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Archive for the tag “Faith Walk”

Storm Alert

All week I have heard about this approaching storm called Matthew. Most of the spaghetti models were keeping it well out to sea. However, information changed Tuesday afternoon. I was on the rowing machine at the gym when I looked up to the television and noticed most of those spaghetti models had the storm tracking right between North and South Carolina.

I have lived in North Carolina all my life. North Carolina has had its share of dangerous storms that either make landfall or just impact the outer banks. Somehow I have managed to miss every hurricane that has come ashore. Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999 with a glancing blow to the coast but circled back to cause major flooding in the eastern portion of North Carolina. Fran was another one that devastated North Carolina in 1996. And Hugo came ashore in South Carolina but traveled right up through the central part of my state.

Every time hurricanes came through, I had either just moved out of that area or moved into the area after the storm had passed. I must say when I saw the forecast for later this week, I grew a bit concerned; will I have to ride this one out? While I was watching the television as I was rowing along, I saw this storm’s path being directed by two different weather patterns that puts the storm at a direct aim on the border. There’s a low dropping from the northwest to arrive around Friday and a high that will be circulating in the Atlantic Ocean that will cause a funnel to develop right toward the border of our two great states. The forecast could change at any time. Only God knows the track it will take.

On Monday morning, I read in Matthew 8 about Jesus calming the storm with His spoken word. The disciples were amazed that even the wind and waves obeyed Him (8:27). The storm came upon them unexpectedly. Most of these men were fishermen who had weathered many a storm. But this time, Jesus was in the boat. The waves were sweeping over the boat. They were afraid of drowning. I am not a swimmer, so I would be terrified too. When they woke Jesus, He questioned their faith. What? Why their faith?

I believe the storms in our lives are about our faith. There is a purpose to the storms we face. Storms help us grow closer to Jesus. Those are the times we reach out to Him and ask for a calming presence to fill us so that we can ride it out. He will see us to the other side of it. We are not meant to stay in the storm – we are meant to go through it with Jesus.

James MacDonald’s message from this past weekend was about the prayer of faith. He said “faith is believing in the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.” His message was from Mark 5:21-43 – one of my favorite passages. Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter and a woman with a bleeding problem. Both of these healing accounts were brought to Jesus from a kneeling position. Jairus fell at His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him (5:22-23). Jesus noticed healing power had left Him; He searched for the one who had been healed. The woman fell at his feet trembling with fear and told Him the whole truth (5:33).

I believe this is significant to us when we are in those storms in life. We can look to the One who calms the storms with just a spoken word. He may not take us out of the storm but will see us through it. We might not get an immediate healing or our loved one released from death. But we can always take it up with Jesus from a humble position knowing He has the answer we seek. Pastor James commented that “Delay is not a denial – we pray God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time.” His main point was this: “Faith that acts, asks, and endures – get’s answered.” Maybe our faith is like the disciples’ faith in that boat – it’s a little small; take it to Him and don’t be afraid, just believe. Ignore the facts; face the truth; Jesus is our answer.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. Hebrews 12:2-3 (NLT)

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The Shield

A few years ago, I took one of those spiritual gifts assessment tests. One of the gifts that came out highest of all was faith. In my past, I have taken a few risks, but I never attributed it to having great faith. I have left jobs to move to other cities. Over five years ago, I took a leap of faith to leave a good paying job. At the time, I believed it was the right thing to do. I believed God led me to that decision. Taking a risk always causes a bit of trepidation. Sometimes, God will reveal part of the plan to me, and I feel a bit more certain in my decisions. However, it’s been over five years, and I am having doubts as to the plan God had for this time. God isn’t doing what He has done in my past. He is not meeting my expectations, and I just fail to recognize that God has a different plan than what I expected. He’s creative that way!

In the study of the shield of faith in the Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer quotes her Daddy’s (Dr. Tony Evans) definition of faith: “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so.” She also gave this definition: “faith is acting like God is telling the truth” (both quotes found on page 127). One thing that was revealed to me in this week’s lessons is the fact that God wants to see faith in us; faith is what is counted as righteousness. And He is all about growing our faith. This season for me maybe a time of truly putting my faith to a test!

Abraham was the example of having a righteous faith. He believed God – to show him where to go when he left his home; to have a son in his old age; and when he was asked to sacrifice that promised son. But Abraham made some wrong moves throughout his life, yet his faith was still counted as righteous. Hebrews 11 is gives a highlight of those who have had faith through the Bible. However, Genesis is the Book that shows the beginning of the faith journey. It is ripe with stories of faith building. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we see the times of building faith through their journeys. However, the further the story goes in Genesis, the further back God recedes. Faith is rooted in the past but focused on the future. Faith is built on what we have experienced in the past.

