Prayer

Increase our faith!

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.~ Luke 17:5-6

We use that word a lot when we pray, preach or teach but what exactly is faith? Simply it is having complete trust and confidence is someone or something. Even a little faith is a powerful thing, we’re all given a measure, it’s by grace through faith in Christ that we’re saved in the first place and without it it’s impossible to please God but a stronger faith will give you unsurpassed peace, hope, strength and patience which the world cannot give and cannot take away no matter what happens in our lives. When we’re first born again we don’t have this almighty faith, even though you may feel like you do until a trial comes along and it is truly tested…

Faith much like our sanctification itself is an ongoing process, beginning when we first believe, it should increase and grow stronger each day and possibly it will never stop increasing throughout eternity; it is a vital part of our Christian walk, without it we could not be saved but with it we can, or rather we already have overcome the world through what Christ has done.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. ~ 1 John 1:1-4

Don’t be mistaken or deluded, having faith is not ignorance of trials or troubles in this world, they are very real and will shake the faith of the oldest saints as well as the youngest Christian. Unbelievers often accuse us of having “blind faith”, in a sense it’s true as we walk by faith, not by sight but that’s not a bad thing. People put their faith in the things of this world that they can see; whether it’s friends, family, jobs, health, money…..these things don’t last, they come and go but we continually trust God, One who is sovereign over all creation, One who cannot die, lie or change, One who loves us and will bring us through the fire if we put our faith in Him alone. Personally I find that a great comfort, especially now. I am not underestimating how serious our trials are, neither will I give you false hope or tell you everything is going to work out the way you want it to, however I know how great our God is and with Him all things are possible.

Abraham knew he and Sarah were too old to have children, Daniel knew the lions could kill him at any moment, David knew his enemies were closing in around him and became despondent, Paul knew he would be beaten, imprisoned and eventually executed for his faith in Christ. We are not immune to pain, sorrow and heartache in this world; the prophets, the apostles and even Christ Himself suffered all these things however they never gave up. The apostle Paul described this perfectly in 2 Corinthians….

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”…..

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16-18

That is true Faith, complete trust or confidence in someone, in our case Jesus, described by the writer of Hebrews as “Author and Perfecter of faith“. Through study of God’s Word, through prayer, communion, fellowship with mature saints our faith will undoubtedly increase. Don’t forget that faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who dwells in every true believer here, your faith may be small but it is there, never doubt that for a second! The fruits of the Holy Spirit are not a pick and choose part of Christianity, perhaps we have them in different measures but you either produce all of them or none of them.

Faith is also a gift of the Holy Spirit, we are given saving faith by God but not everyone has the gift of faith which is seen as an unshakable confidence in the promises, provision and most of all the miraculous power of God. It’s more than knowing that God can, it’s being certain that God will! I know that God can heal me or anyone else, I’ve seen it and experienced it personally.

The best examples of this gift in Scripture come from men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, Elijah, John and Paul; they held firmly to the promises of God and never totally lost hope or faith in Him despite their overwhelming circumstances. When we look at what they endured we may feel downcast but instead we must always continue to look to the One who brought them through, the One who said “I will never leave you nor forsake you“, “I change not” and “I have overcome the world“. Christians with this precious gift of faith can be an inspiration to us all and must use it as God has intended to strengthen and uplift their brothers and sisters in the church whenever possible.

A lack of faith in God is not only harmful spiritually, but doubting His compassion or ability will eventually lead to a coldness or hardening of your heart, despair, depression and although if you are truly saved that cannot be taken away, a flame either burns brightly or it doesn’t burn at all and to put it bluntly you will become spiritually useless. Again it all comes back to losing focus on what, or who, is central. Peter doubted Christ and he began to sink, that is the perfect example of what a lack of faith will do to us, for the moment we lapse in prayer, reading His Word or in our fellowship with believers we will begin to sink beneath the waves of our trials.

Faith itself is like a ship, a complete trust in God is our anchor; keeping us firmly planted, our rudder; keeping us moving in the right direction and also our hull; keeping us afloat and safe during the storm. God will not always calm the storm for us but He will always bring you through it if you maintain that complete confidence in Him. The answer to a lack of faith is not difficult, it’s the basics, the milk of our religion; prayer, communion, the Word, fellowship with mature believers (for iron always sharpens iron).

We often end up running to everyone during a crisis of faith or tribulation and then turn to these fundamentals as a desperate last resort. It should always be the other way around, people in general and especially other Christians can be a great help and lift us but they can only do so much and cannot bring us through our troubles no matter how wonderful they are. The men in Capernaum brought their paralysed friend directly to Jesus, they knew and had faith that this Man was the Son of God and could heal completely. There’s a reason this particular event is documented by Matthew, Mark and Luke; it is an example for us to bring our worries, our problems, our situations directly to God in prayer and have faith that He alone can answer and bring absolute healing according to His will.

