Manna for Today

 

10 Signs of a Christian – 7.  Faith

 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  (Hebrews 11:1-3)

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Learn it:

            Chapter 11 of Hebrews is a common chapter we turn to, to learn about faith.  The chapter starts off by helping us understand what faith is.  When I read the first verse it makes me want to ask, what are we hoping for?  What do we not see?  Whatever that is we immediately see that the “ancients” were commended for that type of faith.  The rest of Hebrews 11 goes through different stories of people of people from the Old Testament and how they displayed their faith. 

            Then in the middle of the chapter we get a little more clarification about the type of faith people in the Old Testament had.  God had made them promises of land, and of a coming Messiah.  They were hopeful that God was creating a country for them but not just an earthly one but a heavenly one.  That is what we are all hopeful for.  We are hopeful that God is preparing a place for us to go when we die.  We do not see it now, but we see evidence of God in creation.  While we await being reunited with God we have his work to do. 

Live it:

            Faith boils down to trusting God in his promises, even when we may not experience them in our lives today.  In the Old Testament very few of the people got to experience the promises of God.  That did not prevent them from doing very courageous things.  As a follower of Christ our citizenship is in heaven.  We should be sold out on his promise that if God calls us to do something that seems uncomfortable, we should be willing to do it.  We can do that because we know that what awaits us in heaven will be so much better than any pain we will experience now.  That is what faith is calling us to do. 


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10 Signs of a Christian – 6.  Meekness

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.  (Acts 6:5-10)

 

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Acts 7:51-10)

Learn it:

            Meekness is often associated with weakness and is not a good characteristic for a person to have.  One definition of ‘meek’ is, “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.”  This is the type of meekness that we see in the life of Stephen.  He kept sharing the gospel even when people revolted against him and he did not result to fighting back.  He spoke strongly to them hoping they could see the truth in what he was saying.  Yet, he never got physical with them.  Then when they were attacking him, Stephen prayer to the Lord that he would be merciful on them.  What an example of patience and meekness!

Live it:

            How many of us would be able to display the level of meekness that Stephen had?  True meekness is not a sign of weakness but incredible strength.  For Christians that means we are bold in our faith and telling others about Jesus.  Then when we are rejected, berated, or mistreated we do not show any form of resentment.  We still love them and pray for them.  How can you display meekness like Stephen did?  Do you hold any resentment in your life that you need God’s help to let go of?    


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10 Signs of a Christian – 5.  Honesty

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  (Exodus 20:16)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  (Colossians 3:9-10)

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.  (Hebrews 13:18)

Learn it:

            The eighth commandment tells us not to give a false testimony against our neighbor.  In short, that means we should not lie.  God is commanding us to be honest and to not lead others astray.  This is a truth that many people, even nonbelievers, would agree with.  We see here that this is not just man’s law but God’s law as well.  God expects us to live honorably in all areas of our lives.  If we do live honorably, we will have a clear conscience.  We will not have any regrets or fears because we have lied.  Lying hinders our relationship with other people but it also drives a wedge between us and God.

            God calls us to a life without deceit and he gives us a way to do it.  We are a NEW CREATION as Colossians 3:9-10 says.  This means we have to let go of some old habits that we used to do.  We need to put on this new self, who is Jesus the Christ!  We put on this new self by having our minds renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is a lifelong process of growing and maturing in our faith.  Our goal is to reflect the image of Jesus and all of his characteristics.  It is possible to do, it takes humility, trust, and a whole lot of the Holy Spirit.

Live it:

            I enjoy watching TV shows and sometimes I’ll find myself talking to the characters because they will be in situations where they just need to be honest, but they will lie in order to spare the other persons feelings.  What happens is they spare the person some small pain but, in the future, they are going to get caught and it’s going to be even worse!  This is where TV shows can be a bit predictable in my opinion but back to the topic at hand. 

Do we ever find ourselves in a similar situation?  We did something small that may hurt someone’s feelings and when confronted about it we lie.  We think we are being nice to them but eventually every lie will be discovered.  When that happens, it will take time for that relationship to be healed.  As followers of Christ we need to live a life of honesty.  From big things to small things and sometimes we will experience pain.  We must speak with gentleness and grace.  When we do that God will bring healing quicker and we will not have to live with the fear of our lies ever coming to light.  We will be able to live a life with more confidence and boldness. 


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10 Signs of a Christian – 4.  Giving

Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  (Malachi 3:8-10)

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  (Acts 20:35)

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Learn it:

            It is in our human instincts to want to store up wealth.  It is logical sense because we never know when life will throw us a curve ball.  As a Christian we put our faith and trust in God.  That trust includes the financial area of our life.  Throughout Scripture it calls believers to be generous and sacrificial with their money and resources.  This lifestyle of generosity is one that should be done joyfully, not forced.  God wants us to be excited to trust Him with this area of our life. 

            We read in Malachi that God wants us to test him in giving our money and good to him.  If we give to him then he will make sure that we will have more than enough to survive on.  God will not let us struggle and he will provide for us in ways that we will never see coming.  God the Father is generous and does not want to see his children suffer.  It does not mean we won’t go through some tough times.  We will.  It just means we have to have faith that He will bring us out of it and He will.

Live it:

            Giving is a taboo subject and one many pastors, including myself, don’t look forward to teaching about.  Yet, it is written about a lot in the Bible and one that cannot be ignored.  In order for the Church to survive and the mission of God to go our local communities and the world, it needs generous people.  This generosity is an opportunity to trust God.  Don’t tithe or give an offering because I am telling you to.  Pray and ask God for a generous heart.  Give because you want to do it joyfully.  God cares more about your motives than blind obedience. 

            Be a joyful giver who knows that God will repay us for all of our generosity.  It may be now, or it may be in heaven.  If you don’t give now, then begin small.  As your confidence grows than trust God more and more.


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Pastor’s Corner