FAITH

Most of us who believe in Jesus believe who he says he is and that he can do what the Bible says he can do and we believe all that was written about him.

But often, we doubt when the need becomes personal.

I was reminded today, or most likely, it was brought to my attention today what answers prayer! FAITH. We know Jesus can do it, we just doubt sometimes that he will do it for our personal needs.

To the woman with the issue of blood he said in Luke 8:48 NLT “Daughter”, he said to her “your faith has made you well. Go in peace” . She was made well.

To Jairus, whose daughter had just died Jesus said in Luke 8:50 NLT “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” And she was!

To the blind men in Matthew 9:27-34 NLT Jesus asked them “Do you believe I can make you see? Yes Lord, they told him, we do. Then He touched their eyes and said, because of your faith, it will happen”. And it did.

Jesus heals, but it is our faith that makes it happen.

Rejoice my friend, believe and have faith! Don’t worry! Give thanks and praise …….and believe!

Lord, I believe in you, increase my faith and heal me from any unbelief.

The Sword

The Word, Gods Word, The sword of the Spirit

 

The sword is the only weapon in the full armor of God that is both defensive and offensive.

Five of the six weapons in Ephesians 6:14-17 are mostly defensive weapons. The belt of truth protects us from the lies of the devil, the breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, the shoes of peace protect us from negative attitudes, the shield of faith protects us from the devils fiery arrows and the helmet of salvation protects our mind from the thoughts the enemy sends our way.

If you had a sword, a beautiful and mighty sword that you displayed on your wall, it’s no good to you, when the enemy walks in the door if it’s on your wall.  By the time you get it down, the enemy has already won the battle. 

And that’s the way the Bible is. It’s no good to you if all it does is sit on a shelf or on your night stand gathering dust and it’s rarely opened. It doesn’t do any good when you need it to fight the enemy.

Say you have a sword and you want to learn to use it. Let’s imagine it’s a big, thick, heavy sword like you see in the movies of Biblical times or the times of gladiators.

When you first pick it up and try to swing it or jab it a couple of times, your arms get tired and you give up and you say “that’s too hard”.  But you pick it back up and  the more you practice with it and the more you  learn you to stand properly and your posture’s right and you start swinging it a couple of times a day, pretty soon you learn to use it. You learn to do it just right; you learn to use it to block blows from the opponent. You learn to strike. You can use it as defense and you can use it as an offense to attack.

The same is with the Word of God. If you open it just a little bit today and just get the feel of it; then tomorrow  you pick it up again and  you do it some more and then a little bit more, you will soon find that  not only can you hold it,  it’s actually become useful. You stand right, (in the Word of God), you have your posture just right (in Jesus) and before you know it, you’re a warrior!

You have that sword and you don’t want to be without it. It goes everywhere you go, in your heart, and any time the enemy comes at you, you have it there for defense. You have it there for protection or attack when you see the enemy hurting others around you. When you see him headed your way, you stand ready and you go after him and you chase him away because he knows you know how to use that sword.

Let’s open our Bibles and be the warriors we are meant to be!

Umbrellas

One of the homework assignments this week  in the study of the Apostle Paul centered on his voyage to Rome. Paul’s “Umbrella of Faith” in the storm covered all that were on board the ship and all the lives were saved when the ship was destroyed as it ran aground on the island of Malta. After that, many on the island became believers and were healed.

I have an umbrella. For the most part, it rides in my car behind the seat. Often, when it’s raining, I leave it in the car and dash to the building hoping I don’t get drenched or I carry it without opening it, because it’s really not raining that hard.

How often do we treat our faith that way? We have it; we just don’t use it like it is meant to be used. We carry it along in case it’s needed but we never open it. We jump out in the middle of a storm, thinking we can handle it  on our own or we think it’s not bad enough to bother Jesus about.

We need to open our faith umbrellas! Rain or shine. They cover us when life is raining down on us and they keep us cool and calm in the sunshine.

The beginning of faith is like a little paper umbrella in a fancy drink. It’s not very big. Then, as we study God’s Word and we place it in our hearts, the umbrella of faith grows and begins to cover us.  Soon, we notice that our umbrella is quite large and we have family members, friends and even a stranger or two under there with us.

This made me think of my church. When it’s raining or, like last week, sleeting, you can see volunteers walking out, with large umbrellas, offering protection from the elements to those coming in and going out. What an awesome metaphor of how our church family covers each other and those we come in contact with, in faith.

