Now that Christmas is near, I enjoy going to all the different places and seeing the spectacular decorations. My favorite is the giant Christmas trees. (not those just made of lights) It is something about having to tilt your head all the way back to see the top as you stand near it, and think about all the work that had to be put into it, just for us to look at for a few moments in passing. In my awe and wonder I notice that they have presents under the trees to make them look complete. I can’t help but wonder how many of us are like those presents. Beautiful on the outside, completely looking like a Christian, but on the inside they are empty and dark. Jesus made this same point, when talking to the Pharisees.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which looks beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Today I say people like this are “playing” church. They come in on Sunday just to say they were there, and put on a play or a show, and yet have no belief or faith to back it up. It’s like buying something on credit, you pay for it like you have the money, but really you don’t. And then you go and show it off to you friends like you should be living that lifestyle, but you shouldn’t. In this way, people act like they have the grace of God, and the peace of forgiveness that comes from being saved, but really they don’t believe any of it, and are just acting a part. They are empty presents. Faith in God and Jesus as our savior is the key to not being empty inside. When you accept Jesus he fills you up, and you can no longer go about your sinful ways. You can’t put on a show, because you are truly living it faithfully. What happens when we follow him faithfully?
For we live by faith, not by sight.
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.
He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails;
The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed.
A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
We begin to learn that even when we don’t see a way out of things, God is always there to protect us. He is constantly working in our favor, and when we rely on him, those works can come through. When we believe, we become children of God, and just as we would do anything to protect our children, that is just a glimpse of what God will do for us. He will guard us from evil, but only if we let him. Then he will reward us for letting him protect us. That’s worth saying again… He rewards us for letting him protect us. Not only is he giving his love and protection free, but he is paying us to except it. Where else in the universe are you going to get a deal like that. Just the opposite, the devil will make you pay for him to take things away from you. So it is better to have faith that God is doing good in you, than what satan is trying to tell you. You can do so much with faith, and so little without it….
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
and he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Jesus yells at his disciples so many times about having too little faith. Many times we really want something to happen, and it may even be in God’s will for it to happen, but we either don’t think God will do it, or he won’t do it for us in particular. Maybe we don’t deserve it, maybe God’s too busy, maybe God doesn’t love us enough. Satan is very clever when using these lies, he attacks us on the things we are weak in. If you are insecure he will say you don’t deserve it, if you are a business type, you can understand that he would be busy, and if you have hurt from your past you could believe that he doesn’t love you enough. When we turn from those negative thoughts, and have faith in God great things can happen.
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Jesus says over and over that people were saved or healed by their faith. Not that he was healing them, but that their believing he could was the determining factor. The fact that he uses a mustard seed in his teaching is no mistake. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds, but when used it will grow into a huge plant. If we would just use a tiny amount of faith in him, we could blossom into a huge force in Christ’s body.
[ Peace and Hope ] Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior is the one thing you must have to be saved. If you believe in God but not in Christ, your belief is useless. Satan believes in God and you know how that turns out. Since we are just as wicked as satan there is no hope for us in this world. Thankfully Jesus is above the world, and can save us if only we would believe in him. God will provide everything we need to get through this life, all we have to do is have faith that he will do so.
Your Challenge this week: Be a Gift
I changed present to gift because it is so close to the word give. Don’t just be filled with faith, but give it as well. Share your faith with someone this week, believer or nonbeliever. Remember that believers need encouragement too.