Thursday, July 14, 2016

What is Faith???

Readings for the Day
Isaiah 19-21, Hebrews 11

Verses for the Day
"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Thoughts for the Day
The writer of Hebrews has been teaching about how Jesus' once and for all sacrifice was superior to the Old Testament sacrifices of animals. The ritual sacrifices commanded by God for the Israelites, were a shadow of what God would do for all mankind through the sacrifice of His only Son. Today, he turns to the subject of faith. He defines faith and gives several examples of saving faith in the Old Testament. People like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses had one thing in common, faith. They trusted in God's promises, as shown by their obedience to what God asked them to do. They had faith that trusting in and acting on God's promises would lead them to the best life which God had promised them.

The writer gives a concise definition of faith which is very helpful. He says, "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain about what you believe." Another great word for faith is "confidence". Faith is confidence that God will always do what he promises, even if we can't see the outcome right away. Then the writer says these incredible words, "Without faith it is impossible to please God". Why is that so? It seems like a sweeping generalization.

I think it means that God is pleased when we trust in him above all else. If we can do something without having to trust God, it isn't faith. Trust is relational and shows what you believe in and maybe more importantly who you believe in. We find the more we trust in God through faith our confidence grows. This doesn't mean we won't have times of doubting. Although doubting is the opposite faith, it is a very real and human tendency, especially when things go really bad. Rather than shaming or guilting someone who is going through a doubting period, we need to encourage and pray for them. Remember Jesus met Thomas in his doubt and allowed him to touch his wounds, after he was resurrected from the dead. God always reaches out to those who doubt in hopes they will believe and gives them evidence to do so.

Where is God calling you to trust in him in faith and reliance that He will do what He has promised? It usually is something we can't do without his help. The first temptation that Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness was to meet his own needs in his own suffiency. When Jesus was hungry in the desert, Satan tempted him to turn stones into loaves of bread. Jesus answered the test by saying, "Man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God." In that moment, Jesus trusted in God's promise that he knew and quoted from the Old Testament. Jesus memorized scripture and it was of great help to him in times of trouble. It reminded him of God's promises and he trusted in them.

As you recall how God has always eventually provided for you when you trusted in him by faith, it gives you the confidence to be sure of what you hope for and certain of what you believe!!

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