Choosing Faith

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

In carrying over from Earl’s thoughts yesterday, I find myself in a bit of a waiting game with the Lord.  I’m under tremendous pressure to accomplish something at work involving an outside company by a certain date.   The ball is in the other company’s court and has been since Friday and absolutely nothing has happened since then.  In my schedule of things that need to happen by certain dates – a.k.a. “my thoughts and my ways” (see verse 8) – they are completely behind schedule and no matter how much I try, I can’t get them to get moving.

Clearly, I need His help with these circumstances admittedly beyond my control.   My plans are not His plans.  My thoughts are not His thoughts.

Hebrews 11:1-3  (NKJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

…the worlds were framed by the word of God.”  He is in control.  I am not.  I guess this is where faith kicks in..  Rephrase – I guess this is where I choose faith.

Ephesians 6:10-18  (The Message)

A Fight to the Finish

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

The New King James Version says in v11 “… and having done all, to stand.”  I’ve done all I can do.  Now I stand.  I chose faith.  I choose faith in God and all that He is and all that He has proven to be.  I choose to have faith in the character of Him who never changes.  I’m choosing faith.

Waves (James 1)

James 1:6 NIV “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

A few weeks ago, in the midst of some very big “asks” with the Lord, this verse stayed top of mind for a few weeks.  The New King James translates it as “… let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” and the root word for what the NIV calls “believe” and what the NKJV calls “faith” is pistisI’ve written about this word a few times, the most recent being Faith & Doubt (Mark 11) and Faith: What is it? so I won’t expound on it here.

I’ve really begun to look deeper into the example James uses.  What are the characteristics of waves and how do they apply here and to my life?  How do they describe the state of my being when I doubt?  Carrying the example out, how does believing make me less like a wave?

Waves Are Random

When I say “a wave”, what do you see when you close your eyes?  Most of us see some sort of wave on a body of water.  That’s about as much similarity as we can state.  Wikipedia has a fairly extensive discussion on the many types of waves and forms of waves across all types of mediums (water, sound, light, etc…)  You can read it hereLet’s keep the discussion of waves in context of waves on a body of water.  Even with that, there are no clear definitions of what a wave looks like.  They have a pseudo-form, but can vary greatly from a slight series of rings that ripple out from a small pebble tossed in a very still pond, to a 20-foot (or greater), life-threatening whitecaps out on the ocean.  Both are waves.  While I assume there is a technically a definite beginning and end of a wave, it is clearly not easy to accurately identify for the casual observer.  The one constant is that they freely move up and down, back and forth, in and out, and constantly change shapes – often times spilling out or falling over (as in a whitecap).

When I doubt, I am like a wave.  I am not clearly defined and morph and change with the pressures and obstacles of life.  But when I believe – when I ask in faith – I am fortified to stand firm – with definition of who I am in Christ and more importantly, who Christ is in me.

1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”

2 Corinthians 1:21 NLT “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ.”

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am positioned and permanent to display Christ in me.

Waves Are Reactive

Waves exist because of a reaction to something else – some outside force – be that an object, the wind, a current, a shift in it’s foundation (i.e. an earthquake).  The height, shape, speed, spread, and intensity of the wave is determined by the force acted upon it.  Waves are a reaction to the world around it.

When I ask in faith – when I believe and not doubt – I am confident in God’s plan and not reactive to the world around me because I know who He is and that His heart is for me.

Jeremiah 2:11-12 NKJV “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am purposed and peaceful and not moved by the world around me.

Waves are Running

Waves are always moving from point to point – constantly moving and being moved by the forces around them.

When I doubt – I too am constantly seeking and constantly moving – looking for an answer, looking for relief, looking for some way out or away from whatever I’m reacting to.  This is not God’ s plan.  I’m to ask in faith.  I’m to learn to be confident and trust in His will for me.

Psalms 37:5-9  

5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.
9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am planted in God’s peace and power and can rest in who He is

Ask in faith.  Do not doubt.

Running After Papa…

Enoch's Obituary

Genesis 5 is the genealogy of Adam. The first interesting thing to me is that Cain and Abel are not listed, even though they were the first born.   I guess it’s because Abel was murdered and Cain ran off, even though he had sons and daughters.  So Adam’s lineage begins with Seth.  The pattern of the next 20 or so verses is the same.

“FATHER” lived “X” years and begot “SON”. After “SON”, “FATHER” lived “Y” years and had sons and daughters. So all the days of “FATHER” were “X+Y” and he died.

