Visible Faith

“If something’s going to be done right, you’ve got to do it yourself!” Is that always true? Of course not. In preparation for the sermon I delivered yesterday, I came across an exciting passage of Scripture found in Colossians 2:7. I’ve read it many times in my life, but this time, I pulled out my Greek New Testament and considered the verbs and participles. I can already see your eyes glazing over. I know. I try not to get too excited about Greek grammar, but I think what I discovered will light your fire. It did mine.

First, here’s the text:

Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith…and overflowing with gratitude.”

The command is to live every day in Christ but notice the words I underlined in verse seven. These are all participles modifying how we are to walk in Him. Participles, like verbs, express tense, voice, and mood. I know we’re reaching way back to our English class but stay with me.

The first one, rooted, is in the perfect tense, which means it is something that happened in the past but continues to have present and future impact. The action is not continuous, but the effect is. Isn’t that a great thought? You became rooted in the past when you surrendered your life to Jesus, and you will constantly enjoy the effect of being stable in Jesus—no matter what.

The next three participles, built up, established, and overflowing, are all present tense. This points to continuous action. In other words, as I follow Jesus and walk about in Him through my life, I am constantly being built up, continuously being established, and unceasingly overflowing with gratitude. Nonstop. Every day!

The last participle, overflowing, is written in the active voice. That means you are doing the action. You are choosing every day to live a life of gratitude. No one can make that choice for you. It is a choice we have to make. Right? Here’s the thing. Whenever you and I are obedient and walk about in Christ every day, we will be grateful.

Look back at the middle two participles: built up and established. These two words were inspired to be written in the passive voice. That means someone else is doing the action. Who? Jesus! We are just receiving the action. Jesus, through His Spirit, is building us up and establishing us in our faith. How many times have we tried and tried and tried to live right and follow Jesus only to fall on our faces? We can try to be godly, but the secret is to train to be godly and receive the consequences of placing ourselves in a position to receive God’s activity in our lives.

One writer compared our spiritual lives to piloting a motorboat versus a sailboat. You are required to control the motorboat. In other words, the outcome is up to you. You put in the gas. You start the engine. You steer the boat. Compare the difference with a sailboat. It is true that you hoist the sail and control the rudder (training to be godly), but you go nowhere without the wind. The wind determines your destiny.

God’s Holy Spirit is the wind who does the action of building us up and establishing us in our lives. It comes in our lives as we employ various spiritual disciplines, like Bible reading and prayer (hoisting the sails). God makes us godly, mature, and stable as we prepare ourselves to receive His wind.

So, if you are a Christian, thank God that you are rooted in Jesus, prepare your spiritual sails to be built up and established by the wind of God’s Spirit, and choose to constantly overflow with gratitude for all God is doing in your life. God will be honored. We will live out a visible faith. The world will be changed.

15 Days of Faith – Day 14

Old dusty well-used bible on timber table with golden background

Have you ever been as determined as ever to have faith but found yourself wavering? I have. What do you do? Where do you go to find faith? Consider the words of Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.”

Notice in this passage, we are admonished to go to the Scripture. In today’s 15 Days of Faith video, I talk about finding faith from the Word of God. Look carefully at this passage and see an additional idea.

First of all, imagine the Apostle Paul being inspired to write this passage. What do you think he had in mind when he said that faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ? We naturally imagine a leather-bound copy of God’s Word. That’s not what Paul had in mind. Of course, this passage definitely points to the Bible, but it also points to more.

Whenever Paul chose a Greek term for “word,” he didn’t use a term that would have pointed to the written, inspired Scripture. The Greek word refers to a spoken word. Now, I know that the Bible is God’s spoken Word to us put in a written form, but I want to emphasize the fact that God is speaking His truth.

Growing in our faith means that we not only need to read God’s Word, but we also need to listen. God wants to speak truth to our hearts. He’ll use the written Word, but He’ll also speak His truth in the stillness of our hearts. If we want faith to grow, we need to listen.

You can find today’s video here.

15 Days of Faith – Day 13

The Bible uses the word “sovereignty” to talk about God’s reign as the King over our lives and over the world. God is the one true King. Colossians 1:16-17 refers to God’s supreme, sovereign place in our lives and the world:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Since God is the Sovereign King, we should always submit to His authority. This calls for faith and obedience. Sometimes, our faith is challenged, but we should trust Him anyway. In today’s 15 Days of Faith video, I share some thoughts about the Old Testament story of three young men who were challenged to trust God even when it could mean their deaths.

As we consider the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is your understanding of total trust challenged? I mention in the video that these three young men showed total faith in God’s ability and total trust in God’s agenda.

