Category Archives: Faith

Faith is all that is required

Luke 2:46-48a

And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” NIV

Mary has learned that she will be the mother of the son of God.  She has visited Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist, and the two of them have rejoiced together over the first coming of Christ.

These are the first verses of the song that Mary sings to God.

Mary is facing real uncertainty.  No one has ever done what she has been called to do.  She is engaged, but not married, and her pregnancy would surely put her earthly future in jeopardy … but, Mary isn’t worried about the future.

Instead, she focuses on the miracle of the moment, saying, “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary has true faith.  God blesses that.  He is mindful of her … he chooses her from all other women to be the mother of His son.

She’s not a rich person … she’s not a successful business woman … she is not moving or shaking anything when God chooses her … she is simply a young woman who believes.

Faith is all that is required to be used by God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Don’t quit!

Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  NIV

Be faithful.

The Message paraphrases this part of the verse, “Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life.  Stay there believing.” MSG

Whatever comes, whatever trials you must endure, whatever or whomever tries to rob you of your joy … be faithful!

That’s what I’ll think about today.


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Filed under Faith, Fear, New Testament, Revelation, Worry

Wait, God will answer

Psalm 38:15

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. NIV

Faith.  Hope.  Trust.

David has all of these things.  In this Psalm, he writes of being weary and persecuted.  Verses 10 says“My heart’s about to break;  I’m a burned-out case” MSG

But even though he is at the end of his rope, he waits, in hope, for God.

I am so thankful for David’s example.

This morning, as I was looking at the occurrences of the word, “wait” in the New International Version of the Bible, Psalm 33:20 caught my eye, “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” NIV

God is my hope.  He knows the future.  My hope is in Him.

He is my help.  I may not have the strength to withstand all that I encounter here, but, His strength is limitless.

He is my shield.  I don’t have to worry about standing up against all of the circumstances that might assail me here … God is my shield.

“I will wait for you, O Lord.” I will wait and hope and not worry about the future.  “You will answer, O Lord my God.”

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Faith, Hope, Old Testament, Psalms, Wait, Worry

Faith = Confidence

I Thessalonians 3:5

For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith.  I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.  NIV

This is a continuation of the point that I looked at yesterday.  Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, which he has been unable to visit.  This was the verse that I originally found yesterday when I was searching The Message for the word, “worry.”

Paul says, “That’s why I couldn’t quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith.  I didn’t want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built together.” MSG

Everything we had built together …

Over the last several months, God and I have been hard at work.  I have learned so much.  I have grown so much.  I have needed this time to glimpse a corner of the plan that He has for me.  I don’t yet have all of the pieces of the puzzle, but, I am firmly grounded in Him … more firmly, perhaps, than I have ever been.

And yet, Paul points out that these kinds of experiences can be impermanent.

I don’t want that.

I don’t want to be disrupted and upset by the potholes that I find in my path … I don’t want to be stymied by the boulders that I might find there, either.

Instead, I will stand firm in my faith.  I will rely upon God.

Henry Blackaby says, “Faith is confidence that what God promised or said will come to pass.  Sight is the opposite of faith.  If you can clearly see how something can be accomplished, more than likely, faith is not required.”

Faith = Confidence.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Don’t try to micro-manage God

Ephesians 3:22-23

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.  NIV

At first glance, this might not seem like a reminder not to worry … but it is.

Christ is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

All we ask …

Often, my prayers are machine-gun like … “God, I need this, and this, and this, and this; and so-and-so needs this, that and the other thing; and this is coming; and you know all of this, and I’m so stressed about it; and take this stress; and thank you.”

Over the last several days, I’ve been convicted that I ask a lot, but that I don’t listen or wait for an answer.  I tend to throw all of my worries over my head to God, and then rush off, fearing that if I stay, gravity will take over, and they will all come to rest right back on my head.

But, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask.

Do we try to micro manage God?  I think the answer is, “yes.”  We want an outcome, a specific outcome, at this time and in this place and in this way.  We know that we don’t control the future, we acknowledge things to come as being under His control, but, don’t we try to gain a little of that control for ourselves by requesting the outcomes that will meet our needs?


But, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we  ask … and, here’s the kicker … or imagine!

God’s plan is so much bigger, His power so much greater, that my feeble mind can’t even imagine it!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot  lately.

The image I have is of three concentric circles.  I’m in the middle one.  If I look only to myself, to my own skills and abilities, there are things that I know that I can accomplish.  I know that either because I’ve done them before, or because accomplishing even a new thing would require the knowledge, skills and abilities that I have been proven to possess.  Staying in my own circle, there are several things that I can accomplish.  None of them require faith.

