Untether Your Old Faith: 2nd Principle of Maturity

Faith toward God implies exercising the fear of the LORD, who rewards righteousness and punishes sin.  It demands more than just belief in God; it calls for faith in God based upon the revelation of Jesus, that is to say, belief in the Son sent from the Father to reveal the Father.  (Elementary Principles-Six Fundamental Principles of Ancient Jewish Christianity by D. Thomas Lancaster)

After teaching and writing about the first principle of Christian Maturity, repent from dead works, it dawned on me the vacuum created by this needs to be replaced with something or as Oswald Chambers describes the “retired sphere of the leasts.”  This is where many fall off the road to Christian maturity, because once we recognize the “sin” (dead works) and believe we have conquered it, it could be the snare which keeps us in the same spot spiritually.  As Hebrews 6:1 says, drinking baby formula. 

For instance, an alcoholic once sober may become a workaholic and all his energies become focused on work instead drinking.  He is still running from the pain inside it’s just more constructive, but his or her family still suffer.  In my case when I stopped using drugs the first time, my drinking increased and within a month I was charged with driving under the influence.  Just because drinking was legal didn’t mean it was right thing to do so in my case.

In my twenty’s, I was attracted to women who were going through a divorce, had a kid and no job. (The damsel in distress who was looking for anyone, while I was looking for Mrs. Right Now and Forever).   In my early days of AA, I pursued relief under the guise of healing, as I discussed living a spiritual lifestyle.  After recognizing that pattern, which lead to heartache time and time again, I thought I had made a breakthrough with my second wife.  When I met her she was going through a divorce, with child but she had a car, a job and was a young professional.  I was ten years her senior, so it was obviously a match made in heaven, even after the youth pastor told me to steer clear!   I was under the delusion I had been healed from picking the wrong woman, since I was attending church and not a bar.  I had faith that God would answer my wants and there she was.  In the end, the result was the same, two people who did not place their faith in God, but indulged in their own needs to help curb the pain of loneliness.  No one, not even the Baptist Pastor could make me waiver, but hey, we went to church every Sunday, that must count for something.  Let’s chalk that up on the good deeds list.

Just because we were in the right place doesn’t mean we will do the right thing.  Even though, 95% of success is showing up, could it be that the 5% is still important.  Maybe that famous quote should be reversed.

Let us not confuse good intentions and helping God with faith.

At some point in everyone’s life, we think our condition is hopeless.  We become afraid to wait on God because there might not be enoughtime.

Many think working hard for God is the same as faith. We obey the rules of good citizenship, build up our good deeds list, lead a good life and fight the cause for Christianity through espousing dogma and religious practices.  We will even help God with his timetable, when He is obviously very busy, and our timetable is out of sync with His.

I wonder if this is what Sarah thought when she told her husband Abraham to sleep with her maid servant.  God hadn’t delivered on a child fast enough.  I wonder how that initial conversation went with Abraham?

Sarah:  “Abraham, I know what God said but if you want a son,  do you see Hagar over there…..

Abe:  OK, if you say so and if you are suuuuure it’s God will.

However, while we talk about faith in God many of us end up grasping for our faith, hoping for results.  Working for a reserved spot in Heaven instead of laboring on behalf of the Kingdom. It is easy to grade the fruits of our labor, WHEN WE ARE FOCUSED ON OUR WORKS;

“A ship in the harbor is safe…But that’s not what ships were made for.” From my desk plaque

The grand adventure with God begins at the edge of our earthly sphere, where the waters are uncharted. Falling off the edge of our world, is the start of our faith journey, not the end of it.

My wife and I have each been married twice before. I was a serial monogamist as well.  When the thrill was gone, someone usually followed it.  When the hard work begins in a relationship, it’s time to bail, because we think the boat is sinking in rough seas.

We have been fed a line of malarkey, if all we expect from God is hugs and kisses.

When the itch started in our marriage, we thought it was time to divorce because it was what we knew; but a miracle happened.  We had hung around people of faith long enough to know that we had to change before the state of our affairs would.  Like a young sapling that needs to feel the wind so it can take deeper root, we had to welcome the winds of change.

We were told to pray to together, aloud, to share our fears in front of God and each other.  We took divorce off the table and asked God to heal those areas in our lives that dishonored Him through our actions.

