Thursday, June 23, 2011

More on faith

Now there is a lot more to faith than what I have written in the last few devotionals. What I want to do is to kind of wrap our series on faith up this week with a few more thoughts. But before we go on in our talk I want to go back to a basic principle of belief...and of faith.
Last Sunday during the sharing time, Rosa shared about how her father was saved; that is how he came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe she shared this verse, Romans 10:9 , for our study we go from verse 8b to 10, "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Rosa shared that she told her father, that she couldn't say the words or believe for him, that he had to say it for himself...So with faith one has to do it for oneself, you can't rely on your parent's faith, your spouses or even if you go to the right church; faith, belief...in Jesus Christ is a decision one has to make on one's own. It is also a decision for one as to how he will continue to walk in faith... Now as we continue to walk, God is gracious to help us and also to let us walk with other believes...so we can encourage each other....to build up our faith.
Now there are more things to talk about, a lot, dealing with faith. I want to wrap it up with, obedience and love. Yes, that obey thing, it is still there after one is saved. You see one doesn't want to sin anymore, that is deep down, even though we find ourselves still sinning. We want to obey the Lord Jesus...but we still fall in little ways and also in big ways. Some things just seem to plague us, but as a believer we strive to not sin and when we do we should also be striving to confess it to God, and ask for forgiveness...Now why do we want to obey Jesus? Because of our love for Him. We love Him because He redeemed us(you). He paid the price for our sins, not only that He given us eternal life, not only that He made us new, not only that He blesses us with spiritual blessings, not only that He sent us the Holy Spirit, not only that He intercedes for us before the Father, not only that He is going to perfect us and the list goes on and on. He keeps on giving to us, even when we are not deserving...what great love!
I heard a man giving a message and he said this, "when one realizes how much it cost God to redeem you...for the forgiveness of your sin(s). How much He loves you. Then ones love for God will grow...because one realizes how sinful one is...how much God has forgiven and how patient He is with us(you). Reminds me of Luke 4:47"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Let's face it I wish God only had to forgive me for only one sin; but my sins are many and not only that some of them I have a hard time with, committing them multiple times. Thanks be to our God, who is willing to forgive us our sins. 1John1:9"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So each time ones sins and has to confess...it should remind us how much God loves us and we should also start to love Him more or have more love for Him. You see God just didn't give us salvation, eternal life and the forgiveness of sin; but a whole lot more. He is showing His love to us daily! When we realize this/ see this/ experience this we can glorify God and the words of Jesus will play out in our lives, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15. So another aspect of faith is love; let's call it "great love".

Friday, June 17, 2011

Faith and the Holy Spirit

Faith, do you have it; is it growing? We've been talking about faith for the last few weeks. From believing, trusting, remembering and also continued remembering. So, how do we know that we have faith in God? We sometimes get asked about when one accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, is that when we know? Some deep questions! So here will come some short answers, that will also go along with our discussion of faith. Guess this will have to be a 2 page devotional. We know we have faith, believe... born again, are part of the family of God... are a Christian; when our spirit comes alive. That is when our spirit comes alive, through Christ Jesus and at the same time when His Spirit abides(dwells) in us. Here are 2 set of verses to help us understand this; Eph. 2:1-4&5 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sin, ---But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." Let me throw in one side note and verse, James 2:26 "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." Yes, we all were dead before our acceptance of Jesus Christ, even though we were still walking around. Remember Pastor Paul's diagram of what makes up man? The 3 parts, body, mind and spirit. Well that is the spirit that we are talking about; it is dead before our acceptance... of Jesus Christ. Back to our next set of verses 1John 4:13 "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit." So this verse answer the question above. If you were like me this verse was hard to realize; it still left me with the deeper question of how does one really know He has the Spirit of God? What does one experience...?
The first thing one can experience is found in John 16:8 "And He, when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." That "He" is the Holy Spirit. Have you ever heard that voice within, saying you should not do that or this, because it is "bad"? Or when you are deciding to do something good, do you hear the voice within say yes do it? Now for judgment, let's just leave that for now. It is easy for children to understand this principle, but as adults some times over time our hearts become harden to the voice of God; that time thing again. We need to come to God as children, trusting children, and believing children. Then this verse will become more prominent in one's life.
The next thing one can notice is that the Word of God starts to make sense. It starts to have meaning...you begin to understand it. Be it from reading or hearing it preached. 1Cor.2:12-14 " Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritual appraised(examined)." Now these first 2 can be used of God before one is a Christian, example would be God open ones heart to hear the gospel for the first time.
There is also the giving of one's spiritual gift, 1Peter 4:10 "As each one has received a special gift..." Now I will not talk about this aspect in this devotion but it is also part of the answer to our question.
Now the last thing we are are going to talk about is found in Gal.5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control against such things are no law." The fruits of the Spirit will start to be more and more evident in one's life. That these traits will start to take on a newer meaning, a higher meaning...and one will start manifesting these traits in a renewed way. That these traits that one knew about before being a Christian, now are more desirable to the fullest extent. That one desires each trait more and more; that one strives to learn and comprehend these traits. But most important is that one begins to do these traits more and more. Somehow over time they become more natural; not to say we ever attain perfection in these areas, but we are always growing in them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Faith and time

Now as we move on in our discussion of faith, we move into our growth spiritually. Now this does involve time, experience, learning...Some might grow in aspects of the Lord rather quickly, while others slowly, but that time thing plays a big part. Faith though it involves learning, it is more than learning and memorizing. It involves all aspects of one's life and the actions one does if every day life. The learning part helps us to know God's direction. That is learning the word of God. But, God also gives us the Holy Spirit, who helps us...
Now let's get back to the time thing. As we go through life time continues, day and night keep on coming. With each day different things come with it, our world is not a boring place! People are all around, things need to be done, places to go... Now this is where our faith starts to grow. As we see God working in our lives from day to day, in situation to situation, from task to task... When we see that He is helping us, protecting us...We learn to lean on our God, going from strength to strength(Psalm 84). The learning of life that is hands on. That, when you needed patience; God helps you to learn patience. Think about it, are you more patient than you were 2 years ago, 5 years, 10 years...and still even if it has been 30 years you find that you still need more patience. How do I know; because every day is different and guess what, some things just keep on coming, in different ways of course. Hopefully one is getting stronger with God's help and hopefully one begins to understand that we need God's help.
How many of you have teen-agers? For some strange reason they seem to have life figured out. They don't need wisdom from their parents...I'm not too sure but my dad tells me I was the same way. How foolish I was. Now that I am older I wished I had all that wisdom and experience that I have now, back when I was younger. You see our faith grows stronger as we go through the things of life with God's help. We must understand that it is the time thing, we don't go through all life situations all at once or in just a few short years. We started out our faith by believing the truth that God is real and His son is Jesus Christ. Then we moved on to that word of "trust", that we will trust God to do what He said He would do. Now let us remember the things God has done for us, in the "times of life" and ... It is so important to remember what God has done! The nation of Israel did, they held the Passover and other feasts. They built stone memorials, Ebenezer stone, 1Sam.7 . We are commanded to do it. The Lord's supper, " do this in remembrance of me." To remember the basic of our faith, the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ and eternal life. So we must always remember, to remember our God, to the race is finished and we are taken home. " We will never forget", we here that saying often, now let's say that statement about our God.