I'm tellin' ya! When God wants you to get a point - He really wants you to get it! It seems like this past couple of weeks I have heard more messages on faith than I can count. How to have faith, having faith through doubts, putting faith in action, putting faith in God alone, etc. Faith. All about faith.
Last night's big-church session was about faith in the midst of doubt. The guy that Lee Strobel interviewed in this section was Lynn Anderson - very very educated scholar - believer, and yet he had doubts. Back to those big questions about evil in the world: Why would God allow it to happen?, etc. (Because He's Soverign, that's why. There's a bigger plan in place, that's why. Evil has to be defeated in God's time - not ours, that's why.)
Anderson also brought up that some people are just gifted with faith - that belief comes easily for them. The section of scripture that Anderson held to was in Mark 9:17-24. This man brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and asks him "if you can..." Well, Jesus' response was "If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." What?! He believes, but doesn't believe. And of course Jesus casts out the demon that was in the child. Unfortunately, there's no follow-up to that moment.
We discussed having faith in spite of our doubts. Do we believe easily or do we need proof? My personal stance is that my faith is based on my relationship with Jesus (and God the Father and the Holy Spirit). I not only revere and fear the Lord GOD, I have a friendship with the Holy Spirit and kinship with Jesus. Now, I am still working on the FATHER aspect, but I know we're friends. And my friend-God has never let me down, nor led me astray. Because He has proved to me over and over He is faithful - I believe in Him - I believe in His Word emphatically. I believe it when Ezekiel saw four crazy-looking creatures coming from a ball of fire in the sky, I believe it when all Joshua had to do was walk around the Jericho wall 7 days and shout for it to collapse, I believe it when the 40-day/40-night rain flooded the whole Earth, I believe it when Moses raised his staff it parted the Red Sea, I just believe it.
There are a LOT of faith scriptures. What is faith: (Hebrews 11:1,2) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
Here's the first faith-step: (Romans 10:17): Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.How's your faith? Do you still hold to faith through your doubts? Do you take your doubts to God? Do you have a favorite faith-scripture that you can claim?
- I get to wake up every day
- I get to use the toothpaste I like
- I get to turn the heat up (or down)
- I get to eat breakfast
- I get to drive to work
- I get to work
- I get to work with the people I work with
- I get to use a computer that has high speed internet
- I get to take medicine that helps me breathe
- I get to answer goofy phone calls
- I get to wash dishes
- I get to wash clothes
- I get to solve problems
- I get to spend time in the Word - whenever and wherever I want
- I get to worship my Maker
- I get to pray in public
- I get to worship regularly with other believers
- I get to live abundantly if I will just see it that way
It's official - we have a new President. Will he be able to do all he says? Only time will tell. Do I agree with his views - no. Am I still free to disagree - so far.
Regardless of my political views - I will stand for the truth of the Bible. And I will pray for our new leader - his family - his team. As we all should.
One point I do like - Responsibility - not a new concept though!
How could this happen - you might wonder. We discussed this last night at "big church." Bobby started a series on The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. The video portion included an interview re-inactment of Charles Templeton. He admitted that the reason his doubt led to his walking away was because he lacked theological training - the strong foundational belief - to ward off the doubts. Bill brought up that it's okay to have doubts - it's what we do with those doubts that matter. You have to take those doubts/questions to God. Ask Him, and He will tell you (just like Jeremiah). Not once did Templeton indicate his relationship with Jesus, not once did he say he prayed about his doubts - he admited he got too busy doing the work. His days in the ministry were filled with excitement - thousands would come to the rallies. But his nights were lonely and filled with doubts.
Lee Strobel goes on to tell that this story sparked this new investigation into Faith. There are two big questions that get asked by everybody (and if you haven't asked 'em yet, I'm sure you will at some point):
- In a world with thousands of different religions, why is it that Jesus is the only way to Heaven?
- How could such a loving God create such an evil world?
For me, I've had these questions. And God showed me a bigger picture. I take it on faith that the Bible is TRUE, Jesus is the only Son of God that was born of a virgin, lived on the Earth, ministered-healed-raised from the dead-worked miracles, and was led to be slaughtered on the cross as a propitiation for my sins. Without Jesus, I would not have salvation. And without me taking the time to be in the Word, I would be easily swayed to walk away from that salvation.
