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Posts Tagged ‘Faith in Jesus’

In one of his picture books, Barney Saltzberg asks all young artists: What can be done when your paper tears, a corner gets bent, or paint drips on your project? Throw it away and start over?

No, Saltzberg has better ideas, and through the pages of his book demonstrates his creative mastery of the mishap. A tear in paper, for example, can become the snaggly smile of an alligator. A bent corner can be turned into the head of a penguin, and paint drips into wheels on vehicles.

Saltzberg titled his masterpiece, Beautiful Oops!

 

 

What perfect imagery his book presents for the beautiful life Jesus creates out of each of us!

Without Jesus we make ourselves victims of mishaps and mistakes, motivated by the desires for self-gratification, power, and notoriety (to name a few). The results can include: gluttony, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, physical and emotional abuse, cheating, and slander (to name a few again).

But with Jesus, even those mishaps and mistakes can be transformed into something beautiful:

 

 

“Anyone united with the Messiah

gets a fresh start, is created new.

The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!”

–2 Corinthians 5:17, MSG

 

And what a life it is!

Those of us who ask Jesus into our lives get to enjoy incredible benefits such as:

  • A new perspective. No longer are we scrabbling for the next gratification, promotion, or thrill. Our eyes are opened to the delight of blessing others.

 

 

  • A new source of power. Dependence on ourselves is exhausting and worrisome. What a relief to rely on Someone all-wise and strong, Someone who even knows what will happen in the future.

 

 

  • A new certainty. No more lying awake at night with unanswerable questions pounding in our heads—questions like, “Is there life after death? How can a person know whether there’s a heaven and hell? If there is, how can I be sure to experience the former and not the latter?”  One step toward Jesus settles those questions. The believer knows his eternal destiny in heaven is secure.*

 

 

  • A new plan of action. No more striving after things that don’t satisfy. Life takes on new meaning, purpose, and fulfillment when God is integral to our lives.

 

 

(“The meaning of earthly existence lies not,

as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering

but in the development of the soul.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

 

  • New delights, such as: 1) anticipation and hope for the future, 2) awareness of God’s presence, 3) augmented relationships, and 4) understanding of and pleasure in Bible reading.

 

 

The person who doesn’t know Jesus may read this list and doubt its validity. Perhaps they don’t sense the need (yet) for these things or they question Jesus’ ability to provide them.

But like all the Oops in Barney Saltzberg’s book, we don’t really know the difference the Master can make until we turn the page.

 

______________________________

 

Have you turned the page to new life with the Master? If so, what aspect of your new life would you add to the list above? Share your experience in the comment section below!

 

*  Why would we believe what Jesus claimed in the Bible, that he’s the One to trust for the gift of eternal life in heaven? Whole books have been written to answer that question, to prove that the historical record of Jesus is accurate and his claims are absolutely true. One I highly recommend is The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998) by former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel.

Mr. Strobel was an atheist when he embarked on a thorough investigation of the evidence for a historic Jesus and his claims. When he had finished, Mr. Strobel had this to say: “The great irony was this: it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth” (p. 265)! Mr. Strobel was convinced by the overwhelming evidence and chose to become a Christian.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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Research scientists rely on their five senses to collect and analyze data.

Some scientists argue that because we can’t see, touch, or hear God (out loud, in the hearing of others), he cannot exist.

So how can we embrace faith in our invisible God, and be sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)?

First, the Christian faith is based on a huge body of proof. Our beginning point of discovery: God’s Word. And why should we believe the Bible? Because its reliability has been proven again and again by:

  • Hundreds of archaeological discoveries. One small example: Remember the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a lame man (John 5:1-8)? According to John, the pool had five porticos, or colonnaded walkways. No such place was found until 1956, because it was buried–forty feet below ground level. But, sure enough, there are five porticos (1).

Also worth noting: Not one artifact has been found to disprove a fact or claim of the Bible (2).

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  • Thousands of manuscript fragments discovered, from ancient copies of the scriptures. The Dead Sea scrolls are one incredible example. Complete copies or portions of ALL books in the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, are included in these scrolls.  The book of Esther is the only omission (3).

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  • Scientific and medical discoveries that have corroborated scriptural truth. Again, one example of many: In the late 1960s, deep sea exploration discovered numerous springs of fresh water pouring out of the ocean floor. Job (38:16) spoke of the “springs of the sea” eons ago (4).

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Hundreds of prophecies fulfilled with pinpoint accuracy.  The Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies. Of those, more than four dozen are about Jesus. Every one of them that refers to his earthly life was fulfilled.  

Those are just a few categories of proof.

But we can also place our confidence in God because of experience.  The Bible and two thousand years-plus of church history include countless stories of believers in God who faced hardships to be sure, but lived adventurous, fulfilling, and miraculous lives of faith.

To experience the same, we have to step out in faith, like:

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  • Abraham, who left his home country at God’s command, with no idea of where he was going (Genesis 12:1).
  • Moses, who confronted Pharoah and ordered the powerful ruler to release God’s people from slavery (Exodus 5:1-5).
  • David, who stepped out onto a battlefield to fight a giant—alone (1 Samuel 17).
  • King Jehoshophat, who led Judah into battle against a vast army (2 Chronicles 20).
  • The centurion who asked Jesus to heal his beloved servant—from a distance. Jesus fulfilled his request and commended the officer for his great faith (Luke 7:1-10).

We have to step out like these more recent heroes, too:

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  • George Muller (1805-1898), who could hardly provide for his own family, yet with great faith and not much else, founded five orphanages in Bristol, England, where ten thousand children were cared for.
  • Florence Young (1856-1940), a missionary to the Kanakas of the Solomon Islands. She and others helped the Kanaka believers minister to villages that practiced cannibalism. Thousands of people became Christians.
  • C. T. Studd (1860-1931), missionary to China, India, and then Africa. He inherited 25 million dollars ( in today’s economy) and gave it all away.
  • Betty Greene (1920-1997), who combined her passion for flying with her faith in God and helped to found Mission Aviation Fellowship.
  • Brother Andrew (1928- ), who smuggled Bibles into communist countries during the Cold War.

How were each of these biblical and historical heroes able to accomplish such feats? Was it because of courage and perseverance? No doubt, but the foundation underneath those traits was their faith in God.

They believed what they could not see. They were sure of God’s love and care. They were certain their final destiny was secure.  Therefore, they confidently moved forward step by step as God opened the way. That is faith.

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*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Lord, I have said it many times: Whatever you want for my life is OK with me! Forgive me for wavering and fretting that perhaps your will might cause hardship. Shame on me! Help me to rest in you, Father. Since your love is steadfast and everlasting, and you have only my best interest at heart, I can confidently put my faith in you. Help me to be watchful and stand firm, a woman of strength, courage, and love.

(Psalm 116:7; Jeremiah 31:3; 1 Corinthians 16:13)

Notes:

  1. bible-history.com
  2. Grant Jeffrey, The Signature of God, p. 71.
  3. deadseascrollsfoundation.com
  4. Institute of Creation Research (icr.org)

(Photo and art credits:  www.fda.gov; http://www.flickr.com; dss.collections.imj.org.il; http://www.newheartnewspirit.com; http://www.alittleperspective.com; http://www.georgemuller.org; http://www.etsy.com.)

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