Misplaced Faith

From our childhood, we have heard the story of Adam and Eve. They were the first two humans created by God and lived in the garden of Eden. When God made them, he declared that they were very good. By these words, he was describing the wonder and magnificence of his creating act. As they lived together, they were sinless and acted according to the will of him who created them. You would think that because they were sinless, they would just continue to live a sinless life. However if you know the story, you know that they failed terribly and plummeted the entire human race into sin.

Why didn’t Adam and Eve stay sinless? What was the core problem or cause for their failure? This may come as a surprise to you, but their core problem was their faith. Stop and think for a moment. At one point in time, Adam only knew God. He did not recognize he had a need, but he did and the need was that of a companion. Adam saw God meet that need and present woman to him. His life in the garden of Eden was complete and fulfilling.

But then the serpent came using alluring words: words that promised an even better existence then they were already experiencing. At that point, Adam and Eve had a major decision to make. Would they believe the serpent or would they believe God.

As you know, they believed the serpent, ate the fruit and became sinners. The goodness of their creation and being could not prevent it, because the action which led to the fall first began in the heart. 

Because man fell in this matter, God made his redemption and way back to him to be in the same way. Man fell because of misplaced faith, man will be rescued from sin by right faith. God will not require a man to be faithful for salvation, but instead he requires man to put his faith in the only person whoever was faithful: Jesus Christ. God is not looking for goodness because there is not anyone who is good: Matthew 19:17 …there is none good but one, that is God. Romans 3:10 There is none righteous, no not one.

God is looking for people who will believe and trust in his promise of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. Ask yourself this question, “Do I have faith?” If your answer is yes, ask yourself, “Am I placing my faith in me or in Jesus Christ?” It can only be one way or the other.

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The Root and the Fruit (Rev. 22:16)

Did you ever wonder how they produce seedless grapes or make large fruit bearing trees into small ones, but yet still have them produce a large amount of fruit? In order to accomplish, two practices are used: cross pollination and grafting.

On Father’s Day, I received a dwarf fig tree as a gift. It had the root of the fig tree, but the trunk was cut and spliced together with another tree that would grow much smaller. The end result was a short tree that produced a bunch of figs.

Spiritually speaking, God does the same. However in this case, he is the root and the fruit bearing tree.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David… Revelation 22:16

Think about the statement, I am the root and offspring of David. Jesus is the root from which David is an offspring. Additionally Jesus is a descendent of David or a fruit that comes from David’s lineage. 

Spiritually speaking, the same occurs for us. He is our root or the root of the vine (John 15) and he also is that which produces fruit in our lives. We do not produce fruit: he produces fruit in or through us. He is the root of our being and the fruit of our lives. 

Everything good in our lives is really fruit produced from him. Our part is to abide in him because without him, we can do nothing. Many years I spent toiling trying to produce fruit only to recognize that I cannot. I finally came to realize that he can and will produce fruit. If I allow him, he–the root of my being–will produce the fruit of his being in me.

Does God Hear You?

Does God hear you when you pray? Some believe that he does. Others struggle and at best hope God may pay attention to them. Their struggle can be narrowed down to two basic premises: is my relationship right so that God will hear me and are my petitions important enough to gain his attention? 

Why should God hear you? Your only standing with God is because of the work of his son. He gave himself for you and washed your entire sin debt free with his blood. He positions you in himself so that every right that he inherited is also at your disposal. Positionally, you have been put into a place of acceptance. For this reason, he hears you when you pray. The only potential to toward him from hearing you is if you regard iniquity in your heart. 

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18

This does not mean that he stops listening to you each time you sin, but that when your heart is fixed on sin and you are unwilling to allow the Lord to free you from it, it is then that he stops hearing you.

Are your problems important enough for you to pray and for God to hear you? Remember when people brought children to Jesus and when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus instructed them to allow the children to come to him and he used that event to guide our understanding about the kingdom of God. Stop for a moment and think. What problems would a child have? What would they ask of God? I understand that social conditions are very different today than they were in Jesus’s time. But the principle is still true. If we could truly discover what needs a child has in their heart, I am certain that it would involve details in the circle of their world.

Most petitions would involve the desire for tangible items such as a puppy, a toy, being able to play well at a sport or any such thing that we may belittle in importance. None-the-less, the Lord said that we should allow them to come to him. What you need to gain from this passage is to see yourself just as these children or at least similar to them.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

I remember my last year as the principal of a christian school. The budget year was going to end $10,000 in the red. I earnestly prayed into the summer months and saw $7,000 of that come in as a direct result of praying. At that time, it was the greatest trial I had faced as a believer, but how did God see it? I believe that he saw it as child’s play. The greatest of my trials was nothing to him and equal in difficulty as those for the child.

You may feel that your problems aren’t important enough to take to God or they don’t seem to measure up. Are they as important as a child’s needs? If they are, you and children are welcome to seek his face and bear your burden to him.

Remember, positionally you are acceptable to him. He will hear your prayers just as long as you don’t focus your longing on sin and resist his work.

The importance of your needs is not determined by you, but God and he will focus his attention to all people–even to the lowest need of a child.

Pray! God is listening.

Encouragement 

What helps a person bear the trouble in their heart? Are there special things that need to be done for them or are resources necessary in their lives?  

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. (Proverbs 14:10)

From the scriptures we can see one thing for certain, it is not a stranger, but a friend. A stranger may think to bring cheer to the troubled in heart, but the joy of one person does not resonate joy in others. However a friend can help bear the burden, express empathy and point them to truth where hope and joy can be found.

