Faith

See

Currently, I’m in the midst of a tornado. Not a windstorm, but a manmade one; I’m that man. As a side project, I’m designing some electronics and software for one of my sons. This is a radical departure from my typical, sedate office environment. It’s causing me to learn new things, which is good but rough on this old brain of mine.

A few days ago, my 3D printer arrived, and from the moment I flipped the power on, my world became a tornado; it’s not gone well. After many frustrating hours, I still couldn’t get it to work correctly. (still doesn’t). But I realized I needed to “cool my jets” and watch and see what that beast was doing.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

Often, our lives are human-made tornados as we juggle dozens of urgent demands on our time. We may even allow our tornados to expand into destructive vortexes that carry us to a point where we fail to see what God is showing us. Instead, we watch our lives play out, numbed by demands and needs.

God is a jealous God1. Ten of our top ten priorities belong to God. Yesterday, I became so busy watching that 3D printer that I didn’t respond to a priority of God’s. Today is too late, and that hurts. Jesus said:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

Christ’s command to seek is not a one-and-done action. Seeking God’s kingdom is our way of life as Christians. We can get so busy “doing” that we don’t see God’s answers to our prayers. Our hearts may belong to Jesus, but the cares of this world draw our attention away from Him2. Our hearts become distant from God, not because He has moved from us but because we are not seeing; we are only watching.

I pray that you allow yourself to see, to look through the grey windstorm you’re in, and see God’s extraordinary will at work in your life and rest in God. And I pray that you “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;” (Isaiah 55:6)”.

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1: Exodus 34:14
2: Matt 6:25–26

Worship Praise Singer Black Africa African Church

Us, Not They

As I was praying this morning, I noticed I was praying as if I was somehow separate from the people I was praying for. I had built a mental fence between them and me. I was praying “they” when the Holy Spirit wanted me to pray “us.”

My thinking was wrong because I recognized them as generic believers in Christ Jesus. I understood a small part of their struggle, so I carried their need to our Father. And I was confident that the Holy Spirit had led me to pray for them in the name of Jesus. That was proper and good, but I saw their problem incorrectly; my thinking was wrong. Now I understand that “us” is an object pronoun while “they” is a generic third-person pronoun, so why was I praying for generic Christians?

God stopped me and corrected me. He does that for those He loves (Hebrews 12:5–7). Within the Body of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We are blood relatives by Jesus’ shed blood. Like our bodies, there are many members in Christ’s Body, and they aren’t all the same. We have many parts: eyes, ears, heart, liver, and so forth.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.1 Corinthians 12:12

Shaquille O’Neal is 7’ 1″, so his nose is a long way from his toes, yet both are members of the same body. All believers in Christ Jesus are blood relatives; only distance separates us. When we consider Christ’s Body, it’s a long way from Indiana to Hunan Province in China, yet Christ’s Body is in that province and Indiana.

If I talk with someone about a family member, I say “we” or us,“ not ”them“ or ”they.“ If asked if there are other Christians on my dad’s side of the family, my answer would be, ”In my family, we have many believers in Christ. God has blessed us with many who are pastors or missionaries.“ Our hearts and minds need to say ”us,“ not ”they.”

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Faith Is Expressed in Love

When I was a young Christian, more than once, I’d hear someone in our local church, complain that so-and-so was so heavenly-minded that they were no earthly good. In those early years, I learned to identify people that had ignored the admonition from James,

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

James 2:18

Expressed Faith

Something didn’t feel right when I heard those comments. Well, that was because I was ignoring 1 John 4:20-21 NLT, “if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see.”

This leads me to today’s thought, found in Galatians 5:6b NLT, “What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” The answer to thousands of questions about faith is found in those few words.

When asked the question, “What should you be doing with your life?” most people think of occupations, some think of recreation, and a few think of some sort of ministry.” I’ll hazard a guess that only a handful would reply, “I want to allow the faith God has given me to be expressed in my love.” But faith expressed through love is the right answer and the most difficult answer.

Good News

Because we were born in sin, people are wired to harshly judge people and live faithless lives. But we left this way of life behind when, in Christ Jesus, we entered God’s kingdom. I pray that we all remember that if we can’t love someone we see, how can we expect to love God, whom we’ve never seen? And what greater good can come from our faith than to allow our faith to express itself in love? My prayer for all of us is that we are so heavenly-minded that we are of immense earthly good.

