Saturday, March 17, 2012
This morning my thoughts were so awe inspiring that I thought my coffee cup might just explode so I decided to do my thinking here, lest I get coffee all over myself and my Bible.
I was reviewing chapters 11 and 12 in Hebrews in preparation for the sermon tomorrow when I realized that in Hebrews is one of the most moving summaries of God the Father’s working that I have read. The writer tells it this way:
And so, from this one man (Abraham), and he as good as dead, came descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people (many of whom he will list) were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. They admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth… looking for a country of their own…. They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. THEREFORE, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city (a future) for them. Heb 11:12-16
My own heart swells when I think of how simple it really is to trust, in faith, that all that God has promised will come to pass. But the book of James (which I am also studying right now) reminds us how complicated we can make faith. And how damaging it can be to us and others when we struggle against Him rather than surrender to Him in faith in all circumstances.
Do you wonder how it could be said of the Children of Israel that they lived for the future God had promised them, when we know the stories of how often they turned their backs on Him and shunned His ways? I think it was because not everything done by the nation was done by ALL the people. I think it was because there was ALWAYS a remnant of true believers who were not swayed by the crowds: There were always those who kept the faith and practiced it daily. Not even when it amounted to only one family (Noah’s.) God did not let go of His people and His promises. He was, and is, always true to Himself and therefore always true to the promises He gives us.
James pleads with us (all who believe in Him) to practice our faith: Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only. In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, in richness and in poverty… keep and practice the faith. God will test us. And God will work to perfect our faith though trials and tribulations. And His goal is not just to grow us, but to use us to show others what He is about… Our job is to glorify Him. Our job is to let Him grow our faith, what ever it takes, knowing that in the end we will be heirs with Christ and all that that refers to.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus tells us that with even the minutest grain of faith (as small as a mustard seed,) we can move a mountain. But He never suggests that that is all the faith we need to live a life for Him. We sometimes tease about how clueless the Apostles were even after so much time spent walking beside Him, but “there we are...” clueless about trusting Him for everything we do or want or need. Finding fault with the way He thinks and plans. Holding back when asked to do even simple things like smile at strangers or actually say “hello” to them, or give what little we have to someone else, or share our time with lonely people.
Then the big ones hit: Sudden poverty, sudden pain, sudden change of course, sudden “No’s“ to what we planned, sudden health issues, sudden death, loss and destruction. Then, suddenly, our faith wavers and we open ourselves to doubt and worry. James admonishes us to keep the faith even while we tremble in pain and turmoil. He reminds us that God is in control and everything is still going the right way according to His plan. God is tempering us like steel, making us purer and purer in our faith as the days go by. The correct ending is still there and will still be accomplished. We WILL see Christ as He is and we WILL BE LIKE HIM and we will be WITH Him for all eternity. PRAISE THE LORD! What else is there to say? He has our future planned and it will come to be!
May we be caught looking to the promise while working out our faith right here on earth.