With an army on charging horses racing toward them in fiery fury, William Wallace stands leading his troops. In that moment of fierce battle when his men are terrified of the coming fight, Wallace cries out that now famous line in Mel Gibsons version of Braveheart, “Hold, Hold, Hold, HOLD!” His men hang on every word of his declaration. And with his strategic might they are strengthened.
This same phrase is being declared from heaven even now. To the body of Christ heaven is roaring, “Hold, Hold, Hold, HOLD!” Do not leave your post! Do not run! Hold your ground! What sets us apart from the world is faith in God. Paul warned us that it would take armor to fight this good fight of faith. He told us perilous times would come but Jesus declared in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Now is the time and here is the place of the true church of Jesus Christ. He is coming for a victorious church. The gates of hell may rage against her but they will not prevail! We must hold fast to our confession of faith. We must declare the mighty works of God and wait for his commands. Our victory is certain if we will not lay down our swords! Hold steady. Hold fast. Hold onto the everlasting arms of Jesus and watch God do the impossible.
Faith is a common word used by both believers and unbelievers alike. It may or may not be related to anything spiritual. We have somehow taken it’s power and relegated it to a fancy word for hope. I however am of the mindset that faith is far more potent than that.
Jesus never said “Where is your hope?” or “Oh ye of little hope.” I can hope without having any faith so I have often mulled over the possible meaning of the phrase “faith to faith” in Romans 1:17 many times. It is commonly accepted as a phrase about how we grow our faith like a muscle to which I agree though it always seemed lacking in weight to me. No pun intended. We know that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), so there seemed to be more here. Something with more grit or substance than stepping up a proverbial latter of Christiendom.
I don’t have the corner on this subject but as I read the verse today I unintentionally had put a pause in the phrase and something happened. I saw it from a different angle. I heard it in a different tone. The scripure reads “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”(KJV) Paul is making an intense declaration of how we are to live as Christ followers. This is no puny summation. The ending of this verse demands that the beginning carry the same strength.
God’s righteousness is revealed from a place of faith. The beginning of faith is to understand that God is righteous. If you do not believe in his righteousness you have not yet begun your race. Paul ended his journey on this earth saying, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”(2 Tim. 4:7-8) God is Righteous. This is the principle thing.
Our current culture declares loudly that the righteousness of God and his Holy Word are not righteous. Politicians and news media are replete with those who stand in its opposition and call evil good and good evil. This position is not a position of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It is dangerous to adopt the worlds definitions and in particular when they are related to Christianity. Faith at it’s root is believing in the righteousness of our Maker. If you had any doubt, He is right. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” The NRS puts it this way. “The Lord is just in all His ways, and kind in all His doings.” In other words, He’s good all the time and in everything. He’s not wrong.
If you still have doubts all you have to do is look to all that He created. Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of His hands. There is nothing but perfection in every kingdom He made. The vastness and grandeur of space that cannot be found out. The earth and all it’s resources. The sky and oceans and all their expanse. The way all plant life grows and multiplies in it’s season. The animal kingdom and it’s grand diversity. There is nothing made that was made that did not come from Him and it is all good. Every bit of it is right. If anything is wrong it comes from our fallen state.
His righteousness rules supreme. Understanding this is real faith. It is from this spring board that we then go from faith to faith. What is this second faith? This is the journey. You and I will face every kind of afront that will scream “THIS is not right!” And when we find ourselves in this place we have a choice. We must ask ourselves is God righteous? Do we believe in who He is and what He is able to do? Do we have faith?If He can hold the sun, the moon and the stars in their orbit, if He can feed the sparrow when she’s hungry, and if the flower continues to bloom with each new spring then I know He can care for me. He will be righteous and take me through this storm. He will not leave me alone. “He will perfect that which concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)
I know we face immensely difficult and seemingly impossible situations but this one thing I know. My God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.(Eph. 3:20) What is that power? Christ in us! He who is righteous is in us working. Romans 8:28 says He takes what the enemy meant for evil and uses it for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is by this truth then that we can confidently say with Paul, “The just shall live by faith.”
