scripture

Follow the road until further instructions…

Recently our family took a much-needed vacation, and it was everything we needed it to be. We enjoyed family time; getting reconnected with friends and food- oh, the food! When it was time to head back home, we programmed the GPS and as soon as we merged onto the highway our GPS, in its refined voice tells us, “Follow the road until further instructions.” We all laughed heartily at our GPS’ artificial intelligence moment. As we talked about all things vacation and what awaited us when we returned, our GPS’ winsome moment became the topic of my reflection – especially as I pondered this month’s devotional topic. Maybe my GPS wasn’t so pointless after all.

follow the road faith

Scripture is filled with stories of our Christian forefathers telling us about all things faith. The faith of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, etc. Even the great secularist philosopher of the 1980’s, George Michael, sang a tune telling us that “we gotta have faith;” granted, the faith he was selling was very similar to the faith that was being propagated in Athens during the early Church – one rooted in self-gratification and self-service. Yet, the Apostle Paul’s response was splendid and winsome.

As a worldview teacher, one of my favorite stories in Scripture is of the Apostle Paul in Acts 17, when he stood in the midst of the Areopagus in Athens confronting the culture and explaining to them that he understood with abundant clarity, after studying their culture, their habits, and their hang-ups, that theirs was an empty faith. What they lacked was a faith in a God that saves. He went on to pen one of the most beautiful phrases that I’ve come across in the Scriptures – “In Him we live and move and have our being…” There is so much beauty and Truth wrapped up in that statement!

Everyone wants to know and be known. Paul describes this deep-rooted desire of ours with such eloquence and beauty; he also explains that no one else can fill that void but God. We can keep trying, but we will not be successful without faith in God. What beauty and complexity is wrapped up in that one syllable word: faith.

The Christian faith is a saving faith. It is our response to what God has done. We trust and believe that His promises are true. We believe this to be so, and then we pick up our cross and follow Him…until further instructions.  

Just like in Paul’s day, when we share this saving faith with the culture, we too will come face-to-face with the same responses that the Apostle Paul experienced.

“…some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed…” Acts 17:32b – 34a

Paul kept on preaching the Gospel. He stayed on the road until further instructions. What does this saving faith look like for us in our daily walk? How are we applying this faith on the road that God has us on?

What does faith look like when my children are being disobedient and I’ve exhausted every discipline tool in my box and the “therapy jar” is overflowing? I am reminded of fearless prayer warriors like St. Augustine’s mother who prayed and trusted God – even when her son mocked her efforts. I am reminded that I need to pray more…a lot more. What does faith look like when there are emergency house repairs, unexpected medical bills, and it seems like there’s no relief? I am reminded of Jehovah Jireh, my Provider and His promise to supply all of my needs (not some or most). What does faith look like when health issues arise I am reminded of Jehovah Rapha, my God who heals. On the days that I dare entertain the idea of hopelessness, I am reminded that I serve a Mighty King, a God who knows the numbers of hairs on my head and thoughts of despair fly in the face of who He is and hope is restored. The list goes on and on, but only a saving faith can tackle those issues on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. No other “faith” can stand that kind of testing. No other faith can point to a God who keeps His promises.

one word faith

We present our hope-filled and saving faith to a dying world; a world filled with philosophers that think they know better than the Creator. We may be mocked and persecuted; but, we are not forsaken, we are not destroyed (2 Cor 4:9). Nothing can take away our HOPE. Be encouraged. Pick up your cross and keep moving…until further instructions.

When Faith Doubts

Do you ever find yourself doubting?  Do you ever find yourself asking if God is with you? Do you ever just want proof?  Just want to be told again that yes, Jesus is the Christ and He is with you?

So did people in the Bible. Have you read Matthew 11?  This account is such a comfort for me.  Not only does it affirm that others have doubts, but it gives me something to do when when I find myself with doubts.

When Faith Doubts

Let’s read it.

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:1-6

So from prison John sent His disciples to talk to Jesus.  He wanted to know, was Jesus really the ONE!  He need proof one more time!  He wanted to hear it one more time!

I wonder how long John wrestled with this question in his mind before he sent to Jesus?  I wonder how long he ran the doubt thru his mind? Good thing for him that he didn’t wait any longer. Soon after this incident, the Bible tells us John was beheaded.

I’m glad he asked his question before it was too late.

Why do you think John was doubting?

