So, today I am going to talk to you about a subject that we all know about, but not everyone may fully understand. Today we are going to talk about Faith. So, what is Faith? The definition of Faith that I want to focus on today is this: "confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.'" According to this definition, faith is something that we all have, the question is what do we invest our faith into?
We can also infer from this definition that when we place our faith in a person, thing, or idea we place our entire faith. Everything within us that we have is placed in this person or idea. for example, if you are a parent and you child comes to you and asks you to invest in a business opportunity by investing large sums of money into the business, would you have the true faith in your child to invest all that you have to show your faith to that child. How many of us would say that we have full faith in our children, but not back it up with the public display of our faith? We wouldn't! If we truly have faith in the ability of our children, we would show it with our actions by giving the money required.
What about or faith as a Christian? Does our faith in Christ show by us being confident in the power of Christ? Do we trust Christ to the extent that our lives show in our everyday lives? The scripture that we will focus on today is in Romans chapter 3: 22. "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." let us dig into this verse. At first sight we can see that Righteousness of God comes from not only believing in Christ, but having faith in Him as God. What does that mean for Christians?
Well, if we look at our definition of faith, we can see that it means more than just believing, but we are called to have our life transformed by putting our faith into Christ. See, we can not just believe in Jesus Christ as God, but we are called to put our confidence and trust into the fact that Jesus is God. We are not only called to put our faith in the life of Jesus, but his death and resurrection. Lets read Romans 3: 25, “God presented him(Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
See, this verse shows that we are made righteous through the blood that Jesus shed in order to give us salvation. Why is this? Well, lets look at who Jesus was, go to Hebrews 1:3. We are going to read the first part of the verse, which says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s Glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
This verse is telling us that Jesus was not just an ordinary man, but the exact representation of God’s glory in the form of a man. All of the strength and power that God in heaven has, Jesus was also given.
Now that we have a better idea of who Jesus is and the power that He has, we would all agree that our Faith should placed in Jesus, not only because He is God in the flesh; but because He took the form of a man to die for our sin. His death, burial, and resurrections means so much to us as Christians because it means that we are given grace and we get to see heaven. We get to be with God for all eternity!
If Christ did all of this for us, why do we continually refuse to put our faith into His life and death to the point of allowing the Word of God to drastically change our lives and the way we live? Yes, we believe in Christ, even as God, but we choose not to put our faith in His blood and his power. WHY?!
How deep will our beliefs go if we don’t put our faith fully in what we claim to believe? If that is the case, our beliefs mean NOTHING TO US! Every person in the Bible that lived in faith gave their lives to God to use according to God’s plans. Those who did not place their faith in the sovereign power of God were usually left powerless and devoured by the LORD.
We can look at what the Apostle Paul says about Abraham’s faith. In Romans 4: 20 and 21 Paul says this, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what he had promised ”
See, Abraham knew what God had promised him and Abraham would not forget these promises and his faith showed that he believed God would fulfill His promises. Faith does not refuse to face reality but looks beyond all difficulties to God and his promises.
Are we living in this type of faith? A faith that transforms the way that we live and act toward everyone we encounter in our lives. We are, as the church, living lives that glorify God? Or do we just have enough faith to look like a Christian to those around us?
“Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
Reasons for Writing 12 I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.”
Throughout the remainder of this chapter, John continues to write to Christ followers about the life that they live. In Verses 5 the word “light” represents what is good, true and holy. On the other hand, “Darkness” represents what is evil and false.
In verse 6, John begins describing two different lifestyles-one characterized by wickedness and error, and the other by holiness and truth. Verse 6 also shows that we can not live in the darkness of our lives and claim to be Christians. The way that we live our lives show other weather we are in fellowship with the LORD or not. In other words, to have fellowship with God is to be in living, spiritual union with God.
Verses 9 discusses that, since we are broken and sinful people, if we tell God of our sins and turn from our wrongdoing, that God is willing and faithful to forgive us as long as we declare Christ as our Savior. Allowing Jesus to be the savior of our soul, God will be faithful in forgiving.
Verse 10-Throughout the Bible, God has revealed to us that we are all sinners and we are all unworthy of God’s grace and God’s heavenly kingdom. So, if we try to convince others that we have never sinned and that are not sinful, then we are calling Jesus Christ, our heavenly Father, a liar. If we are calling God a liar in our lives, why would we try to live by his words? Why would we place God’s words in our lives?
