Tag Archive | God’s promises

Faith is Like a Fish

Do trials increase our faith?

Have you heard that trials increase our faith? “Trials and troubles … are treadmills for the soul.”[i]

faith

That certainly may be true. But if trials increase faith, then we should be muscle-bulging spiritual giants and we should be surrounded by people of massive faith. We have no lack of trials, but we often have a lack of faith.

Clearly, it is not trials themselves which develop our faith.

In fact, our problems present as much opportunity to weaken faith as they do to strengthen it. Satan wants to use our trials for his destructive purposes, just as God wants to use our trials for His life-giving purposes. What makes the difference, then?

How can we go through tough times so that we are strengthened instead of shredded?

We can ask ourselves two important questions:

  • Who has our ear?
  • Who has caught our eye?

We always have the choice to listen either to our circumstances or to our God. We always have the choice to focus our gaze either on our circumstances or on our God. One will be a misty fog to us, and the other will be a solid rock.

faith

If we listen to the enemy speaking to us through our circumstances, we will hear faith-crumbling lies about God. We will hear that He doesn’t care, doesn’t know, or doesn’t have enough power. If we put our eyes on our circumstances, God will seem to be an unreliable vapor to us.

If, however, we listen to God’s voice as we go through trials, we will hear faith-building truth. Not only will we hear about God’s love, wisdom, and power, but we will witness them firsthand.

What does increase our faith?

If faith does not come from trials, from where does it come? The Scriptures explain that faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). As we experience problems in life, we must open the Scriptures and listen to the promises of God. We can then take those promises, throw them down like planks over a ditch, and walk on them.

faith

Robert Morgan says that we will “never encounter any situation for which God has not provided a precious promise to bear us through it.”[ii]

How is faith like a fish?

Thomas Watson, a Puritan from the seventeenth century, had another great word-picture for this same concept. He said, “Faith lives in a promise, as the fish lives in the water.”[iii]

blue-tang-1288727_640

If you are going through a trial without living in a promise, then your faith will struggle like a fish out of water!

Ask God for His specific promise for you in the trial you are facing now. Plant your feet in it. Cling to it. Swim in it!

Who has your ear? Your problems, or your God?
Who has caught your eye? Your troubles, or the beauty of Christ?
Let your circumstances be the temporary mist. Let God be your immovable, eternal Rock.

When you focus on God, your trials will serve you. They will strengthen your faith, expand your capacity for joy, and maximize your delight in the glories of Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you,
Tami

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We have been going through The Red Sea Rules on our weekly prayer call. Join us tomorrow (Thursday) for Rule #10 and for an encouraging time of prayer for our marriages and families. Click HERE for more information.

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[i] Robert Morgan. The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times. Nelson. 2001. 96.
[ii] ibid. 102-103.
[iii] ibid. 103.

It’s Time to Celebrate!

Have you ever celebrated Pentecost in your home? This coming Sunday is Pentecost, which God gave to us as a special day of rejoicing (Deut. 16:11). Observing Pentecost with your family or friends can be a wonderful celebration. Although Pentecost is not a complicated celebration,  it is one of great joy.

Pentecost was one of the seven feasts that God instructed the ancient Israelites to observe (and one of the three which required mandatory attendance in Jerusalem). Pentecost is a time to rejoice in God’s goodness to us.  At Pentecost, we celebrate three gifts:

1. The gift of the Scriptures. Pentecost is held fifty days after Passover. (Pentecost means “fifty.”) Fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were at Mount Sinai. With loud sounds and with fire, God gave the Law and the Ten Commandments on Pentecost as part of the first covenant. God told the people to present to the LORD two loaves of bread as part of the Pentecost offerings. This bread, unlike the Passover bread, was “baked with yeast” (Lev. 23:17).
The first thing we celebrate are the Scriptures that God has given to us.  These words that are not just idle words—they are life to us (Deut. 32:4).  Like bread, they are nourishing to our spirits; like honey, they are sweet to our souls; like a lamp, they guide us.