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Practical Faith

In the opening paragraphs of 2nd Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us something surprising. Here’s what he wrote:

8 We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die.” 

2 Corinthians 1:8–9a NLT

Practical Faith

We would have lost much of the New Testament if Paul had died. But God brought them through what appeared to Paul and his companions as certain death. We may be tempted to discount Paul’s statement since he is an Apostle, but we would miss God’s message for us. We find God’s intent in the following verses.

9 But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again.” 

11 “And you are helping us by praying for us.” 

2 Corinthians 1:9b–11 NLT

Paul found God to be reliable. This is practical faith. It’s easy for us to pray and trust God to help the orphans in Syria, but when it comes to our life-or-death situations, we quickly find out how well we’ve learned to trust God for immediate and practical matters. 

My Telephone Poll Story

Once, when I was a missionary in Eastern Europe, I was in the back seat of a very old Mercedes Benz full of people. The driver had little experience driving, but he decided to drive up a small mountain to get a telephone pole-sized log.

We strapped it to the roof of his car. As I sat down in the backseat, I had a bad feeling about this adventure. The Holy Spirit often prepares me for bad situations. Oh, I forgot to tell you the car had a manual shift (stick shift) transmission. Our driver started the car and immediately began going backward – he put the car in reverse – and he didn’t stop!

As the car sped faster and faster in reverse, we passengers began yelling instructions. Our frantic instructions accomplished one thing; the car stalled. This might have been good, but the driver held down the clutch while trying to start the vehicle.

So, as we free-wheeled down the side of a mountain, backward, with a telephone pole strapped to the roof and passengers screaming in multiple languages, my trust in God didn’t waiver; the driver was another matter!

We had picked up quite a bit of speed as we rapidly approached a jam-packed highway. Oh, the road was on the side of a high mountain. The lane we needed to end up in was the one that would take us down the mountain to a small village at the bottom. 

It was as if we were in a 1930s Laural and Hardy movie. Cars were whizzing down the highway while we bumped and bounced toward it. And just like in the film, a gap opened right when we sprung upon the pavement. Thankfully, the driver steered us, so the front of the car pointed down the mountain.

Praying for Others

Sitting in a dead car on a busy highway is not the time to learn how to pray. It’s time to pray. We made it to the village – that’s another story – and we all lived to tell our versions of what happened.

For me, the most important verse in today’s Scripture is verse eleven: “And you are helping us by praying for us.” Praying is very practical; it is based on practical faith. When we pray for the orphans in Syria, God hears us, and with the measure of faith we have, He measures out His help. You see, God answers our prayers, no matter how small or far away the need is. So when it comes to practical faith, remember this verse:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

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Ashes

Autumn

Here in the mid-west, we have begun the marvel we call autumn. Fall’s colors delight us with this season’s beauty – indeed, a grace from God. The thrum of cicadas has diminished, leaves are bursting forth in glorious hues, lawns are descending into their golden slumber, and majestic trees reveal their own beauty as they shed their canopies.

With the onset of fall, the folks that live in the country will soon be recreating their annual ritual. Their raking and building of leaf piles culminating in multi-hued leaves of every possible color burned in countless fires that blanket the whole of our country’s mid-west. We may be considered “fly-over” country, but when it comes to autumn, our land is surely the best dressed.

Conception

Thinking about the piles of ashes as a kind of door between summer and winter, I began thinking about the post I wrote titled “Some Lessons Hurt.” I thought that topic was in my writer’s rearview mirror; I think God disagreed. The last sentence in that post read: “Nevertheless, the ashes of our hopes and dreams are the ashes of the door God opens for us; some lessons hurt.” This morning I felt like I needed to swing my hammer one more time on that nail.

Think back to when you first accepted Jesus as your personal Savior. At that moment, it was just Jesus and you. I think it must be like conception; suddenly, there is life in you. God gave you a new beginning. For most of us, we didn’t think it was possible to have a second beginning. We had royally messed up our first beginning, and we carried the reward from each sin we committed. That was a heavy burden. But Jesus gave us a new start with new hopes and dreams.

O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

Psalm 40:5 NLT

Ashes

So, you’ve been a Christian for a while. It’s likely that you’ve allowed some of those old hopes and dreams to grow inside you. But what you don’t know is what God planned for you. You don’t know how close you are to what you have prayed for. You may discover that your dream is the door that is blocking your access to God’s vision for you. Only by burning down the door can you enter God’s plan for you. The ashes of your hopes and dreams may be the ashes from the door that God opens for you. In your life, let God be God.

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Only By Faith

I seem to keep coming back to the topic of faith. I try to span the full spectrum of God’s Word, but God keeps pulling me back to faith.

