Sometimes it seems our faith is weak, and what do we do about that? Faith is like a muscle. It becomes stronger when we use it. That is easier said than done, so I have a list of exercises that have been done by heroes and she-roes in the Bible. I know many people think they were super-strong guys... like the instructors at the gym. Just remember; they didn't get there without lots of faith sets & repetitions. They exercised their faith until it hurt. No pain, no gain. Check out the following sets & reps to see just what it was that made these Bible heroes so strong. I've used the Faith chapter; Hebrews 11, to list 20 sets of exercises. The repetitions needed vary for each set. Some can be done in a few minutes, while many must be repeated over the course of a lifetime for success.
20 Faith Exercises:
1. Use your faith to give a good offering. -Abel/ Hebrews 11:4
2. Use your faith to build a building to save the lost. -Noah/ Hebrews 11:7
3. Use your faith to move to a foreign land like God told you to do. -Abraham/ Hebrews 11:8-10
4. Use your faith to become pregnant when you are old and childless; or to bring unbelievers to be born-again into God's kingdom, even though you've been saved for 30 years without leading anybody to Christ yet. -Sarah/ Hebrews 11:11-12
5. Use your faith to speak good godly futures into the ears of your children, when they are ignoring the things you taught them and you dislike everything they are doing. -Isaac/ Hebrews 11:20
6. Use your faith to speak good futures into the ears of your grandchildren, even if they are like strangers, and living in another state or country. -Jacob/ Hebrews 11:21
7. Use your faith to declare political freedom for your country, even when you know you will die before that happens and you can already see the country is under domination by a foreigner. -Joseph/ Hebrews 11:22
8. Use your faith to give your child up for adoption so you won't have to have it aborted. -Moses' Mother Jochebed/ Hebrews 11:23
9. Use your faith to live off the land, rather than take a handout from an evil leader, or to watch him abuse your countrymen. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:24-27
10. Use your faith to change your religious traditions, because you know what worked for Grandpa is not going to save you. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:28
11. Use your faith to walk right through your troubles. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:29
12. Use your faith to march circles around your enemies until you overcome them. -Captain Joshua/ Hebrews 11:30
13. Use your faith to join up with God's people, even when you know you are a prostitute, a drug addict, or a murderer; because you know you can't save yourself no matter how good you are anyways. -Rahab the Hooker/ Hebrews 11:31
14. Use your faith to fight to defend your country in battle in the name of Jesus; to defeat enemy terrorists who have attacked your country. -Gideon, Barak, Samson, & Jephtha/ Hebrews 11:32-33
15. Use your faith to tell your country's leader that God will punish him for his sin. -Samuel/ Hebrews 11:32
16. Use your faith to tame wild hungry animals. -Daniel/ Hebrews 11:33
17. Use your faith to walk through fiery trials and come out alive. -Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego/ Hebrews 11:34
18. Use your faith to raise the dead. -Elijah & Elisha/ Hebrews 11:35
19. Use your faith to preach to people who throw stones at you. - Stephen/ Hebrews 11:35
20. Use your faith to have angels wake you up in your darkness and chains; and to be delivered from your bondage to return to the church. -Peter/ Hebrews 11:36 & Acts 12:1-12
Completion of sets & reps of these exercises is guaranteed to make your faith grow stronger. Of course, experience is not the only teacher... though it is the best. Some people are teachable and will learn by watching other people. Some of us will learn by example of others. I feel my faith growing stronger just hearing about all the things these people did by faith! The Bible tells us that Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 Will you hear God today? Numbers 12:6
Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Spirit says, To day if you will hear his voice,
Pop Quiz: Can you guess who these celebrities are in the sound clips below? They are all clips from well known movies. Test your movie memory and then check below for the answers. If you get 8 to 10, you are exceptionally knowledgeable. All clips are courtesy of the computing magic of MovieSoundClips.Net Now... listen up!!!
