Archive for the ‘perseverance’ Tag

The life of Faith [1]   Leave a comment

Faith is believing what you cannot see

Faith is believing what you cannot see

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” Hebrews 12:1

God has often been using water to test the faith of men. By faith, Peter walked on the sea, by faith Moses led the people of Israel through the Red Sea, by faith Naaman received his healing, by faith Noah built an ark to save himself and his family from the flood, by faith Elisha healed the waters of Jericho and by faith the blind man received his sight by washing himself at Siloam. The perfector of our faith, Jesus, used water to do supernatural things like changing water to wine, walking on the water and calming the sea. The challenges brought by the waters always resulted to miracles and growth to the life of faith.  When the people of Israel reached the Red Sea, they saw an obstacle but Moses saw the Red Sea as the way out. How many of us when we see the obstacle from far, we give up and refuse to make a step closer? Faith is what makes you get closer to the obstacle when people are laughing at you. The people of Israel had to reach the Red Sea for it to open.

This is what the Lord said to Moses: “And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.  Ex. 14:15

C.Cowman said: “God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God’s hand is stretched out. Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise.”

While it is true that the Israelites went through the Red Sea on dry ground, God’s promises still stand when the ground will not be dry.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;the flames will not consume you.” Isa. 43:2

Even if the waters do not open when you’re “going through the rivers of difficulty”, be sure of this: You will not drown for the Lord thy God is with you!

When you pray, do it with faith.  If the answer still tarries, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident that you do not believe that God can do what you’re asking for.

If you’re not sincerely expecting that God will answer your prayers, then you do not believe in God’s abilities.

Jesus said:

Then Jesus said to the disciples, Have faith in God.  I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” Mark 11:22-27

Jesus clearly said that what we ask for will happen and not might happen.

In this verse Jesus implicitly mentioned 2 reasons why people do not receive:

  1. People do not really believe that God can do what they are asking. In other words, they doubt.
  2. If you hold a grudge against someone and do not forgive, then God also will not forgive you of your sins. God does not tolerate this attitude (See Parable of the Unforgiving debtor) .

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.”    Heb. 11:6

It is useless to pray for something you do not believe God can do. These are the kind of prayers God will not answer.

James said:

 When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing….But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:3-6

Here James explicitly explained one reason why people do not receive:

If your faith is not in God alone, i.e. you’re relying also on your strength or finance then you’re taking up the glory that should be to God alone. Either God has whole control or you take your destiny in your own hand. God will not answer prayers when you’ve one foot in the water and one foot in the sand. You’ve to take a decision.

James also mentioned in chapter 4:

Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure…”

C.Cowman said:

“You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.”

If God does not do the miracles of opening the waters before you or lead you to walk on the waters, remember that you’ll reach the shore safely. God is not limited in solutions, if He was able to transport disobedient Jonah to Niniveh through a big fish, what can’t He do to bring you safely to shore? Hebrews 11 tells us that all the men commended by God had something in common – faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God and the righteous shall live by faith.  How can you run with endurance the life of faith? Hebrews 12 says: We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Whether we live by faith or not, the trials will be over. There will be joy if we persevere in our faith during the trial but regrets if we refuse to surrender and trust God. Living by faith is a decision that one takes because He knows God.

Posted January 7, 2017 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Enduring Faith   1 comment

Enduring Faith

Enduring Faith

Dear woman, Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.” Mat. 15:28

This was a Canaanite woman who came to Jesus. She was from the region of Tyre and Sidon from which Jesus said:

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.” Mat. 11:20

The people in Tyre and Sidon did not see the many miracles Jesus did for the Jews but still we see a woman from that region having such a great faith in Jesus. The Jews rejected Jesus and did not believe in Him even though He did so many miracles. The Jews heard the very Word of God and yet they accused Jesus of being demon possessed. How is it possible that a woman who had less understanding than the Pharisees believed in Jesus so mightily? Or what about the Roman officer to whom Jesus said he had the greatest faith in all Israel?

I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mat. 8:10

It is a sad truth that a mind can be filled up with doctrines and theological knowledge and the heart still faithless. This was the case for the Pharisees. They were blinded by their knowledge. It was obvious to those who had little knowledge of the scripture to discern the Messiah. Just a few information about Jesus was enough to make people far away from God recognize the Messiah.  But why is it that the experts in religion failed to acknowledge the Messiah? Knowledge without faith leads to pride, spiritual blindness and evil actions.

What made that woman earn this reputation in faith?

1. She insisted even if she was not a Jew to bother Jesus as she was convinced that only Jesus could help her. It is important to note that Jews despised Gentiles and had no relation with them. Despite this social conflict, she still decided to come to Him.

2. When she came she started to plead Jesus to heal her daughter. It was not just a silent request. It was a determined effort. But what happened ?

Matthew tells us:

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word telling her He heard her. This should have been enough to discourage this woman. She could have given up and said, “I tried to talk to Jesus but He did not want to listen to me

3. Not only Jesus did not reply her but the disciples around were trying to get rid of her. The disciple urged Jesus to send her away. No one likes to feel that he/she is a source of discomfort. This woman saw that the disciples of Jesus were also rejecting her and felt bothered by her presence. How many of us would have given up at this point? I guess many of us.

