Patriotism

Patriotism is a quality of being, not a thing. It is the glue that binds us to our country. Patriotism is not about the geography make-up of my country. American patriotism is specifically about a principle that states “all men are created equal.” This is a fundamental core belief of our country and serves as the guiding light for all of our constitutional laws. Unfortunately, we have not always gotten the application right during our 378 years of history. Fortunately, patriotism is a process of living application, working out over time the principle to which we pledge allegiance.

Patriotism in America is all about providing freedom to think, to discern between right and wrong and to act as my conscience dictates. Patriotism is not always about freedom for all. Pick up the newspaper on any given day and you will see patriotic men and women in many countries fighting but it is not to bring freedom to all. It is to bring their way of thinking to be the rule of the land. That too is patriotism. But it is not the patriotism that we want in America.

Today we have created a problem between our chain of reasoning and the principle to which our country is bound together. The problem gets in the way of supporting the “all men are created equal” principle. Our founding fathers assumed that we were ‘created.’ The big bang theory and our climbing out of a primordial soup was not part of their scientific thinking. They reasoned that we all were created; human beings were brought into existence as the result of Providence’s [to use their word for God’s] action. The assumptions we make about our beginnings [created or evolved] historically has and continues to have, a bearing on how we work out living with our neighbors under the “all men are created equal” principle.

While geographically America is big compared to most countries, size is not what makes us great. Our greatness, our durability is based on human equality supported by responsible citizens in government.

Posted in newspaper | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Firmly

I heard someone say recently “Really, I am telling you the truth!” If you read your Bible you find that Jesus has said the same thing to us more than once. For example, one of his disciple records Jesus saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” [John 5:24] Let’s look more closely at what Jesus is saying.

There is only one thing in this world that is truly trustworthy; Jesus’ words. They are not changeable but are a firm foundation for our lives. Jesus is the “amen” to all conversation. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this …” [Revelation_3:14] Jesus is prefacing His promise announcing His authority and character. Jesus never wore a mask. What the disciples heard and saw was the real deal. And God superintended that they were faithful in relaying His words on to us. When it comes to matters of salvation, God wants us to understand that attempting to bring our carnal and fall-twisted reasoning into the discussion is a ship wreck waiting to happen. When it comes to salvation, our reasoning can never reach a final conclusion with certainty. Just think about that for a minute. Outside of Jesus, there is no assurance of salvation, We base everything devised in religion on limited faculties about the subject of eternity and our real condition before God. If we are honest with ourselves, no matter how we craft our arguments in our minds, we can never be sure that we have reached a correct conclusion in all cases.

Jesus wants us to hear him clearly. “I am going to relate to you in a systematic way.” In other words, I am the One who is speaking to you now, whom you have been actively resisting, rejecting and seeking to cut from your life. Jesus is saying: ‘Listen to Me and understand.’ Jesus wants us to understand that He is the sum and substance of what He says. Do not make the mistake of just listening with only the external ears that God gave you but also listen internally, with your soul. That is where life begins. It is only when we listen with the soul that Holy Spirit can enable us to distinguish what is truth from Sovereign God and what are lies from the many deceiving gods.

Jesus wants us to listen not only to His words but try to understand.If you only look for the bling and bang of miracles, then you will miss His intentions for you. There are two types of hearing: speculative and experiential. We can listen and speculate about the pros and cons of Jesus statement. Or we can choose to take them to heart, and then actively trust Jesus that He is telling us the truth and act on them as truth. When we act on what God says we discover He really is telling the Truth. The constant question before us is simply this: Do I entrust my spiritual well-being to Jesus? We learn and relearn three basic things in the Christian life: to trust in, rely on, and adhere to the Lord Jesus in all things.

Listening to what Jesus firmly tells us gives us the right to claim hope by faith in His grace. We will gain a new and perpetual  life as God intended it, full of His grace and peace that cannot be manufactured. He guaranteed His promise. Because Jesus was faithful to die in our place for our sins, we escape the accusation, condemnation and damnation for rebellion against God. We pass from guilty condemnation; meaning that not one of our sins will be held in accusation against us. It is not by our righteousness or our clever legal arguments but only by the righteousness of Christ that we have received by faith.