I wonder if John heard news from the outside world, as he sat there in prison?  I wonder if He heard that Jesus ate with sinners.  I wonder if He heard that Jesus didn’t fast.  Later in the same chapter, we read the differences between Jesus and John.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18 & 19

I wonder if John heard about those things?  I wonder if that made him doubt more.  I wonder if John thought the Savior of the world would look different than what He did. I wonder if John questioned Jesus in his mind; thinking ‘Why does God let His Jesus do those things, and look at me… I had to eat locus and wild honey.  I stayed in the desert. Jesus he gets invited to all kinds of other people’s houses, I just stayed in the desert.  And he eats! Why, He even picked corn on Sunday and ate it!’

Why do you think John needed proof?

Do you think John thought it was unfair?  Do you think the differences between him and Jesus added to his doubt?  Do you think John questioned him because He was SO different than himself?

Do you think John thought it was unfair? He was stuck in prison. What about Jesus? Jesus was out walking about free. John was stuck in prison just because he told the truth. How fair is that? Do you think John wondered if Jesus was preaching the truth?

John went in search of the Truth

At any rate. He wondered. He doubted. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was really the one.

What did Jesus answer to John’s question of doubt?  He said, (and I’m paraphrasing)  “Go back and tell John what you see.  The blind are seeing, the lame walk, the lepers are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised alive, and the good news is told to the poor.”

John must have needed a reminder.  Needed to remember the many things Jesus was doing around him. He must have needed a faith boost.

Yet Jesus didn’t stop with just showing John the Truth.

Then Jesus added, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 

Why did Jesus add that? 

In other words Jesus was saying “John, you will be blessed if you do not stumble on this Truth.  John, you will be blessed if you are not suspicious of me.  You will be blessed if you do not lose faith in me.”

John also needed a reminder of the blessing that would come if he kept believing.

open eyes

What about us?

What about us, my friends?  Do you ever need reminded of what great things God is doing around you?

Do you ever need reminded that we will be blessed. We will be in heaven if we will just believe that Christ is the one!

I do!

At times I look at the circumstances around me and just plain old DOUBT!  I wonder if God is going to take care of us.  I worry about the future.  I worry about what path to go down.  I wonder if God sees the people around me still in their blindness or their deafness.  I still see people sick.  Spiritually or physically. 

I have to admit some times I doubt God’s power. I may even question if what I believe is really enough.

Faith. I need to go to Jesus for a Faith boost.

I need to stop worrying. Go to Jesus. Just as John did. I need to ask Jesus to remind me again. To open my eyes to the many miracles He is performing around me.

I need that same reminder John got.  I need reminded to not be offended by Jesus.  To not doubt Jesus. I need reminded to keep believing and be blessed.

Friend, do you need a Faith boost? 

I encourage you, go look back at the past year, or years.  How has God provided for you?  In the little things, and in the big things?  Start a “God is Able” notebook.  Write those times where you SAW God provide.  Write down the things you worry about today.  Put it in there.  In a couple weeks, maybe even a month look back at your notebook.  How did God provide?  I guarantee remembering and looking back will be definite faith boost!

Faith as a Mustard Seed

I’m #NotAFan of processed mustard. In fact, I hate the stuff. I can’t even stand it if it’s on my plate or near anything that I’m about to consume and I cringe when I serve it to my husband and my boys. For years, I had a hard time processing the parable of the mustard seed because of my distaste of the processed condiment.

But in the many verses where Jesus talks about a mustard seed, he’s giving us so much more than a condiment. His words are delivering some of the meatiest bread of life through scripture! Because of my dislike of mustard- yellow, Dijon, brown, honey, spicy, any kind you can imagine- Jesus’ choice of seed description has always fascinated me. Why mustard seeds, Lord, why not marigold, dill, orchid, or even carrot for that matter?

“Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20  NIV

faith mustard seed

When I was a little girl, my mom gave me a little necklace that had a little round mustard seed inside of a square glass casing. It was kind of like a locket that was always visible in a window but didn’t open. I never really thought about that necklace again until this month, when my nine-year-old miracle son Luke started helping in the garden.

Luke loves being out there with daddy, elbow deep in the dirt, sowing tiny seeds and collecting the fruits and flowers of his labor. He also wants to take after mom and big brother and have a website. He’s decided he wants to sell his garden herbs, flowers and seeds to give the money to kids in need. The thought, feel, sounds and scents and work to get to the abundance of a garden and these heirloom seeds have led me to contemplate that mustard seed story again. (We have a ton of beautiful dill growing in the garden. Not a fan of dill, either, but wow are the dill plants gorgeous- and HUGE!)

Deeper roots of faith are becoming deeper rooted in my heart through the work of a nine-year-old sower and my husband. The thought that one plant, and all of its collective one seeds- can produce thousands of new plants, even without work from us at times, it quite frankly miraculous.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:6 NIV

But, Jesus, why mustard? I did some digging. In Bible times, the Palestinian farmers whom Jesus was surely addressing when He talked about mustard would have highly valued this crop. They likely sowed it in their fields for its edible green leaves (kind of like chard) and it also propagated itself by the winds. Its flowers would have been key for pollenating and attracting bees, which then produced sweet honey.