This was an act of faith; we were entering unchartered waters and neither of us knew what lurked just below the sea’s surface.

We came to a crucial point:  Would we believe and walk in the faith that Jesus died for us, so that we would be redeemed? Jesus died for my sins but also accepted death on faith that the Father would raise Him from the dead.  Jesus did not tell everyone to work harder to prove your love for Him, then He will rise from the dead.  His response most of the time was, (paraphrase) “Go and sin no more for the kingdom is near.”  My wife and I had to be willing to let our marriage die to be reborn and sin no more.  The same message He told everyone when He respectfully exposed his or her truth about themselves.

Remember Jesus is in the resurrection business. Something must die to rise from the dead. Many people do not understand this.

My wife and I had to acknowledge His governing authority in our marriage, before it could heal.  We had to walk in faith, that God can resurrect all things which are dead.  My wife’s and my spirit were dead to the sacrament of marriage instituted by God. It was based on an secular idea of marriage, not God’s. (I deserve to be happy)  We had to die unto self in order to become one.

We had to believe like the Canaanite women and not be turned away by the naysayers;

His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” Matthew 15:23-28 NABRE

This is our story, when my wife and I believed that our marriage would be resurrected, we had faith towards God, then the miracle happened. We sinned no more in that area.  Our marriage became part of the kingdom.

Now let’s look at Luke 8:35-37, after Jesus drove out a clutch of demons named Legion, who possessed a man. The possessed man was placed in his right mind, all things were things in good order, and the townspeople ventured to see what all the commotion was about.

They were struck with fear at the good news (whaaaaaaat?) that the possessed man would no longer terrorize the countryside.  They had no faith, that God would continue to provide after he drove the herd of pigs over the cliff possessed by Legion.

If you don’t believe it you will never see it.

Their only focus was what they lost instead of what they gained from this miracle.  They asked Jesus to depart from them.  They could not believe in God’s grace to enlarge their territory. Remember the words; unchartered waters.

When dealing with people, Jesus cuts straight to the issue and speaks a language we individually understand.  For those to whom truth is revealed and accepted, we see how Jesus respects us.  He convicts us to not repeat the obstacle to their faith and they get it. (Go sin no more)

For those who had faith, were blessed at that moment.  From what we read about Jesus, it was their faith towards Him that always made Jesus pause and point out what was important.

How many times have you walked away from God, embracing the darkness you do not to see? You see, in your mind’s eye, freedom from a faithless life but calculate the price to great.

If we are not willing to move past this and establish our faith from that point, we will always stay in the harbor keeping our ships in tip-top shape for all to see.  We will show everyone that we have faith in a ship that could ride the high seas of faith and weather the storm, but will never set an a course based on faith.  God wants our ship in tiptop shape, to use it…not admire it.  You need the Canaanite Woman’s Faith to push off  from the safety of the harbor and steer His course!!!

How many are looking at our moored boats, patting each other on the back, and saying, “What a fine boat you have.”  To make matters worse, they get upset when a schooner of faith, embarking upon a fantastic voyage with God, creates a wake and disturbs our pretty trinkets moored at the dock.

As onlookers, we see only boats in port, not the vessels going out to see God.  That journey is yours alone, there are no spectators.

I will never forget the night; a woman looked at me in a meeting and said that for my life to get better, I needed to believe it, before I would see it.  She placed a truth in front of me I could not ignore; I had to leave the woman I was living with that night, not just for my sake but also my son’s.

My life would not get better until I made a decision of faith; Go and sin no more.  Once that was understood, I chose life instead of death.  I was able to endure the journey, my faith propelling me towards God, when the wind at my back did not fill my sails.

I hit the high seas of faith trusting God would provide without knowledge of where I was headed.

The Law of Faith cancels the Law of Works; which means there is suddenly nothing for man to boast in. Romans 3-27 Mirror Bible

When our faith is built around works and proclamations of faith, at some point we have to let go and stop telling people about it.

 Like clouds and wind without rain. Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. Proverbs 25:14 NASB

I will not let go Lord, no matter what!  Or, Peter’s; “I will never deny you Lord.” Spoken for the entire world to hear.  When we fall overboard, we say, we’ll do better next time, relying on ourselves to get to board and rush to the helm.

Unfortunately, with a faith wrapped in works, we repeat our cycle of temptation, sin and a calling for forgiveness with a contrite heart but never repentance.

