I have been thinking a lot about the topics of trust and faith. The two are so closely intertwined. Trust in God is needed to grow faith, because it allows our faith to become personal. I’ve come to realize, however, that faith and trust may not be identical. You see it’s one thing to accept that an Almighty God is capable of anything because of His resume, whereas it’s another to believe He is personally controlling YOUR life.
This is where we can look to the father of our faith, Abraham. He indeed was a man after God’s heart but, like all of us, had a few bumps and detours along the way. His trust in God began to flourish when he believed that God was capable of not just miracles, but miracles in HIS life. For example Abraham (then Abram) was told by God that he would have decedents as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5), even though he and his wife were advanced in years and still childless.
Even before God came through on His promise Abram believed the LORD, demonstrating his FAITH (Genesis 15:6). But he later succumbed to his wife Sarai’s suggestion to have a child with her servant Hagar, since Sarai was still barren. (We always run into problems when we try to hurry God along). Why did Abram do this? Well it could have been a result of timeline discrepancy. In human minds it is difficult to grasp that God has a much different schedule than we do and is in NO HURRY. His timing for the fulfillment of promises is what will come to pass, and no amount of us intervening will make things happen any faster. TRUST in God means trust in HIS timing.
Abraham (God changed Abram’s name in Gen 17:5) learned this lesson the hard way when God revealed that the promised child was not Hagar and Abraham’s son Ishmael (human intervention), but a child to be born at a subsequent date.
God later showed His faithfulness by the miracle child Isaac’s birth. Abraham’s faith increased AND he began to TRUST God more with his life. This then created an obedient heart in Abraham. The more trust we have in God’s character, the more likely we are to be obedient to His leading. This concept is shown in the life of Abraham at a later time when God tests his faith and asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac. At this point he does not hesitate to submit his will to God. No, Isaac does not actually die but the point is God revealed Abraham’s heart and brought to the surface a new level of TRUST. Abraham was WILLING to obey God even when He didn’t understand, because he knew that God would keep His promise of descendants. Abraham reasoned that God would simply raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His word (Hebrews 11:19). His TRUST in God’s ability to work in his life was strong.
Despite different circumstances our relationship with God could look a lot like Abraham’s. First we look at God’s resume and deduct that He is clearly qualified for the position of sovereign ruler (Genesis 1). Next we believe in God’s character: meaning the nature of God (loving, faithful, just, merciful, compassionate) based on what we know His is like in Scripture (Psalm 145:8). Finally we transfer those beliefs (our faith–Hebrews 11:6) to an understanding of how God may work in our own lives and begin to trust Him personally.
If you haven’t already developed a TRUST between you and your Heavenly Father it would be a wonderful time to start. God cares for you: Matthew 6:26. He has equipped you: Ephesians 1:3. There is nothing too difficult for the LORD. Take a step of faith and TRUST Him to guide the way.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
To look up any of these Scripture verses here is a link to Bible Gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com
Do you remember the ice cream shop Cold Stone? It was quite a fad when I was young. With its many toppings and personalized flavors the shop was something ice cream lovers dream of! I used to go there as a kid. In fact, there are still many flavor combinations I regret not trying now that I think of it … but that’s beside the point ;)
Each time I visited I was forced to answer the inevitable question: ‘what size of ice cream did I want to consume?’ Now in case you haven’t been to Cold Stone, they have their portions designated by small–better known as “like it,” medium “love it” and large “gotta have it.” I was never really allowed to get the “gotta have it” because my mom always thought that was way too much sugar. Typically, being on the conservative side of sweets consumption, I ordered the “like it.” But I have to tell you I always wondered what a “gotta have it” size would taste like. Would it be better, I wondered? Would I feel more “grown up and mature” if I ordered it? I concluded it’d be a different, incomparable experience altogether.