Context of the script, familiarity with that particular actor, and prediction have a lot to do with the fact that you can identify and recognize the voices of the different actors. If they were saying something unfamiliar, or perhaps you didn't know ahead of time that they all would be celebrities from movies, and I'd pulled in different topics, then it would have been more challenging. But, regardless of how you did recognizing the clips above, how well do you think you would recognize the voice of God? That all depends on how familiar you are with His voice, and how familiar you are with the script-ures, and your expectations of hearing God speak to your situation at all. Has God spoken? Sure He has... just listen...
God, who at many times and in various manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:1
Quiz Answers follow!
1. Liam Neeson - Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia; the Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe
2. Mel Gibson - William Wallace in Braveheart
3. Christian Bale - Jim Graham in Empire of the Sun
4. Russell Crowe - Maximus in Gladiator
5. Bruce Willis - RJ in Over the Hedge
6. John Wayne - Lt Rusty Ryan in They Were Expendable (1945)
7. Sylvester Stallone - Barney Ross in the Expendables
8. Will Patton - General Bethlehem in The Postman
9. Antonio Banderas -Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan in the 13th Warrior
10. Nicolas Cage - Ben Gates in National Treasure
Hope is not a street. It's a highway. Hope costs nothing. It arrives free, yet it must be fed. Hope promised and not delivered will make people sick. It's never in our best interest to promise hope, and deliver only legislation (law.)
HOPE is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Hebrews 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw near unto God.
Where do you find hope? What do you do to increase your own hope? What fuels your hope for tomorrow? What tangible event in your life right now gives you hope? What do you see as hopeless? Who do you have the most hope for in your family? Look for hope.
While it's true that love is a verb and faith is only a noun, faith that is not activated is useless, or dead as Apostle James would say. James 2:17, 20, 26 Earlier he had said he demonstrated faith by his works, and that faith alone couldn't save you. James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he has faith, and has not works? can faith save him? Even though faith is a noun, it is backed by the verb believe. If we turn to the Faith Chapter, Hebrews 11, we find a list of action words that activate faith.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
To see, to be persuaded, to embrace, and to confess are what I heard one preacher refer to as the SPEC sheet for faith, the specifications for being filled with faith. Regardless of the acronym, we definitely find some action words here to lead us down a path of faith. We have to hear and see the Word of God. Then we must allow ourselves to be persuaded of the truth. Then, once we are persuaded, we come to embrace or accept Jesus Christ, who said that He is Truth. Then, we must confess with our mouth that we believe that He is the son of God.
But, how does all this fit in with works, you might ask. Simple. If you are persuaded that Jesus is Truth, and you embrace Him, you will follow along in the path that He leads. If you turn away, you are no longer embracing Him. To be in the path that Jesus walks is not an easy path, always. That's why He said to take up your cross and follow Him. To walk with Him, action will be required. Otherwise, who are you following?
It appears we are seeing quite a spectacle at night, of the planets dancing in the sky, or rather it doesn't appear since we have had rain all week. Oh, but I know they are there. I can see them in my mind's eyes. The show started Monday. Shortly thereafter you could see both planets with the moon. Tomorrow, Thursday, just after sunset, Venus and Jupiter will line up in a planetary conjunction. It will take place whether we can see it or not.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
Yes, there are things unseen, and yet we see them...with our Spiritual eyes.
There are reality shows on TV where contestants must survive on an island. They are kicked off the island in turn until a winner is left. I've told you all I know already, as I have never seen that show, and I don't know a lot about television. That's not where my interest lies. If I messed the summary of it up, just comment below and make it right. :)
There is a children's animated movie called "Finding Nemo," and I watched the video again this afternoon. Nemo is taken, presumably to save his life by a dentist. His father and friends see it as a kidnapping. His father goes in search of Nemo and encounters sharks, Torch fish, and Jellyfish hazards which he must survive to reach his son.
In the reality show, I believe they are motivated by a prize packet, money. Marlin is motivated by love for his son Nemo. In the former, the risk is loss of money. The latter movie entailed a risk of life.
