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Posts Tagged ‘Faith in Jesus’

 

Preparations were complete for the Passover meal. Jesus and the disciples had gathered to celebrate together.

Perhaps they were beginning to recline around the table when Jesus said, “I’ve been looking forward to eating this Passover feast with you, before I suffer.”

Surely the disciples froze for a moment.

Why would their Master be talking about suffering now, as they were about to share this sacred meal?

Yes, he had mentioned it before—even spoke several times about being killed one day (Matthew 16:21). But such an actuality seemed impossible. He was the Messiah after all—come to establish God’s kingdom on earth as the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6-7). How could Jesus do that if he was dead?

 

 

The disciples undoubtedly tried to ignore such puzzling and gruesome thoughts, wanting to focus on the beloved celebration of Passover. But a few moments later Jesus startled them again.

“One of you is going to betray me.”

Preposterous. Who would do such a thing to their beloved Master? Yet Jesus had never been wrong about anything before. What could he mean?

And then a third troubling statement soon followed: “I will be with you only a little longer.”

Unthinkable. They had been together for three years—over a thousand days. They had listened to his teaching—wiser than Solomon’s—and witnessed his miracles—greater than Elijah’s.

 

 

Their lives had been changed by what they’d heard and seen. And now Jesus was leaving?

Perhaps after three hard sayings the disciples began to look at one another with uncertainty and fear on their faces. Something was wrong, but understanding eluded them.*

And Jesus, knowing their thoughts before they did, spoke a proclamation that is familiar to us today.

“Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”

I wonder if he paused and pointedly made eye contact with each one to focus their attention on what he would say next.

“You believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

 

 

What did they believe about God? Their scriptures (our Old Testament) taught them much about the Lord Almighty, including:

  • God is in control
  • He knows what he is doing
  • He exercises his unlimited power with wisdom and love
  • God is good (1)

And what did they know and believe of Jesus?

  • He too was good
  • He demonstrated divine power, wisdom, and love
  • He was the Son of God
  • God’s honor and glory was bestowed on him (2)

The choice was up to the disciples. They could continue to stew in anxious thoughts or they could stop, and choose to believe in their powerful and perfect Lord Jesus.

They could choose faith over fear.

 

 

And the same choice confronts us today. We can believe that:

  • God is enthroned in heaven and rules over all (Psalm 103:19)—or believe the lie that the world is spinning out of control.
  • The God of the universe is on our side, and nothing could possibly come against us and win (Romans 8:31)—or believe the lie that suffering proves God’s lack of caring.
  • All his glorious attributes (those mentioned above as well as many more) are always at work to achieve his good purpose (Romans 8:28)—or believe the lie that no good can come out of trouble (3).

We can also believe in Jesus, who has proven himself our trustworthy Savior, who is called Faithful and True, because:

  • He lives to intercede for us. Is it likely the Father will ignore his Son’s pleas? Never.
  • He died and rose again that we might live forever with him. The promise of eternal Life can provide luminous light even on the darkest of days.
  • He will come again and take us to be with him (4). We’d do well to remember:

 

 

And when we choose to trust, tranquility follows.

 

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*The events of the Last Supper mentioned here are based on John 13.

 

Scriptures referenced:

  1. Isaiah 14:24; Job 11:7-9; Daniel 2:20; Jeremiah 31:3; Exodus 34:6
  2. Acts 10:38; Matthew 8:27; Mark 6:2; Matthew 14:14 and 33; Matthew 3:17 and 17:5
  3. Psalm 103:19; Romans 8:31 and 8:28
  4. 1 John 4:14; Revelation 19:11; Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34; 1 Peter 1:3-4; John 14:3

 

Art and photo credits:  http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.canva.com (2).

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

Job 38-16

 

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 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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