Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Such great faith—Crazy faith

August 5, 2017

Matthew 8--10

A recent blog post focused on Hebrews 11:1 and verse 6 as the Verse of the Day and offered comments regarding faith, some of which are excerpted here:

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, as we discover that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!”  Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible.  We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.”

As believers, we sometimes encounter circumstances that seem impossible, and our response is that we know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to our positive expectations with, “That’s crazy!” We know, however, that we walk by faith and not by sight, and we counter with “That’s not crazy. . . That just means we have ‘crazy faith.’”

Dennis Marquardt, states, “Crazy faith is the kind of faith that will respond to God in obedience no matter how crazy it may seem at the moment!  It is the kind of faith that CAN remove mountains, and even more amazingly, it can move man!”

When asked what he means by “crazy faith,” Faithwriter Larry King, offers this definition: “Crazy faith is when you simply refuse to let what you perceive –that is, your circumstances, your situations, your trials, tests and obstacles – interfere with what you believe.”

Bishop Charles Mellette states that walking by faith in such conditions, “. . . doesn’t make sense, but it does make great faith.” “Crazy faith,” I might add.

For an illustration of such “crazy faith” in the Bible, let us look at an individual who is not listed in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. In fact, this person is an altogether unlikely candidate who is described as having “great faith.” In the context in which the designation was spoken, you might characterize the person as having “crazy faith.” The centurion in Matthew 8 comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal the man’s servant. In response, the Lord says that he will come and do as he asks. Matthew 8:7-10 reveals the exchange between the two of them:

 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied to Him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority [of a higher rank], with soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with anyone in Israel.

With his belief that Jesus Christ had but to speak the word and the results that the officer desired would come to pass, the centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

The following poem uses Matthew 8:10 as its introductory verse or epigraph and also makes reference to a question asked by Jesus Christ in Luke 8:8b: “. . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Such Great Faith

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed,

Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,

not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10 (KJV)

 

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,

When the Lord returns, will he find faith on the earth?

When He appraises our faith, what will it be worth?

When all is said and done, may we add our measure,

Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed.

Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,

May our faith be found so pure that nothing defiles.

May we be living by faith in word and in deed,

For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.

May such great faith descend from the centurion

To the faithful ones who bear this criterion:

Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.

We will still be walking by faith, not by what we see,

While pressing toward the mark, reaching toward our destiny.

 

We conclude with John Waller and his rendition of “Crazy Faith.”

What faith can do

July 26, 2017

The Verse of the Day for July 26, 2017 comes from Hebrews 11:1. Whenever I read or hear this verse, invariably my mind goes back to a Wednesday Youth Night at Camp Gray, a Presbyterian camp in Saugatuck, MI. When the request came forth for a young person to deliver a short inspirational message, I volunteered. As a rising sophomore in high school, back in the day, I put together my first Bible teaching, choosing the topic of “faith.” Using the Bible and study material of one of the camp counselors who was a seminary student, I focused on the two verses from Hebrews that have contributed immeasurably to the foundation of faith upon which I have built my life:

Hebrews 11: 1, 6 [Amplified Bible]:

[The Triumphs of Faith] Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

6 But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.

A previous blog post focusing on faith and its importance in my life offered some of the following comments:

Faith can be said to be a kind of sine qua non, an indispensable condition, element, or factor; an indispensable ingredient. These verses remind believers that faith is essential to building and maintaining a solid relationship with God, for without it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith, introduces an array of individuals who accomplished great spiritual exploits as they walked by faith. Likewise, as we progress in our walk of faith, we learn that faith must be the firm foundation upon which we build. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, as we discover that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.” Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is our sure foundation.

Without question, faith is an essential element of our lives as Christian believers. Reflecting further upon the Verse of the Day and other related scriptures inspired the following poetic response:

Faith is What it Takes

Even the righteousness of God
which is by faith of Jesus Christ
unto all and upon all them that believe:
for there is no difference:
Romans 3:22

What does it take to gain more than we can conceive?
We have the measure of faith–God says we have it.
Great promises are ours if we only believe.
Having received the title deed, our deposit,
We have the faith of Jesus Christ, so give God praise.
This faith will take us where only the brave dare go,
To a place where rivers of understanding flow;
A faith to move mountains and excel all our days.
Though we are mature, we have the heart of a child,
Ever striving to become more faithful and true;
Not stained by malice but open, ardently wild
In our passion to please God in all we say and do.
Cleansed by the Blood and forgiven of past mistakes,
To stand boldly before Him, faith is what it takes.

The contemporary Christian music group Kutless also reminds us of “What Faith Can Do.”