Have you ever seen a field of mustard growing? It’s astonishing. On one of our adventures to Napa Valley, one of the premier wine regions in the world, I had a life-changing encounter with mustard.  Another reason for this crop’s immense value was revealed to me.

Mustard growing in Napa Valley

I could hardly breathe the pollen from the mustard was so intense. I don’t typically suffer from allergies but the pollen was so intense I was sneezing, itching with burning eyes. Yet I spent hours just thinking, sitting and praying in fields of mustard. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the scene, even beyond my sneezing itchy watery eyes.

You see, in the vineyards, mustard is a crucial part of growing a great crop. The farmers are so thankful for the mustard that  acts as a cover crop to protect the grounds in between their main crop to produce the years best fruit. We know ancient farmers also grew grapes. Could it be that part of Jesus’ reference to mustard was also because it abides in the vine?

It really hit me – if Jesus is the vine and we are the branches,  abiding in him to bear fruit – the mustard is also a literal representation of that. The mustard (our mountain-moving faith) is alive while abiding in the vines, between the branches! The branches of the vines thrive with these fields of mustard. The best fruit of the valuable grape harvest is produced by having a symbiotic relationship with essentially, the mustard weed. Our faith.

Isn’t that just like our faith sometimes – full of so many weeds – things that we can’t even stand the taste of, like my dislike of the mustard. If we’re honest, don’t we have bitter places in our faith? But yet, even with a tiny seed of faith,  we are hanging out as covering for others, even if we may not know it, allowing our surroundings to produce the best fruit. That’s radical grace. And oh, Jesus, I’m so grateful!

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19, NIV  & also Matthew 13: 31-32 & Mark 4: 30-31

I think that’s why Jesus use the illustration of the mustard and our faith. Come on, friends. The mustard seed parable is in the Word THREE times, so it will really sink in! Let’s continue to grow deeper roots that abide in Him and even blossom between Him, ultimately producing the best fruit.

faith mustard seed

It even makes me wonder why we all have such different tastes, and how vast our God is to create even our preferences differently. We don’t all like the same things, whether that’s food, music, art, nature scenes or even versions of the translated Word of God. Maybe, just maybe, things that seem bitter, or so tiny, to us may in fact become huge blessings to ourselves and to others through this amazing Kingdom of God where we reside when we abide.

There’s so much depth in comparisons to nature in the Bible, including the mustard seed. The deeper we dig, the more rooted in faith we become. I pray your journey takes you to new and profound depths, perhaps even to a field of mustard, and allows you to be a covering to many by your mountain-moving faith.

Footwear of Faith

Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection - Marikina Shoe Museum
Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection

How many pairs of shoes do you personally own? Does your family jokingly refer to you as “Imelda”? Or are you a one-pair wonder who sees little point in owning more than one functional, comfortable pair of shoes? I, myself, am a little closer to the one-pair wonder than Imelda Marcos (who owned more than 1,200 pairs of shoes).

I tend to have one pair of shoes for every occasion: I wear flip-flops everyday 😎; tennis shoes for the gym 👟; ankle boots with my dress pants 👢; sandals in the summer 👡; heels for special occasions 👠; and winter boots when it’s cold outside ❄️. Oh, I almost forgot: I also have an old pair of those “special” Sketchers® that never did firm or tone anything saggy 😜. Oh well!

Why all this talk about shoes? I thought this was a devotional. True. True. Well, shoes have soles, too!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist! 😉)

The truth is, as I prayed about this month’s theme, God brought to mind some common idioms about faith, and they all involved feet! For example, a person takes a “step of faith”; another is “walking in faith”; and someone else just took a “leap of faith.” Apparently, the practice of faith requires moving your proverbial feet. Before we start selecting shoes, however, let’s first define what faith (the verb) is and is not.

faith footwear

“To Faith, or Not To Faith?” That Is the Question.

In the Bible, “faith” (whether noun or verb) is an action word. And while we can easily translate the Greek noun pistis (PIS-tis) as “faith,” the English language has no way to accurately translate its verb form, pisteuein (pis-TYOO-ane), which literally means “to faith.” Most of the time, pisteuein is translated “to believe” which simply implies mental assent in English; however, it’s meaning is more complex than that. Pisteuein is an action-imperative verb and contains the concept of trust combined with obedience.

