Posts Tagged ‘faith

08
Sep
13

Cheer up, we will understand it all by and by

In my younger years I used to love strumming the guitar and sing simple songs (I wasn’t very good at all). One of the first songs I learned how to play became one my favorite songs due to its message. Over the years when I led a fellowship or meeting I many times had everyone sing this song because it was simple, short and encouraging.

Recently I was amazed to find out there are MANY verses to this song instead of the first verse and refrain I had heard all my life. Once I saw the complete song, I knew I would have to blog about it because some of the verses are truly awesome. Without further ado, may I present to you, the complete song “Farther Along”.

1. Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
o Refrain:
Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
2. Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
3. Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.
4. Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.
5. “Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.
6. Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

There are several contradictory claims for the authorship of this song. The words and music are frequently attributed to W. B. Stevens, although others have attributed the words to W. A. Fletcher

If there is anyone out there who has never had these questions come up in their mind, I wonder how much of a stand for God is really being made. Anyone who boldly proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithfully stands firm in that Gospel SHALL suffer persecution, affliction and tribulation, many times while watching people who despise God seemingly live the “perfect life”.

Unless we live for more than what this life has to offer, we will spend much of this life in misery, jealous of others success and questioning our very faith. We live, stand and speak God’s Word not for the physical rewards in this life but rather because God says to do it with the hope that farther along we will understand why.

I pray that having these words to this simple song handy can bring you comfort during times of distress, joy during times of sorrow and confidence during times of uncertainty. Always remember that just because we don’t understand the whys and the wherefores of things today doesn’t mean we won’t have an epiphany tomorrow. Cheer up my brothers and sisters and live in the sunshine for God has assured us that we will understand it all by and by.

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02
Jul
13

Finding the peace of God in these troubled times

Simple confidence and quiet trust are the qualities that portray the presence of faith. Inner struggles, turmoil and conflict are the telltale signs of apprehension and indecision. When we are battling within ourselves, locked in mortal combat with the enemies dwelling between our ears, we seek peace but only find discomfort. When we lay down our pride, stubbornness and fear and allow God to have His way in our life, the result is His peace that passes all understanding.

Jesus knew what was coming for God had shown Him clearly that He was about to endure the most crushing, painful and horrible torture and death any man had ever faced. Deep within Him, the absolute trust in God battled with the natural desire to run away. Jesus wrestled with the situation to the point He cried tears of blood. No man before or since ever experienced what Jesus did shortly before He was apprehended in the garden and taken to the High Priest to be tortured, beaten, humiliated and ultimately crucified on our behalf.

Contrary to what many believe, absolute commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ demands a willingness to suffer ridicule, scorn, affliction, persecution and loss. How can such a “promise” be reconciled with the assurances that God is with us, that God will bless us and that God will protect us? How is it that almost every pillar of the faith in the First Century ended up being martyred for their faith?

The Apostle Paul wrote that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, yet he was executed for his faith in Christ. The Apostle Peter lived and learned from Jesus for three years and was the leader of the early church, yet he was (according to tradition) forced to watch his wife be crucified and then crucified upside down himself. With the exception of John, each of the twelve apostles was executed. Is that what being “more than a conqueror” is all about?

There is no greater victory in this life than to reach the point that this life can be willingly sacrificed for our Lord without regret or fear. Truly, when we lose our lives we gain the understanding of what life in Christ Jesus is all about. When we sacrifice our human desires, greed, pride and fear at the feet of Jesus; then we understand true freedom and joy.

Only when we reach the point that our life is hidden in Christ and we believe in our hearts that we have been purchased with a price and therefore our life is not our own can we grasp what true peace, love, joy and contentment are all about. As long as we live to get we will always lose. Only when we live to give do we gain God’s peace and tranquility that comes when we cease fighting Him and cry out to Him with all of our heart: Thy will be done and not my own.

21
Jun
13

The Lord knows the way out of any wilderness

A dead end does not have to be THE END. All a dead end means is that there is a better way to your destination. A dead end forces us to seek out the best or right way. Unfortunately, most people look at a dead end as the end of their dream, their hope or their life.

Many years ago I delivered pizzas for awhile to help make ends meet. Time and again I would follow the directions given to me only to find myself lost or at a dead end. Of course now days with GPS this may not happen, but 25 years ago it happened all the time. Was it the end of the world? Of course not, it was only frustrating.

My dad, as was the case with most men of his generation, absolutely would NEVER stop and ask for directions. It was deemed “unmanly” to admit one was lost. I remember many times we would end up utterly lost in very bad parts of towns fearing for our very lives because my dad would not even stop to find out where we were, let alone how to find where we looking for.

Anyone who thinks that just because we are saved we will never run into dead ends or end up lost is sadly mistaken. Because we are humans, we will inadvertently find ourselves wandering around in the pasture when we should be in the city and vice a versa. Getting lost is not a sin but staying lost is.

