Got Faith?

You’ve probably heard of the famous line on many billboards and magazines: “got milk?”  How about being asked the question: “got faith?” Let’s take a quick look at some heroes of the Faith. George Müller lived in the 1800’s and was well known for trusting in the Lord God of Heaven to provide his every need while building orphanages and caring for those who would fill them.

In Bristol, England, George Müller operated one of these orphanages for two thousand children. One evening he became aware that there would be no breakfast for them the next morning. Muller called his workers together and explained the situation. Two or three prayed. “Now that is sufficient,” he said. “Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered!” The next morning, they could not push open the great front door. So they went out the back door and around the building to see what was keeping it shut. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, “We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!”

Or perhaps you are well familiar with the great “Hall of Faith” as outlined in Hebrews chapter 11. In verse 38 we read about how many before us have walked in such great faith as to live a not so glamourous life and some even die very badly for their “faith”.

Which leaves us with something that we may ask ourselves – “How in the world can I obtain a faith like that?”  I want more faith, but how do I get it? Do I just not “believe” hard enough? What do I DO to get more Faith? Or do I just simply “ask” for it? Luke chapter 8 sheds some light on these questions. A man named Jairus was in desperate need of Jesus’ healing power to save his dying 12-year-old daughter. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue and believed that Jesus had the power to save her from the brink of death. A few verses later we meet a woman who had “an issue of blood” for 12 years. She somehow believed that if she just touched the very hem of His garment, she too would be healed, as she was, along with Jairus’ daughter. One thing they both had in common was a great, great need. When one is in dire need of physical healing especially, either for ourselves or a loved one, it certainly does bring us to a place to seek the Healer Himself. Regardless of the outcome, their faith was the “evidence of things not seen” Let’s dig a little deeper though and find the one hidden thing that had given these two such faith in Jesus’ ability to help them.

Jairus was a “Ruler of the Synagogue”.  The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that the Ruler is a “Senior official in the synagogue of NT times. His function was to take care of the physical arrangements for the services of worship, the maintenance of the building and fabric, and to determine who would be called to read from the Law and the prophets or to conduct the prayers. The office was sometimes held for a specified period, sometimes for life. This man was inundated with and Knew The Word of God.   He heard it all the time. He knew what the Law and the Prophets (OT Bible) said. What sets him apart from many people of the same time period who knew the Word, is what he did with the Word. He believed it and acted upon his belief.

Let’s now look at the woman who was healed from her issue of blood. In Matthew 9:20-21 we read that she came from behind and “touched the hem of His garment”. The hem is the key word here that says volumes about her. In Numbers 15:38 the Israelites were commanded to put “fringes in the borders of their garments” with a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. Fringe and Hem are the same word in Greek: Kraspedon, meaning “A common noun for a wing, the skirt or corner of a garment”.   Herein lies the source of this woman’s great faith. She also Knew the Word of God. How do we know that ? In Malachi 4:2 it says “But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings. She knew where to go, Who to go to, and how to be healed because she knew the Word of God and Believed it also. The common thread here is that they both had such a faith in Christ Jesus stemming first from their Knowledge of the Word of God. Then they believed. Then they acted.

Many, many people say they believe the Word of God, but do they even know the Word of God?  In Romans 10:16 we read in the NIV “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message…” The Greek word for hearing is akoḗ meaning “doctrine taught and received with faith”

Are you lacking in faith? Do you want more faith? Read the Word of God. That’s where faith comes from.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law does he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Mike Engel

The Rich Ruler Comes to Jesus

18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” 21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth (Luke 18:18-23).

Few of the religious rulers had any time for Christ, yet this man seems compelled to get an interview with Jesus. He is so serious about finding eternal life that Mark tells us that he runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before Him (Mark 10:17). His rich robes are all muddied in the dirt while he is on his knees blurting out, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” One of Satan’s schemes to deceive a man from turning to Christ is to have him look for things he can do to please God. People hope that God will see how hard they trying to please Him and reward our work by opening the door of the kingdom to us. Satan enjoys watching people work hard at trying to please God with their good works. He is the master of deception. The rich ruler had a serious question going on in his inner man— “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). This man had no assurance of salvation even though he thought that he had worked hard all his young life to gain peace with God. Before a man can receive the Kingdom, he must first see how far short of perfection he has fallen. The standard that God demands is perfection:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Our problem is that we are sinners by nature and fall far short of the standard God requires. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. It is in our very nature to sin. No matter how good a person thinks he is, just one sin makes us fall short of perfection and needful of God’s grace and mercy.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).

