Tag Archives: Faith

Faith That Climbs A Mountain

Where would you let your faith take you? How far do you think you could trust it if it was pushed? These are questions a 17-year-old young man had to answer.

The Bible records Isaac’s faith taking him up a mountain to be a potential sacrifice. Genesis 22 records the Lord asking Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. While Abraham’s faith was being tested, so was Isaac’s. Think of the scene for a moment.

At a certain point on their journey, Abraham and Isaac leave everyone else behind. It is just the two of them. As Abraham is carrying the fire, Isaac is carrying the wood, so he knows they are going to offer a sacrifice; however, there’s no lamb. Isaac knows something is up.  Abraham is around 120 years old, while Isaac is in his late teens. Isaac could have easily overpowered Abraham and refused to go any farther, but he doesn’t. His faith takes him up the mountain with Abraham.

Genesis 22:9-12 records what happens on top of the mountain:

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Isaac’s faith takes him all the way to the altar. He is not sure what the Lord is going to do, but he knows the Lord has it under control. Isaac’s faith pushes him up the mountain.

Where is your faith taking you? Is it pushing you to trust the Lord in your life? Is it calling you to follow the Lord’s leading to achieve a dream or accomplish a goal? Are you trusting your faith to help you fulfill your purpose in life? We may not be sure what the Lord is going to do, but we can trust that he is in control.

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Promises Kept

The Bible is filled with promises the Lord has made to you and me. He promises we will spend eternity in Heaven. He promises eternal life. He promises our needs will be met. He promises peace. He promises too always be with us. And, the Lord keeps all of his promises.

Along with the promises made to us, the Bible also shows us the Lord is faithful to keep his promises. Take the promise the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah for example. The Lord promised this couple they would have a son, which seemed impossible, but the Lord kept his promise. Abraham and Sarah had a son.

Genesis 21:1-3 records:

21 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. 

This is not the only time we see a promise being made and kept. On the night of Jesus’ birth, Luke’s Gospel teaches the angel made some promises to the shepherds as to what they would find. Luke says the shepherds found everything just as they had been told when they went to see Jesus.

The promises made to us will be kept; we too will find everything just as we’ve been told. The Lord is gracious, and he keeps his promises. How has the Lord kept a promise for you?

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Our Redeemer Lives

Disappointing, painful, and hard to go through may easily describe Job’s situation. He went from having plenty to having nothing. His wealth, health, and family all stripped away. His friends begin to question him and conclude it is his fault, but Job remains steadfast in his faith. Job declares his redeemer lives.

He says in 19:25-26, 25 “I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God…”

Disappointing, painful, or hard to go through may describe where you are in life right now. You moved across country for a big promotion that has made you miserable and left you disappointed. Your relationship ended in a painful way. It is hard to watch your loved one suffer as he or she battles a medical illness. In many ways, you can parallel your life to Job right now. What about your faith?

Disappointments, pain and suffering are unfortunately a part of life. Dreams and goals may not always work out exactly as planned. However, we can echo the words of Job, knowing that our redeemer lives. Though life may not turn out as we planned, in Christ, we can have confidence the Lord is with us and Heaven awaits.

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changed

“When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them, but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15-20).

The shepherds were truly changed by their encounter with the Lord. Luke says they returned to their flocks praising God. This is not the only time we see a life changed due to an encounter with the Lord. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul after coming across the Lord. Perhaps your life has been changed by the Lord’s grace also. It is impossible to find the Lord and walk away the same way you came.

Make sharing your joy and faith a part of your holiday celebrations this year. God did not make a mistake sending the angel to the shepherds. The birth of the Messiah was an event causing great joy for all people. The shepherds started spreading the joy they experienced, and you and I should continue spreading that joy.

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how to respond like a shepherd?

The sheep were asleep. The shepherds were gathered around a small fire talking as some of them dozed off. The stillness of the night was suddenly interrupted by an angelic visit. The angel brought news that a Savior had been born. The shepherds listened intently as the angel spoke, and when the angel had left them, they hurried to investigate this news.

The shepherds’ response to the angel’s news is worthy of modeling. As their initial terror subsided, the shepherds responded with much faith and overflowing joy.

“When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

The shepherds responded to the angel with much faith. Believing the angel, the shepherds acted upon their belief. The writer of Hebrews says the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek him. How are you and I responding to the Lord in faith? Are we taking him at his word and allowing our curiosity to spur us on to see his promises fulfilled?

Along with their faith, the shepherds experienced overflowing joy. “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:17-19).

