Keep the faith

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight,(…) Hebrews 11.32-34

The writer of Hebrews is unknown, but his message is one that has encouraged people through the ages. The message is that Jesus is better. He is better than the angels and Moses. He is a better High Priest. The covenant he has established is a better one.

Why is he making all these comparisons? The Jewish Christians, at the time, were getting discouraged and were returning to the old law. This letter was written to help them embrace what was better and to hold on to it with all they had in them.

In chapter 11, we have a list of people throughout the history of the Jews who were commended for their faith, from Abel to Rahab, the prostitute who was saved by faith and entered into the lineage of Jesus. They kept their faith alive even though they did not see Jesus who was coming to establish a covenant that would have the potential to reach all people. Some of those mentioned are spoken of in positive terms, but many kept their faith alive in the midst of suffering.

Today, we have received what so many in the past awaited anxiously. Let us take it to heart and not diminish its value. Let us also keep the faith!

#risingjoy #Hebrews #faith

I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.

The editorial in the local paper said he was 30 years old, lived in Texas, and went to a “Covid party.” He died after being infected with the virus. The article continued with “Just before he died, he told his nurse: ‘I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.’” The editor continued as he encouraged people to be safe, wear a mask and wash hands…regularly!

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.” There’s a lesson to be gained by the young man’s statement both physically and spiritually. I wonder when we are standing at the entrance of death’s door if we will be faced with the same thought. Imagine with me…

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of an antiquated book called the Bible was out-of-date. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of being baptized for the remission of sins was a hoax, and flipped the idea away.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of attending the services of the church faithfully was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of serving the Lord while I was young was a hoax.” I thought I had plenty of time and would sow my wild oats before giving my life to the Lord.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the Lord’s example of taking the Lord’s supper every first day of the week was not something He meant EVERY week and necessary.

I think I made a mistake. I thought giving on the first day of the week as I had been prospered was a hoax, and just so I dropped in a dollar on Easter Sunday or Christmas when visiting my family would be enough.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching about going into all the world and teaching others was a hoax and meant for preachers and others but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His example of loving your neighbor was a hoax and meant for my neighbors but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on praying all the time was a hoax but just for times when I was really in desperate need.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on Bible study was a hoax and just for preachers but not for me.

At death our history is written. All that we can do has been done. It is finished. The saddest thought we could ever have at that time is to say, “I think I made a mistake. I thought the Bible was a hoax, but it’s not.” It would be great if wearing a mask and washing our hands regularly could right the mistake but only the blood of Jesus can do that. Now is the time to make sure our life is not a mistake when our last breath is about to be taken. Christianity is not a hoax

#christian-living, #faith

More valuable than gold

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1.7-9

Our faith is more valuable than gold that has been purified by fire. Yet, it is not something that will last. For faith when Jesus is revealed will pass away for it will become something that is concrete.

How can you love someone that you have never seen? Or believe in a place that you have never been? We actually do that all the time. I believe that George Washington existed because of all the historical documents that have been written that point to his existence. I have never been to Europe or Africa, but I have seen pictures that others have taken. I know that these places exist even though I have never been personally.

How do I know that Jesus exists? I know that he exists by faith. How do I get faith? It comes from what is heard, Romans 10.17. The Bible is God’s word, his revelation to man. It tells of Jesus, of his life and of his mission. His mission was to give salvation to man through his sacrifice on the cross. His life was one of obedience to God in all things. I believe based upon the testimony of others.

Do you have faith? How valuable is it?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #faith

Useless discussions

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day. Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1.12-13

Paul was nearing the end of his life. This is the last known letter that he wrote. He wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith, to encourage him to stand firm in the faith. Earlier he had told Timothy to not be ashamed to admit his faith in Jesus and in Paul. Timothy could be fearful at times. He would get caught up in useless discussions that served no purpose but to draw the focus away from Jesus and the work that Timothy was to be doing. Paul in 1.7 wrote to Timothy that God did not give him a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. If we are fearful, we need to recognize that fear does not come from God. He gives us the same spirit of power, love, and self-control that he gave to Timothy. If we are called upon to suffer because of our faith in Jesus, we should not be ashamed. We should look to Jesus in whom our faith is set. We need to have the same conviction that Paul demonstrated that Jesus is capable. Do you let doubt creep in? Do you let fear get a foothold? Go back to the sound words that we hear from Paul and Jesus. We have to continue in the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ to remain strong in our faith. Read your Bible! For it is there and only there that we will find the sound words that are to be our model to follow.

#risingjoy #2-Timothy #faith

Watches the wind, Ecclesiastes 11.4

“He who watches the wind will not sow, and he who observes the clouds will not reap.”

Ecclesiastes 11.4

The person who is always looking for bad signs and expecting the worst to happen will never do anything of value.

Faith in God’s promises causes one to sow the seed of the gospel and of kindness and of truth, even when it seems nothing good can come of it.

#votd #Ecclesiastes #faith

Witnesses of all he did, Acts 10.39

“We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,”

Acts 10.39

Mass hysteria (which some allege) could not have been sustained over a period of three or so years. People in general knew “what happened” vv. 37-38. A few observed up close.