A final word for those who are lacking in faith, those who are starting out in their walk or who, like the apostles asked the Lord, want to increase their faith. The answer is always the same, seek to become more acquainted with Christ. Study His Word more and more, know Him not only as Saviour, but as our high Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Teacher, the Friend, the Rock, the Anchor and our eternal Shepherd. Know Him not only as the One who shed His blood and died for you but the One who is living today and interceding for you daily seated at the right hand of the Father, the One who came and walked among us but is coming again to take His stand upon the Earth. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you, believe when you read, believe when you worship, believe when you pray daily that God can; THAT IS FAITH, complete trust and confidence in our Lord to always bring us through so we can continue to give all the praise and glory to Him.

God Bless

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Finding comfort in Christ

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favour bestowed on us through the prayers of many. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:5-11

The Apostle Paul wrote this introduction, roughly 3 years after spending 18 months in Corinth establishing their church. In these 3 years and in the years that followed, Paul and his companions had experienced terrible ordeals; beatings, stoning, lashings, dangers from robbers, dangers from the Jews, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea and dangers among false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26); he would spend many nights thirsty, hungry and cold outside without clothing. Yet he spoke and wrote with confidence, “our comfort is abundant through Christ”, “we have set our hope on Him”, “He will deliver us”.

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Jesus: The reason for the season?

Recently I’ve seen several posts on Facebook and articles on-line condemning Christmas and the Christians who celebrate it, often they liken it to Halloween as a pagan holiday with Satanic origins and therefore anyone who celebrates it cannot truly be born again. This may seem a little extreme but sadly most condemnation on Christianity comes from fellow Christians (not the world), who will endlessly argue and slander others on issues which aren’t even related to salvation. Of course we know from Scripture that this attitude of tearing down ones own “house” will be prevalent in the last days, while the hearts of many grow cold, the unsaved die and go to Hell in their droves, while the Christians spend their valuable time arguing amongst themselves.

Of course it’s unlikely that Jesus was born on the exact date of December 25th, it’s also highly unlikely that He was born in the year 0 as these dates where assigned by Roman/pagan festivals and a change of how the calender was calculated respectively. It’s also strange that some people have Christ’s birth “fixed” on 25/12 while the traditional date of His crucifixion varies between March and April every year according to the Western calender…

The truth is, whether Christians celebrate Christmas or not is not the issue; however the reasons for their standpoint ARE an issue. For many it is an awful excuse to lay Christ aside for a week to indulge in behaviours they wouldn’t at any other time of the year i.e. gluttony, drunkenness, lying and greed. However for others it is an excellent opportunity to share the Gospel with family, friends and strangers, to engage in charitable works and use this time to reflect on the greatest gift ever given to us by God through Jesus Christ the Son rather than on the hideous consumerism which seems to almost infect the world during this winter season.

The Bible tells us as Christians to remember the Lord’s death at Calvary, His resurrection and to always look forward to the day He returns for His children but it never once tells us to celebrate His birth; this “Christmas” remembrance was invented by Roman Catholic bishops 400 years after His birth in an attempt to “Christianize” their pagan worship. I know some Christians who take a hard stance against Christmas, openly condemning those who celebrate it as “pagan” or “unsaved” while others swing to the other extreme and get caught up in the worldly decadence of it all without a thought for their Saviour. Honestly both sides of the camp disgust me, one for their pride and self-righteousness, the other for their worldliness and ignorance.

Personally I dislike what this time of year has become, (I was never a fan of Christmas even though my family were) to me it’s just another day yet it is still a precious day for, “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24. That verse applies to every day, regardless of any date or name given by the world, we should always be grateful for every day we are given and must never forget to give thanks to the One who has made it possible for us to live for Him and for evermore.

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Whatever your stance towards this holiday season, I sincerely wish that those who are truly born again will use this time as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him and for those who do not know Him, please take a moment to think about where you will spend eternity, not just Christmas.

God Bless

Thy Will Be Done…

Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut……

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;

That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,

The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these. – Isaiah 45:1,5-7

This whole chapter of Isaiah is one of my favourite’s in the entire Old and New Testaments, it is an example of God’s sovereign power over life and death, salvation and destruction. It describes a future King who would come to free the Israelites from their captivity in Babylon, Cyrus, a Persian pagan described as “anointed” by the Lord. This man is also seen as a forerunner type of Christ, like Isaac, Joseph and David were. Although bizarre to the people at that time, it was God’s will to use a foreign pagan to free them. God’s will may seem strange to us at times but it will always work out for the greater good in His plan.

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