Adam begot Seth. (v3-5)
Seth begot Enosh. (v6-8)
Enosh begot Cainan. (v9-11)
Cainan begot Mahalalel. (v12-14)
Mahalalel begot Jared. (v15-17)
Jared begot Encoh. (v18-20)

Then something changes. Enoch’s “obituary” reads different.

Genesis 5:21-24 (NKJV)
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

987 Years after God created Adam, he took Enoch and Enoch did not die, because Enoch walked with God and pleased him.

Hebrews 11:5 speaks of Enoch:
5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

He took him well short of his natural life span for those days.  Adam lived 930 years; Seth lived 815 years; Enosh lived 905 years; Cainan lived 910 years; Mahalalel lived 895 years; Jared lived 962 years; Jared was taken at 365 years.

I bring it up because Enoch’s son, Methuselah, was old enough to see his ancestors living to be very old men and to see his dad taken by God – because he walked with God – and yet Methuselah’s life reads exactly the same as his anscestors. He begat Lamech, had sons and daugthers and died after 969 years.

How quickly a generation forgets the godliness and impact of the preceding ones. This is all the Scripture records about Methuselah.

Or maybe, how lasting an impact the previous generations have on our children, thus the more we have give our children to Him and parent them as He leads us.  I don’t know.

For me, today, I want to be more like Enoch.  I want my impact to go beyond the next generation of my children, but to impact my children’s children’s children for the Lord, and not away from Him.

What does it look like to “walk with God” like Enoch did?  What was the result of those men in the Scriptures who did?  This would be an interesting word study.

Through His Eyes…

James 2:1-13 (NLT)

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2:2-4 NLT)

How often have I stopped at an intersection because of a red light and seen a panhandler working the intersection looking for “donations” to his/her cause and gone into “lockdown” mode – locking the car doors and looking straight ahead daring NOT to look them in the eyes? It has happened often. Yet as I read this passage today, that’s the first picture I got. The second picture I got – immediately behind the first – is the same intersection but Firemen working the intersection looking for a donation to his/her cause. In this scenario, I react totally opposite. If I have loose change, I give it to them. I always smile and wave at the fireman, even if I don’t have anything to give.

Why? Exactly this verse. I am judging the person by their exterior. Yes, our culture today and often the intersections have something to do with how “safe” I feel for me and my family, but if I’m honest, it is no different than James 2:2-4.

It’s not just with such drastic differences either. I know myself. It is just as easy for me to show favoritism (a really nice way of saying ‘being prejudice’ or judging) to those ‘of significance.’ For example, given the opportunity to meet Stephen Curtis Chapman or the dude on the 3rd row of the 2nd service at church, guess where my attention is going to be?

Is the fireman any different than the beggar in the eyes of God? Is Stephen Curtis Chapman any better than the guy at church in the eyes of God? Am I any different or any better than any of them in the eyes of God?

Nope. Actually, the answer is a resounding ‘NO!’

It goes on an on. It could just as easily relate to those with whom we have a common interest versus those we don’t; those who are easy to get along with versus those it is a struggle to have conversation with; those who are obnoxious versus those who are fun; boring versus exciting; pretty versus ugly; it really doesn’t matter in God’s eyes.

His eyes – His vision – His perspective is the only one that counts. It’s the only thing that matters. James 2:5-14 go on to make that exact point. We are all sinners. We have all broken His law. We have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23).

James 2:14-26

Originally, I thought this was unrelated, but it is not. My actions (my deeds) define my faith. If I have no deeds, I have no faith because it is dead. A dead faith is not a faith at all. Faith – true, living, vibrant faith in God – produces actions/deeds that are driven by my faith. I don’t choose the action, I just choose to be obedient to God’s directive. This is the example of Abraham placing Issac on the altar. God directed his actions and because of his faith, he obeyed.

I know people who let their actions drive their faith. It a natural extension of their ‘religion’. Actions do not create faith. Faith isn’t motivated by actions. Faith isn’t driven or created by actions / deeds / “do and don’t” commands. This kind of faith is a Works-Based faith, which the Lord clearly speaks about in Romans 4:1-5 (The Message):

So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own. If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

The deception in that kind of thinking – that kind of ‘religion’ – is that instead of actions being directed BY God, they are directed AT God. Minor words… MAJOR difference!

How I view others is just one “deed” that needs to change.