Verse 1- John reveals that he is writing this letter to encourage the Christ followers to remain away from sin, but John shows that when we do fall into sin that Jesus speaks to God on our defense of our sin. One way to think about it would be if we were in court for murder. God is the judge and Jesus is our attorney, fighting for our freedom from our sin.
Verse 2- God’s holiness demands punishment for human sin. Jesus was sent to be the substitution atonement for the believer’s sin. In this way God’s wrath was satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice. The wrath that was originally against the Christian’s sins was turned toward Jesus on the cross. This verse also shows that Jesus’ redemption for our sins is not solely aimed at one group of people, but that forgiveness is offered to anyone in the world who trust in Christ’s sacrifice.
Verse 3- john says that if we claim to know God and to have a relationship and it is not seen by our actions and the way we live our life, than we are lying to ourselves and to others. If we truly know God then the world and other believers will be able to see that by the way we keep His commands.
Verse 5- when we follow the words and commands that God has given us His love is made complete in us. This could mean either one of two things; first, God’s love for the believers is made complete when it moves the believers to acts of obedience. Second, our love for God becomes complete when it expresses itself in acts of obedience. Either way you look at this verse we see that as believers we are called to follow God in obedience and that is shown in our actions and the way that we live.
Verse 7- The command to love one another is not a new idea, but because of the love that Christ displayed on the cross the command is seen in a new way and a new light. We are called to love each other and that command is shown through the life of Jesus. John is saying that this command is something that we have been hearing from the first day that Christ was placed on this earth.
Verse 9- This verse is a reiteration of what is said at the end of chapter 1. As believers we are called to love those in our lives.
Verses 10- throughout the Bible the hatred and love as moral qualities are not primarily emotions, but attitudes expressed in action. In this verse when it uses the word “stumble” is referring to stumbling into past sins.
Verses 12 to14- John is speaking to the members of the church. By using words such as “Fathers” and “young men” it seems that John is describing two different levels of spiritual maturity. In this section, John assuring the members of the church that they know the true God and that God knows them. In this, John is encouraging the church to stay strong in the truth of Jesus Christ.
Questions to think about:
Why does John describe God as Light? Do you think that is a accurate description?
What are the ways we walk in the darkness?
How can we walk in the light?
What do we learn about sin? What is our job and what is Christ’s Job?
Of all the commands why does he mention #2-Loving others?
What sins get in the way of loving others?
How do we deceive ourselves? Have you ever done that?
What does he end the way he does-in a poem?
“The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our[a] joy complete.” 1John 1:1-4
Verse 1- John continues to use words such as “we” which is talking about him and the apostles that followed Jesus throughout the three years of ministry. In this verse John is showing that Jesus has existed forever and was on the earth among John and the other apostles. Through this, John is revealing that Jesus was on the earth, saying, “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched.” This contradicts that idea of Gnosticism, which said that Jesus only seemed to have a body and that it was not real. John is saying that Christ was both truly divine and truly human.
Verse 2- Jesus is being referred to as “the life” because He is the source of life (being the God who created life) and He is sovereign over life. The letter of 1John begins and ends with the idea of eternal life.
Verse 3- fellowship is the spiritual union of the believer with Christ. This idea is described in the figures of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-5) and the body and the head. (1Co 12:12; Col 10:18). Fellowship is also referred to as the communion with the Father and with fellow believers. Through John proclaiming what he has seen and heard, he is inviting us into fellowship with his congregation of believers.
Verse 4- John knows that his joy in the LORD could not be complete until those who read this letter share the true knowledge of the Christ.
Overall-these four verses begin a letter that testifies that Jesus was really God in the flesh and that He came to earth. John has seen and interacted with Jesus personally. John is most likely writing to the first generation church. Many of the people in his church were alive as Jesus was on the earth. John writes this book in order to encourage those who live in Christ to not loose focus on what Jesus had taught to His believers.
Answer/ Think about
Who is John talking about…….the One?
What do we learn about Jesus/The Father?
Why is John joyful?
If people looked at our lives what would it testify or proclaim?
How have we seen or experienced Jesus at work in our lives? If we haven’t, how can we get to know him and experience him?
How do we proclaim Truth?
I am currently sitting on a very uncomfortable bench at a nearby park; a park that I grew up around and spent so much of my childhood playing and growing with my friends. I have with me a collection of comic books, a Bible and my notebook. I am enjoying the light breeze as I read through my comic books. From the distance I can hear a small child’s bike approaching along with the footsteps of other kids and parents.
