Friday, April 15, 2011

Do You Have Faith To See Mountains Jump Into The Sea?

We need to stop complicating God and making excuses for him. The message of Jesus Christ is so simple, if I may paraphrase: my Father has come up with a plan to bring you home so turn to him and agree. There is nothing that has to be done except to turn to God and agree to his plan. Everything about God is simple for us, perhaps complicate theologically but not many of us are theologians. Our relationship with him is as children with a perfect Father. A young child does not need to understand the why of all his parents' actions, only to know that these actions represent love. What we are required to have in order to enjoy this incredible relationship we have through Jesus is faith. We need faith to believe, to accept and to live.

In all the modern day attacks on the Word of God and the historical figure of Jesus, it is taking more faith now to believe there is a God, that Jesus is his Son and that he sacrificed his Son to open the way back up to know him and be with him. It takes faith to trust the words of someone you have never met when he says that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through him. Is it any wonder then that Jesus' gentle rebuke was often, "O you of little faith". He even pondered on the likelihood of finding faith on his return:

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

It's not an unreasonable question to ask considering that we have trouble understanding the natural let alone the supernatural. Here Jesus came to set us free from all things that bind us and yet we do not want to be set free because slavery is familiar and comforting to us.

We need faith to accept this free gift from God, which in essence is the restoration of Man's relationship with his Creator. This comes under attack because Man still wants to set himself up as God, making himself equal or better than our Creator. We do this by the denial of our Creator and set ourselves up as the "Captain of our own destiny". Perhaps we are responsible for our own destiny in that we get to make the decision to accept or reject this free gift from God. But we can't have it both ways. We can't claim to be responsible for our destiny and then criticize God for warning us about the consequences of our natural path. Jesus told us it would take faith in him and even spoke about the peace that is ours when we can operate in this faith:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3)

However, some of the greatest faith we require is for living the promises of God for today. To live the Christian life in this world requires us to carry our "shield of faith" and to trust that the promises of Jesus Christ are for us today. Yet, those who have been raised in the Church struggle with the extraordinary. We were raised in an environment where we believed in the achievements of the flesh as much as someone in the world. We stopped believing in the extraordinary and suddenly faith lost its power. Consider the royal official who travelled from Capernaum to Cana to see Jesus because of his dying son. Obviously he believed that Jesus could do something about this so when Jesus simply pronounced that it was done it was enough for this man:

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”
   The man took Jesus at his word and departed. (John 4:49-50) 

The man took Jesus at his word, but so often we don't. At those times, when we have the opportunity to place our faith in Jesus, we turn to other sources. The reason is because these are usually desperate times and we don't want to take a chance on faith. The difference was that this man had no other choice, his son was dying and he knew that Jesus could do something. So look at the result of this man placing faith in Jesus' word, aside from the healing his son received:

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed. (John 4:53)

His entire household believed. So much of our Christian witness is void of fruit because we deny the power of God in our lives and the lives of others. Jesus has promised us but we panic, deny our faith and trust in other means. My daughter, who is without Christ, challenged me on this during one of our conversations on the matter of Jesus. She said, "Dad, we would come to you with our headaches and you would pray over us but it wouldn't work. You would end up giving us medicine. God isn't real." It was like a sword through the heart and a challenge to my thinking that I was a man of faith. That one statement has shaken me to my core and caused me to really examine this thing I called faith.

Since this time there has been a tremendous change in my relationship with Jesus. I had faith to believe and to accept but my faith to live the promises was weak. Jesus has since provided me with plenty of opportunity to exercise my faith in living these promises and I have been re-discovering the power of God in my daily living. I have discovered that living his promises, allowing his power to flow through me, trusting in his miracles, looking for and expecting the extraordinary has changed my witness. I want my whole household to believe but I must be a father who receives, trusts and operates in the promises Jesus has given. My family must not only see the character of Jesus in me, they must witness my faith and thus his power, especially in desperate times.

The world needs to see Jesus in our daily living. This means the power of God needs to be seen working through our lives as we trust him in our daily living. It means we use the language of faith, not talking about "if" but "when". We need to wait on God instead of trying to rescue ourselves so the world can see his hand at work. They need more than words. They need the words but they need to see the actions and power that come with them. They need to see that God is as active in the lives of his children today as he has ever been. It means that we must be a people of faith; a faith to believe, accept and especially live.

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