The Law and Commandments was given as a means for us to see how we have transgressed over the line into sin. How would we have known what sin was without the Ten Commandments? Paul the apostle wrote: “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law, rather through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). The importance of the law cannot be overstated. How can one have need of a Savior if he has never been convinced of his need? Presenting the gospel with no accompanying message of how a person has fallen short of God’s glory seriously minimizes the message to a person’s heart. A person loves much when he sees just how much he has been forgiven. Jesus stated it like this: “he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). The greater our perception of our personal sin to a holy God, the greater our love response when we are forgiven our sin. God is looking for a love relationship with His bride, the Church, you and me. We are given an inner conscience that tells us before we sin, that what we are about to do is wrong. It punishes us as a judge if we do not listen to that inner voice and still go ahead and sin. The Internal Revenue Service received the following letter from a conscience-stricken taxpayer:

“Dear Sir: My conscience bothered me. Here is $175.00, which I owe in back taxes.” There was a P.S. at the bottom that read: “If my conscience still bothers me, I’ll send in the rest.”[1]

This rich young man’s conscience was bothering him. John Trapp said: “Conscience is God’s spy and man’s overseer.” Jesus pointed him back to the commandments, so that he could see how far short he fell. Shrugging off his conscience he claimed to have kept the commandments since he was a boy, but still something was missing. The Lord saw his heart as only God can do and told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor.

This rich young ruler’s problem was that he loved things more than he loved God. The Lord considered this young man’s soul and saw that he was holding something back, and that it was keeping him from surrendering his life to God. Whatever crutch we lean on in life, God wants to kick away until we totally lean on the finished work of Christ. Christianity is not a crutch; it is a wheelchair—we lean our total trust on Him alone. The rich man walked away, shoulders slumped, face downcast, because his one thing that he was holding on to kept him from enjoying the spiritual rest of Christ. There is a rest for our souls when nothing is held back or kept in reserve, or leaned upon. Don’t let anything hold you back from total abandonment to Christ. He will be there to support you. That is the essence of faith. Keith Thomas

[1] 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Michael P. Green, Page 79.

The Great Banquet Invitation

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’ ” (Luke 14:15-24).

How lovely to us is the thought that eternity with Christ is pictured as a great banquet where all are invited. You are not left out! All are invited to the feast in the Kingdom of God. No matter what you have done, or where you have been, God offers a free pardon to you on account of the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross for you and as you. Of all the fun things that we get to do in this world, is there anything better than eating with friends, conversing, laughing and enjoying one another’s company? It certainly is my favorite thing to do, and no doubt yours too. In another place in the scriptures, Christ is pictured as standing at the door of your house, the house of your inner being, asking to come in and enjoy eating with you, suggesting deep intimacy with Him:

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).

The above passages suggest eternal bliss and satisfaction. Parties and banquets are all about fun, laughter and joy. To be around Jesus, to gaze upon His loveliness and laugh with him, seeing His glory and grace, and enjoying heaven with others that also love Him, what joy that will be! How humbling to realize that the God of the Universe wants to enjoy our presence over a meal that He has prepared. Jesus had been teaching concerning humility and reaching out to the poor and disabled by inviting them to a banquet. A man responds to Him by saying, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Verse 15).

It seems that the words come from one of the Pharisees reclining at the table where Jesus had been invited and was eating. It is difficult to judge the man’s motivation for saying such a thing. Was it a request to find out what makes a person worthy of being invited to share in the Kingdom of God? It’s even possible that he was saying, “I can’t wait for us to recline at God’s table together.” The Pharisees considered themselves as righteous; after all, they were meticulous about keeping God’s commandments. They could not conceive that there would be Gentiles or even Jews that did not keep the law at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). Jesus shared a parable with them that shook their thinking on just who would be in attendance at the feast in the Kingdom of God. He said that God invites the poor, the lame, the blind and the crippled into His kingdom, but those who made excuses would be shut out. Christ makes it clear that there is a free invitation to this banquet. Nothing can be done to deserve a seat at all.

There were no fixed price tickets to the best seats. It was by free invitation only. If you are a Christian, you have come to Christ at His invitation. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44). If you are not yet a Christian, today you have heard of the invite! You have been called and invited. The very fact that you are reading this study is proof that the Spirit of God has been drawing you to Christ. Some people are upset by the fact that the entrance to God’s Kingdom is by a free invitation only. They find it hard to receive grace or undeserved favor. Part of the reason is pride. They feel that they must accomplish something in order to earn their entrance fee, but no one gets into eternity by what they have done. It is only by God’s grace and mercy. Now that is something to receive and party about! Trust Him today, and if I don’t see you this side of heaven, I will see you inside the Eastern Gate when He comes (Ezekiel 44:1-3). Keith Thomas

Do Whatever He Tells You!