Our faith is based on facts. Eyewitnesses saw what Jesus did and said. In every way the gospel is confirmed, by them and by miracles performed.

#votd #Acts #faith

Faith is dead: James 2.17

“So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.”

James 2.17

James is the book of action. He stresses how important it is to live out one’s faith, but always in the shadow of God’s help and guidance. Faith that does nothing is dead.

Teaching is not done as an intellectual exercise or to satisfy curiosity, but to direct Christians in God-approved works. From beginning to end, approved faith must engage in approved actions.

#votd #James #faith

God took him up: Hebrews 11.5

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God.”

Hebrews 11.5

Not much is said about Enoch in Genesis, but his experience was unique. He walked with God. It meant God was pleased with him because he lived by faith. God freed him from the cares of this world.

What a wonderful legacy to leave to the world! If Enoch lived this way in primordial times, may we also live at the end time. Do we look forward to being taken up at Christ’s return?

#votd #Hebrews #faith

Sin, faith, duty

Some think that Luke has collected three separate sayings of Jesus in Lk 17.1-10, with little connection between them. That assumes much.

Jesus might well have said these three things in this order. Even if he did not, it also assumes that Luke is clumsy.

No such assumptions are needed. There can be seen a clear connection among the three points.

  1. The business of the kingdom is forgiveness of sin, 1-4. Don’t be a cause of sin, 1-2. Be a cause of forgiveness, 3-4.
  2. For that forgiving spirit, the apostles felt the need for a greater faith, 5-6. In one sense, Jesus anticipates Nike: Just do it. Faith is to be exercised. For it to grow it must be put into action.
  3. Duty in the kingdom deserves no special praise, 7-10, but it must be done. What is this duty? Again, seeking forgiveness for all.

#Luke #faith #forgiveness #duty

Increase faith: Luke 17.5

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”

Luke 17.5

Perhaps impressed with the need for continued forgiveness, the Twelve ask for greater faith. The desire is a good one. It is an ancient desire, one that many feel today. Jesus gave a good reply, v. 6.

Am I waiting for greater faith in order to act? Perhaps I need to act now in order to have greater faith. Start now! Do your duty, vv. 7-10.

#votd #Luke #faith

You have received it: Mark 11.24

“For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11.24

Often, when the Lord made a promise to Israel, he put it in the past tense (see Deuteronomy 3.2, for example), to indicate how sure was his word. Jesus does the same about prayer requests.

The Lord is able to bless, and he desires to bless. He bristled when the possessed boy’s father said, “If you can” Mark 9.22-23. The issue is not his ability or desire, but our willingness to believe.

#votd #Mark #prayer #faith

I’m not saved. I’ve been lied to all these years.

“I am not saved. I’ve been lied to all
these years.”

Those were the comments Kay Smith
made when she called me to say she had finished reading Muscle and a Shovel recently. I had given her a copy of the book Sunday evening after worship and she called Tuesday evening to say she had finished reading the book. Then she said, “I am not saved. I’ve been lied to all these years. I’m not saved.”

That had to be a stunning revelation for Kay when she read what the Bible teaches a person has to do to become a Christian and she knew she had not done it. I told her we could baptize her if she wanted to do it then. She said she wanted to study more and have some questions answered. She said, “I have pages marked and turned down in this book and I want to talk to you further.” We made an appointment to study with her the next day. After the study, Douglas left her with a list of Bible verses to study and read for herself straight from the word of God.

Sunday came around and I went to pick Kay up for Bible study. Immediately upon getting into the car, she pulled out pages torn from a small yellow pad filled with writing. She said, “I’ve written out each one of those scriptures you left with me.” Wow! I was impressed with her interest in studying the Bible. I asked if she was ready to be baptized and she said, “Yes.” Later when the invitation was extended at the end of the morning worship service Kay went forward and was baptized correctly for the remission of her sins. She said, “I’m going to live the rest of my life for Jesus Christ to the best I know how.”

Do you know what the Bible teaches about how to be saved? “Father, send us more people who are receptive to the truth of Thy Word.”

#bible-study, #faith, #truth

Why such cowards? Mark 4.40

“He asked them, ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?’”

Mark 4.40 ISV

Experienced fishermen feared the storm that broke upon them. Jesus slept in the boat. If he was with them, they should have trusted that he would not let them perish.

The Lord urges us to trust him. He provides his presence and every spiritual advantage. Does his question to the disciples apply to us? Have we not yet learned to have faith?

#votd #faith #Jesus

What does the Bible say about faith and obedience

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sin” (John 8:24).

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22).

The Lord will take “vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Continue reading

#bible-study, #faith, #obedience

Powerful faith in action

Today, Ed Mathew’s devotional is based in Philemon.

Faith in action is powerful. It reveals the riches of living in Jesus. It leads others to see the beauty of Christianity. It draws people to the Lord. The most convincing faith is a demonstrated faith, II Thessalonians 1:11,12. Actions are more persuasive than words.

Focus question: How does your faith show itself at home, at school, in the workplace, in the congregation?

Update: This was supposed to have been sent to my microblog, but it’s still OK for here.

#faith #practice #devotional