building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “faith in action”

When Doubting

I was reading the passage concerning John the Baptist found in Matthew 11. John was questioning if Jesus was the One who was promised to come. Jesus reassured John with the signs and wonders of what was done. I also heard a sermon recently about the Disciples of Jesus were doubters. I know Thomas was always considered the biggest doubter, but they all doubted. The doubts went away when they had the revelation of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus isn’t thrown off when people doubt. He might have been perplexed at times when the Disciples still doubted, but He didn’t throw up his hands and give up on them.

I think it’s reassuring that all of Jesus’ closest companions doubted. I waver between doubting and revelation. I don’t doubt that Jesus is who He says He is. Sometimes I doubt that He can handle my biggest needs. I guess I doubt He’s big enough. But then I get the revelation, sometimes through signs and wonders; sometimes through His word coming through a simple passage, to turn my doubts to belief. Sometimes I have to see it to believe it as Thomas had to do after Jesus was resurrected. And sometimes, I just have to be reassured through Jesus’ word that what I have seen is truly real like John the Baptist.

For months I prepared for my first mission trip. I experienced moments (or days) of doubting concerning the trip. As I struggled to come to terms of my doubting, I have followed John the Baptist’s example and brought my concerns to Jesus. He listened to my questioning, and He reassured me I was going as His hands and feet. I did what He asked me to do, which was to go. I took the steps of obedience and believed He was going with me. And He did. Everything done was because of Him. His strength, His protection, His provision. I knew nothing and did nothing on my own.

I have been called to go. John was called to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. As I was thinking about this statement, it occurred to me we are all called to prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus. We are called to go and prepare others for Jesus. He is coming back one day. Maybe His coming will happen in my lifetime, maybe not. But we are to be prepared as if He’s coming today. If He’s coming today, am I ready to see Him? Am I working to prepare others to see Him? That’s what we’re all called to do. My first mission trip was successful because I was prepared to go – spiritually.

Yes, I have had many a doubt, but that hasn’t stopped me from preparing to see Jesus do some wonderful work! It’s for His glory alone!

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20

And Peter

When I was in grade school, my church had an Easter play. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember I played Peter’s part. Strange I know. I don’t know if I was assigned the role or I asked for it. I thought Peter was the best disciple. He was always right in the thick of things when it came to Jesus. He followed Jesus with his whole heart. He even got out of the boat as the storm was brewing to walk toward Jesus (Matthew 14). He had great faith or more so than all the others sitting in that boat. Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon because Jesus was going to use him to build the church. Jesus said he was changing his name to Peter which means “the rock.” So naturally, I wanted to be Peter!

At my naivety, I don’t think I realized who Peter really was; his true nature. He was a man of action for sure. But he was a denier of Jesus. He did not have the concerns of God in mind. He thought he knew better what Jesus needed or wanted (Matthew 16-17). Peter was rebuked by Jesus probably more times than what is written in Scriptures. Yet, when Jesus rose again, the angels sent Mary Magdalene and the other women to the disciples and Peter (Mark 16:7). Jesus sought him out when Peter went back to fishing after Jesus had risen from the grave (John 21).

Peter was in a hard place. He was waiting on something to happen, but he just didn’t fully grasp the things of God. Jesus came to him while Peter was out fishing. Jesus waited for him to come ashore. And three times, Jesus asked Peter for his devotion. “Do you love me, Peter?” Peter answered you know all things, you know I love you. Jesus wanted Peter to know himself. Peter was probably wondering how all of it could have gone so wrong. Yet, Jesus wanted to reinstate Peter’s calling. Jesus asked Peter to “feed my sheep.”

Maybe I am more like Peter than I truly realize. So long I have been questioning my love and devotion to Jesus. I am waiting on something to happen but have no clue as to what God’s plan truly is for my life. I guess all I really need to be doing is the same that Peter was called to do – take care of His sheep. Yeah, Peter fell hard. So have I. Peter rushed ahead of God. So have I. Peter didn’t have the things of God in mind. Me either. I am not lost to God’s plan though. He has something amazing for me too. Not that I will be a rock for the church, but whatever my calling God has a place for me too. Me and Peter – maybe we’re like two peas in a pod after all. And maybe I will be as bold one day too.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:15-18

Love Language

Last week, I wrote about love. This seems to be a theme for me right now. Back before the holidays, I was searching for my “love language.” How do I experience love? I was struggling with my Mom not being with me anymore. She showed her love by giving gifts. But I found my language was about quality time. When I was processing all this information, I had an epiphany. Jesus’ love language is about “acts of service.” We show love to Him by serving others. I know; I should have known this all along. But it finally registered with me. I wrote about this also in my first blog in 2013. (I know, I’m repeating myself again.)

