Friday, May 30, 2014

"Your faith is only as good as its object!"

Day #154:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - May 31st

Scripture Reading:  Luke 7 - 8 ...

In one sense, it's easy for those of us who are born again by the Spirit of God to put our faith in Jesus ... for strength and hope, for peace and courage, for forgiveness and LIFE!!  Today we have the New Testament Scriptures - the Gospels and the letters to the churches.  By His Spirit God inspired the writers to put down in words the truth that leads to Christ and the same Spirit is at work in us as our Teacher.  While many disregard the Bible, those in whom the Spirit of God is at work find here food for our souls.  Now think for a moment about the people we read about in these two chapters ... people who saw Jesus as a man, heard Him teach, saw or heard about the miracles He performed and who ... BELIEVED!!

Imagine Jesus saying of YOU:  "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel" (7:10).  This was a Roman centurion, a man in charge of a company of soldiers.  He himself had authority and knew what it meant to give an order.  But this centurion was different.  Those around him respected him, even the Jews, because "he loves our nation and has built our synagogue" (7:5).  Now one of his servants whom he valued highly was sick.  You get the feeling that this servant was more than a slave, perhaps even a friend.  The centurion believed Jesus could heal him ... even from a distance.  What is most amazing is the humility of this man who was used to giving orders.  He saw in Jesus not someone to command to do something, but someone to ask.  Others thought he was worthy, but he himself said that he did not even consider himself worthy to come to Jesus, let alone have Him in his home (7:7).

How did this man, apparently a Gentile, get such faith?  From God!  True faith always points to God, not to the person exercising the faith.  Faith in the one true God is always a gift.  When Jesus raised the widow's son you see again that "they were all filled with awe and praised God" (7:16).  As Jesus went about doing miracles some people simply believed He was a great prophet.  But others looked for something more.  John the Baptist, who was now in prison and would soon be beheaded, began to doubt.  He had baptized Jesus and declared boldly, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29).  Yet now, in prison, his faith wavered.  Was Jesus the Messiah, the One the prophets spoke about, the One they had been waiting for?

When messengers from John came, Jesus told them to look at what they were seeing ... who else could do what Jesus was doing?  Then Jesus says a curious thing:  "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (7:28).  Jesus spoke often of the kingdom of God; in fact, that was the central theme of His preaching and teaching.  Why?  Because the central question of human history, indeed, in the universe ... including the spiritual realm ... is this:  Who will REIGN?  Who will rule?  Those who are part of God's kingdom know the answer to those questions.

Satan rebelled against God because HE wanted God's position.  Adam and Eve knew that God was their Creator, but Satan's temptation was that they could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they wouldn't need God anymore.  They would be like God and could rule over themselves.  Those who want to continue to rule over themselves will never put their faith in Jesus ... not really.  They might talk about it and pretend to believe, to have faith - but what they really want is for Jesus to serve THEM!  Here's the amazing thing:  HE DID!!  Jesus came as a servant and gave Himself as a ransom for those who believe.  But the sign above the cross was right:  He WAS and IS the KING of the Jews and of all the world!

The Pharisees couldn't see it, but a sinful woman could.  When she heard those words from the mouth of Jesus, "Your sins are forgiven. ... Your faith has saved you, go in peace," (7:48,50) how her heart must have lept for joy.  Faith does that; it brings joy to the one who knows something special, something wonderful, something beautiful and amazing and grand has just been revealed to them.  And faith then produces "fruit."  Jesus tells the parable of the Sower and explains that God is continually sowing the "seed" of His Word and that only that which falls on good soil produces a crop.  It is God Himself that produces the good soil in the hearts of His chosen ones.  Good soil acknowledges that Jesus is King and desires to please Him, to SERVE Him ... not to earn His favor, but because we have already received it!

What you read throughout the Gospels are stories of those whom God chose and called to Himself through the testimony of His Spirit.  How do you know when the Spirit of God is at work?  People will be drawn to Jesus and will put their hope, their trust, their FAITH in Jesus.  The mind that has been renewed, the heart that has been changed, the will that has been transformed, the eyes that have been opened will see in Jesus more than a "miracle-worker" ... but a Savior.  Those born again by His Spirit will see Jesus as He is:  the eternal Son of God who was the perfect "God-man," Who gave His life so that we may live and Who now reigns over all things at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  We put our FAITH in Jesus because there is no higher object for true faith.

People trust in other people or in things or in themselves, but it all disappoints.  Only Jesus is worthy of our faith.  This is why faith trusts Jesus even when things don't seem to be going the way we think they should be.  Faith believes and hopes and waits, KNOWING that Jesus IS ruling over all things and there is nothing He can't do.  If He chooses not to, there is a good reason.  His mothers and brothers didn't get it yet, but they would.  The disciples still didn't understand as Jesus calmed the storm.  "Where is your faith?" he asked them (8:25).  "In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this?'" (8:25).  They would eventually know Him ... really know Him!

You see, faith must KNOW its object.  The demon-possessed man believed because he experienced Jesus' healing.  He had been set FREE!  Everyone who receives spiritual healing from Jesus believes because they see Him for Who He IS:  God in the flesh, the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the KING!!  He is the One who commands demons and they obey.  He gives orders to storms and they disappear.  He raises the dead back to life.   Is this how YOU see Jesus?  A woman touched the hem of His garment and felt His power.  A young girl is brought back to life and returned to her family.  Don't say or think, "I wish I could have been there."  Read the testimony of those who WERE there!  Read and study God's Word and "SEE" Jesus!!  Remember that most of those who wrote these words died for their faith in Jesus.  Most of us are simply called to LIVE for Him!!

Some people say their "faith" isn't strong enough to weather the storms of life, but the truth is, the problem is not their faith, it is the OBJECT of their faith.  When you know Who Jesus is and put your trust in Him, you will have the faith that can "move mountains!"  The mountains of fear and doubt and worry will disappear when the object of your faith is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  HE is able ... you don't have to be.  But you CAN do all things through HIM (Christ) who gives you strength.  Trust Him today and KNOW ... KNOW that HE is with you.  He IS the King!!

"Father, I KNOW Jesus because You have given me Your Spirit and revealed the truth to me in Your Word.  Your grace has opened my eyes and changed my heart and made me SEE and I give my praise and thanks to You, today and every day.  Without You, I am nothing, but through Jesus I am Your child!  My life is Yours and I trust in YOU!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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