Faith: The Hope and the Evidence

Faith, Hope, God,The day that God called me to write and speak His truth was a turning point in my life.  What had previously seemed like a difficult period was actually preparation and training for the most exciting plan that God had ever shared with me.

Although I was full of passion and optimism I knew that what God had just asked me to do was far beyond my abilities.  I knew absolutely nothing about starting and maintaining a website or creating content.  I didn’t have the first clue on how to go about being a blogger or using the written word to reach an internet audience.  To get where God was asking me to go was going to take a lot of faith.

I’ve been a regular church attendee for most of my life.  I know the definition of faith.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). Even so, knowing the definition of faith was not going to be enough.  I was going to have to live out what I had learned.  I certainly hoped that God would bless my efforts as I labored to learn all I needed to know about being a blogger.  And I believe that hope in God is always rewarded as we strive to do His will.

But what about the evidence of things unseen?  Matthew Henry, who was a Presbyterian Minister in the 17th century, wrote “Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye”.  I certainly had no physical evidence to support God’s claim that I could do what He was asking me to do.  And if I had waited on that physical evidence to show up before I began I would never have started.  But by exercising my faith in God I trusted that He would give me what I needed exactly when I needed it.

This is God’s way.  We can see this pattern in the 16th Chapter of Exodus when the Israelites were in the wilderness and were in need of food.  They cried out to God and each day God caused manna from heaven to fall to the ground.  With this provision came the instruction to take only what was needed for that day.  God wanted His people to see His provision as fresh and new every single day and so it is with us.

I have also seen this in my own life.  In my 2nd year of college my family was facing some financial difficulties.  As I approached the end of the first semester it looked as if I was not going to be able to come back because we simply did not have the money to pay for tuition.  We prayed for God’s will and provision and with about a week to go until the end of semester I got a call from one of the college deans.

As I sat in his office that afternoon he asked me why I had not enrolled for the following semester.  I explained what was going on with my family and he listened.  As I finished he told me that it was his desire for me to stay in school and that I would be the beneficiary of a financial gift that had been provided by someone outside the school who just wanted to help a student in need.  This gift had just come in the mail.  It was just enough to keep me in school and it was just in time.

God grew my faith that day.

God is still growing my faith.  I look back at the last several months and I can see how God provided for me at every turn and how every day it is He who is giving me the message and providing my direction.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”  (Hebrews 11:6).  Day by day I am learning the truth of Hebrews 11:6.  If you are reading this it is my prayer that you also know the truth of Hebrews 11:6 and the power of a life lived by faith in God alone.  He loves you; He died for you and the life He now offers you is richer and fuller than you could ever imagine.  All you have to do is take that first step of faith.  God is waiting.

What step is God asking you to take on faith today?

The Hope That Does Not Disappoint

Romans 5:5, Holy Spirit, Love of God and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Everybody faces disappointment.  It is a simple fact of life.  If you live you will at some point be disappointed by someone or something.

Disappointment comes in many forms and from many places.  They can be small or large.  They can come singly or all at once.  But come they will, whether we are ready for them or not.

Knowing this, we have two choices.  We can choose to live life to the fullest, bravely and boldly and full of love as God intended.  Or we can choose to live in such a way that we avoid all possible people and situations that might lead to disappointment in the future.

The thing is, avoidance is not God’s way.  God embraces.  God encompasses.  God gives generously and liberally to all who ask.  And so should we.

We need to be out there, in the world, showing God’s love to all and meeting their needs in His name.  And if we live in this way then we risk being disappointed when we are rejected and especially when God’s free gift of salvation is rejected.

But thank God, we have a remedy.  We must realize our disappointment is temporary.  Any disappointment tied to this life will ultimately pass away when God takes us home to be with Him and all things are made new.  We have that promise and no temporary defeat or setback in this life can diminish it.  God won the victory and while there is much work still to be done, the outcome is assured.  One day we will be with Him and there will be no more tears or sorrow, no more suffering or pain.  Look forward to heaven, child of God.  It will be glorious, indescribable and beyond all expectation.

This is our hope.  But it is not only a future hope.  It is a hope that lives and makes a difference right now, right here.  Like Romans 5:5 says above, our hope does not disappoint (notice the present tense!).  It does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured out directly in our hearts and lives through the gift of His Holy Spirit.

His Holy Spirit ministers to us and provides comfort and peace in times of trouble.  His Holy Spirit guides us into all truth and directs our steps as we trust in Him fully.  If we stumble and fall it is because we are not taking advantage of the wonderful gift that He has given us through His Spirit but even then He stands ready and willing to forgive us and re-establish us if we will confess our sin to Him.

