Tag Archives: believe

Your Faith

We are very self-centered. Take a photo with a group of people, and surely you will first seek out yourself in the picture when you first look at it. It’s in our nature. Even when we think of our faith walk, we think it is all about us.

Your faith is not simply your faith. Whether you realize it or accept it, your faith life is on display to anyone who sets their eyes on you. With each step you take, you have the opportunity to point to Jesus. As you live out your life, if you are walking with a firm faith, people will notice. People will question. People will desire to know why things are different for you. But this cannot happen when you are not walking in faithful obedience. This cannot happen if you do not demonstrate your faith. The question at that point is—are you truly a person of faith? Faith is trust in action. I can believe something, but trusting is beyond simple belief.

Paul speaks about a group of people who had faith that was spoken about “all over the world.” What?!? All over the world they were talking of their faith? YES! The people were faithfully obedient and thus, others came to hear of Jesus Christ because of their faith. Today, consider who is talking about your faith. Is anyone talking about your faith? If I spoke with your family and friends today, would they mention your faith? Are there people who have not yet heard about Jesus, because you are not ready to share your faith? Remember, your faith is not all about you. Someone needs to hear your testimony. May today be the day you share what Jesus is doing for you!

“Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in Him is being talked about all over the world.” – Romans 1:8 [NLT]

Glory to His Name

We have been given the privilege and authority to share the Good News. We have a great responsibility and a great opportunity to tell people everywhere what God has done. As we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He has done in our own lives, the Spirit will grow the kingdom of God. When people believe, they will obey. In doing so, God will be glorified.

We have a great role in the Kingdom. It is not something to take lightly. God has sent us to go to the nations and this requires dedication and sacrifice. We have been given everything we need to do what He has called us to accomplish. We simply need to walk in faithful obedience.

Today, embrace the privilege and authority He has given you. Ask the Spirit how you can share what God has done for you. You are a chosen vessel, but remember the Spirit does the rest. Pray that those who hear about Jesus will open their hearts, believe, and obey. To God be the glory.

“Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to His name.” – Romans 1:5 [NLT]

Receive

In John, we read that the “children of God” became so because they “did receive him,” they “believed in His name.” So often we talk about when we “received” Jesus or “believed in Jesus.” To outsiders it may sound confusing. What does it mean to “receive Jesus”? This is something one may consider.

I remember when I was in college, we had to memorize the Prologue. It was a task I accepted but considered a bit strange because memorization tests are not always very fruitful with time. How many things have you memorized for a test and yet you can still remember today? But I understand the importance of this passage in John, which wraps everything up as a beautiful gift to open for all who read.

The gift we receive is Jesus Christ. The introduction speaks of a forerunner coming to prepare the way for the One Who, since the very beginning, was to come and redeem the world from sin that God knew would separate God from man. Many are overwhelmed by the words that speak of deity, life, light, flesh, law, truth, and grace. First, open the gift of Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Believe in Him. These two things are linked together. You cannot believe without receiving. You cannot receive something unless it was freely given. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you; He has been reaching out to you so you can come to know Him. If you receive, you believe. This is a belief of trust. If you believe, if you receive—you have the right to become a child of God.

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12

God Sees to It

In Genesis 22, we read in verse 14 the term GOD-Yireh. The Message translates this to “God sees to it.” To see to something, one makes sure it will happen, that whatever is needed is provided. In this case, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his treasured son Isaac on the altar. Abraham did exactly what was commanded, taking Isaac and binding him to prepare for the sacrifice.

As Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God stepped in and we read of an angel calling out to stop the sacrifice. This attempted sacrifice showed Abraham feared God. After the angel interruption, then God provided another sacrifice—a ram that got caught in the thicket by his horns. God saw to it that there was something to sacrifice. In the same way, He sees to it that all our needs are provided.

Today realize that not only does God sees all, but He also sees things through to completion. When you think that there is no other way, there is a ram in the thicket. When you think that you cannot take anything more, there is a ram in the thicket. When you are struggling, in need, tired, or not well, there is often a ram in the thicket. If God called you to it, He will see you through it—with His strength to achieve His plan and finish the race focused on His purpose and for His glory.