I love when parks are utilized for their express purpose.
I remain engaged to my books when the child rides by on his bike, his training wheels keeping the bike from teetering off balance.
“Hello,” The child said politely as he stopped his bike in front of me.
“Hey, how are you?” I smiled at the child and returned to the open pages of my book. Immediately the boy’s mothers called to him and requested that he move his bike and not bother me. The boy obeyed his mother and moved his bike to the same bench where his mother was placing her stuff.
While this situation began to unravel before me, I kept my attention toward my comics and remained silent about the mother’s request; but I’d be lying if I said that my mind wasn’t running various ideas and observations through my mind. I actually thought quite intently about the implications of the situation while I eyed the Batman collection.
The mother seemed scared. Without a second thought the mother became very protective. Why?
Is our world become that fearful of danger that we live our lives in constant worry of threat? Was I posing a threat to the children at this park by sitting quietly, reading and writing? If so, what was so threatening?
Now, I understand that traditionally we try to teach our children about various forms of stranger danger. Also, with the numerous advances that we have in today’s society, there are more stranger danger worries than ever before; I still do not believe that it benefits our society to live every moment in fear. It doesn’t help us to create a society where we are unable to meet and talk with new people.
A better time:
Through stories, movies, and television shows I have been given a pretty good idea of a time that has long since disappeared; a time where people were generally caring and considerate people. A time where being friendly was something to be valued and treasured.
This is a time way before my time. The only proof that I have of this wonderful time period is what media has depicted over the years and what I have heard from parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
Although I did not get the opportunity to live in this wonderful era of kindness and friendliness, my heart rejoices over the evidence that this time existed.
In today’s world judgment blankets our choices and re-directs our actions. We fill our minds with hypothetical “what ifs” and “maybes” that prevent us from truly connecting with a real person.
Instead of offering a genuine smile to a stranger and a friendly “hello” we hide in our houses and in our bubble of comfort, hoping no one tries to intrude.
As you may have noticed today’s encounter made me feel a bit awkward and outcast just a bit. I felt that this parent saw a young man and in their mind’s eye I was a no good person looking for trouble. Due to their judgment of me they took the steps to ensure that their child was safe, which I don’t blame them, if I was up to no good. Since I was just minding my own business, I see no reason why the parent should be cautious of me.
While I sat there working in the light breeze I continued to think through this situation a bit more. How often does this happen? I can count of a handful of times that it’s happened to me throughout my life. Out of all of the times that it has happened, how many of those times were unnecessary? I believe that most of the times that this type of thing happens it can be determined as unnecessary and unwanted, Lastly, I thought; have I been guilty of this type of judgment in my daily life? I thought about this deeply, hoping that I know better to judge an individual before I take the opportunity to get to know that person.
Now, I must ask those who are reading this; if you think through your days and you notice that you were either a victim to this behavior or an offender to this behavior I ask that you would correct your behavior and ask for guidance to adjust your mindset. Let’s create a society that is free from this judgment, which allows our kids to live in a society that is more like the community-based society that we have so sadly left behind over the last few decades.
Get out of the shade, enjoy the sunshine!
Definition: *From Dictionary.com
1. The shining of the sun; direct light of the sun.
2. Brightness or radiance; cheerfulness or happiness.
3. A source of cheer or happiness.
1. The comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area.
2. A place or an area of comparative darkness, as one sheltered from the sun.
“10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 3:10-4:3
Jonah was sent from his comfortable living to Tarshish, a very wicked place that Jonah despised deeply. Due to the fact that he loathed this place so intently along with the people that lived there, he ran away; leaving God’s plan to show grace to the Tarshish people behind. After a few life-threatening events and some time to think, Jonah revisited his calling from God and traveled to Tarshish to spread the message that was given to him. Although Jonah’s expectation was not so high, he continued with the plan. After sharing the message, Jonah awaited God’s judgment on the wickedness of Tarshish. When God relented, or held back, his anger due to the Tarshish people asking for forgiveness, Jonah was not happy. That is what we see in Jonah chapter 3:10 to chapter 4:3.
As I look though this passage I see perfect examples of darkness and light. Reading through this passage, I understand the implications and effects that darkness and light have on our lives. I also understand that you need both of them to grow closer to God with an intentionally deeper relationship.
