What Color Is Faith?

 

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

Faith. How many sermons, how many lessons or studies have you had on on this subject?

The usual definition of faith is given in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. (KJV)

Or if you prefer:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)

So we could say there is that element of “hope” where faith is concerned, not just wishing but hope that is sure and certain. Now to the question in the title—What color is faith? Let me ask you this—what color do you see here?

Blue of course, but as you see there are different shades of blue—navy, aqua, true blue, sky blue. So it is with shades of faith. Hope is one shade of faith.

When Moses and the children of Israel were in the desert, they had an episode of victory over an enemy. The victory went to their heads and they felt emboldened to complain (as did their forefathers) about the manna, Gods’s very provision for them. Not only that:

…the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Numbers 21:4-5

Direct blaspheme against God could not be tolerated. God chose to send venomous snakes among them. When the snakes bit the people, many died. Finally, they came to Moses and confessed that they had sinned. They said,

“Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” Numbers 21:7

Moses did pray and God asked Moses to do a strange thing.

“Make a snake and put it on a pole; anyone who has been bitten can look at it and live.” Numbers 21:8

Strange. Making images of people or animals had been strictly forbidden. This required great faith on their part and trust that Moses had this thing right.

Ah, another shade of faith, namely “trust.” Sure enough, if they were bitten, Moses lifted up the bronze snake and if they looked at it, they lived.

Fast forward centuries later to a night when Jesus had a private conversation with Nicodemus, the Pharisee. In the conversation, Jesus said, 

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, [that detestable, deadly snake] so the Son of Man must be lifted up, [on that detestable, deadly cross] that everyone who believes  in him [truly looks toward him in faith] may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Thus the deepest shade of faith—belief. And Jesus offers, not just life from a snake bite, but eternal life. 

So there’s our shades of faith—hope, trust, belief. In keeping with our recent theme of gazing, not just glimpsing at God, I leave you with another quote from Tozer:

“We learn that faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.”

~ Joyce ~

 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

As I write this, my husband and I are having a get-away 50th anniversary celebration in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One feels a certain serenity in these beautiful Smokey Mountains, a sense of the majesty of our great Creator. 

We came here several times through the years and often brought youth groups to conferences. Now here we are—full circle. We tend to reminisce on such occasions. I’ve considered how faithful the Lord has been to us in these years through many productive times and in those difficult life challenges.

Great is thy faithfulness, oh God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee.

Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not. As thou hast been, thou forever will be.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

I came across an article the other day that so fit this topic. It came from the Glendale Star (a newspaper, I presume.) When I picked it back up, I smiled when I saw where it took place. Note the location.

A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member.

Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. They would not be able to use the new sanctuary until the church doubled the size of the parking lot.

Unfortunately, the church had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain behind the church.

Undaunted, the pastor announced Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain-moving faith.” They would hold a prayer service asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the dedication service.

That evening 24 of the 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for three hours.

We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” said the pastor. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time, too.”

The next morning there was a loud knock on the pastor’s study door. When he opened the door, a rough-looking construction foreman appeared.

“Excuse me, Reverend, I’m from the construction company over in the next county. We’re building a new shopping mall and need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay for the dirt and pave the area free of charge, if we can have it right away.

The little church was dedicated the next Sunday. There were far more members with mountain-moving faith on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week.

~ Joyce ~

David – Trusting

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

David is on the run with Saul in hot pursuit. Saul doesn’t like the women singing, “Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands.”

At first, Saul thinks he will get rid of David by getting him to enemy lines and letting the Philistines do him in through battle, but that doesn’t work—David is too good of a soldier.

Saul pursues David himself, trying to track him down. But that doesn’t work either, for David finds out that Saul knows his hiding place. David moves on and Saul finds his new hiding place, but David finds out that Saul has found his next hiding place. Well, you get the idea.

One day, David is in the back of a cave, unbeknownst to Saul. Saul just happens to have “the urge” and goes into the mouth of the cave to relieve himself. (Don’t you just love the real life aspect of Scripture?) David could easily come up behind Saul and kill him in one fell swoop, but David honors both the man and his anointed position. Instead, David cuts off a small piece of Saul’s robe.

As Saul is leaving the cave, David goes out and calls to him.

“My Lord, the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my own hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, “I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed… I cut off this piece of your robe but did not kill you. I Samuel 24:8, 10,11

Saul was striken by what David had done and said.