One of the questions Priscilla asked (page 124) is what is the difference between belief and faith? My response was that belief is wings and faith is the air beneath the wings. It helps us take a leap of faith and fly. We can believe all we want; but until we put action with the belief, we will never get anywhere. We believe God will still do what He said He would do and act on the promise. It’s what we do when we believe God. When we doubt, we actually believe the enemy’s lie rather than God’s word. The enemy does whatever he can to keep us from taking a risk. He sends doubts, fears, distractions; anything that will cause us to shrink back from God’s word.

Paul likened faith to a Roman shield. It was a protection from the enemy. Also, it could be linked together. Soldiers in a battle could link their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier. There was no way an enemy’s arrows could make it throw to do harm. So instead, the enemy would send a flaming arrow to something flammable. This would cause a distraction to the soldiers and cause them to focus on the flame instead of the enemy. As long as the soldier stayed behind the shield, the enemy had no power over them. The minute they dropped their protection to fight the fire, they were vulnerable.

In these troubled times, we have to link our shields together. The enemy is sending all kinds of distractions. The fires are raging around us. Our faith is the only thing that will keep us from getting burned by the enemy. It’s important to know who we can trust and who to turn to. Our faith has to be in someone or something much greater than the problem or else there is no point in having faith. Without faith, it’s just religion; it’s just a tradition that does nothing in the name of Jesus. Taking a risk for Jesus activates the shield and brings God glory. It’s time for God’s people to link up and become a mighty force. The world is waiting to see how we will react to our circumstances. Faith or fear. It’s either one or the other. Let’s act as if God is telling the truth and believe He will do a mighty work in and through us. Take a leap of faith and trust Him in the process.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Wiped Out

Every time I think I am moving in the right direction, I have a bit of a setback. I want to see great strides develop in my faith walk. How come increasing faith always comes with a storm? I had been doing really well physically over the last few years. I haven’t had any issues that threw me into a tizzy – until this past week. I had a perfect storm of physical stresses that sent me into a downward spiral. I have an autoimmune disease that causes some chemical sensitivity when I am not being diligent with my diet. Over the holidays, I overindulged; and it’s caused a tipping point into the danger zone.

This week has been one of those weeks where I just didn’t want to do anything. My quiet time has been anemic. My Bible reading has fallen off as well. All I have wanted to do is watch TV or read in bed. This should be the time I draw nearer to Jesus, but it seems all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position and feel sorry for myself. I hate it when that happens!

I am just feeling wiped out – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is not how I envisioned my first month of the New Year starting. I like to start the New Year off with a certain food fast. I usually take out one category like grains or sugar or chocolate and let my body reset from that particular food. This year it was going to be grains. The fast I got was not what I had in mind! After my sickness came on, I had to have some toast to settle my stomach. Nothing went like I was expecting.

Isn’t that the way things happen though? We have a plan. It looks good in theory. But God may have a different agenda. So what’s the lesson in this particular storm? If my focus is on faith, what is faith all about? In “Pursuit of God,” AW Tozer wrote “faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” He used the illustration of the bronze snake Moses made in the desert. While the people were wandering in the desert, they rebelled against God (over and over again). God used snake bites to get their attention. After the people cried out to God, Moses was instructed to make a bronze snake and attach it to a pole. For those who were bitten by a snake, they could look up to the bronze snake and be healed.

God used this illustration in the Old Testament as a testimony of what Jesus would later do when He died on a cross for our sins. Just as the bronze snake was lifted up, Jesus, the Son of God was lifted up on the cross for us. We can lift our eyes to Him when we have been bitten by that deceitful snake called sin. The people looked upon the bronze snake with external eyes, but we are given spiritual eyes to look upon Jesus to heal our wounds. Scripture tells us “by His wounds, we are healed.”

During this last week, I realized I have not had my soul gaze upon my Savior. Sickness is a tool our enemy uses to keep us out of the game. It keeps our eyes focused on ourselves. It makes us ineffective as followers of Jesus. Sickness leaves us on the sidelines curled up in a fetal position. Paul warned us, as followers, to keep the body healthy. The body is the living temple of God, and we are to keep it holy and well-tended. We have an obligation as the people of God to be available for His use. If we’re not in the game, we are useless to Him. The deceitful snake does his best to keep us distracted and off the playing field. (I guess football is on my mind while I write this!)

I brought my sickness on myself because I was not diligent in keeping within my dietary guidelines. I thought I could get away with it. But like sin, it always finds the light! Maybe this is the lesson I need to learn to help me with my faith. I no longer want to be wiped out by things I could have avoided if I had stayed the course. My gaze has to be focused upon my Savior – high and lifted up. No matter what, He’s worth the price I have to pay in order to be healthy and whole (as far as it depends on me). Besides, I hear there is going to be a wedding feast to end all wedding feasts one day! And every morsel we’ll consume then will be heavenly!

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body! 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 (MSG)

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

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