Unseen Evidence

https://my.bible.com/verse-of-the-day/HEB.11.1/46037?version=100

What is faith? This verse is often quoted as the answer to that question. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Well, as a definition, it often strikes me as ”faith is being faithful.” it doesn’t really answer the question of what faith is. What I hope for doesn’t have a ”substance” and what I can’t see doesn’t really count as “evidence”, does it?

Here’s where you a probably thinking I am going to come back with an amazing answer to this question. But I don’t have one. Faith is taken by itself as evidence of things I don’t have. Confidence is sometimes placed in this verse as an answer, that faith is confidence that what we hope for will in fact happen. If I pray for healing, then faith is the confidence that I will be healed. If I pray for the Lord’s will to be revealed in my life, then faith is knowing that God will reveal that will to me. Faith is grasping what I can’t grasp with my hands. Only by faith can we comprehend things we cannot see with our eyes.

It is by faith that I believe my wife loves me. Either that or it’s an elaborate ruse to gain my confidence so that she can someday do something nefarious. So far, 24+ years on, she has expertly carried on as if she loves me. I can’t see love. But I can see meals prepared, hugs given and received, kisses, even four children brought into the world. If she doesn’t love me, then she has gone through an awful lot of trouble. I believe that love exists, because I can see what it does.

Faith must then be my active portion of that. Faith is what I do based upon what I can’t see, but know is there. Faith is active beyond my senses to my deductions based on what I can see. I believe in God because I see the effects of His creation around me. I believe in Jesus because of the evidence of His life and his work in me. I am not the same man I was when I was saved.

That may not be a great definition, but it is mine. Maybe it will be a help to you today. God bless.

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Devoted Do-Gooder

www.bible.com/1713/1pe.3.13.csb

Are yo though, I mean, are you devoted to doing good? How much good-doing does it take to be considered ”devoted”? I’m thinking quite a bit. For this isn’t the occasional good deed done where others can see. It is also maintaining your integrity especially when others cannot see.

But this verse also offers the promise of protection for those who do good. The Lord sees and knows your heart. He knows your motivations, whether it of love and a desire to do good, or a desire out of pride in order to be seen by men. What kind of person will God protect do you think?

Be good. Shun evil. There is now law in heaven for doing good on earth. May God bless you today.

Does No Wrong

www.bible.com/1713/rom.13.10.csb

I believe we have been lured into one of Satan’s most ingenious traps. As Christian people, we have first been lured into the idea that we are all about love. We have been told that Love trumps all, and that God is a God of love. For the most part, this is true. But love has been emphasized so much, it has been emphasized over truth and logic. Is that so wrong? As the first part of this verse suggests, love does no wrong, thus, if I do something in the name of love, it cannot be wrong. Do you see where this is going? 

Now Christians are known for being people of love. Our God is love. Our own book says so. So how can we possibly say a thing is wrong if it is done in love? People living together who aren’t married? That ‘s not living in sin anymore. That living in love. People of the same sex who love each other? No problem! They’re in love. What’s the issue? People who love children? Don’t fret yourself. It ‘s still love even if only one party consents, right?

And now all of us Christians have to keep our mouths shut. We’ve been preaching love for centuries. We can’t go back now. This is all love. It’s all good. We are hypocrites if we say these kinds of love are bad. And a hypocritical Christian is a charge we cannot recover from. Oh what a clever trap. We have preached ourselves into a corner because we have only emphasized part of the Word. In our effort to appeal to the masses, we have ignored the weightier matters.

In this verse is the solution. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Love does not and cannot break the law. Love does not make new law, or what was wrong now right. Love is the fulfillment of the law, for what the law prevented by its “don’t’s”, love fulfill by emphasizing its positive. Thou shall not steal becomes respect another’s property. Thou shalt not commit adultery becomes respect the boundaries of your marriage and otbers. Love even calls us to resist anyone else who who would trod upon these values. See must uphold justice when others cannot do themselves. We must advocate for those that cannot speak. If it is in our power to do good, then it is a sin not to.

Love is far more powerful than law, but love never contradicts the law. If we are to love, we must also respect the law, for both come from God, and God does not contradict Himself.

God bless you on this Friday!

Day of Distress

www.bible.com/1713/nam.1.7.csb

Would you take refuge in the Lord if He offered you the chance? If the Lord offered you protection, would you stay in His stronghold? Many would jump at the opportunity, but few would stay because of the terms and conditions.

First, the Lord is good. He’s not just better than most, but is supremely good. He is good unparalleled. There is no higher good than Him. So if you would take refuge in Him, you must be good in His presence. The Lord tolerates no evil not sin in His presence. If you would be protected by the Lord, then you must remain good in His company.

Second, God’s care is supreme. God not only cares for your physics life, but for your soul. He cares whether you are tempted to do those same things that caused you distress in the first place. Once people get a little peace and rest, any vices you enjoy come back to haunt you, and threaten you again with the distress you just escaped. So being in God’s stronghold will require you to change. Change is hard. But change in the hand of a wise teacher is good. He will counsel and encourage, but He will also direct and discipline.

If the Lord offered you safety and protection today, would you take it? Something to consider on this Thursday.

God of Mysteries

www.bible.com/1713/jer.33.3.csb

The deep things of God remain are great mysteries. Even those who’ve spent their lives searching them out can only grasp the most basic concepts. There are depths of God that cannot be fathomed by mortal minds.

Even to begin such an undertaking requires the Holy Spirit, a gift Christians receive upon their baptism. For the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 3). The Holy Spirit does better than Google when it comes to the deeps of the Almighty.

So why the invitation? If our minds can’t handle it and the Spirit is our only guide, why does God invite us to know Him?

Are you ever interested in how your dad met your mom? Or what your mom was like growing up? Have you ever talked with your parents about their dreams and desires, or things that they’ve learned? It is one of my privileges to talk to the old and hear these kinds of stories. The human experience is one of the more fascinating elements of history. What life was like. How did people of previous generations solve the same problems without electricity and google?

In the same way, I think we would like to know more about where we came from, and of the mind that brought us into being. What is life like for an eternal Being with an infinite imagination and creativity? What are the principles that govern His Being? What does He like? What are His dreams and desires? Thankfully He didn’t leave Himself without record, for all these answers can be found in His book. That’s right, for all those people who say of their life, “I could write a book!”, He did.

But He didn’t just write a book. That would be too simple. He employed a host of writers who in turn using their own life experiences wrote about God from their own unique perspectives. Yet the same God shines through every page, just to show you that He isn’t an iconoclast or a demagogue, but that expression of God can take on many different means. God expresses Himself directly at times, through voice and prophet, but also through signs and symbols, through Psalm and prose, through gospel letters, even in apocalypse. The same God, but revealed in a myriad of means to appeal to the widest possible audience, human beings. And all are invited to discover His secrets. Woah.

Take some time today and read. You might learn something.

Covenant of Peace

www.bible.com/1713/isa.54.10.csb

I’ve not seen many earthquakes. In fact, I could count them on one hand. When I was growing up in Indiana my hometown was subject to a minor earth tremor from the Midwest faultline in Missouri. It shook the house, but at the time I thought someone was in the next room jumping up and down. Dad said there was a crack in the foundation after it was over. Since then, I’ve not really worried about earthquakes.

Then I find out last week that California had another earthquake. For them, according to a friend at church who grew up out there, it is an everyday occurrence. It’s kind of a ho-hum moment for them unless it gets up in the 5-7 range. They’re all worried about the really big one. Everyone says its coming, but no one knows when.

So when reading this verse today, it seems that earthquakes were more of a problem for Israelites than they are for me in middle America. But I have had a few events in my life that rocked my world, like the birth of my children, losing a job, getting married, moving into a new house, buying a new car. These kinds of major changes, both good and bad, change everything.

The biggest story around here recently was the West Liberty tornado in 2012. It destroyed whole buildings, flattening the downtown. People were described as moving around like zombies, homes gone, the family dispersed to who knows where. It took a lot of time to get the community back on its feet. We live on a thin veneer of civilization. If you remove one thing, like electricity, the whole world can change in just a few hours. You wouldn’t be reading this without electricity.

But what God promises here is a transcendent peace beyond all circumstances. If the world is shaken, or your world is rocked, the peace of the Lord will remain. Nothing in this world can shake loose the love of God on your soul. God doesn’t care what your finances look like, how well-off you are, or what you can offer Him. You already have everything He wants from you. Were you jobless, homeless, or friendless, God would still want you. God will still love you. God has made a covenant of peace with you, not based on your net worth, but on your faith.

Do you believe in this God of mine? Does He still make you tremble when you realize all He endured to bring you to Himself? I want you to know Him too. I want you in on this little secret. He loves you and has given everything, the most valuable gift He would give, His own Son. He sacrificed everything to make you His. Would you join this covenant of peace?

 

Someday

www.bible.com/1713/zec.14.9.csb

What are you looking forward to? Are you looking forward to Friday? Does the prospect of another work week seem gloomy to you? With Monday once again at our doorstep, it’s hard to get into the Spirit with the anticipation of another week of work before us.

Maybe you are looking forward to retirement, carefully putting money away every paycheck so you will have money to finally do the things you want to do, to travel, to write that book, or something else you’ve been dreaming of.

It’s dreams like these that motivate us, give us hope for a better day tomorrow. Honestly the doom and gloom predictions about our economy and the climate aren’t in the same vein when I think about my own future. And maybe they ought to be. For on the one hand I get dire predictions about the power grid and terrorism and a great need to prepare for disaster. On the other hand I get advice about how to save money for the future so that I can retire in comfort. Last night I learned about Living Trusts, an alternative to the Will that I could form for my family to protect my assets when I die.

Well, there’s another thing I need to be ready for. Death is the most certain scenario of all. The Bible tells me how I need to live today to prepare for death tomorrow. It felt creepy writing that statement. I don’t like to think about my own death, even though I know it’s coming, and I know that it will be the most glorious part of my life. I don’t know that I have tomorrow, so I need to prepare today.

Well, all of that to say this. What gives me peace about the scary unknown future is the verse above. He will be. I know Him. And He is already my King. I have advance tickets to the greatest show in the universe. All of this other stuff is just set dressing. The main event is coming and I already know I have good seats. It is this motivation that moves me from Monday to Monday. Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God bless you on this Monday and every day.