4. Finally Jesus replied and said:

Then Jesus said to the woman, I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

That was a clear message now. Jesus Himself said that she was not part of God’s plan. It was His mission to save the Israelites and not Gentiles. Most probably, I would have personally given up at this point. Why should she continue bothering Jesus if she was not on His agenda?

5. Now what was amazing was that “she came and worshiped him, pleading again, Lord, help me!”. I can’t understand such a faith. Maybe her daughter was so tormented by the devil that it gave her guts to persist till that point. Jesus was the only one she knew who could deliver her daughter. Now we clearly see that she did not come just to receive a blessing or miracle, she came and worshiped Jesus before everyone.  Very few people at that time would dare worshiping Jesus publicly. This could have been considered blasphemy. She knew in her heart that Jesus was God. Very few Jews at that time could believe that. So yes, she continued to plead asking Jesus to help her. She had reverence.

6. So once again Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

How far could she take in this rejection? Here, we see Jesus explaining her again that He cannot give spiritual blessings to those who did not deserve it. Spiritual blessings were for the children. Jesus could not waste it on Gentiles who were not God’s people. She could have been offended by that hard statement and fumed away in anger. This woman had humility and respect. She did not retort as would have done a Pharisee. She considered Jesus as Lord.

7. She then replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

She excelled at this point. First she agreed with what Jesus said. Secondly she was humble to admit that she did not deserve anything as she was not part of God’s children. She took at word Jesus’ statement and said that she would be satisfied of a crumb that fell down. She literally lowered herself like an animal – a dog. She agreed she was inferior, she respected Jesus’ statement but added that she will be contented with the rest. How many of us would have behaved like this woman? She had such a hunger for spiritual blessings that she would take any pieces of spiritual blessings left over. Many times we take our spiritual blessings for granted. This woman valued much this blessing.

She wisely answered Jesus. She worshiped Jesus, showed evidence of her faith, demonstrated humility, gentleness, reverence, patience, wisdom, respect and perseverance.

It paid out. Jesus said:

Dear woman,Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”

This was a huge lesson for the disciples and the Jews around. Throughout the scripture, we see that faith in God is something He takes pleasure in to the point that even mountains He is willing to move because of our faith.

Posted February 6, 2014 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (6:9-12)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” Hebrews 6:9-12

The author is aware that he has been quite severe in the previous verses and reassures the readers that he does not believe that what he discussed regarding salvation applies to the Hebrews Christians. What he said was a warning because he saw that the Christians were becoming lazy and were still immature. The author believes that these Christians can bear fruits that born again believers should. God will not forget about their deeds and good works. The author is aware of the hardship of these Christians and their brotherly love. He encourages the Hebrews to abound in love. Love is the base of Christianity and on it stands the pillars of the Christian faith and doctrines. This was the reason Jesus came(John 3:16). Love summarised all his teachings and it is the royal command(James 2:8).

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 14:34

Paul rightly pointed out that love fulfills the law:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”Romans 13:8

If you love someone, you will not harm that person. You will not steal but will rather give, you will not commit adultery but rather strengthen bonds with your spouse, you will not be indifferent but feel concerned and you will do things which the law does not even ask (e.g. kindness, patience, generosity…). The law said that it is forbidden to work on the sabbath but love has precedence over what the law says. The disciples were harvesting grains on the sabbath and Jesus healed a woman on sabbath day.

I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!

Jesus said:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Mat 22:37

One purpose of the law was  to make the people be consecrated and remember God (e.g. sabbath, tithe, circumcision, sacrifices etc). The other reason was to protect the individuals. If someone stole, commit adultery or murdered someone etc there was a law which dealt with it.

But if you really love God, there’s no need to be reminded of a day for the Lord(sabbath). There’s no need to have a law which obliges you to give a tithe but you give voluntarily and with joy what you want (2 Cor 9:7). If you love God you will not sin by worshiping another God, you will pray and obey what He says. If you love people you won’t do them any harm. This is the power of love. What laws do we need if love is in our heart? God is love and love is divine.

Love is important because “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent” the author says.

Peter also said that:

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.”

Love is an indication of one’s maturity in the faith. One who loves knows the Lord. He is not spiritually dull and indifferent, he/she has Christ’s attitude and resembles Him.

Paul said in Eph 4:

“..This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”

John said:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7

Love, faith and hope last forever.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13

The author mentioned these 3 things in verses 9-12. Yes if we have these 3 things in us we’ll grow in maturity, we’ll be productive, we’ll persevere and can expect to receive great things from above. Let us follow the examples of those people who by their faith, love, and perseverance proved to be mighty servants of God and inherited great promises. The author here is probably referring to the heavenly rest.  Keith Green is a man who I admire for his love, faith and perseverance.  The life this man lived inspires me. Paul said to Timothy to imitate his example because he himself imitated Christ’s example. Let us imitate the examples of those people who are mature in the faith and are genuinely led by the Spirit.

Posted August 4, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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