and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Where is Your Faith?

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?" Lk. 8:22-25

       I used to think, when Jesus asked the disciples where their faith was, that He meant ‘Where is your faith to do this miracle yourselves,’ but now I’m thinking it may be more like, ‘Where is your faith in Me?’  Jesus gave them directions on what to do- where to go and they did it.  Then trouble arose, and they feared for their lives.  They woke up Jesus probably because they didn’t understand how he could still be sleeping when their lives were in danger.

        Before I judge the disciples for their lack of faith, I’ve got to look at myself first.  Many times I’ve gotten into the boat to go with Jesus where He leads, but then harsh troubles in my life come up and His peace doesn’t make me think “If He’s not worried, I shouldn’t be” but like the disciples, “Hey God, this one’s gonna kill me.  I can’t survive this!”  Somehow, He always manages to get through to me eventually [I’m a little stubborn :(  ] and I learn more
                                                                                    about Who He is.

God is self existent- God is not dependent on anyone or anything to exist. He is the complete source of life.
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself, Jh. 5:26
And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. Cl. 1:17

God is immutable- He doesn’t change as man changes from day to day.  That means His promises, His Word will never fail.
For I am Jehovah, I change not. Ml 3:6
the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Jm. 1:17

God is eternal-He always was and will always be.
King eternal, immortal… 1Tm. 1:17
I AM THAT I AM Ex. 3:14
I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
   -Jr. 23:23,24; 1Kn. 8:27b; Mt. 28:20; Ps. 139:7-10
   -Ps. 139:1-4; Ac. 5:1-11; Job 24:23; Ps. 33:13-15; 139:13-16
   -Jr. 32:17; Ep. 1:18-20; 4:6; Rv. 19:6; Hb. 1:3; Rv. 17:17

God is sovereign- This means we can be assured His plans for us will ALWAYS come to pass.
But our God is in Heaven; He has done whatever He has pleased. Ps. 115:3
O Jehovah, Yours is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty. For all in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and You lift up Yourself to all as Head. 1Ch. 29:11

Besides these, He is holy, righteous, is love, is truth.

       This is the God we can trust.  This is the God able to lead the way and keep us safe in the storms of life.  This is the God whose peace is available for us.  This is the God that remains with us in the storms and calms the storms in us.  This is the Almighty, Creator of all the Universe, King of King, Lord of Lords, Most High, Eternal and all powerful Ever Living God.  And He is in the boat with us as we follow His lead.

Where is my faith?
In God, because He’s the only reliable, faithful and completely trustworthy person, and only He is able to calm the storms of life!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

When Bad Things Happen- Part 2

       No trial, adversity or temptation has happened to you but that which is common for mankind in general.  Somewhere, sometime others have gone through similar, same or even worse adversities, so don’t be surprised (1Pt. 4:12) for “…the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.(1Pt. 5:9 ESV)

       Typically, in my serious trials I would follow a pattern like this: just believe by faith (several months), name it claim it (never worked for me but I kept trying), pray dutifully ‘in faith believing’ (a few weeks), begging (a couple weeks), then grief, despair, and finally anger towards God for not doing what I knew He was able to do- for me.  What I didn’t understand is the sovereignty of God and that sometimes, for His own reasons, He chooses not to intervene the way we desire.

       God is on the throne and does as He pleases (Ps. 115:3), He reigns over all and the power is His (1Ch. 11,12).  “…for I am God, and no other is God, even none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from the past things which were not done, saying, My purpose shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure;(Is. 46:9,10)  Does this mean it is His pleasure to cause us pain?  No, God is a loving God of mercy and grace.

       Certainly God disciplines us for we are His sons and He loves us (Hb. 12:6), but the troubles in this life are mostly due to sin in general.  The world is under the curse of sin, death and the devil (Gn. 3) and has been for thousands of years.

Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned: Rm. 5:12
that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Rm. 8:21,22

       So how do we survive all these hardships, trials and being pressed beyond what we feel we are able?  The answer is found at the end of 1Cr. 10:13- but with the temptation (also trial, proving (test), adversity, affliction, trouble- Thayer), God who is faithful “will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it.

