Faith Is Putting Words Into Action

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What Is Faith – Part 6

This will be the last article on this miniseries about “Faith”. We have learned about a lot of important truths in this miniseries that I have based off of a series of sermons preached by Leon Fontaine. He reminds us that faith comes from hearing God’s word, every Christian possesses faith, which is a matter of the heart, and that God really wants the very best for you and me, His children. (You can click here to go to the site where you can download past sermons as podcasts.)

In this article, I want to expand what I wrote about in Part 2 entitled, “The Facts About Faith.” There is great truth in the idea that words carry power. It is well known in Modern Psychology and in Counseling that words can be used to build up people or to cut people down. There is a positive effect upon people when they are complimented and encouraged, and there is a negative effect on people when they are criticized or ridiculed.

But there is a lot more that goes on in our use of words than just making people or ourselves feel good or bad. We should not analyze the power of words and simply on the psychological or emotional level. We need to realize that there is a spiritual level, or a spiritual reality, that can be tapped into when we speak. Again, let me state emphatically that I am not referring to the magical or ritualistic use of words.

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Listening to Leon’s sermon, he says that words literally function in three realms. The first is the physical realm and can be seen in something as simple as a person saying something embarrassing and then turning beet red. At a deeper level, when a person continually speaks negatively, that person is dumping chemicals throughout their body which will affect their mood and can lead to depression.

Words function secondly on the mental realm which is also at the emotional level. Loving words can build a person up and they both think and feel good about themselves. But as we know, too often, words are used spitefully and in a hurtful way which can destroy a person’s self-worth and identity. Even though the words that are spoken are often not true, when they are accepted as true by the person, then they become true.

And that leads us to the third level, namely that words function within the spiritual realm. It is at this level that a person sees himself or herself as God created them to be. It is at this level that we see God, life, and reality from God’s perspective as presented to us in Scripture and not as others around us might suggest, or what we may have been taught to believe within ourselves.

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What I am suggesting is that the words that we speak are a reflection of what we think and truly believe. And, as is well known within both secular counseling as well as in Christian counseling, you will ultimately experience what you believe. Therefore, if you are a negative minded person and speak negative words, then you will undoubtedly experience negative things within your life.

The opposite of this is just as true. If you are a positive minded person and speak positive words, then you will experience positive things within your life. In James 3:3-5 it says:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

A truth that can be surfaced from these verses is that we can determine the direction and the future of our lives simply by the words that we speak. For some, that could be a scary thought. I would like to suggest instead that this is an opportunity presented before each of us. With God’s help, and a positive attitude and beliefs on our part, we can in many ways control the outcome of our lives.

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Here is an interesting fact to consider: we can talk out loud at a top rate of about 150 words per minute, but our minds which are constantly thinking are “talking to us” at a rate of about 1300 words per minute. It is in this latter group that we get what they call “self talk”. So the question is, what is it that we are telling ourselves about God, life, and ourselves.

Let’s get real practical now then as we conclude this series on faith. The things that we put in our heart feed our minds, and our minds are constantly speaking to us. So have we accepted negativity and disbelief into our hearts? Then that is what we will feed our minds and what we will speak into our lives. We must not allow ourselves to do this.

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The solution then is to fill our hearts, even saturate them, with the truths about God such as His love and mercy and grace, all of which is found within the pages of Scripture. And that is where we started this series, namely that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Then as we discover the wonderful promises in Scripture meant for us, we must speak those promises into our hearts and into our minds and so by faith see them become realities in our lives.

In the 30+ years that I have been a missionary and minister of the gospel I have found the spiritual truths that I have presented above to be very real. My prayer is that you too would be able to walk this walk of faith and see God work in your life the same ways that I’ve seen him work in mine.

God Wants The Best For Us

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What Is Faith – Part 5

In our study of “Faith” so far, we have looked at some important foundational truths such as that faith comes from hearing, specifically hearing the Word of God, that faith is a matter of the heart not of the head, and that all Christians possess faith. The issue with many Christians I think, is whether they exercise their faith and what they believe they can do by faith.

Let me say this in another way. On the one hand, there are some Christians who after they have accepted Christ by faith, live their lives by the strength of their own hands and the power of their own intellect rather than calling upon God in faith to deal with the issues of this life. On the other hand, there are some Christians who “use” their faith to deal with everything in life.

