Living by Faith
But while [Joseph] thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20
We would love to know more about the personal lives of biblical characters. Take Joseph, for instance—the earthly father of the Son of God.
How spiritually mature was Joseph? Was he a faithful Jew—a worshiper of the God of Israel? It appears he was, given his response to the very unusual situation he was in. His betrothed, Mary, was pregnant and his first response was to divorce her respectfully (Matthew 1:19). But the greater test came when an angel from God appeared to him in a dream and counseled him to stay with Mary, to marry her, and to become the father of her child. Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded” (Matthew 1:24). Joseph was a living example of walking by faith, not by sight.
Submitting to God by faith is the ultimate test of faithfulness. Like Joseph, “do not be afraid” to take God at His Word.
To bring our minds under Christ’s yoke is not to deny our rationality but to submit to His revelation. John R. W. Stott
Matthew 1:18-25, The Predicted King
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
This beautiful verse is treated in the New Testament as a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled when Christ came into the world—growing up in Nazareth and then dwelling in Capernaum, both cities being located in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:15). This was in the region once occupied by the 10 northern tribes and then devastated by the invading Assyrians when they carried the Northern Kingdom away into captivity.
This region had for centuries thereafter remained in spiritual darkness, even after the return of Judah from captivity in Babylon. But then Christ came, and “from that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Thus, His public ministry actually began in this land of darkness. “And the light shineth in darkness. . . . the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:5, 9).
Wherever Christ comes, the light comes, for He is light. He left heaven for Earth, saying: “I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9). This great purpose of God “is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
And yet, tragically, “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:19-20). To those who desire light, Jesus says: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). HMM
When Daniel was taken to Babylon, he had no idea God would give him an ever-widening sphere of influence. So what made him different from the other captives from Israel? His godly influence flowed from his strong beliefs based in Scripture.
Commitment. Daniel did not simply know God’s law; he was convinced there was no other way to live. When tested, he remained unswervingly faithful to God and His Word, because he considered obedience non-negotiable.
Following God doesn’t mean living out biblical principles only when it’s convenient or easy. Obedience is to be our consistent lifestyle no matter what the circumstances are. Without a firm commitment to our beliefs, we’ll waver back and forth, be a poor witness, and eventually give in to temptation.
Courage. As a captive, Daniel had no authority. Therefore, approaching the king’s chief official for special dietary consideration required courage. Although he had no way to know the outcome, Daniel didn’t let fear dominate his emotions. He simply trusted the Lord and spoke out.
God rewarded Daniel’s faithfulness with superior knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of all kinds, which resulted in his gaining greater influence in the Babylonian and Persian empires. Because of Daniel’s commitment to God and his courage in standing firm, his godly impact extended for many years.
The Lord doesn’t raise all believers to high positions of influence. But He wants to use each of us to impact others for Christ in whatever sphere of influence He’s given us. Therefore, we too need commitment to God’s Word, the courage to obey, and the confidence to trust the Lord with the outcome.
The General Epistle of James
This was probably written by that apostle who has been surnamed The Just, who presided over the council at Jerusalem. His epistle is practical rather than doctrinal. Alford remarks,—”The brother of him who opened his teaching with the Sermon on the Mount, seems to have deeply imbibed the words and maxims of it, as the law of Christian morals.”
temptations or trials
And patience will be a crown of honour to you; therefore, viewing trial as an opportunity for proving your graces, you may rejoice in it.
All our good is from God, but all our evil is from ourselves and Satan; let us always impute things to their true causes.
These are the best externals of worship—the rubrics of the only divine ritual. The more of daily prayers at sick beds, and offertories received by orphans, the better. Can we not, as a family, remember the orphans to-day and help to support them?
Jesus, poorest of the poor!
Man of sorrows! Child of grief!
Happy they whose bounteous store
Ministers to thy relief.
Happy they who wash thy feet,
Visit thee in thy distress!
Honour great, and labour sweet,
For thy sake the saints to bless.
Who worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator;… God gave them over to a reprobate mind. (Romans 1:25, 28)
Since the first fallen man got still long enough to think, fallen men have been asking these questions: “Whence came I? What am I? Why am I here? and Where am I going?”
The noblest minds of the race have struggled with these questions to no avail. Did the answer lie somewhere hidden like a jewel it would surely have been uncovered, for the most penetrating minds of the race have searched for it everywhere in the region of human experience. Yet the answers remain as securely hidden as if they did not exist.
Why is man lost philosophically? Because he is lost morally and spiritually. He cannot answer the questions life presents to his intellect because the light of God has gone out in his soul. The fearful indictment the Holy Ghost brings against mankind is summed up count by count in the opening chapters of Romans and the conduct of every man from earliest recorded history is evidence enough to sustain the indictment.
Apart from the Scriptures we have no sure philosophy: apart from Jesus Christ we have no true knowledge of God; apart from the inliving Spirit we have no ability to live lives morally pleasing to God!
“The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy,, storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto.” Deut. 28:8
If we obey the Lord our God He will bless that which He gives us. Riches are no curse when blessed of the Lord. When men have more than they require for their immediate need, and begin to lay up in store-houses, the dry rot of covetousness or the blight of hard-heartedness is apt to follow the accumulation; but with God’s blessing it is not so. Prudence arranges the saving, liberality directs the spending, gratitude maintains consecration, and praise sweetens enjoyment. It is a great mercy to have God’s blessing in one 5 iron safe, and on one 5 banking account.
What a favor is made ours by the last clause! “The Lord shall bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand unto.” We would not put our hand to anything upon which we dare not ask God’s blessing, neither would we go about it without prayer and faith. But what a privilege to be able to look for the Lord’s help in every enterprise! Some talk of a lucky man: the blessing of the Lord is better than luck. The patronage of the great is nothing to the favor of God. Self-reliance is all very well; but the Lord’s blessing is infinitely more than all the fruit of talent, genius, or tact.