I am currently in the Beth Moore Bible study called “James Mercy Triumphs.” There was one point she made on this particular day – “Live It.” We are to live out our faith. Faith without works is a dead faith. I’ve heard this time and time again. I get it. I go home from the study group and listen to a sermon while I eat lunch. It was awesome! But the main take away was this: we are to serve others if we are to be successful in this life (success in God’s viewpoint not the worlds). It’s not about me. The preacher issued the challenge to make God first priority, others second and ourselves third. If we do it in that order, we would change our world, and we would change the world.

God had already spoken to me about this before the holidays. Did I ignore the “suggestion” about serving others or did it slip my mind? It doesn’t really matter at this point. I need to find a place to serve in the community. I need to be out in the world serving others. I need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I need to show that I really do love Jesus. It’s good to have this revelation, but I need to put things into action. There is too much to do for the sake of the kingdom and time is growing short. It’s time to change the world!

I am changing my mindset – “It’s not about me.” my new theme. I love Jesus! It’s time to show it.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

Love, Love, Love

This is the word that has been coming up over and over for a few weeks now. What’s love got to do with anything? It is the only word that matters – apparently. God loves us so much He sent His son for us (John 3:16). Jesus states the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, our souls and our minds (Matthew 22:37). The second most important commandment is to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Yeah, love is important. But what is on my mind today as I am writing this, how do I show love to God and to others? Is it going the extra mile? Is it to help others who cannot help themselves? Is it to feed His sheep? Is it worshiping Him through serving others? Yes, to all the above and more.

I am contemplating going on my first mission trip. I have had opportunities to go in the past, but there have always been obstacles to going. One time I had the opportunity through my church, but I didn’t have the vacation time and money was also an issue. Another was the place of service – I just didn’t want to go there (yeah, I know, wrong attitude). I am now in a new church environment where they are all focused on serving others. I am in the right place at the right time in my life. I recognize the need to go and serve even when it’s uncomfortable. I have the opportunity to go this year. Yes, there are obstacles to going – money still being a part of it. Will I push through and take the step of faith? Is this the right time?

The answer will determine how much I believe that love and service go hand in hand. In John 13 we find the story of Jesus bending down to wash his disciples’ feet. Someone else should have done it when they entered the room, but no one did. He even washed the disciple’s feet who would betray him. He stooped down in front of Judas. Did Jesus look into Judas’ eyes as he lowered Judas’ feet into the water? I imagine Jesus’ love was etched into every action on that day; His last day before His crucifixion. Jesus tells us that we would be blessed if we do the same for others. It must have been important enough that He took the time on that crucial last day to show the example of service.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17

Walking the Wire

A couple of months ago, I viewed a man on a wire walking across Niagara Falls from the US to Canada. It was exciting to see in person, I’m sure. The anticipation of it all. Can he do it? Will he fall? As I contemplated, I am reminded he took a risk. Even though he knew he trained well for it; even though he had done many stunts before; he still had to get up on the wire (cable) and take that first step, then the next step until he reached his destination.

I know I am capable of taking risks. I used to climb trees in my younger years. I don’t remember my first time. I’m sure I was scared to do it if I had thought about falling. But I know I took the first step, then the next step was right there, so I took that one until I reached the top of the tree. I didn’t stop climbing that particular tree until a few years later. I don’t know if I outgrew climbing trees or the reality that I could fall and break a leg changing my climbing endeavors. A friend had fallen out of a tree and broke her leg so I knew then it was a possibility.

I love when scripture keeps popping up for me to contemplate. I was reminded recently that Peter took that first step out of the boat. Many others could have done it as well, but he was the only one that took the chance. I have taken a few risks over the years. I have left jobs to move to other cities or just recently left a well-paid job to follow where I believe God is leading. I am reminded it takes more than one step. It takes many steps to reach a destination. I have to remember I take the next right step. I follow the course before me, just as the fellow did on the wire. What was amazing to me during that walk, he kept praising God and thanking Jesus (and they televised it!). Maybe it’s not a risk after all. Maybe it’s just the life of a follower of Jesus, take a step and praise God for it. Having the hope and assurance that no matter what, Jesus is walking with me. Let me be bold like Peter, have the faith of Abraham and the walk of Jesus.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14:28-29

Greater Things

I have heard two messages in the last week that tie in with this season of my life. God has placed a new theme over the last few years called “greater things.” He is calling me to greater things. The sermon I heard first was from Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. The scripture was 1 Kings 19:19-21. In this scripture we see Elijah placing his cloak on Elisha – Elijah is passing the mantle. Elisha took up the cloak and followed Elijah. Elisha went on to do greater things than Elijah. But Elisha first had to burn his plow. He had to get rid of the thing that would tempt him to go back. He was called to a higher purpose than plowing fields. Everything changes when the mantel is passed to us.