Emotion, Logic, Faith

Every decision to buy a product or service is made by emotion, justified by logic, and transformed into a purchase by faith. This rule is the way the world works. Let’s use Mr. Clean® as an example.

A commercial interrupts our video. It’s Mr. Clean! He’s burley, and his earring sparkles from his sheer cleanness rather than your glitter from the party you attended the night before. He stirs your emotions; clean is possible! You crave clean; you crave sparkle. – This is the emotion.

Next, you look at your kitchen and conclude that there is no way to make it clean, let alone sparkle; you need help! You have seen Mr. Clean demonstrate that everything he touches becomes clean and sparkly. – This is the logic…sort of.

Finally, you make the transaction; you buy a container of Mr. Clean. By faith, you have purchased something you’ve never tried. – This is faith.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are…There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

Romans 3:22,30

You Can Hear God Now

Faith in God is the bridge from this world we discern through our five senses to the spirit, to God’s exclusive domain. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)” God always hears everyone, but until Jesus makes our spirit alive, we cannot connect with God.

Yesterday, I talked with a Christian brother who said, “You know, a person can know everything in the Bible and still go to hell. We must believe in Jesus.” That’s the mystery about faith. Faith is a bridge; it is how flesh connects to spirit. Faith is that bridge that crosses the chasm. It is the way we cross over from death to life in Jesus Christ.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Faith Enables Us to Know What We Do Not See

God has given every one of us some faith. It’s like cash in our bank account. We can live our entire life and die without ever pulling out our debit card and using our faith to receive salvation. We die having faith available to receive Christ’s salvation but remain God’s condemned criminal. It’s like falling out of an airplane with a parachute but never pulling the ripcord.

Faith enables us to know what we do not see. First, for salvation, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9) Then for life in the kingdom of God. “…encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” (Acts 14:22)

Good News

We have been reborn by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, and that same faith remains with us as we pray, do good deeds, and learn how to live in God’s kingdom. We have an unimaginable, eternal future with the King of kings and Lord of lords throughout eternity. And it starts with the simple act of placing the faith God gave us in Jesus Christ, our Lord.


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Digging for the Truth

Don’t allow Christianity to hide Jesus. We have nearly an unending list of doctrines, beliefs, proofs, prayers, ideology, philosophy, and all manner of jargon that fills the box of Christianity, but where is Jesus?

The Thief on the Cross

To borrow one point from my pastor’s recent sermon, the thief on the cross, next to Jesus, only knew Jesus. He had no baptism card, no letter of transfer, no catechism, no church affiliation, and no documents or witnesses that attested to his Christianity. The thief knew none of these and confessed that he deserved crucifixion, but right there, while Jesus was in the middle of fulfilling God’s plan, a plan that stretched back before Creation, Jesus took the time to save a person that trusted Him (Luke 23:39–43). That’s who Jesus is, and that’s what salvation is about.

Digging for the Truth

Man’s dogmas or doctrines don’t hamper Jesus. Jesus is looking for people that are looking for Him, even if they don’t know it. Salvation is a very personal event, unique to each person, yet universally the same in its results.

This site’s motto is “Digging for the Truth.” I started this website to dig through the traditions of Christianity, much like the Pharicitical traditions, with the intent of helping us find Jesus. Salvation isn’t complicated (Romans 10:9–10), and neither is living for Jesus (Matthew 11:28–30)). We make the Christian life burdensome; we heap doctrines, decrees, and dogmatic declarations upon individuals, local churches, and denominations.

Just Save My Life

A medical doctor could tell a seriously injured man how each instrument works, how the procedures are performed, and what the protocols are, but the injured man wants the doctor to save his life. How is that different from Christ’s salvation? A person that finds Jesus can be saved without knowing Ephesians 2:8–9. This passage explains how God saves, but a dying man or woman simply needs to ask, as the Philippian jailor asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30)” When you’re dying, the “what must I do” is important; the how can be learned later.

We have the Bible and innumerable commentaries, Bible studies, Christian dictionaries, history books, podcasts, statements of faith, creeds, and videos to help us grow and be transformed. These all have their rightful place. But still, our eternal life depends upon Jesus knowing us and us knowing Him. Jesus said that at the judgment, He will say to people, “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

Our Life is All About Jesus

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what our salvation is for. Daily, take time to talk with Jesus Christ our Lord. If we fail to nurture a living relationship with Jesus, then we are lost, and condemnation remains upon us; no amount of Christian academic education can save us.

