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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Despite Doubt: Power of Faith



Despite Doubt: Power of Faith

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do nto see.” Hebrews 11

            Faith means to commit to what we know and this passage describes
what faith does. When we trust what God has revealed, we bring the future into the present and make the invisible world visible.
            Martin Luther said that we must chose whether we are going to be theologians of glory or theologians of the cross. Theologians of glory look for God in the obvious places- storms, sunset, rainbow. But where do we really se God—in Jesus on the cross. Luther tells us that we must use God’s Word to interpret what we see because we are sinners and yet through Jesus we are forgiven. Romans 10:17—Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
            This complete dependence on God is what is constant in Hebrews. By faith different followers of God demonstrated their faith- by either claiming God’s promise or obeying His command even unto torture, flogging, prison, killed.. (Heb 11:33-38) Yet all are considered heroes of faith because they trusted in what God had done and will yet do. We also share the promise Jesus will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb 9:26-28)
            What does faith mean? It means to commit to what we know, not to what we don’t. What do you know/ What do you believe?
            Jesus pondered why some people believe and others don’t and concluded that the difference was God. He said, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. But Jesus also invites and commands us as well, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am  gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Remember that there will not be a day when you have everything figured out but no matter where you find yourself- come. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God (John 7:17). Obey the truth and you will eventually come to know even more truth. You will know more than enough to believe, more than enough to put your doubt away.

Reflection:
Do you find it easier to live by faith- trusting God’s promises and following His commands- when life is difficult or when things are going well? Why?
Where do you place your trust when you have doubt?  Is this helpful knowing that it is all right to doubt question and even wonder about faith in God?

           
PRAYER
Holy one as each person reads these words we pray that doubt will be filled with a renewed faith; questions will be answered and lead to further questions and that there is new life from within as each person journeys with their God. Bless these words offered to your praise and glory. Amen.

Michael E Wittmer, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith ch.20-23

PLEASE NOTE: This concludes this series on this book. Watch next week for a new series!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Despite Doubt: Promise, God’s Will and Answering God’s Call




Despite Doubt: Promise, God’s Will and Answering God’s Call

            What are the promises you have made to God? Maybe you promised
to love another person through all circumstances in marriage. Maybe you promised to bring up your children in faith until they could claim the promises themselves. Maybe you promised to answer God’s call and you are not sure of what this means for you right now. Or even maybe you are not knowing what promises you have made- because you have broken many, you don’t know God’s will for your life because you are not really sure and in answering God’s call, your phone rings more than the prayers you offer to God. But in contrast to all these things you have a deep faith in Jesus our Saviour and you are wondering what it is that God really wants you to do with your life. You have some idea of your gifts that you offer to God but putting it together is something that is not necessarily what you had in mind years ago. You are no longer comfortable in what Christ wants you to do.
            “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”  Does this statement hold any value for you? If you how? What do you do for Christ that will last? Or are you only thinking short-term? If you give to support the ministry of your church now are you thinking of the seeds that are planted by each person in your church family as they reach out to others? Or are you discouraged by the seeds which seem to fall away.
            How do you discern God’s will? By limiting ourselves to what we find in scripture we will focus on God’s moral will. God is more interested in how we live than what we do for a living, where we live and who we live with. Colossians 3:23 Work at your career with all your heart as working for the Lord. You are free to marry any Christian single, but having chosen one, you must become one. (Ephesians 5:21-33) You are free to live anywhere you please, but having chosen a place you must seek the peace and prosperity of the city (Jeremiah 29:7). The Bible also helps us to face difficult decisions by listing the central values and recognizing who you are.
            What does it mean to answer your call? Each of us who have accepted Christ must answer the primary call to follow but the shape of this call looks different for each of us, depending upon where God places us. But no matter what God calls you to do remember that it is the work of Christ that you do- loving others as Christ loves you.


            REFLECTION
It’s check up time:  What promises have you made? What values do you have that need to be reviewed? Why?  What are your top five callings? Have you answered all of God’s callings on your life?
PRAYER
Holy God your promises to us are true and yet we fail to always keep ours. We break the promises without fully understanding the consequences. We worry about who we are as individual people and how we might discern our gifts and follow you. We wonder if what we do is worthwhile in your eyes and yet for most of the time we continue to plant seeds. Help us to keep our promises, discern who we are in you and to fulfill our call to serve Christ. Erase the doubt and lift us up as your followers in faith and in love. Amen.

