True positive reward is characterized by its longevity and ability to affect future generations. If there is anything that I should desire to pass on to future generations, it is my faith in God and his desire to prosper his steadfast love and favor within me. Every other relationship that I have whether it is with people, places or things is temporary, incomplete and imperfect. However, if I can reach the consciousness of my children to love God who’s love is everlasting, then my prosperity will be my children’s prosperity and subsequently passed on to my posterity. Ishmael was born out of Sarah’s lack of faith and yet because God is faithful, his promise to Abraham, of a great nation is extended to Ishmael. Sarah’s faith in the physical (Hagar’s younger child-bearing body) is imperfect but made perfect through Abraham’s faith in the spiritual. Today, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob our true reward is the heritage of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love and favor made perfect through Jesus Christ. Have Faith Will Travel!
No longer do we need to take things at face value. Face value is based on “what you see is what you get.” Faith value is so much more. It is belief in what you don’t see but know that God is working it out in your favor. It’s not enough just to hope for something. We must also believe and work towards that belief. Who works towards some “thing” they don’t believe in? Further, what we must believe is God’s ability and purpose and not the “thing” itself. For example, I may not like the situation that I am in, but I must believe that God’s ability and purpose is preparing me for the situation that I want to be in. In other words there is something about the situation that I am in that I need to learn so that when I reach the situation that I hope for, I will be fully prepared to receive it. Face value simply says that it’s an unfavorable situation. Faith value says that we believe it is an opportunity for growth because no matter what the situation we know that God is faithful.
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. Everybody wants something. Yet happiness isn’t about getting what you want. Happiness is about cherishing what you have. Jesus knew that the disciples believed that feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish would be difficult. Had Andrew not spotted the boy with this basket of food, surely the task would be impossible. “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” From the reading it’s obvious to me that the question Jesus asks of his disciples, is rhetorical. However, had I actually been there, my response probably would not have been much different from Philips. Today the question Jesus asks sounds a lot like the questions we ask of ourselves in many overwhelming situations; How, who, what, and where. We forget that we have Christ and through Christ all things are possible. Be happy today. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Cherish who you are. Cherish what you have and know that the Lord provides abundantly.
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me. Psalm 40
“Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, …make perfect those who approach.” What then, does the law make us? By confession and repentance it makes us accountable. It also reminds us of our sin. However, Sanctification through Christ makes perfect all those who approach (1 John 4:17-21). By confession and repentance, we are also made accountable. Yet, rather than continuing to remind us of our sin, in all circumstances Sanctification through Christ continually forgives. Although in both ways we are made accountable, only in one way is salvation be revealed. Therefore seek always to do God’s will.
“…for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Conversion is a process. It is the act of converting, often as a result of a revelation, a moment or event of sudden insight. Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus was a revelation of Christ. Paul’s process of conversion began with his study of the scripture and the law from a changed point of view made known through that revelation. Many of us experience moments or events of sudden insight that cause us to pause and change direction in our lives. However, I believe true conversion is not merely an external or physical change in direction. True conversion must also involve a change in how we think and what we believe because our thoughts guide our actions. As a Christian I have come to understand that what I believe is not based on human perception of who I am, but rather who God has called me to be. Conversion takes time. It took Paul three years of study and a lifetime of journeying. Thus, in reality, it’s a never-ending process. Throughout this journey we can’t be discouraged! We are not perfect. We make mistakes and sometimes make unhealthy decisions. God knows the heart of his own and he will never give up on us. So too, we must never give in to the mis-steps. I believe God is well pleased with us when we confess, repent and move on in Christ, because freedom through Christ is our reward. One of the most poignant movie scenes for me is from The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Morgan Freeman’s character is brought before the parole board for the last time. After 40 years of saying what he thought the parole board wanted to hear, ‘Ellis Boyd Redding’ finally reaches the manifestation of his own conversion; freedom in every sense of the word.
‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ Jesus’ response to the man lying by the porticos in Jerusalem could easily be a command for us. The statement reminds me of the slogan “Just do it” made popular by a notable sneaker company some years ago. Of course it is easier said than done. Much like the man in John’s Gospel, these days we have plenty of forces that hinder our own movement towards reaching our goals. We know that many successful athletes learn to rise above the physical challenges of the body as well as the external challenges from the naysayers, haters, and those who have something to gain by their success or failure. All of which affect the mind’s capacity to believe in one self. I believe from a spiritual perspective we must have the same resolve to believe in the power and authority of Christ within us as we face those same physical and spiritual challenges. How is it possible for a multitude of descendants to come from one man except by the grace of God and that same man’s fullest capacity to believe? While God does not need our cooperation for his purpose to be fulfilled, how much more are we blessed when we choose to believe? Yes we have rules, regulations and rituals, but we shouldn’t allow them to keep us from moving forward. When convention tells us that we don’t have the capacity, we shouldn’t allow them to be an excuse. Finally, when we find ourselves standing, we should not allow them to be used for gain while intentionally using them to the destruction of others. Thus, much like the Apostle Paul, our redemption and reward will be received through one sacrifice and our own capacity to believe and willingness to stand.
‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ Even today we often find ourselves looking for a sign from God and one never seems to come. It is most important that at this kind of juncture in our journey, we know Christ for our self and allow our faith in him to carry us to the victory we can expect to receive. We realize that every moment in our lives is a cause for praise and stop looking for God’s presence in a sign because the sign of his presence is the belief that is within ourselves. It is then that we know that the new covenant has been made manifest within us. Instead of looking for a sign to come, we focus on the signs he has already given in this journey both great and small. We will be encouraged and know that God is faithful and will provide according to the order of Melchizedek, the high priest himself. In every circumstance we are both blessed and never forgotten.
Is it possible that the Ninevites had something in common with the disciples in Mark? Their immediacy to God’s call doesn’t fit the characteristic of many believers of Christ that I know of today. I am sure there are some who have responded to God’s call with such immediacy, but the initial reaction of most of us is more like that of Jonah, to turn and go in a different direction. I believe that what’s important is that both the Ninevites and the disciples believed and followed. For those who get it right away, great! For the rest of us, we don’t always end up in the “belly of a large fish” but we do realize that the time comes when we have to stop turning away. The time comes when we must focus every situation of our lives in God’s direction. In the end it won’t matter whom we were most like before we believed and it won’t matter how long it took us, when we finally chose to believe. For everyone who believes in the end enters into God grace equally.
Weeping may linger for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The Apostle Paul called it a better hope; a better covenant. No longer do we need to depend on the fallible. Through Christ, we have the infallible, never failing, absolute love. Praise God and enter into his harvest!
In most situations, change is inevitable. In many, it’s absolutely necessary. “Go from your country, … your kindred, and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. God’s blessing for Abraham was to be rendered in some place other than where he was currently. Generally, it takes a willful character to pick up and go at the drop of hat, but with Christ, it’s just a matter of faith. God wants to bless us. So go ahead and cast your net on the other side of the boat and know that you will find fish!