Work now to establish relationships with people. Because these relationships can become open opportunities that the Lord may use you to bring them truth to them.

Your Story (Luke 8:39)

Our lives should be showing the great things that God is doing in them. It isn’t what we are now doing with our lives, but what he has done to us on the inside.

Religion can cause people to serve and even clean the inside of the cup, but God’s hidden work can never be duplicated. We can never fill the emptiness, but God can. We can never remove our shame, but God can blot it out. The nets of fear and insecurity, which grip us can never be escaped, but God can deliver us from them.

The struggles that brought you to Christ are the very areas of your life upon which he has done his greatest work. This is what your life must declare.

The maniac of Gadera was delivered. The woman with the issue of blood was cleansed. What’s your story?

Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. Luke 8:39

Why Do People Come to Jesus?

Why do people come to Jesus? Most people in society believe that it is the result from someone scaring them to death about hell. But is that really the reason? Surprisingly, it is not.

In Matthew 5 and Luke 6, Jesus speaks of certain conditions in life that are considered blessings to man. Blessed are you that are poor; blessed are you that are hungry;blessed are you that weep: these doesn’t sound too promising to me. I don’t see people lining up to be poor, hungry or sorrowful, but still Jesus says that these people are blessed.

Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.

Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. (Luke 6:20-21)

The reason these are blessings is because when people find themselves in these types of situations, they are unable to deliver themselves and are forced to look outside of themselves for hope.

Before coming to Christ, I had everything that I have ever wanted, but I was miserable and sorrowful inside. That sorrow moved me to seek Christ. Renowned apologetist, Ravi Zacharias, was in a hospital bed after a failed suicide attempt and soon afterwards trusted Christ. I have met many successful businessman with cash just flowing through their hands, but their hearts were dry and the dry emptiness turned them to Jesus.

Surprisingly, most people do not come to Christ out of fear, but they come to him because they recognize the need for God to be in their lives. God wants to be in people’s lives so that he may do his miraculous work, but in order for that to occur, he first must conquer the sin that separates us from him. The message of Christ is still true. He died on the cross to make a complete payment for your complete lifetime committing sins. His life for yours. When we trust him to do this, the sin debt is gone, but he does much more than that. The poor become kingdom rich, the hungry souls are fed and the sorrowful laugh with joy.
Think about it. Why did you come to Christ? Or haven’t you yet? You can today by simply calling upon him to save you from sin and do this miraculous work in your life too.

Religion Still Doesn’t Work

Since nearly the beginning, sin has separated man from God and with it has brought sorrow, sickness, and emptiness in the heart of man. Throughout time, man has sought to overcome these troubles in his life and to accomplish it created religious acts or rituals, which were intended to appease God of his wrath or at the least turn away the consequences of sin that he faced.

These acts involved offering to God everything from crops to human sacrifices, the punishment of sinners or the punishment of themselves. Always, the results were unsuccessful. David described it best when he spoke to the Lord concerning his own condition.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (Psalms 38:4)

The load of sin that looms over the head of every man is so great that no religious act could ever remove the effect or its debt.

Several decades ago, a teenaged girl attended a local carnival. When she failed to return home, a search was made and eventually her lifeless body was found. For more than 30 years, law-enforcement searched for the suspected killer: who was eventually found. Should he be held for trial? Of course he should! Regardless of how long ago the event occurred, he should still be held accountable.

But what if he was found living a respectable life? What if he, for the last 20 years, had been doing a great humanitarian work? Should he still be held for trial? Should he still be charged even if he has been so sorry for his crime? The answer is a resounding, Yes! He committed a crime and the penalty for that crime must be paid.

For the last 6,000 years, man has been trying to avoid paying the penalty for his sin. But regardless of what he does, the holy righteous God still requires complete payment for sins committed. The only hope for all men would be for God to determine a way for someone else to pay the debt that man owed. God did and that person was himself. He came to earth as human. Born of a virgin, he live a lonely life and yet did not sin. Throughout his entire life he did not commit one sin. For the remaining three years of his life, he taught and performed miracles to declare who it was and the purpose for his coming to earth. Then as foretold by God, he was rejected by his people, judged by the government and punished on the cross.

However God’s purpose for allowing all this to occur was so that he could place all the sin of humanity upon himself as he hung on the cross. The beatings and torture done to Jesus were extremely grave, but nothing in comparison to the punishment that God, while still yet also in heaven, punished himself as he lived as a human hanging on the cross.

Only until Jesus cried, “It is finished!” was mankind given any hope. When Jesus finished, he was finished paying the wages for our sins – yours and mine.

For those, who continue striving to pay for their own sins or are relying on religious acts to appease God’s wrath for sin will continue to fall short and carry the burden of their sin debt. Those who call upon Christ to bear there sin, will find the relief that they need. No longer is the burden of sin going over their head or too much to bear, the burden has been removed and the payment has been made. None of their sins committed have gone unpunished. Instead of them paying the debt, someone else paid the debt for them.

In America, we have discovered that countless people have been falsely charged, found guilty and sentenced for crimes that they had never committed. Society, unknowing of their wrong, was still satisfied because the penalty of the crime was being paid.  

In your case, Jesus willingly took the charge, allowed himself to be found guilty and then paid your complete payment for sin. So that your salvation could take place when you call out to Jesus and trust that he will save you.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)