Just let that sink in for a moment…

“Faithing” is not merely believing in something or someone. “Faithing” is demonstrating trust in something or someone through obedient action. Unfortunately, there’s no such word as “faithing,” and should you begin to use “faith” as a verb, people may question your grasp of grammar. Therefore, it’s up to us to ensure that when we read about faith in the Scriptures, we call to mind its intended meaning: We must remember that “having faith” means doing something—it connotes an act of obedience.

At the very least, this offers a fresh perspective on a favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, which typically translates pisteuōn (the present active participle of pisteuō) as “whosoever believes in Him”; however, a more accurate translation is “all the ones faithing in Him.” In other words, eternal life is the promise to those who have faithed in Him.1

So, how does one “faith”?

Sometimes, it’s easier to look at the opposite action to understand the action. For instance, have you ever found the perfect pair of shoes, purchased them, brought them home, put them in your closet, and never worn them? (If you’re not a shoe person, just substitute something you use in your favorite hobby, and you’ll get the point.) In cases like this, our unused purchases are not only a waste of money and time, but they also become a constant reminder of what might have been. Shoes are made to be worn, not put in a closet to rot.

steps of faith

It’s the same with faith: Steps of faith are made to be taken, not prayed about forever and never acted upon. When we get stuck in prayer mode (i.e., seeking God’s guidance on the same decision over and over and over again while refusing to acknowledge that He has given it), we are exercising unfaith (apistis). God WANTS us to do His will. He desires for us to act in faith and trust His sovereignty. Daniel 2:28a says that “there is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries.” When we seek His will, He reveals it. Every. Single. Time.

So, what hinders a person from faithing in life? 

To illustrate the answer, let’s return to the shoe analogy. shoesAccording to shoe fitters2,3, the following issues will cause unnecessary pain and potentially devastating foot problems:

  1. Assuming the wrong shoe size
  2. Selecting shoes that are the wrong shape for the foot
  3. Leaving no room for impact
  4. No support in the shoe itself

In the same way, when we allow our emotions, peers, family, and/or friends too rule our lives, rather than relying on the Lord’s guidance first and foremost, we find ourselves “wearing the wrong shoes,” and risking permanent damage to our “feet.”

  1. Assuming the wrong gifting
  2. Committing to something that is the wrong shape for your personality
  3. Leaving no room for impact
  4. No support structure

How do we sidestep these faith pitfalls?

First of all, we can avoid them by seeking the Lord’s face in prayer, through worship, and in His Word. Slow down. Listen. Pay attention. Look for patterns in what you’re hearing, reading, singing, playing, doing. Secondly, we can apply the shoe fitter’s solutions for finding the right shoes to sidestep the potential pitfalls of faithing:

👟 Brannock Measuring ToolShoe Problem #1: Assuming the wrong shoe size

Solution: Have your feet measured every year. Since your feet can change over time, your decision about new shoes should be reliant on your current foot size, not your past shoe size.

🔥 Faithing Pitfall #1: Assuming the wrong gifting

Solution: Take a spiritual gifts inventory every year (click here for free resources). As Christians, the Lord is continually maturing us and growing us to be more like Him. Since God gifts us according to His agenda (not ours), we should pay attention to current gifting rather than assuming we’re supposed to do what we’ve always done.  It might be the same, but it could be quite different depending on His plans. 

👟 Shoe Problem #2: Shoes that are the wrong shape for the foot

Solution: Look at the shape of the shoe; it should resemble the shape of your foot.

🔥 Faithing Pitfall #2: Doing something that is completely wrong for you

Solution: Take time to understand your personality type and spiritual gifting (click here for free resources), and look for opportunities to serve within those areas. God has created and equipped you uniquely for His purposes. There is only one you, and to assume that authenticity is a liability is just plain silly. You have a destiny that only you can fill! God will not call you into something that requires you to be someone you are not. 

👟 Shoe Problem #3: No room for impact

Solution: It’s important not only to fit the shoes to your feet, but also to leave room for impact. Make sure there is approximately 1/2″ between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Since toes splay as you walk or run, be sure to walk around in the shoes to ensure a proper fit.

🔥 Faithing Pitfall#3: No room for impact

Solution: Remember that there is a difference—sometimes massive—between the way a thing seems to work and how it actually functions. Take time to test things out before making a long-term commitment. Give yourself permission to have a trial period. See how you “fit.” Do you have a peace that passes understanding? Is there room to “wiggle your toes”? Or does it feel constricting and uncomfortable? Slow down. Listen. Pay attention. Follow peace.

👟 Shoe Problem #4: No support in the shoe itself

Solution: Inspect the three main areas of the shoe for proper support: the heel counter, the torso, and the midfoot (arch region). Interestingly, each of these areas should be stable with little-to-no flexibility. These critical areas minimize risk of injury.