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epoxy glue

The Epoxy Glue of Salvation

Have you ever thought of your faith as a rugged trapper living in Alaska? There is a fascinating footnote in the 1599 Geneva Study Bible (yes, there was a study Bible back then). The footnote is about John 5:24. Here’s the footnote:

The Father is not worshipped except by his Son’s word apprehended by faith, which is the only way that leads to eternal life.

1599 Geneva Study Bible

Just a trapper captures his food, so we capture (apprehend) Christ’s Gospel. A better example might be epoxy glue.

Bonding ourselves to God’s eternal life requires two parts. It requires the grace revealed in Christ’s message and our faith in God’s promise of salvation. Anyone can hear the words of Jesus without receiving eternal life. And anyone can say they have faith in God but if that person has no works to verify that faith, then they remain lost. Only when our faith seizes Christ’s words do we acquire eternal life. It’s like epoxy glue; it requires two parts.

“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

Here we read about the two parts. Salvation only comes by listening and believing. We listen to know Jesus’ promise of salvation and we believe (placing our faith in God) do we pass from a condemned person waiting for their eternal incarceration to a person that has passed from death to eternal life in Christ Jesus.

By Taktoa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, accessed on July 7, 2022


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Get to Where God is Working

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:29

So, what work does God require of every person that desires salvation? That work is to believe in the One – Jesus the Messiah – that God sent for the salvation of all who seek with sincerity. And faith can only be holy faith if it works with love. (Galatians 5:6)

Our salvation comes by using the faith God has given each person. Everything we hope to accomplish in and through and for God is secured by faith. The very same faith that we used to believe in Jesus was active in us when our faith combined with God’s grace and transformed us from death to life.

23 Now before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, [perpetually] imprisoned [in preparation] for the faith that was destined to be revealed, 24 with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under [the control and authority of] a tutor and disciplinarian. 26 For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:23-29 AMP

This faith is the same that we use to bear our own cross. It is the faith we use in prayer, which results in healed families, and the recovery of wayward children, allows the Holy Spirit to heal our mortal bodies, and will someday hear Christ’s trumpet call. It will be by faith that we rise to meet Jesus in the air.

And what is this faith? The very thing that allows us to enter the throne of God and make our petitions! God’s Word tells us that it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The building material of our hope is faith. And faith is the thing that enables us to have a vision, a goal, a purpose and to see it fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us through faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

So, what is it that God has laid on your heart? What have you “seen?” God’s Word says, “The people perish without a vision.” (Proverbs 29:18) The “vision” in this verse refers to divine communication as from a dream, revelation, or prophecy.

So, with what is the Holy Spirit challenging you? Only through faith can any work of God be accomplished. Faith is not an “end” in itself, It is like a vehicle on God’s highway. It’s the transportation that gets us from where we are to where God is working.

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pic of a the word "revenge" covering a man's face

Revenge

I’m about to suck the joy out of your favorite movies, TV shows, and books. I take no great pleasure in my task, but I would fail to teach the whole Bible if I didn’t address this topic: revenge.

I’m going to assume that you are not a serial killer, nor have you “done in” your spouse, best friend, or neighbor. Still, I think you may have a proclivity towards visceral pleasure from stories that use the lead character (protagonist) to deliver a “comeuppance” to an evil person.

Now you may defend yourself by saying that the defeat of evil is always worthy of an act by a believer in Christ Jesus. You may say that everything from “Die Hard With a Vengeance” to “The First Wives Club” is justifiable. This is where we part ways. Do you believe these words of Jesus?

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.Matthew 5:39

According to the footnote for this verse in the “ESV Reformation Study Bible,” in context, this verse means “do not seek restitution in court.” The slap on the right cheek is a backhanded one—an insult as well as an injury.

Nevertheless, when someone adds insult to injury to you, your response should be one of love – love barely notices a wrong (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). This does not mean that we are to tolerate all kinds of evil. Some wars are justifiable. Fleeing domestic violence is justifiable. Bringing a lawsuit against an ungodly law is righteous. However, when it comes to evil against us, we must remember the example that Jesus set for us in His crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

Luke 23:34

God’s Word tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) and “For we know the one who said, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back.’” (Hebrews 10:30) Therefore, with Christ’s example, and God’s Word strongly admonishing us to allow God to deal out justice against anyone that commits even the slightest transgression against a child of His, let’s not secretly feed our desire for revenge by being entertained with stories that glorify it. Oh, and as a believer, God requires us to forgive; remember the Lord’s prayer – “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Sorry about this spoiler. I wrote this for myself but thought it might be good for you, also.

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