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Do you still have no faith?

do-you-still-have-no-faith-autosavedWhen confronted with a tempestuous sea, the disciples, fearing for their life awoke Jesus with the question: “Do you not care that we perish?” He awoke and rebuked the winds and asked a question of them. “Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-41)  It seems that Jesus was as astonished at their lack of faith as they were at his power to calm the winds and the sea.

The sermon around this question can be heard at this link. However, the main points of yesterday’s lesson start off with the recognition that His disciples had experienced some amazing things with Jesus before getting into the boat in Mark 4. Jesus had healed a lame man and Peter’s mother-in-law, cleansed a leper, and restored the withered hand of a man to normal. He had confronted the Pharisees, taught the people, explained parables to the disciples and basically, just from Mark’s account alone, provided ample reason why the disciples in the midst of that storm should not have been lacking faith.

What is Faith?

In today’s common use of the word, it is little more than “hopium”. Hopium is a made up word that means you want something to be the case without having any evidence for it to be the way you want it. Sometimes you want something IN SPITE of the evidence that it can’t or won’t be that way.

I have heard people tell someone “you just have to have faith” in situations where you realize that businesses will need to close, people are going to die, or tragedy is not going to be averted. This is a legitimate use of the word in today’s usage but it often gets confused with “God will make it work out”

This is NOT the way the Bible uses the word faith and, in fact, from Hebrews 11:1 comes a near definition of faith: It “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It is the “assurance” that is lacking in hopium.

Faith is a belief that leads to an action based on that belief.

Jesus had faith

Why was Jesus not concerned about the storm as He slept on the cushion in the boat? Because of the Word of God.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Psa 91:11-12)

His mission was needful for the salvation of mankind and He would not perish in a freak accident. His destiny was to die on Calvary’s cross. If you know that you will not perish, then the fear goes away.

The disciples did not seem to have such confidence. Even in awakening Jesus, there does not seem to be any pleading on their part to save them. No, it seems they are only astonished that He can sleep through such a storm. When Jesus asks them “if they still have no faith” perhaps he was wanting them to have faith as shown by the centurion in Luke 7.  (Luke 7 actually happens before the events in Mark 4 so the disciples would have known of this case too!)

Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant….And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (Luk 7:2-10 edit and emphasis mine)

This Centurion has simply heard about Jesus and, based on these reports, sent to ask for his servant to be healed. Such faith Jesus marveled at.

This is the type of faith that Jesus was looking for in His disciples. Had they come to Him saying “Lord, we have seen you heal the sick and lame and cast out demons, we believe that you can save us from this certain death”….the Question would never have been asked!

There are two things that we can take away from this passage.

One, the disciples who actually spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus had some real difficulties developing faith in Jesus so perhaps we have a little hope, those of us, who were not so blessed to spend time with Him, as we struggle to develop our faith. Still, we don’t want to be found without faith so that brings us to point two.

Two, we need to let our faith grow. Faith starts with hearing God’s word. Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” and from there we begin to let our faith grow.

Passages like the following show a process of growth. The word is our milk but it is also our meat and we can grow to understand it better and as we do, our faith, exercised allows us to see and act properly towards what is good and evil.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1Pe 2:2-3)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:12-14)

Faith requires action.

It cannot exist without it. Well, not the way the Bible uses it, at least. Faith without works is dead! (James 2:17) It is, put another way, Trusting Obedience. You trust and you obey. You believe and you act.

Do you still have no faith?

When you face questions like: Should I read  my Bible?; Should I be honest with other people?; Should I tell a little white lie?; Should I complain and gossip?  The Word of God will give you the answer but only your actions will show if you have faith. If you act appropriately, then you have faith. If you do not, then you do not have faith. Pretty simple.

Jesus wanted to know where their faith was? That is a good question for us to ask ourselves today. Do you still lack faith?

 

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Doubting God

So many people live a life of doubting God. They doubt He exists. They doubt He acts. They doubt He cares. They doubt He will punish the ungodly. There are many more things in which people express doubts about God.doubting God

To the Christian however, there is no doubt that He exists and it is not a blind faith that they rely on. They do not doubt that He acts because they know that not only can and does God act, He does it in His time…not man’s. They do not doubt that He cares because God’s Son died for us to show that God loves us and God continues to walk with us showing that He does indeed care. They do not doubt He will punish the ungodly and those who do not obey the Gospel so not only do they strive to live a godly life but they warn those that they can.