Saul wept aloud.”You are more righteous than I. You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. I know that you will surely be king.” I Samuel 24:16, 17, 19

David trusted the Lord to provide and indeed He did.

Last week, I was in such turmoil. With mother in the hospital  a second time, should I go forward with my own surgery, knowing I wouldn’t be able to take care of her? So many were encouraging me to go on. I could see no way to do this. But once I turned it over in God’s hands, He provided the right people in the right way, and with his perfect timing. 

Once I released it, I felt such peace. I still couldn’t see how the timing was going to work out, but He knew. I was admitted at 11:30 and mother was released at 7:00 that evening after I was settled in and when my daughter could get there to take care of mother. He has provided caregivers for us both. I am reminded again of one of my favorite verses—Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

~ Joyce ~


 

The Lord Doth Provide

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Bear with me this one last week as I share the way the Lord has provided in this time of weariness and distress. (See  the last two blogs.)

Exhausted as I have been, somehow there has been just enough strength for the next day. One encourager  reminded me of this verse:

[God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who [wait or] hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

I drew from this verse years ago when we were having trouble with one of our children.” We had to hope in the Lord or as one translation says, wait on the Lord to renew our strength. Waiting is a hard thing.  It was a long time before we could “soar on wings like eagles.

My husband and I were at Music Week in Ridgecrest, NC. during that period. An outstanding pianist played for the evening concert. He played beautiful pieces in many styles with dramatic flourish, great precision, and flamboyant passion.

At the end, he asked us to listen reverently to the last piece and walk out quietly. He proceeded to play a simple, subdued arrangement of “‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” I sang the words in my mind as I listened to the lovely, gentle melody. Tears came to my eyes as I thought about the dilemma with our son. “Trust, wait, hope in me” I heard Him say. Oh how that hymn ministered to me that night.

It was still a few years before we could “soar,” but in His miraculous way, the Lord turned things around.

You will understand then, how I felt this past Sunday morning  when our church pianist and organist played a beautiful arrangement, coupling “Claire de la Lune” with “‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” for the closing offertory. I closed my eyes soaking in once more those meaningful words.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

One reader received last week’s blog after coming out of ICU to a regular room. Another reader said she was sitting in an oncology office when the blog popped up on her iPhone and ministered to her. Others expressed gratitude as well. You see, God uses our stories to help one another with their stories. His timing is always perfect beyond our knowing.

I couldn’t let these works of the Lord go by without sharing them with you. Praise His holy Name! My mother is beginning to settle in at the assisted living place. Thank you for your prayers for us.

Next week, David marches into his own kind of battle.

~ Joyce ~

David – Up for the Challenge

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We left David playing soothing tunes for King Saul’s troubled soul. (Last week’s blog.) David didn’t stay at the palace, however, he went back and forth from shepherding in the hills to playing in the palace only on occasion, because Saul was often out leading a battle.

David’s three older brothers were away in one of these battles. Jesse, David’s father, worried about the sons and told David to take grain, bread, and cheese to his brothers and see how things were going.

David follows his father’s directions and off he goes to the Valley of Elah. He finds the Israelite army cowering on one side of the valley and the Philistine army on the other side. David chats with the soldiers and discovers that one very large Philistine has been in the valley, shouting challenges to Saul’s army.

David asks, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” I Samuel 17:6

While the experienced soldiers shudder at the daily challenge from this giant of a man, David is asking, “Who dares to defy God?” 

Meanwhile, the angry, jealous brothers find David. (Remember, they were not chosen by Samuel to be anointed as the next king.) The oldest brother plows into him.  

“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is: you came down only to watch the battle.”

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” I Samuel 17:28-29

Kind of reminds me of Joseph’s brothers. Well, word gets back to Saul about what David has said and Saul calls him in. David declares,

“Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” I Samuel 17:32

Saul protests that David is only a boy and this Philistine has been a fighting man for a long time, not to mention his tremendous height!

David assures Saul that he has killed a bear and a lion to save his sheep and this Philistine will be like one of them because he has defied the living God. And so we have the reason David has no fear.

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” I Samuel 17:37

David has learned to trust God. He has seen God at work in His life and trusts that He will provide again—a great example for us.