By faith: the measure of faith

July 1, 2017


The Verse of the Day for July 1, 2017 is found in Romans 12:3:

Here is the New Living Testament:

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

The King James Version renders the verse this way:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

The Verse of the Day exhorts us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Just how highly ought we to think of ourselves? We should recognize that each believer has been given “the measure of faith.” The reference to “the measure of faith” then raises a couple of questions: How much faith do you have? How much do you need? Exactly what is that measure? It is the faith of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:22 makes this statement regarding our righteous standing before God:

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

According to Galatians 2:16, we can stand in the presence of God, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

By the faith of Jesus Christ we have access to the promises of God, as Galatians 3:22 reveals:
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Part of the powerful prayer offered in Ephesians 3:16-21 expresses God’s desire that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The same faith by which Jesus Christ was raised from the dead is implanted in each believer who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead. That is the measure of faith, and though it is only the size of a grain of mustard seed, it is more than enough.

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him, but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness.
Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:
Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,
Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.
Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,
The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.
We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.
Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.
We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,
For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.
Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,
For whatever we desire according to the Word,
We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.
For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.
God is faithful who has promised to give all that we need:
A measure of faith the size of a grain of mustard seed.

Jeremy Camp offers “Walk by Faith” to conclude our comments.

Wisdom and faith

May 19, 2017

James 3--17-18 2.jpg

Taken from James 3:17-18 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for May 19, 2017 lists a number of the attributes of the wisdom that descends from above:

But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].

In reflecting upon and considering deeply this celebrated section from the Book of James, thoughts also came to mind regarding a recent blog entry related to “redeeming the time” which mentioned the concept of “walking in wisdom.” The expression is used in Colossians 3:5-6

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Another most enlightening scripture regarding this concept is found in Ephesians 5:15 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise.

The New King James Version puts it this way:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,

In this instance the term “To walk circumspectly” means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”  Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

In addition, I recall a series of blog entries related to faith, the essential element in the life of a believer, described in this way:

“For me, faith is the bedrock of my life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that I will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

This poetic reminder blends the exhortation to “walk in wisdom” with the expression “walk by faith”:

Wisdom and Faith

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,  

but in the power of God.

I Corinthians 2:5     

 

Through words of wisdom and faith, we call forth blessing

Upon blessing to overtake us and abound.

We forget the past, pursue the goal, progressing

Until all who love His appearing will be crowned.

Through wisdom and faith we call forth that which is not,

And walk by faith just as Abraham, our father,

The father of all who still believe, no matter what.

Despite all we see, we are not weak but stronger,

As we align our lives with the coming Kingdom.

Through the Blood of the Lamb and our testimony

We overcome by faith and the power of Christ’s wisdom,

For nothing can deter us from our destiny.

We walk by faith and in wisdom, displaying power within

And press toward the mark, the prize we are destined to win.

We conclude with “Wisdom Song” by Laura Woodley Osman

Faith is a journey

April 24, 2017

Within the past several weeks, a number of Quotes of the Day as well as Verses of the Day have focused on faith. In addition, faith continues to be a topic of importance in that Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC has been teaching a series related to faith. From the series a metaphor emerged which described “faith as a journey.”

In addition, I discussed a related quote “Faith is a journey; when you start, you can’t quit.” Bishop Mellette also make the following statements to corroborate this point:

“Faith is not an experience—Faith is a journey. . . Your faith is coming and growing,” as he also shared 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,

He also shared Romans 10:17:

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

He went on to say, “Your faith grows exceedingly—Faith is progressive . . . It involves a process. It is ongoing. God is not your previous experience. . . God is your new beginning, as we are living our faith every day.”

In a previous blog post on faith, I commented on the significance of faith in my life as a believer, as I recalled that my first Bible teaching shared at a Youth Night service at a church camp in high school centered on faith, as I explored Hebrews 11:1, and verse 6. More than 50 years later when I was required to write my personal testimony to share with students whom I taught at Indiana Wesleyan University, I entitled my sharing “My Journey of Faith”

One of Bishop Mellette’s teachings related specifically to “Faith as a journey” and inspired the following poem:

 On Our Journey . . . The Journey Continues

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

“Strengthened for the Journey”

 

“And now I cause you to begin even a new journey. . .

The journey has already begun.”

Apostle John Tetsola

 

We are steadfast– our souls remain anchored in hope,

Eagerly watching and waiting, looking above.

Feeling during dark times that we can barely cope,

But seasons swiftly change, for we have come to know

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.

Despite appearances, God has the last say so.

Once more we seek to serve, to go where we are sent

That our lives should reflect the praise of His glory,

The finishing touch on your crowning achievement:

The surprise happy ending of this love story

When all creation finally gets back to being one,

Even as with Father, Holy Spirit, and Son.

