Sunday, November 7, 2010

Faith ~ 2

Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. I Corinthians 1:17

You'll be happy to know that I'm doing well with my novel writing. I have about 12,000 words on my way to 50,000. I have the whole month of November to write this book, but with company coming, I have no idea if my writing will end abruptly or continue. Your guess is as good as mine. I was surprised yesterday when I received a box from my sister-in-law Elaine (Ron's wife), and I opened it to find two books that have been bound  with wire containing the lessons we've written. I have written 80 lessons at this point, a feat in itself. Ron has also worked on a series of lesons called The Big Picture of the Bible, which is a wonderful overview of God's plan of salvation, and that was also in the box. Seeing these lessons in this form was quite a moment for me! Thanks Ron and Elaine. Ron is still in Mosambique, but is due home on November 9.

This is the second part of a parable by F. LaGard Smith from Meeting God in Quiet Places on faith and what it means to have real faith. many people today have a surface faith, but it takes more than that to get through our lives trusting Christ. However, the reward is great when our faith is strong.

Perhaps we've been fooled by modern televangelists into thinking that if our Christian walk doesn't beam success, then it isn't worthwhile. But if you've read your New Testament, you'll know that the Christian doesn't always have success in this life. Not the kind that other people recognize. It is ironic that when you have a trusting faith, you learn that the meek do inherit the earth, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. Turning human thinking on its head, Christ said things like: "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first." What? What is that you're saying? I find that hard to believe, Jesus. AND, Jesus said: "He who is least among you is the greatest." There you go again...that just doesn't make any sense. You have to make sense if you want to be accepted. But again, Jesus said: "Whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it." Well, that takes the cake! Such upside-down thinking isn't going to win many followers!

No, you may not get that Cadillac you've been hoping for, or that dream house you have wished for daily. More seriously, the baby may not live and the loved one may leave you. Your marriage may fail and life may not be ideal for you simply because you're a Christian. Christians have death and taxes just like everyone else. If you're looking for a miracle, you may be disappointed.

Now here's something that LaGard says: "It's from the cross that we learn what a Jumbo-size mistake it is to always expect a miracle. We don't preach a rescued Christ but a crucified Christ. Jesus did not miraculously escape the cross, he endured it! He conquered it through faith, and that's how it can be for us. If we can't escape the pain we are experiencing, at least we have assurance that we can endure it. If we can't understand our suffering, at least we know we can overcome it."

Think about it: The miracle is not in changed circumstances, but in our changed attitude about whatever our circumstances are. The miracle of Calvary was how God turned a seeming defeat into victory: crucifixion into glorification!

How can we share in the true miracle of the cross?
1) Learn to surrender so that you might be exalted.
2) Learn to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that He might life you up.

Does that appeal to our human instincts? I don't think so. But that is our challenge, isn't it? Because the truest miracle of the cross--unlike the spectacular story of Jumbo--is not about feeling good with a lot of warm fuzzies once or twice a year, the true miracle is the undeniable fact of Jesus' presence in our lives when the going gets tough.

Remember this: Whatever your cross may be, His weakness becomes your strength! And His triumph becomes your hope!

I'm so glad that you're reading this lesson about faith. It's important that we see how it works in our lives. I hope yo have a glorious Sunday!


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