2. The gift of the Holy Spirit. Fifty days after Jesus gave Himself as the Passover Lamb of God, the disciples were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. With loud sounds and with fire, God gave the Holy Spirit on Pentecost as part of the new covenant. So the second thing we celebrate is the Holy Spirit, who gives us boldness, comfort, power, and instruction.

3. The gift of the spring harvest, and the promise of the fall harvest. Pentecost in ancient Israel occurred at the time of the wheat harvest in the spring. When the Jews gave their “firstfruits” as offerings to God during this festival, they were thanking God for the spring harvest as well as for the coming fall harvest. Pentecost is  a “firstfruits” celebration for us, too, meaning that we are offering to God our first and best–not our leftovers–both as an expression of gratitude for what He has given and also as a statement of confidence that He will provide again.

English: Picture of wheat from Czech republik

The Jewish people traditionally read the book of Ruth on Pentecost because most of the story of Boaz and Ruth occurred during the spring harvest in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”).  God gave Boaz and Ruth good things in their lives, such as a son, a grandson, and a great grandson, King David–this was a “spring harvest.”  These blessings were also promises of abundant good things still to come: the Messiah came through their family line!

Ruth in Boaz's Field

We learn in Acts 2 that on the day of Pentecost, after the disciples received the Holy Spirit, three thousand people became followers of Christ. This was an “harvest” of souls–an abundant spring harvest! It gives us confidence that God will also bring the “fall harvest” that He has promised.

An interesting Jewish tradition on Pentecost is to read from Ezekiel 1, a passage which refers to a great windstorm and to fire. Perhaps these images were in the disciples’ thoughts as they then encountered for themselves the sound of a mighty wind and the sight of fire. In the excellent book God’s Appointed Times, Barney Kasdan makes these comments:

Imagine thousands of Jewish worshipers leaving the Temple after the morning service (at the third hour, Acts 2:15) having just read the passage from Ezekiel 1. Suddenly some of the same manifestations of the Holy Spirit started to appear before their eyes! No wonder they were amazed and perplexed by the windstorm and fire. It certainly got their attention! They must have wondered if God was revealing his Shekinah glory for the first time in early 600 years! The glory of God was present at the giving of the Law; the same glory was manifested at the giving of the holy spirit. The prophet later wrote: “I will put my Spirit in you and cause you to walk in my statutes…” (Ezekiel 36:27). *

It is fascinating, too, to see in Romans 8:23 that the Holy Spirit is referred to as “firstfruits,” that is, He is God’s good gift to us, and He is also a promise of the abundance of good gifts still to come.

So how can we celebrate all of this on Sunday?  Here are some simple ideas, which you can either simplify or embellish.

1. Decorate (optional):  Use flowers, greenery, or other decorations to represent spring. Perhaps using your best dishes will make the time more festive.  If you have something that symbolizes harvest (such as wheat, barley, or fruit), that would be great, too.

2. Celebrate the Scriptures:  Serve bread, and talk about how the Scriptures nourish us. Read Deuteronomy 8:3. Serve honey (or jam for children under 2), and talk about how the Scriptures are sweet to us.  Read Psalm 119:103. Light candles or use flashlights as you discuss how the Scriptures are like light for us. Read Psalm 119:105.  You may also want to read Psalm 19:7-11.

3.  Celebrate the Spirit: Express thankfulness for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. You might read Acts 2:1-4 and Romans 8:5-16. Other verses about the Holy Spirit that you may want to read are John 14:16-17, 26.

4.  Celebrate the harvests:  You may want to serve barley soup as a reminder of the spring harvest.  (You can easily add barley to vegetable soup or to beef-and-vegetable soup.)  Thank God for what He has provided for you and your family recently (the spring harvest), and thank Him that He is going to provide in the future (the fall harvest).  Read Acts 2:38-41, noticing the spring harvest of souls. Perhaps you will want to pray for more laborers to work in the harvest fields (Matthew 9:38) and for God to bring an abundant fall harvest of people who will love Him.

Happy Pentecost!

*Barney Kasdah. God’s Appointed Times: A Practical Guide for Understanding and Celebrating the Biblical Holidays. Clarksville, Maryland: Lederer Books. 1993. pages 55-56.