Umbrellas: I don’t think I will ever look at them in the same way, ever again.

THE KEY TO LIFE

Deuteronomy 30 is an amazing and eye opening chapter of the Bible. I recommend that yoou read it for yourself.

Chapter 30 closes out chapters 27-29 where Moses explains the laws of Blessings and Curses. These laws are not only rules to live by, but rules of nature (like gravity). If you do this……that happens. If you jump off a building….you fall.  If you love and obey God, you live and are blessed. Simple.

Verses 1-10 tell us if we return to the LORD, He will bring blessings back into our lives and make us even more prosperous than our ancestors (v.5b). I love the part that says that He will change our hearts and those of our children so that we will love Him with all our hearts and we will LIVE (v.6).

God delights in being good to us. He delights in those who obey his commands, if we love Him with all of our heart and soul (v.9-10). He DELIGHTS in being good to us! How awesome is that!

I often wonder how I can please God. The answer to that is so incredible.  All I have to do is love and obey Him…and He will delight in me! He will delight in doing good for me.

CHOOSE LIFE

God gives us options. He allows us to choose. It is not difficult to understand nor is it hidden from us or too far away to grasp (v. 11-14). We can choose life or death, prosperity or disaster.

Oh, that we would choose life and make the choice to love God with all our hearts and commit firmly to Him. THIS IS THE KEY TO LIFE (v 20b) and we will live long in the land God promises!

Psalm 1 explains the choices perfectly.

Psalm 1 (NLT)

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
    They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
    Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
    but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

 

 

A Mustard Seed of Faith

Most of us know the mustard seed of faith parables taught by Jesus that say if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can tell a mulberry tree to be uprooted and be planted in the sea that it must obey (Luke 17:6), tell a mountain to move and it will move, and that nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17: 20).

Sometimes, though, I wonder if my faith is even as large as a mustard seed because mountains don’t seem to move and mulberry trees in my way don’t uproot themselves.

Then I see the same parable that shows the “mustard seed faith” in a completely different light!

“It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” LUKE 13:9 NIV.

“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 NIV).

FAITH GROWS!

We are all given a measure of faith by God (Romans 12:3).

Romans 10:17 (NASB) says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

God plants a seed of faith into our hearts but it is up to us to feed it with daily doses of His Word, nurture it with Son-light and allow Christ to prune as needed.  Soon, we have a beautiful, wonderful, big “tree” of faith that not only nurtures us; it provides a place of rest for others. Our faith then produces seeds that God can plant into the lives of others and then they grow a tree of faith and so on and so on!

Faith grows when we open our Bibles, meditate on its treasures and place them in our hearts.

(all bold italics in quoted scripture are my emphasis.)

 

A Standing Ovation

While doing my Bible Study homework, I read three sentences in the workbook that dropped me to my knees.

The assignment included reading the passage in Acts about the first martyr for Christ, Stephen. Stephen was full of God’s grace and power (Acts 6:8) and he had the face of an angel (Acts 6:15).

Stephen was doing the very thing for which he was made. It’s sometimes hard to digest, but at times our trials are part of our calling. Sometimes it’s to get us to our calling, sometimes it’s to strengthen our faith while doing our calling and well, sometimes the trial IS our calling. That was the case for Stephen. He was stoned to death for his belief and ministry of Jesus Christ. As he was being stoned he looked up to Heaven and saw God’s Glory and Jesus standing at His right hand (Acts 7:55).

What caught my attention was this statement: “Worthy, indeed, was his calling. It brought the Son of God to His feet. He stood in Stephens honor …”

When I read that, I just sat in awe of Jesus. What an amazing and wonderful thing to see in God’s Word. When we face our trials, our Stephen moments, when we feel like the stones won’t stop….Jesus is there, standing at the right hand of God Almighty, cheering us on and strengthening our faith and perseverance!  He is shouting come on (insert your name), I know you can make it! I’m here; there is nothing that can stop you now! You were made for this moment! You were made to be a witness for Me. There is so much power in that knowledge!

Thank You, Jesus for believing in me and for giving me the strength and the courage to do what you have called me to do!

My Dad’s Dogs and Faith

My dad had a way with dogs. Dad’s dogs always seemed to be smart and obedient (except maybe for Rusty!) The most notable was Benjy, a Heinz 57 variety of a dog that had long hair in spots and resembled the movie star dog after whom he was named.