I wrote a blog titled: Soul Sustainer: Oceans of Mercy a few weeks back. There I talked about an analogy to God's sustaining power. It is that power of God that will enable our souls to survive this life. There is a death of the soul, and it is hell. Hell is the loss of all things Spiritual and the loss of communion with God, the Creator of the Universe and of us. Our goal, as Christians, is to survive life with our soul's intact. It is no secret that much of what we encounter in life is against our survival. We have an enemy and his hatred for us is a source of opposition to all our goals. But, opposition is an amazing thing. It can either blockade you, or propel you forward.
Ephesians 2:15-16 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Our job is to turn opposition into a catalyst for good. Remember, we can overcome any trial that is in our path through Christ. Hebrews 13:21 He will complete in you that which well pleases Him. Don't let opposition stop you. Move forward. 1 Samuel 30:8 Pursue!
Some days I think it can't get any better than this. Time with family is the biggest blessing God bestows. Nothing life throws at us matters in the moments we spend with the ones we love. But, it's moments like these that remind me of just how wonderful heaven will be. Heaven will definitely be an upgrade for each of us.
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the
redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Earnest money is a good faith payment made in advance for real estate or a contract of employment to demonstrate that the buyer is earnest or serious about his intentions to buy. In ancient times, the earnest payment was called an earnest penny, and also known as Arles penny, God's penny. It was money paid to legally bind a deal, or the purchase or hiring of a servant. The wording is easier to read in the New King James, and can be seen by hovering over the reference above.
This passage tells us that the Holy Spirit of promise(taken from verse 13) that we have received here on Earth is only the minescule fraction of what has been promised us in heaven. This means that we can take the idea that "it's going to get so much better than this in heaven" two directions. If you are having it tough... it's going to be better in heaven. If you are in pain, or suffer death, or loss... it's going to be better in heaven. If, on the other hand, you have the greatest comfort... it's going to be better in heaven. If you have unimaginable happiness here and now... it's going to be better in heaven! What an awesome promise that is for us. Hebrews 11:39 says that God's plan was not completed with the Patriarchs. The heros of faith did not receive the inheritance before they died. They only received the promise. Is Heaven an Upgrade? Remember... we are not home yet!
Faith is the stuff of which hope is made. Our life experiences build up, or tear down our faith. Two people can be facing the same devastation, yet one has hope and the other doesn't. If the pieces of faith haven't been built up, hope is empty. Likewise, I find that my faith has been built up by people over the years. Jude 1:20 says we are building up each other in the faith. Tonight I am giving thanks to ten of the people who have influenced my faith in God.
1)Paul Bolenbaucher - He was a church builder. He planted the church in my hometown, then left it in the hands of a young Pastor, after a few years, to build more churches. I was 13, and listening to him speak from the platform, I was caught on every word. He would talk about angels and demons in such a way that I could see he believed they were real. When I came to his church I was trying to find God. I had only weeks before decided that if there WAS a God, He was so far away that I would never know Him. But, listening to Him call God by name...Jesus, I knew He knew God personally. The light of the Spirit in his eyes lit the fire of my faith. Thanks to Paul Bolenbaucher.
2)Myrtice Daniels - Thanks Mrs. Myrtice for all your testimonies, and faith in God. You strengthen and encourage those around you. I love the faith you have in God's Word.
3)Ray Miller - You have always been a paragon of faith to me, from my teenage years to the present when I see you at Camp Meetings. You have always worked for God. I still remember you teaching in Children's Church in Dalton in the Sunday School Building with the Dixons. Some of the things you said really struck home with me. And, you are a soft spoken person with a firm faith in God. As long as I have known you, you always demonstrated that faith. And, you always were working in one ministry or another. No man works for a mission he doesn't believe in. When I saw you working, it built my faith from a young age. You were intent on the Lord's Work. Thanks for showing me you served a real God Ray Miller.
4)Jimmy Van Winkle - You gave me faith to withstand a storm. You spoke truth and not condemnation. You pointed in the direction of truth, and told me where I could find it. Thanks for your messages on faith Jimmy Van Winkle. You are a true man of God!
5)Burl Meek - Your comments in Bible Study are really faith building. You have a firm grasp on the Word, and can build faith when it is needed most. Thanks for speaking up in class Burl.
