Discoveries in Faith

Short, uplifting Bible lessons designed to build faith and inspire obedience. 

Finishing Strong

Races are won at the finish line not the starting line, and so it is with life, marriage, investing and everything else in life that's important.  It is not how you start, it is how you finish that matters.

John 2 records the story of a wedding that started good but was about to become an embarrassment when they ran out of wine. Yet in miraculous fashion, Jesus helped them finish strong when He turned water into wine.  Then it was said, "You have saved the best for last." 

And isn't that what we want? We want our last years to be our best years.

1. To finish strong we must pray. Mary wisely brought the concern to Jesus. "They are out of wine." Is prayer your first response or last resort?

2. To finish strong we must obey. The servants did as Jesus directed. They filled the water jars with water, and notice they filled them to the brim. How is your obedience bucket? Is it half-full or do you fill it to the brim?

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."

What to Do When Someone Hurts You

How do we respond when we suffer unjustly? We should learn from Jesus. He was a Man of Sorrows. No one has suffered more than Him. His close friend Peter denied Him.

Based on the example of Jesus we should take these seven actions.

  1. When someone hurts us we should include them (Mark 16:7)
  2. When someone hurts us we should speak well of them. Jesus still referred to him by his positive nickname, Peter the rock (Mark 16:7, Matt. 16:17-18).
  3. When someone hurts us we should pursue them. We cannot wait for them to come to us, we must go to them (Luke 24:34, Matt. 5:23-24, 18:15).
  4. When someone hurts us we should honor them (Luke 24:34, 1 Cor. 15:5).
  5. When someone hurts us we should serve them (In John 21 Jesus helped Peter with fishing and served him breakfast).
  6. When someone hurts us we should restore them (John 21).
  7. When someone hurts us we should forgive them. To fail to forgive is to minimize the blood of Jesus and maximize the work of Satan. The devil is an accuser (Rev. 12:10). When we refuse to forgive others we participate in Satan's darkness and open ourselves up to his evil (Eph. 4:26-27, Matt. 18:34).

 

Will You Take Up Your Cross Today?

Following Jesus is not for everyone. All are welcome, but few are willing to make the necessary sacrifice. Jesus carried a cross and all genuine Christ-followers must do the same. 

Jesus said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). What exactly is the cross? 

  1. THE CROSS IS VOLUNTARY: The cross is not when something bad happens to you (sickness, unemployment, etc). The cross is when you choose of your own free will to die to something. There is nothing passive about the cross, it is an active choice. 
  2. THE CROSS IS PERSONAL: Each disciple must take up "his cross." What God is asking of you and me is different. We each have our own struggles and temptations to moritify. 
  3. THE CROSS IS DAILY: How much easier Christianity would be if we only had to die to self once; but, following Jesus is a daily, moment by moment reality. Jesus said we have to voluntarily take up our personal cross everyday and choose to follow Him. This is the way of the Christian. 

The Apostle Paul taught these same truths in Romans 12:1. Our sacrifice to God is to be

PERSONAL: "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God"

VOLUNTARY: "that you present your bodies"

DAILY: "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."

Honoring Law Enforcement

Jack Moore, pastor of First Baptist Church Fisherville TN, gave this timely message. Based on Romans 13:1-7,

  1. Everyone is to obey the authorities, 1a
  2. God has appointed all authorities, 1b
  3. To resist the authorities is to resist God, 2a
  4. Resisting authority brings judgment, 2b-4
  5. Chrisitans should set the example, 5-7

And if we don't honor law enforcement, Dr. Jerry Vines warns

  • We will have anarchy in the culture
  • We will have apostacy in the church.

Escaping Tribulation

 Luke 21:36 says, "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." 

Observe first, there is hope! Some will escape the tribulation to come upon the earth and they will be left standing when Christ returns. The travail of the earth will not bend them nor break them, because God will remove them from harms way. So there is hope for some. But what must we do to be included in this elite number?

Notice the standard. One has to be counted worthy. Only those deemed fit will be spared from wrath and able to stand when Christ returns. What does one have to do to be "counted worthy?" The text doesn't say, but drawing upon a wider range of scripture here are three possibilities. First, it surely involves the imputed righteousness of Christ. One must be in Christ and clothed in His righteousness. What else? Positional righteousness must be fleshed out in practical righteousness (Rev. 19:8). That is you can't just be considered righteous, you have to live righeous. Finally, when it says to be counted worthy I think of John 15 and the Lord's emphasis on fruitfulness. The fruitful Christian has Jesus living through them (Gal. 5:22-23) and they are influcencing others toward Christlikeness (1 Cor. 11:1).

Finally notice the way to worthiness which involves both watching and praying. Watch current events, being wise like the sons of Issachar. Watch over those you are discipling, don't let any sheep stray. And watch over your own soul and purity. Then pray for God's kingdom to come in this world and in your family. Pray for the bride of Christ. Also see Mark 14:38.

An alert and praying Christian is valuable to the Lord and He will extend special protective graces to that individual much like He did to Noah in the days before the flood.

How to Pray

In Mark 10 blind Bartimaeus asked Jesus for help. He shows us three essentials for effective prayer.