🔥 Faithing Pitfall #4: No support structure

Solution: Make sure you have a support structure in place before you begin. Ideally, your spouse will be your biggest backer; however, I realize that life isn’t always ideal. What I know for certain is that when God is calling you to take a step (or leap!) of faith, He has already strategically placed His people into your life to support you through the process. Be wary of stepping out with no one backing you. If you are convinced that God has called you out, then ask Him to reveal your support team to you. Pray for discernment and protection as you selectively share your dream/vision/calling, because satan would like nothing better than to derail your dream.

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Matthew 7:6

Faith footwear. Who knew there was such a thing?! Not I. Yet, somehow, it all makes sense. I faith when I put the right shoes on my feet and walk in them; I exercise faith when I prayerfully make a decision and act on it. Does this mean I will never get a blister? Never twist my ankle? Never break a heel? No. Stuff happens.

When we’ve prayed through a decision, taken the step/leap of faith only to watch the dream disintegrate right before our very eyes, it’s CRITICAL that we not second guess ourselves.  God often allows discomfort and inconvenience—not because we are out of His will or heard the wrong thing—but because He had a lesson to teach us. (When this happens, our goal should be singular: Learn the lesson the first time. Ain’t nobody got time to learn the same lesson twice! 😉) Consider this: Without our willingness to take that step of faith, we would have missed the lesson and the connections made along the way—connections which often come into play later in the faith journey. We must trust His sovereignty.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

⏳ Is It Time?

Is God prompting you to take a step of faith? 👣 A leap? 🐸 While it might feel intimidating, or even impossible at first, with the right “shoes” — custom fit to the size and shape of your foot with a little room for impact and stable support—the step becomes a walk; the leap, a manageable stride. And God receives the glory for the great things He has done through our willingness to faith in Him. 🐧

 


Footnotes:

1 Interestingly, even demons are said to faith in Him (cf. James 2:19). You might wonder how that is possible. Well, when Jesus said, “Get out,” they got out because they faithed.
2 Jeffers, Justin. “11 Tips For Finding Work Shoes That Fit.” Business Insider, Business Insider Inc., December 13, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-tell-if-shoes-fit-2013-12.
3 “Shoe Fitting and Buying Tips.” Canadian Footwear, https://www.canadianfootwear.com/fitting-buying-tips.

Faith, Bread, and Carbohydrates

Well, folks, I’m going to go there. This month’s theme is Faith, and one of the dearest verses to me in the Bible regarding faith is John 6:35:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”

What? Jesus is the bread of life? You mean bread is a good thing? Today, bread has been pretty demonized in all its gluteny goodness and its hip-growing carbohydrates. So why does Jesus refer to himself as bread? After all, he didn’t say He was the KALE of life.

Faith Bread and Carb

Thank goodness….

Anyway, why bread? Well, bread is life-giving. It fills us up and satisfies. Practically every culture on earth and throughout history has some type of bread as an inherent part of its diet. In fact, across nearly every race, country and religion, bread is seen as a peace offering. There are countless Biblical references to growing, processing, and baking wheat for bread, both leavened and unleavened. The ancient grains they used, along with the natural yeasts made bread easy to digest and almost a complete, balanced food in itself.

Now, the second part of that verse addresses our thirst. Water is the ultimate thirst quencher. Our bodies need water to live. It is the medium in which all our life-giving processes occur.

But we are never permanently filled with bread or water, are we? Physically, our bodies will always hunger and thirst for more in order to sustain us.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had performed two amazing miracles: feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. Because of the first miracle, the crowds were amazed and followed him. They wanted their bellies full. However, when they reached him, he further explained that there were two types of bread: perishable bread and eternal bread. They were asking for more perishable bread that would just leave them hungry again.

But Jesus went on to say in verses 47-50,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”

Jesus was trying to tell them that He is more than the world. We need to have faith in him. He did feed them perishable bread and fill their stomachs temporarily. Yet he did it in a way that transcended the way the world works. Through a miracle. He even showed the disciples that He goes beyond the natural laws that water follows as He walked out to their boat.

So one miracle had to do with bread and the other with water.

Do you see it? Jesus is the eternal bread and eternal water! We need to be seeking Him for that kind of filling. I know that on a day-to-day basis, particularly when I am overcome with all that I have to do, it is difficult to seek more than just the perishable bread of the day. Lord, just help me get through this moment. Help me find a parking place. Help me have the patience to teach that spelling list one. more. time.  I am living in the physical world and not seeing past it.

But that is where faith comes in.

faith hungers

We need to hunger for the eternal bread of Jesus! And we need to have faith in the life-giving water He is. He is eternal. He is life-giving. He fills us up and is the only way we can be satisfied.