Listening and actively trusting Jesus removes us from all of our guilt. We move forward into spiritual life covenant grace and forgiveness. We are now alive to a process of exchanging our sinful ways of thinking. The Holy Spirit empowers us to a life that seeks to draw closer to God and live a life pleasing to Him. It is a life made secure. Trust in, rely on, and adhere to Jesus Christ. He is the only answer to your life.

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Kill for This?

For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” [John 5:18 NIV]

Look at what happened. It looked like a good thing that Jesus did. A man who lived a miserable incapacitated life is suddenly freed by Jesus; on Sunday. The religious leaders should have been ecstatic with joy that this man who had suffered so much was now up and walking around. But no, they were more concerned about when Jesus healed the man. In focusing on the Law, they had lost all compassion or even sympathy for those who are suffering. Because they focused on ‘form’ they missed the ‘proof’ of Jesus being their long awaited Messiah. Their formality twisted their ability to make sound judgments.

This is the first of five instances that the Apostle John records the religious leaders seeking to kill Jesus. It was from this point forward that the conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus reached a point of no return. They would not rest until Jesus was executed and thereby restoring the status quo.

It was never for criminal activity that they wanted to kill Jesus. What they hated was that He was defying their man-made regulations of what constituted ‘work’ activity on the Sabbath. To further add fuel to the fire, what made this so galling was Jesus’ own defense of what He was doing. Jesus “was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  That gave the leadership the most serious charge against Jesus. The Jews understood what Jesus was claiming. This was not a case of mistaken identity or of misspeaking. The Jews clearly understood what Jesus was saying. He was claiming to have the same nature, the same privilege and the same power as their Sovereign God. This was, for the Jews, a crystal clear case of blasphemy. Death, with no provision for appeal, was the only punishment.

The religious leaders were suffering under a heavy burden of envy. They had a problem. Jesus had just done a great miracle but not according to the way that they thought things should be done. Envy creates hypocrites. A hypocrite’s actions belie what he says he believes. The religious leaders said they honored God and demonstrated that they loved God by doing what He commanded. But by their actions they showed that their love was not for God and His concerns, but in reality hatred for anyone who rivaled their coveted place in religion.

Jesus knew that His breaking the Sabbath and claiming equal authority with God would bring on their wrath. He was intentionally bringing the Jewish leadership’s crosshairs into focus on His execution. Barnes makes this note:

We may learn from [Jesus'] answer:

1.    That we are not to keep back truth because it may endanger us.

2.    That we are not to keep back truth because it will irritate and enrage sinners. The fault is not in the “truth,” but in the “sinner.”

3.    That when any one portion of truth enrages hypocrites, they will be enraged the more they hear.

[Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible]

The lesson here is to be careful with what you and I think is scared. It is so easy to fall into a false religiosity in form and loose the beauty in freedom of worship. It is so easy to let petty restrictions gobble up the grace that God wants to extend to those around us who are hurting.

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Firmly Held

How many times during your life time have your heard someone say to you, “Honestly” or “Really, I am telling you the truth!” If you read your Bible you find that Jesus has said the same thing to us. For example, one of his disciple records Jesus saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” [John 5:24 NASB] Let’s look more closely at what Jesus is saying.

TRULY, or MOST ASSUREDLY – There is only one thing in this world that is truly trustworthy; Jesus’ words. They are not changeable but are a firm foundation. Jesus is the “amen” to all conversation. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this …” [Revelation_3:14]Jesus is prefacing His promise with a declaration of His authority and character. Jesus never wore a mask. What the disciples heard and saw was the real deal. And God superintended that they were faithful in relaying on to us. When it comes to matters of salvation, God wants us to understand that attempting to bring our carnal and fall-twisted reasoning into the discussion is a ship wreck waiting to happen. When it comes to salvation, our reasoning can never reach a final conclusion with certainty. Just think about that for a minute. Outside of Jesus, there is no assurance of salvation because everything devised by man in religion is based on limited fatalities about the subject of eternity and our real condition before God. No matter how we craft our arguments in our minds, we can never be sure that we have reached a correct conclusion in all cases. There must be an independent outside source of validation who participated in the creation.

I SAY TO YOU – “I am going to relate to you in a systematic manner.” In other words, the One who is speaking to you now, you have been actively resisting, rejecting and seeking to eliminate from your life. We do not like what He says to us if we are running away or just plain ignoring Him.