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It is my opinion that the former group of Christians have not really understood the words of Romans 1:17 which state, “The righteous will live by faith”. That is, we are to exercise our faith on a regular basis involving the daily activities of our lives. But the latter group of Christians I believe, will many times inappropriately apply the promise given by Jesus when he says, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Surely there must be a middle ground between these two positions. And after listening to the next sermon about faith delivered by Leon Fontaine, I have found some very helpful points that I would like to pass on to all my readers. My hope is that we could all share the belief that is expressed in the title of this article, namely that “God wants the very best for us.” What amazes me and even distresses me is that there are still many people who believe God is a vindictive God or an uncaring God. But I will have to wait to address this in a future article.

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So let’s begin with this premise that God is a loving God and in fact does want the very best for us. Does Scripture support this idea? Two verses that immediately come to mind are Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” and John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” We must be careful though, in how we interpret these two verses.

The promise given in Psalms is not to be taken as a blank check to allow us to wish for and get anything that our heart desires. We must put the stress on the first half of this verse and realize that our primary activity is to “take delight in the Lord”. When we do this, we will find that our heart aligns itself with the heart of God and the mind of God. And so we will find that the things that we will desire will be the same things that God desires. So the emphasis in this verse should not be on our physical or material well-being, but must be spiritually oriented in its application.

The caution on the other side though, is that we may over spiritualize the promises of Scripture. And so some people will interpret John 10:10 as only referring to our spiritual life, and think that this verse is just talking about the wonderful life that we will share with God in heaven throughout all eternity. The truth is that in this verse Jesus is most certainly talking about the quality of life that we will experience here on earth.

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What I especially liked in Leon’s third sermon about faith that I listened to was the idea that “every Christian gets a measure of faith to start with from God.” We then have a choice to either exercise this faith, which will cause it to be strengthened and to grow, or not to use this faith and allow it to lay dormant and possibly even to wither away. It would be like the parable of the Talents, where those who used well the resources given to them by their master would receive more, and the one who buried his Talent lost even the one that he had.

Let us tie this in to another important topic in Scripture. In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14 and in Ephesians 4, Paul talks about the gifts that God has given to every believer. And then in Ephesians 2:10 he writes, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It would seem to me that whatever God has called us to do, and gifted us to do, God will have also granted us sufficient faith to be able to fulfill all that he has asked us to do. The example that Leon gives is that of young David. God had planted faith within him, and David had nurtured it and grown it to believe that his God could do great things through him. And when he encountered the giant Goliath, that faith within David rose up to meet the challenge, and as we know he was victorious.

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And so, what about you? Do you believe that God would want you to experience a better quantitative and qualitative life right here and now?  What helps me to believe that this is possible is to picture God’s nature and his resources for us are like a flowing river, always fresh and never depleted. This goes against the picture that some have that God’s nature and resources are like a pie which is cut up into small slices and carefully distributed to some individuals until it is gone.

I challenge you then  to read the New Testament and see whether or not my picture of God is contained there. And if God is truly a loving and generous God as I suggest, then align your thoughts with Him, rise up in faith, exercise your “faith muscles” and see what great and mighty things that he will do in you, for you, and through you.

Where Does Faith Come From

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What Is Faith – Part 4

Here is a short summary of what we have learned so far about Faith in our little miniseries of articles. First of all, we know that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) As an individual is exposed to the truth of God’s Word, a seed of faith is planted within the heart of that individual and by the grace of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that faith will grow and ultimately bloom when that individual makes an act of their will to choose to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The second thing that we learned, which almost seems too obvious, is that all believers then possess faith within themselves. But in a previous article we talked about how faith is like a muscle and needs to be exercised to stay healthy and grow stronger. So it is not a question of whether believers have faith or God, but whether or not they are exercising that faith.

A third thing that we have talked about with regards to faith, is that when we are truly exercising our faith, according to Mark 11:23, when we encounter major obstacles (i.e. mountains) in our life, we can speak out against that and have assurance that God will provide the means or the way for that mountain to be removed. Read last week’s article to see how God answered a major prayer request in our son’s life.

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Now I want to talk about where our faith actually resides. Pastor Leon Fontaine from Springs Church (Calgary) is right on when he says that “Faith is of the heart, and not the head.” To me, this is a crucial point since most of us in North America and Europe (and also now in some developing countries) have grown up in a highly technological age and exist in an evidence-based society. In other words, most people today would say, “Seeing is believing!” instead of “Believing is seeing!”