Do you want that filling? I know I do. Frankly, I need to hunger for Jesus the same way my flesh hungers for that soft, delicious loaf of bread at the bakery. Yet even more. I need to have faith that Jesus can and will satisfy, and I need to daily seek Him for it.

Do you wake up hungry each morning? Hungry, I mean, for Jesus?

Read the entire chapter of John 6 and ask God for the faith to believe that Jesus can satisfy us! He is able! Come to Jesus…you will not hunger. Have faith in Jesus…you will not thirst.

God is Faithful in All Things

Do you find it hard to remain faithful in the good times? Sadly, I have to admit that when things are running smoothly, meaning according to my schedule, I have to work to remain faithful in prayer and study. Wow..that’s tough to admit. I know this about myself and so I have built reminders all around myself to remain focused..even when things are good.

Psalm 62:11-12 reads: One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

Faith in all things

 

Have you ever heard the old Chinese proverb which states: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”?  When we study chapter 62 in Psalm, we need to remember that these words come out of a very low time in David’s reign, which was the rebellion of his son Absalom against his authority out of hatred for him. Without a doubt, David earned some of this disrespect, but the pain of all of this happening within his family, and seeing the destruction it had created, must have sent David to the very edge of his ability to cope. Thankfully, even during this terrible time in his life, David remembers God and His steadying presence in his life. I don’t think there was any way would David have survived the crises in his life without knowing that he must turn to God and seek His intervention in his life.

For us this means that the simple and powerful truth that only God is sufficient help in our time of need must be passed on through our faith to others. Sure, you can solve problems for people, or at least put a band aid on their problems, but in no measure will you truly serve them unless you teach them that God, and He alone, is an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

David teaches you and me how to live in this life when he points us to the preeminence, power, and love of God.

Notice what God does for us:

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1).

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:2).

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5).

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. (Psalm 62:7)

In this passage, David teaches us the great truth that God is strong and God loves us. Only God can be trusted with our lives, because only He loves us sufficiently to guide us toward our Heavenly home, for we cannot take care or make it on our own.

If we are to teach others how they must draw spiritual strength and love for a lifetime, then we must point them to God, and He alone, as the source of every good and perfect gift. We need to remember that each person we meet in passing through this world, we are accountable to them and God to do so.

As David rightfully says, “Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done”.

Are you willing to live like that? Are you the light to those around you? We really have such a short time on this earth compared to eternity; we must get about the Lord’s business of sharing Him to a lost world.

The song “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets has become special to my daily reminder to stay faithful in all things.

Some of the lyrics make me stop and think… Am I showing love? Am I teaching others that faith in God is their only answer?

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

faith in God is only answer

My prayer is that I will always teach others that they must call in faith on the Lord’s strength and love to guide them through every storm and difficult path they encounter because God is the source of every answer, solution, and need they will ever have in this life.

What Faith Does

I remember sitting in a hospital room with my baby girl wondering if we would ever make it home.  She had just been readmitted after only four days at home after the last six-night stay.  My little girl was getting worse instead of better.  My five older children were at home muddling through the homeschool day as much as possible without me and my husband was desperately trying to hold everything together and support me as best he could.

What Faith Does

I remember sitting on the bench that made a bed in the window of that hospital room when I was suddenly overcome with feelings of fear and dread.  I questioned nearly every choice I had made to up to that point.

I was clearly in a battle, and I was losing.  I was physically exhausted and mentally discouraged when I cried out to God to remember His promises to me.  That is the moment when the tide of the battle turned.  As I prayed scripture after scripture aloud in that hospital room, I remembered that I was not relying on my own abilities but on the faithfulness of a living God.  It was then that I pulled my shield of faith up over myself and let it bridge the gap between my circumstance and God’s promises to me.

active faith

When we allow our faith to be active, it accomplishes much in any situation.

What Faith Does

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Faith Focuses our attention on Jesus rather than our circumstance.  It blocks out the distractions around us and allows us to move forward in our purpose.  Because our focus is on Jesus, we have peace in the midst of our circumstances.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith and not by sight

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith Allows us to walk in victory even when we may feel that we are defeated or when we are discouraged.  Faith in God’s promises that we are “more than conquerors” allows us to walk boldly in faith without fear of ultimate defeat.

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Faith Infuses our situations with hope.  When we are faced with only what we can see, by faith we have hope beyond this world.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Faith Transforms our prayer life.  When we have faith, not in ourselves, but in the one who hears and answers our prayers, we can pray in faith, and our prayers become powerful.

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Faith Heals our hurts.   By faith not only our physical ailments can be healed but also the wounds of our hearts.

