Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week Three - Believe

“Be not afraid, only believe.”  Mark 5:36  

“Only believe, only believe.  All things are possible, only believe”.  This is the only phrase of this song that has stayed with me.  I sing it when I need to be reminded.  There is nothing too hard for God.  There is nothing out of his control.  I need not fear whatever is before me – I have only to believe.
But believe what?  In this passage a man named Jarius has a daughter who has just been pronounced dead.  He had been trying to get Jesus there before she died so he could heal her, but it appeared to be too late.  Jesus’ words came straight to Jarius, “Be not afraid, only believe.”  And then, Jesus restored the girl to life.
It shows me that when bad news comes we need to focus on hearing Jesus’ words and we need to believe Him.  We need to keep our confidence in Christ no matter what news we hear.  We can believe that He will act for good in our behalf.  We can believe that He will keep the promises of His Word.  We can believe that He is the Master of the universe and able to subdue the world.  We can believe that he will do what is for the best.  We can depend upon Him.
So when you hear bad or disturbing news do you allow fear to take over, or, do you calm down and hear the words of Jesus and believe Him?

“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  Galatians 3:6
Abraham was certainly a man of faith. He went out from his wealthy home in Ur to look for a city of God.  He became a sojourner and watched God protect and increase him.  He had all sorts of family problems, personal struggles and made mistakes.  Yet his faith was strong.  Strong enough that he was willing to sacrifice his long awaited promised son.  Though many times things looked really bad for him, he did not lose his faith in God.
This isn’t a righteousness based on works.  It is a righteousness based in belief.  He counted God faithful and did not doubt.  He is an example for us. 
Now, we are unlikely to hear God call us to do the things Abraham did, but we are still called to believe God.  We will face hardships, family problems, personal struggles, and might even be called upon to sacrifice something or someone we love, but none of those things should deter us from our believing faith in God.
It pays to believe God. God will always honour those who honour Him.  He will bless those who bless Him.  Believing God is to put your confidence in Him.  It is to rest assured of His hand in every area of your life.  Believing God brings not only the reward of eternal life, but also the favour of God in this life.
Are you missing out?  Do your doubts keep the blessings of God at bay in your life?  Do you really believe God is able?  God is willing?  God is good?

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6  
“…believe that he is…”  I like the way Barnes explains this little phrase, he writes:  “That God exists.  This is the first thing required in worship…we do not see him, but we must believe that he is; we cannot form in our mind a correct image of God, but this should not prevent a conviction that there is such a Being.  But the declaration here implies more than that there should be a general persuasion of the truth that there is a God.  It is necessary that we have this belief in lively exercise in the act of drawing near to him, and that we should realize that we are actually in the presence of the all-seeing Jehovah.”
I believe that God is.  Do you?  I try to formulate some sort of image of what I think God might look like, but to no real avail.  How about you?  But just because I can’t pin Him down, that doesn’t cause me to lose my faith.  Does it you?  I believe that God is because the heavens declare the glory of God.  I believe that God is because I know the work He has done in my life.  I believe that God is because I can see Him working in the lives of those around me.  I believe that God is.  Do you?
And if you do, then you must also believe that He will reward your faith in him.  If you do, then you will call upon Him in prayer.  You will draw to Him in times of trouble and in times of great joy.  He will be an active part of your life and you will be pleasing to Him.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears,  “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  Mark 9:23-24  
This is a really interesting story.  It starts back in verse 14 with the scribes questioning the disciples. A large crowd had gathered. Seems this man had brought his son to the disciples and they had not been able to cast out the demon.  The child had been in this state for several years. 
I can just hear the scribes and disciples reasoning and questioning among themselves as to why the child was possessed.  Had his parent’s sinned?  Had the child sinned?  Was God punishing the parents? 
Then, the accusations. Were the disciples charlatans? Did they really know how to help the boy?  Were they in it for the fame or glory?  Were all of the stories of Jesus healing and casting out demons really true?
Then, Jesus comes upon the scene and addresses the father. My heart always goes out to him.  He so desperately wants to have his child healed.  He had already allowed the disciples to try. Then, when confronted with the fact that believing is the prerequisite, he sees his human weakness and cries out for help with his own need. 
I believe this man is throwing his utter dependence upon the Lord.  He knows that his faith/belief is not adequate to the task of healing his son.  By that knowledge alone he is showing that his belief is in Jesus.  There is no pretense, no superficial piety or spiritual pride, just simple belief that Jesus is able not only to heal the child, but also to give the faith necessary to the father.
This is the point where believe has power.  When we come to realize that all our efforts and surmising are of none effect and pour our hearts out before the Lord in faith believing – then - all things are possible!

“…I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
 II Timothy 1:12
“…I know whom I have believed…” I know him.  I know what He has done for me.  I know who He is – the King of glory.  I made a choice to believe because I saw His power, His sacrifice, and His love.
Knowing that He is God Almighty gives strength to my faith.  Knowing that He is the Messiah brings confidence.  Knowing that He is the Great Shepherd brings comfort.  Knowing that He is the Bread of Life gives me sustenance. And I could go on and on with what is known about Him.
I am fortunate.  I know him and so I believe in Him and on Him.  There is no doubt in my mind that he is able to keep my trust.  But what about those who have not heard?  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?”  (Romans 10:14)  With all this study on believing, the reward of believing, the power of believing, it reminds me that there are those who have never heard, those who have yet to believe.

If I am so confident that He is able...then why am I not sharing my belief more actively?  Why am I content to enjoy my believing and withhold it from others?

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