Showing posts with label Walking by Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walking by Faith. Show all posts

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Faith Hall of Fame | Manna for your Soul

I've borrowed many parts of this week's 'Manna for your Soul' from a 'Faith' series of sermons that my pastor Dr Benny Woods was teaching at church.

Back in the first place, I worked at, we had the Wall of Fame of the Top Performers (nicknamed 'Roaring Tigers') at the reception and at the cafeteria. As new employees, we would look at the 15ft of wall space with bright envious eyes, secretly wonder when we would see our names up there too. All them were exceptional performers with statistics that seemed beyond our reach. 

And then 4 months later, I saw I was on the Wall of Fame for being the 'Roaring Tiger' for that month. I remember thinking 'Wow, that wasn't too hard. All I had to do was be consistent.' 

That is how spirituality is as well. Strip away all the rituals and rigors of being a 'follower/disciple', you will begin to see that all Jesus really asks of you is - 'Be humble, love, and forgive as much as you can. And be consistent in all these things.'

If Hebrews 11 is the Wall of Fame of ordinary men and women who did what God expected them to do, then Hebrews 12 is the 'How to' guide to get there.

And here are some quick pointers from Hebrews 11.
  • Giving when we don't have - Having the right attitude and purpose when we give.
  • Obeying when we don't understand.
  • Believing when we don't see.
  • Persisting when we don't feel it.
  • Thanking God before we receive it  (also Mark 11:24).
  • Trusting even if we don't get it.
Faith is a gift from God and is not automatically activated but must be exercised to become active. Just as we have to exercise our muscles to develop it, the seeds of faith must be nourished and exercised to grow. 
And this is what separates the believers from the non-believers:  Non-believers think their good acts will be sufficient to take them to heaven while believers must transfer their faith from themselves to Jesus before they can begin living by faith.

Believers know God is omnipresent and although we cannot see the invisible tie we can experience His presence in everything we do. Because He has promised to never forsake nor forget about us. 
We know He is always accessible to us through humble prayer, overcoming obstacles and living a life worth His joy.

So what is 'faith' and what does the Bible tell us about it?
Quoting with Hebrews 11:1-2, for a believer, every facet of our spiritual life is affected by faith. 
We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we live by faith (Galatians 2:20), we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), we stand by faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), we pray by faith (Matt 21:21-22), we overcome by faith (Matt 17:20), we fight by faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we gain victory by faith (John 5:4), and we please God by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

So while faith is beyond mere book knowledge of the Bible, knowing God and being faithful to Him is the only key that will open the door to heaven.

Many people love to recite how 'faith that can move mountains' is essential in your life. What they don't tell you is what this really means. Jesus wasn't talking about moving physical mountains, but about the 'mountains of doubt/sin' in our lives. 

Do you have the faith to move 'mountains' in your life?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Your friendly Navigator | Manna for your Soul

The Israelites were redeemed from slavery in the most epic way. 
When I read through the Exodus, I am astounded with the way God would soften and harden the hearts and minds of the Pharaoh until the moment they were let go. 
As a young child, I would ask myself why God would harden the heart of the people that He was trying to rescue His children from?
Then as I grew up, I understood why - If there is anything worth having, it is worth fighting for. God wanted His children to fight for their rightful place in His kingdom.

But the fight was not over yet.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 long years. Even considering the time it took to travel the physical distance between Egypt and the promised land of Israel (about 400 kms), this was an inordinate delay. Why didn't they just ask for directions?

This is exactly how our lives are as well. When I am driving to new destinations, I program my destination on my GPS. Sometimes, I take a wrong/incorrect turn and the navigator lady politely 're-routes' and tell me how to go back to the correct path. When I fail to follow instructions, she simply 'finds a new route' and gives me the route to follow to get to my destination based on the road I am on at the moment. Unlike a real human navigator, she is never rude, she doesn't get frustrated and ask me why I didn't follow her instructions and she won't yell at me for taking a left turn when I was supposed to just go straight. Sometimes, I end up lost. That is when I realize I should have backtracked and followed the route I was supposed to take in the first place. Argh! The aggravation! 
After a couple of cross-country misadventures, I've now laid my trust on the friendly, polite voice from the GPS. Because I have realized the GPS doesn't lose anything if I don't follow instructions. The instructions are for my benefit. 

God is pretty much like this. 

He got us out of the slavery of sin centuries ago. He promised us the land of milk and honey. But we still haven't reached our destination! 

We tend to lose our way among the by-lanes and back-alleys of sin. We ignore the little voice that guides and plans our route to salvation and end up in a tangled web of our own making.

