Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 11:6’

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.

Walk like Enoch

December 29, 2017

Genesis 5--24

The Verse of the Day for December 29, 2017 for Logos Bible Software comes from Genesis 5:24 where we find a striking description of a remarkable man of God:

Genesis 5:24 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him”

In Hebrews 11 Enoch is the standard bearer in what has been designated as the “Hall of Faith”:

The New Living Translation describes him in this way:

Hebrews 11:5

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.

Verse 6 goes on to make this point:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Living in the midst of absolute ungodliness and staggering unbelief, Enoch “walked with God” and preached the coming of the Lord, described in Jude 14-15:

14 Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones 15 to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

The quotation actually comes from the Book of Enoch, one of the non-canonical works written between the Old Testament and the Gospels.

Enoch also serves as a” type” or foreshadowing of the translation or gathering together of believers at Christ’s return.  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 speaks of this occurrence:

 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day and its portrait of Enoch, this poem came to mind:

Enoch’s Song

  By faith Enoch was taken away so that he should not see death;

  “and was not found, because God had taken him”,

  for before he was taken he had this testimony,

  that he pleased God.

 Hebrews 11:5

 

My heart’s song is to so sing like Enoch,

With all that lies within me, with each breath,

That I too may walk with God and please Him,

That one day when they seek me, I shall not

Be found, for I will have been gathered, caught

Up to meet the Lord in the clouds forever,

Never to taste the bitter root of death

But savor the sweetness of His favor.

That to do His will was my sole desire–

May I leave behind this testimony

Written on the pages of pure a heart

Prepared for the marriage ceremony,

Blameless in His presence with nothing to hide,

So transformed and fashioned to be the bride.

Contemporary music group, August Rain, concludes with a lively declaration: “Walk Like Enoch”:

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.”

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.”

Seek the Lord: Seek His face

October 5, 2015

Isaiah_55-6The Verse of the Day for October 5, 2015 provides this directive from Isaiah 55:6 (NLT):

Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.

What does “seek the Lord” really mean? In the Old Testament, to seek the Lord means to seek “God’s presence,” which is often expressed as to seek His face.” In Psalm 27:7-9 (NKJV) we find this reference:

 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

9Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.

As believers we are ever seeking the Lord, as we desire or long to abide in His presence. Once again, the Psalmist makes known that in His presence is fullness of joy, at God’s right hand there are pleasures evermore. Throughout the Scriptures, we are encouraged to “Seek the Lord continually; seek his presence continually.”

With that exhortation to seek the Lord comes the assurance that if we will seek Him, we will find him. Jeremiah 29:11-13 offer this reassurance:

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9 reiterates the same message that “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” And when you find that which you are seeking, you will find great reward: “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.”(Hebrews 11:6–NKJV)

Our quest of seeking the presence of God is ongoing, as the following poem reminds us:

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,

and He shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14

We are strengthened by the words of the bard gone blind,

Who said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

We look into the mirror of God’s word and find

That God has always been faithful and never late.

Once more we release the reigns, and we yield control.

Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,

Assured that in patience we now anchor our soul.

May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some

But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey

And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.

We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way

And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.

In these perilous times we are yielded and still,

Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

In reflecting upon seeking the presence of God, I thought of the lyrics of the Don Moen song “My Soul Follows Hard after Thee”

Back to the first word: Faith

July 26, 2015

Hebrews 11--1,6The Verse of the Day for July 26, 2015 offers a definition of faith, as expressed in Hebrews 11:1 (NLT):

[ Great Examples of Faith ] Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Faith continues to be a topic of personal importance, especially during the challenging times in which we live. Often when confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I recall a statement made by Apostle John Tetsola: —“When you are in a difficult situation, go back to the first word; it still works.” For me, recalling “the first word” takes my mind back to 1957 at a Wednesday night teaching at Youth Night at Camp Gray in Saugatuck, MI. During this time I volunteered to teach the youth, and I put together my first teaching. The subject that I selected was “Faith,” and I remember using Hebrews 11:1, 6 in the King James Version:

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 that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

A few years ago, I was asked what faith means to me, and I crafted a kind of statement of faith. Here is an excerpt from a blog entry where I offer an extended definition of faith:

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 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. A notable example is the Wright Brothers, 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.

This morning as I was praying and meditating on the topic of faith, I thought of a particular poem written four years ago that ministered to me, as I was being strengthened and encouraged in my faith again.