In our Western culture, it is very easy for us to try to deal with the many challenges and difficulties we face in life from a rational perspective. If it’s a financial issue we are dealing with, we try to work hard, spend wisely, and invest carefully. If it’s a medical or physical issue we are facing, we visit the doctor, take medications, and perhaps change our diet. Whatever the issue is we may be facing, more often than not, we try to deal with the situation first in our own strength.

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But that is not the way of Faith. Romans 1:17 tells us that “the righteous shall live by faith.” And I believe that here, and in other places in Scripture, when it talks about “living”, it is not just referring to our future eternal life with God, but also includes the idea of a full life here on earth. In John 10:10, in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, ” I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

I think what happens for many people when things continually seem to go poorly in their lives, is that they see the obstacles that are there and decide that 1) the obstacles are too difficult to be removed, or 2) they don’t deserve God’s help, or 3) God would not care enough about them to help. But all of these are just excuses to not “live by faith” and are results of people thinking from their heads rather than believing from the hearts.

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You see, from a biblical perspective, the “heart” is the central core and the place of true existence for us as humans. And that is why Scripture tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” And Jesus says in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The picture that I get from these verses is that our hearts are like gardens, which when taken care of well will produce beautiful growing flowers and plants and allows a sparkling and bubbling stream to flow out of it. But if we do not tend to our gardens well, and allow thorns, thistles, and weeds to overgrow it, then nothing good can come out of it. As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out!”

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So what does this all have to do with faith and our minds and our hearts? Our true existence is in our heart, but the things that we process and hold within our minds will eventually sink down to take root inside our hearts. Therefore, if we allow negative thoughts and ideas to continually be in our minds, or if we hold on to negative attitudes like bitterness, anger, critical judgments, etc., then over time, we condition our hearts to be a seed bed of negativity and doubt and unbelief.

Now that we know that faith comes from the heart and that the head influences the heart, we need to do like what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, to renew our minds so that we are not conformed to the ways of this world. Then, we are free to allow our garden within our heart to grow faith. But as with most things in the Christian life, this is not meant to be a one time event. Rather, this is meant to be an ongoing way of life for us.

Faith Is Rewarded

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What Is Faith – Part 3

During the past couple of weeks, I have been listening to a sermon series on “Faith”.  My plan for the article for today was to continue writing out my thoughts and summaries of what I was learning from this sermon series.  But something incredible happened this week that I just have to share with all of you. It is a story about how pure and persistent faith can overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.

This story concerns my younger son Glen, and is the answer to prayers that we have been praying for many, many months. In a previous article ( which you can read here), I wrote about this strong desire that my son has had to be able to join the Canadian military, specifically the Army. And finally, two days ago, Glen found out that he had in fact been selected and will head off to Boot Camp as soon as they phone him and tell him what those dates are.

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To appreciate the magnitude of how great an answer to prayer this is, I will need to go back and give you a lot of the background details that led up to this moment. It was while our family was working in Africa in 2006 and ’07 that our son first entertained the idea seriously about joining the military. When we came back from Africa, and while Glen was doing his last year of high school, he was involved with the Army reserves.

He found that fascinating and really enjoyed those weekends when they would go out on squad exercises, but it was too difficult to manage schooling and involvement with the military at the same time. So he put the idea of the Army to the side, finished high school, and then went on and completed a year of Bible college.

As soon as he finished that one year certificate though, he went down and immediately applied to join the Regular Forces of the Army. There was the normal bureaucratic hoops and paper trails during that summer of 09, but by September, Glen was offered the opportunity to join at that time. And he knew that this was what he wanted, but part of him felt that he was not quite ready and so he passed up that invitation.

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One year later, our son was not only a year older, but just a little bit more ready to enter into the world of the military. He was told that he needed to start his application again, and all of us were quite surprised to find that there was a job freeze on the military and that he would be put on a waiting list. This began the long road and test of faith for all of us.

Now I want to pick up the story from my perspective as a father. When Glen first started talking about joining the military, as a parent I naturally felt very concerned and worried for him. After having many talks with him, and after much thought and prayer, I arrived at the place where I felt okay about his desire. In fact, there came a day that God not only gave me peace about this decision, but also a conviction and assurance that this was the right thing for Glen to do.

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Over this past winter and spring, all of us in the family were actively praying that God would open up the door again for our son to be accepted back into the military. And every time that I talked with Glen, both of us felt that we needed to believe that it would happen, even though it seemed like all the odds were against it happening.

It seemed like every time that Glen would phone the military, he would get different answers as to whether there were positions available are not. Then about two months ago, we got our hopes up when Glen was called in for an interview (which went well) and he also passed the medical exam. But weeks went by and there was no news.