When we, as God’s children, operate in faith, the gap between our own limitations and God’s infinite ability is bridged.

How Rooted in Faith are You?

Faith is a gift given that must be nurtured.  Without proper nourishment, our faith will never be rooted deep enough to withstand what the devil throws at us.

Since the devil’s main objective is to rid us of our faith and destroy us for eternity, we would do well to focus on growing our faith and making sure it is properly rooted.

Rooted in Faith

To grow our faith properly we need to know on what kind of soil our “seed of faith” has landed, move it if necessary, then prepare and cultivate that soil for the seed to take root properly and grow!  Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower to help us understand this.

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.

Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had not moisture.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
Luke 8:5-8

Part of understanding what kind of soil we have is to understand where we are trying to plant our faith seed.  Faith is believing in the unseen, but too many times we put our faith in the wrong things that we can see.

People

We might put our faith in the people who shared Christ with us.  We put them on a pedestal, doing what they do, and looking to them to help steer our spiritual lives.  This person might even be a great Christian author, preacher, or speaker.

We must be careful of this and we must encourage those in our lives not to put us or anyone else on a pedestal in this way.  Why?  Because we are all imperfect and need Christ.  When the person we have put our faith in inevitably does something wrong, instead of working to bring them back, we may become disenchanted or confused and crushed in our faith.

The devil would prefer we fix our eyes on a person rather than Christ because then he can quickly snatch our faith away.

“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
Luke 8:12

We should only fix our faith on Christ and His Word, realizing that he alone is perfect and will never fail us.

Finances

There is an idea floating around that once we turn our lives to Christ and follow Him the blessings will flow.  Oh, dear sister, blessing do flow, but not always in the earthly, physical sense.

Our blessings come from heaven and an eternal perspective. Christ is able to bring us peace and joy in the most difficult of circumstances, when it makes no earthly sense to have peace or joy.  He gifts us courage to stand up for Him and what is right, in the face of opposition.  Christ even provides for us in the ways we need, when finances are beyond slim.

Jesus, many times, reminds us that we should not focus on the things of this world that will bring us comfort, but on the Lord who will bring us eternal comfort.  If we tie our faith to our earthly blessings, our faith will quickly be squelched when financial hard times come.

“The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
Luke 8:14

Let’s not let our faith be choked out by the worries of this life, but allow our faith to mature by giving these worries to Christ and letting Him provide for us and mature our faith in the process.

Health

When health starts to deteriorate, we often see one of two things happen:

  • People lose their faith or
  • People inspire others by their faith.

We all understand that one day we will pass away. Satan will try to use this, and any situation, to make us feel like God has let us down.  If our faith is deeply rooted, we can eventually overcome this lie with the truth.  But if our faith isn’t rooted in the truth, we will fall for the devil’s lies.

How to grow deep roots

Maybe there is another area of your life than those mentioned above in which the devil is more likely to attack.  If so, take time to do the following things:

  • Dig into the Scriptures
  • Write down the truths that correlate to the area where you need to grow
  • Memorize those Scriptures so you can defend yourself against Satan’s attacks
  • Persevere through attacks and difficult times by holding to these truths and encouraging others in their faith

When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower, he shared this same recipe for deep rooted faith.

“But the seed on good soils stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Luke 8:15

Nurture faith

A Challenge for You

Take some time to read over this parable and figure out where your “seed of faith” has fallen.  If the “seed of faith” is not taking root in the good soil then start prepping your heart to be good soil.  Once you’ve prepped it, continue to cultivate it.  Just like any garden, the soil, the seeds and the plants need continual nurturing.

Parenting by Faith, Not Fear

“I’m a little worried that Johnny hasn’t accepted Christ yet.” My friend crossed her legs and switched the baby to the other side. “I accepted Jesus when I was four, I think, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but I do.”

I nodded, fully understanding that concern. I came to Christ later in life. I know that the Holy Spirit, not me, will lead my children to the Lord. I know that God loves my children, has a plan for them, and desires that they become part of His everlasting family.

I trust God with my children. I really do. And yet sometimes, well, maybe I don’t.

parenting by faith

“Yes,” I say, “It’s hard not to wonder if I’m doing enough, or if I’m doing it right! I wonder sometimes if I’m talking to them about Jesus enough, or if maybe my own issues are getting in the way.”

It’s then that I have this thought: If I really trust God with my children, why do I always mentally wring my hands over whether they are/will be saved? Whether I’ve done enough? Yes, I love them and want what’s best for them. But so does God- even more so – and in HIM is the power of salvation!

