"a self evident truth"
LIFE'S ANSWERS FOR THE OVER-COMMITTED
A voice with way too much enthusiasm and happiness jolted me from my desperately needed sleep. The perky, chipper, and well, just too happy voice told me traffic was backed up due to a sofa on the beltway. A pathetic moan came from somewhere deep within me and my face buried itself in the pillow. But the beltway (a sofa?…really!), my boss, my family and my obligation to society beckoned. Above my nagging conscience and the ‘too happy’ voice I heard, "You haven’t read your Bible in three days."
(c) The Axxiom Group, Inc., 2012 All rights reserved.
Do you have faith? I hope so. So then you’re a ‘Faith’ person, right? Maybe you accept that label and maybe you don’t. I’m a Methodist and a believer and I certainly consider myself as possessing ‘Faith’. So what’s the big deal?
I’ve been a student of Scripture and Christianity for over three decades and one thing I have learned that interferes with discussion at times is ‘wagon words’. Those are words that carry with them more than just letters. Sometimes there is a whole ‘wagon’ of meaning and interpretation and misunderstanding and perspective that can confuse a relatively simple conversation.
For instance, if you were looking for something for your children to watch you might go to the ‘children’s’ section of the video store. But if you were looking for something for yourself, would you go to the ‘adult’ section? Probably not. ‘Adult’ is definitely a ‘wagon’ word which if connected to other contexts like entertainment or beverages can become much bigger than originally intended.
And so is ‘Faith’.
‘Faith’ means simply ‘belief’. But of course it is also much more. ‘Trust’ actually comes closer to an American / English understanding.
It is not,
So what is ‘Faith’? And why has it become a ‘wagon’ word?
"Then why am I so sick and tired?"
Good question. And that ‘good question’ is the main reason some reject the premise that ‘this kind of faith’ is not available today. In fact the astonishing claims of the Bible make up the main reason why folks don’t believe it.
I don’t mean we reject the Bible completely. Although I have heard from some who do. ‘Michael’ is one of them whom you read about a few weeks back. But there is a more serious issue among ‘Bible believing’ Christians. It is ‘believer’s unbelief’. And we’re all guilty here.
Let me explain. Do you believe you can move mountains? Probably not, at least literally. When Jesus said that He was just using a figure of speech, right? Jesus used parables (and usually announced he was before hand) but He seldom used metaphor or allegory and never hyperbole. Casting mountains may be extreme but His point was to express the limitless authority available to the believer.
Which brings us back to the ‘believer’s unbelief’. Or in the words of the ‘common wisdom’: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." We are bombarded daily with car ads, face cream ads, diet ads, the lottery, Publisher’s Clearing House riches, and campaign promises. Most of which we have learned to ignore.
Yet when it comes to Scripture we are confronted with wilder claims that any of these; physical healing, deliverance from demonic forces, authority over the elements, even raising the dead. No wonder these issues become controversial. And it is no wonder that Bible commentaries and sermons relegate these to a special generation or treat them as allegory.
And of course if we pursue all of this with an open (and literal) mind we run headlong into that icky issue of ‘faith’. If I claim to believe literally what Jesus said then I am taking a stand that will reveal my level of faith. Two issues are very important here. One, the ‘Arrogance of Humility’ the we discussed earlier. And two, where did this contest come from whereby folks are measured good or bad by their level of faith?
If I don’t see the results that I am believing for then am I guilty of a lack of faith? According to Jesus the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. So do we retreat and pout? Or do we give Him the attention and reverence He deserves and find out how to fix the problem?
Our first response is to inquire of God what we’re missing. It could be unconfessed sin or a grudge against someone who has wronged me or it could be that I just need to develop my faith in the area in question…or something else. In other words, what God says is not in question so we don’t need to find some rationalization to protect Jesus’ reputation (or ours). And therein lies the key to this entire discussion.
If God’s Word runs up against my sensibilities or offends me or in some way challenges my lifestyle or goes beyond what I can wrap my head around, then by faith I am committed to choose God’s Word…and my mind, body, mouth, brain, imagination and spirit are just going to have to deal with it.
Does that mean that cemeteries and hospitals and mental wards are emptied whenever you or I pass by? Actually, yes, if that’s God’s plan and He is the One that sent me there and for that purpose. But until I hear that direction I’m standing on His eternal and unchangeable Word in every situation.
"And how is that working out for you?"
But two things changed over that period of time that had a profound effect on the faith process:
1) I studied how prayer and spiritual warfare work and how the power of the tongue was controlling my life (all while perfectly well and under no concentrated attack), and I continued the Bible immersion program known as The OnePage Solution, and
Two points worth noting: 1) I set out to know God’s will while still well. I’d already had enough of sick, broke and tired. You can seek Him anytime you choose but why not now? And 2) You’re probably already tithing but are you doing it in faith? Of course you pray over it and of course you give into ‘good soil’ or where the Word is being taught without holding anything back. But what I mean by ‘giving in faith’ is a) understanding what God’s Word says about your particular type of seed (giving), and b) standing on that Word in faith believing for the return exactly as He promised.
It took me a long time to come to grips with ‘believing for the "receiving" part of my giving’. ‘Giving to get’ used to stick in my craw like a raspberry seed. Finally God got it through my thick skull that His economy operates on ‘giving and receiving’. "For God so loved…that He gave His only Son…" and what did He ‘get’ in return? According to Hebrews 2:10 His ‘return’ was to bring ‘…many sons unto glory." The Father gave His best so that He could receive the highest and best end of His faith…the family He purposed back at the Garden of Eden.
‘Giving to get’ it seems is how God plans to finance His work in the earth. Money is not a bad thing. But the ‘love’ of money is a very bad thing (and a favorite tool of the enemy). And the ‘love of giving’ is a very good thing (and a debilitating attack against the enemy). So fall in love with giving and let God bless you so there will be more to give.
The Bible covers various types of giving and the return for each. But rather than here trying to cover them all, let’s look at the tithe. I mentioned the tithe earlier in connection with joining into covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The reason for the connection is that it appears with THE BLESSING or covenant with each of these three (very important) generations.
Abraham, in Genesis 17. Isaac in Genesis 26. And Jacob in Genesis 28.