       We cannot bear it, were not meant to bear it alone, but with His help.  Notice the end says ‘that you may be able to bear it’, not that He would make it go away, fix it how we want, or answer our prayers the way we wish, but that we would be able to bear it because He is with us in it (Ps. 23:4), supports us (Ac. 20:32), and brings us through them (Is. 43:2), even when it takes years… 

     He gives us rest to our souls. Mt. 11:28-30
     He comforts us 2Cr. 1:3,4 and cares for us 1Pt. 5:7.
     No trial, temptations, afflictions can separate us from God’s love. Rm. 8:38,39
     Do not be troubled or fearful, He gives us peace. Jh. 14:27; 16:33
     He knows how to deliver the godly. 2Pt. 2:9
     He gives power to the weak, increases / renews strength, vigor, stamina. Is. 40:29-31

       The Lord knows us better than anyone else, He goes before us to lead and guide, behind us to watch our backs, His hand is on us (Ps. 139:2-5) and lifts us up (Ps. 30:1) when need be.  We are not alone!  All those times I pushed the Lord away when He wouldn’t do what I wanted caused me to suffer FAR MORE than I would have if I trusted Him to control my life and change me.  Peace, rest, comfort in the arms of my Father would have been far better to the torment I went through feeling all alone because I shut Him out.

       God allowed these things to remain in my life to change me “…knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.(Jm. 1:2-4)  This means complete and perfectly sound.  (He’s still working on me…)

       With God’s help we can become stronger through the trials, and in the process, become closer to Him, trusting, and leaning more on Him.  Finally, I see Him better for Who He is, not for Who I wanted Him to be or thought He was.

     And He’s amazing.
          And each day is better than the day before.
               And His love surpasses all my understanding.
                    And now I understand no matter what happens, I’ll be okay with Him
                          because ultimately He is good and wants good for me!!!

I don’t have to understand, I just have to trust Him (Pr. 3:5).

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
   We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
   perplexed, but not driven to despair;
   persecuted, but not forsaken;
   struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2Cr. 4:7-11

Thank You Lord for Your promise of the ‘restoration of all things’ that awaits us! (Ac. 3:21)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Bad Things Happen- Part 1

       As a young Christian, I thought that when bad things happened in my life that maybe God didn’t love me.  (If He loved me, he wouldn’t let bad things happen, would He?)  Many years ago I heard the statement- supposedly from the Bible- God won’t give you more than you can handle.

       Accepting this statement was easy since I wanted it to be true and I heard it from so many Christians in context of the many trials I faced. What I should have done is look it up because I certainly felt many of my trials were way more than I could bear, which caused me to blame God for allowing them.  I’m pretty sure I even called Him a liar!  Big oops… glad He is merciful and didn’t strike me down with a lightning bolt!

No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it. 1Cr. 10:13

       First off, the word temptation is defined in length by Thayer; some of the synonyms are: an experiment, trial, proving (test), adversity, affliction, trouble.  Though every Bible version I read uses temptation, like the passages of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Lk. 4:13), there are other meanings as well that we can’t ignore.  It certainly makes sense in the context of the first part of the Scripture.

       No trial, adversity or temptation has happened to you but that which is common for mankind in general.  Somewhere, sometime others have gone through similar, same or even worse adversities, so don’t be surprised (1Pt. 4:12).  “…the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.(1Pt. 5:9 ESV) 

For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me I am feeble and painfully broken; I have roared because of the groanings of my heart. Ps. 38:4,8
For, brothers, we would not have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength; so much so that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 2Cr. 1:8,9

       David and Paul here are both writing of very painful times with burdens too hard to bear.  This is common to man.  All the main characters in the Bible went through some really tough times, many with different outcomes.  In persecution, Stephen was killed (Ac. 7:59), John was exiled (Rv. 1:9), yet Paul and Silas escaped (Ac. 16).  David was rescued sometimes and not others.  We cannot guarantee our outcome only that all men go through troubles, some of them so bad we don’t think we’ll survive.

       We CAN survive troubles beyond our ability to bear, because here I am as proof. Two were life threatening, and one was so bad I considered ending my own life (yes I was a Christian).  Paul hints above at one way to survive these terrible times, but in short, it helps to remember who God is- faithful (1Cr. 10:13), that He is with us and supports us in them all, and will bring us through all.

       Our God stands with us in suffering- He Himself suffered for us, was rejected, humiliated and beaten, then endured a horrible death as a criminal on the cross.  He endured it for love of us, and He won't leave us alone in our adversities.  He is here to comfort and will comfort us in all our troubles / anguish! (2Cr. 1:3.4)

(Stay tuned for the next installment of When Bad Things Happen- Part 2)

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Shouldn’t Have Laughed

       A friend called yesterday.  During our conversation, she told me how she got scratched in the eye from the leaf on some flowers when the power went out in her house the other day.  Really, the laughter didn’t come from a mean place, but over the bizarre-ness of the event.  What are the chances?  Anyway, I was sitting at the computer later in the evening when my eye felt like something was in it.  When a finger check at the corner of my eye and a gentle rub didn’t help I had to check it more closely in a mirror.

