Faith


Most of us would probably crumble under the load suffered by Job. You remember Job. In the Bible when his story is told, it goes something like this:

Servant 1: Raiders came and stole all the livestock.

Servant 2: Your enemies burned all the crops.

Servant 3: Bad storm destroyed the house where all your kids wore—no survivors.

In fact, the only survivors of each of the tragedies was the one servant who got away to tell the tale. And then, just to make matters worse, festering sores surfaced on his body. The once healthy, wealthy, God-fearing man faced a mountain of adversity that left him broken in body and bankbook.

How can you face such adversity? Whether you do or do not know the source? My best advice is to trust the One who is always faithful. When we remain faithful, we always find God to be faithful. The lesson that we learn from Job is to stay faithful even in the face of adversity. And what we fi.]nd is that God is faithful even when our adversaries seem to win the day.

(And just as a reminder, at the end of the story Job was restored with interest—from his crops to his cattle to his children.) [To read the story of Job’s tragedy, see Job 1 & 2 in the Old Testament; for his restoration story, read Job 42:10-17.]

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.   — 1 Chronicles 16:34

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As He so often does, God showed up again a few months ago as we were in the process of finalizing our second adoption. We had received instructions from our adoption agency and had made travel arrangements according to the timetable they had sent us. We arrived in country as planned and then, on a daily basis, learned that the timetable we had been given was more or less wishful thinking. With each passing day, appointments we had on our schedule were delayed, and we began to think that our travel arrangements as well as the funds we had arranged would need to be changed and stretched to accommodate the delays.

The outcome was a God’s-timing thing, though. While our meetings in city number one of a two-city requirement did not happen as planned, we were able to check out city-one hotel on time without extra charge, and into city-two hotel on the prescribed arrival day. And although my anxiety continued to soar throughout the process, we were even able to head back to the USA (child Number Five in hand) a day early.

The lesson we learn (again and again) in life’s arena is that God has the most impeccable timing of anyone. The biggest struggle that most believers (even preachers) have is to wait on His timetable. When we follow His calling, trust in His leading, and hope in His providing, we are never disappointed, and often overwhelmed.

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”   — Isaiah 55:8

“The wise man built his house upon the Rock/The wise man built his house upon the Rock . . . And the house on the Rock stood fast.” Remember those words from the children’s song? Based on Matthew 7:24-27, this little song is a reminder that when we go to build a building (or a wall, or any structure for that matter), if we want to last we build on a firm foundation.

In matters of faith there is only one firm foundation, only one strong stone on which to build our house—and that foundation is Jesus. Yes, people place their faith in many things. In the 1920s, many people placed their faith in a strong and growing economy. As the ‘20s turned into the ‘30s, the formerly rich and famous discovered just how feeble that foundation was.

People also repeatedly put their faith in other people. Part of the problem with this is that we may attach our belief to the wrong person (or group of persons). At any rate, people have a tendency to act like, well, people; and not being infallible or perfect, people will constantly fail in our expectations.

Others can be found to put their faith in systems—political, economic, educational, religious, and the list goes on. Systems are a man-made commodity, and since men are flawed, flaws find their way into systems. At a certain point all systems breakdown (this is why we are constantly waiting on our smart phones to upgrade their operating system).

And so, if you want to find a foundation to build your faith on that will not fail, look to Jesus. He is the firm foundation that will shore up your faith when the doubts and fears arise.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”   —Ephesians 2:8-9

When people ask me who or what inspires me, some of my first thoughts turn to Mother. There is just something utterly inspiring about a mother. In general, many people are inspired by the thought of mothers, if not by an actual mother. Mothers are there from the very beginning of a person’s life. They are present at the birth, present for the nurturing, present for the good times, present for the bad.

Often, we have been inspired by a mother-figure. In the Christian life, we are inspired, encouraged, and challenged by the life of the little nun who was known as Mother Teresa for all of the good she did in life, for the Christ-like example she lived, and for her ever-present smile.

Personally, I have been inspired by my own mother repeatedly. It was my mother’s influence that led me to believe in Christ as a little child. It was her commitment that helped me stick with it many times when I wanted to give up. I have also been inspired by the mother of my children (I call her my Blushing Bride). She is the epitome of love and devotion. She hurts when our children hurt, she cries when they cry, she laughs when they laugh, and she even finds time to correct them when they get out of line.

What is the best way to honor these inspirational ladies today on Mother’s Day? Lend a hand to someone in need; tell a friend about Jesus; walk with Jesus and share the love.

Happy Mother’s Day!

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  —Paul, 2 Timothy 1:5

My son is easily distracted. He is distracted when eating—by everything on the table, everyone in the room, and every sound that happens within earshot. Even more, he is a distracted walker. I often find myself holding more tightly to his hand and reminding him to watch where he is going when a school bus, or a friend, or a stranger happens by. More often than not he is looking to the side or behind him instead of paying attention with his eyes on his destination. The big problem with not looking where one is going is that it may cause the person in motion to run into another person, or perhaps a tree or pole that is in the path, or even step into a hole or obstacle that is in the way perhaps even suffering injury because of inattention.

Driving is also an example of the need to look ahead. Looking away from the road—to read, text, do your makeup, (you fill in the blank)—for even one second can have tragic results. So much disaster has been caused by distracted driving prompting many states to create motor vehicle laws to cover it—some general mentioning the sweeping category of “distracted driving”; while others are specifically dealing with our nation’s addiction to handheld electronic devices that we just can’t seem to put down.

Living the Christian life is just so. There are numerous things to distract the believer, a whole mountain of events, people, and places to get us off-track. Even so, it is important for the follower of Christ to, well, follow Christ. In order to do this we must face forward, pay attention to our Leader, and watch where we are going.

“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”  —Paul, Philippians 3:13b-14

In math classes in school they still teach a concept known as “greater than/less than.” This is not the technical name for the concept, but as children we learn that some quantities are greater than others.

The book of Hebrews is a testimony to this concept on a much deeper level than what quantity is greater or less than another quantity. In the book of Hebrews we find that Christ is greater than every other person or thing that we know.

The prophets of Old Testament days were important. They had a direct line to God. He spoke to them and gave them a message that was always true. As a group, these prophets were revered long after their death because of the intimacy they had with God. But the book of Hebrews teaches us that the prophets of old had nothing on Jesus. As closely as these men walked with God, as spiritual as they were, and as important as they were to the history of Israel, Jesus walked closer; He has a greater spirit; He is more important to the history of the World.

Jesus is the great Greater Than.

 “[T]hat at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Philippians 2:10a)

Hardly anyone does anything without the aid of the Internet these days. For someone to get on-line to do research, check email, or a number of other tasks, he must have a “service provider.” When the provider has problems the access to the internet goes down. And in our area, I find that my provider is not always adequate to the task I am doing.

Healthcare has jumped on the “provider” bandwagon, too. We no longer get to see our doctor, but must make appointments with our “primary care provider” which is often a group that has been approved by our insurance—that’s how healthcare providers get paid. This kind of system makes it cumbersome to need and see a physician.

There is one provider who never lets us down, though. God has chosen to be the provider for all the needs of mankind—He just wants us to receive this provision. He does all the work. As the hymn writer said, “Have faith in God, He provides for His own.”

 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

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