Affirmed Faith

There are different ways people come to belief or have faith. Some people will believe or come to faith with a simple word and others they need to see concrete evidence. For example, while Nathanael was sitting under a fig tree Philp spoke to him that he and the others found the Messiah that was to come. And when they two Philip and Nathanael came to Jesus, Jesus revealed to him that he saw him under the fig tree and because of that he believed in Jesus (Jhn1:50). There was also a centurion whose servant was sick to the point of death, and when he had heard of Jesus came and asked him to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to heal this man’s servant and go to his house, but the centurion told Jesus to just say the word and it would heal his servant (Mt8:10).  Paul encountered a man who was lame who had the faith to be healed, and so he called him out to stand and he stood (Acts14:8-10). There are those that having faith is not so simple and they need something more concrete; more tangible.

John 20:24-29

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now, there those also, whose faith does not come all that easy. They are those that need something that does not require faith to induce their faith. Like Thomas AKA doubting Thomas, who needed to touch the nail print and side laceration in order  to believe. Although, Thomas inherited this nickname of doubting Thomas, he became a faithful and loyal follower of Jesus Christ after he experienced the sensation of the touch. Thomas was a man in charged of his own faith, in other words he did not believe because of the influence of others. He was a brave man whom when Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, and trouble was foreseen Thomas did not back down (Jhn11:6). Thomas’ quest for an affirmed faith lead him to question the path to the Father of which lead to one of the greatest proclamation of Christ found in John 14:1-6, where Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life. Thomas died as a martyr for Christ. The idea that we need to see in order to believe maybe is a thirst for an affirmed faith. Jesus said that if anyone thirst to come to him and out of their belly will burst rivers of living waters (Jhn7:37-38), and this he spoke of faith.

The Resistance

Becoming callous is not too hard to do especially while we have so many people whose regards is for themselves. Callous by definition refers to the thickening for ones skin and figurative refers to the hardening of ones feelings. In the negative sense we can be pretty cruel with others in the display of callous, but in the spiritual context we can become such when it comes to evil that Satan throws at us. James tells us to resist the devil and he shall flee from us (Ja4:7), but sometimes it is so hard to resist the devil because someone might really needs to be taken care of. The hardest thing in life is to resist evil, because it presents itself as a solution to a given situation. Adam and Eve could not resist the temptation of gaining a status in life that was not promised (gen3:4-5). There are some evil good things; sort of speak, that are tempting.

Matthew 5:38-39
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The meaning of resist says “to set one’s self against, to withstand, resist, oppose”, and the context of this verse deals with a limit. Standing fast and resisting opposition is the way to spiritual war far victories; we do not run. When the scriptures say “resist not” it means leave alone or walk away. Turning the other cheek is not a sign of weakness, but of strength saying that you can not be broken(1Jhn4:4). It is a form of resisting but not in a negative way. Paul said that if your enemy is thirsty or hungry feed him and in doing so you will place heaps of coal of fire on his head(Ro12:20), suggesting that he/she will eventually feel bad about what they have done. (Running away is a sign of cowardness, and God has not given us a spirit of fear but of sound mind (2Tim1:7). A writer said that if we were to forgive and turn the other check at all times we would turn around this country like never before.

It does not cost anything to search the evidence.

We preach that it is by faith that we are able to climb high mountains, win races, have triumph over adversities, or wake up the next day. And, of truth our lives deal largely with faith factors. Whether we are church goers or not believing in something transcends the walls of any steeple. Luke the writer of Hebrews says that faith is the evidence of things not seen yet(heb11:1). The Word evidence here is the proof, that by which a thing is tested or proved. So, faith is the evidence of something hoped for, but what happens when that very thing that we are hoping for seems to be crushed? What happens when instead of things looking promising it all seems like it is never going to happen? There is a powerful message in the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus said that if your faith is like the size of the mustard seed you can tell a mountain to move it will obey you(Mat17:20-21), and that nothing shall be impossible for you. So, what does it cost us to run back to the evidence of that thing we are hoping for?