When you doubt God, you doubt the one being who is able to help your life be better. The sermon this morning dealt with this topic. You can listen to it here.

Living by faith-Being a good hearer

If Faith come by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), then it follows that we want to give everyone a chance to hear the word of God so that faith has an opportunity to develop.

However, the Bible tells us that there are different types of hearers: those who are hard of hearing, dull of hearing, having itching ears, and those who hear with a good and honest heart.

Sunday’s sermon discusses these different types of hearers and offers some suggestions on how to be a better hearer/listener. You can listen to the sermon online by clicking this link.

Living by Faith-Believing God’s promises

Of the many great things we can reflect on about Abraham’s life, his faith in God’s promises is an important one.

Living by faith involves believing what God says will happen. Sometimes, we don’t want to believe the promises and other times, we want to see promises which God never made.. Both are a problem.

Knowing the word of God will help us trust God’s promises. One or two examples will help illustrate.

God promised Abraham a son. That is God’s word. Sarah thought, perhaps, that God might need some help with that promise and so gave Abraham another wife, Hagar. That was not part of God’s promise. It caused more problems

Other times, we think we are acting on faith when God has given us no promise. If we refuse to bow down to an idol and God delivers us (cf Dan 3), the faith is NOT that God will deliver us from a fiery furnace but that God CAN DO SO if He chooses. Our Faith is in God’s word that says “Thou shalt not worship any idols” and previous statements that show God’s ability to deliver the righteous from the unrighteous. The subsequent obedience to God’s command to not worship an idol….now THAT is faith.

Perhaps I could use a modern day example. So many times in today’s sports, you will hear star players occasionally state that they had faith in God that they would win. If God had sent them a messenger and told them that they would win then such would be a true statement. But barring that, it is not true. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17) They surely had a desire but no assurance or evidence from God (Heb 11:1) that they WOULD win. Now playing a game in faith would involve being a good sportsman, playing by the rules, competing lawfully, etc and all of those actions are found in God’s word. One can play in faith and please God and yet not know that they will win-in fact, sometimes they lose.

We need to walk by faith in God’s promises. Let’s just be sure that we know what the actual promise is.

This sermon was presented on February 7th and you can listen to it here.

Living by faith-choose and refuse

In last Sunday’s morning lesson we continued our series on living by faith or walking by faith by looking at the sacrifices Moses made in choosing God.

Anyone who chooses to serve God is going to have give up something and may wind up suffering because of it. The problem is that we are often willing serve God as long as it doesn’t cost us anything….or at least not much of anything.

Are you one who will choose and refuse?  Choose God and His people, refuse the offers of Satan.

You can listen to the sermon by clicking this link.

Living by Faith-Heeding God’s warnings

As we live our life by faith, we need to recognize that part of that life involves listening to God’s warnings! Noah did and we can too.

Noah is our example of Listening to God’s warnings in our life of faith. Imagine building an ark to prepare for something that you had never seen and imagine the reactions of your neighbors.

God does not warn us to stay away from things because he doesn’t want us to have fun, He does it because He wants what is best for us. Will you listen to God’s warnings?

Which of God’s many warnings do you think is most important?

You can listen to last Sunday’s sermon on this topic here.

Living by Faith

And without Faith, it is impossible to please Him. Heb 11:6

What does it mean to live by faith? Are there examples of others living by faith which we can learn from? Of course there are! Tons!

Our afternoon lesson begins a series entitled “Living by Faith” and, after this introduction lesson will look the lives of some who we consider to be examples of “living by faith”

You can listen to the lesson here

What is Gossip?

gossipWhile many questions are hard to answer, this one I think is particularly hard. Because no one LIKES Gossip and no one wants to be guilty of it either.

This post is not to try and tell you what gossip is, the purpose is to ASK what gossip is. I want your definition. When you read this, please take a moment and jot down a comment, even if it is half a thought.   I am going to be preaching a sermon (or two) on gossip and want to see what others think about it.

Let me start with this: In First Corinthians, Paul starts off telling the Corinthians that he has heard bad things about them and he names Chloe’s house as the source of that information. Question: Why was that not gossip?

No, I am not accusing Paul of gossip. I am convinced that it was not and have my thoughts on why but would like yours.