We know that God is able, right? He’s God! What does it mean to trust God’s agenda? Well, it means that God is God and you are not. It means that since God is sovereign, and you’re not, that you will follow God’s agenda and not your own. Following God’s agenda can be challenging. It shouldn’t be challenging because we understand that God knows everything, and His ways are always right and best. 

Why do we ever prefer our own agendas? Great question. The problem is that I don’t know the answer other than we’re stubborn and obstinate. Maybe I should throw in the word “sinners” as well.

I think this global pandemic is calling us to a closer walk with God. Will you choose to submit to God’s sovereign rule over your life today?

You can watch today’s video by clicking this link.

15 Days of Faith – Day 12

Have you ever turned a lemon into lemonade? We’ve all heard that saying before, I’m sure. It’s the process of taking a bad situation and turning it into something good.

Mark 2 tells the familiar story of a group of friends who brought a paralytic to Jesus to be healed. The thing that probably sticks out in the story is the determination of the friends. The crowds were thick around Jesus, and they couldn’t get close. They went up onto the roof, dug out the dirt and sticks from which the roof was made, and lowered their lame friend down to the feet of Jesus.

The Bible says that Jesus was amazed at the friends’ faith and at first, responded to their faith and not that of the paralytic.

In today’s video, I challenge all of us to think about how our faith can bring about good in other people’s lives. Faith can be contagious. How can yours be contagious?

Think also about those friends. They were determined. They went to a great effort to help their friend be healed. What effort will you go to so that your friends can encounter Jesus during this time? They may be more open to spiritual things, and your effort could be the very thing that leads them to seriously consider God’s offer of grace.

How will your faith be so contagious that others are infected by it?

Here’s a link to today’s video.

15 Days of Faith – Day 11

Anxiety or worry is almost as normal as breathing. However, God commands us not to be afraid. We saw in yesterday’s blog the Word of God tells us that worry is actually a sin. What do we do about it? Well, we saw we should pray about everything and worry about nothing. Today we’ll back up a couple of verses from yesterday’s scripture:

Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord, always; again, I say rejoice.”

In today’s video, I share a wonderful definition of joy. I hope you’ll watch it. I’d like to focus this blog on a six-letter word in this verse: always. God says that we are to always rejoice. Really? Is God serious? Yes! He says that we can choose to find joy in every circumstance. How is that possible?

It’s possible when we believe and accept the fact that God is always in control. The Bible tells us that He is sovereign. This means that God is in charge and worthy of my trust and devotion. I can choose joy when I choose to trust God and know that He is working for my good and His glory. I may not be able to understand all of the details or be able to figure out the solution to my situation, but I can have the confidence to know that God is at work in my life. I encourage you to choose joy.

You can watch today’s video on 15 Days of Faith – Day 11 here.

You may also enjoy listening to a song written by Aaron Keyes that my son’s worship team recently recorded on video. You can find it here.

15 Days of Faith – Day 10

I wish I had an antidote for the Coronavirus I could offer to the world. Wouldn’t that be great? I do have an antidote for the fear caused by the spread of the virus. In today’s video, I talk about this antidote: prayer. I share this antidote from Philippians 4:6-7. I’d like to share a few additional thoughts in this blog. First, look again at Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

I need to stress that this verse begins with an actual command: Don’t be anxious. Have you ever thought of worry as a sin? Well, God says it is. This passage clearly states that anxiety is a choice. We can choose to worry, or we can choose to trust. How in the world can you overcome anxiety and embrace trust? The answer is prayer.

God tells us to pray, and this passage uses two important words that underscore attitudes we should demonstrate with our prayer. The first attitude is desperation. The word “supplication” comes from a Greek word that means to plead or even beg. The fact is that we are always desperate and dependent upon God. The spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus is just a reminder that we really are not self-sufficient. We need God! So, cry out to Him.

The second attitude is gratitude. God wants us to be thankful. One of the greatest ways to overcome anxiety is to count your many blessings? You can always find blessings in every circumstance. Focus on your blessings and not your struggles. Choose thanksgiving instead of worry.

When we do that, our hearts and minds are open to the peace of God. This peace serves as sentry soldiers to set up guard over our emotions and our will. When our emotions are in check, we’re free to love others and help others in Jesus’ name. When our minds are clear, we’re free to think properly and make wise decisions.

Are you afraid? Don’t be. Trust the Lord. Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything.

You can find today’s video here.