 Benjy was almost human and I often referred to him as my little brother. Benjy could understand anything you said; he could sense moods and he could tell you the time of day because he knew when it was snack time and when it was time for everyone to be in bed. He didn’t cross the road or leave my dad’s side unless my dad gave the ok. He knew what toy to get when you called it by name and he was gentle and sweet with my frail mother.  

My uncle once told me that when he left a message on my mom and dad’s answering machine that he always addressed the message to Benjy. He left messages like “Benjy, tell your mom and dad than Uncle Jim called”. The reason he did that was because he believed in my dad’s vision of Benjy and because my mom was mostly deaf and when the phone rang, Benjy always got her attention and would let her know, in his own special way,  that the phone was ringing.

I watched dad over the years with his dogs. They were ordinary dogs, not specifically bred for their abilities or intelligence. They were pretty much mutts that he adopted and just simply loved. He talked to them like they were his sons. He never questioned that they were dogs or that they might not understand… he just believed in them. He believed that they understood everything he said, that they were more than “just a dog” and he believed they could do everything he expected them to do…… and they usually did.  He always complimented them and told everyone how smart they were. He just had an unwavering, simple faith in them.

Reflecting on this memory, I thought……what if…..what… if…. we treated all of those in our sphere of influence; our family, our co-workers, our small groups, and our friends, with the same respect, faith and belief, in not only the visible potential, but also the unseen almost impossible potential that my dad saw in his dogs?  There would be no limit to what they could be!

AND what if….we had that same unwavering faith in the God that created all things and we believed without seeing, that He could do all that He says he can do and that He is who he says he is? Would we dare to pray for the impossible? Would we dare to believe the impossible? If we did…..there would be no limit to what God could do! For in Him,  ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

Receiving God’s Blessing

Why study the Bible?

Leviticus 26:1-13 gives a very good reason; Receiving God’s Blessing!

God promises to bless us with a bounty of more than enough, protection, peace,  His company, family, and our swords will go before us as we chase the enemy!

Here are just two reasons that make studying the Bible important in this passage. There are several, but I will just touch on two.

  • We have to obey God’s commands to receive the blessings (v 3) 
  • Our swords will go before us as we chase the enemy (v 7-8)

In order to obey God’s commands, we have to know what they are. Most of us can recite the Ten Commandments, or at least a couple of them, but God’s instructions are all throughout the Bible, not just in Exodus 20 and Leviticus 26: 1-2. The Old Testament is full of exciting histories that teach us all of God’s ways and The New Testament is full of instructions on how we should conduct ourselves.

And if we want to chase the enemy instead of him chasing us……we not only have to know who the enemy is, we must have a sword that goes before us. Satan and his minions are the enemy (Ephesians 6:12) and the sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The more we study the Bible, the more we can identify the enemy and the sharper our swords become.

When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, he defeated him with the Word. Jesus responded to Satan with scripture and Satan fled! Then the angels served him. (Matthew 4:1-11)

So let us open our Bibles and not just read it, but study it; meditate on it and live it!

 Leviticus 26: 1-13 NLT

26 “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. You must keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

“I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.

“I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. 10 You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! 11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.

 

In a Time of Rest

This time, while reading the Bible in chronilogical order, I have slowed down the pace to glean as much as I can from it. Last time around I hurried through Numbers and Leviticus (just to say I read it). This time I am reading through with a new attitude……Application of His Word. Who knew I would see so much in the Law and how I could apply it to my life today? LOL. (I think that’s His point in providing it!)

In Levitcus 25:8-22 ( 15 verses) God gives Moses the Law of Jubilee. I am only going to mention one aspect of the wealth of this passasge. The fiftieth year, the Sabbath year of rest for the crops.

In verse 11 God commanded that the Israelites plant no crops or store away any that grow on their own in the year of Jubilee, just like the 7th year of Sabbath. The land was at rest along with the people. But verses 18-22 grabbed me.

God said that if His people would obey his regulations and follow his decrees, then the land would produce enough in the 6th year to last well into the harvest of the 9th year.

So… if we read and study God’s Word, taking in as much as we can, storing it up in our hearts, apply it to our lives and strive to live according to his commands we build faith (storehouse)  during a time of seed time and harvest (good years) THEN…God provides MORE THAN ENOUGH to get us through the “rest” (seasons of lack or trouble) even into the next period of seed time and harvest!

I love God’s Word! But most of all, I love this Wonderful, Magnificent, Holy God that loved me first.

A Holy God

Above all, He is Holy.

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Revelation 4:8 NIV