Have You Ever Questioned Faith?

storm

In today’s world, with wickedness and sin being so rampant and the works of the deceiver being obvious practically every time we step out our door or turn on the TV, it is natural that we often find our faith tested. We see bad things happening to good people and evil people seem to have a pass that gets them apparently ahead. However, have you ever stopped to question faith and consider what it is?

One of the best dictionary definitions I’ve seen for faith is that it is a strong, unshakable belief in something. Too often, though, people think of faith as an object or noun and not as an action or verb. People who struggle with their faith are often guilty of this and I personally have been.

When faith is an object, it becomes easy to lose faith. But notice that Jesus never told us to simply have faith. He put it in a different way.

Have faith in God, Jesus said to them [the apostles]. Mark 11:22

Look closely at this simple scripture. In the instruction of Jesus, He is clearly defining the object as God, not faith. In other words, we are not told to have faith for faith’s sake, but rather to have faith in God, from whom all good things come.

When we begin to feel our faith tested, the most common response for even devote Christians is to believe that they must somehow stir up their faith. By thinking this way, faith becomes the object!

Faith as the object cannot stand. When faith becomes the object, doubt can overpower the faith. Think about that for a moment.

In Matthew 14, with the disciples in the boat during a storm, Jesus walks to them over the water and Peter asks if he can walk to meet him. This was an act of faith. It was faith in Jesus and in God. When the waves picked up, though, Peter began to question his action. He began to sink. Jesus reached out, took his hand and prevented him from sinking. Jesus was restoring the object of Peter’s faith, he wasn’t restoring Peter’s faith in and of itself.

Jesus recognized how the object had changed in Peter’s heart and gently admonished him, too.

Matthew 14:31 – Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?

So what should you do when your faith is tested and you find yourself faltering? Put the object squarely back on God. Pray to Him, let him know the difficulties you are facing and what you are feeling. Then put it all in His hands and relax. Nothing is impossible for God and you already know that He’s never let you down, so there is no reason he will suddenly do so.

By doing this, God again becomes the object of your faith. Faith then becomes a positive action. There is a requirement, though. You must pray. Still, by doing so, you are doing exactly what Jesus told us to do, to have faith IN GOD.

Isn’t it wonderful to have a loving Dad we can go to in prayer, knowing that He will not forsake us? He loves us and wants to hear from us. Surely that is not to much to ask. The more we pray and the more we focus on God as the object of our faith, the easier it becomes to have a strong, unshakable belief.

Praise be to our holy Abba. Thanks for being there, Dad!


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Do You Really Know Who God Is?

joyful

Many people, even those who aren’t Christians, know that God created everything. There isn’t much question about this. So we know that God is extremely powerful. The bible says that He created the universe with a mere breath. Considering how immense the universe is, this also means that God is huge. However, these are just attributes of God. Do you really know who He is? You most definitely should, particularly if you are a Christian. Let me explain why.

People often think of God and a king, sitting on a throne like a tyrannical judge just waiting for people to do something wrong so He can punish them. He indeed is the king. But what picture does this conjure up in your mind? The most common thought, in this context, is that God is a being that demands total obedience, at all times. The thought is that He is the punisher, the master, and that we are mere slaves to His every whim. In some ways, this might not be totally inaccurate, however what would you think or say if I said that this isn’t who God is? No, I don’t have some divine wisdom that the rest of humanity lacks, and no, I don’t have some hidden insight into who God is.

The answer to who God is can be found in the bible.

If I asked who Jesus is, most people would probably have a firmer grasp on the answer. Jesus helped those in need, corrected people when needed and always in a kind spirited way and was a servant to others. He served in every way that could be imagined. Though he is the Lord, he showed time and again that he lived to serve and was totally humble. He preached that we should all serve. His words in Mark 9:35 are representative of how he lived his human life:

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Jesus exemplified love on a scale that should leave us all in awe. In fact, the only time he showed anger was when words and actions demeaned God and the kingdom of God. His love and kindness was not only phenomenal at all times, but he also ministered to the sinners, not just to the righteous. Many times, his focus on helping wicked people who had turned away from God left the apostles puzzled. He clearly knew that the sinners and wicked people were the most in need of salvation. Through it all, he showed love toward all people and he put others before himself, just as the bible teaches; love your neighbor as yourself.

What does all of this have to do with knowing who God is? I’ll submit to you that if you know who Jesus is, you know who God is. Why can I say that with such conviction? Jesus said it better than I ever could:

If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now you do know Him and have seen Him.John 14:7

You see, in order to know who God really is, we need but to learn and study who Jesus is. He came to allow salvation, though not one of us deserves it. God didn’t have to allow his Son to die to give us salvation because we are all sinners. However, Jesus also came for the express reason of letting people know who God is. All of his words and actions were in direct accord with God’s will. Thus, God isn’t just the creator and He isn’t a tyrant. Jesus showed that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that all the good things we have and see are from God. God is goodness, kindness, a dear friend, a loving father and a servant to all.