Dad, today let me see others through Your eyes, Your perspective today. Destroy the preconceived ideas I have about people that color my vision and skew my attitudes towards them. Replace them with your perfect love today. In that perfect love, drive my actions to those things that bring you Glory. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

My measure of faith…

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

It’s interesting to read this verse. For several months, the Lord has been swatting me like I swat my dog with a newspaper. He get’s my attention every time I say something derogatory or “down” on anyone – particularly those that SOME might call “idiots” or “in-bred morons” – as my earthly father likes to say. Any time I have a thought about the stupidity or aloofness of someone else, Papa get’s my attention and asks me a very serious question. “Do you think you’re any better?

In stupidity, I used to answer “Well.. yeah… blah blah blah!”  Where I would wax poetics about all the stuff I do for Him – like He doesn’t see or hear or know already.  I’d tell him about how much I love and serve Him, my wife, my family, blah, blah, blah.  But thankfully, He didn’t just zap me and put me out of my misery, instead he reminds me of Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…”  It’s a pretty effective tool to be reminded that Papa is SO HOLY that no matter what awesome things I do, I’m bringing soiled feminine products to Him as a gift.

This all started with the reading of a book that totally changed the way I think and outside of the Holy Bible, has impacted me more than any other book I’ve ever read. Humility by Andrew Murray is that book. That book has forced me to reconsider who I am and who He is. In the light of Him – which, by the way, is the only true measurement – I am nothing and I am no better than anyone else. Jesus loves everyone else just as much as He loves me. Every one of us are His favorite.

This verse is a great reminder of that truth, that I need to remember. I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. (Romans 12:3, The Message)

It’s all about Him. It ain’t about me. The part I don’t understand is the last sentence of the ESV version. “…but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” What is that about? How I view myself – how soberly I judge myself – is somehow connected or related to how much faith I have been given? Wow. That’s an interesting thought.

If I’ve been apportioned faith, does that apportionment ever increase or decrease? If so, how? Interesting study this will be…

Faith like a child

Romans 4: 18-22 (NLT) 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.

I don’t think I really, really understand faith.  I am convinced that “faith like a child” that Jesus spoke of is much simpler than I make it out to be, in all my maturity and wisdom. (sarcasm implied)

My son Jake understands faith.  I think he has faith like Abraham.  If God said it, that’s enough for him.  There are no questions and no doubts.  Just faith.  By the way, he’s 10 years old.

No, I think I’ve spent my whole life trying to squelch exactly what God puts in us as children.  I so wanted to be “grown up” and a “big boy” that, somehow, I’ve let my faith be tempered by reason, understanding, and feasibility.  OK… I just scared myself writing that down.  Check out what Jesus said on this very topic.

Matt 19:14 ESV 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 10:21 NLT 21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”

How foolish of me to think this way.  How prideful of me to think this way.  Do I really think God only works and can work in the confines of what I understand?  Do I really want a God that is limited by my own imagination? Not me.   Sometimes, I think Papa just sits up on his throne and says about me “Bless his cotton-pickin’ heart. He has NO IDEA what I am capable of.”

Lord, I repent of my sin… my idiotic pride that has led me down a limiting and narrow view of You.  I pray for faith.  Help me exercise my faith this week Lord.  I cast off all the preconceived ideas and pre-built boxes I’ve put you in being “religious” and “pious.”  Forgive me.  Fill me anew with your Holy Spirit and renew a right spirit within me.  Reignite the faith of a child within me.  Thank you for examples of faith such as Abraham. Help me be fully convinced as he was.  Thank you for a living example of faith in my son.  Help me be more like him.  If You said it… that’s enough.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

Eternal Life

OK.  I’m still not very far in Romans, but in Romans 2:6-7 I was looking up all the meanings of the various words and for kicks I happened to look up “eternal.”

I’ve been a Christian a long time and thought I knew the word… Eternal Life and all, but its entirely possible that I’ve been missing something.  Read carefully the definition in Strongs for the word translated as “eternal.”  The word is aionios.

1 without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be. 2 without beginning. 3 without end, never to cease, everlasting.

Did you catch something new?  “Without beginning,” really hit me between the eyes.  Is it possible (prepare for a synapse or two to be overloaded here) that when we step into eternal life, we will will be “without beginning?”  Just typing this out blows my mind, but this word is used 70 or so times in the New Testament and clearly refer to our eternal state.  My finite mind can’t wrap its arms around that infinite thought because I was born on a fall day in 1966.

It’s possible that I’m way out in left field on this one.  However, Father has shown me today what He needs me to see and that it is a very applicable lesson.  How does that apply to me today?

