Tag Archives: Faith

Through the Bible, July 26

Reading: Mark 9-10

Summary: Only two miracles are recorded in these two chapters—healing of the boy with an unclean Spirit and blind Bartimaeus—though the miraculous transfiguration is found here as well.  Much teaching of Jesus is related, touching on familiar themes like greatness in the kingdom, divorce, children, temptation, and wealth.

Devotional Thought:

Faith That is Blind is No Faith

Faith is grossly misunderstood, by believers and unbelievers alike.  The very idea of believing without ample reason is foreign to Scripture.  The very concept of faith is often rejected by men as being baseless and superstitious.  It’s often assumed that examples of faith in the Bible are demonstrations of blind acceptance.  This is not true.

If nothing else, Scripture shows that even Jesus’ apostles often struggled with the things they heard from Him.  They did not merely embrace immediately what He said.  For instance, coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus told Peter, James, and John to tell no one of what they had witnessed on the mountain “until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Notice this; “So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean” (Mark 9:9-10).

Certainly, the time would come when they would understand.  But it wasn’t until Jesus had shown Himself alive to them.  Reason was provided for them to believe.

Just because we may not know exactly how God will work and what He will do, we do know what He can and has done.  He’s shown Himself—countless times—to be powerful, good, benevolent, and faithful. He’s given us every reason to believe.  He’s fulfilled His promises.  So why would I not have faith that He will continue to do so?

Yes, faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” but that does not mean faith is blind (Heb. 11:1).  Things “hoped for” and things “not seen” may sound like a lot of wishful thinking.  On the contrary, they are a certainty, because the God who has promised them has proven just how reliable He is.

I have every reason to believe!

Through the Bible, March 6

Reading: Joshua 22-24

Summary: Two important events highlight the critical need for faithfulness as this nation enters a new phase of its existence. First, the tribes settling east of Jordan must remind themselves and their descendants of their rightful place as God’s people (chapter 22). Second is Joshua’s emotionally charged final challenge to Israel.

Devotional Thought:

From Child’s Stories to Faith

Did you attend Bible School as a child?  Did you learn about Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Moses and the Exodus?  How about Kings David and Solomon, or Ahab and Jezebel or Elijah and Elisha? How about Jonah and the whale (?) or Daniel in the lion’s den?

Is that what you think of them? Stories for a child’s Bible class?

Not that that’s unimportant, but there is so much more to it. How much more is demonstrated at the end of Joshua.  A marvelous testament to this great man’s influence and leadership is found in the observation that, “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel” (Joshua 24:31).

With that, listen to what followed: “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Israel went from faithful service to unbelief.  Did you notice what changed?  The faithful generation knew all the work that the Lord had done for Israel, the unfaithful generation did not. Knowing the work that the Lord has done is essential for faith and faithfulness.

Teaching children the great stories of the Bible is paramount. Being reminded and hearing again and learning more about the epic events of Scripture is critical.

What may have started in a children’s Bible class must be revisited and refreshed and deepened and fashioned into the very foundation of a faith that lasts a lifetime.

Through the Bible, January 15

Read: Genesis 12-14

Summary: God calls Abram (soon to be known as Abraham) and gives to him remarkable promises.  Nearly immediately Abraham faces some challenges to his faith and trust in God.

Devotional Thought:

Abraham and Me

The first thing Abraham did after arriving in the land to which God called him was to build an altar (Genesis 12:7).  The second thing he did was move to another location, pitch his tent and build another altar (v. 8).  These wouldn’t be his last.

It’s been suggested that one way to study the life of the great patriarch Abraham is to trace the smoke of the fires of the altars he built throughout his life.  Not bad.

It is no mere coincidence that Abraham was a giant of faith and that he was continually and repeatedly worshiping God.

What he did and what we are supposed to do are no different at all.  Not that we are going to build altars and offer sacrifices, but rather that “he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8; see also 13:4 and 21:33).

Though Abraham pre-dated even the covenant with Moses, this principle was true for him and it remains true today.  In Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the last line of Joel’s prophecy that he quoted was, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32).  Paul uses it as well, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Do not think Abraham has no relevance for us.  He did exactly what God wants us to do. So, let us all “call on the name of the Lord.”

My Delight is the Lord, December 6

Spiritual DNA

December 6, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:3-14

Everything you are as a human being is derived from your biological parents’ DNA; the color of your hair, your height, body type, shape of your nose, etc. It’s true that every individual is unique, but at the same time, there’s nothing original (biologically speaking) about you. It also happens that God would have our spiritual DNA to follow the same path. Timothy’s faith didn’t originate with him, it started with his mother and grandmother. Ideally, God would have faith to pass from generation to generation (Eph. 6:4). While the transfer of biological DNA happens without our conscious thought, spiritual DNA does not and can not. Though it doesn’t always happen this way, God wants parents to influence faith in their children just as surely as they do eye color. 

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Timothy need to do with the gift of God in him? (v. 6)
  • What is the nature of the spirit given us by God? (v. 7)
  • Because of what did God save us? (v. 9)
  • What is meant by “sound” words? (v. 13)

My Delight is the Lord, December 3

Grace Through Faith

December 3, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 15:1-35

Paul preached salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). That also served as the crux of Peter’s argument to those “believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees” who maintained that the Gentiles must first be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved (v. 5). Instead, Peter said God cleansed the hearts of Cornelius and his household–the first Gentile converts (see Acts 10)–“by faith” (v. 9). Not only so, but Jews and Gentiles alike will be saved in precisely the same manner; “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (v. 11). As it was for Jew and Gentile then, so it is for everyone still today. By faith our hearts are cleansed and through the grace of the Lord Jesus we will be saved.