So who do you look to for direction?
Of all the stories, two of the most astounding stories of determination are in Mark 5:21-43.
We see the story of Jairus, a patron ruler of the Galilee synagogue, who is asking Jesus to come with him to heal his daughter who is very ill. Now, Jairus is probably one of the top 10 powerful people in the empire at that time. Someone very powerful and used to having people trip over themselves to serve him. He probably didn't even have to come personally to ask Jesus but could've sent his servants. Let's also remember that Jesus wasn't exactly the darling of the synagogue. But Jairus did the unexpected and came to Jesus himself, and asked him to come and heal his daughter. And this takes humility and tons of faith.
Midway through this story, Mark tells us about a lady with a serious illness. She probably had abnormal vaginal bleeding for many years that made her an outcast in the society. Having heard of the miracles Jesus has been performing, she follows him. 
She knows she is not worthy to have a conversation with Him. All she wants is to just touch any part of Him. 
The moment she touches His robe, she is healed! 
And Jesus realises that someone has touched Him (with faith), stops to recognize and validate her faith.
Later, Mark wraps up the chapter nicely by demonstrating how Jesus raises Jairus's daughter from the dead. Only because Jairus and his family believed.

This is a rare form of faith. Something that we don't seem to possess anymore. 
We are a very visual generation of people. 
We can't seem to focus on God if we don't have an idol or an object in front of us. 
We don't believe in miracles that we don't see. Seeing is believing, they tell us.

One of the remarkable thing about this chapter is how humbling life really is. 
Jairus and the Lady with the gynec problem are people from 2 ends of society. Jairus would have had legions of people at his command. And the lady was shunned by the world. Yet, disease and despair struck them both. By catering to both their needs, Jesus shows us how His Grace is enough and more for all the problems we might have.

He is moved by the Jairus's faith who requests (instead of taunting) Jesus to heal.
He marvels at the faith of the lady, who didn't want anything else, but to touch His garment. 
Having millions of followers thronging by Him, touching His robes would have been something millions of people would have done almost daily. But the Bible talks only about the Lady with the continual flow of blood, because she was the only person who touched Him with her faith. 
I can only imagine how word of this could have spread and how millions would have gathered just to touch His garment and be healed but returned disappointed.

Today, Christians around the world believe touching an idol in a church or dabbing some 'holy' oil is going to heal their sickness and rid their misfortune. Wrong.

Jesus is the ONLY way to redemption. He won't yell at you if you take the wrong turn. He just re-calculates your route so that you can return to Him. 
Now the choice is yours - Do you want to turn back and take the right road to Him or do you want to take the much longer, windier, uncertain route and end up getting lost?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Defining Failure [48/365]

Hebrews 11 is widely known as the role-call of the faithful.
It talks about how faith guided and saved people. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible, I've enjoyed reading about how ordinary people became extraordinary by mere faith.

Are you confident that your name will find a place in such a roll-call in Heaven?
While we shirk away from a straight answer on this, I think it is also important to realize that many of these may never have realized that they were destined for greatness, let alone a place in the Bible.
Abraham was a deceiver (Genesis 12:10-20), Moses was disobedient (Numbers 20:1-13) and David was a murderer (2 Samuel 11). Despite their sins, the men and women of the Bible are remembered for their persevering faith and trust in God.
These are the men and women 'who through faith... out of weakness were made strong'.

I've seen too many people who've given up hope of salvation only because they refused to believe that God could forgive and cleanse them of their sins. 
I've seen too many people commit a sin only to believe that God will forgive us, because He said so. How skewed we are! 
While God can never accept a sin of commission, he still gives us a chance to turn back. Whenever we are ready.
We forget that only God can cleanse us and still want to use us for His purpose.

Are you ready to be cleansed?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We got to talk [10/365]

'We got to talk'
My Manager tells me as I walk in, in an ominous tone.
He would even avoid eye contact and have the face that could make Hitler squirm.
With a nod that would indicate that I've got exactly 30 seconds to materialize in the meeting room which always looked like it was a graveyard.
In the 20 steps that it'd take me to reach the room, my mind is racing with every possible faux pas that I could've committed in the last 96 hours. Almost inevitably, I remember of something I missed. 'Crap!' While I am mentally preparing myself for another holier than thou sermon or is it going to be kick in the fleshy rear? Oddly enough, my entire life does flash past my eyes. By the time I reach the room, I have a knot in my throat.
And the fact that room always seem to be a couple of degrees below zero doesn't help.

But it appears that he just wanted to congratulate me on a job well done. Close call
All the heart-burn that I went through just a couple of minutes earlier seems forgotten. As I walk out of the room triumphantly, I reflect on what I would go through as I wait for that moment with Jesus Christ on the Judgement Day.

I'm often reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:1-11.
A relative of mine once quipped Christ is not looking at your ability but your availability. This is true.
When I was going through the darkness months of my life, I groaned. I found it hard to believe that my Lord would allow me to go through the trauma that I was going through. I had to surrender myself to Christ. But it is so much easier said than done. I found my soul willing, yet the body failing.
That is when I heard a preacher tell 'Walk by faith, not by sight'. I found courage and inspiration in this.

As the end times are being played out, and we see God's prophesies come into fruition, I find myself retrospecting;
How faithful and honest are we to God, living in a body that He made for us?
Have I done justice to the enormous talents that He gave me?
Are we present in the body and absent in Christ or was it the other way around?

As humbling as it will be and as surreal as it appears, you, I and everyone we'll ever know of, will be walking into that meeting room that God has prepared for us. The choice of walking out with that overwhelming regret of never-ending doom or if we'll walk out triumphantly is something we all can make right now.

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