Monday, August 10, 2009

Words of Encouragement

I was talking to my husband about what he was studying this week. He told me he was studying about faith in God. He mentioned that there is faith in God's will, faith in his character and faith in God's ability. As I listened to what he was studying, I thought it would be a good lesson for this week. I hope this lesson will bless you this week as we talk about faith in God.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. - Deuteronomy 7:9

A Faithful God. Today's scripture talks about the faithfulness of God. There is a promise in this verse. What is that promise? The promise is that God wll keep his covenant (his agreement). What did he promise? He said he would love generations of those who love him and keep his commands. The encouragement is to remember that the Lord is the only God and he is a faithful God. If God is faithful then that means we can trust in him.

There are some key points that we need to see and that is the promise of faithfulness is given to those that love God and keep his commands. We know that God loves all people and he shows that love because he continues to seek the lost, but the promise of the covenant is to those that belong to the Father. This means that we can seek from God and know that because we are included in his covenant of love we can find him and the answer to our prayers. Today let us rejoice in knowing that we have a faithful God in whom we can place our trust.

Prayer: Lord, today we thank you for first being a faithful God that keeps his promises. We have the assurance of your love and of your mercy, which is new every morning. Thank you for today's new mercy and your continued show of love. Amen.


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

Our Faith in God. What makes us able to have faith? We all have faith in something. We have faith in our own abilities, or in people or in things. If you sit in a chair again and again, after some time you trust that chair will continue to hold you. If you sat in a chair and each time you sat in it, you fell, you would not trust that chair to be useful. While this is a simply explanation, it is how faith works. Faith is simply trusting in something or someone to be reliable.

The faith we place in God is trusting in him to be reliable. We can know that God is reliable because he tells us he is and his history with his people has shown him to be so. This is a simply faith. What about a deeper faith, a trusting in God in those areas that we have never had to rely on him before?

The faith that we must have in God is one that says I trust him and am sure of his faithfulness. Because I am sure of his faithfulness I know what I hope in. We talked about hope last week, and we ended that on talking about our hope not being in things but in God. Therefore our hope in God is assured because we understand God to be faithful to the faithful. In this way we can have assurance of him providing even for those things we do not yet see. We may not yet see our release from our situations (lack of money, sickness, relationship problems), but we have a hope in the faithful God that will take care of our needs.

Prayer: Lord today we thank you for being the faithful God that we place our faith in. We do not trust in ourselves or in things because they are temporary, but you are eternal and everlasting and you never fail. Thank you today for your faithfulness in taking care of the needs of your children. Today we pray not only for ourselves but also for others that we see in need of a hope, a hope in you.

Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." - Romans 3:2-4

Faith in the Character of God. The question asked by the apostle Paul is if someone lacks faith does this nullify God's faithfulness? His response is NO (amen to that). This scripture speaks to the character of God. God is who he is not because of us or how we respond to him. He is! God's character does not change, but his character can change us! The scripture says that God is true and every man a liar. God's character is the total essence of truth, there is no wrong found in God.

Even when we lack faith (and if we are truthful to ourselves, sometimes we lack faith in the ability of God), God does not change. I rejoice because in those times when my faith is waning, the character of God helps me to see his faithfulness. I'll give you an example. Have you ever been in a situation where it did not seem to be going your way? Maybe you had a bill that was due and no money in sight. You began to doubt if things would be taken care of. That doubt is simply a lack of faith. Yet, it did not change God's faithfulness or his promise of love to those that love him. So from no where came the provisions for that bill. You rejoiced "after" it was paid, but you complained before it was. Your complaining did not stop God from being faithful.

I don't know if you're hearing me, but I rejoice in this reminder myself. I've complained when I didn't see my way. I've complained when I wanted things to stop. But my complaining did not stop the faithfulness of God. He still blessed me even when my "doubt", lack of faith in his ability in this situation rose its head. His character did not change, but his character is surely changing me!

Prayer: Lord, first forgive us our doubting and help us in our unbelief. Not just the unbelief in your word but our doubting your ability to care for us when we face difficulties. Help us to hold onto the assurance you have given us that you will never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you for being a faithful God and help us to be a more faithful people. Amen.

 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers. - Exodus 35:33-35

Faith in the Ability of God. This scripture is talking about the work that was going on amongst the people of God regarding the requirements in the tabernacle. This scripture states that artistic abilites were given and that two men were give the ability to teach others.  It talks about the craftsmen and designers. These are all abilities that we sometimes take as just someones skills. However, the scripture reminds us who gives individuals abilities to do the artistic, the craftmanship and the designing. These gifts and all good gifts are pass down from the father above. Simply put, God is the giver off all gifts (to all mankind God gives natural gifts). There are other gifts that God only gives to his children by redemption (spiritual gifts).

What is the significance of this? It is to remind us that abilities come from God. I cannot write books, poems or any such thing had God not "wired" me a certain way. These gifts then should be given back to God so that he can use them along with the spiritual gifts he gives to add to the kingdom. Gods abilities work in several ways. He first enables us by giving to us natural talents and spiritual gifts. This enabling serves to be the avenue of God's power at work in the world.  The second way his ability works is that he is able to do as he says he will as well as he pleases. You and I have really no choice in how we are "abled". Meaning I did not decide what natural talents I would have. Nor do I chose what spiritual gifts I will have. God alone makes that choice and he does it because he knows what he wants to accomplish through every single person.  It should also encourage us by knowing that God has the ability to not only gift us, but he is able to take care of us. He is able to answer our prayers, change our lives and keep us in times of difficulties. God is more than able.

Prayer: Lord, today we say, we believe. We believe in your ability. You are the great God of all gifts. If you can give gifts as you choose, surely you can keep each of us. We believe in your power to save and to keep us until that day of judgment. We believe you are a God of love that will show us mercy and guidance. Today we settle it within our souls that if you say it in your word, even the devil himself will not shake that truth. Today we have faith in your ability. You are able. Amen.

 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.' "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:13-15

Faith in the will of God. Joshua was reminding the children of Israel about the goodness and faithfulness of God. Inspite of their continued disobedience, God showed himself faithful to them. Here Joshua reminds them that they have lived in areas they did not build, ate food they did not have to work hard for. God did the work. Therefore, he says serve him and let go of those other gods you have served before. Make the decision today to serve the one and true God.
The scripture serves today as a admonition for us to examine ourselves. Let's take a quick history lesson in our lives. Has God opened doors that you could not open? Has he provided provisions that you did not have to toil for? Did he provide a roof over your head, that you know you really shouldn't have, but he gave it to you? Then if so, the call is to be reminded this came about all because of the ability and character of a faithful God. He keeps his promises even if we falter and become weak. He calls then for us to turn away from all those other gods we served. What gods did we serve? We served ourselves, that false trinity of Me, Myself and I. We served the god of lust, seeking to please our flesh, we served the god of self-importance, and the list goes on. In one scripture from Jeremiah is said that the people had more gods than they had cities. That's how much we put in front of God. But today, we are called to place our faith in the will of God. That requires us to seek after what is pleasing to God. Today we make this stand as Joshua did, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord, because that is the will of God.
Prayer: Lord as we go to worship this weekend, help us to renew our faith in you. If we have seek that our faith is not as it should be, then we ask you to help us move from faith to faith, from glory to glory. Help us make the choice of yielding ourselves to you so that we can become the people you have called us to be. We no longer want to be a surface believer, but we want to go deeper. Have your way in us. Amen.