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The Joys of Art

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Orleans

You people always want to have your way don't you??? Well I am going to be watching you since you have managed to trump plans for consolidation....Not that two boards are necessarily a bad thing but the reasoning had better not be because people in high offices want to continue in sin expecting GRACE to abound...I assure you that GRACE will not abound on your behalf....God has asked me to get more serious in my prayers to include asking that He require people's souls....I won't allow anyone in office to bring weakness to our port city and even the state of Louisiana.....And I will start asking Him to send volley after volley of tornadoes to New Orleans to wake your butts up if necessary....A spirit of confusion abounds in this special session and God is not happy with that at all....Many of you attending this special session are naturally confused (meaning you love strife and confusion, discord and chaos and that these familiar spirits abound with you)....I am watching you and I will ask God to wake you up.....

Our most powerful weapons are not physical but they are spiritual....Black people tend to have problems with this understanding particuarly because we tend to live in a emotional (physical) realm the majority of our lives....There are vile creatures out there looking to destroy you and hollering "Oh God" at the last minute like we as Black people LOVE to do is NOT going to cut the mustard anymore!!! You people had better wake up and realize that you are in a whole different kind of warfare (President Bush has told you this and you STILL DON'T GET IT!!!)....Spiritual blindness exists all over this nation....There are hidden agendas out there designed just for the unbelieving and the apostate....And yes they are hidden but are nevertheless real.....I have never believed in aliens but I assure when I start hollering out that something is strange about many people who are in charge of this nation then you'd better start listening....Yes they are hiding (in human flesh) and don't think that they are not waiting for the day when they can pull the cloak off....You'd do better to uncloak your eyes, minds, and hearts before they uncloak theirs....


FAITH

"Shall He find Faith"? Email page | Print page

Submitted: Sep 17, 2003 Updated: Apr 24, 2005
By Ray Foster, rf@mt-rushmore.net


Scripture: Luke 18:7,8

Hymn of Praise: 110 God’s Free Mercy Streameth

Hymn of Consecration: 330 Take My Life and Let it Be

Luke 18:1 - 8 And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (You hear that President Bush?!!! Vice President Cheney?!!!)

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Jesus was a great Storyteller. One of the reasons He told stories, or parables, was because He could say things in story or parable form that He could not in plain language. Many times the leaders got the message and hated Him while the people heard only the story and loved Jesus. This story in the first 8 verses of Luke 18 is presented as a parable. Parables are stories with meanings. So we need to ask: "What was Jesus saying in this parable?" We are told up front that the point or purpose of the story is to give us hope and endurance: "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." At the end of the short parable Jesus asks a question: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" We are in the time when the Lord is coming back to receive His own. Is there faith on earth today?

I have always considered this question the saddest words of Jesus recorded in the Bible. "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Jesus said: "I am telling you this story to give you hope and courage - Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" This fits with His advice to His followers that they are to gain warmth from the coldness and strength from the weakness and courage from the cowardice of others.

What was Jesus saying? What is the meaning of this?

My current understanding is that in order to understand this story we need to know what Jesus had in mind with what He called "faith". The story Jesus told was about a widow that experienced a long delay. She had to be very persistent to get her request answered by an unjust judge. Jesus contrasts the unjust judge with God and those who cry day and night to Him. Jesus says that God bears long and avenges speedily. Then Jesus uses the "N" word, "nevertheless". I understand the "nevertheless" word to mean that in spite of God bearing long; in spite of God avenging those who call on Him speedily, in spite of these two qualities presented about God, when God comes at the end of the world, will He find faith? In order to understand this story we need to know what Jesus had in mind with what He called "faith". Whatever faith is I get the message that we must be prepared to be persistent as the widow was and even when it is apparent that the judge is not a God-fearing judge, to still persist because God is still in control.

The first text that comes to mind in considering the meaning of faith, is Hebrews 11:1 – 3:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Verse 6 "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

These four verses tell us five things about faith:

Faith is substance.
Faith is evidence
Faith results in a good report with God for those who have it.
Faith gives understanding concerning creation.
Faith must be present to please God.
Let us first of all try to understand what these five faith-things mean. Then we will try to put them all together into one concept.

1. Substance – Faith is substance. What is substance? In Websters 1828 dictionary we find this word: SUB'STANCE, n. [L. substantia, substo; sub and sto, to stand.]