The perfect will of God unfolds for all to see,

As we begin each new day on our journey.

Recently while developing an online American Literature course for Carolina College of Biblical Studies, I incorporated the same metaphor: “Life is a journey of discovery,” as a theme revealed in a variety of literary works by American authors. Students also explore their personal feelings, thoughts, and reactions evoked from the various readings as they intersect with each individual’s quest to find his or her personal identity.

The course points out one of the universal concerns of humanity is the quest for identity. Every individual seeks to find out “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose in life?” Life can be viewed as a “Journey of Faith,” the  quest to discover our true identity as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In thinking about this concept, a meaningful song comes to mind to remind us to take joy in each phase of our ongoing journey of discovery.

Michael Card offers “Joy in the Journey”:

Faith and the presence of God

March 24, 2017

Psalm 91--1 new

In keeping with the recent series of the Quote of the Day, here is another quote related to faith for March 24, 2017:

“Wherever faith is, God’s presence is there.”

In reflecting on this statement, Psalm 91 came to mind, as to where believers desire to remain and ever abide:

Psalm 91 (NKJV)

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Our desire to ever remain in the presence of God is also expressed this way:

To Abide in God’s Presence

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore

Psalm 16:11

To abide in God’s presence is our utmost desire.

So moved by compassion, we marvel and admire

This passion to pursue the Lord, in whom we delight,

Bringing such joy and peace to comfort us through the night.

Our love for the Lord Jesus Christ burns as a fire.

Clothed in righteousness, garments of praise are our attire.

We seek to do God’s will and all that He may require.

We meditate on the Word of God both day and night

To abide God’s presence.

Touched by the Master’s hand, we are whole and entire.

We have learned to trust God who is our sole supplier.

Challenges confront those who seek to do what is right,

But beyond the dark is the golden edge of daylight.

The dawning of each new day reveals our desire

To abide in God’s presence.

Esther Mui offers this moving rendition of Psalm 91: My God, In Him I Will Trust:

The measure of faith

July 1, 2016

Romans 12--3

From a previous post comes this revised and re-posted entry:

Romans 12:3 (NLT) is the source of the Verse of the Day for July 1, 2016:

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

The King James Version renders the verse this way:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Faith is a subject of great importance to me. I recall that faith was the topic of the first Bible teaching that I ever did when I volunteered to teach at a Youth Night service during a summer camp prior to my sophomore year in high school. A few years ago, I was asked what faith means to me, and I crafted this statement:

Defining faith: what do you mean by faith?

To build a magnificent mansion that will last a lifetime, the builders must begin with a solid foundation. Similarly, to build a purposeful life of success and fulfillment, we must establish a firm foundation upon which we build. For the Christian believer faith is the bedrock of life. Faith is defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction that those who trust in God will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Faith is a Sine qua non—that without which there is nothing. Faith is the indispensable ingredient in a successful Christian life. The Scriptures remind us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

In the midst thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “I can and I will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than you can number, faith gives you courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible. We begin with Abraham, “the father of faith,” who did not stagger at the promise of God that he should become the father of many nations, with descendants without number. Despite the circumstances of this hundred-year-old man with a barren wife of comparable age, Abraham grew strong and was empowered by faith. Hebrews 11 recounts the triumphs of men and women of faith in what has become known as the “Hall of Faith.”

Aside from the Bible, we can glean from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. The list is endless of individuals who persevered in faith to accomplish the impossible. We are also surrounded by “real heroes” who live by faith each day to make a difference.

Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. Indeed, for believers, faith is our solid foundation. Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is the Christian’s sure foundation.

The Verse of the Day exhorts us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Just how highly ought we to think of ourselves? We should recognize that each believer has been given “the measure of faith.” The reference to “the measure of faith” then raises a couple of questions: How much faith do you have? How much do you need? Exactly what is that measure? It is the faith of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22 makes this statement regarding our righteous standing before God:

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

According to Galatians 2:16, we can stand in the presence of God, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

By the faith of Jesus Christ we have access to the promises of God, as Galatians 3:22 reveals:

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

The same faith by which Jesus Christ was raised from the dead is implanted in each believer who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead. That is the measure of faith, and though it is only the size of a grain of mustard seed, it is more than enough.

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God is faithful who has promised to give all that we need:

A measure of faith the size of a grain of mustard seed.

John-Micah of the contemporary Christian music group Kutless offers an explanation of how the group selected “What Faith Can Do” and what faith means to believers.