Pride prevents us from admitting we have lost our way and fear makes us believe a dead end is the end of the world as we know it. Humility allows us to find our way out of the wilderness and faith leads us past the dead ends to the way that is never ending.

Forks in the road many times cause us to end up on the wrong road. When the road splits and there are no signs to say which road leads to our destination, we have to make a choice. Sometimes we make the right one and all works out well. But, sometimes we make the wrong choice and end up exactly where we didn’t want to be.

Forks in the road provide us with opportunities to trust God for guidance. When we do not know what to do or which way to go, we are forced rise up and believe that God knows everything and trust that He will lead us safely home.

Whether dead ends, forks in the road or bad directions; ultimately our ability to move on and reach our destination lies in our ability to practice what Proverbs 3:5 and 6 tell us to do:

“ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

26
May
13

If the fire is hot enough will you bow or burn?

When the three men were threatened with being thrown into the furnace if they refused to worship the image of the king in Daniel chapter 3, their response demonstrates what should be the way believers in all generations handle the pressure to compromise. There is much that can be learned from what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:16-18:

“ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not fear to answer thee in this matter.

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Hidden within these verses lies the great truth many Christians fail to see when it comes to persecution, affliction, threats and compromise. The three men first voiced their absolute faith that God would deliver them from the fiery furnace, but then they went on to say that even if God did not deliver them, they would still never serve or worship the golden image he had set up.

Of course we know how the story ends, how they were cast into the furnace which was heated seven times hotter than normal. Instead of burning up, the king looked into the furnace and saw not only the three men but a fourth who was like the Son of God. God not only delivered them from the furnace but He also proved Himself to a bunch of rank unbelievers.

Unless our attitude is one of absolute faith God will deliver us, we are sure to falter and fall apart when the pressures of life cascade upon us. Unless we are so committed that we are willing to lay down our lives for the truth, we can never truly say we are fully His. Faith and commitment are both needed if we desire to fully manifest for all to see just who is our Lord and God.

That which is most important to people is their life. Of all the things that people cherish, protect and love; a person’s life is at the top of the list. From God’s point of view, one’s life is NOT what is most important but rather one’s heart. What good is life if it is wrought with compromise and lack of fidelity toward God? Why bother drawing breath if our heart is not fully committed to God?

When confronted by the threat of this world to “bow or burn” and when the pressure to compromise is greatest, we must be absolutely committed to God within our hearts or we will fold like a house of cards. Only when we value pleasing God more than life itself can we truly say that the three men in Daniel 3 are not only our inspiration but were our brothers in faith and commitment.

09
May
13

Slamming the door shut on doubt

Persistent, obnoxious, troubling and aggravating; these are just a few of the words which describe one of the biggest enemies we face as Christians. They seemingly come out of nowhere and flash through our thoughts as a meteorite. Many times we are only vaguely aware of their presence while other times we know full well what they are up to. At times we want to swat them as we would a fly and at other times we shriek when they appear as if a mouse ran through the house.

Of all the things that cross our minds, one of the most dangerous is doubts. Doubt is what caused Peter to cease walking on the water. Doubt is what gave Thomas quite a dubious reputation among the disciples. Doubt caused Saul and his army to quiver in the sight of Goliath. Doubt plagued Moses as he tried to live up to God’s calling.

Doubt is what the enemy used to weaken Eve in the Garden which led to her and Adam’s open disregard of the Word of God. Doubt has afflicted God’s people ever since Adam and Eve and continues to wreck ministries, marriages and families even now. The seeds of doubt that are planted in our minds are simple questions such as “did God really say”, “can I really do this” or “what if it doesn’t work”. These innocuous sounding questions are actually fiery darts sugar coated to appear harmless.

We may not be able to stop doubts from crossing our minds but we certainly can refrain from considering them. It is only when we actually allow a doubt to lodge in our thinking that we get in trouble. When a doubt is considered it opens the door to worry which in turn ends up as fear. Sometimes this process takes days and other times it takes seconds. Either way, the end result is the negation of the promises of God in our life.

Whether it is a solitary doubt that shows up at our door disguised as a well meaning neighbor or a hoard of doubts intent on breaking down our door; we must slam the door shut and never allow them into our home. Doubts are incredibly aggravating because they pester us and won’t take no for an answer. In many respects they are as the telemarketer who calls every day at suppertime even when told not to.

Ultimately it is fear which defeats us (individually and collectively), but before fear becomes entrenched and ruins our lives, doubts first arrive with the goal of getting their foot in the door. This is why we must slam the door shut anytime doubts show up. Just say NO, I am not interested. Just say NO, and slam the door or hang up the phone. Never reason with a doubt or it will win, just demand it leave.

