Reflection 6: What You Can Expect From Life: According to Faith; pt 6

20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20

Faith in most of our minds is this mystical,  magical, and even almost other worldly supernatural power that only certain people have in abundance. We read about awesome acts of  faith helping the condemned to survive when anyone else would have perished. We find stories of people who thank God for their recovery claiming it was their faith that pulled them through and we feel they are out of our league.  We in our minds dismiss these people and their stories because we feel that, “we the normal person” is not somehow worthy of this high honor bestowed on just a select few. Well, the truth is that “Yes”, there are some of us who hold onto faith in every aspects of their lives and “Yes”, faith is ingrained into their DNA. “YES”, miracles do happen to some of us because of their faith in God but, “NO!” they are not magically blessed and the rest of humanity is less fortunate.  The truth is God gave all of us the power to believe, and it is this power which we must surrender too in order to have true faith in God. Faith equals trust, trust equals belief, and like a circle bending back upon itself belief equals love. Because “Love” is “God” and those who love God also trust God, again, we find that this equals faith which equals trust. People who choose to live their lives in this manner exhibit characteristics that scare the rest of us because they seemingly have something that we don’t.  People of faith seem to possess absolute resolve in all the trials and tribulations that is placed in their way on a daily basis and seem to handle it better with more fortitude and with greater grace than the normal person could ever muster. But this I tell you is also an illusion, because even though we see something on the out side, the pain and turmoil still has its grip on the inside. We all have the same weakness that which is sin. We all sin, we all fall to sin in our daily lives, it’s just that some of us handle sin better because of their faith, because they trust in God for his promise of forgiveness of their sins. If there was anything which took root in the Roman world after the death and resurrection of Jesus it would have to be this one simple fact that more Romans needed faith in something more real than what they where being offered and Christianity gave them this anchor as it still does for all of us today.  So the simple fact is as Jesus had stated so brilliantly, faith is so powerful because it is show in your actions trust in the word of God. This builds belief in God and in that there is nothing which you cannot do or accomplish even move mountains.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

How many times have you been told to, “Have Faith.” ? What does this really mean? I had one of my students tell me flat out when I told him to have faith, “Why should we have faith?” Obviously this was coming from frustration, but I assured him it will all work in the end. Did it? “Yes! it did.” It always works out in the end. God makes sure things that go wrong in our lives according to us, He can and will fix. But how do we have faith when we don’t know the plan? This and so many other questions rest assured will be the road block to your faith if you let it. But, if you don’t and you let go and let God then your faith is multiplied by infinity and with that kind of faith there is nothing you cannot do.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Faith is a journey, it is a real hand-in-hand walk with our creator. It is the constant listening, or listening faithfully in faith that we all share in common as we only have one God. No one can ignore the sin in our heart as surely as we cannot ignore the path we are all called to take, the journey called faith in God.

My faith journey has been one built up over forty years of  constant reading and asking questions to clergy and people I loved and respected. I finally came face-to-face with all my sin and troubles which had broken me to the point I could n’t stand myself and it was then I saw the clearest I saw the path and heard, really heard God calling my name to walk hand-in-hand with him. I had to hit the bottom of the barrel to find God, to find His mercy, His love, and His devotion that He so freely had given to me which had been before me for ever in plan view. It was that I simply could not see past myself, I was blind with pride, drunk with lust of this world I could not see God. I will not lie, my faith journey has been the hardest journey I have ever had to endure.  I have been tested in every way, shape, and form, every obstacle has been planted with deep roots in front of me, it seems that once I over come the obstacle another is already in the first ones place. Each new test become harder to beat, testing me in new more uncomfortable ways always forcing me to step outside my comfort zone and think outside of the box. But in all these trials and tribulations God has allowed to happen in my life, I have never wavered and in my faith has become stronger and stronger just like Jesus promised. “HAVE FAITH.” Is more than just a saying that makes most people cringe with fear and anxiety, it is the calling card of love sent straight to you from God himself. It is a commandment for the faithful to uphold, always and forever. The best part about it is I know I am never alone in my trials and tribulations that life beats me down with. Because I am on this journey, I am assured that God is with me, right beside me, holding my hand through every part especially the worst parts always giving me strength and resolve.

Without faith there is no hope, and without hope their is only depression and despair. You can expect to fail for sure with that formula. Added to that you are not pleasing God. The actions of those who feel no hope is to rob others of their hope, to pull others down into their sorrow and pity.  All of which is against God and against what He has commanded. God does not reward bad behavior, but rather there is hope in the reward of trust and love He holds for us for he gave his only son.