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Finally, it looked like a breakthrough when a few weeks ago he was told that he was on the “Merit List”. The next thing we heard was that there were 80 applicants for the remaining 20 positions. What an emotional roller coaster we were all on, but again, we stubbornly chose by faith to believe that God would open the door and allow Glen to be selected.

Then I remembered something that I had just heard and written about in last week’s article on faith. The speaker, Leon Fontaine, presented the idea that there are obstacles (i.e. mountains) in our lives, and that by faith we should speak, literally speak against these mountains to be removed. Again, this is not the idea of using words like magical incantations. But rather, it is a bold proclamation coming out from within of the faith that you hold to be true.

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And so, when they told us last week that this Tuesday was going to be the final day of selection, I felt empowered and emboldened within my spirit to lay claim to the biblical promise of Psalm 37:4, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I knew that Glen had committed his ways to the Lord, and I also knew that God had given me in the past the peace and the conviction that Glen should join the military.

Throughout the morning of Tuesday then, I not only prayed to God, but I prayed out loud to God to let this be the day that Glen would be accepted. What a great relief and joy I felt then, when Glen phoned at two o’clock in the afternoon to let me know that yes indeed, he had been one of the 20 who were selected to be accepted.

All I can say now is, “Thank you, thank you God!”  Just like the parable of the persistent widow, You showed us once again that when we have persistent faith in You, faith is rewarded.

The Facts About Faith

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What Is Faith – Part 2

This is the second article in this miniseries that I want to write on the topic of faith.  In the first article, “Faith Comes by Hearing“, we learned that faith is something that we can actually get.  And this comes, or begins, at the moment when we first hear the Good News about Christ, and accept that message as being true and we put our faith, or trust, in Christ.

What we are declaring is that everything that is said about this man Jesus is true, and that all the things that He has said are also true.  But there is one fallacy that I would like to correct that is in the minds of some people, namely that faith (or belief) is something that was important in the past, and will one day be rewarded in the future (namely our acceptance by God into Heaven), and have very little connection to our daily lives today.

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You see, true faith is not just a decision made in the past, nor is it just a spiritual reality that only relates to our future in Heaven.  Rather, faith is a journey to be traveled, and it is based upon a relationship with God, and is to be lived out in our daily lives..  Romans 1:17 says it well as Paul wrote, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

As we go through life and encounter all kinds of difficult situations, we must believe that God will work things out positively for us, or He will provide the resources (or the means) to be able to walk through those difficult periods in our lives.  Otherwise, all of the numerous promises found within Scripture (such as God being our Provider, our Healer, our Comforter, etc) get reduced to just figurative speech and are of little value to us right now.

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In listening to one of the sermons from Leon Fontaine on this topic of faith, he tells us that as Christians, we all have faith within us.  We do not need to psyche ourselves up to get or find faith, but rather, we are to actually exercise our faith.  When we accepted Christ into our lives, we were given the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

So the question is not whether we have faith or not, but whether our faith is active or if we let it lay dormant.  Jesus showed the disciples what things can happen when we exercise this kind of faith in Mark chapter 11. This is where Jesus spoke against the fig tree that had not produced any fruit and within a day it had completely withered from the roots up.

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When the disciples responded with amazement at this miracle, Jesus told them that they too could do mighty things simply by faith. He told them that the mountains can be moved by faith. (Personally, I take this to be one place where Jesus was using hyperbole or figurative language to teach an important truth.) The message that Jesus was trying to get across was that no matter what kind of obstacle lies in our path, by faith we can overcome.

There was one more point in pastor Leon’s message that I thought was interesting. He mentioned how Jesus told his disciples that they should “speak to the mountain”.  I think there is truth to the idea that when we actually speak something aloud that there is power in those words. Not that the words themselves carry power, because that would be very similar to the idea of using magic incantations, but rather by speaking them aloud it simply reveals the faith that is there in the person’s heart.

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I can still remember an event that happened in my life that I think can illustrate the things that I have just written. In my teenage years, I struggled with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and had to constantly be eating throughout the day to keep my sugar levels in balance. It got to the point by the time I was almost 20 that I felt like I was in bondage to food.

Due to the dangers of going into a hypoglycemic attack, which could look like I was having a seizure, I wore a medical alert bracelet on my wrist. But a very interesting thing happened while I was part of a traveling mission group. I had been studying the Bible on the topic of healing  and on one night that I was to lead the devotional time, I literally felt a surge of faith within me and I knew I was to speak these words of faith with regards to my illness.