       There I found an eyelash poking backwards into my eye.  Yank, out it came and soon after the eye felt better.  I guess I shouldn’t have laughed about my friend’s issue and maybe I wouldn’t have suffered retribution!  :)  Then this morning I’m reading a familiar passage in the Bible and I have to laugh.

And why do you look at the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but do not see the beam that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me pull out the splinter in your eye, when you yourself do not see the beam that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First cast out the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to pull out the splinter that is in your brother's eye. Lk. 6:41,42

       It sure feels like a beam in your eye when it gets scratched!  Back on topic.  Sometimes we nitpick about other’s faults yet neglect to see our own glaring faults.  For me, I’ve learned to not care so much about other people’s issues because the ones that stare back at me in the mirror are huge enough  to deal with.  (Often, I am my own harshest critic.)

       Why do I still sin so much after being saved for almost 30 yrs and still act so childish when it comes to God things?  Why do I continue to attempt to control my own life when I know by experience it is much better when I allow God to control my life?  Why is it always such a struggle to deny myself / my flesh (Lk. 9:23) to the things it wants: sleep not exercise, candy bars not salad, play not work, t.v. not Bible reading, games not quality time with God or kids, idle chatter not prayer, eating food not the Word?

Heave Ho!
       There are no easy answers.  Certainly I’ve come a long way on this journey with the Lord, but I still have such a long way to go.  He is faithful to remain with me during this long and sometimes frustrating trip.  He is faithful to remind me of this, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,(Php. 1:6)  Yay, He’s gonna stick with me! 

       So this beam in my eye is still pretty big after all these years, like the tall mast on an old sailing vessel.  But with the help of my friends, and my Best Friend of all, we will gently pull it out one centimeter at a time.  Then one day when I look in my eyes they’ll be free and clear of all the sin and garbage of this life.  And of course by then I’ll be forever with my Best Friend Jesus… and hopefully with you too!!!      

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Different Way- Part 2

       As I was saying in Part 1 yesterday, when I worked on a seatbelt assembly line I found a different way to assemble the bracket on the rail.  It not only increased the production, but it was far less stressful on the workers.  When Jesus came, it was to show mankind the way of salvation through Him and restoration to the Father because of Him.  At the same time He taught the people differently from the norm, and the Sermon on the Mount, though it seems lightweight is actually very provocative. Here are some more of my thoughts on the rest of the verses:
(Remember, this sermon was spoken to Jesus’ disciples- believers)

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (v.27)
     -Most everyone loves those who love them, but Jesus says to love our adversaries or those
     who detest us, and do good to them. This goes far beyond expectations, and all who see
     will know we are Christ followers.
bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. (v.28)
     -Don’t curse back, or scream at, but speak well of (yes, that’s part of the meaning) and
     pray or those who use us, (perhaps instead of telling everyone how awful they are, we can
     bless and pray for those who use us.
And to him who strikes you on the one cheek, also offer the other. And to him who takes away your garment, do not forbid your tunic also. (v.29)
     -Actually sounds like He wants us to allow others to take advantage of us, doesn’t it. I
     they steal from us, give them more. Hmmm. And maybe we are to remain humble and loving
     even to our own non-physical hurt (as striking cheek also means an insult / offence).
Give to everyone who asks of you, and from him who takes away your goods, do not ask them again. (v.30)
     -Give to EVERYONE who asks, not just those who can reciprocate, or those who aren’t
     ‘always asking’ for hand outs. And don’t ask for your stuff back if they take it. That is
     surely different teaching!
For if you love those who love you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also love those who love them. (v.32)
     -People who aren’t saved love those who love them. We are to be a cut above and love
     everyone, even if they hate us, revile us, treat us badly, or turn their nose up at us.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also do the same. (v.33)
     -If we only do good to those who will return the favour, so what? Most people do that. But
     do good to those who can’t do back and watch society get confused. A different way.
And if you lend to those of who you hope to receive, what thanks do you have? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. (v.34)
     -I’m never inviting them for supper again because they’ve never had us over! Heard that
     before? I have, and we are not supposed to care about receiving back… ever!
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. And your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. (v.35)
     -Love, do good and lend not just to friends, family, and others who do the same back to us,
     but even to our enemies. Why? Because we were enemies of God “For if while we were
     enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are
     reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.(Rm. 5:10 ESV) but now, through the blood of
     Jesus Christ and His great love for us- even while we were sinners (Rm. 5:8)- we can be
     reconciled to our Creator, our Lord, our Father… our greatest Love!

'Sermon on the Mount' is still a different way to live.