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Here is the only command that was spoken by the mother of Jesus—Do whatever Jesus tells you. This is exactly what sister Chang of Henan Province, China, did. The Lord spoke to her to do something that made no earthly sense at all. He told her to go and preach the gospel on the steps outside of the local police station. Such an action may lead to arrest even in Western nations, and in communist China it is a sure way to invite severe punishment. But the more sister Chang prayed about it, the more clearly the inner voice of God continued to tell her to do it. Finally, she saw no option but to obey God. Standing on the top step outside the police station, she boldly proclaimed the gospel to astonished onlookers.

Within a few minutes several officers dragged her inside and placed her under arrest. To the human eye her obedience looked foolish, but God can see things that we can’t. Sister Chang was sentenced without a trial and sent to the local women’s prison, where she was placed alongside thousands of spiritually lost souls. She boldly and lovingly proclaimed the gospel to her fellow prisoners. The light of the gospel spread like wildfire. Within just three months, 800 women believed in Jesus! The entire atmosphere of the prison changed, and new sounds of praise and worship were heard echoing down the prison hallways and in the courtyard. The prison director was greatly impressed at the change in the atmosphere and was able to trace it to the preaching of sister Chang.

He brought her into his office and said, “You have made my job easy! There is no more fighting between the prisoners and the women have become gentle and obedient. We need more people like you working here. From today, we have decided to let you go free. We want to give you a full-time job here in the prison, and we will pay you 3,000 yuan per month” (about US$ 375, a fortune in rural Henan province). He continued, “we will also give you a car and your own driver, and will find you comfortable housing.”  Sister Chang briefly considered the offer, and then replied, “Twenty years ago I became a disciple of Jesus Christ and he has been wonderful to me. I don’t believe your offer of a car, driver and salary is in line with what Jesus wants to do with my life, and I belong to Him. All I want to do is to preach the good news.” Despite her rejection of his offer, the director released her from prison that day, and she continued her ministry for the Lord. It always pays to do what the Lord tells you to do. Don’t argue, don’t fight about it, and don’t try to work out all the details with your mind. Just do it. That is the one mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

From the book by Paul Hattaway, Back to Jerusalem, Published by Piquant, Carlisle, UK.

Where Have You Left Him?

3If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! (Job 23:3).

I had the great privilege of leading a tour of 26 people to Israel for 10 days and taking my son, Simeon, then aged 21 with me. While in Jerusalem we were just preparing to go along the tunnels all along the western side of the Temple Mount itself. While we were getting the tickets for the 26 of us, without my knowledge, my son had quickly departed to put a written prayer into the cracks of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, a place sacred to Jewish people for they believe that the divine presence of God resides at the Wall. He forgot to tell people that he was just dashing down to the Wall. Consequently, only 25 of us went into the tunnels to explore the buildings that go back to the time of King Herod and Jesus. It was single file all the way as we walked the narrow tunnel along the wall. When we got to the North West corner of the Temple Mount, the wall opens up into a bigger area where we looked at an ancient cistern. It was then that the person at the end of the line came in and I discovered that my son was missing. Is there anything more terrifying for a father? To lose my son in a foreign city with a different language and culture made my heart fearful. I dashed back through the network of tunnels in search of him. Ten minutes later I found him waiting at the entrance to the tunnel network—he was really upset at his foolish choice to wander away from his father. It was a precious time as we hugged and thanked God that we had found one another.

Many of you that find your way to this website are looking for your Father. Somehow you know in your heart that you were created for more than what you are currently experiencing. There is a God shaped piece in the core of your being that you have tried to fill with religion, sex, food, cars, electronic gadgets—you name it! Satan, your unseen enemy has many toys that he will tempt you with, like a lure designed to attract a fish. God allows trials in our lives because He knows that only through the emptiness, difficulties and trials will you begin to seek after Him with all your soul and leave the toys behind. What do you really want at the end of your life? Will lots of toys satisfy you? I was blessed to have much of this world’s goods by the time I was twenty-one, but it just gave me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. What I really wanted was to search for my Father. And guess what? He was searching for me! He was never far away; He was waiting for me to find the bottom so that I could finally look up to Him. I searched five continents of planet Earth and 30 different countries searching for the truth. When I was ready and open to receive the truth—there was the Lord Jesus filling me with joy, life and peace. When I gave my life wholeheartedly to Christ, it was the greatest, most peaceful experience I have ever had. What joy floods the soul when a man gives up his life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and find His forgiveness for sin.

Isn’t it time for you to find your Father? Maybe today is your day to call upon Him. Keith Thomas