Archive for March, 2024

The Faith Factor in Happiness

Jesus gathered with the disciples in the upper room the night of His execution. The world of the disciples is about to go into eclipse at midday. Their world is about to fall apart. They were understandably distressed.

He has always told His followers of the glory and the pain involved in following Him. As they must, we must so realize you can’t expect to eat the honey unless you are willing to take the stings.

In comforting His disciples that night He shared a principle that can give us stability in our crisis. It is faith, Faith is merely confidence in God’s character.

Hear this: “Faith is the submission of our reasoning and worry to all that is revealed (in God’s Word).”

Faith does not ignore facts, it introduces facts, the facts of revelation.

Faith is not irrational; it is supernatural.

The Greek word for faith, “pistis”  comes from the word, “pisteuo,” meaning to obey. When you say you have faith in God you are saying I am willing to obey God.

Dale Evans, wife of Old West cowboy hero Roy Rogers, observed: “I sought the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow. It eluded me. By simple faith, I found it at the foot of the cross.”

Perhaps you have been looking for your pot of gold without success. All that the heart longs for can be found in Jesus.

When we look at things through our natural eyes they may well appear to be foreboding and frightening. When we look at them through the eyes of faith they are seen differently.

Faith is confidence in God.

Is there any area of your life in which Jesus is not trusted with absolute control?

It is possible, though always improper, for Him to be present in your life without being President of your life.

He is not to be dormant in your life, but dominant.

Do you want Him merely as your Savior Lord or as your Sovereign Lord, that is, the one with absolute authority? If you say you have faith in Him, act like it. That means to trust and obey Him.

“This is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith.”

Faith Is Obedience

Don’t try to tell the world you love Jesus while not obeying Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey Me” (John 14: 15).

He then made a statement of confirmation: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

Jesus made it clear. If we love Him we obey Him. If you are not obeying Him you don’t love Him no matter how loudly you profess that you love Him. He made it clear, didn’t He? Conversely, our obedience of Him reveals we love Him.

Faith is obedience. You are walking in the way if you obey His instructions.

A 20th Century example is Corrie ten Boom. She lived through the worst Satan could hurl at her. In a Nazi concentration camp she saw her family tortured, starved, and killed. She survived through a clerical error. Yet, through all of her anguish, misery, torment and pain she was obedient to God and strong in her faith.

Her obedience under those extenuating circumstances, like that of many others, may be explained by this statement found on one of the walls in a German concentration camp:

“I believe in the sun, even when it isn’t shining.
I believe in love, even when I feel it not.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

The way is not a process but a person.  Once we have chosen Him as our way to life we must make Him our way of life and not turn back.

The Mexican General Santa Anna forced Sam Houston and his rag tag army into an area of near impossibility. Defeat seemed imminent to many. To Houston’s back was the river. To his fore the army of Santa Anna.  He called his aid, Deaf Smith, and ordered him to burn the bridge across the river. Deaf protested that it was the only way out for them. Houston replied, “We ain’t going out that way, burn the bridge.” With that resolution he was committed to one way and offered no alternative. Do you have some bridges you need to burn to evidence your total dependence on Jesus?

Older theologians described saving faith in three words:
NOTITIA = knowledge.
ASSENSUS = intellectual assent.
FIDUCIA  =  a trust of personal commitment.     

How can you know you are doing the right thing? Proverbs 10: 17 answers, “He is in the way of life that keeps instruction.”

Pray with the Psalmist, “Teach me your way, I will walk in truths” (Psalm 86: 11).

What Does It Mean To Abide?

As a fruit tree is intended to bear fruit so a Christian is intended to produce certain things in life. Such spiritual qualities are likened to “fruit.” The branch can’t produce fruit unless it is connected to a vine. Simple, isn’t it?

Jesus likens our relationship to Him to that of a branch to a vine. He said the branch must “abide” in Him.  Abide translates the Greek word “meno.” It is translated by eight different English words in the New Testament: abide, be present, continue, dwell, endure, remain, stand, and tarry.

John 15: 7 gives a sign that we are abiding in Him. It is that His words “abide in” us. That calls for more than intellectual ascent, it requires obedience.

