Monday, January 20, 2014

Looking From Afar

****All highlighted words are linked to scripture reference.  Click on word to view scripture.

All of us, at some time in our Christian walk, want more faith. Faith is the integral part of our walk with Christ, but it can be a struggle. We know God is not pleased if we lack faith, yet we don't always have it. We don't always understand faith, but daily we know we should be learning how to stand in faith, no matter what the circumstances. The first thing we need to become a follower of Christ is purely to have faith and believe. There are many ways to express our faith and many descriptions in the Bible of how to walk in faith. Even the Word of God  speaks of faith in things that are not presently available to them.

On our journey as Christ-followers, we are called to have faith in His character, His faithfulness, His promises, His law, and faith for our daily bread.  As we travel down the road of faith, we are confronted with bumps in the road that can cause us to trip and scrape our knees.  When this journey is interrupted, we question our faith and His faithfulness.  We wonder: Why did He let me fall?  Did I fall because of my lack of faith?
The Jewish widow from Zarephath possibly had those questions as she was trying to survive the drought. 1Kings 17 tells us that the widow and her son were starving and waiting to die.  When the prophet Elijah asked her to feed and support him, she did.  The scripture does not refer to her thoughts or why she obeyed Elijah, even though she was filled with fear.
From examining the culture and history of the time that she lived, we know several things about the situation and how it relates to our walk of faith:

The widow had been taught since childhood of God and who He is: 
She, like many of you, knew all about God and His character.  He had proven Himself many times, in spite of her present circumstances.  Even though she was close to starving to death, she knew God's character and that if He asked her to do something, He would come through.  No matter the circumstances, you too know God and His character and can be sure of His faithfulness.  You can have confidence that God will come through.

It was Biblical law for Israelites to care for the prophets of God:
The widow from Zarephath knew God's Word and His law.  She believed in it and in His promises. She also knew that following God's law would bring blessing.  As you read the Word and God reveals His plan to you,  you can have FAITH that He follows through on His Word, and that by following Him and trusting His promises, you will be blessed.

Elijah was a well-known prophet of Israel:
In I Kings 18, Ahab referenced Elijah as the "troubler of Israel", demonstrating that  Elijah was well-known throughout Israel. Because of his reputation and testimony, the widow knew that his word could be trusted.  At times, when you are asked to take a step of faith, a word from a pastor, elder, counsellor or trusted friend can give you the faith and confidence to step out.  Wise words of  counsel and the testimonies of others who have taken similar steps of faith can help you know that your step of faith is moving in the right direction. 

She had no physical means to do what God had asked her to do:
According to Jewish culture, a widow could not get a job.  She was just waiting for her son to get old enough to work. In the same way, MANY times when you are asked to take a step of faith, you do not have any physical means to do what God has asked you to do.

Hebrews 11:13
 These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and were looking from afar by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.

Hebrews 11 speaks of many men and women of great faith.  There are similarities between their faith stories and that of the widow of Zarephath.  They were sustained by their faith and had vision for the future.  They were "looking from afar".  They saw beyond their present situation and looked at the eternal value of their step of faith.  Some of them did not even see the promise in their lifetime, but  were looking to the promise of their heavenly home.  They knew that what they were doing was worth much more than their present situation and their worldly sacrifice. 

 Someday, you may be asked to take a huge leap of faith - a step of faith that will completely shake up your world as you know it, when the only thing you can stand on is the faithfulness of God, the laws and promises of the Bible, and wise counsel or testimony of others; a step of faith that seems completely crazy because you have no physical means to support what you have been asked to do.  I pray that at this time, you will "look from afar".  I pray that you will not look at your present circumstances, but will see the eternal significance of your decision.  I pray that this knowledge of the eternal value of your decision and the promise of your heavenly home will sustain you while you walk out your faith journey.

*****Highlighted words will take you to scripture references

Click highlighted text to read "Do i t Afraid":

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do it Afraid

 As a young child, fear became very real to me.  I remember when fear was first planted in my life.  I dreamed I was in a tall stadium at the steepest point completely alone.  I was petrified with fear of heights in the dream. At that point, I was made familiar with all the feelings of terror.  A  seed of fear was deeply implanted in my heart and mind.

 Fear is a very real enemy that we all experience. It lurks around every corner, creeps into our minds every hour, surprises when we least expect it, and throws us violently into moments of weakness. Fear is looming and patiently waiting with claws out and fangs ready to suddenly pounce on you without warning, and overcome you with terror.  

As a young child, fear became very real to me.  I remember when fear was first planted in my life.  I dreamed I was in a tall stadium at the steepest point completely alone.  I was petrified with fear of heights in the dream. At that point, I was made familiar with all the feelings of terror.  A  seed of fear was deeply implanted in my heart and mind. Throughout my life fear was cultivated until the giant of fear itself was larger than any trial I should have feared.

I was afraid of junior high, afraid of high school, afraid of getting fat, afraid of failure, afraid of being in the military, afraid of leaving the military, afraid of chronic illness, afraid of death, afraid of losing someone I cared for, afraid of being abandoned, afraid of being rejected, afraid of heights afraid, afraid, afraid......  The big ugly monster of fear stood looming over my every move. Fear would make me freeze and over analyze every situation until even false realities became real in my head.  Fear became such a reality to me that it presented itself in physical maladies.  I was tested in the military for dyslexia and ADD.  All findings were inconclusive and I was cleared from having dyslexia or ADD. The true diagnosis was my  mind was spinning with fear and confusion.  My head was so clouded with fear that I could not see or think straight.  

Fear is familiar to all  and is a foe that should be dealt with it keeps us in bondage and prevents us from moving forward in God's best.
I want to look at a particular story in the Bible of a widow women that was filled with fear.  She was alone with her son living through a two year drought.  She was down to her last amounts of oil and flour and was waiting to die.  Then she was asked to do a courageous thing from the prophet of God, Elijah.  Elijah called to her, "Bring me a morsel of bread out of your hand."

I Kings 17:12 And she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

The widow woman had every reason to be afraid, and not obey Elijah's commands.   Her statement was filled with dismay. She had very little will left in her to live. Her words weren't not filled with hope and optimism.  She did not erupt with words of faith. She did not proclaim, "  As you have said, Elijah, the Lord my God Shall surely do it!"  If you study the Hebrew definition of the word "die" as regards to passage of the widow women.  The word actually mean "to kill"  She was basically saying, "  I am waiting to be killed."  "Why don't you just go ahead and kill me and my son, Elijah.", "Death is surely imminent for me and my son."  

 What can we learn from the widow woman in this passage?  The element that most stood out to me is that she, "did it afraid."  "Do it afraid" is an old military term.  Military Sergeants would encourage us that it did not matter how we felt we should do it anyway.  That the mission was more important that our feelings.  Fear is only a feeling.  It does not determine the success or failure of what God is asking us to do.  If we submit to fear we can be frozen in whatever state we are, and not move to the greater things of God.  Today I encourage you to "do it afraid."  To move into the greater things of God.  In-spite of whatever you might see around you, whatever you might perceive the outcome,  or whether you are filled with insecurity about you abilities to complete the mission.  "Do it afraid."

For more articles on faith click on links below:

Like Moths to a Flame
God Loves You, God Loves Me, He's Got Great Plans for Our Lives
Ryan's Story
Are You Afraid in Your Own Home?
Looking from Afar
Do it Afraid
My Grievances with Greif