Archives For Faith

Every so often, I like to increase the amount of hate mail I receive. There’s no better way to assure this than discussing the faith (or grace) vs. works topic. As I have stated previously, I don’t fall into either the faith or works camp. I believe one without the other is useless, and believe there is strong Scriptural support to say the answer isn’t either faith or works, but rather faith and works. James says plainly in his letter faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

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Coming from the brother of Jesus, I’m going to consider him a strong authority. There’s more to say about this, however. To those in either the faith or works camp, I urge you to keep reading. Not so I might persuade you to agree with me, but rather to take an honest look at what Scripture says about this and consider the eventual logic behind each view.

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It’s Thanksgiving day in America. While I recognize a good number of readers are not Americans, being thankful is something to which we can all relate. So whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in your culture or not, I suggest we all take some time today to reflect on all our blessings. Even if you are struggling in this season of life, I am confident you can find some things for which to be grateful.

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Something amazing happens when we pray prayers of gratitude. Our attitude changes. Our physical countenance improves. Most of us forget how truly blessed we are and take much of our lives for granted. But today, just for a little while, let’s reorient our focus on simply being thankful for everything God has done for us.

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What does the armor of God look like in your life? Ephesians 6:10-18 is a familiar passage of Scripture detailing the armor of God. Like many familiar passages, it can be easy to overlook and never take the time to apply it to your own life. Paul gave us a great gift when he outlined the weapons of our warfare. Though I have distant memories of a flannel-graph (remember those?) soldier in Sunday School, there is nothing childish about the depth of this passage.

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Within these words are the strategic plans to counteract the attacks of the devil.  To best make use of the armor and weapons, we should know what they look like in our own lives.

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We live in a world obsessed with numbers. We count friends, likes, and shares of our posts and pictures on social media. We count the amount of money we have down to the last penny.  Perhaps the place we most fixate about numbers is at church; we boast about attendance, number of people baptized, and even the number of programs available to the attendees.

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It seems even more incredible to me when you read the Bible and realize the only number Jesus cares about is one. It’s because one represents you, the apple of His eye and the passion of His heart.

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As someone who has longed to meet Jesus for a long time now, I was particularly struck by a quote I read from one of the early church fathers named Irenaeus. He said, “The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death”.  The statement also reminded me of Francis Chan’s latest book, “You and Me Forever”, in which he espouses the primary role of the husband is to make certain his wife is well prepared for Heaven.

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Our entire lives should be spent preparing ourselves and others to meet Christ. This profoundly impacts the decisions we make and activities we engage in every day of our lives.
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Self-centeredness continues to be the Achilles heel of so many people who desire to follow Christ. We want to serve Him but can’t seem to get our eyes off ourselves. Instead of focusing on how amazing God is, we are content to fret over how miserable we are. A.W. Tozer once said, “The life of the normal believing child of God can never be a life of gloom and pessimism, for it is the Holy Spirit of God who keeps us above the kind of gloomy resignation that marks the secularism of the day.”

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We acknowledge with our minds the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, but live as if He doesn’t exist at all.

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I recently watched a documentary on the life of George Müller. I was aware of Müller and the orphanages he started, but I didn’t have a grasp on the intense faith of this man. From the time he founded the orphanages until his death 62 years later, Müller never once asked for a single penny of support. He simply trusted God to provide.

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There are many stories of times the children all sat around an empty table at dinner time because Müller could not afford to buy food, only to have someone knock on their door at the last moment with baskets of bread and bottles of milk to provide a meal for those under his care. No meal was ever missed, and no child ever went without clothing. And through it all, Müller never requested anything other than prayer from anyone.
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I can imagine few fates worse than being ignored by the devil. Disciples of Jesus make it their business to go about getting Satan’s attention.  Our goal should be to be so effective for the Kingdom that Satan cannot ignore us. I read a prayer once that said, “Lord, it’s not hard to see why Satan attacks. May I continue to be enough of a threat to him to merit his attention! Don’t ever let me become so anemic in my Christian walk that he doesn’t need to bother with me. Amen.”

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That should be our prayer as well. If we’re not getting Satan’s attention, then we are living lukewarm, weak, and ineffective lives.
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We are a distracted people. Perhaps more than any generation before us, we are unable to focus on the moment at hand. This has had devastating effects on our ability to live as a true disciple of Jesus. A recent study showed the average person checks their smartphone 150 times each day. Another study revealed on average, a person spends 13 hours each week on the internet.

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Yet one more study discovered the average person watches 34 hours of television each week. Are you kidding me? When do we expect to find time for Jesus? Everywhere we turn, we are facing distraction, and we are willfully giving in to this insidious trick of the devil.
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“Walk by faith, not by sight” is an old saying in church circles. I recently heard Pastor Steven Furtick put an interesting twist on this. He said, “If you walk by faith and not by sight, you’ll always hear something from God before you see any evidence of it.” Most of the time, the things we hear from God seem a little crazy.

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The promptings of the Holy Spirit are often potentially dangerous, defy social norms, or push us way out of our comfort zone. We have to choose to either obey God (walk by faith) or ignore him and go our own way (walk by sight).
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