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Archive for the tag “Faith without works”

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

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Usefulness

I like to play golf. When I was a child, my Dad taught me how to play. When I played with my Dad and his buddies, he would brag on me, and I would beam from ear to ear. My Dad no longer plays, but he still enjoys hearing about my round when I see him. It reminds me how God as our Father loves to see us use our talents. I think it honors Him to use what we are given. I believe He also has a sense of humor when we do something funny, and we can laugh at ourselves. I think He smiles when we have good shots and give Him praise when the ball does a miraculous curl into the cup. God is a good Father and loves His children. He wants to do great things through us with all our talents and gifts.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to believe that God could really use me. I don’t have anything that seems to be useful as I see it. Sure, I write. I serve in my church family. But what is the work that God has designed me to do in this time? I struggle with that concept. I know one of my gifts is helping. I have been a great helper throughout my life. I was my Dad’s helper during those early years. When I was in college, I was the women’s basketball coach’s right hand. I have had many jobs throughout my career where I was the boss’ go to person to get the job done. I have been in training for God’s great task all my life – if it’s a help related kind of thing. But that doesn’t seem like much. It doesn’t take much effort on my part to do something that comes so natural to me – like golf. It’s second nature. Shouldn’t this great task be harder than my own effort?

Maybe it’s not the task itself that will be the greatest challenge, but the effort to be obedient to it when the time comes. It will probably be out of my comfort zone, and I may have to be in a hard place to do what I’m called to do. It will be a willingness to do what God asks me to do. It will cost me something. I will have to make some sort of sacrifice on my part. It will challenge my abilities to stay focused during those hard times. And it will take a humble attitude to do it in a manner worthy of God’s glory. But in the end, it will all be worth it. I want to be useful for God. I have said many times, the answer is yes even before I know the question. But when the time comes, will my answer truly be yes?

The gifting the Holy Spirit gives us is not for our own benefit. Our gifting is to be used for others – for the brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those outside the family of God. God kept giving me the same message over the last couple of days – get busy. God wants His people ready for service. God has given us this hour to live for His glory. It’s all going to come together; the time, the place, and the people coming together to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He has chosen us for His team. We may not get any reward here on earth for what God calls us to. It’s only when we get home to heaven that the rewards will be given. We have to be patient in our works for Jesus.

The works do not save us but give us the opportunity to be like Jesus to someone here on earth. Jesus said He came to serve not to be served. The mentality of the church people has to change. We are not to be consumers of the word without any deeds. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in his letter that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). It’s a dead religion. It serves no purpose. God will use us when we have our hearts surrender to His will and His purpose. With the right heart attitude, all the glory goes to God. And it will truly please Him when He sees us doing the work He calls us to. It’s time to get busy for time is growing short, and the day is almost done.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Romans 12:6-8 (The Message)

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