15 Days of Faith – Day 9

God is unique and creative. He doesn’t always do things the same way, and He doesn’t usually do things the way I would do them. Has God ever surprised you with a strategy to solve a problem? Throughout history, God has used unique ways to address challenges. I spoke of one of those times in today’s video, and the story is recorded in Joshua 6. It was God’s strategy to defeat Jericho. God told Joshua: “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also, seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets” (Josh 6:3-4).

You’re probably familiar with the story and know that God’s plan worked. The walls fell down and Jericho was defeated. Why did it work? It worked because God did it. God gave Joshua a crazy strategy because He wanted Israel to know that He would always fight their battles for them.

This is an important word for us today. God will always fight our battles for us. We can trust Him. This truth means that we need to keep our eyes on the Lord and follow Him. Trust Him even when we don’t see how things will turn out. God may not address a situation the way we would but trust Him anyway. God’s got it! God can handle it! Trust in the Lord.

15 Days of Faith – Day 8

America was built upon the efforts of people trying to do the impossible. I’m convinced that one reason our country became such a strong nation is because we were built upon a foundation of the Word of God, and we were willing to follow a God Who does the impossible every day. Because God is not limited by the things that limit us, it doesn’t surprise me that He calls us to a life of faith. He even says, “The just will live by faith.”

In my last blog, I mentioned the scripture in Joshua 1 where Moses died, and Joshua became the new leader of Israel. Joshua was tested right away when he had to lead Israel across a river that was impossible to ford. God, however, specializes in the impossible. He told Joshua to lead His people straight through the river, but of course, they would cross on dry ground. In other words, God was going to perform the same miracle through Joshua at the Jordan River as He did with Moses at the Red Sea.

One significant thing about this story is that the water didn’t part for Joshua until the priests stepped into the water. Picture this: the priest walk toward a raging river (the Bible says it was flood season), and the water doesn’t change until the priests’ feet are in the water. It makes me think about the exciting and even supernatural things I’ve missed out on in my life because I didn’t move forward when God nudged me to do so.

Is there anything in your life where you feel God is urging you forward? It may be with sharing your faith with someone who is not a believer or possibly a business decision. God wants to work in every area of your life. This unique season in our lives can be a time to remind us that God is sovereign, and He wants to do the impossible through us if we’ll let Him.

Here’s today’s video: 15 Days of Faith – Day 8.

15 Days of Faith – Day 7

We are drawn to people with courage. Most action movies are popular because people are inspired by the courage of the characters. I especially love movies of courage that’s based upon a true story. Why do you think we’re drawn to these types of movies? I think it’s because we want to have that kind of courage.

Not only do you want to have courage, but God wants you to have courage, too. Our video from today focuses on an Old Testament story about Joshua becoming the leader of Israel, but he was afraid. God told him to have courage. In the video, I speak specifically about God’s words to Joshua recorded in Joshua 1:5-9 where God called Joshua to be courageous.

Look at part of that passage (vs. 8-9), “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”

It’s obvious from the context that one way Joshua could choose courage would be if he would stay focused on the Word of God. In verse eight, God specifically told him to meditate on it day and night and be careful to do everything God says. The word translated “meditate” is also used to describe a cow chewing the cud or the cooing of a pigeon. The emphasis is upon the repetition or focus of a thought. This passage is a great word to us.

God wants us to stay focused on His Word during this time and do everything He tells us to do. Will you be strong and courageous and stay focused on the Word of God?

You can see today’s video by following this link.

15 Days of Faith – Day 6

I can’t think of a time when being unstable is a good thing. I was once in an unstable kayak and eventually fell into the lake. Unfortunately, it was in February. An unstable house will fall, and an unstable computer will eventually crash. 

What about an unstable person? I’m not addressing mental or emotional instability; but rather, I’m talking about spiritual instability. In James 1:8, God calls this person double-minded. The context of this passage deals with asking God for wisdom when our faith is being tested. Look at James 1:5-8:

 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

I address a few key points in my video for today, but in this blog, I’d like to focus on verse 6. It says that when we ask God for wisdom or help, we should do so with faith that He will meet us where we are and help us through our circumstances. If we don’t trust God, we’re like the sea being tossed about by the wind.

We know that storms are a normal part of life. Being tossed about by those storms can be dangerous, and it will certainly get us off course from the life we want to live. Faith in God during those times keeps us moving in the right direction that leads to joy, peace, and purpose.

The focus of this passage is to ask God for help during trials—specifically to ask for wisdom. We’re going through a trial right now, and God wants to meet us in the midst of our storm. If we fully trust in Him, we’ll find that he is better than a lighthouse to guide us into the safety of His harbor. He wants to turn your test into triumph and your struggle into joy. Will you trust Him?

You can view today’s video here.