The shepherds were so filled with joy they could not keep it to themselves. They had seen the Lord, and they wanted to share their joy with everyone. As you and I find the joy of the Lord, we should attempt to share it.

We can share our joy in an appealing way. We can share our joy by starting a Pay-It-Forward chain at our favorite coffee shop. We can help purchase Christmas gifts for a family who otherwise would not have gifts. We could prepare a shoe box gift for Operation Christmas Child. We can call to check on a neighbor who may experience loneliness this time of year. There are many ways we can share our joy, and this is the perfect season to share it.

Many have commented they will be glad when 2020 enters the history books. It has been a sad and difficult year for lots of folks. It seems they may be hungry for joy and hope more this year than before, and the joy of the Lord can be prevalent in our lives. We can be like the shepherds and spread joy.

Please share this post, and thanks to Light for including this in a recent edition.

don’t miss christmas

A father and son enjoyed collecting art. They enjoyed attending art auctions together, and the two had amassed a stunning collection. Paintings by famous artists lined the walls of their living room, and the two spent much time pursuing their hobby.

One day the son received word he had been drafted, and he was to report to basic training before heading overseas. A few months later, early December to be exact, the father received news his son had been killed.

Still absorbing the shock, the father decided to spend Christmas day alone, but as he was sitting in his easy chair, there was a knock at the door.

The man opened the door to find a tall, young man standing there with a package under his arm. “Good morning sir,” the young man said, “may I come in?”

The father invited the young man into the house, and the young man began to explain, “I knew your son. I’m actually the one he was saving when he was shot. I know you like art as I do, so I wanted to give this to you.”

He unwrapped the package to reveal a portrait of the father’s son. “It is not the fanciest painting. I did it myself, and I thought you would enjoy having it.”

The father quickly jumped up to rearrange his collection giving the portrait of his son a prominent place. He placed it above his fireplace directly across from his easy chair. The father could gaze upon his son every time he sat in the chair. The father and soldier spent Christmas day together talking and laughing before parting ways.

Years later, the father passed away, and he left instructions in his will to have his art collection auctioned on Christmas day. Many collectors from around the country arrived to bid on the collection.

The crowd was upset when they realized the first painting on the block was the portrait of the father’s son. The auctioneer tried to move the painting for several minutes before a neighbor finally bid $10.

“I knew the boy, so I’d like to have the painting,” the woman said.

“Going once. Going twice. Sold,” came the auctioneer’s voice as the crowd cheered wildly.

“Now we can get on with the good stuff,” they snorted, but they were shocked when the auctioneer slammed his gavel declaring the auction over.

“How is it over,” the crowd demanded. “We didn’t even have a chance to bid on the good paintings.”

The auctioneer explained the father’s instructions were to give the whole collection to the person who bought the portrait of his son.

God’s Christmas Gift

Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own son, but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Don’t miss the true gift of Christmas.

People search for peace and hope in many places. Shiny packages of all kinds contain promises of peace and hope, but they are empty or fall short. True peace and hope are found in God’s Christmas gift. “Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you,” the angel told the shepherds. He is Jesus.

As you hustle and bustle this year, take a moment to find and reflect on the true gift of Christmas. Whoever gets the son, according to God, gets everything else.

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The Whirlwind of Life

She experienced a whirlwind of emotions.

She was a widow, with a son, in the middle of a famine. Provisions were almost expired; enough was left for one last meal. She was gathering the wood for the cooking fire when Elijah entered her life.

Elijah asked the widow to bring him a drink of water and a piece of bread. She responds in 1 Kings 17:12, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it, and die.”

Can you imagine? The widow is in a desperate situation, and she may feel hopeless. But here comes hope.

Elijah encourages her to do as he has directed, and promises the Lord will continue her provisions until the end of the famine. 1 Kings 17:6 records the widow and her son having enough to survive until the famine ended. This storm ended, but another rain cloud was on the horizon.

Some time later her son died. Amid the storm, the widow went to Elijah so he could act on behalf of God. This would have been an emotionally draining whirlwind for the widow; hard times followed by okay times only to be replaced by hard times again. Sadness giving away to happiness only to be broken down by grief. The winds of life tossed and turned the widow.

Perhaps this sounds familiar to your experience. Don’t lose the big take-away of the widow’s story.

Her faith pushed her forward.

It was the widow’s faith which compelled her to feed Elijah and go to him upon the death of her son. Her faith steadied her as the winds swirled around her.

You and I have a friend in Jesus who sticks closer than a brother. His compassion wiped the tears of the widow and held the hand of the man with leprosy. His power was victorious over death. There’s nothing in life that is a match for him.

