Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Faith: The bedrock of my life

May 1, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 1, 2021 reminds us of God’s response to those who earnestly seek Him, found in Hebrews 11:6 in the Amplified Bible:

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.

The verse also brings to mind the importance of faith in my life, as I recall the first Bible teaching that  I ever shared as a sophomore in high school, 64 years ago when I was inspired to use Hebrews 11:1 and verse 6 as starting points. Now, I recognize full-well the importance of faith in an even more life-transforming way. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share my holistic strategy to overcome a diagnosis of prostate cancer more than 20 years ago. Chapter 6, “The Faith Factor: Without Faith, It Is Impossible,” discusses faith as a critical component of my response to the diagnosis. Here is an excerpt:

Faith—the Bedrock of My Life

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 me, faith is the bedrock of life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust, and conviction in God 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.

Faith is a Sine qua non—that without which there is nothing. Faith is the indispensable ingredient in a successful Christian’s 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 of 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 the 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.”

We can find excellent examples of illustrations of faith in 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. Notable examples are the Wright Brothers and countless others, who persevered in faith to accomplish the impossible. We are also surrounded by heroic men and women who live by faith each day to make a difference.

Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. Indeed, as Christian 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 our sure foundation.

We close with this musical reminder by Kutless: “What Faith Can Do”

To learn more about faith and my life’s journey, checkout Embracing Your Life Sentence

Available on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.

Faith is…

July 26, 2019

The Verse of the Day for July 26, 2019, introduces a scripture that has become a keystone of my life.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT):

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Here is the more familiar (at least to me)  King James Version:

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

As a sophomore in high school, I memorized this verse along with Hebrews 11:6 as the text for my first Bible teaching. Since that time, faith has become a life-sustaining factor. Last year I published Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, where I shared my holistic strategy in response to being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. Chapter 6 offers an extended definition of faith and talks of its importance in my life. Here is an excerpt from “The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .”:

Watchman Nee, early 20th Century church leader and teacher in China, describes the life of each believer in this way: “The Christian journey, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” As we journey through life, we encounter challenges designed to build our faith. As believers, we are on a journey that takes us from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory as we pursue the will of God for our lives.

Romans 1:17 reminds us of this truth:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Throughout my encounter with prostate cancer, I was keenly aware of the importance of faith, in that this diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. In reflecting on the unfolding circumstances since that time, I recall being asked to write an article sharing what faith meant to me. Here is an excerpt:

Faith—the bedrock of my life

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 me, faith is the bedrock of life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God 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.

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 the 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. Notable examples are the Wright Brothers and countless others, 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, as Christian 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 our sure foundation.

Each chapter concludes with an original poem, and here is the poem featured at the end of the chapter on faith:

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 true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.
For whatever we desire according to the Word,
We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.
We know the Scriptures mean what they say and say what they mean:
Faith—substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.

Keith and Krystin Getty offer “By Faith,” a song of praise to capture the essence of the message:

Without faith it is impossible

November 30, 2018

The celebration continues as we move from “faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory,” with the release of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I didn’t see it as a “death sentence” but as a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. This book reveals the battle plan God inspired me to use to emerge from my encounter, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror.

An essential component of my encounter with prostate cancer was faith in that this diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Six–The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .

To build a magnificent mansion that will last a lifetime, the builders must beginning 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 me, faith is the bedrock of life.

I define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God 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.

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 . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible.  Indeed, as Christian believers, faith is our solid foundation.

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.”

Whenever I think of faith as a biblical concept, my mind goes back to a Wednesday Youth Night at Camp Gray, a Presbyterian camp in Saugatuck, MI when I was a sophomore in high school, back in the day. When the request came forth for a young person to deliver a short inspirational message, I volunteered, and 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 Hebrews 11:1, 6—two verses that have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since that time over 65 years ago, I have discovered the Amplified Bible, and I especially appreciate how these verses are rendered:

Hebrews 11: 1, 6:

1NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

6But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

In 2004, four years after my cancer diagnosis, quite providentially I was asked to teach during a mid-week Bible study at our church at the time. We had begun a series on the gifts or manifestations of the spirit from I Corinthians 12, and I was asked to teach on faith.