  The Song of Faith

   Faith is a bird that feels the light

   And sings while the dawn is still dark.

    Anonymous

 

   So then, faith comes by hearing,

  And hearing by the Word of God

 Romans 10:17

Like hope, faith is a thing with feathers, a rare songbird,

Feeling the light long before the daybreak has occurred.

Faith takes flight and sings on the wing, even in the dark.

The distinctive melody of the soaring skylark

Ascends to greet the promise of a new day dawning

With refrains of its song in the night sung in the morning.

Light penetrates threatening storm clouds of dawn’s first ray,

As faith loudly sings “Yes!” when the world clamors “No way!”

Now without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Though the Word was preached to us as well as unto them,

Defiled by unbelief, they did not pass the test;

Though on the verge, they did not enter into God’s rest.

God’s Word encourages believers to have no fear,

For you cannot sing the song of faith if you do not hear.

The Maranatha Praise Band offers a spirited song “I Walk by Faith.”

But without faith

May 1, 2015

Hebrews 11--1,6

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 post which is reprinted from a year ago, the Verse of the Day for May 1, 2015 reminds us of God’s response to those who seek earnestly Him. As children we played “Hide and Seek,” whereby sometimes we would be those who would hide while others would “seek us out.” At other times we would be the ones doing the seeking while our playmates were hiding. In a similar manner, we often play hide and seek with God. It seems that at times He’s doing all the hiding, and we’re doing all the seeking. No, we’re doing all the hiding, and He’s doing all the seeking, so it may appear to be.

We must remember the word of the Savior who reminded the woman at the well in Samaria that “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. . . . For the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”(John 4:23-24, 29)

II Chronicles 16:9 also offers this reminder:

“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him….”

One of my favorite passages from the Old Testament is found in Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV­)

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith, introduces a particular individual who diligently followed after God and sought to please him. That individual, of course, is Enoch who is spoken of in the preceding verse:

Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

As I endeavor to follow hard after God and diligently seek Him, I think of Enoch who inspired this poem:

Enoch’s Song

Hebrews 11:5

 

My heart’s song is to so sing like Enoch,

With all that lies within me, with each breath,

That I too may walk with God and please Him,

That one day when they seek me, I shall not

Be found, for I will have been gathered, caught

Up to meet the Lord in the clouds forever,

Never to taste the bitter root of death

But savor the sweetness of His favor.

That to do His will was my sole desire–

May I leave behind this testimony

Written on the pages of pure a heart

Prepared for the marriage ceremony,

Blameless in His presence with nothing to hide,

So transformed and fashioned to be the bride.

Like Enoch we want to our lives to be living testimonies of those who are “Seekers of Your Heart,” so poignantly expressed in this song featuring Sandi Patty, Steve Green and Larnelle Harris:

Faith: the foundation of my life

August 26, 2011

The foundation for my faith was laid when I was a youth, and I continue to build upon it, as I move from faith to faith and victory to victory.

“When you are in a difficult situation, go back to the first word; it still works.” Recently I thought of those words from Apostle John Tesola, as we began a series of teaching on faith at our church, Equip U Ministries in Columbus, Ohio. My mind went 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, 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 54 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 a recent teaching on faith we examined a number of accounts in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus Christ mentions faith. Two of the most notable examples occur in the encounter with the centurion who comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal his servant and the account of the Canaanite woman who seeks Christ’s healing presence on behalf of her daughter who is “grievously vexed with a devil.” In both of these instances, Jesus Christ responds, describing both of them as having “great faith.”

I recall a similar designation when I received a personal prophecy from Dr. Kingsley Fletcher in 2000 regarding the dimension of faith in my life. A personal prophecy or prophetic words are inspired words from an individual operating the gift of prophecy to speak to a specific individual or group. These insightfully penetrating words are revealed from God and provide edification, exhortation and comfort to the individuals to whom they are addressed. On this specific occasion when Dr. Fletcher ministered at our church, he called me forth and spoke a message from God to me. I transcribed those words and added them to my prayer journal/scrapbook. Numerous times I read and re-read those words as I prayed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer that same year. I especially concentrated on this excerpt:

 The anointing of the Lord is upon you. You shall walk through doors, and you  shall bring the people of God behind you. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Mighty man of faith! When you declare, it shall be done. You shall affect many through your faith, for out of the faith you shall see my faithfulness. . . . And you shall declare this is the way of the Lord, and they shall follow. For you shall stand and declare just as Caleb declared. You shall stand and say, ‘If God said it, it shall come to pass. If God declares it, I believe it. If God points the way, I will follow.’ And the people of God shall be inspired by your humble faith. For you are a man that has pleased me, and I’m delighted in you. This is the word of the Lord to you, Lonnell. To Lonnell, the word of the Lord. You shall walk in faith and not by sight.  