HE WHO HEARS – Jesus is saying: ‘Listen to Me, listen to My followers who are around you, listen to what is being reported, and understand.’ Jesus wants us to understand that He is the sum and substance of what He says. Do not make the mistake of just listening with only the external ears that God gave you but also listen internally, with your soul. That is where life begins. It is only when we listen with the soul that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to distinguish what is truth from Sovereign God and what are lies from the deceiving gods.

MY WORD – listen not only to My words but try to understand My thoughts; My ways “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” [Psalm_103:7] If you only look for the bling and bang of what I as God do, then you will miss my intentions for you. There are two types of hearing: speculative and experiential. We can listen and speculate about the pros and cons of Jesus statement. Or we can choose to take them to heart, trust Jesus that He is telling us the truth and act on them as truth. The question is: how do we hear Jesus’ words? If we are looking to draw closer to God and discover for His ways, then our actions will be to yield in obedience through faith.

AND BELIEVES – The constant question before us is do I credit God with being faithful? Do I entrust my spiritual well-being to Jesus? The Christian life is composed of a life time of learning three things: to trust in, rely on, and adhere to the Lord Jesus.

HIM WHO SENT – Dispatched Me from where I was originally; My point of departure. Interestingly Jesus does not here say to believe Him but the One who sent Him. So when we reject the counsel and instructions of Jesus, we are then rejecting God.

ME, HAS – You will hold, you will have in your possession and you will have the condition of. I will have the right to claim hope by faith in His grace. This is a pledge not from a man but from God Himself.

ETERNAL – Perpetual [past, present and future] everlasting

LIFE – life as God intended it to be, full of His grace and peace that cannot be manufactured.

AND DOES NOT COME – Pass from; fall out of what God has promised us.

INTO JUDGMENT – Something ordained that is either for or against me. Implies justice enacted. Divine law adhered to. Accusation. Condemnation. Damnation. I will pass from condemnation of the original sin and all sins past, present and future. Not one of my sins will be held in accusation against me. It is not by my righteousness or my legal arguments but only by the righteousness of Christ that I have received by faith.

BUT HAS PASSED – to change places; depart from where I am at currently; to go toward; to be removed from [by divine decree].

OUT OF DEATH – moral death; all of the guilt from sins; out from under the penalty of death having missed the mark of perfection that the Law of God requires.

INTO LIFE – spiritual life; a life of covenant grace and justification by faith, made alive to a process of exchanging my sinful way of thinking and acting to a life that seeks to draw closer to God and live a life pleasing to Him. It is a life that has a security to it.

Trust in, rely on, and adhere to Jesus Christ. He is the only answer to your life.

 

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS

Psa 103:2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–

I do not have a perfect memory. I may forget some of the things that God has done in my life over the years. I should never forget them all! God, help me to not be oblivious to what You are doing due to lack of attention on my part. When life gets messy around us, one of the first things that we forget is to give thanks to God. David is rousting his soul, that inner-most part of him that represents his whole being to acknowledge what God has done for him.

God in His unfathomable mercy ordained that I should receive good from His hand when I only deserved ill. His actions of salvation toward me have brought a myriad of benefits. Only those who have been redeemed from sin and self-destruction by experiencing His grace understand this psalm. It is a song of a saint, undeservedly crowned with loving kindness and compassion, in route through lonely shadowed valleys to the City of God. When we get to the end of our journey here on earth, we are going to be really surprised at the amount of ‘salvation’ God has heaped on our lives for our good. And we will have enough to praise Him for eternity.

My focus is to be on what God has accomplished in my salvation; not only past but present as well. I do not want to remember the puny self-efforts that I have tried or the haphazard opportunistic chances I took on events that ‘seemed’ right.

Jesus Christ pardoned all of my sins. Every last one of them He dealt with voluntarily on His cross. That payment is all-inclusive. God is still forgiving as I am tempted and fall into sin today.

My remembering in my soul, that place internally beyond the reaches of heartbeat and breathing, that directs from whence I came, where I am going and Who is leading the way, is an act of blessing. “Bless the LORD, O my soul.

