Saturday, April 21, 2007

Faith

My last words were based on the need for hope. Hope is such an important thing. Hope often becomes our legs in dark times. Hope becomes a soft pillow instead of stone for our head. Hope lifts our head, our heart. But hope is misplaced when unaccompanied by faith. It becomes wishful thinking.


But faith gives hope its strength. Faith is the thing that can produce hope within us.


In his great work My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers wrote:


Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. And even though you cannot see Him right now and cannot understand what He is doing, you know Him. Disaster occurs in your life when you lack the mental composure that comes from establishing yourself on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the supreme effort of your life—throwing yourself with abandon and total confidence upon God.
I work with a lot of hopeless people. It's not an economic thing; some of them are wealthy beyond my dreams. A tithe of their money would facilitate a lot of ministry here! They are hopeless because they have a misplaced faith.
Sometimes they have faith in faith itself. That is almost always the case among those who follow prosperity theology. They don't see God as the object of their faith; instead, God is the servant of their faith. Their faith is in their praying, not in the God who answers. And when He does not come through, well hope wanes and often dies.
Others have placed their faith in an image, or an icon, or in a religion. I know a few Baptists like that. I know a few Methodists like that, too. I know too many people like that. They trust something other than God. And without faith, said the author of Hebrews, you cannot please God. That is not carte blanche for us. We cannot claim that verse and then believe whatever. God must be the object of our faith. Abraham believed God and God wrote it up as righteousness for him.
I spoke with a woman this week who has a misplaced faith. So her hope is also weak. Her faith is in me. Yes, in me. She said that she wished I would return to their community and do the teaching, because then she could return to the paths of the Lord. A friend of mine once warned that our people group almost worships the missionary as a god. May we reject such a notion when it appears! I told the woman she was not on the Lord's path because she made a choice not to be there. If I allowed her to place her faith in me, what kind of man would I then be? If she could place her faith in me, when I left--and one day I will--then her hope would likely leave, because the object of her faith left.
Consider the megachurches in the world, especially the United States, where great, eloquent, appealing men of God have fallen. Soon thereafter many walk away from their faith because the object of their faith let them down. That will always happen with a misplaced faith. It's a false faith. It's an empty faith. It's a hopeless faith.
When Elisha left the place where Elijah was taken up from him, he came to the Jordan River with the mantle that Elijah had dropped. Elisha struck the water and cried out, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" (2 Kgs. 2:14) His faith was properly placed. It was not in his former teacher/mentor; it was in the only one who deserves to be the object of our faith.
Is your hope weak today? Consider examining your faith, too. If you shift your "faith-gaze" to the Lord, I think you will find your hope, right were you left it.

6 comments:

John Gillmartin said...

We just discussed this at our men's meeting this week ... the question was raised - "How do the evil at VTU and the Supreme Courts' decision on PBA juxtapose relative to the absence of hope in people's lives?"

I have perverse moments like that at men's meetings.

Blessings brother,

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Hi, Preacher,

The Supremes, along with most of America have forgotten that America was founded to be a Christian nation. It was founded with Christian principles, including hope and faith. Nothing "works" in America like we think it should because we lost that vision. As I stated above, we are hopeless because we have a flawed faith.

Thanks for your delightful desire to challenge your men to think.

KDS

GuyMuse said...

"Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love." I love this Chambers quote you shared above. It boils down to the difference between 'knowing God' and 'feeling God'. When our faith is based upon feeling, then it will falter under the weight. When it is based upon trust and confidence, it will stand thought the earth shakes around it. Thanks for sharing these good thoughts this afternoon.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Right on, Guy! My favorite passage about faith is found in Romans 4: "[Abraham was] fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." - v21 This is the best definition of faith for my feeble brain!

Cherie said...

Kevin,
Your sister Karen gave me access to this site. She has been a wonderful friend and inpirational ally to me at the courthouse. I cannot wait until I have time to get through all of the entries. My husband has cancer, and Karen allows me to come to her office at least once a week just to cry.
God bless you in your efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus!!

Cherie bond
www.caringbridge.org/visit/woodybond

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Cherie,

Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your prayers for us. God give you and your husband grace and strength for a very difficult journey. He is more than able to carry us on his shoulders.

Kevin