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What is Faith?

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1 Corinthians 13:13

The dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in something or somebody”. The Bible also defines faith as the basis for understanding that our universe was made at God’s command (Hebrews 11:2)….tying in with the dictionary definition, because our confidence is in God who created all things. John spells it out in definite terms. “Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). John was referring to Jesus in his introduction to His gospel.

Somehow in the intervening time, since John wrote that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his firm conviction that God created all things has become distorted by the wisdom of man. Another idol has replaced God…the idol of scientific knowledge. Sadly Satan has succeeded in diverting man’s attention away from the One who designed the universe for a purpose. Hearts have become hardened. “For although they [mankind] knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). These have lost faith in their Creator.

One might ask “Why?” Is this a control issue? Why is it so difficult to glorify God for what He has made? Other questions come to mind. Is living in the darkness described in Romans, bringing any greater happiness into our world? We would do well to consider the situation in our world today when the environment brings us to the verge of extinction, because we have wasted our resources in indulgent living. There is certainly enough to go around if those who “have” would share with those who “have not”.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1). Paul writes to the church at Rome “Hope that is seen is no hope at all”. We don’t hope for what we already have (Romans 8:24). He notes that people have to wait patiently for the things we hope for to materialize.

Patience isn’t a popular virtue. We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get instant food and drink. We expect medication to bring instant relief from pain. Modern communication creates the expectation that our wants and wishes will be instantly gratified. Instead of developing patience, which actually is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within God’s children, we find ourselves getting angry if we have to wait. Might we suggest that patience while waiting is part of loving? Faith, hope and love – which is the greatest of these? (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Reflection:

“Hear the conclusion of the whole matter” Solomon wrote. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”. Whether we believe it or not, God is central to the life we each live and we will be judged for our faith response to Him. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). God offers us every opportunity for everyone to believe and worship Him. Just looking at nature leaves each of us without an excuse for not recognizing God (Romans 1:20). Through Jesus Christ He has made a personal relationship with Holy God possible, and offers us the gift of faith to participate in that exquisite relationship (Ephesians 2:8-9). The question is “Will we receive and believe?” (John 1:12-13). Will we accept God’s gift of faith?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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A Bowl of Stew

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Genesis 25:24-34

Many of us are familiar with the history of the Jewish nation, beginning with Abraham. Called by God from the land of Ur, Abram was promised that God would make him into a great nation that would ultimately bless the world. His name was then changed to “Abraham” which means “Father of a great number”. To this day numberless Arabs, as well as Jews, call Abraham their father.

Isaac, son of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah, became a quiet shepherd. He was 60 years old when his twin sons were born. As unalike as could possibly be, Esau and Jacob were different in looks, activity and tastes. God gave Rebekah some insight into what to expect of these children “Two nations are in your womb…one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). In those days, as throughout much of human history, the line of succession went to the eldest male child, so here we see God reversing the customary order of things.

Esau and his father were particularly close. Perhaps Esau was the man Isaac never had the courage or the disposition to become, and so he admired Esau’s wild ways and vigorous activity. Jacob, on the other hand was his mother’s darling. In due time Isaac fell ill; it looked like his days were numbered. The patriarchal blessing must be given before he died. Isaac wanted to celebrate the blessing with a little feast so he called Esau to hunt, and to prepare his favourite dish. What he did not know was that the boys had been involved in a discussion on the birthright many years before.

Esau had come home from hunting feeling famished (Genesis 25:29-30). Jacob was cooking, probably a stew of red lentils since these verses refer to it as “Red Stew”. As the elder son it was quite within his right to order his younger brother. “Quick!” “Look, I’m about to die!” Have you ever used language like that because of a perceived need? How serious that need was for Esau, we do not know. However, we do read that he was quite willing to despise his birthright, actually taking an oath when he sold it to his brother for that bowl of stew (25:33-34).

The time came when Esau recognized what he had given up. Bitter were his tears when he pled with his father to bless him too (Genesis 27:38). How thrilling it is to know that God is willing to restore us to the position of children of God, when we repent of our wrong choices!

We must note that Esau did what every human heart, without the Spirit of God must do – he vowed to take revenge. He blamed Jacob for the choice he himself had made. He entered into a covenant agreement, with an oath, to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. From Esau we must learn to put first things first, to value the privileges God has given to us, and to take responsibility for our own decisions.

Reflection:

Now the question is…what is the birthright of every human being? We have each been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). It is our right to call Him “Our Heavenly Father”, but do we? Have we been deceived about the state of our spiritual health, just as Esau was mistaken about his physical well-being?

What things take priority in our lives? Do we understand how certain things, or people, hopes and dreams can replace the treasured birthright we have, of being children of God. Satan will tempt us at our greatest point of weakness to believe we need something other than God, to sustain us in the moment. What bowl of stew is tempting you and me today?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)