Luke 24:9-12
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

At the resurrection site these women got an experience with the author of life, Jesus appeared to them first; Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James and John. There are some questions that comes to my mind for example, one is why did the disciples not camp out near the tomb since Jesus said he was going to rise on the third day. Today, when their is a sale going on on black Friday many believers of the sale will camp out. Jesus said that he would rise on the third day (Mt17:22-23), so faith that he would rise should have made the disciples camp out for that evidence. Spoken faith to some seems like nonsense; like the disciples, but to us it is the power of God(1Cor1:18). One thing does stick to mind and that is it did not cost anything for anyone to investigate this claim of faith, and so Peter got up and ran towards the evidence; the empty tomb. From time to time we need to be reminded that Jesus really did rise from the dead and that there is solid evidence of that claim. And, that it does not cost anything; no monitory value, or riches, to search out the evidence.

Possessing it all

As parents we are to do the best for our children and it includes financially. Many parents though have this idea that since they struggled through their lives to get the things they have, that their children should also. But, throughout history we notice that, that is not how people thought. Parents worked hard to leave something to their kids, something that they can start their own family with. Inheritance is a hand down of some possession passed down to a loved one particularly a child. A rich man once asked Jesus what should he do to inherit eternal life and he gave him the do’s for this inheritance. The do’s for eternal life were having knowledge of the ten commandments and leaving everything he had and following Christ, but these do’s did not do good with this rich man (Lk18:18-23). Inheritances have prerequisites in order to obtain it, and if one does not fulfill those requirements then he is disqualified for receiving it. One can forfeit his/her inheritance even eternal life as Peter tells the church that one can loose their position in the kingdom (II Peter 3:17).

Acts 7:5
5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.

While God has offered us the inheritance of eternal life, he promised that he would give us a possession. A possession is something that is giving or sold to us and we become first owner. God made this promise to Abraham that he would not be a heir, but a possessor of the promise. There are things in life that God has promised we will possess. Jesus said that if we seek him and his kingdom all the things will be for us to posses (Mt6:33). The promise for us to possess whatever we touch continues to be active. Psalms 1 and Moses in Deut., tells us that if we walk in his ways whatever we do shall prosper (ps1:3, Deut30:8-10). If we ask the Lord he will give us for possession whatever we ask (ps2:8). Paul tells us that we are to walk as we do not have nothing, though we possess all things (2Cor6:10). The promise of possessing all things comes through the knowledge of Christ, but not just acknowledging that he is Lord, but having an authentic conscientious acknowledgment of Christ as told in 2 Peter 1:3 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”.

Unstoppable change

The early church, which was primarily Jews, became invested with an influx of gentiles of which required some changes. The elders and apostles of church since they were Jews though they became followers of Christ continued to practice Judaic rituals, and, so their religion was shaken with now the gentiles coming to Christ. God’s plan once it begins to unravel it reaches the unexpected. Isaiah tells us that God will level every valley and mountain (Is40:4), only to do what he will. No matter how rigid or how loose one might be once the Holy Spirit begins to work all that one can expect is change (Phi1:6). Jesus began the church with Peter and the twelve, but it wasn’t for it to become just another religious sect. It was to unleash an unstoppable life changing process allowing anyone who would be saved be saved.

Acts 15:29
29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Apart from the Jews and their strict practices, the gentile church needed a guide to hold them accountable to their salvation. And, the four sacraments that was imposed to them by the Elders and Apostles were to stay away from food that was sacrificed to idols, from blood and meats that were strangled and from sexual immorality. But, they were consolidated to two, because later on in the church history Paul tells them to eat whatever is put before them (1Cor10:25-27). Now, unless eating something that would affect someone else’s conscience, then Paul told the church do not eat it. Because our freedom should not make anyone stumble. There is a big penalty for making one stumble, Jesus said that it would be better for one to tie a millstone around ones head and be thrown under water (Mt18:6) then to make someone stumble. Doing anything and everything to save one became Paul’s model (1Cor9:19-23). And, it seemed that the gospel became too loose and secularized that would have made the Jews stumble, but the second sacrament of abstaining from sexual immorality kind of put the break to things. Because the Jews held with high esteem marriage the Levitical way, they were required to not engage with sexual sins. God had warned the Jews so many times to stay away from fornication, that when they came to Christ they did not mix their Christianity with any other believes.

