Saturday, August 7, 2010

What really is faith?

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

What really is faith? Is it believing something that you know with your mind isn't true? Is it some kind of overdrive that you push in with a button of some kind in your mind or your emotions? Or, is it somewhere down in your heart, to get you to accept something that you know with your intellect could not possibly be true. So many of us, in this world today, are skeptical of the whole idea of faith, because we think of it as something not connected with the ordinary processes of the mind at all. It is actually opposed to the convictions of the intellect. And so many of us who have been through some kind of education and especially some kind of scientific education, get the idea that to have faith you have to in some way close your mind, or put your intellect to sleep, or ignore the conclusions of science and research.
That is absolutely ridiculous. Faith is not that kind of an irrational thing at all. Faith, in fact, is something that you and I exercise every day in our lives. We have exercised it from the very moment we were born. I suppose it is true that your mother even encouraged you to feel that we could trust her when we lay in her arms. We learned day by day that was true, she would not drop us, that she was reliable, and we could put our faith in her arms.
Are you aware of faith or belief in your everyday life? Think a moment about the next breath you take. Are you sure there isn't anything in the air you take into your lungs which might damage your health?
You are just about to go over a bridge en route to work. Why do you believe the bridge will hold the car, bus or train on its journey across it? Is it because you believe in the integrity and character of the engineers, contractors and construction workers who built it? That sounds like faith to me.
What does this have to do with God? Isn’t that what we ask ourselves about what is faith for?” Is believing in God the same thing as believing in the people who constructed the bridge. Having faith in God is believing in his character and what that means to each of us personally. You might now ask, ‘how can we know His character?’
We can find out God’s character through a book that was written many, many years ago. It is called the Bible. In it many men and women had real everyday dealings with God and his Son, Jesus.
God created not only the world we live in but he created us. Why did God create us? God created us in God's own image, after his likeness so he could have a relationship with us. So if you compare this type of relationship with a good family relationship, God is our parent and we are God's children, sons and daughters. As an earthly parent loves her children so very much to provide their worldly needs of food, shelter and clothing, so does our God desire to look after us as his children. This is the characteristic of God, a loving parent who sees and feels what we do.
But is God reliable for me today? Can I really put my twenty-first century faith in God? I think even more so as our world is changing so very rapidly, do we need to have faith in God. As technology keeps changing and improving our quality of life, this allows us to have more time to ponder our world around us. Let us ask ourselves honestly what do we believe in and why do we believe it. Are we basing our faith on an institution or on the character of someone? We have seen over the years many institutions and religions come, change and go. But the character of our God does not change. God is our eternal parent, and as the men and women of the Bible were able to put their trust in God back then, so can we now in the twenty first century. If we truly put our lives into God's hands, God will not let us fall. We can trust that God will always be there with us.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

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