Faith Wimp

May 30, 2019


So that’s what I’ve decided this morning.  I’m a faith wimp.  I’m not ready to embark on Hebrews 11 because it’s too weighty to take on right now.  There are so many heroes of the faith — so many more than are listed in chapter 11.  I want time to read about them and digest how far and wide they had to trust God in circumstances much more difficult than I’ve ever faced.

Faith, the kind of faith that is on four-color display in Hebrews 11, is built on a relationship with God. Radical trust and obedience is not the result of reading words on a page.  It is not the result of hear-say nor does it come from second hand faith.  It comes from current revelation and communion.

So, I’m going to take some of the summer off before continuing on with Hebrews.  I’m responding to Jesus’ call to come away and rest.  I will be jumping into Hebrews 11 for myself ~ savoring it, wrestling with it, growing into it….and the writing will resume when my heart is so full I can’t keep it in any more.

In the meantime, I will be sharing various devotionals from the many years we’ve been on this upward climb together.  Maybe you’ll see one of your favorites come across your inbox.

Taste and see that God is good.

Christine

Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name. Jeremiah 15:16

 

 

I’ll Believe It ~ Even When I Don’t See It

May 29, 2019


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.  Hebrews 11:1 

When was the last time you heard news that seemed too outrageous to be true?  Perhaps someone you knew to be mean was softened by the Spirit of God.  Or, someone you knew to be sick was now well.  Perhaps someone you knew as an atheist was now an ardent believer.  With such a report, you probably said ~ “I’ll believe it when I see it!”  But God says that we should believe that anything is possible because He is God and there is none other.  In theory, we know this is true until it gets personal.  Then, unbelief plagues us all.  The tangible begs to disprove the intangible.  Experience begs to nullify kingdom outcomes.

Humans can’t walk on the surface of the sea, yet Jesus did and Peter joined Him. The sea can’t be held back to provide a dry pathway to the other side, yet the Israelites walked on it. A dead man can’t walk out of a tomb nor can a leper dip seven times into a dirty river and come out disease free, yet Lazarus was set free from his grave clothes and Naaman saw his own flesh transformed.  Faith in God, the God who performs the impossible, is not easily cultivated.

When God told Moses that he was chosen to lead his people out of Egypt, how utterly impossible it seemed.  He knew the Pharaoh, personally, and had also known his father.  They were ‘family’ before his exile.  Their firm iron grip over the Israelites was historic, spanning centuries.  Slavery facilitated the prosperity of Egypt so it was improbable, and utterly unthinkable, that a ruler of this great land would free God’s people and let them leave. As God spoke at the burning bush and called Moses into service, heaven and earth collided in his mind. Understandable human objections rose to the surface but the miracle of faith triumphed.  Moses went, Moses obeyed, and Moses persevered through the many stages of Pharaoh’s obstinance. Could Moses see the coming pilgrimage of the Israelites with the eyes of his spirit?  As God paved his road of obedience with miracle after miracle, I have to believe that he did.

Where has unbelief eaten away my faith?  Where have I closed the eyes of my spirit?  What have I accepted as normal and natural that God wants to transform into abnormal and supernatural?

You don’t have to show me. I know what it is.  Forgive my unbelief.  Amen

 

No! I’m Not Giving Up On Him!

May 28, 2019


But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.  Hebrews 10:39

There are some beautiful stories in this world.  One plotline goes like this ~ Two people are traveling together.  One is severely wounded and can no longer move.  He must stay behind while the other goes for help.  The one who leaves promises to return but you know that this promise will be tested with time.  As the situation deteriorates and there is no sign of his coming, the one in peril thinks to himself, “It doesn’t look to me like I’ll be saved!”  There is mounting evidence of a broken promise but ultimately, love and trust wins.  The one who waits perseveres because, in spite of the odds, he knows that the love and loyalty of his partner will not fail.  Sure enough, when things are most desperate, help arrives.  The one who has hung on whispers, “I just knew you’d come!”

Jesus is good for every promise He has made, including the one where He promises to come back for me.  The better I know Him, the more confident I am of that He is trustworthy.  I will not withdraw and distrust him when things gets hard.  As this world deteriorates, trust in His heart and His promises sustain me.  The harder the times, the more my faith is tested and the more my faith thrives.

Think of the strongest child of God you know.  Where was their strength born?  In the trenches where their faith was tested.  Faith begins as a weak muscle.  The more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes.

The writer of Hebrews says that those who have faith obtain life.  Immediately, I picture heaven.  Faith in Christ guarantees me eternal life but this phrase can also be translated ~ Faith preserves my soul.  That’s not life-deferred.  That’s life-now.

Preservation is promised to my soul ~ the homeplace of my feelings, thoughts, and desires.

  • Faith in Jesus thrives in my heart.  Fear and doubt don’t infect my mood.
  • Faith in Jesus dominates my mind.  Lies will not overtake my thoughts.
  • Faith in Jesus shapes what I want. I desire Him above my own comfort, above anything and anyone that promises a counterfeit relief from the pain.

What is causing you to draw back today?  Where are you scared to trust?  Where do you taste death instead of life?  You need not succumb to defeat.  Faith can win.  It begins and ends with a review of God’s promises and God’s character.  Shun the love-killer and all of his lies.  Life can be yours right now – at this very moment.  He will not only come for you, He’s here now.

Let Your daughter perceive You. Open her eyes to see You.  Open her ears to hear Your whispers.  Speak to her in the deep places of her soul and bring life to the places where life is tenuous.  Amen

You Can’t Always Tell Who is the Strong One

May 24, 2019


For yet in a very little while, the coming One will come and not delay.  But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. Hebrews 10:37-38

Righteous people live by faith.  Unrighteous people take care of themselves.

Righteous people recognize their need and humbly ask for God’s strength.  Unrighteous people are proud and are repelled by the thought of dependency.

Righteous people prove their faith by persevering in tribulation.  Unrighteous people embrace apostasy when, under pressure, they go back to their old lives.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been surprised more than once by who is strong and who is weak.  I remember childhood bullies.  I’ve had a few of them and I saw them as giants; strong and formidable.  With hindsight though, I see that my bullies were never strong enough to act alone.  They needed to have a group around them to empower them.  Weak indeed.

When I became an adult, I learned more about the strong and the weak through watching good and bad leaders.  I surmised that those who had unwavering opinions and were unwilling to compromise were strong.  People who worked for them had to agree with them on every policy and doctrine.  I know now that these characteristics were signs of weakness.  The louder the bullhorn and the more demanding the tyrant, the weaker they probably were.  Under pressure, everyone knew to duck.

I believed that the weak people were the quiet ones in the group.  They listened more than they talked.  They spoke of their hard times.  They weren’t above asking for prayer. They weren’t the first ones to volunteer to lead but when asked, they did it well and without fanfare.  Under pressure, they remained steady and everyone knew they could trust them.

Today’s scripture reaches back to quote the book of Habakkuk where God is speaking.  What does it mean when God says that someone will draw back, only to experience His displeasure?  This refers to people who appeared to be true in their faith but with the advent of persecution, they threw in the towel and went back to their old lives.  They quickly embraced apostasy.

There’s a lot to think about here.  How do others experience you?  Would they call you strong because you seem self-assured?  Would they call you weak because you are quiet and often share your struggles?  The bigger question is this ~ How does God experience you?  Does He see you as beautifully dependent on Him or does He see you as angry and entitled when things don’t go well for you?  Yes, the journey of faith takes us all through some bad days.  We can have some fainting moments.  True believers lose heart but we don’t defect.  Wouldn’t think of it!  God’s displeasure is reserved for those who pose as believers but suffering proves them to be otherwise.

My strength is real when my strength is in You.  Amen

Have You Thrown It Away?

May 23, 2019


So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

I can be confident my 401k will stabilize but it may not.  My confidence will not yield any reward and was really wasted.  I can be confident that my house will sell quickly and a move to another state will come off without a hitch.  But when it doesn’t unfold that way, confidence was empty.

A well-placed confidence births endurance because there is never any doubt about the outcome.  What I can be sure of here on earth is a short list, is it not?  But with God, every word He speaks, I can fully trust.  Every promise He makes, I can rest in.  Every prediction that rolls off the pages of scripture, I can count on coming true.  With such 100% assurance, endurance need never erode.  God is good for whatever He put in writing.  No deal is ever broken.  No promise is ever reneged.

If my confidence ever wanes, it is not due to a flaw in God’s character nor is it because anything He has spoken has been disproven.  Though at times it may appear that way, time and history will reveal that the pain of my doubting was completely unnecessary.

But I can be sure of this.  Satan knows God’s character.  Satan knows that what God says is true.  He fears any child of God who trusts God and who challenges his lies with the sword of the Word.  Satan is the great deceiver whose mission is to shake the confidence of God’s children.  If he can cause us to doubt our Father, he has destroyed the quality of our life here and sent us to a lonely place. While heaven is not in jeopardy, peace on earth can be destroyed if we let it him do it.  The essence of faith is trusting what we cannot see.  Our enemy capitalizes on that and argues that if we cannot see it, it must not be true.  Never is his argument more compelling than when we are in pain and find ourselves weary in the waiting.

There is some ‘thing’ that is testing our confidence today.  It is different for each one of us.  As I’m writing, I’m aware of my ‘thing’ and I awakened this morning to face another day of battling for my faith.  I review the scriptures, I meditate on the promises, I listen in the stillness to the reassurances of the Spirit, and my shaky confidence is restored for another day.  I will not ever throw it away because I chose to believe that the middle of my story is really the end of my story.  I live in the middle of the plotline.  So do you.  God hasn’t finished writing the novel yet.  We can be confident of a glorious conclusion.

After watching a great movie, we tell our friends ~ “Wait till you see how it ends!”   Indeed.

I’m watching and I’m on the path. Amen

Let’s Settle Who This Is For

May 21, 2019


For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people.  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God! Hebrews 10:30-31 

There are few passages more dangerous than this one if taken out of context.  Can I really sin, risk God’s anger and judgement, and end up losing my salvation?  Not on your life.  If you are a child of God, your eternal home in heaven with God is secure.  Nothing and no one can take it from you.  Whether an obedient or disobedient child, you are still adopted.

What kind of judgement is being discussed here?  If I take the entire book of Hebrews into account, I remember that it’s a book written to Jewish believers, and if I go back a dozen or so verses, I see that the subject was Jesus’ blood being the only sacrifice that forgives sins.  To willfully reject that brings a type of judgement to a believer. That involves God assessing whether or not His child should receive rewards.  These are:  1.) The privilege of reigning with Christ.  And, 2.) ‘Entering into rest’ (from Hebrews 4) which has to do with receiving a full inheritance.  While going to heaven will never be in question, the loss of rewards and the loss of the inheritance God desires to give, can be jeopardized.

It is one thing to sin out of weakness and naivete, but quite another to sin with an obvious, obstinate heart.  Can a child of God shake their fist in His face and set out to wound God by his actions?  Can a child of God seek to take revenge on his heavenly Father if he believes God has done him wrong?  Let me ask you.  Can an earthly child take revenge on a parent?   Can an earthly child set out to do the very thing they know will inflict the greatest wound to a parent’s heart?  We know the answer is yes.  But at no time is he no longer their child even though the relationship is strained to the max.

The worst willful and most injurious sin against God is to repudiate the sacrifice of His Son.  The most expensive gift for Him to give was the life of His Son.  Spurning Jesus brings about awful consequences; the fallout to even be suffered by a child of God whose home is in heaven.  To have to face the Father, to see the truth of your sin and then weep over your offenses against Him, and then to lose the joy of receiving rewards that you can lay at Jesus’ feet, these will cause a grief that impacts the beginning of eternity.

Staying tenderhearted toward my Father in heaven is a high priority.  Staying humble to believe every doctrine He teaches is also a high priority.  The risk of being high and mighty to commit willful sin is not beyond my sinful heart and I remember that today as I contemplate eternal rewards.

If there are rewards to come, laying them at your feet is a privilege I live and die for.  Amen