Thursday, August 28, 2014

Faith Is ~ Week 9

"If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us our of your hand, O King. Bur if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18 ESV 

With Israel taken captive by Babylon, Daniel and three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, are chosen from Israel's nobility to be in service to King Nebuchadnezzar. They demonstrate great intellect and easily learn the language of the Babylonians. When Nebuchadnezzar creates a huge golden idol, the edict follows that all must worship it. In chapter 3 we read the account of Daniel's three friends and their refusal to worship this false god. Their punishment would place them in a fiery furnace with temperatures "seven times hotter than usual". Steadfast in their faithfulness to God, Scripture reveals their uncompromising commitment to God.

In this story we find some characteristics of faith that stand the test. Believing that God is Sovereign, these young men proclaim that He is "able to deliver" them from the fire. Trusting God to provide for their needs, their commitment to God does not waiver when faced with unimaginable circumstances. Also, their witness stands true! Without any doubt, they acknowledge that if God chooses not to save them from death, never would they worship the idol. In Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God Francis Chan writes, "True faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God's fidelity to His Promises." Our faith can be tested when the outcome of a situation or an answer to prayer collides with our heart's hope. True faith, uncompromising commitment to God, calls us to hold nothing back while always trusting God. ~dho

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Faith Is ~ Week 8

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV 

Without a standard for truth, all truth becomes relative. The foundation for faith, the solid rock is Jesus Christ. Jesus is The Truth. He is the Divine Truth that willing enters the world bringing redemption to all humanity. Jesus is the Living Truth that overcomes death offering restoration to fallen people. Miracles and compassion flow from Him; yet, He is mocked and denied. Infinite Love pours over all who know Him; Christ reminds the world is full of trouble. Christ is the Truth that goes before us, stands with us, and lives in us. To have faith is to believe beyond what can be seen, to trust the character of God, the One who's promises never fail.

Without focusing on God's Truth, without a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, life becomes disorganized. Chaos churns in the stresses and uncertainties of our days. Worry and fear dominate while failure mocks. The Gospel of Jesus is truth for the Christian; grace brings salvation and eternal life. With God, spiritual order reigns, conquers the world's darkness. In the middle of the crazy, busy living, we know a peace, a contentment, a confidence. Around the hurry, beside the insecurities, inside the fragile, the Spirit of Truth intercedes and illuminates. The Spirit encourages and empowers us to be faithful. To have faith is to hold to what cannot be seen, to know sabbath rest in Christ whose love endures forever. ~dho

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Faith Is ~ Week 7

Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. Psalm 40:4 NLT

Using words to define faith and accumulating knowledge about faith can be academic exercises for the mind. In fact, without experiencing trials, disappointment, or grief, faith may remain a concept instead of becoming a recognized and reinforced process. While we cannot always understand God's ways, Christ brings grace to a fallen world. Trusting God's Sovereignty, knowing God's faithfulness, living God's grace, and believing God's love develops through personal experience. Experience refines faith. 

The very nature of faith is that it must be tried; faith untried is only ideally real, not actually real. Oswald Chambers

In Psalm 40, verses 1-10, David's past life experiences declare a bold faith based on God's character. His gratitude exposes God's power and explains the reasons for his increasing confidence in God. In verses 11-17, David's confidence depends on God, his Salvation, his Help, his Deliverer.  Life experiences frequently bring us to the altar of God. Because of God's unchanging nature, He remains with us, sustains us. We hold to this tested faith for every present need because trust deepens, intimacy embraces, hope believes. Christ is the foundation of our faith. What story does your faith tell? ~dho

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Faith Is ~ Week 6

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now life in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."               

Does what we believe about God change God? If a person does not believe in God, God is still the Creator. If someone chooses not to trust God, God is still Sovereign. When our faith falters, God remains Faithful. Our beliefs about God do not change God, but they can definitely affect our faith journey. Creator and Sovereign and Faithful, along with All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and Always Ever-Present, begin to describe the character of God. To this list can be added Mercy and Kindness and Love. While His ways exceed our understanding, God's judgments are righteous.He keeps His promises. God's purposes never fail. God never changes.

Looking at the Galatians Scripture above, we can explore at least five truths about the Christian life. First, the Christian is "crucified with Christ"; the old sin-nature dies and a new righteousness living replaces the former life. Secondly, Christ now lives in the Believer. Because the resurrected Christ lives again, each person who chooses Christ as Savior finds a new spiritual beginning, new life within. Thirdly, while we are still on the earth, Christ calls us to righteous living. Saving faith comes from Christ and claims us as His own. Called to love like Him, our living faith in Christ marks our journey. Fourthly, Jesus Christ, Son of God loves each of us more than we can measure. Fifthly, Jesus offered Himself for us, became the sacrifice for all sin. Through Christ, God reveals His redemptive nature to the world. God always loves. 
~ dho

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Grief Share Support Group

GriefShare is a special weekly seminar/support group for people grieving the death of someone close. It's a place where you can be around people who understand how you feel and the pain of your loss. At GriefShare, you'll learn valuable information that will help you through this difficult time in your life. If you've lost someone close to you, or know someone who has, please contact us for more information about this ministry.

In the Augusta, GA area see this link for more information on GriefShare! NEW Series starts September 7, 2014.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Faith Is ~ Week 5

By faith in Christ, you are in sweet relationship with God. Galatians 3:26 The Message

In studying "faith" one cannot but re-read Hebrews chapter 11, frequently called the "Hall of Faith". Filled with example after example of Old Testament figures whose lives demonstrate great faith in God. These ordinary people live extraordinary lives by placing their faith in God and His plan. Seldom knowing the outcome of the journey, each repeatedly trusts in God and His divine leadership. This is the beginning of any journey ~ knowing and believing in the never-failing, unchanging, everlasting character of God. God is Sovereign, from before the beginning of time, throughout all eternity. David Jeremiah says, "Faith is a real conviction based on the revelation of God." Our faith must be rooted in El Elyon, The God Most High

Jesus brings God's grace to mankind. He delivers His redemptive love and offers spiritual reunion for each one of us. Through faith in Jesus, the everlasting promise of God's great love, grace opens the door, invites us home! God's forgiving mercy is not deserved and cannot be earned. Grace comes to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. This "saving faith" acknowledges the mystery of faith: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. To believe in the promises of God, who is called Jehovah, Yahweh, El Shaddai, Adonai, Immanuel, refines our faith. No longer do we simply hope in what cannot seen; our faith responds to the Living Truth by living lives of humility and obedience to God that speak boldly to a world that denies Christ. Our faith matures in the Living Water, in Christ who is called Faithful and True. ~dho