In the next circle are my family and friends.  Many things that I cannot accomplish on my own can be easily managed if I will enlist the help of a friend.  For instance, I can’t do math in my head, but, I have a childhood friend who excels at this.  She recently sat in on a discussion I was leading.  I knew that if anything mathematical arose in that discussion, while I would be caught flat footed, I could quickly look to her and she would have already calculated the answer.  She does this automatically.  It is one of the skills and abilities that God chose to give her, but not me.  That confidence of knowing that I wouldn’t have to struggle with math in my head or to look stupid did not require faith, it required only the presence of my friend.

The third circle is amorphous.  And, while the first two exist in two dimensions in my head, like hula hoops on the ground, the third is spherical, it exists in three dimensions, and I’m completely uncertain of its size or potential.

That sphere is what God can accomplish, if I and my friends and family are willing to step outside our own little circles and allow Him to work through us.

That sphere is limitless … it is of a size “immeasurable more than I can ask or imagine.”  To access it, to live in it, requires faith, not worry or doubt.  Living in that sphere requires faith that God can and will deliver in ways that will bring glory only to Him.  To experience that, I must cease my rapid-fire asking.  I must wait upon the Lord.  I must be still and await His instructions.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Ephesians, Faith, New Testament, Trust, Worry

Study how he did it

Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NIV

This is the second of three powerful verse that open Chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews.

My NIV Bible gives some background on this book.  According to that synopsis, this letter was written during the time of the first century church, which was undergoing a good deal of persecution.  It goes on to say that the recipients of the letter were likely “Christians who were thinking of abandoning their faith.”  Throughout the book, the author, who is unknown, but thought to be Barnabas or Apollos, “exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Christ as savior and Lord.”

Our church is studying Max Lucado’s book, Fearless.  Last week,we discussed chapter 13, titled, “What if things get worse?”  The chapter addresses the fear of global calamity.

There’s a lot of global calamity going on at the moment.  There are earthquakes, the oil debacle, longstanding wars, devastating hunger, financial collapse.  There is also some persecution of the Christian faith.  Like those Christians who are the recipients of the letter of Hebrews, the persecution that we face in the U.S. has not yet resulted in martyrdom, but, for the first century Christians, my Bible says, the persecution was severe.  Lucado points to verses (Matthew 24:4-14) that indicate it will get worse.

It is through that lens … pressure that the church was struggling to bear up under … that this book is written.  And, if we use that lens today, these verses still inspire.

Worry can exert internal pressure as powerful as any external force.  When that happens, we must heed the instruction of the writer of this letter, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Hebrews, New Testament, Worry

The Holy Spirit will remind you

John 14:26-27

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  NIV

Christ provides a beautiful reminder here.  The hearts of the disciples were no doubt troubled because they didn’t understand all that Jesus was telling them.  He was speaking of leaving them and God’s entire plan had not yet been made clear to them.

I love how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit here, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything clear to you.  He will remind you of all the things I have told you.” MSG

I don’t believe that I have ever focused on that.  I’m not certain that I consciously recognized that one of the key roles of the Holy Spirit is to remind us of the teachings of Christ.

That’s pretty powerful … and certainly a reminder not to worry.

I’ll have to think about that today.

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Our foundation will endure

Isaiah 54: 14

In righteousness you will be established:  Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear.  Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. NIV

In my Bible, this chapter is called, “The Future Glory of Zion.”  It is a series of promises from God to his people, and it contains at least two reminders not to worry.  The first, Isaiah 54:4, is one that I found early in the project.  This is the second.

In the verses immediately preceding this one, God talks about building.  Verse 11 says, “I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires.” I love that.

When I think about these verses through the lens of the verse I looked at  yesterday … I can see that there is something here to learn.

I am pretty certain that the rock on which my friends’ house is built is granite.  In the last several years, granite seems to have increased dramatically in value, as everyone and his brother was out redoing their kitchens and bathrooms.  I’ve personally walked through warehouses of the stuff and been shown a dizzying array of colors and patterns.  But, prior to the last several years, I have to believe that most people looked at granite like I did, as just, well, rock.  Sapphires on the other hand are stones that have been valued in our culture for a very long time.

God will build our foundation of something that all can see has real value … Jesus Christ.

When I looked up “righteousness” in my Hebrew to English dictionary, I was pleased to learn that one of its definitions is “salvation.”   I looked up “be established,” and it means, “to put in place, make secure.”

In righteousness I will be established … I am put in place and made secure through my salvation.

I love that image.

My grandmother’s house is gone.  I don’t know exactly what happened to it, because she died when I was young.  I remember visiting her there, but, we lived several states away so, the exact circumstances of the house’s demise are a mystery to me.