Yesterday morning I woke up and went for a walk. With my headphones on I choose a selection of songs and began my descent down the road. The first few songs that I listened to were a bit dark in context, leaving a heavy effect on my mindset. I realized that my thought process and my emotions were being set into motion from the message of those songs. So, If I had continued to listen to song with a more negative and heavy emotional message to them, I would have had a heavier and more displeasing day. Opposite that, if I begin my day with up tempo, upbeat music with a positive message; my day would be more cherish and pleasant. I continued my walk with Christ-centered music and prayer and it was truly different.
What does this antidote have to the passage in Jonah?
We see in the context that in the beginning of Jonah there is a darkness of thought surrounding Jonah. This darkness magnifies the last bad experience that Jonah had with the people of Tarshish and uses it to warp and bend his belief in the goodness of God. Due to the previous experience that Jonah had with the people of Tarshish (whatever that experience was we are not sure) Jonah already had an opinion on whether they deserved God’s grace and forgiveness.
In many cases our upcoming day is determined by something from our past, typically the 24 hours prior. I know from experience that if I had a bad day one day I usually carried that emotion for the next 24 hours, which caused rift of bad vibes to ripple into the day, or days, to come. As a teacher I noticed this way too often. I would have a rotten day one day and because I would carry those toxic feelings the next day I was already setting myself up to have a rotten for the days to come. I was allowing my past events to dictate my future days.
The second thing that we notice is that the shade shielding Jonah’s vision allowed the darkness of his to try to use God’s goodness towards others and warp it into something wicked. In chapter 4 it says this, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah speaks this after admitting that he fled from fulfilling God’s word because he wanted to forestall, or prevent God saving the Tarshish people. The foul opinion of the Tarshish people clouded Jonah’s mind so much that he passed judgment on the people that he was called to preach to. In addition, Jonah was calling God out on his word saying that he knew that God wouldn’t punish the Tarshish people for their sins. Basically, Jonah was calling God soft.
When we are living with a dark cloud looming over our heads, whether that be sin or a cloud of bad attitudes and warped mindsets, anytime we see living or demonstrating correct manners or behavior we tend to see it as weak or soft. For example, if you have build the habit of filling our mind and mouth with foul language that tears people down and demeans them, anytime that you see someone who is polite and used their words to build individuals up you will typically see that as pathetic and feeble. Our mind has been distorted to believe that we are the manly ones or the tough ones. When, in actuality, we are showing ourselves as the one who is weak and in need of fixing.
The final area of darkness that we see in this passage is in chapter 4 verse 3. “3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” This darkness created such a hatred for the Tarshish people that when God forgave them and allowed them to live, Jonah became irrational and dramatic. He declared that he would rather die hating the people of Tarshish than see them live. Due to the darkness that filled his heart and clouded his mind, Jonah did not see that value that God saw when it came to these chosen people. His distorted mindset saw them as unworthy, vile and disgusting human beings who deserved the eternal separation from God the father.
Throughout this passage we see one example of sunshine. Although there is only one, it truthfully triumphs over the three examples of the shade that we see. In chapter 3 verse 10 it says, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Despite his disagreement, Jonah delivered the message that God gave him to the people of Tarshish and they grabbed on to it firmly. They believed in the warning turned their lives and their hearts to God. When God saw the hearts of these people whom he loved dearly change before His eyes I could only imagine that He was filled with an extraordinary amount of joy. So much so that he showed them grace instead of punishment and He gave them a new life to live. Although we don’t know what it is, we know that many of the Tarshish people live under the shady reach of sin. A sin that clouded their minds and possibly filled their hearts with the same hatred that filled Jonah’s, but because of the grace and mercy of a loving and compassionate God, they were freed from that umbrella of sin and allowed to live in the sunshine of the Heavenly Father.
We may have dark cloud looming over us that directly effects our day or our attitude. This cloud may cause us emotional damage or scarring over time, but it doesn’t have to last forever. We are able to walk away from the covering of that cloud and see the world in the vibrant light of the Heavenly Father’s grace and mercy. This grace and mercy allows us to see the beauty in the world regardless of the evidence of the fallen world that we live in.
Through the message of the gospel and the cross of Christ we can live in glorious days that are filled with the love and compassion of God, a very caring father. We do not need to let the darkness of our past experiences or our foul attitude dictate how beautiful the day will be.
What kind of day will you have? Will you continue to live in the shade or will you enjoy the sunshine?
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.