Archive for the Faith Category

Giving Up

Posted in Faith on January 15, 2014 by nmpreach

white flagDo you read the newspapers?  Have you seen the latest on television?  Although the disheartening stories have always been a part of “life,” it seems they outweigh the good things in our world.  I’m grateful for my parents who “protected” me from some of reality while I was growing up.  After all, kids shouldn’t be  aware of much of the heartache in the world.  But as we grow, as we mature, we understand “there’s nothing new under the sun.”  Close to the beginning of time, man began to encounter struggles.  And often times, the struggles seem insurmountable.

Questions of “Why?,” “Why me?,” or “What’s next?” all seem to creep into our vocabulary.  Let’s be honest: there are times when throwing your hands up, waving the white flag, and walking away would be much easier.  But we all know that’s not the answer.  It wouldn’t be fair to those around us.  And in the long run, it wouldn’t be fair to us as either.

I’m reminded of Jesus saying, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

By the way, “the world” means all that’s in the world.

Struggle = God knows.

Finances = Trust God.

A medical diagnosis = What does God want you to know?

A fractured relationship = God hears you.

Peace = God provides in His time.

Tragedy that can never be understood = God is bigger than that too.

God calls us to be faithful.  And being faithful requires discipline.  Discipline means moving one step at a time in the right direction.  When you’re tempted to walk away, crawl into a hole, mask the pain, remember God is bigger than all this world has to offer.  Do you believe it or not?

Notice this text and especially the caveat.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.  1 Cor 15:1-2 ESV (emphasis mine)

If you hold fast.  If you believe.  If you know your God to be bigger.  If you’re not focused on the storm but the One who can calm the storm.

So stand.  Walk.  Move where God wants you to move.  Although there’s struggle, you’re not allowed to quit!

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The Eye of the Storm

Posted in Faith on October 29, 2013 by nmpreach

stormToday, I want to visit about faith.  Most of us know Hebrews 11:1 or 6.  Most of us would consider ourselves “people of faith.”  But what about when the storms seem insurmountable?  In other words, it’s easy to have faith while sitting in a church gathering.  What happens when you’re in the middle of “the storm?”

There’s a story of a man named Stephen in our New Testament.  Stephen was one of the early disciples.  In fact, he was picked to “serve tables” and was noted as being “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5).  Luke goes on to prove what he says.  He [Stephen] was “full of grace and power, … doing great wonders and signs among the people” (vs 8).  Everything is going good.  “But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (vs 10).  And all goes South.  Word spread.  He was blasphemous.  He lied.  He should be stopped!  He’s then taken to the chief priest and has to answer false accusations.

Do you hear the thunder?  The wind has suddenly gotten stronger.  The storm is coming.

So Stephen preaches to those in power.  And gets to this line:  You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you.  (7:51)  Talk about an altar call!  You’d be convicted, right?  I would.

But notice their response.  “They were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him….They cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him…They cast him out of the city and stoned him” (vss 54, 57, 58).  So I guess no one came down the aisle.  It’s fair to say the storm is evident now.  And Stephen finds himself in the eye.

So how does he respond?  “But he, full of the Holy Sprit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (vss 55, 59, 60).  And he died.

So that’s the end?  He died?  Yep.  But I thought those with faith…  I thought God would rescue those who were devoted.  I thought God would show up, rebuke the heathens, and reward the faithful.  But in this case, He doesn’t.  What went wrong?

The answer: nothing!  Stephen died.  Fair enough.  But he also saw Jesus.  He also knew God was with him.  You see, God calls us to be faithful – despite circumstances.  Regardless of what’s going on, we are called to be faithful to the end.  He may show up and deliver us.  But He may not!  Yep, I said it.  He may not.  And there are times we find ourselves in the eye of the storm.  I’m not sure we can say with certainty what we’ll do at the time.  I pray I have a strong faith.  I pray you do.  Regardless, genuine faith is that which may not change circumstances.  It’s faith despite.

So prepare for the storms.  Know that the eye is coming.  Strengthen your faith before the storm comes.  And get ready to see Jesus.