Unflappable 2: more in store

May 30, 2016

Psalm 1--3

A couple of days ago, instead of sharing the Verse of the Day, I chose to share the Word for the Day on May 27, 2016  when we looked at the word  “unflappable” and noted how it applied to us. After reviewing my notes and upon further reflection, I have chosen to continue the discussion of this distinctive adjective and other related terms. We, thus, have “Unflappable 2—more in store” on the Word for the Day on May 29, 2016.

Take a look at this definition of the term on  YouTube:

The previous blog entry also mentioned the term “unflappability”, a character trait demonstrated by those who remain composed and having sound judgment at all times, being impossible to fluster. An individual described as being unflappable exemplifies “unflappability”: remaining composed and level-headed at all times, being impossible to fluster.

Other related terms include the adjective “un·flapped,” meaning not upset or confused, unperturbed. Some additional forms include nouns “unflappability” and “unflappableness,” along with the adverb “unflappably.”

Following the initial post on “unflappable,” I reviewed some notes from a previous teaching that I had heard, and I came an acrostic that I had composed in connection with four attributes of spirits of wickedness: Fear, Lust, Anger, and Pride.

Often when these negative emotions are stirred up in situations that believers encounter, we become anything but “unflappable” under circumstances where we should remain confident and assured, unmoved, but we fail to maintain our state of “unflappability.” In such situations we need to respond to the tactics of the adversary of our souls and “unflap” the enemy by moving in the opposite spirit. Although you cannot find the verb “unflap” in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, I am coining the term and using it in a spiritual context.

We “unflap” the enemy by learning to be unflappable. To come out of the cave—those dark caverns of our minds that the enemy constantly seeks to lure us into, we must move in the opposite direction and “FLIP the FLAP.” When we encounter Fear, we move forward in Faith; In situations where Lust abounds, we respond with Love; Where we find “Anger” we walk away “In Peace”; Where Pride seeks to dominate, we counter with a “Pure heart of Humility:

Fear to Faith

Fear is said to be the only thing that defeats the promises of God. In a recent blog entry posted on Friday the thirteen, I commented that expression, “Do not fear” or some variation of “Fear not” occurs 365 times in the Bible, corresponding to a daily memo from God to have no fear. When we encounter the precursors of doubt and worry that too often culminate in fear, recall the comforting exhortation to Philippians 4:6

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

We, of course, recall the acronym for fear: “false evidence appearing real” recognize that evidence is something that is seen Instead of reacting in fear, based on what we see, as believers must learn to act or move out in faith which is defined In Hebrew 11:

Hebrews 11:1, 6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Lust to Love

In the ongoing spiritual battle that confronts believers every day, we endeavor to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Titus 3:3 (NLT) reminds us:

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) offers this reminder of the source of lusts or inordinate affections, excessive inner yearnings that draw us away from God’s heart:

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

In the same way that love is the perfect antidote to fear, in that perfect love casts out all fear, Love also counters Lusts.

Anger to abiding  “In Peace”

In the midst of times of intense pressure and opposition, situations that we encounter may arouse anger within us, but the Psalmist exhorts us:

Psalm 4:4

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah

Psalm 37:8(NLT) repeats this message:

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.

How about this statement from Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB):

Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.

James 1:19 (NIV) offers these words of wisdom:

[Listening and Doing] My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

When we find ourselves in midst of situations that generate anger, we counter anger when we walk “In Peace.” The lines from the spiritual assure us:

We shall walk through the valley in peace;
we shall walk through the valley in peace.

Refrain:
If Jesus himself shall be our leader,
we shall walk through the valley in peace

The first blog entry discussing “unflappable” spoke of maintaining the peace of God in stressful situations whereby believers learn to “Hold Your Peace.” Without question, the peace of God only comes from the God of Peace through His Son, the Prince of Peace.

Pride to “Pure Heart of Humility”:

Pride, the most dangerous of emotions, if left unchecked, can lead to destruction, as indicated in the closing lines of “Dangerous Emotions”:

Each deadly emotion yields deadly consequence.

Pride, described as the most dangerous of them all,

Leads to destruction and goes before a downfall.

In thinking about pride, I recall the first poem that I wrote, long before I recognized my poetic inclination and seriously pursued developing the poet’s craft and art. As a sophomore in college, I enrolled in a poetry appreciation course taught by a well-known poet and teacher who asked the class to write a couplet, and these two lines came to mind:

Beware, Pride locks the heart and keeps the key.

Take care that Pride has not a lock on thee.

