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Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12 ESV https://my.bible.com/bible/59/1TI.6.12.ESV
We are told many times in the Bible that following Christ and leading the life He wants us to lead requires purposeful action. Faith saves, but obedience involves taking action. I’ve heard from people who are frustrated by Christians who “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk,” and this is why they reject the truth. Well, Jesus would agree with them! Though our works won’t lead to salvation, they do show that we take what Christ did for us seriously, and that we know what the Bible says.
God is not just a God of rules and platitudes. The Bible isn’t just a book of stories and good advice. Some specific things we are called to go out and do (see if you can find the citations!): Give to the poor, visit those in prison, give part of our “harvest” and profit to God, seek out others whom we need to reconcile with, train the next generation, baptise people, tell them about Jesus, and of course, pray, pray, pray, and pray. Oh, and did I forget to mention, pray?
God is is a God of action. Even though we might at times which His actions lined up more with our plans, or that He would act sooner to stop something or start something, who are we to tell Him what to do? That would be like a pilot trying to act like air traffic control for all the dozens of other planes coming in at the same time as her. Find a video that shows what air traffic controllers have to do – it’s mind-boggling, and the slightest mistake can lead to disaster. And if the pilots don’t listen, they can cause catastrophic disasters for all. Controllers have to be able to rethink their plans on the fly, but they may not succeed. But still, pilots and controllers still just make simple mistakes, or get tired. Our God doesn’t make mistakes, or get tired, and when we go off the flight path (either by mistake or on purpose) He has already taken it into account BEFORE we did it. Even the best and most experienced controllers can’t do that.
So, we can let something imaginary or man-made guide our planes, and we might be fine for a while. But when it’s time to come in for that final landing, only those who trust the true controller will have a smooth reception. And how can a pilot say they have faith in and trust the controller if they don’t obey him or her? What are those words worth, if the actions go against it? We could trust God so much that He could reach down and set our planes to the ground with His own hand, while still keeping everything else in the air.
What is it worth to say I’m a follower of Christ, that I trust Him to be my air traffic control when I see something shiny in the distance, and I decide to go there instead of following the pattern that He’s asked me to hold? How can I say I trust Him when He tells me to go on a specific runway, a narrow one that not many other plans use, that doesn’t seem to have much special to it, but I see the big, wide, shiny runway with all the fixings (I don’t know much about airports, guys, bear with me) and decide He doesn’t know what He’s talking about, and I go there instead? Then when my fellow pilots ask if I have faith in the Controller, and I say “yes,” will the confession of my mouth override the actions of disobedience?
God is a God of actions. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. He let them walk through on dry ground while He killed the king and his followers who once again decided to turn against God, even though he had lost everything. He was stubborn to a fault, right up until the end. No matter what he lost, no matter how many times he was shown that he was no match for God, he was as rooted as a tree in what he believed. Many of you reading this today will probably be the same. There’s nothing that could convince you that God is real, that He loves us, and that faith and obedience to Him are the best way to live. God reminds Christians that we all have a choice. What more would we have Him do? He’s the God who can make a coin appear in a fish to pay taxes, like He did in today’s Our Daily Bread reading. He can make food mysteriously multiply. But if blessings and prosperity don’t work, and if you aren’t bothered by threats to your life, your eternal life, the life of your loved one, or their eternal life, what would you have God do?
I had a rough day on Tuesday, so I ended up having to double up on Bible in A Year readings today. Both the New and Old testament readings today contained messages about yeast. In the Old testament, God reminds the Israelites over and over that there should be no yeast anywhere near them during the time of Passover, and that they are to eat only thin bread. I have no idea what the big deal about yeast is, but there’s a lot of things that God says that I don’t understand. The verse of the day passage from Ecclesiastes includes Solomon lamenting that God is confusing and asks a lot of us. “I have seen what difficult things God demands of us…Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future.” (10-11.) But in the New Testament reading, Jesus tells his disciples to “beware of the yeast of the Sadducees,” and they are just as confused as I am, even though it’s clarified later that yeast stands for evil teachings. It takes only a little, but then it makes the entire loaf rise. Just a little later, Jesus is frustrated with the disciples and tells them that if they only had a little faith, as small as a mustard seed (which I think is about the size of a bit of yeast) they could move mountains. So which small things will we focus on? Yesterday’s Our Daily bread verse was 1 John: 4:16: “We know and rely on the love God has for us.”
Last night at my young adults group, the Pastor focused on this message. Nothing we do means anything if we don’t have love. We can toss down food at the poor, slum it in prison, write out cheques to charities and churches, and sit in family counselling. But if we don’t have love in our hearts, what’s the point? We can grudgingly follower our air traffic controller, but if we don’t do it out of faith and obedience, what are we really doing? And trust me, there’s days when I am grumbling the entire time that I follow where God leads. He gets an earful about how tired I am, how I don’t have time for this, how it’s cold, how it’s expensive, and on and on. But what if I tried being a little more grateful and hopeful? If I’m going to do it anyway, why not get curious and excited? At least some of the time. It’s probably better than screaming into the abyss.
Faith brings us into salvation. Obedience calls us to service. Love makes everything possible.
Try to spend a bit of time in the word every day! It will be amazing, confusing, uplifting, perplexing, and at times disturbing – just like life, and so much better when you’re holding God’s hand.
For daily Bible verse breakdowns and more, go to http://www.bible.com. Don’t forget to download the app!
For a daily guide and devotionals on how to get through the Bible in a year, go to http://www.ourdailybread.ca
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13