 

 

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The day on which this took place …

was a Sabbath.” [John 5:9]

Legalism is antithetical to God. Legalism is the complete absence of love and grace. Legalism completely forgets about the compassion of Jesus for those who are hurting; who are poor. Legalism assumes that if we could somehow convince people of our “model” for thinking and actions then the world would be a so much better place.

Here is a story of blatant legalism as told by an associate of Jesus named John in his words. “In Jerusalem located near the Sheep Gate was a pool, called Bethesda which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lay–the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath. [John 5:2-9 NIV]

38 years of pain, unable to do what others can do, confined 24/7 to a portable cot, not able to make an income, abused or ignored by people passing by, made fun of by children and shunned by the religious. 38 years of life debilitating paralysis were suddenly eliminated for the man.

The man’s troubles should have been over. There should have been great rejoicing, led by the religious folks at the incredible miracle that God performed. Instead, continuing on with John’s account the “the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. [vs. 10-16]

This is the first time that Jesus runs headlong into the religious power class. This was the first step toward the cross. Jesus made it clear that the Sabbath, the day that God set aside as a day of rest, was made for man. However, religious men in their zeal made up religious laws that tried to interpret what God intended. The healed man, who was free for the first time in 38 long years, was now in mortal danger from the religious. He was violation of the 39th rule regarding what to do and what not to do on the Sabbath. He was in danger of being stoned to death. He did not break one of the God-issued 10 commandments. His sin according to the religious was he broke a sacred tradition of men. Now he faced condemnation and possible death, not from God by from the very people who were supposed to be representing God.

This is not a far-fetched story. It happens today. What does it take to strap a bomb on and go in and kill innocent men, women and children? It simply takes believing something that says it will be a way to God. That is legalism. It is not of God.

Think about what freedoms legalism gives me. Legalism gives me the right to boast. Legalism is the glorification of me and how pure I am religiously. [Eph 2:8-9]

Legalism is a poison; it will allow me to judge a man based on my self-interpretation of what God is saying. It is a grace robber. We must be unswervingly faithful to the Word of God not to men’s interpretation of God’s Word.

Legalism hates women. Legalism sets one person as lord over another. Because legalism has no mercy it supports abusing, beating and even killing women in public.

Legalism shows partiality. Abortion is all about partiality. It allows women to make choices to their benefit. And this partiality disavows the life growing inside them. ‘Legalized partiality’ kills what is not convenient.

Why are we so picky about the little things that are really insignificant in God’s eyes? It is about partiality. [ref James] Legalism tells us to pick and choose who we will love based on how well they keep some set of rules that we have developed.

Legalism shows no compassion. Legalism is always looking for someone to pay the price. Legalism in Christianity will say the Cross plus. Legalism is about how good I am in doing the right thing before men. Is that how God wants us to see his grace?

We are called to see where God is at work and get there and join him. What is important? That people will come to Jesus and be saved. It is not about a set of man-created rules and protocol. It is about pressing in to Jesus and experiencing his grace.

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summary Statement

How do we develop a right state of mind in balancing life. How do we balance our heart between earthly things and heavenly things. Jesus tells us clearly that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  [Matthew 6:33 NIV]

The kingdom of God” is the focus of Jesus’ when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. Now He is summarizing all that He has talked about and illustrated to those who would listen. God is erecting in this fallen world His kingdom. And “His righteousness” is the goal He wants to establish in us. It is a choice that we will make whether we will direct our lives in pursuit of our lives or His life in us.  If we are seeking of God’s kingdom and His righteousness “first” then everything becomes subordinate to what God is doing. We will be seeking His will and His holiness before and above all else.

Christ followers are on a different path than those outside of the Kingdom of God. Jesus introduced this revolutionary thought with this fact as a reference point: “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you.” [Mat 6:32]A good illustration of this spiritual principle can be seen in the conversation between God and King Solomon. Let’s listen in. Solomon requested, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people.” Then he asked, “Who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king,  therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” [2CH 1:10-12]

He has control over all things, and He can give you what you need. He will give you what he deems best for you. Here are some questions that will help assess just where the balance is in our life.

1. What comes First in allocating my time.

2. What is First in getting my attention.

3. What is First in my desires?

4. Where is the major portion of my energies spent?

This is an age-old problem. Here are what some others have said about the balance in their lives.

