Thursday, April 15, 2010

Desperate Times Do Not Call For Desperate Measure; It Calls For Faith

Good morning my friends. I am afraid that true followers of Jesus are heading for rough waters as we watch the world slip further into the depravity of their thinking. Hopefully our lives look different than those without Jesus and we are standing on the ground we have been given to keep. This means conflict ahead as we become the minority and the majority begin to hate us for our righteousness. Sounds a bit pompous, I know, but there is not a nicer way to say it. We pray that as the world slips further into darkness the Jesus in us becomes easier to see, and that will drive some people to hate us. The one thing we are going to need as we head into these days is faith. Without faith we too will become lost as the opposition grows.

In the midst of his talk on trials and hardships James writes:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 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. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:5-8)

Have you met believers like this? "Oh, I'll pray but a fat lot of good that will do." Or, "I have been praying for years but God isn't answering." There are many believers who pray and expect nothing out of it. There are others who pray in desperation but only because it is a last resort for them, a last ditch effort, and one they do not believe will do any good. After all, if they believed God answered prayer they would have started off with praying. However, Scripture is clear on this, "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt".

Jesus told us that our Father is generous and will look after all our needs. He told us to concentrate on the things of the Kingdom, to carry out our duties, and Dad would look after us. Here James reminds us of the fact that we have a generous Father, "He should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault". Our Dad does not have favourites; what we see he has done for one of us he is willing to do for all of us. What we read that he did for the prophets he will do for us now. What we read about in the New Testament, he will do today. What we read he did for the great heroes of the faith in our Church history he will do today. It only requires faith, which seems in short supply these days.

It goes beyond missing out on our Father's generosity. James says that a person who doubts our Father even as they are asking for his help is like a wave of the ocean which is at the mercy of the wind. Circumstances, trials, hardships can knock a person around, but so can various teachings on quick fixes, short cuts that go nowhere. Our relationship with Jesus, and thus with the Father, is our stability all through our lives. It keeps us anchored when everything around us is changing. It is the only relationship guaranteed for our life time. However, it is not much of a relationship at all when we fail to believe one of the first promises we have, that Dad will give to us as we ask according to his glorious riches. We have a rich Daddy who loves to pour out gifts on his children. Are you lacking wisdom? Ask for it. Are you lacking patience? As for it. Are you needing a greater capacity to love? Then ask. Ask and believe that you will receive. James warns that doubt has a terrible effect on us: "That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

There is not a lot that others can do to help your unbelief, it is a personal matter you must wrestle with. However, there is one incident that I think you may find helpful. It is when Jesus had to deal with a desperate father who was seeking healing for his son:

Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:21-24)

If you want to settle this thing in you once and for all take it up with Jesus. Ask him for help to overcome your unbelief. The only way that our faith increases is when we exercise it daily. Our relationship with Jesus is a daily, vibrant, growing relationship that requires effort and time. As we head into darker times you will have many more opportunities to exercise your faith so deal with whatever instabilities exist there now so that it will not be a problem when you are called on to use it.

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