Jul 28, 2016
Familiar paths are comfortable, but it’s the unknown that forces you to trust. When you struggle and fall, faith may be the only thing you have in this cruel world. It’s a gift given to help you. Trust the Giver. And He will help you see the way again.
I learned a valuable lesson the night before I preached my first sermon. My mother shared a verse that God laid on her heart for me: Joshua 1:9. I memorized that scripture about courage just as fast as I could, because I was scared! Later, I read the whole passage and realized that strength and courage are tied to concentrating on God’s Word. For this reason, a personal time of meditation with God should be a priority in our life.
When we are in daily communion with our Lord, we can more easily accept that He is in absolute control of everything facing us. Whether we are pummeled by adversity or overwhelmed with joy, God has our circumstances well in hand. Spending regular time with the Father allows us to bring Him all of our concerns and feelings. Then He can rejoice with us or cradle us according to our need.
Praying through Scripture and asking God to speak to our heart about what we read is our privilege as Christians. When we’re quiet before the Lord, we have the opportunity to receive His guidance and power for navigating our circumstances. Consequently, God restores our weary soul and renews us for another day.
I personally believe that every morning when we roll out of bed, we should spend a little time on our knees. We ought to entrust each day to our heavenly Father, going over our schedule and committing the time to Him. The morning is like the rudder of our day—how we begin steers our course throughout. Are you ready to let God be your captain?
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Psalm 119:9
In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham recalls growing up on a North Carolina dairy farm. “Our barns had tin roofs,” he wrote. “On rainy days, I liked to sneak away into the hay barn and lie on a sweet-smelling and slippery pile of straw, listening to the raindrops hit that tin roof and dreaming. It was a sanctuary that helped shape my character. Whenever I visit a bustling city anywhere in the world now, I like to retreat from noisy boulevards into an open church building and just meditate in the cool, dim quietness. At our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my favorite spot is a little path above the house where I walk alone and talk with God.”1
As our children return to school this fall, let’s remember that God’s schoolroom is called meditation. It’s not enough just to read the Bible, or even simply to study it. We need to find quiet times to mull over its words, meditate on its verses, and ponder its truths. That’s what shapes our character. If you can’t find a barn with a tin roof, any quiet spot will do. Settle down, quiet yourself, be still, contemplate the Lord and His Word, and know that He is God.
By holy meditation the soul doth, as it were, breakfast with God every morning. Thomas Watson, Puritan
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The 11th chapter of Hebrews, known as the great Hall of Fame of Faith reciting the faith and resulting action of many Old Testament heroes, begins with a description of what faith is.
First, we see that it is the “substance of things hoped for.” Biblically, we know that the Christian “hope” is a hope so real it has substance in the present. None of the people of faith recited in this chapter actually saw the promises made to them come to fruition, but they so believed in them that they lived in the present as if the future were reality.
The word “substance” occurs only two other times in Hebrews. It is used to speak of Christ as the exact representation of God’s essence and nature, “who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [i.e., substance]” (Hebrews 1:3). It is also translated “confidence,” “for we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14), and speaks of a deep assurance. Putting this all together, our text could then be rendered, “faith is the essence of our assurance of things yet in the future.”
The word “evidence” could be translated “conviction,” or even “proof.” The word implies a logical, airtight argument. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof [same word as ‘evidence’], for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This sort of evidence is something we know to be true, something about which we have such conviction we act accordingly.
The first half of the verse brings a future truth down into the present; the second half commits our lives to that truth. JDM
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. —John 6:68
We who have admitted Jesus Christ into our lives as Savior and Lord are happy indeed that we did so. In matters of health care, we are familiar with the custom of a “second opinion.” If I go to a doctor and he or she advises me to have surgery, I can leave that office and consult with another specialist about my condition. Concerning our decision to receive Jesus Christ, we surely would have been ill-advised to go out and try to get a second opinion! Jesus Christ is God’s last word to us. There is no other. God has headed up all of our help and forgiveness and blessing in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son….
We may not like what the Great Physician tells us about ourselves and our sin. But where else can we go? Peter supplied the answer to that question. “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).
This is the Savior whom God is offering. He is the eternal Son, equal to the Father in His Godhead, co-eternal and of one substance with the Father. He is speaking. We should listen!
Lord, help me remember that Christ is Your final word, and that’s all I need. He has the words of eternal life; let me rest in that. Amen.
He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. (Romans 14:18)
Many believers in our day seem to consider the expression of true Christian holiness to be just a matter of personal option: “I have looked it over and considered it, but I don’t buy it!”
But the Apostle Peter clearly exhorts every Christian to holiness of life and conversation: God’s children ought to be holy because God Himself is holy! I am of the opinion that New Testament Christians do not have the privilege of ignoring such apostolic injunctions.
There is something basically wrong with our Christianity and our spirituality if we can carelessly presume that if we do not like a biblical doctrine and choose to ignore it, there is no harm done. God has never instructed us that we should weigh His desires for us and His commandments to us in the balance of our own judgments—and then decide what we want to do about them.
We have the power within us to reject God’s instruction—but where else shall we go? If we turn away from the authority of God’s Word, to whose authority do we yield?
Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed the beams of His love, and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely come. Thy course, through grace, is one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee: this has also been the pathway of the brightest and the best.