Lord willing, in a few weeks, I will have a lesson together and yes, I will share! 🙂

Thanks in advance for any comments left here or on Facebook.

 

 

Three reasons to do good works

good worksIn wanting to develop a closer walk with God, it stands to reason that we would walk in the same ways that He does and do the same things.  As Amos asked “Can two walk together except they be agreed?

Of course, we understand that God’s ways are the only true and correct ways so if we want a closer relationship with Him, we will begin to act more and more like Him and become partakers of the Divine Nature.

Here is a list of three reasons why we should do good works. By doing good works  we will find ourselves more like God and more like Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38)

Reason #1: God receives the Glory by our good works.

We are not here to bring honor and praise to ourselves. It isn’t that God will not honor us but our lives should be ones that bring Glory to Him. By our good works, men will give glory to God.  (Matt 5:16) We show the type of people God wants us to be and who can be opposed to Godly love? We are to be proclaimers of His excellencies and as Christians, gratitude alone should be a motivator.

Reason #2: Unbelievers can become more receptive to the Gospel by our good works.

Peter tells wives who are married to unbelieving husbands to be respectful to these men and supposes that by their actions, not by their words, that these men may won to the Faith.  (I Peter 3:1-2)  The love of a Christian spouse can be a powerful force but it doesn’t have to be only spouses. As we move among the world, we can turn people away from God if we live like the world but we can also draw them to Him by our good works as we become a type of  salt to the world.

Reason #3: The type of Faith we have is demonstrated by our good works. (James 2:14-17)

If you want to know what your faith is made of, consider how you deal with adversities, trials, and persecutions. Do you get angry over small things? Do you lose your temper if someone cuts you off on the road? Do you show by your good works that you trust God to provide for you? If our faith can stand up under the bumps and bruises that life brings our ways, it is a lasting faith indeed.

What are some other reasons why you think we should do good works? Leave your comments below!

Additionally, here is a link to a sermon that speaks to these topic.

7 Scriptures that encourage us to read the Bible often, if not daily

Bible coverIf I were to ask you to describe the activities of a good Christian, you would no doubt mention actions such as praying and reading the Bible often. Of course, often for some people is every day, others several times a week, others read a chapter or two a day.

Today, and ever since the Gutenberg press was invented, we have truly been living in an age of feasting, if only we would come to the meal. The Bible is there and it is available for us to read, to meditate upon and to nourish us. There are many proverbial reasons that can be given to encourage us to read daily but what does the Bible say?

I will list 7 scriptures but want to hear from you what your favorite passages are.

  1. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Scriptures serves many purposes in our lives: Reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness but at the end of it, the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work by the Scriptures. Don’t be ill-equipped, Read!
  2. Deuteronomy 17:18-20 The King of Israel was instructed not just to write himself a copy of the law but to read from it every day. Leaders (ministers, elders, etc.) especially need the promise of this passage. Reading God’s word will keep us oriented, on the right path, and most of all, Humble!
  3. Amos 8:11 God warned of  a famine of His word among His people. He would take away the prophets and His words because they wouldn’t listen to Him. Today, we have great access to God’s word. If you don’t read it, you create your own famine. Who is worse off? The person who can read and doesn’t or the person who can’t read at all?
  4. Psalms 1  More than just reading God’s word, meditating on it is important. If you don’t wrestle with the application of it in your life, you may just think “Mmmm, nice thought” and go on with your life unchanged. Meditate and prosper!
  5. Acts 17:11 The process of learning is also a process of searching the Scriptures. We have so many people who will tell us what God wants of us but until we begin the process of examining their (teaching/motto/philosophy) with God’s word, we won’t be able to know if it is Godly or only sounds Godly.
  6. Psalms 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to God’s word.  When we pray “lead us not into temptation” many times God is saying ” I am trying to tell you but you won’t listen”. Reading God’s word instructs in both the ways of righteousness and the ways of error.
  7. Psalm 19:10-11 They are more valuable than gold and silver. When we truly bring the world of God into our lives and allow it to be written on our hearts, we find true wealth and contentment beyond the rat race of this world and its egotistical purposes.

So much more could be said on each of these passages. They are worthy of a blog post all their own and may yet get them.

Question: What Bible verse(s) help you draw the conclusion that Christians ought to read God’s word often…or even every day?

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