The one question that always comes to my mind at Easter is really when you thinking about it, when you remember the love of God; His grace that He so freely gives to all man kind is simple in retrospect, “How much more faith in God did Jesus exhibit in His last hour here on Earth as He suffered and died on the cross? How much more faith did Jesus demonstrate than anyone of us in any hour of trouble we face in comparison to being crucified ” Jesus’s stated mission according to the four Gospels of the New Testament was that He had to die for our sins. Jesus had told the Pharisees that He would be seated at the right hand of God. Clearly this was the reward for sacrificing himself for all mankind? But what if Jesus had misplaced His faith in God, what then? Certainly Jesus had thought this in the garden as he prayed before His arrest. Surely Satan had tempted Jesus with this doubt in the Desert. Had it not been for Jesus’s resurrection on the third day we all would be left without faith, without hope, without the trust in God we all so desperately need. We know Jesus was who he said He was, His father is God, and we know beyond doubt the power of Faith by His example and obedience which “Yes” pleased God immensely. Jesus’s faith in God was absolute, unwavering, and never ending. It is this we celebrate at Easter, and it is this truly gives man hope, faith, and love.

“And Jesus answered saith unto them, ‘Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in hid heart , but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”  Mark 11:22-23

Happy Easter Everyone.

Amen

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Brian Keith

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Brian Keith

Reflection 9: For When Your Soul Is Depleted?

First Sunday after Easter

As I write this reflection this week, I wanted to express that though life is not easy, and there are doors which shut for no reason there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though there might be pitch black in every direction and the feelings of helplessness, and loneliness might be creeping in there is hope in Jesus. So I write this first to set the stage so to speak, so the raw emotions that most certainly was present upon that first Sunday after the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, there might be clarity amongst all the religious noise of this Easter season.

“44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shinning. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:44-46, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1618).

Jesus often reminds us that the struggles we endure here on Earth, as flawed mortals, has less to do with our petty squabbles with each other, but has more to do with the war which is raging between our heavenly soul and our sinful flesh. It is not a physical war that we can use our five senses to protect ourselves against our aggressors, but rather it is a spiritual one which drains our energies making us change our minds and to give into temptation. Our bodies cannot win this war, because we were not created to win it as flesh and blood creatures within sin. Rather through our spiritual weapons made known to us as having absolute faith in God will the victory be realized. The death of Jesus was caused by physical torture, his fight however was not focused on the physical pain he endured rather the war of the soul. Our Lord and Savior died on the cross not to illustrate his so called dishonor of the Jewish faith but rather the willingness to sacrifice his life as a spiritual payment that would build faith in his true mission. Thus through Jesus Christ, and by emulating his example of perfect faith in our Father in heaven, within that very moment that he committed his spirit to God, did he then claim victory over Satan, reclaiming the world for all mankind.

“33We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priest and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:33-34, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1547).

This was the second warning of Jesus to his disciples describing in detail what was going to happen, in an attempt to prepare them. It proves that he knew what was to befall him, but he went to Jerusalem anyway. Jesus had so many other avenues he could have taken which would have spared him this horror, but his fight was not of the flesh, but of the spirit. His perfect faith in God, gave his mortal body the strength to face the final showdown between God and Satan.

“8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:8-10, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1473).

Spiritually speaking, even though Jesus’s disciples had witnessed his many miracles, and professed with their lips their belief that he was the Messiah, their hearts where still empty and starving. Their souls were depleted and almost ready for the final miracle. Ironically none of them got it; none of them realized that Jesus was at war, he was fighting a battle to which none of them could see with their own eyes. None of them realized the severity of his actions and teachings until the very moment he appeared to them after Easter. I find myself thinking how hard it is to accept the fact Jesus knew of the absolute pain and indignity he was going to suffer and yet he still chose to carry on with it. So we can’t really fault his disciples who loved him as a brother and did not want to see him die. But we then must ask; if not Jesus then who would have faced Satan, faced the cross? The real question is who else could have?

“3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1473).

During his trial and flogging he remained amazingly silent. He was neither defiant, nor was he smug about his actions, his mission, but amazingly humble, accomplishing this feat with precision and grace, with unearthly mercy. Yet within his final words before he closed his eyes on the cross, Jesus’s disciples where in hiding, crushed by the world, their faith dashed their souls depleted. There defeat was so absolute that even Mary Magdalene could not believe her own eyes when she saw the tome empty even though Jesus told them of this miracle.  It took Jesus himself to appear before they all believed. As the word spread through the city of the miracle, still those who heard but had not yet seen Jesus could not believe. I am quite sure his disciples where recounting every word Jesus had ever spoken to them. I am sure they all felt guilty that they could not have faith in him enough to not doubt it. The words which must have rang in their minds the most before Jesus appeared to them was;

“Fortunate are the eyes that see what you are seeing. Many prophets and kings wished to see what you now see and never saw it, longed to hear what you now hear and never heard it” (Lost Gospel Q, Q33, p.67).

We celebrate Easter because that is when our sin debt was paid in full. I write about this first Sunday after Easter so that we will remember how empty our souls where as the hunt for our risen Lord began. The miracle that is Jesus, that was his resurrection, his absolute faith in our father that was revealed and proven. Even unto the very moment of his death his soul was not depleted, but from time to time ours is, so this is but one reason why we need him. I write about this first Sunday after Easter to also illustrate how God planned this event, how Jesus obeyed our Father, how we came to believe.

“A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed” (John 21:26-29, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1671).

Amen,

If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.  May God keep you and bless you. Amen.



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