In a general sense, being; something existing by itself; that which really is or exists; equally applicable to matter or spirit.
What I am hearing in this definition of substance is that things with substance are real in terms of being a concrete reality as apposed to an idea or a feeling. Faith is something of substance or concrete or objective reality. When you have faith you have something substantive; something that is real. It is so real that you can stand on it. You can depend on it.

2. Evidence – Faith is evidence. What is evidence? EV'IDENCE, n. [L. evidentia, from video, to see.]

1. That which elucidates and enables the mind to see truth; proof arising from our own perceptions by the senses, or from the testimony of others, or from inductions of reason.

Putting these two "faith is" Scriptural statements together I am reminded of what a little boy said faith was. The candid child said: "Faith is believing what you know aint so!" This ritual, celebration type faith is the modern counterfeit of genuine faith. Putting it into our current vernacular we could say that genuine faith is: "Faith is doing what shows that we know it is so!" My current understanding is that this is what Jesus was talking about. To paraphrase the question Jesus asked we could ask: "When Jesus returns will He find people doing what demonstrates His life?" This I believe is faith! Doing what Jesus would do in our place gives us a good report in heaven. On earth it causes dissention and strife. This is what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 10:32 - 40 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

And a man's foes [shall be] they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

We confess and deny Jesus most visibly and clearly by what we do. Faith that is seen by Godly living puts us out of harmony and at variance with the ungodly and brings and results in strife and divisions. There is another counterfeit to faith and Godly living which centers on the strife and variance! The terrorist lives out all the faith he or she has and loses his or her life for god’s sake in acts of strife and violence. The question is: "What god is being served?" Jesus warned us about this when he said in John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

In the next verse Jesus tells us why the Godly are being martyred: "And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me."

And this reminds us of something else that Jesus said in John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Then in the next verse He tells us about His faith experience with His Father – how He expressed He knowledge of His Father:

John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

Beloved, God loves each of us. God created us. This is true whether we acknowledge and love God or not. And God has given each of us – because of His love and because of His ownership of each of us based on creation and redemption – God has given each of us a work to do for Him. Faith is expressed and seen in our doing the work that God has given us to do. Faith in God means being faithful to God in doing the work and also living the life of Jesus. Faith is nothing more and nothing less than living the life of God. This is not believing what you know aint so. This is doing what you know is so! I am a child of God by creation and redemption. You are a child of God by creation and redemption. The messenger of the Lord tells us that a man acts out all the faith that they have. In Testimonies to the Church Vol. 2 page 196 we read:

"I have been shown that God's people who profess to believe present truth are not in a waiting, watching position. They are increasing in riches and are laying up their treasures upon the earth. They are becoming rich in worldly things, but not rich toward God. They do not believe in the shortness of time; they do not believe that the end of all things is at hand, that Christ is at the door. They may profess much faith; but they deceive their own souls, for they will act out all the faith that they really possess. Their works show the character of their faith and testify to those around them that the coming of Christ is not to be in this generation. According to their faith will be their works. Their preparations are being made to remain in this world. They are adding house to house, and land to land, and are citizens of this world." {2T 196.2}

Looking again at Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

FAITH, n. [L. fides, fido, to trust; Gr. to persuade, to draw towards any thing, to conciliate; to believe, to obey. In the Greek Lexicon of Hederic it is said, the primitive signification of the verb is to bind and draw or lead, as signifies a rope or cable. But this remark is a little incorrect. The sense of the verb, from which that of rope and binding is derived, is to strain, to draw, and thus to bind or make fast. A rope or cable is that which makes fast. Heb.]

1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence; the judgment that what another states or testifies is the truth. I have strong faith or no faith in the testimony of a witness, or in what a historian narrates.

Here Webster tells us that the Latin means "trust" and the Greek means "to bind to or make fast". Then Webster goes on to say that the binding aspect of faith is a little incorrect and goes on to define faith as belief or assent of the mind and distances the definition from its original meaning of binding. And this concept is matured in society today. Faith is popularly held as a non-binding belief or mental assent of the mind. This is the counterfeit of true faith that is binding and expressed or shown in works.

The servant of the Lord tells us in Desire of Ages page 309 "The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ's day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists."

And beloved this is where we are in the earth’s history. This is what Jesus was talking about. "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith?"

So putting all this together, genuine faith is acting out what you know is so. Genuine faith is also being faithful in the same way that God is faithful. Faith is being faithful like God is faithful. God has faith in what we can all become through His grace. We can all become like God in character because the life of God is in you by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God is the only source of true faith. Faith is believing in and accepting other people and investing time and effort in them because this is how God is and this is what the Holy Spirit empowers and prompts you to do. Faith is living the life of Jesus because you are moved by the love of God. Faith is the visible expression of love. Faith is the visible expression of the life of God in you.

Now you may be feeling a storm of sentiments and surges of feelings within you. You may not have had a past experience similar to my wife. She was brought up in a loving family and knows no stranger and admits to no hurt in her whole life – even if I have made her cry a few times. Your past experience may have been characterized as being bruised and hurt and walked on and bullied. You may have built up thick, strong walls of defense to protect yourself from others and the idea giving up all this defense and of accepting and believing in others is met with incredulity based on your past experience. If faith includes accepting and believing in others the way God does, you want nothing to do with it!

I grew up in boarding school. I was 5 years of age when I was sent off to boarding school. One of the reasons I was sent off to school at age 5 was that I was so resistant to the efforts of my mother to teach me at home. We lived on the edge of the Kalihari desert in what was then called Bechuanaland which was then a British Protectorate in Africa. Today it is called Botswanna. Today it is an independent nation. When my mother tried to teach me she had me sitting on a chair at the table with a book in front of me and I would stiffen up my body like a log and slide off the chair and go plop under the table! I was quite resistant to spankings. So it was partly in exasperation that I was send off to boarding school. At boarding school there were the usual fights and clicks and pecking order among the students. One of the tough boys was Peter Potgieter. One day Peter told me that if I had any trouble; if anybody tried to beat me up, just to let him know and he would take care of them. I had faith in Peter Potgieter. The faith I had in Peter Potgieter gave me great freedom of mind and movement. And I was free from fear. I knew that Peter would do all he said he would do and I acted out that confidence that I had in Peter. This is what Jesus wants our faith to do for us. Jesus says to each of us: "If you have any trouble with anybody or with any circumstance or with any sin in your life – just let me know and I will take care of it for you!" Jesus is real. His power is unlimited. We can act out and we do act out all the faith we have in Jesus.

And I believe that being fearful of what will happen to us if we allow God to pull down our walls of self-defense and open our minds to having belief and trust and acceptance of others the way Jesus does is an important obstacle to faith today. We do not mind to believe with a mental assent that Jesus is all He says He is. But to allow God to make me all that Jesus was on earth; to be as vulnerable as Jesus allowed Himself to be to shame and spitting and rejection and crucifixion – that is a major reason for refusing the love and the faith of Jesus. It is fear of being bullied and unwillingness of taking that risk that may prevent me from accepting the gift of faith that is essential to have in my life in order to live the life of Jesus and to please God in the same way that Jesus did. Even when we understand that God only allows what is for our best good to happen to us, we still do not want it. We want peace in our times!

So what is the answer to this realistic fear? First, by God’s grace, we have to be willing to die rather than to be separated from God. The love of self will separate us from God. We need to be willing to give up anything and everything for God’s sake. It is a distortion of the truth as it is in God to use the phrase "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:" Leviticus 19:18 to mean that self-love is good. What is being said is that as we in our depraved state love ourselves, that is the way we will be in our love to our neighbour when we are converted and cleansed from self-love. This is the end point that regularly occurs in our Christian walk. Self is an idol. We cannot protect ourselves in reality. Being willing to put self on the altar of sacrifice in the same way that Abraham bound Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, is what God asks us to do on a daily basis. So what are we to do?

There are four steps that we must take to put self on the altar of sacrifice and receive the gift of faith and love and joy:

Come to Jesus by faith – just as we are with all of our fears and lack of genuine faith.
Take hold of the merits of Jesus. Take hold of the faith of Jesus and ask God to make the faith of Jesus your faith.
Place self on the altar of sacrifice. Let go of self and put it on the altar of sacrifice.
Accept the faith and love and life of Jesus for God’s sake and to the glory and honor of God.
"The assurance of God’s approval will promote physical health." 3BC1146 Physical health includes mental health and is the foundation of spiritual health. I understand that your church is involved in a lot of outreach. With self crucified and Jesus on the throne of the heart is the only way to reach out to others and share with them what Jesus has done for you.

Those who would like to risk all for Jesus and put self on the altar of sacrifice and receive the gift of faith and love, are invited to come forward and knell with me. Knell with me as you are able to and we will ask Luie to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us and make us wholly God’s.

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