The Path to Faith
Someone recently asked me how I came to believe.
Interesting question. In my case, like many people, I had what might be called an “inherited childhood faith,” but inherited faith is not sufficient for life. When, as a young adult, I had that crisis of faith that comes to most if not all of us, I considered the world religions and saw one difference in faith in Jesus – the historical evidence that he actually arose from the dead. His tomb was empty on that third day. Otherwise, his enemies would have paraded his decaying body publicly to prove that he was still dead.
And then there is this “evidence from within.” God promised that we would find Him if we seek Him with all our hearts. John talks about the true light that “true light to everyone” (John 1:9). Paul talks about the “faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3). We need only to be genuine seekers of truth at all costs, and He will reveal Himself to our inner person.
But where do we go from there? If Jesus really is who He says He is, then He will have kept for us Scripture that is essential for following Him. I must, therefore, listen to those early disciples and to the prophets to whom Jesus Himself referred and allow His Spirit to enter me and change me, rather than allowing my desires to rule my life.
That’s where I found peace and an increase of faith.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Verse 10
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Verse 11
This is the only path to genuine heart-filled peace. Turn to Him with whatever faith is within you, however little. Choose to trust Him. Listen to Him speak both through the words of Scripture, and in that inner nudge within you. Joy and peace will continually grow within you.
Declare His Word over your spirit, emotions, and circumstances. Believe them, and let your faith in God arise, redeem and make you new.
“Be joyful in Hope”
The Bible is a book of hope.
Depression moves in rapidly if we lose hope.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). That’s good!
“Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land” (Psalm 37:9). I like that too!
“God gave us eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Gave us? Then let’s pause and receive.
“I have put my hope in your word” (Psalm 119:147). Yes, Lord. Give me a continual hunger for more of Your Word.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you (Ephesians 1:18). There is a call of God on your life. Joy comes abundantly as we find that place to which we have been called and walk in His will. I pray that for you today.
“Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope” (Romans 5:3-4). I have not spent much time pondering the progression of suffering to hope, but when we walk with the Lord, suffering that is surrendered to Him ultimately produces character. But also continues with hope.
“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
So – “may the God of hope fill [all of us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Pause. Pray. Surrender. And get so full of hope that you overflow to everyone around you.
We followers of Jesus are to be the world’s ultimate optimists.
Often, I ponder the me of the past and the me of the present. I am continually
overwhelmed at the goodness of God, and I hope you do that also.
Not even Martha, after those 64 years of marriage, ever totally could perceive of my
crazy inferiority complexes and insecurities of my early years – which would often
show up even in later years. For example, I was 33 years of age when I began studies
at Vanderbilt. The opening day on campus I walked into the library to take a look
around and was so taken aback by the vastness of the card catalogue, that I could
not even walk up to a librarian to ask a question. I was afraid my total stupidity
would show up. I had to go outside and walk around awhile to pick up the courage
to go back and ask some questions.
I was petrified going into crowds where I knew no one or almost no one.
Through all those years, I found that insecurity and feelings of inferiority are not
Godly, but an inordinate focus on self. I found that kindness to those around me,
genuine interest in them, God interest in them outweighed any godless self-focus.
That’s why I enjoy remembering the time when the transvestite visited the Saturday
evening assembly, and God rose up inside me with love for him as I walked over to
express my great joy to welcome him to Belmont Church.
I am astonished amazed awed grateful for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s keep turning our hearts to God and live out that Jesus-focused, Holy Spirit
empowered life with family, friends, and casual acquaintances, and let God take over
and do with it what He will.
We are in a new season. God is into seasons. I began talking to the Lord recently about this “transition time,” pondering where, in Scripture, He might give us insights for such seasons. My mind immediately went to the opening verses of Joshua when God challenged Joshua about the new season in his life. Moses had died, and Joshua was now in charge. Listen to some of God’s words and make the application to your own life:
- “Moses is dead.” Well, of course Joshua knew that. Israel had mourned Moses’ death for thirty days, but God is making a point,
- “Joshua, resist the temptation to live in the past. Move ahead in strength.” Get ready… I am about to give to you… No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.” Anticipate future victories.
- “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Live in His Presence.
- “Be strong and courageous.” Do not be limited to your own view of who you are. Accept God’s assessment of who you are and who are destined to be.
- “Keep this book on your lips…meditate on it day and night.” Daily absorb more of His Word, and allow His Spirit to massage His truth into your inner being.”
- “You will be prosperous and successful…Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Live in expectation of blessings even in the hard times. Resist fear and discouragement through the help of His Spirit.
- “The Lord is with you wherever you go.”
May 2018 be one of the best if not the best year of your life. For Jesus-followers, the best is always ahead.
Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas!
The Chanukah-Christmas season is an interesting season – a “connect” season
between the Old and New Testament scriptures. Though it is a Jewish holiday, there
is no mention of Chanukah in the Old Testament. The only biblical reference to
Chanukah is in the New Testament in John’s Gospel: “Then came the Festival of
Dedication (translated ‘Chanukah’ in the footnote of most of our Bibles). It was
winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade” (John
Chanukah celebrates the second-century- before-Jesus victory of the Maccabees over
the pagan ruler Antiochus Epiphanes. The only possible Old Testament reference to
the occasion is a prophecy by Daniel, describing the time when a godless ruler
would arise and “set up an abomination that causes desolation” in the Temple “until
the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (9:27). Antiochus did exactly that. He
sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple and brought into the Temple the vilest of
Without Chanukah, there would be no Christmas. If the Maccabees had not
overthrown this pagan ruler, the Jewish family would have been wiped out and
God’s promise of a World Redeemer through Israel’s Messiah would have been
In this season of celebrating the Jewish victory and the Jewish Messiah Who has
become our Savior, let us thank God for His continued victory over evil, and the
assurance that all His promises will come to fruition.
Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas!
Let Scripture reign and let blessings flow!
Yes, I am overjoyed that President Trump has acknowledged and declared what God declared 3000 years ago, that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel. Though our congress made this acknowledgement in 1995, earlier presidents, regardless of their good intentions have been ruled by fear, and kept signing extensions, thus refusing to establish the US Embassy in the capital city of this, our closest ally in the Middle East.
Yes, I am watching the news closely in the next few days, believing that the words of God to Abraham 4000 years ago will become a reality in the lives of our nation: that God will bless those who bless Abraham’s God-chosen descendants through whom the entire world has been and will be blessed (See Genesis 12:1-3).
I am praying for our nation, especially for impending Supreme Court decisions, that Godly decisions will be made, also praying against the raging wildfires in California, praying that as a result of President Trump’s courageous decision to affirm and bless the world’s host nation and city, we will be blessed.
Join me in prayer, asking the Lord to confirm His Word through blessing our nation.
Life in Isaac and Rebekah’s home was not always pleasant. For the first twenty years of their marriage, Rebekah was barren. Then she conceived the twins, Jacob and Esau, and the Lord told Rebekah that “the older would serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Isaac obviously was not convinced that Rebekah had heard from God, since he was about to give the rights of the firstborn to his brother Esau. The intrigues of the household increased by Rebekah’s ruse and Jacob’s lies that put him before his father saying, “I am Esau your firstborn.” All this so enraged Esau that Jacob had to flee to his uncle Laban to survive.
On his way to Laban, Jacob had a God-encounter in which God Himself promised Jacob that he was indeed the inheritor of the promises given to his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac. God would raise up the promised descendants and through him all families of the earth would be blessed.
Fast forward twenty years, Jacob and his family now are returning to his ultimate homeland. Fear of Esau’s former rage still lingers and Jacob sends all kinds of gifts of appeasement, then finds himself alone in the still of the night.
A “Man” (later called “God,” see Geneses 32:30], began wrestling with him, but Jacob knew it was another God-encounter. “Let me go!” the “Man” cried. “I will not let You go until You bless me,” Jacob boldly responded.
“What’s your name?” the “Man” probed. “And [in shock of realization, whispering he said, ‘Jacob’ [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]” (Amplified Version).
And God said, “Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed” (Verse 28).
There are times when God wrestles with us and wants us to win the wrestling match. He wants us to hold on to His promises so tightly that we will “not let Him go until He blesses us,” until He assures us that the promise is indeed ours.
As we/you find promises in His Word, He wants us to hold them tight even when we see no possibility of their being implemented. Twenty years had transpired since Jacob had personally received the promise from God and no fulfillment, but God had not forgotten.
What promises have you received? Are you willing to wrestle with God, and “not let Him go” until those promises become reality?
If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given you.
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt because the one who doubts
is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
How many times have I read this promise? Dozens, hundreds, probably more, but this morning I paused and let the promise sink into my spirit. I need wisdom, and the Lord promises me wisdom by simply asking and believing. Jesus Himself said on another occasion, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).
I need wisdom, lots of wisdom. I cannot live life well without God’s wisdom. Every relationship I have needs wisdom. So I am choosing to believe that I will see, feel, and sense God’s Presence both in the asking and in the walking it out.
And – in case we need even more incentive for asking, listen to what kind of wisdom we will receive: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17).”
I can feel myself relaxing and sighing deeply as I trust God to give me this kind of wisdom. Not stressful, anxious, or self-willed, but kind, pure, and merciful.
Let’s all pause and ask for wisdom.
Then expect to receive.
And walk forward in confidence and peace.
Have a good week.
October 31 is now past, but I need to tell you some of God’s timing that I did not know until this trip to Israel.
Most of us probably did know that this date was the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s action that helped to trigger the reformation. Five hundred years ago on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle cathedral that sparked a major revival among believers. It was a revival that led to reclaiming the clear teaching of Scripture that faith is “credited… as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
What you probably did not know, and we did not know until recently, is that on this same date in 1917, an 800 Australian/New Zealand horse brigade mounted the charge against the Ottoman Turks to retake Beersheba, which led later to General Allenby being able to retake Jerusalem.
Not only that, the Balfour Declaration also happened at this same time 100 years ago when “His Majesty…” the king of England, through his foreign minister Balfour, spoke positively about creating a homeland for the Jewish people. All of which led to the United Nations decision in November of 1947 (70 years ago) and the reestablishment of the nation in May of 1948.
I heard some one say one time that “when God’s timing and God’s promise intersect, God intervenes, and looks for those who will participate with Him in what He is doing in that generation” (the opening chapters of the God’s Promise and the Future of Israel book).
We are living in God’s timing. Let us be careful to participate in what He is doing in this generation.