As a young Catholic boy,  I had no clue of God’s vision for me and never asked.  I was told to go to confession before receiving communion, every Saturday; rinse and repeat.  I was taught to place my faith in religious practices, to keep my soul eternally safe.

Many of us are loyal to our notions of Jesus Christ, but how many of us are loyal to Him? Loyalty to Jesus means I have to step out where I do not see anything (Matthew 14:29); loyalty to my notions means that I clear the ground first by my intelligence.  Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.  Oswald Chambers

This is a message for me.  I am not immune to living by good works and believing in Jesus; As long as I continue to work out my salvation, I will never walk out my salvation.  If I am to walk out my salvation, I must have faith towards God, so that I can cast off the boat and hit the high seas.

Having faith towards God is intentional.  Living a life with Faith is a state of mind that presses towards God.  The root word for faith is not NO!  But, “Ok, Lord!!!!” If you have been in port for a time and people are tempting you to stay; Question the faith that stands still!

God demands humility and those who believe they have worked for everything that God gives them usually walk in pride and self-righteousness. and admire their work. (Word at Work-April 5)

Early on, when Jesus started teaching His disciples He sent them on healing trips. However, if you read the Bible closely, they embarked on a Faith mission instead of a Gospel mission.  They had to practice their Faith first.  It was not until after Jesus’s resurrection and Pentecost that they were commissioned.  Hmmmm.  They weren’t commissioned on a hope and prayer.  Our faith is validated because Jesus lives: this was the turning point for our 11 disciples.  Yes, Jesus died for our sins and so did one hundred gazillion goats, lambs and cows, but only Jesus conquered death.

What about this vacuum that needs to be filled arises after we stop displaying our ledger of good works for everyone to see.  The disciples prior to witnessing Jesus, the resurrected Messiah; witnessed miracles, heard the Good Word, and even performed miracles themselves, but it wasn’t enough. They lacked a faith towards God;  Even in the presence of Jesus, whose words painted the picture.  Only the resurrection provided the depth needed to step out in faith.  Many of us experience the pink cloud/schoolyard crush of faith, but what turns love from a feeling of love into an act of love: Faith towards God.

Many of us cry out, God help me, save me, and remove this burden.  We think that our hardships are satanic events, but it may be part of your discipleship training laying the groundwork for your destiny.  At some point, we should stop crying out to God for mercy and grace but for strength and perseverance in our Faith to continue moving forward for God.

Jesus blinded Paul so he would realize how blind his faith in the law, which was not based in love, actually was.  Paul was blinded by Christ so he could see the face of Jesus.  Adversity may contain a message from God or a means to see Him.

Sometimes God is waiting on us.

“We cannot stay on the mount of transfiguration, but we must obey the light we received there; we must act it out. When God gives a vision, transact business on that line, no matter what it costs.” Oswald Chambers

Belief is a thought, but Faith towards God coupled with action aligns the heart of a disciple.

So, are you a disciple of Jesus or not?  Or a convert waiting for a blessing?

If you are a disciple, no matter what the issue, you will know which path to take.  When my faith faces towards God, I can clearly see what it would mean if I chose my wish instead of God’s will for me.  I understand that I will willfully choose what I want instead of what God sires.  When I choose my desires when I know what God would have for me, it’s complete rebellion towards God as an enemy of His will.

To live a life where faith towards God is the center of our being purifies our heart and “the pure in heart will see God.” Matthew 5:8.

The reason we see more miracles in third world countries, is that all they have is God.  God is their security blanket.  In the industrialized countries, less people have faith towards the God.  Their faith lies in a microwave gospel that is ready in five minutes so they can eat and get on with it.

If you really want to be a disciple of Jesus and have a faith towards God, you need to look at yourself and identify those areas where you look for security or sense of purpose outside of God.

Are your actions intentional towards God in every circumstance in your life?

If you are weighing the cost of your decisions you have a conditional faith in God.  BUT if you are investing the cost then you have faith towards God and your heart is His.

Each time we weigh the cost of our faith, we miss an opportunity to be a disciple.  If we are a true disciple, we should not reflect on missed opportunities.

As a Faith Towards God Disciple, we are an opportunity that IS.

So untether your boat, head out to see what your faith un-charters.

God loves you and so do I and there is nothing you can do about.

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