Questions to Ponder:

  • With whom was this question discussed? (v. 2)
  • How did God bear witness to the Gentiles? (v. 8)
  • What role did the signs and wonders of Paul and Barnabas play? (v. 12)
  • What is said of Judas and Silas? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, August 12

Faith Fails

August 12, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-22

People of faith fail. They do. Individuals of strong spiritual disposition have times of fear and doubt and misgivings. We know that because the Bible shows it to us. Who can question the fortitude of an Elijah? How many Old Testament personalities make appearances in the New Testament as prominent as Elijah? That is an exceedingly short list. Yet Scripture shows us Elijah at low ebb. He’s running from Jezebel’s threats. He asks the Lord to take his life. He allows himself to wallow in self pity. It’s not pretty, but there it is. We, as people of faith, also fail at times. It’s not pretty, it’s not preferable, it’s embarrassing. It is also quite real. It did not render Elijah useless in service to God. As a matter of fact, one of the key elements of his recovery was carrying out a task God gave him.  Low ebbs happen to us all. Don’t be harsh with those presently in that place and if there yourself, know God provides a way out.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Upon what did Jezebel base her oath? (v. 2)
  • What was the Lord’s response to Elijah’s request to die? (vv. 5-7)
  • Describe Elijah’s thought processes. (v. 10)
  • What is the message of the events of vv. 11-12?

My Delight is the Lord, July 24

Ugly Faith

July 24, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 77

So what about when faith is ugly? What? One thing that the Bible does so much better than we do (among so very many things) is to be honest and real about what it means to be people of faith. We have ideals, goals, purposes and intentions, and expectations that are all of the very highest order. You know, that we be steadfast and immovable, always rejoicing, compassionate and merciful and kind and gracious, our speech always seasoned with salt, and so on. But we are not paragons of consistency or holiness or virtue. We may do well at times and have the best intentions and hold ourselves to very high standards. But honestly, we have days of trouble, we get weary, we moan, and our spirit faints (vv. 2-3). We fall so far short of what we want, we don’t like it, and it’s not very pretty. What you do here is critical. This Psalm begins, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.” If we’ll start where this Psalm starts, we’ll soon see those better days.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why would one moan when they remember God? (v. 3)
  • What is key to getting over difficult times? (vv. 11-12)
  • What events may be under consideration in vv. 16-19?
  • How are Moses and Aaron depicted? (v. 20)

My Delight is the Lord, May 10

Faith Alone Won’t Work

May 10, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

 Scripture Reading: James 2:14-26

It’s not good, and it is no good. Faith that does not act is no faith at all. It doesn’t matter how much we may know; it matters not the level of our conviction to the truthfulness of what we know; it does not matter if our practice of religious rites is precise; and it does not matter if our doctrinal understanding is to the highest degree of accuracy. The failure to take action makes that faith no good. It is no good because, as James says, it’s dead (v. 17). You feed the hungry and clothe the naked (v. 16), you obey God even when it is so hard (v. 21), and you serve God and His people even when it is risky to do so (v. 25). Yes, God wants us to know and understand and believe and be convicted; He also wants us to do! Faith alone does not save (v. 24). Period.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How does one show their faith? (v. 18)
  • What kind of faith do demons have? (v. 19)
  • What kind of person believes faith exists apart from works? (v. 20)
  • Based on Abraham’s example what is involved in belief? (vv. 21-23)

My Delight is the Lord, May 3

I Am Partial

May 3, Tuesday: Following God’s Way 

Scripture Reading: James 2:1-13

I like a good baseball game, ice cream, family time, and reading. You could say I’m partial to all of these, because I am. We all have things, activities, people, indulgences that we favor over other options. Nothing wrong there. However, some favoritism is absolutely out of place. Actually, it is sin. What comes so naturally to us and is perfectly acceptable in so many settings, can be very, very wrong. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (v. 1). Favoritism toward people has no place in the church, in the worship assembly, in the practice of our faith, none! Think about it. Do I in any way “honor” some people with my attention, greetings, and even acknowledgment while withholding it from others? This is not about me and my preferences and even my comfort level. This is about “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” No partiality.

Questions to Ponder:

  • To whom do we show preferential treatment at worship?
  • How might this situation be remedied?
  • Why can we not excuse the sin of showing partiality? (vv. 8-11)
  • How should we act and speak? (v. 12)

My Delight is the Lord, April 26

The Speed of Your Faith

April 26, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: James 1:19-27

At what speed does your faith operate? Now there’s a question you may not have heard before. But James talks about the speed of our faith; and by faith here, it is the practice of our faith. He identifies hearing as what we should be quick about but slow in speaking and anger (v. 19). How about us? What are we quick about and when are we slow? Am I quick to jump to conclusions, to be critical, to be harsh and judgmental, to talk about someone, and to let my emotions get away from me? Am I slow to be gracious, and kind, and forgiving, and forbearing, and merciful, and joyful? Am I quick where I should be slow and slow where I should be quick? Just like driving a car, it’s not just that it can go fast or slow, but it’s doing so when it should. Otherwise, it’s very dangerous. So it is with our faith.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What does it mean to be quick to hear? (v. 19)
  • What should be the goal of what is produced in our lives? (v. 20)
  • How do we sometimes deceive ourselves? (v. 22)
  • What can make our religion worthless? (v. 26)