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” – Psalm 37:3

Salvation is of the Lord

We know it’s true: Salvation is of the Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts of our children. Not us. He calls us to diligently teach and train them in the ways of the Lord and to trust the results with Him.

Do we? Do you?

Fear-based parenting has no place in the life of a Christian. If we want our children’s faith to flourish, we should tend to our own, and regularly fall to our knees to pray for our kids.

Fear is NOT of the Lord

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

When God blessed us with our children and asked us to raise them for Him, fearful parenting was not on the work order.

  • Fearful parenting wrings its hands, fretting and worrying.
  • It is paralyzed by the “what-if’s” of life.
  • It is unsettled and even panicked by the idea that it cannot control choices and outcomes.
  • It makes fear-based decisions, betraying the fact that it doesn’t really trust God.
  • It reels hard with every sin and sorrow life throws its way.
  • It teeters on the edge of a works-based faith.
  • It is no faith at all.

Don’t ask me how I know fear-based parenting so well.

Author and Perfector of Our Faith

God does not want us to parent out of fear. Instead, He calls us to faith-filled parenting, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to look to Jesus, whom Hebrews 12 calls “the author and perfector of our faith,” to finish the work He has begun in our children.

  • Faith-filled parenting finds peace in the sovereignty of God.
  • It acknowledges the hard realities of life AND the power of God.
  • It rests in the fact that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts, watching for it with hope.
  • It is empowered and equipped by Christ to diligently teach and train, surrendering the outcome to God.
  • It lives on its knees, praying for the children’s salvation and faith.
  • It lives out a walk of true faith in Christ.

faith to flourish
Be diligent in your calling as a parent! Teach them to know and love the Lord. Run the race well. THEN rest in the knowledge that the results of your work are in God’s capable hands. Trust Him with their faith.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

Teach it and preach it, friends, in word and in deed!

Lord, help us to parent Your children in faith, not fear. Grant us a great peace and confidence that You are working in their lives and that Your plans for them are good. Please equip and strengthen us for the work you have called us to, helping us always point our children to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

Amen.

Worrier Turned Warrior

My husband often says I’m a pessimist.  I think I’m a realist. I do know that I tend to worry.  I don’t try to worry.  In fact, I often feel like a failure because I worry, but what woman/wife/mom doesn’t?

We can’t seem to help the fact that we see potential risks, dangers, and pitfalls, but we do know that it does tend to make us feel like the wet blanket…like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride: “Bummer man…he delivers”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that we see so many facets to each scenario and I can’t help but wonder if this might in fact, be a gift wrapped up in an ugly, deceptive package.  What exactly do we see that we are concerned about as scenarios present themselves to us?

faith - worry to warrior

We see so many ways that circumstances could go sideways that might put us in place we don’t want to be.  We see obstacles that may possibly appear out of nowhere.  Sometimes we are really just “borrowing trouble” and fretting about things that most likely will never happen. Other times our concerns are legitimate, but one thing I know for sure: God tells us NOT to worry.

Why would He give us SO many thoughts and feelings about things and then tell us not to worry?  It almost feels like a cruel game sometimes. But that is NOT God. That, my friend, is the enemy of our souls doing his level best to keep us from something so powerful, it can move mountains, transform lives and shut down the devil’s work in a heartbeat.  It can move heaven and earth and cause more problems for Satan than he wants to deal with and give more glory to God than just about anything! What IS this thing?

 IT’S THE POWER OF PRAYER!!

I want you to stop for a minute and think about whatever situation is most burdening you at the moment.  Now think through what it is that is concerning to you…specifically…call it out, say it out loud to God and tell Him how it makes you feel.  Don’t mince words and don’t be afraid to say it even if it sounds wrong.  He’s a big God. He can handle it.  He already knows what is in our hearts, so we may as well speak it out.  As you do this, ask God to give you His eyes. Ask Him to bring to mind verses that relate to it and ask Him to lead you to more verses so that you can start praying the scripture over every detail. Remind yourself of the ways God has been faithful to you in the past to help boost your faith for the challenges you face now.

Do you see what just happened?  You were transformed from a worrier to a warrior!

That’s it!  This is what we are supposed to do with all these God given intuitions and concerns.  We can’t let them become the bait that traps us into depression, helplessness, and defeat.  Our God has GOOD plans for us.  He has VICTORY for us, but until we step out into the battlefield and confront our enemies, the war will never be won!

have faith in his love

Jesus was the perfect Lamb led to the slaughter on our behalf, NOT so we could continue in defeat and failure, but so that we could come directly into the throne room and find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need!  We need Him every minute of every hour and He waits with joy in His heart and a readiness to help us overcome whatever we face. NOTHING is too difficult for our God.

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.  God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.”I Peter 1:18-20