Allow the Lord to be a part of your storm today.

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Much out of Little

A flask of olive oil is all it took.

A widow was not sure what to do. She had bills to pay, and there was nothing in her home except a flask of olive oil and faith. Elisha told her to borrow some jars and fill them until she was out of olive oil.

2 Kings 4:5-6 says, “So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was filled to the rim. ‘Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons. ‘There aren’t any more,’ he told her, and the olive oil stopped flowing.”

The widow reported the events to Elisha. He told her to sell the olive oil and pay her bills. There would be enough left over for her and her sons to live on.

When faith is calculated into an equation, much can come from little. We see this lived out here, and with the widow who had no food left talking to Elijah and Jesus feeding many people with one boy’s lunch. Much can come out of little when the Lord is at work.

The Lord can provide when bank balances seem low. He can help when the cash flow sheet is nearing red territory. When it seems there are no options, the Lord still knows what to do. He is in the business of doing the impossible.

How has the Lord come through for you? Be sure to thank him today, and maybe you’re still waiting on him to come through, don’t give up. He can make much come out of little.

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4 Characteristics Worthy of Modeling

He was never king, yet he left a mark in history.

Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son, yet he was never king. He does not make it into a hall of fame, yet he was a good friend. He was not a star, yet he was respected. In many ways, Jonathan was just an ordinary person.

Jonathan’s life models 4 characteristics everyone should strive to possess.

1. Jonathan was humble.

Jonathan understood David would be a better king. He was willing to look past himself to the big picture. In humility, Jonathan was willing to place himself in second place. It has been said, “There are kings and kingmakers.” Jonathan was a kingmaker.

The kingmakers of the world understand they may not be the best fit for a position. They spend their time looking past themselves to the big picture rather than fussing and feuding trying to promote their own agenda. In humility, they realize their purpose is to make a king, not be a king.

2. Jonathan was a great friend.

Jonathan was a true friend to David.

  • He was loyal to David. When everyone else left David, Jonathan stuck by his side. Job 6:14 says friends should stay loyal even if a person forsakes the Lord.
  • He was willing to share in David’s burdens. Jonathan helped carry the weight of David’s circumstances. A good friend is willing to help carry another’s burden.
  • He encouraged David. Jonathan was willing to go to David and offer encouragement. Jonathan recognized a rough season in David’s life and encouraged him in that time.
  • Jonathan invested in David’s life. Jonathan stepped aside so David could be king. He gave something of his own to David.

3. Jonathan had faith which pushed him to action.

1 Samuel 14 records Jonathan’s daring plan to win a battle with the Philistines. Though outnumbered and overpowered, Jonathan’s faith pushed him to go forward.

Jonathan says in verse 6, “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans…. Perhaps the Lord will help us for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he was many warriors or only a few.” Jonathan was not afraid to step out in faith because he believed nothing was impossible for the Lord.

How would our goals and dreams change if we followed this example?

4. Jonathan showed undaunted courage.

The plan Jonathan devised took much courage to execute. He was outnumbered, and the Philistines had to see him. Climbing to the Philistines position required both hands and feet, so for a short period, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not able to defend themselves. To spite these dangers, Jonathan had the courage to move forward.

Jonathan’s courage came as a result of his faith. He knew nothing was impossible for the Lord.

Taking steps to fulfill dreams and achieve goals can be scary. Much courage may be required. We can find this courage in the Lord. If he is with us, there is no need to fear.

Jonathan certainly left his mark in history. His courage, faith, friendship, and humility are worthy of modeling.

 

Where is our trust?

Was Jesus the political leader for whom they were searching?

The streets were lined with crowds of people waiving palm branches. They were singing. The city was in an uproar of excitement. Jesus was entering, and the citizens believed he was going to be their political king. The people were overjoyed, and excitement was in the air. The next few days were going to be action packed, but not for the reasons the people were celebrating on this day.

Today is Palm Sunday. This is the start of Passion Week, the week leading up to the events of Easter. Where is our trust? It is a good question to answer today.

The Gospel writers record Jesus entering Jerusalem to much cheer and applause. The people thought Jesus was entering to overthrow Rome. They believed Jesus was going to be their political leader. He was the one who was going to establish a reign and replace Rome as the ruler. Jesus, however, had a more significant purpose.

The people misunderstood, and they placed their trust in the wrong place. They were looking for a political leader and missed the true mission of Jesus.

Psalm 118:8-9 proclaims, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

Where is our trust today?