6)Vickey Davis - I heard you speak at a ladies meeting. You spoke about God's stars. It was just a few weeks after my first surgery, after the doctor had accidentally cut the wrong internal organs. I was devastated with the changes that had been made in my body. But, you talked about how beautiful we were to God. I was reminded that, though I had been hurt, I still belonged to God. You spoke and renewed faith in my heart. Thanks for the words of God... the words of life.
7)Mr. Tom Honeycutt - I was extremely shy in High School. Tom Honeycutt taught me American Lit. He assigned books for the class to read and write about. He called on me to read aloud my paper in class one week. It had been about the book, "A Seperate Peace." I had identified well with the story, and was stuttering through trying to read my paper. He took my paper, and read it aloud for me. Then a big smile spread across his face and the whole class just looked at me shocked that I had actually written that. He made me feel like I cold write. And, he also accepted my faith in God. He never criticized my objections to reading certain topics, and my refusal to study evolution. Instead, he would tell me ahead of time if I would find a book objectionable, and allow me to read and write on a different book he had selected. I did have teachers who became outraged over religious objections. But, he always made me feel as if my faith in God was a good thing. Thanks for encouraging my faith Mr. Honeycutt.
8)Steve Waldron - Not long after I moved to Stockbridge, I fell asleep on my front porch and had a dream. I dreamed that God told me you had a letter with a message for me. I had "tried out" all of the pentecostal churches in the area before I chose one. I had prayed for God to lead me to a good church for me and my children. After I had the dream, I just came out and asked you directly at church did you have a message for me. You looked like you had no idea and like the question floored you, but then told me to sign up for the Excel Bible College classes. I believe the classes moved me in the direction that I needed to go to have my faith built. I was still young in the faith before then. I learned so much about the Bible in those classes, and it sparked the desire to learn more. Years later, I was caught up by a question and a situation that someone had thrown at me that almost wiped out my faith. I couldn't find the answer. I called you and you asked me a couple of questions and then gave me the answer just like that. You kept me from deceit and false teaching. You kept me in the Word. Thanks for building my faith in the Word Steve Waldron.
9)Sam Latta - Your messages were always inspiring, and I found so many pieces to build my faith from you. I knew of your missionary work, and knew that you practiced what you preached. You taught me through your word and work that God is real and God is real in us. Thanks for the faith lessons Sam Latta.
10)Crissie Warren - Your grandsons Warren and Garrett built my faith more than you will ever know Crissie. When I taught them in Sunday School, you were always so kind and saying sweet things to me about the job I was doing. But, it wasn't me. God was speaking to those boys in Sunday School like I have never seen in my life. I would have my lesson prepared to the t. But, suddenly I would find words that God had put in my mouth to say directly to them, words that I knew weren't from my heart or my lesson plans. God wanted those boys. He was claiming them right in front of my eyes. This did something amazing to me and inside of me. This experience of seeing their big eyes listening to every word that I knew God wanted them to hear gave me faith in reverse. The way they listened intently on every word, for such little boys, built my faith. Isn't it amazing the way God works?! Thanks Crissie for telling me how God had worked in their hearts. This gave me more faith to keep teaching when I needed it most. I couldn't have done it without your encouragement.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is of what hope is made. If your faith is weak, look at the people you are around. Are they building your faith? If they are, God has blessed you. Remember these blessings this Thanks Giving. Tomorrow night, (well, tonight now :) look for ten of the people who have helped me out when I needed them. It's always nice to have a helping hand, or two!
Respect is not about who the other person is. It is about who I am. I have encountered children in the inner city who did not, would not say the words sir or mam. I didn't have a problem with that, but with the total disrespect. One child told my parapro to "Chill out Homey." I had a problem with that. Kindly, I tried to explain to him that she wasn't the same age as him, wasn't in his generation, therefore she couldn't rightfully be called a "homegirl." I explained that not liking to use words like sir and mam was not a problem so much as using words like, "Chill out Homey!" Each of the parts of that phrase were out of place in this context. I kindly explained this to him. He got irate. When I called his Mother to explain, she thought the whole conversation was about using sir and mam. She replied that he was right. He didn't call her sir and mam and he certainly wasn't going to call the parapro sir or mam.