2 Peter 11:8 tells us that we have obtained “like precious faith” through the righteusness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let faith be your footstool for leaping into the righteousness of a just and good God. Let Him give you His peace to do the impossible like Peter and walk on the storm. If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will make it safely to the other side. Don’t have faith in faith. Have faith in God!
My English class was going over the three parables in Luke 15 when the Lord decided to teach me today. In this chapter Jesus tells three parables one right after the other to emphasize the message. I have always read them as individual parables. They each had some meaning and value alone but today I saw them as one, as Jesus intended. Jesus was constantly showing us the Father through his life so that we would know him. He said if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the father. Here in this chapter Jesus is painting a beautiful picture of the Father’s relentless pursuit of us and how heaven rejoices when we’ve been found by him.
The first parable tells of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to go find the one. When he finds it he calls everyone to tell them how he is rejoicing for his sheep is now found, safe and back in the fold with him. Here he can love, provide for and protect the sheep he loves.
The second parable is the woman who has lost a coin. She lights a lamp and searches until she finds it and when she does, she calls everyone to rejoice with her because what was lost is now found. The coin can now be used for its purpose and is not wasted. What I saw for the first time that lost meant in the dark. The light had to be shed for the coin to be found. Many times, we and our purpose and value are missing in the dark. Jesus, the light of the world, comes to show us who we are and how valuable he’s made us and that we have great purpose yet to be fulfilled.
The third and probably everyone’s favorite comes right on its heals. The parable of the prodigal son. I’m sure we know this story but what’s so beautiful is that the father is looking for his son anticipating his return. He’s sees him a far off. This tells me he’s looking intently. A prodigal is lost in a different way. He chose to get lost so he needs to choose to come home. But the beauty in this is that Father God acts the same way even when we’ve lost ourselves on purpose. He’s still looking for us though we’ve gone. Then of course when the son returns the father calls everyone to celebrate and restores the son as before. No penitence was required. The father didn’t even let the son say the words he’d rehearsed to be a servant since he wasn’t worthy anymore to be called a son. Father said nothing doing. You’re my son, welcome home.
We tend to think that we are on the hunt for Jesus. The truth is he’s on the hunt for us. The coin could do nothing but be found. The sheep couldn’t return on his own. He had to be found since he didn’t know the way back. The son, though he needed to return, had to be looked for so he’d know how loved he was. He knew we couldn’t do it in our own strength. Jesus alone could. He loves you with an everlasting love and will be relentless until he finds you no matter how you became lost. And if you’re the prodigal he’s promised in his word that when you search for him you’ll find him when you search with all your heart. He’s already looking for you. When he finds you what a great celebration will be had by all!
Isaiah 58 is a very rich and plentiful chapter to chew on and I have only skimmed the service in part’s 1 and 2 and I’m afraid it will be the same for this final part 3. But what’s so interesting is where we will pick up for today. We ended with verse 9 but only up to part a and I would like to begin with part b. This portion of scripture according to my bible says that the yoke referred to in this passage is in reference to all forms of political, economic, and social injustice. I love how God’s word is so timely. It’s living and active and just as relevant today as it was then. Let’s read it.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
Isn’t that amazing? Reading it in the context in which it was written gives great wisdom for our current condition in the USA. It’s so self explanatory that it doesn’t need expounding. If we really wanted a blessed abundant life the recipe is right here. But the evidence is all around us that we have as a nation not lived up to this. I know we have done many good things but this recipe of not pointing our fingers and speaking maliciously is way of kilter and if we would correct it it would certainly point us in the right direction. There are always consequences for not doing it God’s way. But that’s why I love the If-then’s here. There is always a remedy. There’s always a cure. Let’s continue reading.
13“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
True fulfillment and joy are ours for the receiving if we would only honor and obey the voice of the Lord. We can be very rebellious and say we don’t like being told what to do but the consequences will begin to heap up. However the opposite is also true. If we will humble ourselves and honor the only one who deserves our praise, all the joy and victory we need is in His hand. Yes, it’s our choice but I say today choose wisely. Your joy depends on it.