Salt for an unsalted world

Seasoning food is a form of art. Just the right amount and combination of spices can make any dish smell and taste wonderful, but no dish is complete without salt; and that of the right amount. If you add too much salt or not enough it can have a negative taste on your dish. Too much salt will make anyone sick and even cause death. It is a mineral and so it can over power the taste against almost any other spice. Now, salt that has lost its savor it cannot be used for cooking or seasoning we use for dissolving snow, or ice. It symbolizes our life styles or speech. With regards to our life style, salt if balance correctly it can have some edifying effects on others as well as on ourselves. Proverbs tells us that a false balance is not accepted by God (11:1). Even if it is just a tad to much salt it is not acceptable with the Lord, it has to be balanced just right. Lot’s wife decision to look back after the angels strictly forbade them, caused her to become covered with salt with no taste (Ge19:24-26).  The worst thing is to be trodden by men. And, so once Lot’s wife became that statute of salt, eventually it crumbled and people stepped all over it.

Matthew 5:13

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Now, Jesus noticed that the earth is without flavor; saltiness, and, so he called his disciples and commissioned them to be salt. The further we continue in this century, with all the crimes and evil and pain the more we have the need for salted people; people with flavor, seasoned just right. Evil and pain leaves a bad taste on people. When you have salt you have peace with others (Mk9:50). Peace is a result of salt. Everything we do is seasoned with salt when we have salt that has flavor and the same with unseasoned salt (Mk9:49). The same goes with the things we say, they have to be seasoned with salt (Col4:6). If we are going to be the salt of the earth our lives and the things we say need to be seasoned with salt. Now, we cannot be both unseasoned salt and seasoned at the same time, either we are seasoned or unseasoned (Jm3:12). When Jerusalem was born, it was not properly cared for her cord was not cut off and she was not washed with salt. She was cast aside and was trodden by men until God found her (Ez16:3-7). God will renew and wash with salt away all sin and hurt. Salt heals!

Hiding the light!

We are made to be light to the world. Every person born since the beginning of time; after the great fall, was hoped to be the savior. The idea that someone would come to bring hope to mankind was and has always been expected. Even today, once a child is born the hope that that child will become someone great continues to be alive in us. Greatness in Christ, is not something many today strive for. In fact if you ask your child what does he/she wants to be when he/she grows up they usually say doctor, lawyer or some secular description, but not pastor or missionary. Our identity in Christ becomes evident when he comes into our lives and that of being the light of the world. Now, because of the threat of being called an extremist many chose not to be vocal with their faith; and chose to hid. But, Jesus said that we cannot hide, as people of light we cannot hide. Once your light is turned on you cannot turn it off; well you can, if you chose. Jesus said that if we walk in him we will not walk in darkness (Jh8:12). Your light is turned on with the opening of your eye (Mt6:22). If your eye is turned on to see light everything you look at will be seen with hope. Elijah the prophet was once surrounded by this great army that came to take him out. His servant looked out the window and noticed this great army surrounding his home and nervously informed Elijah the prophet. Elijah prayed for him that his eyes would be opened and when he looked out the window again he noticed the chariots of God surrounding this army (2Kg6:17).

Matthew 5:14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Once your light is turned on you cannot hid. It is no longer normal to hid the truth. You have to give off the light that is in you. Too often we find many believers hiding their faith or light and putting a bushel over it. According to Barna research personal evangelism is going out of fashion. They asked a group of believers “When asked if they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice, however, the numbers shift downward. Only half (52%) of born again Christians say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. What stands out among the data, however, is that evangelicals also have among the highest rates of failure in follow-through from conviction to action when it comes to sharing their faith. Nearly one-third (31%) believe they should evangelize, but have not done so—at least within the past year.”. David found himself with the struggle of losing the light within(ps38:10), but he prayed that God would lighten his eyes (ps13:3, 18:28). We need to be conscientious when the way we see things changes and become determined to do something about it. People who suffer with the problem of Glaucoma with time loose the light in their eye. It begins with the deterioration of the Cornea and the optic nerve, and Glaucoma turns off the light that comes in. Glaucoma is a symbolic spiritual illness that many believers are struggling with today.