You were made for God; to love him, to serve him, to praise him, to live in fellowship with him, to do and to bear his holy will. [Adaption of Westminster Confession]

“Seek that, to which other things are necessarily connected.” [Old Jewish saying]

“Do not be anxious about the supply of your needs, whether of body, mind, or heart. God knows what you need. If He has given life, will He not maintain it? Does He not care for the birds and flowers? Did He not give His Son, and will He withhold any good? Trust Him and be at peace.” [F.B. Meyer]

“Happy are those who take the Lord for their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves wholly to his wise disposal.” [Matthew Henry]

“Christ tells us that there is a true order of human endeavor, and that when that order is followed all the lesser concerns of human life find sufficient and unfailing guarantee.” [Great Texts of the Bible]

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” [Apostle Paul, Romans 14:17 -18 NIV]

May we have the same mind-set of seeking wisdom and knowledge as did Solomon and follow the prescription that Jesus gave us. It is our choice. It is always our choice.

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I will … meet you there.”

And Jesus says to them, “All of you will fall away, because it stands written, I will smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I have been raised I will go before you into Galilee.”

But Peter said to Him, “Even if all will fall away, certainly not I.”

And Jesus says to him, “Truly, I am saying to you, that, as for you, today, on this night, before a rooster crows twice, three times you will deny me.”

And Peter kept on saying with more vehemence and iteration, “If it should be necessary for me to die with you, I will positively not deny you.”

Moreover, in like manner also all kept on saying. [Mark 14:27-31 Wuest Translation]

‘all of you will desert me’— Jesus knows things and He knows our hearts. He tells them ahead of time in plain language that cannot be misconstrued, that they, every last one of them will abandon Him before the night is done. Jesus wants them to know that He knows them better than they know themselves; they will fail. But He is not rejecting them. Nor will he reject them later.

‘I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.’ In the following hours those words may have seemed far-fetched in the disciples minds. This morning as I thought through this whole passage, I was struck by the enormity of Jesus’ words. We often fail our LORD and can be very troubled by the failure. But there is reason for hope. There is reason for knowing that He is a God of mercy and inhuman patience. Here is reason to ask forgiveness, maybe for the thousandth time. He is waiting for us.

‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ Jesus is doing what He is doing based not on our actions or best intentions but on His Father’s purpose. Otherwise there would be not saving grace. We would have no mercy before a just God. The disciples will scatter because they are offended that their hopes are being destroyed. They will stumble. They will lose confidence. Those are the facts that Jesus is putting on the table for them and because His word is indisputable, they will become evidence to the truth about human condition. They are becoming offended at the manner with which Jesus is attempting to bring in His kingdom. Their offense in Him, as were the religious leaders, causes them to not acknowledge His authority. They did not want to be caught up in issues with the Roman government that could easily kill them for their association with Jesus.

I can be most certainly like Peter, at least for some period of time, defending myself against Jesus accusatory [my feeling after I sin] words. I regularly desert Jesus. The temptation becomes powerful, so powerful that it overwhelms my defenses that are at a low point anyway. But Jesus is not accusatory here; He is not reproaching them. He is telling them of better things to come. Yes, there is going to be an immediate time [within a few short hours] of indescribable betrayal, gloom and bitterness in their souls. But wait! Here is the good news! ‘I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.’ By week end, you will experience the hope of the resurrection. No matter how far we feel we have moved away from God, He is always ready and willing to meet us. Take those guilty feelings to the One who knows you best.

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeds

where birds can come and find shelter’ [Mark 4:32 NIV] The mustard seed starts out as a very tiny seed. It is basically bird feed. But if it is given the chance to grow, it becomes a nesting place. It grows from insignificant to huge. That was the point that Jesus was making about the Good News He brings. It might seem small, almost inconsequential at first. A small step; a small seed of faith is all that is required to respond. This seemingly insignificant step, this seed, if watered grows huge in our lives. It grows into a place where we can find shelter. Do not worry if the steps you take at first in responding to Jesus’ message seem like nothing. You have not seen the end of the story about you and Jesus.