Every third Sunday, I teach our Sunday School class. There are times I wonder how it will go, then I lean on the Lord for guidance and to give me words. I’ve seen Him do it over and over again, which lessens the fear of failure. How does the Lord prepare you so you can trust Him with your fears?

~ Joyce ~

  

 

Fear – One Thing We Can Do

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

In the midst of our political convention battles these past two weeks, I find myself feeling weary and bewildered over this presidential thing. Some of you may have strong leanings toward “him” or “her” or you may be like me, shaking your head in disbelief of either one. I will vote. I feel it is my duty and my privilege, but it will not be a joy.

Along with the fears for safety in our country and our world (last week’s post), many of us have fear about where we might be headed politically and socially, as well as spiritually and morally as a country.

It seems so trite to say, “Pray and read the Bible.” It feels like the pat answer we would give as a child in Sunday School. However, that’s exactly what we need to emphasize.

Recently, a friend gave me a tea towel with Scripture verses printed on it. It’s about 2′ by 3′. When I looked at all those wonderful verses that I have memorized over the years, my heart was full. No way was I going to wipe my hands on that cloth!

Instead, I decided to tape it to the back of my study door. When I come to my study for morning devotions, I close the door and there are those great verses. I choose one to think about during the day.

Here are a few. Perhaps you would like to print these off and focus on a verse a day. I begin with one of my life verses.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 5:3

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.  Isaiah 26:3

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

He makes all things beautiful in His time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

We walk by faith and not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7

And finally:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

May His word give you strength this week and ring true in your heart and mind. May His word calm your anxiety—one verse for each day. Like the sweet lady in “War Room,” may you line your walls with these and other verses that will draw you near to our Lord, thoughts that will give light to your feet and path.

I would love to hear the verses that strengthen you in your walk in these days; there are so many.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Do You Love Me More Than These?

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

 

My husband Jim had been serving for several years as Minister of Music at our church. The chairman of a search committee called from another state and wanted us to come for an interview/visit. Seems like a simple thing. Go. Check it out. Decide. But here’s the back story. Growing up, I had moved every two years of my life (my dad’s job.) I was well settled for a few years now in our comfy home and active church. Our two small children were happy. The work was going well at church. Relationships were warm and friendly and to top it off, my parents had just moved to our town—the first time I had had them close in our married life. My little nest was just fine and dandy, thank you very much!

This inquiry to uproot did not set well. I hardly wanted to pray about it. Jim felt like we needed to at least check it out. How could we know it was not of the Lord if we didn’t follow through?

One day as I walked down the hall to our bedroom, I looked at the little plaque I had hanging on the wall.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him. Proverbs 3:6 (KJV)

“Acknowledge ” seemed to stand out like a flashing neon sign. “Okay, okay, I’ll talk to you, Lord.” I prayed obediently, asking for His will to be done, but begrudging the possible “consequences.” I thought about leaving our friends. I thought about our responsibilities at church. Who would do this? Who would do that? After all, weren’t we indispensable? The idea of Mom and Dad moving to town and then telling them, “Well, sorry, we’re moving away.” was more than I could even think about.

I knew the rest of the two verses from Proverbs and mulled over the words.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3;5-6

I agonized many days in prayer, trying desperately to “trust” and “lean” and “acknowledge” Him. Then one afternoon, as I sat on the sofa, He clearly spoke the words in my mind, “Joyce, do you love me?” Like Peter, my response was, “Why of course, Lord, you know I love you.” He didn’t tell me to feed his sheep; He just kept asking, “Do you love me more than these things?”

It was a process, but I finally realized that he wanted my full commitment to acknowledge Him more than anything or anybody else and to seek His will rather than my own. I asked Him to help me with the desires of my heart until I was finally willing, truly willing.

We traveled to the new church to visit. It was a pleasant enough experience and we weighed the possibilities. A couple of weeks later, the chairman of the committee called and said that the pastor had resigned to go to another church. The search for a Minister of Music would have to stop while they began the process of searching for a pastor. As quick as the door had opened, it now was shut.

You can see the obvious life lesson for me in this incident. He had tested me and taught me. It was not time for us to move on yet, but He wanted me to see that I needed to be willing and to learn the hard lesson of trust. In all of life’s decisions, He wanted to teach me that the first thing I need to do is to acknowledge Him. In so doing, I say to Him, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

Perhaps you have had such a life lesson. I would love to hear about it.

~ Joyce ~