Only Chance

I’ve lost count of how many times I listened to the words “only chance.” Time and time again, we get to a point when we have the opportunity to trust God to do something big in our lives. At times we hear these words – “it’s our ONLY CHANCE.” We listen. We take things into our own hands. We make heaps of messes.

In Genesis 19, we read about Lot settling in the mountains with his daughters. They had been safely escorted out of Sodom only for Lot’s daughters to cling to these words – only chance. They design a plan of drunken relations to continue their father’s bloodline. We also read of Abraham and Sarah caving to what they perceived to be their only chance for a child. This only chance became an interaction with Hagar, which was not part of God’s plan for the promised decedents that would be numbered as many stars that fill up the sky.

Following God’s will is difficult, especially when we start believing it is our only chance to do something we desire. What if we miss our one opportunity? Understand that God has a better plan that you can ask or imagine. You may believe that this is your only chance; however, if this chance isn’t coming to surface at this moment, perhaps God is working on something better. There is always a good reason. Trust and patience are increased as we continue to rest in Him.


I have been reading The Message 100: The Story of God in Sequence by Eugene Peterson. I am grateful for the opportunity to review this new release from NavPress. I received this Bible free for review thanks to Tyndale House Publishers. I have read The Message (NavPress) twice and I have read the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale) as well, so I was eager to dig into the Message 100 to read this new version.

I am enjoying the chronological layout with the trusted paraphrase from Eugene Peterson. Reading in this order allows for a deeper understanding of the Bible, but written at a level that builds bridges for any reading level. It is a pure pleasure being able to sit and read God’s Word in the evening. During a recent message I preached, I recommended this new Bible, because I know that the Message paraphrase is a great translation to read along with a daily reading Bible. I always recommend having a few different translations to read for a deeper understanding. A chronological Bible is a blessing because it helps the reader to see things in an order that is not easy to understand when not in sequence.

The Message can be understood by any type of reader. This new Bible displays the verse numbers so you can look to your daily reading Bible for further study. As well, there is a guide to show where the books can be found as the order is chronological. The 100 readings are designed for a great progression through the books, without any loss to the message of the Gospel. The Bible allows for anyone to encounter Jesus and be moved by how He reveals Himself to us through His Word. There is plenty of room to write in the margins of this Bible as the Spirit leads.

themessage100.com

The Soldier

Tonight as I walked the dogs, I proceeded down a street I walk every day. As I continued forward, I heard the sound of a drill sergeant from what I imagined. I couldn’t make out the words because it was in the distance, but I envisioned the scenes I had seen again and again in movies. When I got closer, I noticed the all-familiar face of a soldier I spoke to in passing many times.

As this soldier sat on his porch swing, he looked forward, staring at the flags before him—the American flag and the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”). He shouted orders as he stared until he saw the dogs and I approaching. Then he apologized and confided that he got papers today—a red one and a white one. These papers are not what you are probably thinking; they were divorce papers. We spoke for a bit. He was somewhat incoherent. My dog was getting antsy due to an approaching dog so I told him to “hang in there” and continued walking. He returned to his shouting. I felt great sadness.

I ended up crossing the street and passing by again. We again spoke briefly. I told him to “take care.” I started praying for him as I journeyed onward. A short distance ahead were police—two police officers speaking with a neighbor. In little time they made their way up to this man. I continued to pray as sorrow began to weigh me down. Why did I not stay longer to speak with him? Why did I not pray with him? So tonight I pray, I pray for this man who knew I didn’t understand. He said it numerous times during his incoherent mumbling. But I know a God Who understands. He understands even the groans when we cannot speak. He understands all the hurt, all the pain, all the temptations, all the struggles. He understands it all. Sometimes I cannot understand but I’m thankful He always does. Sometimes I cannot find the right words, but He always has a Perfect Word. And I’m thankful that the weight I felt from the burden of sorrow I can give to Him and rest in His promises.

Please pray for this soldier. I don’t know his name. But God does.

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 [MSG]

Flat Tire

The other day I had a flat tire. I was so very blessed to have a handful of people come to my rescue. It is always a blessing when there are too many hands to do a job. As we pulled the spare tire out of the car to use for a temporary solution, it became clear right away that the spare tire was flat. Good grief?!? Here’s a tire that has one job—to be ready for when a flat tire occurs – and it was flat.