Michael E Wittmer, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith ch.17-19

PLEASE NOTE: Apparently these reflections were not sent out via email throughout the months of July and August however, they were posted to our website on a regular basis. If you would like to read the preceding reflections focusing on Wittmer’s book please go to www.glenwoodunited.com and click on for Social Media—Rev Dr Catherine’s blog and these are listed there.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Despite Doubt: Following God in Trust



Despite Doubt: Following God in Trust
           
           
Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Trusting in God is the key to being Christ’s followers for we only give ourselves to people we think we can trust. But we might ask, should I trust God’s promise to protect me even when asked to jump off a cliff? Satan tempted Jesus to do this but Jesus knew that God would help and rejected Satan’s request. Jesus refused to jump. He remembered Israel’s failure in the desert, the very sin He had come to replace. He told Satan not test God, and He already knew He could trust His Father. Jesus showed this faith when he obeyed God’s command and died on the cross clinging to the promise that He would rise again.
Faith starts from assurance and proceeds to risk. We enthusiastically take the chance of commitment when we are certain we have a word from the Lord. Counterfeit faith starts from uncertainty and leaps for assurance. 
A faithful life-is both less and more remarkable than many Christians know. It is less because the Christian life has never been about jumping off temples but about the daily response to obey. To love your neighbour day after day requires an act of God. Colossians 3:17, 23-24 states rules of Christian households. We have doubts about God and our relationship with Him but knowing God in faith helps us in our everyday world
Paul wrote “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Tim.1:12) Paul’s faith motivated him to visit Spain. It was his confidence in God which he believed inspired him to try. Paul followed Christ as a believer, His life forever changed and he walked in faithfulness knowing that God was with him. What about you?
.
REFLECT for a moment and respond:
Do you trust Jesus to show you the way? How can you tell if you are relying on Jesus?  Which requires faith: to sell your possessions and become a missionary in a foreign country or to support your family by dependably showing up for your regular job?
            Edward Teller writes “When you… step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”
Are you willing to step into the darkness of everyday unknowing? Are you willing to experience Christ’s light?
 “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus—than to trust and obey”—Do these words of an old hymn reflect your faith?

PRAYER
Wonderful God you call us to follow you in faith, but sometimes we wonder what this means. We are reminded that we must trust you and obey you in faith like Jesus did. Call us to follow you and speak to us as we strive to follow in faith. Hear us O God as we discern your will for our lives. Amen.

Michael E Wittmer, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith ch.13-16

PLEASE NOTE: Apparently these reflections were not sent out via email throughout the months of July and August however, they were posted to our website on a regular basis. If you would like to read the preceding reflections focusing on Wittmer’s book please go to www.glenwoodunited.com and click on for Social Media—Rev Dr Catherine’s blog and these are listed there.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Despite Doubt: Unbelief



Despite Doubt:  Unbelief
           
            What is the relationship between unbelief and faith? It is easy  Many will state that these doubts will not destroy faith. They breathe and continue to believe in Jesus and can find solace in Job who declared from his despair, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” Faith might be shaken up, but it is not lost.
to be faithful when there are no crises in one’s life but what happens when something happens that no one can explain?
            What is unbelief? It is a rejection of God and His will for us. It breeds doubts that diminish the knowledge that faith needs to believe. This indirect challenge of unbelief is more subtle than its direct, in your face assault, and for that reason it may be even more dangerous. We all have doubts but what is it that we are doing through omitting good spiritual practices that raise our doubts? Have you stopped going to church, praying and reading Scripture? If you aren’t paying attention to where God speaks, do not be surprised when you don’t hear His voice. If you don’t hear his voice or feel His Spirit guiding you, where will this lead—doubt, sin, and unbelief.
            Most people would rather doubt as it is easier than living fully in faith—less work, less stress. But if unbelief is a leading cause of doubt a key remedy to it is faith.
            We are followers of Jesus and through teachings and singing songs of faith we can move from doubt to unbelief to deep faith if we remember the words we are/were taught. This is part of being a disciple of Jesus and it is through the sources of discipleship—baptism, communion, statements of faith and the words of our cherished hymn/songs that we may grow and give us the strength we need each week.
            This is the discipline of discipleship- it is the practical way to grow spiritually. And when we grapple with doubt, the place where we need to be is with believers where God’s Spirit blows on the embers of your faith in the company of the faithful- the church family where one is welcomed in faith and with love.

REFLECT for a moment and respond:
Have you ever had moments of doubt and then remember a phrase from a hymn, the church’s “A New Creed” or a biblical passage that was just what you needed to help you through those moments of uncertainty? When you remembered these words give thanks to those who taught you—parents, church family and ministers in your life. This is what leads us to know we are not alone and that we grow in faith. This is what enables us to doubt and believe and grow closer to Christ. What special words do you remember?

PRAYER
God of grace and love, we doubt and we have moments when we are not sure what we believe. Help us O God to remember that your Spirit works in us and never leaves us. Build us up O God as we strive to be one with you and grow in faith. Amen..

Michael E Wittmer, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith ch.11-12

PLEASE NOTE: Apparently these reflections were not sent out via email throughout the months of July and August however, they were posted to our website on a regular basis. If you would like to read the preceding reflections focusing on Wittmer’s book please go to www.glenwoodunited.com and click on for Social Media—Rev Dr Catherine’s blog and these are listed there.