I don't think Templeton ever got the bigger picture. But my question from last night's story was what about Billy Graham? Did Billy reach out to Templeton? Did he even know what was going on with his friend? Did they ever pray together about it? Did Billy Graham fail his friend? I don't know that part of the story. The video gave no indication that Billy was involved on that level.
But I digress. We went on to cover these scriptures:
Last night, God gave me validation on stepping out in faith on some things, so that was pretty awesome.
And this morning, it gets even better. Alastair Begg's "Truth for Life" message was on James, "False Faith?" Did a message on faith without works is dead from James 2. Good stuff! I encourage you to check it out. And Dave Stone from Southeast did a message about how important it is to be in the Bible. That our faith is strengthened by the Word, and it's our individual responsibility to know it.
Through it all, God has revealed a lot about myself to me. I am a horrible sinner - and fall short of God's Glory daily. SINNER! (Scott's voice ringing in my ear, LOL). Seriously, we are all sinners, and I acknowledge constantly that I am not perfect, nor will be until Jesus comes back - and what a day that will be! I have failed miserably at being a good witness in some situations, and failed at just being a good person all-together most of the time. I have apparently even been the catalyst for Satan at other times (which I am still trying to deal with). I have anger issues when I thought I HAD dealt with things. I've been called-out in this area and convicted to work on it with Jesus to remove the hurt and anger that I harbor about stuff from my past. I never realized that closing myself off to others was an expression of anger. I really just thought I was defending myself as well as protecting others from my bad attitude. Little did I know...
God also revealed that when it came to relationships - I walked in fear. Fear of everything that goes into having relationship with others. You have to open-up - be honest about yourself - do it all in God's time, not mine. And this is not just about my friendship with Bill - that's a whole 'nother book full. This is just about relationships at work, church, small groups, online even. It takes a giant leap of faith to trust someone with a piece of you. And my past is chocked full of people who have taken those pieces and ripped, chopped, burned, smothered, drowned them till I have been a walking jumble of busted-up glass. Yes, I'm sensitive to how others perceive me, feel about me, talk about me, etc. That's where I've been walking in fear. My relationship priority has not been quite right this past year - I've cared too much about what others thought, I've cared too much about being in a social circle than just being in the presence of God.
Every New Year's millions of people make resolutions they rarely stick with. I made a "new year" resolution long ago to not make "new year" resolutions. I've done really well with that! But after all that God has revealed to me about myself and situations around me - I have been resolved (determined). I've made the decision to be true - true to God, true to myself, and true to others. That's going to mean that I will not try to please you to placate, friend or no friend. I will stand for God's Word (the whole Jesus) above all else, letting the Holy Spirit lead me into all truth. I will love others as Jesus loves others - reaching out to the lost, teaching the truth of God's Word, meeting needs, doing the work God has prepared me to do, and motivating others to the same. I will love God the Father as Jesus loves the Father - pray continually in all things, spend quiet time with Him regularly, praise Him for EVERYTHING, and claim the love He has for me through Jesus. I will not be moved from this. I will not be perfect in this. I will fail miserably at times. But I will not be moved from this. I will pray before acting, I will pray before REacting, I will pray before responding - and in this too I will fail. But the more I stand, the more firm the hold God has on me, and I have on Him. I will stock my shelves with faith, courage, love - because perfect love casts out all fear.
I encourage all you readers to examine yourselves in light of the Word. Ask God to reveal yourself to you areas of your life where you may be harboring anger or walking in fear. And ask Him to help you remove those things that are holding you back from holding on to Him or being in His presence.
I am in a season of serious spiritual warfare. I have been woke up in the night by God to pray for specific people. I have awaken to my own voice singing praises to God. I have had my share of nightmares - and know others that have had worse. I have anger issues, trust issues, and am burned-out. I hunger for the Word of TRUTH - and I will stand up for the TRUTH, and live out that Truth - no matter how hard or what implications it has for me. I spend hours on end with my Lord and Savior - and can never learn enough about Him or myself. The fight is hard and long right now, but every once in awhile I find tidbits that give me a little extra charge. If you need a little extra charge in your battle - check out these videos...