The staggering part of all of this is that once you grasp it; that Jesus showed by example exactly who God is, there is another revelation that is as clear as glass. Just as God is everything that is good, anything that isn’t good also isn’t God or from God. That puts things in proper perspective, don’t you think? If you look at all the evil in the world, it is no wonder why lovers of the world are enemies of God, as the bible puts it. Personally, I find this all quite uplifting. God loves you, wants the best for you and wants to help you to have happiness and joy. He can and does go out of his way to help you and all you have to do is to open the door and let Jesus in. Each of us has the power to open our own door. Jesus is standing right on the other side, waiting to be let in.

Is God good, or what?


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Pride and the Turnip

pride and the turnip

There were once two men, both of them farmers. The first man had fields of beautiful fruits and vegetables of all sorts; cucumbers and beans, carrots and corn, lettuce and cabbage.

He took great pride in his ability to grow wonderful fruits and vegetables. He also seized every opportunity to tell others of his great accomplishments. The man couldn’t see how he could possibly become a better farmer, naturally, because over time he thoroughly convinced himself that he was the best farmer who had ever lived or who would ever live.

The one thing that bothered the man more than anything else was when others, especially other farmers, didn’t acknowledge how fantastic he was at growing any kind of fruits and vegetables. He felt that he should receive accolades and wealth because of how tremendous his farming abilities were. If the price of corn fell, naturally he felt that somehow he was being singled out and that the drop in price was an obvious affront to him, personally. Other farmers didn’t matter, because after all he was the best that had ever been.

The second man tried continually to become a better farmer. He’d try different things and spend hours trying to produce a better and healthier crop. When people would tell him how wonderful his fruits and vegetables were, the man would smile and thank those people, though not ever actually agreeing that there was anything special about his abilities beyond those that all farmers had.

This man planted a turnip in poor soil, in inhospitable country and would painstakingly carry water to that turnip faithfully, urging it to grow. He wasn’t rich and it was the only land he could afford to grow anything upon. When the winds would come, he’d use his own body to shelter the growing turnip. He would shade the turnip in the hottest part of the day. He carefully tended the turnip, making sure it had a chance against the weeds that wanted to choke it out.

Gradually, as the water and his efforts sunk down, the sickly turnip began to grow. At first, it was only a little, but in time, the turnip almost seemed to take on the same determination as the humble farmer. The farmer drew no attention to the turnip, but the plant didn’t care. It grew stronger and stronger, defying the odds.

One day, there was a terrible storm and the land was laid waste. The first farmer’s fields were leveled by ravaging winds and hailstones the size of his fist. The fields looked like they’d been trampled by giants.

When the people grew hungry, they went to the first farmer, begging for a portion of his crops. After all, the man had said far and wide how he was the best farmer who’d ever lived. Surely he’d have some food for them. The man had nothing to give to the people, for his lands had been swept clean.

He tried to tell them how unfair it all was, because he did everything right and there could be no faulting him. In his pride, he told them that nobody could have done any better.

The people turned to the second farmer, not saying anything but with their eyes filled with hunger. The man motioned the people to follow him and he led them to a small, insignificant, unsightly and poor patch of land in the most inhospitable place a person could have thought up for growing crops.

In that place grew a single turnip plant. It had survived the storm because it had grown in such a bad place to begin with. The careful nurturing had produced a root that not only grew very deep, it grew very large; bigger than anyone had ever seen from a turnip. Indeed, it took many of the people of the village to even dig it up and it was too large for any man to carry. It had to be loaded on a cart. The entire village was able to eat and it was the most delicious turnip any had ever tasted.

After the feast, someone asked the first farmer where the second farmer was, for he was nowhere to be seen. His answer, with a shrug of indifference, was, “He said he was going to go plant another turnip and something about having figured out a way to make it better. Why do you want him?”

“Because he is the best farmer who has ever lived,” they answered.

If we ever get to the point that we feel the need to pat ourselves on the back about something, we’ve taken the path of the first farmer. Pride blinds us to the truth; that we can all be better tomorrow than we are today and that that we are still learning. Humility is what brings us down to earth and helps us to nurture those things that we are growing.

If you are ever truly great at anything, you don’t need to tell anyone that you are, because they will already know it. A person who tells you that their fruits and vegetables are wonderful is only fooling themselves and others quickly see through them.

Always remember, no matter how good your talents, work and abilities might be, there is always room for improvement. It takes effort, but the results are always better than the words and actions of pride.


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