The seed knows nothing about growth. It knows nothing about mustard trees. It knows nothing about how big it can get. It knows nothing about birds of the air. It know nothing about what it will provide for some of God’s creatures. It just knows it is a seed. As long as it is sitting in a sack with thousands of other seeds it has no special worth. It is just one of the crowd. It does know that it needs to get alone, away from the crowds of other seeds. It has work to do for the Creator but what is it? One day it feels itself being lifted and flung into the air. Daylight at last! It lands on some soft soil. Something covers the little seed up and now he is in the dark. It feels right. He is in the right place. Then the little seed becomes thirsty. Moisture soaks down to the little seed. He pushes out a few tiny roots and he drinks it in thirstily. He is getting just a little bit bigger now but time passes so slowly. He wants change. The little seed is getting impatient. When am I going to be what the Creator made me to be? Then one day the little seed notices that he is changing. Something big is happening. His roots are getting bigger and stronger. One sunshiny day he suddenly see some light. His leaf that he had been pushing with all his might up through the soil suddenly breaks into the sunlight. “At last, I am on the way to being what God created me to be!”

Faith is a powerful gift from God. It is vital to being able to live as God intended us to live. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. That is what Jesus told his disciples. “By using the uncommonly small mustard seed as an example, Jesus is speaking figuratively about the incalculable power of God when unleashed in the lives of those with true faith.” “… little is much when it comes from God. The mustard seed in the parable grows to be a huge tree, representing the tiny beginnings of [Christ being formed in us] when just a few disciples began to preach and teach the gospel. Eventually the kingdom grew to huge proportions, encompassing the entire world and spreading over centuries.” [S. Michael Houdmann, http://www.gotquestions.org/mustard-seed-faith.htm/

Posted in Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Faith or Unbelief

Have you ever been offended by what God tells us. Jesus stopped into his home town and ‘They were greatly offended’ Not just offended, but greatly offended. They were offended by the miracles. They did not like the fact that he could do them. Jesus offended their mindset, upsetting how they thought things ought to be. [Read Mark 6:1-13 about Jesus' hometown visit.]

Due to their pride and expectations, they could not discern the divine in the human. Instead of looking to see the connection to God, the town elders made it a point to study to debunk his wisdom and miracles. They purposely raised prejudices in the minds of the town’s people. Their reasoning was simple. How could anyone with a home-education, who had never traveled, had never been to any university or even been tutored at the feet of one of Israel’s learned doctors, be what he claimed to be? In spite of the overwhelming evidence, they could not get past the question: “Is not this the Carpenter?” They even contradicted themselves in looking for excuses to not believe in Jesus. They said: “He is the son of Mary; his brethren and sisters are here with us.” In other words, we know his family and kindred. And then they turn around and say: “As for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.” [John 9:29 KJV and the controversy of the blind man healed.]

’because of their unbelief, he could not do any mighty miracles among them’ [Mark 6:5 NIV] In other words, they hardened their hearts and continued their prejudices against him. Because they knew his parentage, they had seen him grow up playing the same games they did, getting the same education and knew of his local professional career as a carpenter among them, they could not account for the proofs of Christ’s deity that were so plain and uncontestable. To Jesus, as a human, it was amazing that there should be any who would continue to be unbelievers. I wonder if Jesus concluded, when faced with the attitude of his ‘home boys’ and their overwhelming unbelief, that he thought that they were simply stupid. Their hardness of heart blinded their minds. When the disciples saw the reaction of Jesus’ hometown people, they had experiential knowledge of why Jesus told them as he sent them out “And if a village won’t welcome you or listen to you, shake off its dust from your feet as you leave. It is a sign that you have abandoned that village to its fate.”

So what does God see as the difference between faith and unbelief? I think that John Bunyan may be a help here. This is a partial list [there are 14 more] I have adapted of the differences that he saw in the Bible between faith and unbelief. It is very insightful.

- Faith believes the Word of God; but unbelief questions it. When God had brought his people to the river that was the border at the edge of the land that He had promised them: Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise.[Psa 106:24] The psalmist goes on to say that they were just sitting in their tents grumbling about God’s treatment of them.

- Faith brings us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him. “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” [Heb 10:22] And “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” [Heb 3:12]

- Where faith reigns, it declares men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declares them to be his enemies. “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” [Rev 21:8).

I am not just saying. This is what God himself says. Believe it or not to your benefit or detriment.

Posted in Believing or Trusting, Meditations of the Word | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment