Now Faith

Birds come and go this time of year.

Some fly for long distances to find shelter in a warmer climate.

In a way that I could never fully understand, I believe God tells the birds when and where to travel.

Some call it instinct.

I call it God’s direction.

When the birds set out on their journey, surely they must have a confidence in what they will eventually find.

A faith, if you will, on the part of the bird, to trust in that which it cannot yet see.

God has told us of what is in store for those who love Jesus.

We have an assurance that comes from Him about our future.

We have confidence in what we hope for.

Today, notice any birds that might be around you as you travel to work or look out your window.

They listen for God’s direction.

Are you listening?

 

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

–Hebrews 11:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

now faith

Little Children

It was a foggy morning.

As I climbed out of bed and walked into the kitchen, I could see the thick mist through my window.

A change of clothes was in order…

Quickly grabbing two cameras, I hurried to my car and set out to see how a blanket of moisture had transformed my little corner of the world.

Passing by a a home that bordered an open field, a quick glance made me turn around and go back to visit the scene again.

Simple.

Serene.

Peaceful.

Most of all, trusting.

A single car tire was hanging from a tree branch by a rope that had been tied.

If I had thought to have gone to try out the swing for myself, I would first have checked the knots securing the rope to the tire.

Next, I would’ve surveyed the branch up above for strength.

Would it have been able to have held my weight?

After looking closely at the knots on the branch to make sure they were tight, I might’ve then enjoyed a time of leisure swinging.

Would this have been the thought processes of a young child?

I think not.

Upon seeing the tire suspended from the branch, a child would likely squeal in delight as they ran to place themselves happily into the center.

With no thought to any worry, they would swing high and low, embracing each moment without a care.

Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

God, in His mercy, has sent Jesus to die on the cross for payment of our sins.

Accepting His gift, we can put our complete trust in Him and enjoy an abundant life like no other.

If we insist on complete knowledge and understanding of our Creator with every “why” and “how” answered to our satisfaction, we may never fully trust that which could save us.

Yet, if upon learning of God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, we run joyfully to place ourselves happily into the center of His love for us, we come with child-like faith.

Today, as you think of your life, do you picture yourself swinging peacefully with an inner joy inside or do you see yourself standing under a tree, skeptically peering at a bundle of knots?

 

 

 

 

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

–Matthew 18:3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

little child

By Faith 

Recently, I was in a Bible study group that was discussing Noah and the ark. The account of what happened in those days is rich with topics of consideration. 

Why did God choose to flood the entire earth? 

Why did He choose to spare Noah and his family?

How did Noah have continual faith when God was asking him to do things he didn’t fully understand?

What made his wife and his sons and their wives have faith, as well?

Why did they choose to stick with Noah as he obeyed God and built the ark?
One thing stands out to me in this biblical account. 

Noah obeyed God even when it likely did not make sense to him. 

Build a boat?

What’s a boat?

Rain?

What’s rain?

Gather all those animals?

How?
Noah obeyed God. 

Noah believed God. 

Noah trusted God. 

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

—–Hebrews 11:7

Lilies

 

 

 

“And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don’t work or make their clothing,

yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers

that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

He will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?”

 

–Matthew 6:28-30

 

 

 

lilies

Now Faith

 

A very odd thing happened the other day.

While I was having lunch with some coworkers, I noticed that two of them were enjoying Chinese food.

I asked them where they had gotten their lunches, because I also enjoy Chinese food.

Telling me about a nearby oriental restaurant, we continued our conversation on other things.

After a few moments had passed, a friend sitting next to me opened a fortune cookie that was provided with his lunch.

I normally don’t even want to open them when they are added to a meal.

“Fortunes” are not something that I believe in; only the sovereignty of God.

My friend handed me the paper that he had taken out of the cookie.

It had Hebrews 11:1 on printed on it:

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

 

The scripture reference was missing, but the verse was there, nevertheless.

That is the first time I have ever heard of Bible verses being placed inside fortune cookies.

This was a situation where I was able to discuss briefly with my friend where in the Bible this scripture was found.

At any moment, I know that I need to be ready to speak to others around me concerning matters of faith.

A moment might come when I least expect it.

 

faith

 

Prepare a Place

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.

—John 14:3

 

The water at the end of my driveway reflected the sunset and its colors like a giant glass mirror.

So perfectly was the image of the pastel hues blending with clouds in the sky, you could almost imagine just stepping into the scene and finding yourself in another world.

That sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

Another realm of life, just a footstep away.

Although it is a fascinating subject for novels and movies, most people wouldn’t quite take it seriously.

Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we do take that thought seriously.

Another realm of life, just a footstep–just a breath–just a heartbeat–away.

Jesus said that if He would go and prepare a place for us, then He would come back and take us to be where He was.

The spiritual realm is right with us, but we don’t see it with our earthly eyes.

Our faith is not in what we can touch, but what we are sure about in our hearts.

Heaven is real.

It’s not science fiction.

It’s our future home.

 

 

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Children of God

Today I saw a message on a t shirt someone was wearing. 

It read, “Always Wear Your Invisable Crown.”

I have to admit, I pondered this statement for awhile, trying to discern all the implications of the words. 

In a negative and proud context leaning toward always thinking better of yourself than others, remembering an invisible crown would not be in anyone’s best interest. 

In a positive and humble context leaning toward always thinking of yourself as someone who is loved by God and forgiven of sin, remembering an invisible crown placed on your head as a sign that you are a child of the King would serve to be quite beneficial. 

Why?

It’s easy to forget that we are important to God sometimes. 

There are days when others may seem to be pointing out a good many of our flaws and failures. 

There are days that we do that to ourselves, succumbing to the thought that we are useless and worthless. 

The truth is, as children of God, that is NEVER the case. 

Galatians 3:26 reads, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Be encouraged today that you are important to God. 

As a believer, we can always remember our invisible crown–a crown of forgiveness and love. 

Seasons

 

 

 

He changes times and seasons;
    He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    He knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.

 

–Daniel 2:21-22

 

 

As I walked along the wooden deck, I stopped to look at some fallen leaves.

It’s that time of year again when the trees begin to let go of their leaves and prepare for winter.

In doing so, we are blessed with seeing a vast array of autumn colors for several weeks, heralding a time of dormancy and rest for almost every plant and tree.

Spring will come after a period of waiting, bringing with it a new and vibrant growth.

Seasons in our lives are not always defined by aging.

God brings us in and out of various types of seasons.

Seasons of growth.

Seasons of learning.

Seasons when wisdom is given.

There are seasons when we have to let go of some responsibilities in order to take on new ones.

These seasons are defined by God.

With each passing interval, we can say, “This is different–but it’s okay.”

Whether we are at a season in life’s journey where we are a vibrant green leaf attached to a branch or a vibrant red leaf lying on a deck, we are in a particular place at a particular time where we can be used by God.

What season of faith are you in today?

 

seasons

Doing the Right Thing

Today, as I was reading a news story, a quote stood out to me:”The truth falls on deaf ears when you lack integrity.” 

I understood the context within the news report. If you are a person who lacks integrity, people will not want to listen to you even when you are telling the truth. 

Apart from the situation surrounding the report I was reading, this statement just speaks to me. 

How do people view me personally?

Would they say that I am a person of integrity? 

Do they know me as someone who tells the truth?

Someone who treats others with respect?

Someone who is kind to others, even in difficult situations?

Most importantly, would they think that I am someone who is hoping to please God?

If I am viewed as being a person of integrity, might others then listen if I tell them the truth about Jesus and His gift of salvation?

If I am viewed as being hypocritical and wavering in my day to day life, will anyone really take me seriously when it comes to matters of faith?
2 Corinthians 8:21 reads:

We care about doing the right thing, not only in the Lord’s eyes but also in the eyes of other people.

In Every Situation

 

 

 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

—2 Thessalonians 3:16

 

What can we do when bad news arrives?

Last week, we found out that the young son of someone we know has leukemia.

About the same time, some new friends of ours had a baby very prematurely and the baby died.

What could be said at times like these?

I am not a doctor, so I would not have been able to advise either couple on medical issues, even though I really do care.

Nor am I able to heal a broken heart, even though I hope for that healing.

Jesus is the Lord of peace, however, and He can carry any of us through any and every situation—even illness and death.

How does He do that?

I don’t know.

I just know that He knows all things and He is able to do all things.

Even when it seems impossible, He can comfort and heal.

His peace

 

Whom Shall I Fear?

Recently, I knew I was going to be facing a challenge.

I anticipated fear as an unwelcome component of the challenge.

My prayer request to many of my friends was the same—pray that I would not be afraid.

God answered my prayer and theirs.

In meeting the challenge, I found that God carried me through the entire thing.

Fear was not gripping me in its hold.

I felt at peace.

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The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

 –Psalm 27:1

 

 

whom shall

 

Be Strong in the Faith

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As I walked along the lake, I felt impressed to photograph the scene before me.

All was calm and serene.

Strong trees growing near the edge, laced with plants growing right out of the water.

Like those trees, I want to have my “roots” connected to Jesus, so that my life will thrive as I go about each day.

I want my life to be built on Him, being strong in faith.

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As you received Christ Jesus the Lord,

so continue to live in Him.

Keep your roots deep in Him

and have your lives built on Him.

Be strong in the faith,

just as you were taught,

and always be thankful.

—Colossians 2:6-7

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be strong

No One Can Boast

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While visiting a gym this past weekend, I noticed a scoreboard on a platform.

Of course, scoreboards are used to keep track of points earned and to display who is the best.

They proclaim who is the winner.

Do you ever try to “measure up” to other people?

It’s easy to consider that someone you know is kinder, smarter or more talented.

You might even think other people are more spiritual or closer to God.

Does your response lead you to try harder to be acceptable?

There is nothing wrong with desiring to be more like Christ.

We can hope to be kinder to those around us, showing them His love.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be closer to God.

But if we think that we must reach a certain level of acceptability to finally achieve God’s approval, we are missing an important truth.

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

We should want to live our lives the way that He would have us to out of gratitude for what He has done for us, not in order to gain our salvation.

There is no heavenly scoreboard that keeps track of our works, finally declaring one day that we have “won” our  redemption for ourselves.

We are free from that kind of burden.

If this has been a concern for you, consider these words form Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith.

Not works.

A plan of love from God to us.

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boast

Those Who Led You

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Doing some sightseeing with a visiting relative this past week, we drove by a church in another town.

Looking high above the trees, we could see the cross on top of a bell tower.

As far as I can tell, I don’t know anyone who attends that church, but I know there are those that do.

And—-there are those who have attended in the past.

Probably many, many people.

People who have come there to worship.

People who have come there to teach others.

People who have led each other as they spoke God’s word.

Think back—-

Who has invested their life into your spiritual journey?

A parent?

A friend?

A teacher?

A pastor or priest?

Do you remember them?

Do you remember their faith in God?

Are you investing your life into the spiritual journey of those God has brought into your scope of influence?

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Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
—Hebrews 13:7
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led you

Transient

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Faith.

Believing.

Knowing in our hearts.

Touching what is not seen with outstretched hands of hope.

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So we do not lose heart.

Though our outer self is wasting away,

our inner self is being renewed day by day.

For this light momentary affliction

is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

For the things that are seen are transient,

but the things that are unseen are eternal.

—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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transient

To the Throne of Grace

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Below are some of the lyrics to a popular Christian song:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(from “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher)

Lately, the words, “And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You” have gone to a special place in my heart.

How precious to even consider that during our greatest weakness, God is there for us to fall on.
In recent weeks, several people that I know have faced extreme circumstances.
In fact, some of them are still facing these trials today.
This song, when changed to an intercessory prayer, is a comfort to me concerning them:

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Lord, they come, they confess
Bowing there, they find their rest
Without You they would fall apart
You’re the One that guides their heart
Lord, they need You, oh, they need You
Every hour they need You
Their one defense, their righteousness
Oh God, how they need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, they are free
Holiness is Christ in them
Teach their song to rise to You
When temptation comes their way
And when they cannot stand let them fall on You
Jesus, You’re their hope and stay
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My heart is solemn as I yearn for healing of every situation in the lives of my each of my friends who are facing troubles.
God is the only One who can take care of each of the needs.
What a precious privilege to have the gift of prayer.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16

 

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Throne of Grace

The Path of Life Known

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The traffic was called to stop as the guard arms came down into place by the railroad.

Red lights flashed.

In the near distance, I could hear the sound of a train whistle.

Seconds later, a train came, crossing in front of me.

Where was it going?

I will never know, but the conductor of the train knew just exactly where it was going.

He also knew that the train would get there on the rails.

Not on the paved highway where I was.

Not by traveling on vast fields.

Not on dirt roads.

It would get there on a train track that had been laid out to take them there.

That was really the only way possible.

If we want to live forever in Heaven, there is just one way.

Not on the paved highway of good works.

Not by traveling on vast fields of humanism.

Not on dirt roads of self-sufficiency.

We will have to go on a path that has been laid out to take us there.

This path can only be traveled by those whose passage has been secured by faith in Jesus.

Psalm 16:11 reads,

“You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.”

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path of life

Where We Always Hoped We Might Stand

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Where have you always hoped you might stand?

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

–Romans 5:1-2  The Message

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glorious two

He Was Commended

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Every time I think about it, I become quiet and sad.

I was out of town last night.

Wondering what the weather was going to be like for the evening, I picked up my cell phone to check the forecast.

When I did, I also read something posted on a network site I use.

A friend of mine from my teenaged years had just days before been killed in a car accident.

I thought of memories of him when we were both young.

He was funny.

He was talented.

Since I had moved several hundred miles away from our home town, I had not talked to him in several years.

Feeling earnestly saddened by the news, I chose to read from a Bible app on my cell phone.

It had been awhile since I had last read from it.

Opening it, I found the scripture that I had most recently viewed.

The book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 4 and 5 were there.

 

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

 

When I found out about the accident, I looked at an online obituary and read comments there made by his friends and co-workers.

The part of the scripture that read, “And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead,” really stood out to me.

When someone truly serves God with a faithful heart, doesn’t their example live on as a testimony, even though they are dead?

Another part of the passage that was meaningful to me was, “For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”

Wouldn’t you want that to be said about you?

Wouldn’t you want that to be the truth about your life?

That you were one who pleased God?

I believe the passage from Hebrews was left on my phone for a reason.

God knew that I would find out about my friend and begin reading from His word.

These two verses spoke to me at a time when I was contemplating the end of life’s journey here.

God is like that, you know.

He never leaves us, and when we need comfort or guidance, He can bring it to us in His perfect timing and in His way.

 

 

 

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