The touch

The plans God has for us come as surprise, they come in his time. There is no need to try to pin point or set a date for when they should come. His plans are not based on our earthly calendars; they come unexpected. It is a wonderful thing when we are not expecting anything to happen and it happens. To the believer God’s wonder working power does not come as a surprise, because that is what faith is about according to Hebrews 11:1; It is the evidence of things hoped for. So, believers are not taken by surprise when something happens supernatural; at least some of the times.  God always finds a way to astound us; when one least expects it, it comes. Kind of like what happened to the shepherds when the angels appeared (Lk2:9) to announce the coming of Christ. Or, like what happened to Mary when the angel appeared to her to announce her pregnancy of Jesus (Lk.1:28-29), must have put a great surprise on her.
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
Now king Herod decided to persecute the church and killed James John’s brother and because he saw that he gained favored with the Jews, he decided to go after Peter and arrested him. He was planning to make a spectacle of those from the way; the Christians. Peter was in jail probably feeling a little helpless, because he was surrounded by soldiers. When behold the angel appeared and led Peter out of jail without anyone noticing. Now, Peter was asleep when the angel appeared, and, so he touched Peter on the side to awake him. Peter did not resist, he just went with the flow as we too when his plan comes to play and we should not settle for anything else. Jacob too was touched on the side (Ge32:28) when by night the angel of the Lord visited him. Jacob wrestled with this angel and won. He insisted that he; God in the form of an angel bless him, and sure enough he was blessed. We find that whether we are touched on the side to just follow God’s lead without knowing what is happening; by faith, or to stop fighting with God and trust, his plan is for sure and will take its course. We are told to wait on the Lord (Ps. 27:14) that he will come through (Ps.69:6).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQYKRZQ2UaI

Dressed for the occassion

Fashions come and go, and some last longer then others. For a long time the church held back in participating with the times fashion, but in recent years today’s modern Christianity has embraced today’s fashion. In fact, it has gotten to the point where it has become hard to differentiate between Christians and non-Christians. Clothes has seized from becoming a factor for identifying believers and in a way it is understandable. But, because of the seductive component of today’s fashion, it has made it more dangerous for Christians to be part takers of such. Now, clothing is supposed to identify one with their walk in life. We do not wear business like attire to the beach or to a ball game unless the place has a business component to it. Dressing for the occasion is always expected, just like this one guy who was invited to this wedding along with his countrymen. Everyone including the muggers and thieves wore wedding type attire, except one guy who did not bother to make an effort to dress appropriate for the occasion (Mt. 22:8-14).

Revelation 19:6-8

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear.”(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

The people of the kingdom need to dress for the occasion. The occasion of the great wedding is the awaiting event of the church. But, in order for participants to be allowed into the wedding they will need dress for the occasion. The attire for the grand occasion are the righteous acts of the saints. Those things that we do that tell others that we belong to God’s family, are the fine linen attire of the kingdom. Changing attire is a process not like the material way, it is a spiritual process. The change comes from God, he passes by us puts on us raiment that makes us beautiful (Ez16:10-12). It also comes from those around us; the people of God (Ze3:3-5), the change of raiment which symbolizes a new image. People no longer will look at us the same way when we have a change of our raiment.

In your face

Knowing that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life requires believing in him and believing him; that he is who he says he is. It is easy to believe in God. In fact, mostly everyone believes in God even Satan and his forces believe in God and they tremble (Jm2:19). But, in order for one to truly take part of God’s kingdom and everything that he has for us, one has to do more then just believe in God, one needs to believe God. Sometimes, evidence of God’s awesomeness is right in front of our eyes and it passes us and we do not recognize it.  Thomas and Philip, two of Jesus’ disciples whom walked, ate, and were with Jesus most of the time were apart in their faith. Thomas was known as doubting. Thomas, although he walked with Jesus for 3 years he did not believe in the resurrection. His remark ““Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (Jh11:16) when Jesus invited the disciples to go and see Lazarus; who was dead, did not suggest any hope for resurrecting after dyeing. Thomas told his comrades that he would not believe unless he had seen the nail marks and touched his side (Jh20:25). Doubting Thomas finally believed and became a missionary to the east where he was martyred. Resurrection was constantly preached before Thomas but he could not believe it, and this he witnessed with Lazarus (Jh.11:25).

John 14:5-8

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Now, Philip became a follower of Jesus after he called him to follow him; Jesus. He; Philip, though did not fully understood Christ’s purpose followed him and we see this when Jesus tells him “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me,”(v9). In the feeding of five thousand Jesus tests Philip to figure out how they were going to feed all those people, and Philip could not see that the solution was right in front of him (Jh6:5-7). Philip was probably one of John’s disciples before he came to Christ, but once he came he brought Nathaniel with him. Like Thomas and Philip our answers are right in front of our faces, but because we are having a difficult time believing the blessing will pass us up. That is why Jesus told Philip “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”, because it was always in front of his face.