Are you living in disappointment?  Is your hope diminished?  Have the troubles and cares of this life brought you down?  Turn your eyes on Jesus and focus your heart on Him.  Confess your failures and disappointment to Him and cast all your cares upon Him.  He will never leave or forsake you and your hope is safe with Him.  Come and see, Jesus never disappoints.

The Absolute Best Rest Ever

rest, Psalms 37:7,hopeFriday is here!  If you are like me you have been trained to look forward to Friday afternoon and the weekend that follows.  Weekends are a time that we can rest and play and hopefully enjoy a few days away from our jobs to do other things.

But then Monday comes and the process starts all over.  If we are not careful we can find ourselves in a perpetual “looking forward to the weekend” mindset where we aren’t truly enjoying each day to the fullest.  We start chasing the idea of rest and relaxation as a goal in and of itself instead of the good things that God has for us each and every day.

What we need, then, is to learn to rest properly.  We need to learn to rest in the Lord and be sustained by Him.

Psalm 37:7 says “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him”.  Note that resting in this context involves a continued hope that waits patiently on God’s provision and God’s timing.  This type of resting does not involve stopping, giving up or running away and is certainly not a form of escapism like so many of this world’s distractions.  This is a rest that remains focused on God as our provider and the one who sustains us.  This is the only type of rest that truly restores us and blesses us.

That is not to say that we should neglect physical rest.  It is important to take care of the bodies that God has given us and be good stewards to our health and well-being.  But we don’t need to stop at just resting physically.  If we are just resting physically without taking the time to rest our spirit in Him then we are missing God’s best for us.

We live busy lives.  Distractions are everywhere.  As God’s people, it is imperative that we remain rooted and grounded in Him at all times.  By learning to truly rest in the Lord with our hope and confidence placed in Him we can enjoy the absolute best rest ever.

 

The Lesson I Learned from a Tiny Frog

Tiny Frog in My Kitchen

Mr. Frog could comfortably sit on that quarter with room to spare.

One evening not too long ago as I sat in my recliner, laptop in hand and working, I decided that I needed a short break to stretch my legs.  I headed towards the kitchen for a glass of water and a snack but didn’t make it too far in the doorway before I stopped short.

There on the floor, just out from the fridge, sat something very curious looking.  Because of its small size and grayish color my first assumption was that it was a ball of fuzz (a dust bunny) that just happened to be in the shape of a tiny frog.  The only puzzling aspect of my conclusion was that I had been in the kitchen not two hours before and had since been alone in the house.  Since dust bunnies normally originate from underneath the refrigerator, I was confused as to how one had gotten to it’s present location which was several feet away.

Thinking that I should definitely tidy up before my wife made it home I took a few steps closer and was amazed to discover that the “dust bunny” was actually the smallest frog that I had ever seen.  Noticing his dusty feet, I guessed that he must have been hiding underneath the fridge until very recently.  And he was now sitting in my kitchen floor!

Not wanting to miss the chance to record the little guy for posterity, (mostly to show my wife later) I ran and got my digital camera.  After a couple of pictures in which the tiny frog posed obediently and without protest, I realized that without some sort of familiar object the sense of scale was lost.  There was really no way to tell just how small the frog was from the picture.  That was when I had the bright idea to introduce some spare change to the situation.

You can see from the picture that accompanies this post that the tiny frog would have comfortably fit on top of a quarter with room to spare.

Not wanting to endanger the frog’s life when we let the cat back in later in the evening, I decided to embark on a rescue mission.  I grabbed the smallest cup that I could find and gently placed my hand behind the frog with the cup in front of him.  Thinking the frog would jump into the cup I was very surprised when he suddenly jumped up onto the lip of the cup and seemed to be very contented to say there.

For the short trip through the kitchen and across the porch to the edge of the sidewalk the tiny frog sat very regally on his perch until I lowered the cup to the ground.  With a quick series of motions he hopped off of the cup and disappeared into the dewy dampness of the lawn.  Feeling quite pleased with myself, I turned to head back inside the house when I got the strangest impression in my mind.

I was just like that tiny little frog.

Like my little friend, in the trials of life I often loose my way and end up in places that I have no business being in.  How often had I been completely and hopelessly out of sorts, stuck somewhere unfamiliar after coming through dark times and dirty places?  How many times had I looked up and realized that I was so tiny and the situation that I was in was so big and so much beyond me that I couldn’t even hope to see the end?  And how many times has my Heavenly Father stepped in to pick me up and bring me back to where I needed to be, gently and with loving care?

Every single time.  That’s how many.