I used that particular prophetic word as a contact point for focused intercession regarding my particular situation with the prostate cancer, which proved to be a time of the testing of my faith.

At times when my faith seemed to be diminishing, I would recite Scripture, listen to teaching tapes, in many cases my own messages whereby I taught myself over and over again. During this time of intense prayer, God was teaching me a valuable lesson about faith: “Prayer is the key . . . but faith unlocks the door.” I was reminded of these lyrics from an old gospel song, as I prayed fervently throughout this situation which seemed to be drawing from within me to become the “mighty man of faith” that God called me to be.

The renowned folk artist and minister, Elijah Pierce, completed this painted bas relief woodcarving entitled “The Power of Prayer” in 1960. It is from the private collection courtesy of Keny Galleries, Columbus, Ohio.

A woodcarving depicting the Power of Prayer with Faith as the key that unlocks the doors to God and His Son Jesus Christ.

John Starnes offers a powerful rendition of “Prayer is the Key to Heaven.”

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xomn5SMDSlw&feature=related]

            One of the poems that I wrote regarding faith makes reference to the Centurion with “great faith” and my designation as a “mighty man of faith.”

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

 

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,

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

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

When all is said and done, may I add my measure,

Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed,

A faith so pure in essence that nothing defiles.

Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,

May I be walking 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 a faithful son who bears this criterion:

Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.

I press toward the mark, reaching toward my destiny:

As the mighty man of faith you called me to be.

In the New Testament the word faith is translated from the Greek word pistis, one of whose synonyms is “trust.” In thinking about faith and its relationship to “trust,” two songs related to “trusting God,” came to mind.  I was introduced to the hymn “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus” almost forty years ago. As I was driving toward my first ministry assignment, the lyrics rang in my head:

I am trusting Thee, Lord, Jesus,
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation,
Great and free.

I am trusting Thee for pardon;
At Thy feet I bow;
For Thy grace and tender mercy,
Trusting now.

I am trusting Thee for cleansing
In the crimson flood;
Trusting Thee to make me holy
By Thy blood.

I am trusting Thee to guide me;
Thou alone shalt lead;
Every day and hour supplying
All my need.

I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
Must prevail.

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus;
Never let me fall;
I am trusting Thee forever,
And for all.

Here is a rendering of the song by Matthew, Jeffery and Andrew Waldvogel along with Chi-en Chen and Frank Constanzo of the Ridgewood Pentecostal Church:

The second song is a contemporary gospel song that has come to mean a great deal to me.  “I Trust You” by James Fortune and Fiya conveys the same message but with a different flavor:

(verse)
Even though I can’t see
and I can’t feel your touch
I will trust you, Lord
how I love you so much
Though my nights my seem long
and I feel so alone
Lord my trust is in you
I surrender to you

(bridge)
So many painful thoughts
travel through my mind
and I wonder how
I will make it through this time

(chorus)
But I trust you
Lord, it’s not easy
sometimes the pain in my life
makes you seem far away
but I’ll trust you
I need to know you’re here
through the tears and the pain
through the heartache and rain

I’ll trust you

(verse 2)
Everything that I see
tells me not to believe
but I’ll trust you lord
you have never failed me
My past still controls me
Will this hurt ever leave?
I can only trust you
no one else like you do

(bridge)

(chorus)

(vamp)
***I can
I will
I must
trust you **repeat**

***I will
trust you ***repeat***

(modulate)

***I will
trust you ***repeat***

(modulate)
***I’ll trust you (x3)
I will***repeat***

God will make a way (x4)

Recently one of the messages delivered on a Sunday morning focused on the practical dimension of faith, as Pastor Michael Spears of Equip U Ministries expounded upon the subject “By Faith” which inspired this poem with that title:

 

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 and always comes through, just as the scriptures saith:

Obey, persist and sacrifice—the just shall live by faith.

I conclude this blog on faith with this amazing YouTube video that provides a living illustration of the creative power of God with the lyrics to the familiar hymn “Trust and Obey” as a backdrop that expresses the simplicity of our walk by faith.