I opened the teaching by reminiscing with our congregation, as we examined the Word of God and pointed out significant illustrations of faith in the Scriptures and in my life. I endeavored to relate the simplicity of faith, being that of hearing from God by way of the written Word or the Bible or by revelation from God. By acting upon what you have heard, you receive the corresponding results of your actions. Romans 10:17 reminds us of the source of faith: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In that particular teaching on faith I examined an accounts in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus Christ mentions faith. One of the most notable examples occurs in the encounter with the centurion who comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal his servant. In this instance, Jesus Christ responds, describing the man as having “great faith.” A contemporary term used to describe such a level of confident assurance would be “crazy faith.”

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,” writer 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.

The following poem describes this kind of faith:

Such Great Faith—Crazy 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.

John Waller offers a musical expression of “Crazy Faith”:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and on line. Go to https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com for more details. Thanks for your prayers and your support.

Such great faith: crazy faith

July 26, 2018

Earlier this week, I shared the good news that the much awaited book, Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conquer, should be in print in mid-October of this year. I expressed my gratitude to God for all those who provided encouragement and support in helping to bring to pass one of my heart’s desires.

While reflecting on today’s Verse of the Day, Chapter 6 of my book also came to mind: “The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .” with its reference to Hebrews 11:1 (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].

This excerpt serves as an appetizer to the full course meal that will be served in about ninety days, Lord willing:

Throughout my encounter with prostate cancer, I was well aware of the importance of faith because the diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. During this time, I was asked to write an article sharing what faith means to me. This task helped me to articulate the importance of faith which I describe as the “bedrock of my life.” Defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God 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.

I recognized that the topic has been of interest to me since high school when I first taught a Bible study on faith at a youth camp. Focusing on Hebrews 11, verses 1 and 6, I shared what little I knew at the time, but I have since expanded my knowledge of the subject and personal application of the principles of learning to live by faith. Those two verses have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the years following my diagnosis, I expanded my knowledge of the subject of faith, examining the Word of God and pointing to important illustrations of faith in Hebrews 11 and elsewhere in the Scriptures and in life. I endeavored to relate the simplicity of faith, being that of hearing from God by way of the written Word of God or the Bible or by revelation from God. By acting upon what you have heard, you receive the corresponding results of your actions. Romans 10:17 speaks of source of faith: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In addition, I learned about another factor that can impact faith. “Unbelief, the Thief” describes this corrosive element that can potentially undermine strong faith. In the same way that unbelief kept the Children of Israel from entering into the Promised Land, it can cause believers to forfeit their inheritance. I recognized the importance of maintaining a joyful heart of faith rather than harboring “an evil heart of unbelief.”

In the Gospels we also note the corrosive and destructive effect of unbelief in that Jesus Christ was unable to perform many miracles or many mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth and the surrounding areas because of their unbelief. This negative spiritual force has also been described as “the only thing that defeats the promises of God.”

Also recorded in the Gospels is an account of an individual who impressed Jesus Christ with his “great 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. The centurion counters by saying that Jesus does not have to come to his house, but he has “. . . only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” In response the Lord says, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with anyone in Israel. The centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

A contemporary term that corresponds to “great faith” is “crazy faith.” When a believers encounter circumstances that seem utterly impossible and respond that they know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to their 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.’” Writer Larry King says, “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.”

Here is a poetic description:

Such Great Faith—Crazy 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.

Here is John Waller offering a musical expression of “Crazy Faith”:

Stay tuned and keep stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe for updates on the book.

Without faith it is impossible

May 1, 2018

Hebrews 11--1,6

Most providentially, the Verse of the Day for May 1, 2018 comes from Hebrews 11:6 in the Amplified Bible:

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.

This particular verse is significant to me in light of the topic of faith, a vital component in my forthcoming book.   Not Just a Survivor–More than a Conqueror where I discuss my strategy to overcome prostate cancer, after being diagnosed with the disease in 2000.  Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6 “The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .”where I discuss Hebrews 11:6 and other scriptures related to faith.

Watchman Nee, early 20th Century church leader and teacher in China, describes the life of each believer in this way: “The Christian journey, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” As we journey through life we encounter challenges designed to build our faith. As believers we are on a journey that takes us from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory as we pursue the will of God for our lives.

Romans 1:17 reminds us this truth:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Throughout my encounter with prostate cancer, I was keenly aware of importance of faith, in that this diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. In reflecting on the unfolding circumstances since that time, I recall being asked to write an article sharing what faith means to me. Here is an excerpt from one of the blog entries based on that original article.