  • Pray persistently, verse 48, "many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more"
  • Pray specifically, verse 51, "that I may receive my sight"
  • Pray confidently, verse 52, "Jesus said to him, 'Go your way, your faith has made you well.'"

Staying Salty

I asked my dad, a retired scientist, about how salt loses its flavor (Luke 14:34) He explained that salt is sodium chloride, and moisture is what breaks the bond between these two elements. Water causes salt to lose its effectiveness.

In Luke 14:25-35 Jesus wasn't giving a chemistry lesson, rather He was teaching about discipleship. Jesus explained that just as moisture can seep in and ruin salt, so certain things can creep into the life of a believer and render them useless as a disciple.

According to Jesus three things can break the bond between us and Him.

To avoid being watered down by these invaders. We must hate, die, and relinquish. 

  1. Jesus said in comparison to our love for Him we must hate other people.
  2. Jesus said we must take up our cross and die to our selfish pleasures.
  3. Jesus said we must be willing to relinquish every possession and follow Him.

Jesus said we cannot be His disciple unless we keep the bond between us and Him strong. We must avoid anything that weakens our relationship with Christ. This is how we stay salty, and remain effective in the Lord's service.

 

Don't Forget to Use SOAP

It is about that time of year when serious Christians begin thinking about reading the Bible through in the New Year. It is good to have some kind of reading plan. Yet your goal should never be to fulfill a religious obligation, but to encounter the Living Lord. And for that, don't forget to use the soap! Here's what I mean.

Sometimes when I read the Bible my mind wanders. I stop and ask myself, "What did I just read?" Do you ever have this problem?

This little acronymn can help us stay focused and squeeze the most out of God's Word. 

S - Scripture: Read a passage or chapter from God's Word.

O - Observation: What are the major themes and key words? What jumps out at you?

A - Application: What is God communicating to you personally through this text? 

P - Prayer: Talk to the Lord about what He shows you from His word. Share with the Lord your dreams, fears, and desire to obey Him.

By using this simple SOAP technique you can experience the Lord every day. And spending time with God will help you have a happy New Year.

The Tragedy of a Man-Made King

The people of Israel made a huge mistake when they wanted to be like the other nations and have their own king. Notice the striking differences between Saul, their man-made king and Jesus Christ, our God-given King.

  1. Saul was tall and handsome (1 Samuel 9:2). Jesus lacked external beauty (Isaiah 53:2).
  2. Saul unsuccessfully tried to defeat the Philistines. Jesus successfully defeated Satan, sin, death, and hell. 
  3. Saul was self-absorbed, Jesus was a servant of all.
  4. Saul was disobedient (1 Samuel 13:13-14), Jesus was fully obedient, even to the point of death on the cross.
  5. Saul practiced necromancy (consulting with the dead), Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit. 
  6. Saul took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4) , Jesus gave His life.
  7. Saul's kingdom only lasted for a few years. Christ's kingdom is everlasting.

Are you looking for someone to follow? Don't make the same mistake the Israelites made, instead humbly yield to King Jesus. He is gentle, loving, and undefeated. You will never be disappointed by following Jesus (Romans 10:11).

 

The Impossible Law

Two observations about when God gave Moses the law on top of Mount Sinai:

  1. The law was heavy. Two tablets of stone weighed a great deal. Still today, the law is heavy isn't it? It is difficult to fulfill all the responsibilities of the law.
  2. The law was broken.  As soon as Moses came down from the mountain he saw the golden calf and got angry. He threw down the stone tablets and they shattered. Likewise, in spite of our best attempts at legalism, we blow it pretty quickly don't we?

God never intended for us to get right with Him through the law. The law is to lead us to Christ (Rom. 10:4) . Since we can't keep the law, we need a Savior who can fulfill the law and make us righteous through faith in Him. 

Spiritual Renewal Always Includes

During Josiah's reforms, "Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law" (2 Chronicles 34:14).

In the glory days of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, "Ezra opened the book" (Nehemiah 8:5).

At the start of our Lord's earthly ministry, "[Jesus] was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And He opened the book" (Luke 4:17).

Yes, my friend, if you are wanting a fresh touch from above, be sure and open God's book, the Holy Bible. 

The De-Glamorization of Missions

For many people, the idea of taking a mission trip involves getting on an airplane and flying to an exotic place somewhere around the world. This is high adventure and quite romantic. Feel the excitement of carrying Jesus to a distant place! But is this really missions?

Going to the ends of the earth is certainly part of our missionary assignment. But the same Lord who said we are to go to all nations also said we are to go next door. 

"In Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" is what the Lord said. 

JD Payne, missiologist at the Church at Brook Hills, said if a Christian would go to all the cost, trouble, and danger of traveling to a faraway place to share Christ, but not share Christ in his own community it would be a case of "missional malignancy." Strong words! But perhaps necessary for those who have swallowed the romantic notion that missions is always "over there" and never "right here."

  • Missions is the Good Samaritan helping the man in the ditch.
  • Missions is Jesus taking time with children.
  • MIssions is Philip on a country road, talking to a stranger.

Jesus said, "Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!"

So, by all means, keep buying those plane tickets. Go! Go! Go! Just remember missions is not a seven-day trip out of town, it is a lifefstyle lived 365 days a year.