Among the seven negative attributes that God hates, “indeed, seven are repulsive to Him” . . .  the first being “A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Those who walk in pride are despised in God’s eyes, but those who walk with a pure heart in humility bring a smile to God’s face: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Proverbs 18:12 tell us:

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

More than 40 years after the first couplet that I wrote regarding pride, I wrote another two lines with this message:

We know that when we touch the heart of God,

We show that true humility is the key.

As believers each time we “flip the flap” and move in the opposite spirit when confronted by Satan and the forces of evil, we “unflap” the enemy and score a victory: Now thanks be unto Christ who always causes us to triumph in Christ, thus being “unflappable” each time.

To close out our discussion of “unflappable” here is “Tree” by Justin Rizzo, inspired by Psalm 1, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory and which expresses my ultimate desire and prayer to be like the man so described:

 

 

 

 

Faith, our foundation: Great faith

May 1, 2016

Hebrews 11--1,6

The Verse of the Day for May 1, 2016 is a scripture that is particularly meaningful to me, in that it is one of two scriptures that I used in the first Bible teaching that I conducted at youth camp when I was a rising high school sophomore:

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV):

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

In this instance, faith, then can be said to be a kind of sine qua non, an indispensable condition, element, or factor; an essential ingredient. This verse reminds believers that faith is essential to building and maintaining a solid relationship with God, for without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith, introduces an array of individuals who accomplished great spiritual exploits, as they walked by faith. Likewise, as we progress in our walk of faith, we learn that faith must be the firm foundation upon which we build. A number of years ago, I was asked write out my definition of faith and relate its application. Here is an excerpt from a statement entitled “Faith—the Bedrock of Our Lives”:

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, while discovering that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

In the midst thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t,” but faith proclaims, “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.” Indeed, faith is our solid foundation. Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is our sure foundation.

Many years subsequent to my first teaching on faith, I was asked to share on faith and in the process of preparing to teach, I looked closely at individuals were described as having “great faith”, and I examined a question raised by  Jesus Christ,who wonders will he find faith when he returns. Both passages inspired the following poem which has since been modified and seems to be appropriate to add to our discussion at this point:

Will He Find Faith?

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said

to those who followed

“Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,

not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10

And shall not God avenge his own elect,

which cry day and night unto him,

though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,

shall he find faith on the earth?

Luke 17:7-8

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,
When the Lord returns will he find faith on the earth?
When He appraises our faith, what will it be worth?
When all is said and done, may we add our measure,
Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed.
Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,
May our faith be found so pure that nothing defiles.
May we be living by faith in word and in deed,
For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.
May such great faith descend from the centurion
To the faithful ones who bear this criterion:
Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.
We will still be walking by faith, not by what we see,
While pressing toward the mark, reaching toward our destiny.

Contemporary musical artists, Kutless, offer this remarkable reminder: “That’s what faith can do.”

Prayer for the New Year

January 2, 2016

Psalm 90--12On January 2, 2016 the Verse of the Day for January 2, 2014 makes a request:

Psalm 90:12

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

The King James Version provides this familiar expression:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

In thinking about applying wisdom to our lives, we recognize that wisdom is not a static entity; it is not a trophy to be displayed with pride, but wisdom connotes action, being something that must be applied. The Psalmist further states, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when will you come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart (Psalm 101:2).
In the Book of Proverbs we find two references to a synonymous phrase for “applying our hearts unto wisdom,” and they are “walking in wisdom” or “to walk as the wise”:

Proverbs 13:20

He who walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 28:26

He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered.

Two of the most enlightening scriptures regarding walking in wisdom occur in the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:15

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

To walk circumspectly, means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”

Colossians 4:5 instructs believers to

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”

Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

The Scriptures remind us that not only must we be “walking in wisdom,” but we also should be “walking by faith.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 in the Amplified Bible makes known this truth:

For we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]—

These two vital concepts of wisdom and faith merge in the following expression of our heart’s desire as we move into this unfolding New Year:

Wisdom and Faith

“Through words of wisdom and faith, I call forth blessing to come upon me and overtake me.”
Patricia King

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:5

Through words of wisdom and faith, we call forth blessing

Upon blessing to overtake us and abound,

As we press toward the mark, while each day progressing

Until all who love His appearing will be crowned.

Through wisdom and faith, we call forth that which is not,

As though it were and follow faithful Abraham,

The father of all who still believe, no matter what.

We each declare “I am all that God says I am”

And align our lives in synch with the coming Kingdom.

Through the Blood of the Lamb and our testimony

We overcome by faith and the power of Christ’s wisdom,

For nothing can deter us from our destiny.

We press toward the mark, the prize we are destined to win,

By faith, hand in hand with wisdom, her gracious twin.

Bob Fitts sings our heart’s request: “Teach us O Lord to number our days”: