Nothing is too difficult for Our Lord God!
Having a shallow faith in God is not enough, the Rev. Billy Graham wrote in a recent column.
The evangelical leader wrote in a post for the Kansas City Star this week that it is not enough to simply say you believe in Jesus and then do nothing to live out or nurture your faith.
Such a shallow view of your relationship with Christ can put you in “grave spiritual danger,” Graham says, referencing James 2:14-17, which reads: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? […] Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Christians need to live out an active faith instead of a passive, weak faith because Jesus died on the cross for their sins, Graham continues, and we need to fight the power of sin daily.
“[Jesus] came to free us from both the penalty and the power of sin. We have sinned and turned our backs on God, and we deserve only his judgment. But on the cross, all our sins were placed on Christ, and he took upon himself the judgment and hell that we deserve,” the preacher writes. “Jesus came to free us from sin’s penalty, cleansing and forgiving us so we can go to heaven.”
Despite this generous gift from Jesus, sin still tries to “pull us down,” Graham continues, so we must fight to live an active faith to counteract the dangers of temptation, which could easily affect someone who has a lazy relationship with God.
“When we open our hearts and lives to Christ, however, God himself comes to live within us by his spirit, to help us in our battle with sin. In other words, Christ also came to free us from sin’s power,” the evangelical leader says, adding that it is because of sin that Christians must ensure they are fully committed to Christ.
The 97-year-old Baptist minister has spoken on the topic of weak faith before, writing in the “My Answers” portion of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website in February 2011 that it is God’s will for everyone to have a strong faith filled with “patience and endurance.”
However, Christians cannot just sit idly by waiting for their faith to grow strong. Rather, having strong faith takes effort, Graham writes.
“Our faith grows stronger only as we nourish and exercise it; if we don’t, it will always be weak. Just as we need food and exercise to grow and become strong physically, so we need spiritual ‘food’ and ‘exercise’ in order to grow and become strong spiritually. And God has provided everything we need to make this happen,” the pastor says.
There are two ways to nourish our faith: through the Bible and prayer.
“Make the Bible part of your life every day — read it, study it, learn about it from others,” Graham encourages, saying that Christians should also take advantage of the “privilege of prayer.”
“Instead of worrying about our problems (or worse yet, refusing to admit they exist), we can bring them to God in prayer,” the evangelical leader says.
BY KATHERINE WEBER
2 Corinthians 8:1-6
The first-century church in Jerusalem was impoverished. Jews who became Christians were often ostracized, and their businesses suffered as a result. This affected local giving and increased the number of poor in the community. As the church grew, resources were spread thinner and thinner. So as he traveled, the apostle Paul asked his congregations to aid the mother church.
Many of these congregations were also in financial crisis, but they pledged to help Jerusalem anyway. The Corinthian church was among those that agreed to send support (2 Cor. 8:10). To inspire them to meet or exceed their goal, Paul described the Macedonians’ sacrificial giving as an example. He noted that despite being poor, that church managed to give beyond its ability—and did so with a heart of gratitude and joy. Like the widow whom Jesus praised for giving her last coins to the temple treasury, the Macedonians gave a gift that was liberal, compared to its resources (Mark 12:43). The congregation trusted that God would provide the gift and continue to meet their needs.
Modern believers have much to learn from the Macedonians’ example. The amount we donate towards God’s work isn’t as important as our feelings about giving. Generosity is a quality of the heart—an attitude that grows out of a believer’s thankfulness for the Father’s spiritual and material provisions.
God wants us to be givers because the act of charity spiritually enriches the benefactor. The Lord will respond to a generous heart by pouring out blessing, according to His promise in Luke 6:38: “By your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.” (Exodus 19:19)
This is the first reference to trumpets in the Bible, and it is significant that the “voice” of the trumpet was coming not from man but from God. The setting was the awesome scene at Mount Sinai, when the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments for His people.
The last reference in the Old Testament to trumpets again refers to God’s trumpet. “And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the LORD God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south” (Zechariah 9:14).
The trumpet, as used in Israel (Hebrew shofar), was made of ram’s horns and was used on many important occasions. One of the most notable was when the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land at Jericho. “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and . . . the wall fell down flat, . . . and they took the city” (Joshua 6:20). These were human trumpets, of course, but they were sounded with the authority of God, and God gave the victory.
We also today can speak with the authority of God if we speak His Word plainly and clearly. But “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).
We ourselves may soon hear the trumpet of God, for the return of Christ is drawing near. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven . . . with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). As we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we (like John long ago) will hear a voice “as it were of a trumpet,” saying, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1), and then “shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). HMM
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. —Habakkuk 1:13
A lot of people have talked about the goodness of God and then gotten sentimental about it and said, “God is too good to punish anybody,” and so they have ruled out hell. But the man who has an adequate conception of God will not only believe in the love of God, but also in the holiness of God. He will not only believe in the mercy of God, but also in the justice of God. And when you see the everlasting God in His holy, perfect union, when you see the One God acting in judgment, you know that the man who chooses evil must never dwell in the presence of this holy God.
But a lot of people have gone too far and have written books and poetry that gets everybody believing that God is so kind and loving and gentle. God is so kind that infinity won’t measure it. And God is so loving that He is immeasurably loving. But God is also holy and just.
We praise You for your love and mercy, Lord, but may we never take lightly Your awesome holiness and Your fearful justice. Amen.
I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. (1 Corinthians 3:1)
Read your New Testament again and you will agree that mediocrity in the Christian life is not the highest that Jesus offers. Certainly God is not honored by our arrested spiritual development—our permanent halfway spiritual condition.
We all know that the Bible tells us that we honor God by going on to full maturity in Christ!
Why, then, do we settle for those little pleasures that tickle the saintlets and charm the fancy of the carnal?
It is because we once heard a call to take up the cross and instead of following toward the heights, we bargained with the Lord like a street huckster! We felt an urge to be spent for Christ, but instead of going on, we started asking questions. We began to bicker and bargain with God about His standards for spiritual attainment.
This is plain truth—not about unbelieving “liberals”—but about those who have been born again and who dare to ask, “Lord, what will it cost me?”
Ah! if we did but love Christ better, my brothers and sisters, if we lived nearer to the cross, if we knew more of the value of his blood, if we wept like him over Jerusalem, if we felt more what it was for souls to perish, and what it was for men to be saved,—if we did but rejoice with Christ in the prospect of his seeing the travail of his soul, and being abundantly satisfied,—if we did but delight more in the divine decree, that the kingdoms of this world shall be given to Christ, I am sure we should all of us find more ways and more means for the sending forth of the gospel of Christ.