Doubts cannot be prohibited from stopping by but they can be refused entrance into our home. We may not be able to stop them from bothering us, but we can refuse to entertain them. Doubts are unwanted pests and must never be allowed into our hearts lest they then call in the rest of their party which are the most dangerous worries and fears.

14
Apr
13

How committed to our Christian faith are we–really?

Is the Word of God really the truth? This is the question we must ask ourselves every time a situation arises that challenges our professed faith in God and commitment to obey and follow His Son Jesus Christ. It is not enough to mouth the words “I believe”, for anyone (including demons) can do that. The only way to prove our faith and loyalty is to put our faith on the line through taking God at His Word.

For lucky Christians who walk around with a big smile plastered on their face and nary a care in the world to bother them; it is easy to forget how difficult it is to stay faithful in the face of adversity. For those Christians who only know how to preach, hellfire and damnation to anyone who disagrees with them; it is easy to lose touch with the reality of life in the real world and how hard it is to grab hold of the truth and never let go.

I can say with absolute certainty that the only reason I am still standing for God is because of my conviction that the Word of God (as expressed in His Son and through His written Word) is true no matter what things look like, how I feel or what is going on in my family, finances or faith. I refuse to yield to the temptation to blame God for bad things that happen to me. I refuse to believe the Word of God could be wrong.

The temptation to compromise the truth in the heat of battle is huge. When the executioner says he will spare your life if you renounce your faith, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your life is at stake. When your spouse or children threaten to not leave if you soften your stance on matters, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your family is at stake. When your employer threatens to terminate you if you wear a cross or refuse to lie, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your livelihood is at stake.

Deep within our hearts, each one of us has to decide what we really believe and how much do we believe it. From this belief will grow either a flimsy faith that is easily shaken and quickly discarded when trouble arises or a firm faith that the devil himself cannot break. The degree of conviction in our hearts is a personal matter between us and God. But, each one of us must establish the boundaries and limits of our faith. No one can do this for us.

How important is your personal faith in God? The answer to this question lies in how much you are willing to sacrifice for your faith. Ultimately, the level of our faith and conviction comes down to how deeply we believe that God is faithful, His Son Jesus Christ is LORD and His written Word is true. Unless we are WILLING to climb in the fiery furnace, get out of the boat, stand up to Goliath or spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness; how can we say our faith is strong?

Unless we are WILLING to give up everything to follow our Lord, lose our friends and family to stand on the truth or live in a tent eating locusts; how can we say we really believe the Word of God is true? Our willingness to believe is determined by the degree of faith in our hearts that God is faithful, Jesus is LORD and the written Word of God is true. Are we willing to put everything on the line for the truth?

10
Feb
13

If God said… Could we and would we believe, trust and obey Him?

If God said that He wanted you to give away all you own and live in a tent wherever He sent you; could you do it? Would you do it?

If God said that it was time to depart this life and come home to Him; would you yell and scream and say it is unfair or would you rejoice in anticipation of seeing God face to face?

If God said that He wanted you to rise up and become a leader for Him; would you do it or would you find a million reasons why you can’t?

If God said you must endure illness or suffer physical pain; could you handle it or would you complain?

If God said you must suffer persecution for what you believe, be defamed and ridiculed for your faith; would you be blessed or spend the rest of your life sulking?

In each of these cases, the scenario was introduced by the phrase “if God said”. If God says something it is indeed His Word. Believing God’s Word is not limited to that which is written in the Bible or spoken in prophecy. The Word of God is anything God says whether universally for all to hear via His written Word or individually as He speaks to our heart.

This world has conditioned us to believe that to really be happy in this life, we must have oodles of “things”, live 90 or more years, be successful in one’s profession, have no physical ailments or diseases and have no enemies. Unfortunately, many Christians believe their faith automatically gives them all these wonderful things and more.

Christianity is not defined by how many things you own, how long you live, how many children and grandchildren you have, how cool you are, how handsome or beautiful you appear, how healthy you are or how many friends you have. The truth is, Christianity has nothing to do with any of these things. If this is what a person desires, they should NOT become a Christian.

At the core of our faith is a loving and trusting relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. At the center of our faith is the burning desire to be a son in whom God is well pleased and honestly say our will is not important but rather doing His will. At the heart of our faith is our cry “Abba Father”.

If everything was ripped away from you and you were left naked and alone on a desert island, would you still be blessed and thankful or would you drown in self pity and complain about how unfair God is?

If every friend deserted you, you wife or husband left you, your children despised you and your parents disowned you due to your Christian faith; would you still love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength or would you walk away from Him angry and bitter?

We all need to honestly evaluate where we are at spiritually once in awhile and if we have fallen away, we need to be as the Prodigal and come home to the open arms of our loving and forgiving Father.