I cannot possibly understand the ways of God. In one sense, it scares me to not be able to think my way through this.  In another, it’s very reassuring to know that my God is so much bigger than I am and I can trust Him, even if I can’t wrap my head around Him.

Don’t stop seeking. Verse 7 in the ESV uses the word “seek” which means to “to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to inquire into.”  We are to seek out those things – think on, meditate, reason, inquire – that bring glory, honor and immortality (those things that are pure and incorruptible) by patiently doing, but God himself will give us eternal life – that which we will never be able to reason out.

Father,  Thank you that you are bigger than my mind.  I praise the fact that I cannot understand you; I cannot figure you out; that you are SO much bigger than I could ever imagine.  Help me walk today in that security and faith to do things bigger than myself in your name today.  Bless your name.  Amen.


OK.  You know we sleep to the New Testament playing on my MP3 player 24×7.  Every day, I wake up to a new passage.  Today I woke up to the MP3 player playing Mark 11 and it captured me this morning.  So, that’s what I studied.  IT IS RICH…  Here is just SOME of the greatness of this chapter.

Mark 11:12-14

Jesus curses a fig tree because there is no fruit on it; and rightfully so.  Did you catch the end of verse 13 where it says “… for it was not the season for figs.”  Clue #1: This isn’t about a Jesus taking it out on a fig tree because he was hungry.  The end of verse 14 provides Clue #2 where it says, “… and the disciples heard it.”   OK.  I think Jesus was setting them up for a lesson, which comes “later”, when we get to verses 20-26.

Mark 11:20-26

The next morning the fig tree is dried up from the roots (Clue #3: OK… even Roundup doesn’t kill a fig tree overnight – something supernatural is going on here).  When Peter notices (Yeah Peter!) Jesus lays it on them.

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

OK.  Quick Greek lesson.  Faith (v22) = pistis, which means to “believe to a complete trust.”  Doubt (v23 “does not doubt”) = diakrinomai, which means “judge, or to judge there is a difference.”  Heart (v23) = kardia, which means “inner self, including: the volition, the mind, the desires, etc., though the facility of the intellect may be slightly more emphasized.” Believe (v23) = pisteuo, which is “faith, believe to the extent of complete trust.” Says (v23) = laleō , which implies a literal breaking of the sound waves, to speak aloud.  Received (v24) = lambano, “to take hold of, grasp, grab, acquire.”

I’m not advocating a “name it and claim it” mentality, because the Scripture is also clear that the Lord will give us the desire of our hearts – meaning when we are close to him, in intimate fellowship with Him, our desires will be planted in us by Him.  This means we won’t be asking for a new Lexus, or a million dollars, or any self-centered, self-pleasuring thing.  We will want what He wants and our prayers will come into agreement with His heart.

What I do think this passage, and what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples, is this.  Our mind is the key to our belief and ultimately our faith.   Clearly, “doubt” in this passage is the antithesis of “faith” – in this passage.   When I unpacked “doubt,” it is very clearly dealing with the mind – “to judge”, or “to judge there is a difference.”  That says to me that my mind is evaluating what’s coming out of my mouth (aka, my prayer) with what it believes and measuring up any discrepancy, or difference.

The second key for me, comes in verses 25-26.  An odd place, at the surface, to throw in a seemingly unrelated statement.  But Jesus does not throw down random thoughts.  These are very related.  For the sake of brevity, unforgiveness affects our prayers.  Its related to the previous thoughts.  If I haven’t forgiven someone, then when I pray to Father,  my mind (my “heart”) is constantly evaluating the truth of it all.  If I haven’t or can’t forgive someone, then the truth of God forgiving me is something my heart can’t receive, and if God hasn’t forgiven me, then how can I pisteuo that He will hear – much less answer – my prayers?   This is when my heart diakrinomai (doubts).

What then is the significance of “says” in verse 23?  Again, for brevity, and I may write another blog later on this, it has to be audible.  I know I am way too guilty of praying silently, quietly, and in my Spirit – not always with my tongue, aloud, audibly.  I believe there is significance to the implications of the word laleo.  Jesus cursed the fig tree (which remember was NOT in season) aloud (the disciples heard it) because there is power in our words and in our audible prayers.  This is going to require some more digging into…

I’m sorry for the length, but breakfast with Papa was GOOOOD this morning!

Daddy, you are SO good.  Thank you for your Word.  Thank you for time with me this morning.  May the truth of your Word and the truth of your examples sink deeply into my heart today, so that I will not doubt in my heart, so that I will not judge there to be a difference in what I say and what I know about You.