Then the next message was from Beth Moore from her simulcast on Saturday (September 15). Her message began with “the Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news!” Psalm 68:11 (NET) The story continues with Elisha and two women (found in 2 Kings 4:1-33). One woman had almost nothing, and the other had almost everything. Both needed a miracle. The one with nothing knew she needed a miracle. The other thought she had everything and didn’t need a miracle. Girl A had nothing but a little oil. All she needed was more jars. With more jars, she received a blessing of a personal testimony for God’s unending supply to fulfill needs. Girl Z had about everything but lacked a son. She didn’t want to be disappointed again and decided “doing fine” was good enough. We are not called to a “fine” life but a faith life. If we have everything we need, then we are not living a big enough life. We have taken faith out of faithfulness. We have given ourselves over to fear instead of faith. (From my notes from Beth)

The mantle has been passed. There’s nothing to go back to. God has called each of us to tell, and it’s my turn to tell my story. Time is getting short. This is the season for being prepared to offer people the hope of which God gives in abundance. God has an unending supply of everything needed for an abundant life. The only thing that will keep the oil (the Spirit of Truth) from flowing is a closed jar (mouth).

Let this jar of clay shine the brightest light through all the cracks so that others may be drawn to the Light.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Do Something

Have you asked God to confirm what you think you have heard? I started asking a few days ago to confirm what I believe God was saying to me. I listened to sermons from the different pastors I follow. I read my Bible as I do every day. I paid attention to the ones I was speaking to thinking He would confirm it through a friend. But nothing was confirmed through those means of communication. I wasn’t discouraged, but continued to ask that the message I heard is the right thing. I did hear two words during this time, and it was “stop procrastinating.” Ouch. Was I doing that? Yes, I was. I do that a lot. When I procrastinate, I am usually controlled by fear. Faith and fear do not coexist. You either have one or the other. The next day I started working on my next step. I put the fear into the right place – behind me and moved in the direction that I believed God was indicating.

I finally heard my confirmation last night. When I took a break from writing, I popped over to my email account, and I found an email from a daily devotion email blast. The title was Letting Our Light Shine. In it, I found my confirmation. As I was reading, the words jumped off the page. I knew then, God was saying “you’re on the right track, go for it and let me deal with the consequences.” This morning, I was going through my Anne Graham Lotz Bible Study, it was focused on Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11. The scripture reminded me that we have to do something first before the miracle happens. The stone had to be rolled away before Lazarus could be resurrected. We have to put our faith into action. God showed me first that I had to get busy doing what I believed to be right before He confirmed it was right. I can hear the word, but I have to believe it’s true. I have to do something to show my belief. Then God promises I will see His glory.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”John 11:40

Wrestling with God

Do you know when you hear a message from God? Do you always like what you hear? I think of Jonah at times when I’ve heard something that I just didn’t like and want to run in the other direction. I think of Jacob when he came face to face with God and wrestled with Him (see Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob wanted a blessing, and Jonah wanted an exit. What do I do when I hear a message or witness God’s presence? Run and hide or run toward Him expecting to see the blessing? Jacob’s name was changed to Israel on the day he wrestled God’s messenger. Israel means “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” And Jacob received the blessing. God always has a blessing for those that overcome. The blessing may be here on earth, or it may wait for us in heaven.

Jonah ran as far as he could from God’s purpose. God wanted to use Jonah as a prophet to a people who Jonah hated. He knew of God’s compassion. If the people repented of their sins, God would forgive them and not destroy them. Jonah would rather have died himself then to do what God had asked of him. But God’s plan is always righteous. His ways are not our ways. He is always seeking people to do what He asks when He asks.

I believe I have my next step in my journey, and I am not thrilled with the prospect of doing it. I will be stepping out into a place I really don’t want to go, much like Jonah. I’m not sure if I’m wrestling with God or with Satan right now. I think if its God then there will be a blessing. But if it’s Satan, there will be nothing good coming from it. I will have procrastinated beyond God’s timing. I want to overcome and not run from God’s plan. It’s time to move forward and not look back.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2-3

Opportunity Knocks

I find it annoying, when going about my business on a Saturday morning, someone knocks on my door. Most of the time it’s the Jehovah Witness’ doing their thing. Most of the time, I ignore those knocks. It happened again on this particular Saturday. I didn’t answer the door. But this time I felt the Holy Spirit disagreeing with that decision. I was convicted this time that I missed an opportunity. I don’t know what that opportunity was at this point. I stopped what I was doing and went to the window to see if there was a car on the street or whatever other indication I could find of what I had missed. No car, no neighbors out and about, no one walking around. Did I miss an angel visiting me? Did I miss someone in need that I could have helped? Did I miss an opportunity to minister to someone who did not know Christ? I will never know now what God wanted to do through me on this particular day. It could have been a divine appointment. Or maybe someone giving me a check for a million dollars (doubtful) – but I’ll never know.

I say I want the power of the Holy Spirit to work through me. In order for that to happen, I have to open the doors of opportunity. The Holy Spirit needs a place to work. If I stay in my nice comfortable place, the Holy Spirit is not needed. Sometimes I feel like I am not ready. But if I ever feel ready, the Holy Spirit is not needed. If this is about me, what good is it anyway? If opportunity comes knocking again, I’ll let the Holy Spirit work as He wants.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6

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