Thankfully one disciple stepped up to get the spare filled with air so I could be on my way. But in the time waiting, I considered the flat tire and its failure. It had one job. Only one job. Failure. It reminded me of something we need always remember – nothing is 100% reliable except for God and His Truth. He never fails. His love never fails (Psalm 136). His Word never fails (Isaiah 55:11, Matthew 24:35, Luke 1:37).

People will fail you again and again. They might not always be on time or they might not show up at all. People may break promises or break your heart. People will lie. People will fall short. Spare tires will be flat. Cars won’t start. The money might not get deposited. The promised raise may not come. But with God, all things are sure and true. Today remember that through all the twists and turns in life, one thing remains – God. He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He doesn’t leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). He keeps His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9). How awesome is our God!

How the Mighty Have Fallen

In 2 Samuel 1 we read about the death of Saul and Jonathan at the hands of the Philistines. David is told this news and he lamented. He writes this long lamentation that says “how the mighty have fallen” three times (vs. 19-27). It is such a beautiful collection of words as a tribute for these men. As I read through this passage, it is easy to see how David wanted to honor these men; however, it also can serve as a reminder—“How the mighty have fallen.”

No matter how strong we are on our own, we will fall. No matter how much we achieve, we will fall. No matter how high up the ladder we climb by our own human standards, we will fall. We will fall. But that’s not the end of the story. It’s only a small smidgen of life. God has promised us life and life in abundance (John 10:10). His Word says that if we believe in Him, we will have everlasting life (John 3:36). We may fall but we will rise with Him. On His shoulders He carries us home (John 6:40).

You can trust in the promises of God for He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is true. He is the Promise Keeper. Each of us will fall again and again, but with each sin we are covered by the blood of Christ. Each of us will one day breathe our last breath, but that last breath of air is not the end. Oh how the mighty have fallen— but oh how the children of God will live forever with Him rejoicing together, singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8 NIV).

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 [NLT]

Acts: Persecution

Acts Series: Persecutions

… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12 [NIV]

Bold Speech + Truth = Persecution

“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.’” Acts 7:54-60 [NIV]

We must obey God rather than men

Apostles had to appear before Sanhedrin to be questioned by high priest. Reminded them of orders to not teach in name of Jesus. Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human beings! (see Acts 5:29)

— GOD DELIGHTS IN OUR OBEDIENCE —

Standing Ovation from Jesus

“’Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” – Acts 7:56 [NIV]

Stoning of Stephen = Spread of Persecution = Spread of Gospel

“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.” – Acts 8:1 [NLT]

— GOD USES EVIL FOR GOOD –

Blessed are those Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matthew 5:10-12 [MSG]

What to do when facing persecution:

BE SUBMISSIVE

Acts 4:3 Peter and John were arrested – didn’t fight back

“Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.” – 1 Peter 2:20 [NLT]

BE SPIRIT-FILLED

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 [ESV]

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NASB]

BE BOLD IN TRUTH

“Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time – Ephesians 6:19b [MSG]

Acts 4:24b-31 [ESV] “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.’

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This is one of the 4 part Acts series:

Acts: Prayer

Acts: Possessions

Acts: Persecution

Acts: Proclamation

The Land I Show You

There are moments when God is leading us in a direction and we hesitate because we are uncertain of the direction. The “what ifs” and other questions go through our mind. Many times we experience this type of situation even when we are given clear direction. I can only imagine how it was for Abraham with no direction—only a promise.

The Lord told Abraham, or Abram, to leave his country and his family and go “to the land that I will show you.” So he was going to land that he didn’t even know anything about, not even a name or small piece of information. It was all about trusting God, trusting Him even when the road ahead could not be seen.

Perhaps Abraham did not know where the road would lead, but he had a promise. He had a promise from the Lord. We too might not see the road too far ahead, but we also have a promise. And a promise from God can be taken as truth. He is the ultimate promise keeper. May your faith be strong like Abraham—may you walk forward even when the road is hard to see, trusting that God has a great plan and He is faithful.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” – Genesis 12:1 [NLT]