However, the foundation is still there.  Years ago, my husband and I visited the town.  I found the foundation, and walked all around it … like a kid would walk on a wall.  Not all of the square that was the house is visible above ground.  Some of it has been covered by dirt and undergrowth, but, as I walked, I could see that all of it was still in place.  I can remember where all of the rooms were located, and, as I walked, I saw the house as it had been when I was young.

The house did not stand.  But the thing about foundations is that they are solid, and often the things that impact stuff above ground does not affect them (tornadoes, hurricanes, bulldozers).

The worries of this world are like those forces … but, my life is planted on a foundation that is completely solid.

I am firmly set in place atop a gorgeous, precious, immovable rock.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Isaiah, Old Testament, Trust, Worry

Plant faith and do things to make it grow!

Mark 4:40

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?” NIV

This is the story of a furious storm that comes up when Jesus and the disciples are all in a boat.  According to verse 38, Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.  The boat, meanwhile, was taking on water.  Verse 37 says that it was almost swamped.

I love what the disciples say when they wake him up in verse 38, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

I totally understand why they are so snippy.

Presumably, the disciples have been working to solve the problem on their own.  They’ve likely tried to steer the boat appropriately, they’ve done all the textbook things to the mast, and, now, have probably begun to bail water, and to see the situation as hopeless.  It is at that point that they finally get to the place where they think they might ask Jesus for help.  When they do, their attitude appears to be that they feel slighted … as if Jesus should have been helping them all along instead of sleeping.

The disciples have it backwards.

They shift to faith only after their efforts have failed.

For us to live a truly victorious, worry-free life, our efforts must stem from our faith.  I don’t think that the placement of this story in the book of Mark is coincidental.  It immediately follows Jesus’s description of the Kingdom of God.  Verses 31 and 32 say, “It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” NIV

Others of the gospels record Jesus comparing a little faith to a mustard seed.

If the seed of faith is planted in my life, through the Holy Spirit, and if I will fertilize it with study and with prayer and with practice, it will grow so large that it will overshadow everything else about my life.

That’s the kind of believer that I want to be.  I don’t want to be a worrier, or to find myself the recipient of Jesus’s words in verse 40, “Why are you such a coward?  Don’t you have any faith at all?” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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God has redeemed us

Isaiah 41:14

“Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. NIV

When I first read this verse a couple of days ago, I didn’t want to tackle it.  So, I worked my way through this chapter for the last two days, right up to the point of this verse.  But now, here I am … God calls Israel a worm.

This morning, I thought, “maybe I’m not reading it right … maybe there are other things that ‘worm'” could mean beyond fish bait.”  So, I went to the Hebrew dictionary in my concordance.  Turns out, this word can mean worm, or even worse, maggot, or scarlet thread.

So, then I went to The Message, honestly, in hopes that the translator had chosen “scarlet thread.”  But, that’s not the case.  However, the translation was much more encouraging and easier to assimilate.  “Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob?  Don’t be afraid.  Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?  I’ll help you.  I, God, want to reassure you.  The God who buys you back, The Holy One of Israel.” MSG

Now, the question is, why am I feeling the way I am feeling about being called a worm?

The answer is pride.

I don’t want to think of myself as a worm, and I don’t want God to see me that way, but, if I am completely honest with myself, I can see that I am just as helpless as a worm apart from God.  I cannot save myself, I have no control over my own destiny, and I am at the mercy of my surroundings.  Granted, there is little chance that some ghastly oversized robin will swoop down and carry me back to his nest for dinner, but, in abstract terms, there are many other things that could have just that devastating effect on my life here.

When I adopt this perspective, I can see the incredible encouragement that this verse holds.  God cares for me, He redeemed me, He has plans for me … what a miracle that is!

For the last several days, we’ve had gorgeous weather and I’ve been working in a part of my yard that has been a bit overgrown.  As I was weeding, I noticed a real dearth of earthworms, and that the soil had become compacted.  I’ve been planning a trip to the bait shop to buy a box of earthworms.  I did this before in another bed, and it worked beautifully.  I brought the box of worms home, dumped them in a shady spot under an azalea, and released them to a seemingly happy future of digging and eating and eliminating waste — which will improve my garden — and making other little worms to do the same.

But for my buying them, that box of worms would have ended up being threaded, one by one, onto fish hooks (which I have to believe is a painful experience) and being lowered into a lake or a river only to be eaten by a fish.

Now that they and their family live in my garden, bad things might still befall them … one or two of them get carried off every day by a bird … sometimes when I’m putting in a new plant I slice one with my shovel, but, their existence is worlds better than it would have been without my intervention.

It strikes me that, as a Christian, I am exactly like one of the worms in that box.  God redeemed me, at a price much higher than the $6.44 I paid for the 15 worms I bought.  And, as a result, my future is infinitely brighter than the underside of that azalea.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Isaiah, Old Testament, Worry