does not stop here, it only begins.  It’s from this faith step that each subsequent step of faith begins.  It’s through this faith in Jesus Christ that all faith must reside.  Hebrews 11:1-2 NKJV tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”  In this passage we have the assurance of the faith referenced in Ephesians, a guarantee of eternity in Christ Jesus.  The second verse of the passage describes to us that faith doesn’t occur at a particular point in our life, but it is a process by which we live the rest of our lives and through that faith, we provide a testimony to others.  It’s in this verse that the author points to the titans of biblical history and their great faith in God that carried them through their lives.  For it is, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 And it is by faith that we are to live, like the elders of the ancient days:

By Faith Abel offered sacrifice…

By Faith Enoch was taken up…

By Faith Noah prepared an ark…

By Faith Abraham was tested…

By Faith Sarah conceived…

By Faith Isaac offered blessings…

By Faith Jacob blessed his sons…

By Faith Joseph gave instructions…

By Faith Moses led the Exodus…

By Faith the walls of Jericho fell…

By Faith the harlot Rahab did not perish…

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

 

 

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented- 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”
Hebrews 11:4-40

This list is a litany of who’s who in the Old Testament.  Just as the author of Hebrews alludes to, no doubt he could go on and on with great examples of living by faith if time would permit him.

Living by faith is not limited to the Old Testament alone, Jesus makes it clear in His admonishment of the disciples (Matthew 17:19-20) that with faith the mere size of a mustard seed literally anything is possible, even the ability to physically move a mountain.  Why is it that we struggle so much then with steps of faith?  Surely if we faithfully stepped out of the boat like the Apostle Peter to answer Jesus’ call, we too could walk on water (Matthew 14:29-30).

But our nature is sinful.  Our flesh is wrought with sin that keeps us from this perfect faith and that’s why we sink in the water just like Peter.  But there too is hope for us, because like Peter we have Jesus right there with us.  And like with Peter, Jesus reaches down and lifts us up when our faith is weak, that in this moment our faith might be made perfect through Him. It’s in our weakest, most difficult moments when the waves are crashing all around us and the tempestuous sea is at her worst that faith is needed most.  If we would only keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the “Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) how easy it would be for Him to tell the stormy seas, “Be Still” that through it all we might be able to continue to walk on the sea towards Him.

By Faith We Live…

Prayer:  Our Prayer today is straightforward.  Let us follow the path of the apostles who said to the Lord, increase our faith. Luke 17:5 Pray that in all things the Lord increases your faith.  So that it will be by faith you live and by faith that you trust in Jesus.

Additional Study: Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Matthew 14:22-33

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve

Pause with me for a second and think back to the last time you felt treated unfairly.  Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, maybe someone was chosen for an assignment that you wanted.  Maybe it was something more personal, your best friend is getting married and you think it should’ve been you or maybe someone you know is having a baby for the first time while you continue to try month after month to no avail.  No matter the situation, you were likely left thinking, “This isn’t fair, how come I never get what I deserve.”  Just like the title of this blog suggests, We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve, and we should be thankful for that.  Psalm 28:4 NKJV says, “Give them according to their deeds, And according to the wickedness of their endeavors; Give them according to the work of their hands; Render to them what they deserve.”  The implications of this verse are eye-opening.  Do we really want what we deserve?  If God were to give to us according to the works that we have done, would we really want that?  Along these same lines, we can look at Romans 6:23a and again we are taught, “For the wages of sin is death…”  If we were to really get what we deserved in life, it would be death and eternal separation from God.  There would be no chance for us because being born with a sinful nature, we start off wrong and it’s impossible for us to recover on our own.  But there is beauty in the redemption that we are offered through Jesus Christ.  Instead of receiving what is perfectly fair based on exactly what we deserve we are granted mercy and given grace when we need it most.  It’s this grace that carries us through our trials.  It’s grace that carries us to persevere through the most difficult of trials and circumstances.  This is the same grace that God declared was sufficient for the Apostle Paul during the most difficult, most trying, most faith testing time of his life in II Corinthians 12:9  We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve, but what we do get if we turn to Jesus for all of our needs, is grace, and it is more than sufficient.

Prayer:  I know firsthand what it is to ask the questions posed above.  I’m far too guilty of claiming what I think is fair or not fair.  But it’s not up to me, just like it’s not up to you.  No matter what you’re faced with in life, if you’re in Christ and you’ve made Him Lord and Savior of your life, then things are more than fair, because you have His Grace and that’s enough.  Ask the Lord to remove any selfishness that you might be holding on to in your life.  Pray that He shows you that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Additional Study: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
II Corinthians 12:8-10

For the Love of Money (Repost)

Disclaimer: This is a repost from March.

…is the root of all evil.  That’s what the Apostle Paul was teaching to Timothy in I Timothy 6:10 KJV.  In context, his message is in direct response to the church at Ephesus and their leaders’ desire for financial gain.  Not only is this message one of conviction for that church, but it’s also equally applicable to today’s society, as the focus on money seems greater than ever. 

Turn on the evening news these days and what’s the major topic?  Money.  It’s all about money, in the form of bailouts, stimulus, greed, corporate corruption, financial advisors stealing, the housing bubble collapse, bank failures, the stock market…money, money, money.    I would argue that the majority of the current problems our country is facing is the direct result of the love of money, rooted heavily in a lack of Godliness.  We’ve become so obsessed with money on a global scale that it is literally undoing countries left and right. 

Case in point: I began following the news, via the cable news channels, after the presidential election of 2000.  It was such a contested event, that I wanted to tune in daily for new updates.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to monitor world news and current events, though more so from a Biblical perspective, in the past year.  In this time, I’ve never seen such an obsession with the stock market as I’ve seen within the last year.  Rather than searching for the latest Dow Jones index in the morning paper or on the old CNN Headline News, you now see it everywhere; it’s a ticker on every channel.  It’s even a category on my new iPhone (yeah, guilty as charged).  People seem to bow to the market as though it’s an idol, a beast capable of controlling a person’s destiny, when in fact it’s nothing more than man-made instrument used by many to measure self-worth.  One of my biggest pet peeves regarding the stock market is the daily office discussions.  I remember the stock market taking nose dive last year and the monitoring fixation that took place several times a day.  It became such an annoyance that I would jump into the conversation just to offer up an opinion like, “You can’t watch that every day, it’ll drive you crazy”, in an attempt to discourage the exchange.  These examples are just microcosms of the passion, or love, of money that’s captured our society.

So what’s the Christian’s role in these discussions?  How are we to live in a society so obsessed with money?  Our role is to let Christ’s love and Light shine through us.  We can do this, not through negative comments, like I made above, but through sharing the truth of the Gospel.  Paul enforces this very action in I Timothy 6:17-18, “Command [warn] those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command [charge] them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  When we use Christian love to point out the dangers of the love of money it will open up the door for us to share the Gospel.  Instead of saying, “You can’t watch the market every day, it’ll make you go crazy”, maybe something more along the lines of “That market is just so unreliable and unpredictable isn’t it?  I used to follow it pretty regularly too, but after reading a passage in Mark 10, it changed my whole perspective on money.”  Then just kindly tell of Jesus’ parable on the Rich Young man.  That’s just one example, but hopefully it will make you think of opportunities to share the gospel when conversations, such as those on money, come up.

It’s easy for any of us, believers and non-believers to get caught up in race for money, but ultimately as Christians, we need to avoid the trap of trying to get money and focus on how we can give more.  It’s times like these when Christians need to step up their giving, not only through tithing more, but through giving to local shelters and food banks.  In doing so, we’ll show that our true Master is not money, but God. Matthew 6:24

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"