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I turned to one of my friends in the group and I asked him to come over and take the bracelet off my wrist. When he asked me why, I told him and the group that I had a strong sense that God was going to heal me, but to actualize that faith I had to say out loud, “I’m healed! So now as an act of faith I want you to remove this bracelet.”

And guess what? Ever since that day in 1979, I’ve been free from the bondage to food and from serious hypoglycemic attacks. I still to this day believe that it was because I was walking in a daily relationship with God that I sensed him telling me that I was healed, and that when I spoke to my “mountain” that my faith was fully realized and actualized in my life. My faith relationship with God at that moment expanded beyond just the spiritual realm to impact me at the physical level.

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STAY  TUNED…

In a few days, I will listen to the next sermon on faith and then I will share what I’ve learned in another article. I pray that this article has been an encouragement to other Christians to speak out their faith and to see mighty things happen as well in their lives.

Faith Comes By Hearing

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What Is Faith – Part 1

Faith!  Do we have it?  Do we understand what it is?  Is this something that once we have it we always have it?  Do we exercise it?  Can we increase it?  Can we lose it?  These are all some very important questions for a Christian to ask.  Therefore, I will do my very best to try to find some answers to these questions.  I pray that the answers I give will not be just academic “head” answers, but life-changing “heart” answers.

The reason why these questions have come to mind to me now is related to my situation with my muscle disease.  It is very hard some days for me to have sufficient energy to be able to get out wherever I live, and to be able to get to a church, to be able to sit for the length of a worship service, to listen to a sermon, and then get home without being totally physically exhausted.

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A partial solution for me, and I emphasize partial, is that I have found a man who has been truly anointed by God to preach the Word of God with boldness and with great clarity.  And in our modern-day of wonderful technology, I have been able to download podcasts of his sermons on to my computer’s hard drive.  And since these sermons are so good, I want to share with you the wonderful insights into Scripture that I have gained by listening to some of his sermons.

This brings us to the topic of this posting, and will continue for many more articles, namely Faith.  Pastor Leon Fontaine, the senior pastor of Springs Church in Canada, has preached a four-part series on “What is Faith?”  But between the insights that he gives into this topic, plus me interjecting some stories and some helpful comments, we may end up with many more than four articles in this journey together on this question.

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Perhaps a good place to start is to highlight a few important verses of Scripture on faith.  Both Christ and Paul had a lot to say about this topic.  I think we should answer two very important questions right at the start: “What is faith?” and “How do we get it?”  Consider these two verses:

Romans 10:17  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  (NASB)

Romans 10:9-10  “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Romans 10:13  “… for whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

What do we learn from these few verses?  First, there is an important message that we must hear, but not just hear with our ears only.  We must hear this message and let it soak right down into our hearts.  This message is the good news concerning Jesus Christ.  We read about this good news of Jesus in the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  We read about how Jesus, who was and still is part of the eternal Godhead, came to earth as a man, taught people about the Kingdom of God, and then died on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all people, then came back from the dead and returned to God the Father in Heaven.

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The second thing these verses in Romans tell us is that we must believe all of this message in our heart.  Now we are not talking about sentimental emotion when we say “you must believe in your heart”.  No, we are talking about deep down within the core of our very being, we must make an act of our will and accept in the center of our being the absolute truth of this message concerning Christ.

And going one step further, when we truly believe that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice to  remove us from the guilt and penalty of death that comes to all those who sin, in effect we are bowing in submission to Him, for He bought and paid for our lives with His life.  So not only do we accept Christ as our Savior when we believe in Him, we also accept Him as our Lord.

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That leads us to the final important aspect of these verses, namely that we are to confess (meaning to “speak out”) with our mouths that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  We are to tell others about what we believe.  We are to testify with our own words that this Gospel message is true.  And the promise given to all who accept, believe in, and confess Christ in their words is that they will be saved.

Now the question someone might ask next is, “Saved from what, or saved to what?”  The best and most obvious part is that we are saved from God’s judgment upon our sins and the consequence of eternal punishment in Hell.  And the flip side to this is that we are then saved toward the joy of eternal forgiveness and to be able to live in God’s presence forever.

But the Greek and Hebrew words for “salvation” are much richer and complex than just seeing the result of our faith in Christ being a distant spiritual reward.  No, the concept of salvation really concerns the whole of a person.  Not only do we gain spiritual blessings when we believe in Jesus, but there are also many blessings that are connected with the physical world of here and now.

