Thursday, September 27, 2012

Continuing Faith

I thought of this title just "off the top of my head". My first reaction was that it needed to be more interesting, something to 'catch the eye of the mind'. (you may think the same:),but when I began to think of what I could rename it, the thought came that it was exactly what I wanted to talk about. So yes, I am continuing this discussion on faith that I began the first of the month....AND in addition I will be talking about 'continuing faith'-- the type of faith that God looks for in us and that each of us must also draw on everyday. To do that I am looking at the continuing faith of Job.

 Most of us today have experience with trials such as Job faced only through reading or possibly watching a movie that portrays a character beaten down by circumstances, rising up and fighting back in revenge for the wrongs that he has faced. It makes for exciting reading because the human part of us wants to take charge of our own destiny-be the hero that rights all wrongs-or feel that we have the power to care for ourselves and others. It is the natural response from the natural man.

His family gone, his wife turned bitter, his position in the community and the prestige and respect that came with it lost when his assets were confiscated by warring tribes--Job knew he could do nothing to get back what he had lost--but he knew someone who could. The entire book of Job contemplates the dilemma of Job.
1. Why did it happen?
 It happened because by right of His position as Creator and Sovereign God, God himself can and  does do what he wants and does not answer to anyone-- least of all the creation.
2.What good came of it?
Job came away with not only a new family,restored possessions and a deeper respect by the community, but with a far deeper knowledge himself of the God that he never stopped trusting through it all.(Job  13:15) Here is our continuing faith! Job determined to believe in his heart.
He learned that yes, he had been a righteous man who had served God and stayed away from all evil-- and the outward appearance of evil,(Ch. 2:10) but he also learned that his righteousness was as filthy rags beside the holiness of a Sovereign, Holy God. (Ch. 40:7-8)
In the end Job confessed his sinful nature, his lack of knowledge and repented before God.             (ch. 42:6)

What about the friends who had only made things worse, by offering advice on something which they  had no knowledge? (ch. 38:2)While they judged Job on circumstantial evidence-- God told them Job was more righteous than they were. Why? Because they had not repented when God showed them his majesty. Because of that it would be only through bringing sacrifices and asking Job to pray for them would they be able to receive His forgiveness.(ch. 42:7)
In  this way God placed respect for Job  back into these men's eyes and hearts-- but also into the hearts of the community as others saw them asking Job to intercede on their behalf.
  The Lesson they learned that day?
The day the Lord met with them, all four men learned that no matter who you are, how much you think you know, or how good you think you are doing--you are nothing compared to God!

  3.What can we learn from it?
 I can only tell you what the Lord showed me through this story: God knows the limits of our faith; and the trials he allows to come to us are placed there to grow that faith to the next level. I have only a partial picture, a partial understanding of the events that are happening around me. As a created being I cannot understand everything - unless the Lord, my Creator, chooses to open my understanding.
 When I practice continuing faith as Job did and sacrifice my natural desire to control my destiny and 'fix' things the way I think they should be 'fixed'-- my obedience allows God to move and work on my behalf just as he did with Job, therefore it is Himself that receives the glory-- and that is just how it should be!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hoping for Faith that will move Mountains?

So many times I hear others say "I'm praying for faith". Or "my faith is just not strong enough". I have heard myself say the same things. As I grow older--in time and in the Word--I am beginning to understand things about faith that I had never thought of before. Listen again to God's definition of faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
This statement is couched in what is called a 'compound' sentence. Which simply means the subject of the sentence is followed by two statements that could be put with that subject(faith) to make a sentence that stands alone.
 For Example:  Faith is the substance of things hoped for.
                         Faith is the evidence of things not seen.
Since faith is made up of two things and not just one, the writer placed them both into one sentence.
It is only by doing this that he could give the complete and correct definition of faith.
Maybe you are wondering why the English lesson? It's very important to our understanding of what faith truly is. It makes the passage on faith and works in the book of James 2:17 a little easier to understand as well.
Look at Peter's famous 'walk on the water' episode in Matthew 14. he was in the middle of a huge storm, they saw someone coming toward them, they weren't sure who it was-fear started to take over,verse 27 says 'straightway' that means 'immediately' when the fear started before they asked, Jesus reassured them that it was him.    vs.28 Peter says, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." In Peter's statement is the first part of the definition of faith. 'Things hoped for' What was he hoping to do? Walk across the water to Jesus. Now here is the second part of faith: vs. 29 "And he said, Come" Jesus let Peter know right then that it was possible for him to walk across that water and come to him in that one word-come. The two parts of faith have been met.
Now back to the book of James.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Jms. 2:17
If Peter had never stepped out of that boat his faith would have been dead faith. It doesn't matter that he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink and Jesus had to come to his rescue. This was a growing faith that had not matured at this point. The point on faith here is that Peter put the works of stepping out to the hope he had that he could do it, and to the evidence Jesus gave him that he had given him the power to do it.
I hope you will study these verses on faith. and on the next post I will continue.