I tried to get the point across to kids in the inner city that respect is more about your own feelings about yourself. I used the example of how I always answered the intercom with yes mam. I explained that I could say that to anybody, even a stranger on the street, with no problem. But, the idea of authority was the problem for many kids in the city. (Not much at all in the country. They were respectful and sweet usually.) I had one little girl look at me after the assistant principal walked out of the classroom one day and say, "Why do you always do everything SHE tells you to do? This is YOUR classroom!" The reasons were simple. I was under her authority, therefore out of respect for my position, I honored her instructions. Only a disrespectful person does just the opposite. I do not want to be a disrespectful person. So, you see, it's not about her. It's all about me. I am respectful. I say yes mam or nothing at all. Words like, "Ok, or yes, or sure" sound fine. They are not words of disrespect. On the other hand, imagine if I had told my boss to, "Chill out homey!" :-)
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit
yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that
they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD has appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have
loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn
God has a history and a way of bringing restoration and forgiveness to those he loves. Notice in the selections that follow that God is seen as the Father of His people.
Jeremiah 31:7 For thus says the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout among the chief of the nations: proclaim, give praise, and say, O
LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.
Jeremiah 31:9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications
will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a
straight way, in which they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and
Ephraim is my firstborn.
Jeremiah 31:12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of
Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for grain, and for
wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their
soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at
Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men
and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort
them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
God is always receptive to those who have fallen away. I have had people ask me before if God will forgive backsliders. I think the answer is clear from the beginning of Genesis.
Genesis 3:21 God is seen behaving as the father of the Prodigal Son. He clothed His fallen children. They are still His son and His daughter you see? This is not an angry Father, but a sad Father. He is cleaning up their mess. Yes, we all get into a mess now and then don't we? Even after salvation. But, the important thing is whether or not you turn to Dad for help when you fall.
Remember Judas? Remember Peter? Both betrayed Jesus. But, Judas hanged himself. Peter cried and clung to the risen Christ. Do you ever hear the word Peter used as a name for betrayel? No, but to be called a Judas is the same as being accused of betrayel. God is perfect and can forgive perfectly before Judgment Day. In the same way, a man on death row can beg clemency from the Governor, up until the moment he is executed. After that moment it is too late.
Does it crucify Jesus anew for Backsliders to come back to Him? Hebrews 6:4 There is much debate about this passage, but I see a difference between the apostate and most backsliders. Note that the passage is speaking of types of teaching fit for different levels of growth among Christians. Look in Hebrews 6:1 where Paul tells the believers they don't need teaching on repentance and faith, like the Galatians or Corinthians for example. They have been in the church for some time. They were Hebrew converts, and not Gentiles. They needed the teaching he names in Hebrews 6:2 specifically: the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. He explains that you can't teach backsliders to repent or have faith. They have been there, done that.
It takes something else altogether to bring a backslider back to Jesus. They have willingly turned away from Jesus after knowing Him. The question is, did they renounce Jesus or did they "fall away?" I don't believe anyone who spoke against Jesus would want to come back. But, many people just look around one day and realize they haven't been to church in awhile. Satan leads them out bit by bit; a missed service here, and a Sunday at the lake there. And, sometimes they only became hurt by individual people. They have "fallen away" as Paul says in Hebrews. It is like a woman who has seperated from her husband. She has already fallen into love with her husband and fallen out of love with him again. He can't make her see him for who he is all over again. She will never look at him again and say, "Wow! Who is that man?" She knows him. But, it is obvious she can take him back, and women often do. It takes a conscious decision to receive him back on her part. She has to undecide to leave, or redecide to love him. And, all the while, her act of loving him again will point to the question of why she left to start with.
In the situation of the backslider, for a backslider to come back to Jesus, His blood is again applied to the life of the re-newed Christian. This points to the crucifixion all over again. Though there are scars there, they can heal with time. But, the backslider always knows he betrayed Jesus... just like Peter. And Judas "went and hanged himself..." Matthew 27:5 But, not Peter. Remember Peter "went out, and wept bitterly." Luke 22:62 One will be in heaven. The other is already lost.