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It is important at this point to not get side-tracked on to wrong conclusions, i.e. “When I accept Christ I will automatically get “healthy, wealthy and successful” in all areas of life.  But we must not go the other way and reject the idea that Christ will not bless us financially, or physically, or relationally or in many other aspects of our lives here on earth.

And having said all that, this is just the introduction to the very important biblical topic of “Faith”.  Stay tuned for many more articles that will expand on this life-changing topic.

“Come, Follow Me!”

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“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 4:19

Last Sunday, we had the privilege to go to another church where Steve, a friend of mine, is the preacher.  He based his sermon off of the verse above.  He is doing a series of messages that includes looking intently into this verse.  He mentioned how last week as he was working through the topic of “Grace”, that he only covered one word: “Come”.  But he said he would do better this week, he would cover two words: “Follow me!”  That caused a ripple of laughter.

I was amazed though at how deep and broad of a message he was able to deliver from just studying these two words of Jesus.  I will not attempt to reproduce his sermon here, but rather, since I felt it was such a good message, I want to write down the key points that I remember.  I pray this would be a challenge and an encouragement for you.

To introduce the sermon, Steve reflected on the idea of what it meant to be a Christian.  He said that he, like many people, would answer the question of “So what religion are you?” with the answer, “I’m a Christian.”  But that does not say a whole lot, except to say that we have been identified into a specific category of humanity.  A much better answer, he said, would be to reply, “I’m a follower of Jesus”.  That says a lot more about how we life our lives, or as least ought to.

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Steve’s message had three main points to it.  When we follow Jesus, we will have real freedom, we will experience a great adventure, and we will live in a true relationship of trust.  Each one of these points were powerful reminders of what real Christianity ought to look like, and they pointed to the idea that these are realities that all people are seeking, but for the most part are finding their answers in the wrong places.

Take the first point: following Jesus gives real freedom.  Steve hit the nail right on the head when he said that all people are controlled by something, it’s just a question of what that is.  For example, if a person is worried about bills and debt, then he is controlled by money.  If a woman “flies” off the handle at every remark, then she is controlled by rage, and possibly by insecurity.

But when we let Jesus truly be our Lord, He then becomes our Master, but in reality He frees us from so many other things that would seek to enslave us.  We don’t have to worry about basic necessities of life, for He says, “Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these [other] things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  And if we don’t know what to do when life gets hard, but in faith asks God for wisdom, He will grant it.  (James 1:5)  And so much more will be ours when we give the control of our lives over to God, for we are even now seated spiritually in heaven and its riches and blessings are ours when we are united with Christ.  (Ephesians 1:3-14 & 2:4-10)

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The second point of Steve’s message was that when we follow Jesus, we will live a life of adventure like we had never dreamed possible before.  That is certainly been true for me and Jill, as we have literally traveled around the world a few times as we followed His leading.  But even if a person who is a believer in Christ has never traveled much outside the region of the country they live in, living a life of faith is an adventure, since we are trusting God to meet us at our point of real need and to take care of us from day to day.

And that leads into Steve’s third point: following Jesus is possible to do because He is trustworthy.  Many people have let us down, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  But we can never doubt Jesus’ love for us, seeing as He willingly went to the cross to die for us.  So when He promises that He will send a Counselor to help us (John 14:15-31), and that He will never leave us, but will be with us always, (Matthew 28:20b), we know we can trust Him.

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And so the question is put out there for all of us to consider.  We who call ourselves “Christian”, are we actually following Jesus, allowing Him to be the Master of our lives, or are we “Christian” in name only?  In this great adventure of life that we are all in, are we placing our lives into the hands of the One and only Person who is truly trustworthy, or not?

If you don’t know, then ask this question: what does you heart and mind focus in upon more than any other thing?  When things go well, do you give thanks to God, or do you reason that it was your hard work or maybe even just good luck that brought about the positive situation?  And when things get tough, do you work to find a solution, do you turn to pleasures of this life to ease the pain, or do you trust God and believe He is still in control and will bring good out of the situation? (Romans 8:28)

You know, in its very essence, being a follower of Jesus is quite simple.  He says himself that what is really important is simply this:  love God with all that is you, and love your neighbor as you would love yourself.  (Matthew 22:37-38)  That is what I would call an “active faith”.  That is what has been called “Basic Christianity”.  So what would you say?  Are you a “follower of Jesus”?

(Thank you Steve for an excellent sermon.)