Faith—the bedrock of my life

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 me, faith is the bedrock of life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God 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.

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.”

Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible.  Indeed, as Christian 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 our sure foundation.

Whenever I think of faith as a biblical concept, my mind goes back to a Wednesday Youth Night at Camp Gray, a Presbyterian camp in Saugatuck, MI when I was a sophomore in high school, back in the day. When the request came forth for a young person to deliver a short inspirational message, I volunteered, and 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 Hebrews 11:1, 6—two verses that have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 2004, quite providentially I was asked to teach on faith at a mid-week Bible study. I opened by reminiscing on my first teaching on faith, as we examined the Word of God and pointed out significant illustrations of faith in the Scriptures and in my life. I endeavored to relate the simplicity of faith, being that of hearing from God by way of the written Word or the Bible or by revelation from God. By acting upon what you have heard, you receive the corresponding results of your actions. Romans 10:17 reminds us of the source of faith: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In that particular teaching on faith I examined some of the accounts in Matthew where Jesus Christ mentions faith. One in particular caught my attention with its reference to “great faith” in the encounter with the centurion who comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal his servant. When the centurion replied that the Lord only needed to speak the word and his servant would be healed, the officer demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord. Today we would call that kind of confidence and trust in the Word of God as “crazy faith.”

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.”

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–Crazy 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.

Most appropriately, we close with John Waller singing “Crazy Faith”

Keep stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary’s Shoppe for more details about the publication date for Not Just a Survivor: More than a Conqueror.

Increasing faith and abounding love

February 9, 2018

2 thessalonians 1-3

The Verse of the Day for February 9, 2018 comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3 in the New International Version:

[Thanksgiving and Prayer] We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

 We ought and indeed are obligated [as those in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds.

The Verse of the Day notes two areas of growth in Christian believers, as faith and love are mentioned throughout 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the Church Epistles whose focus is the hope of Christ’s return.

Faith

Faith is not static but God’s desire is that our faith grow, increase and abound. When the apostles said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith,” he responded:

 And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6 Amplified Bible)

The plant mentioned by Jesus Christ to illustrate faith is the very small seed of the mustard tree, a pod-bearing, shrub-like plant, growing wild, which is also cultivated in gardens. The little round seeds were an emblem of any small insignificant object. Faith is described in this way:

“It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth.” Jesus goes on to say, “It [faith] is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.”

In another account, we encountered a situation where a man brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples, but they could not deliver the son, but Jesus healed him. Later when the Disciples asked why they could not cast out the demons, Matthew 17:20 explains:

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” This verse is graphically illustrated in this video clip:

The passage also brings to mind the power inherent in “mustard seed faith”  alluded to in this poem:

Just have a little faith

Just have a little faith—it is all that you ever need.
All God asks for is a grain, the size of mustard seed.
Faith will move the highest of mountains make no mistakes.
Wholehearted believing, no doubt, is all that it takes.
Faith abounds in God’s Word for all those who read and heed.

Follow in the steps of Christ wherever they may lead.
Those who walk by faith and not by sight are rare indeed.
Inspired by people of great faith, a hero awakes:
Just have a little faith.

Passion to serve grows each day, a fire you must feed,
Striving for more–energized by love and never greed.
Faithful is our loving Father who never forsakes
But fulfills to the ultimate each promise He makes.
Walk forth in victory–live by faith and you will succeed.
Just have a little faith.

A mustard seed once planted and nurtured grows into a mighty tree, just as our faith should grow and abound.

Love

Not only are believers to grow in faith, but they are also exhorted to abound in love, as is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:7 (AMP):

But just as you excel in everything, [and lead the way] in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in genuine concern, and in your love for us, see that you excel in this gracious work [of giving] also.

Philippians 1:9 (AMP) also reinforces the message:

And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight,

1 Thessalonians 3:12 (KJV):

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

A classic metaphors to describe love is a rose. Indeed, love is a rose that grows—

The budding rose never stays the same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

The Verse of the Day and related scriptures remind us our faith and love are to increase and abound.

We conclude with the musical group “Two or More” offering a lively song “Faith of a Mustard Seed” in English and Spanish.

 

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