Tuesday, January 1, 2013


“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5a)

Obedience always goes hand in hand with faith. Faith has to do with what captures our heart. Obedience adds integrity and gives faith its stability. (2 Peter 1:5). But, obedience must have faith to undergird it before it is valid. Otherwise it could be very dangerous.

In other words, obedience is no better than its ultimate object.

God also knows! Faith is born when one senses that its object is exactly what it was made for!

I sensed amazement for the first time this year at the response of Zacharias to the angel when he announced the birth of John the Baptist! It is so different from Mary’s response. The responses are similar, but close scrutiny shows that Zacharias did not have faith, while Mary did. To Zacharias, the angel Gabriel had messed up his pre-planned order of worship, just to tell him they were going to have a child! He was upset, and demanded an explanation!

“. . . Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:18-20 esv)

In direct contrast, Mary gets a visit from the same angel, Gabriel, with an even more astounding announcement, that she would bear a son without knowing a man in an intimate relationship. Listen to her response, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34 kjv) The angel then explained what would happen, giving sufficient information to quiet her heart with peaceful rest.

It is a lesson in faith! Zacharias did not believe, so demanded proof. To give Zacharias a little room, we need to remember he didn’t do this “priest thing” that often, so was ill-equipped, when facing the angel. Did he think that angels were figurines on top of temple furniture? It looks like he had not done his homework in matters of faith prior to showing up for his appointed time as high priest.

By direct contrast, Mary did believe, and simply asks “how”? There is immense safety in her question, since that demanded an answer worthy of royalty!

When faced with unusual situations in life, I am finding the need to learn to be more consistent in asking myself if I am always addressing the question of faith. We would save ourselves a lot of trouble if we would do just that! Zacharias could not speak until they brought the young child to the temple for the rite of circumcision, and the naming of the child. It was then that he obeyed the angel’s instruction and named him, “John”. Faith had won its day!

We would do well to bring our struggles, questions, insights and ideas before the Lord, and ask Him about our faith. When we have difficulties, and situations that will not go away, we can ask what God wants to accomplish through the scene, and ask Him to train us in matters of faith.

Many years prior to this, God was preparing Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. He was struggling with faith issues, (Exodus 6:30). He acknowledges that he has uncircumcised (kjv), or faltering (niv) lips. This meant that there was trouble in his heart concerning faith. Isn’t it amazing that he knew that God was at work everywhere around him, but he still couldn’t trust him? It shouldn’t really surprise us. Moses had bought into Egyptian ways so much, that when he murdered the Egyptian, he subconsciously communicated that this was how he would free the Israelites. That was not faith, that was compensation. God’s chosen people knew that it would be God who set them free – not another tyrant, no matter how deserving of death! Proverbs 30:10 warns that we dare not accuse a slave to a master, lest we be found to be the guilty party.

We would save ourselves so much trouble if we addressed the issue of faith first, rather than try to solve problems in our own way!

Many years later, as they entered Canaan, when Joshua was by Jericho, an angel appeared to him with a sword in his hand. He asks where he comes from, and finds out the source of this confrontation. It was then that he was instructed to treat the place as holy ground. (Joshua 6:15)

Many years later, a farming family, Nabal and his wife Abigail, along with their hired hands, were having a feast at sheep shearing time. It was soon after God had instructed Samuel to anoint David to replace King Saul. However, while Saul was still king, David and his men were protecting the borders of the land. Consequently, David and his men thought they had the right to enjoy this farmer’s feast since he and his men were protecting them, a great service! David sent his men over to the plantation, and they ran into an angry Nabal who would not let them anywhere near! When David heard of it, he did not inquire whether this was a faith issue or emotional. Even though in the right, he decided to proceed on his own and fight! Abigail steps in just in time, provides for them, and sends them on their way. Later, the next morning, when Nabal had sobered up, Abigail told him what she had done. Now Nabal was both frightened of David and his men, as well as angry about the situation, and died! (From 1 Samuel 25)

In spite of this earlier experience, David still made the same mistake as Nabal did, when he tried to patch up his affair with Bathsheba. He hid the affair, murdered her husband, Uriah, then took her as his wife. When learning of her pregnancy, he murdered her husband, Uriah. God wasn’t to be outdone, however, since God’s enemies now had great cause to blaspheme God, He took the child!

This Christmas and New Year’s, may every battle we face, be a faith battle, remembering that the victory ultimately belongs to Him!

Every “sea” in 2013 begs to have someone bring it down to size! In Peter’s heart on stormy Galilee one night, he knew that if the Lord Jesus would give him permission to walk on it, he would be invincible. He was right! But, he had to have more than permission – which is external in nature. He had to have persevering faith, which placed the boat, the sea, and the situations at hand, under his control, as delegated by Christ. That is persevering faith! It is a faith intertwined with God’s vision for lives in the present and the future!

I pray that you will join me in praying that God will give us such a year in 2013!

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