I recently began thinking about this ice cream store, and it reminded me about my walk with the Lord. When I was young I “liked” Him. I enjoyed His stories. I found His presence pleasurable. My life was settled in a sweet spot of knowledge. I thought that religion was merely a portion of my life and that’s all it was going to be. What I didn’t know is there was more of His presence available to me than I assumed. I think a lot of people could stay in this phase of faith for quite a while, never really questioning their place but comfortably seated on the recliner chair of “good enough.”
But what if you wanted more? You can have it! Did you know that? Here we land at the “love it” phase of faith. Being the adventurous type I have rarely been satisfied with the “like it” amounts of anything in life, so I found myself digging deeper. I read more. I prayed more; found myself in small group Bible studies and you know what, I loved it (pun intended)! It was a step up, there was more to be learned, more to experience, more to feel. It’s during this phase of faith where I think we develop into a groove in our relationship with Jesus. He knows us, we know Him. But there is still more, yes don’t settle! This is the part before things actually get exciting. This is the part before Jesus becomes our “everything”—our love, our strength, our life, our home, our friend, and our confidant. Keep climbing!
Here we are at the pinnacle of faith where Abraham, David, Saul and so many of our Biblical cohorts have found themselves: The point where there is no turning back “gotta have it.” As Simon Peter replied to Jesus in the book of John “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life (John 6:68).” High or low, mountain or valley we cannot separate our identity, our complete existence from the Lord. In fact we can’t even imagine a life without Him. There’s no area that we don’t want turned over to Him. We are never satisfied with the amount of His presence that we have, so we are constantly seeking more and more of Him.
I want to encourage you today to evaluate which size of the Lord you ordered. Have you chosen the “like it,” the “love it” or the “gotta have it?” Did you know its not too late to change your order? We should strive to never become stationary in our relationship with Jesus. Remember, the Lord told us He can be found. He is not just in our minds; He is everywhere. Never stop searching for Him in each and every area of your life. He wants us to find Him and when we do we will want even more.
Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
God is on the move in a big way! The story of Jesus Christ is coming to theaters this Friday, Feb. 28. You will be very blessed by this film titled Son of God, and I highly recommend seeing it. What a great opportunity to dive into the story of Jesus and share His message of truth and salvation for all who claim Him as Lord and Savior.
John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Note: I do not own this photo
If I had a nickel for every mean comment someone said to me regarding my looks, personality or unpopularity, I’d have quite a pile of nickels. And that’s OK, I bet we all have a pile of nickels don’t we? Because there are many, many people who think little about the words that come out of their mouths. While they seem to go merrily on their way, what they don’t understand is that we live with the consequences. We hear those words replayed in our heads during moments of weakness and times of sadness. We look in the mirror and feel the pain that doesn’t seem to go away. And as many times as you think about it, the feelings still remain.
But I have some GOOD NEWS for you. Are you ready for it? … Every word that cuts you down is ONLY worth something IF you believe it. They have no power over you when you realize they are ALL UNTRUE.
So here is the truth:
You are created in the image of God, and while people may tell us we are full of flaws, GOD makes NO mistakes. He made no mistake with you and no mistake with me. You are PERFECT to God. You are beautiful, smart, capable, fun and unique. When did everyone start wanting to be like everyone else anyway? That’s no fun! God loves diversity. That’s why no one is the same as anyone else! God made you special, don’t conform to ANYONE’s image of perfect. You are already COMPLETELY ACCEPTED in Jesus’ eyes. Even better, when you claim Jesus as Savior you are COMPLETELY FORGIVEN in His eyes as well.
Why is the world so concerned with what we are doing or wearing or thinking or hanging out with? Well, I guess it always has been… Something important I have found out along the way is that people who criticize often mask a lot of pain. We shouldn’t be so harsh with one another even so called “enemies,” because we don’t know the battles each other faces. We can only see the outward appearance of things, and that can only tell you so much.
When God looks at you He doesn’t see your “flaws,” He sees your heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
“7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
And as it goes with people who are trying to tear us down, the Bible tells us we are to make every effort to live at peace with everyone as far as we have control. Revenge is not ours. God will make right all the wrongs in the world, so we are free to live at peace…. Peace with ourselves, peace with others and peace with God.
“18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
Don’t look in the mirror and see all the things you don’t have, but look to your heart and ponder the things that really matter… kindness, gentleness, patience, love. These are the things you should value the most. The right people will value them in you too. In the mean time, pray for those who are hurting you, they might need more help than you think.
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to sit and imagine all sorts of fantasies about the world and about the things you wanted for your life? Did you not believe those things could happen? Did you not think that one day your dreams could come true? I did. But somewhere along the road of life the harsh reality of the world pounds us down, and we start to stray from this whimsy we once knew. The truth about finances and the job market set in and we imagine in one way or another without hard, tireless work we have little shot at attaining even a mediocre lifestyle.
But what if we didn’t stop believing that anything was achievable? What if we found a way to get our whimsy back? What if we started listening to the voice of truth that tells us that even when something is impossible under human limitations, it is STILL POSSIBLE through God. Because He is an expert at miracles. Not only did He invent them, He is STILL DOING them in our time.
Open your eyes and look around. The sun did not rise today by itself. The breath in your lungs is not there because of your doing. God specifically sustains ALL things, because He is THAT POWERFUL!
You see when Jesus explains the concept of faith He does not reference the religious leaders at the time, He compares the concept of faith to that of children.
“15 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.
16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
The innocence and trust that little children have is precious, pure and full of promise. It is that purity of heart Jesus speaks of—still believing in miracles and possibilities. Still hoping for the best but believing it will ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Seeing the goodness in the world despite the opinions and judgments of others.
Don’t misunderstand me, getting back to this mindset is not always easy. It is difficult to see the good in people when they constantly show you otherwise. It is hard to undo all the harm the world has caused. Recognize this: people are not God. The way the world treated you is NOT the way God has or ever will treat you. You are His BELOVED son or daughter. And if we come to Him believing that even the smallest miracles are possible, because we have heard of His power and we KNOW that HE is capable of ANYTHING, miracles small and large will occur. Don’t miss this though: The greatest miracle is the one that takes place in your heart as you come to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ, His story and His LOVE for YOU.
Matthew 17:20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
So give it a try. Why not dream a bit when you only need to begin with faith as tiny as a mustard seed? The mustard seed starts as a very small seed, but with growth it becomes an enormous tree.
The only thing you need to do is include God in your dreams, and not allow limitations to get in your way. With God, there are NO LIMITATIONS to life’s possibilities. See how different the world will look to you then…
The holidays are a difficult time for many. Everywhere you go happy families are out & about and couples are as easy to find as a Starbucks. It’s this sort of cheer that leads dreary thoughts to come about. Thoughts like “everyone else’s life is so ‘together’ and mine is so not” or to silently start humming Hunter Hayes’ song “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” everywhere you go.
Why does this happen? Why is it that we are just fine until we start looking at our life in comparison to someone else’s? I think at some level we think that everything as beautiful and seemingly perfect on the outside must be just as flawless on the inside. And here is where the problem begins.
There is a popular quote that goes “Don’t compare your behind the scenes life with other people’s highlight reel!” What we see in the day to day snippets of people’s lives isn’t a true image of who they are, and what battles they face. Because we all face something, whether it’s health-related, money-related, relationship-related etc. Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world, but to take comfort in His victory.
John 16:33 “ I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
It’s simply impossible to escape difficulties in this life. But we can share in Christ’s victory and our redemption. So the next time you see someone with a picture-perfect façade just know, you only see a single frame in their film and you don’t know the whole story.
Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy,” and I couldn’t agree more. When I find myself measuring my life to another’s I become saddened, distressed and full of self-pity, but when I focus on the plans that God has for my future, the clouds are lifted and my future is bright. Stay strong! Good things are on the horizon for us all! Keep your eyes on the promises of hope, not society’s measure of success and happiness. One important thing Paul the Apostle taught us is that we can learn to be content in any and all circumstances.
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”