The issue is obedience. A recent “Gallup Poll” showed Americans are “impressively religious.” The poll probed beneath the surface of that fact. It further showed that 3 out of 4 “Do not connect religion with their judgment of right and wrong.”

If you think you are saved, but you aren’t interested in obedience, you had better check your ticket.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14). It is the kind of faith that works. Loving God is more than emotional goosebumps; it is a commitment to selfless love resulting in obedience.

Do you love the Lord enough to obey Him?

Don’t throw God a bone unless it has the meat of obedience on it.

Emotional highs are refreshing. However, it doesn’t matter how high you jump when you shout. What counts is how straight you walk when you hit the ground. Christ is looking for consistency.

Would you be pleased with a refrigerator that works six days a week, but won’t run on the other?

What would your boss think if you missed work a few days each month?

What must our Lord think when we act equally as sporadic in our spiritual lives?

Psalm 37: 4, 5 portrays what happens when we obey God:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”

Persistent Obedience

As a young minister I learned a poem that in part explains the intimacy resulting in obedience.

“I had walked life’s path with an easy tread.
I followed where comfort and pleasure led.
Until one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.

With station and rank and wealth for my goal,
Much thought for my body, but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face.

I met Him and knew and blushed to see
His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and faded away!

Melted and vanished and in their place
Naught else did I see but the Master’s face.
And I cried aloud, ‘Oh, make me meet
To follow in the steps of your wounded feet!’

My thoughts are now for the souls of men,
I have lost my life to find it again,
E’re since that day in a quiet place
I met the Master face to face.

When we do things change — always for the best. The key to a predictive Christian life isn’t mystical, but sheer obedience because of love for the Lord. Obedience demands persistence.

The waterway connecting the Aegean and Black Sea is called the Dardanelles. From their armada the British fought a fierce battle with the shore batteries of the Turks. Finally the British gave up and sailed away. What they didn’t know is that at the moment they quit the battle the Turks had less than one minute of ammunition left. That military lesson from life has served as a reminder to me never to give up and quit the spiritual battle in which we are engaged with the adversary.

‘Oh, make me meet To follow in the steps of your wounded feet!

How Is Your Love Life? Part Two

I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8

The kind of love the Father wants to harvest in your life has several facets. Observe: “Love suffers long,” that is, it is patient.  This word was always used to speak of patience with people, not circumstances.  We are to be patient with circumstances also, but this word relates to personal relationships.  It is the ability to be wronged and wronged again and having the power to retaliate ,but never even thinking about doing it.  That is love.

II Peter 3:9 says of God “He is longsuffering — not willing that any should perish.”

“Love …is kind.”  This is the flip side of patience.  Patience endures the injustices of others while kindness pays them back with good deeds.  Inherent in the Greek word for kindness is the meaning of being “useful.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies…feel good about them.”  He said, “do good to them,” that is, be useful to them.

“Love does not envy.”  Another word for envy is “jealousy.”  Shakespeare called it “the green sickness,” Solomon spoke of it as “rottenness of the bones.”  A Latin proverb called it “the enemy of honor.”  It is “the sorrow of fools.”

One form of envy is to want what you have.  Another is to wish they didn’t have it. The root word for envy means to “boil.”

“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” To be puffed up means to have an attitude of false pride while the idea of parading oneself means to verbalize pride.  Our word “windbag” comes from the root word “vaunteth.” This is the flip side of envy.  Envy is wanting what others have.  To be a boastful windbag is to try to make others want what you have.

“Love does not behave rudely.”

“Love does not seek its own.” It isn’t selfish.

“Love is not provoked.”  The root is the word from which we get our word “paroxysm” which means a sudden outburst. Thus, love is never ready to fight.

“Love thinks no evil.”  The word “thinks” translates logizomai which was an accounting term meaning “to keep a mathematical account.”  Love doesn’t keep score.   It is the same word used to speak of God’s pardoning act toward us.

“Love does not rejoice over iniquity.”  Love doesn’t brag over sin.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Everybody soon or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

“Love rejoices in the truth.” Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life is the personification of “the truth.”

Do you rejoice in Him so fully that you are willing to give yourself self-sacrificingly to Him in your daily life publicly?