August 4, 2015

Faith means . . .

Isaiah 7:1–8:22, Luke 2:22–52, Job 2:11–13

When I first became a Christian, my sister who was saved earlier told me to “read the Bible until God spoke to me, then write down what you heard.” Doing this has filled dozens of journals and many more computer files.

Today, the words that jumped off the page at me came from the last part of Isaiah 7:9: “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)

I’ve felt somewhat wobbly lately, less than firm. Part of it is physical as I don’t have the energy that once kept me going. But the other part is being discouraged by what is happening around me, and by not seeing God at work as much as I’d like.

Isaiah goes on as he writes children of God who are also wobbly. His advice was good. He said, “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:12–13) I do not fear what they feared, but whatever I do fear, God must be at the top of the list. He is in charge of all the events in the world. Faith means having no fear of anything but Him.

Isaiah also wrote to those who went elsewhere for advice. Others challenged them to, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” and his answer was, “Should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19) This also speaks to me. I’m not into their kind of research, yet else I might look for guidance besides my God is folly. He is the only one who knows all that I need to know. Faith means seeking God before anything else.

The reading in Job reminded me of my struggles to help those who are in trouble: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place . . .  and made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” (Job 2:11–13)

If these friends had stopped there, they would have been a comfort. Instead, they did not seek advice from the Lord and made the incorrect assumption that Job was being judged for doing something wrong. The rest of the book is filled with their accusations and rants. Faith means waiting on God when I don’t have any answers.

The NT reading is about the baby Jesus. One man named Simeon “was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”  

The Spirit led him into the temple, and there he met this child Jesus. He held him and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25–32) Faith means knowing that God keeps His promises.

Anna was another one. She was an eighty-four year old widow and a prophetess. She lived in the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day and also gave “thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36–38) Faith means worship and praise, but also telling others about the Lord.

A few years later, Jesus and family went to the city and when they left, Jesus stayed behind. His parents finally realized He was absent from their group and went back to find Him. He was in the temple and when they saw Him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48–52)

They did not understand, a bit of a surprise to me. However, this tells me that faith means believing that Jesus is doing what He is supposed to be doing, even when I cannot see or understand what that might be. If I am not firm in faith and trusting Him no matter what, then I will be wobbly. There are no other options.

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