GotQuestions: “Faith”

How can I increase my faith?



 

98estion: "How can I increase my faith?"


Answer: 
All Christians want, or should want, to increase their faith. But those who have given their lives to Christ have come to realize that success does not come from our own human attempts; we always fail. First Corinthians 4:7 reminds us, “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” Without God, we are left to our own resources, which plague us with pride, stubbornness, indifference, insensitivity, and failure. The only one we can count on who absolutely will not fail us is God (Hebrews 13:5).

Beginning our journey of faith with God requires that we immerse ourselves in His Word (Titus 1:13-14). We must learn about His love, His justice, His mercy, and His plan. We must form a relationship with Him, so that we can know Him personally through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We should ask Him to reveal Himself to us and change us. The Bible promises that if we seek God, we will find Him (Matthew 7:7). And if we allow Him to, He will transform us into new people who can know His will (Romans 12:2). We have to be willing to die to our old selves and let go of the pride and selfishness that kept us from Him for so long. As God changes us, we will learn to develop the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit, who dwells in all Christians (Galatians 5:22-23John 14:17). As we walk in the Spirit, allowing Him to control our lives, we will begin to trust in Him. “Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done” (Colossians 2:7).

If our trust in God is going to grow, we have to learn to step out in faith, moving out of our comfort zone and taking chances. If we believe that God will sustain us for that day, we can be free to carry out His will, regardless of the consequences. Whenever we face temptations, God will always provide a way out so that we will not be overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). We need to look for that way out, and praise God when we find it. First Peter 1:7 says He will use trials to test our faith and to make us stronger Christians; we will be given much honor if we can stand strong and not waver. “Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news – the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17)

 


What does the Bible say about faith?


 

Question: "What does the Bible say about faith?"

Answer: Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Perhaps no other component of the Christian life is more important than faith. We cannot purchase it, sell it or give it to our friends. So what is faith and what role does faith play in the Christian life? The dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” It also defines faith as “belief in and devotion to God.” The Bible has much more to say about faith and how important it is. In fact, it is so important that without faith we have no place with God, and it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is belief in the one, true God without actually seeing Him.

Where does faith come from? Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual.Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. It is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory. 

Why have faith? God designed a way to distinguish between those who belong to Him and those who don’t, and it is called faith. Very simply, we need faith to please God. God tells us that it pleases Him that we believe in Him even though we cannot see Him. A key part of Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This is not to say that we have faith in God just to get something from Him. However, God loves to bless those who are obedient and faithful. We see a perfect example of this in Luke 7:50. Jesus is engaged in dialog with a sinful woman when He gives us a glimpse of why faith is so rewarding. “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The woman believed in Jesus Christ by faith and He rewarded her for it. Finally, faith is what sustains us to the end, knowing by faith that we will be in heaven with God for all eternity. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). 

Examples of faith. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the “faith chapter” because in it great deeds of faith are described. By faith Abel offered a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord (v. 4); by faith Noah prepared the ark in a time when rain was unknown (v. 7); by faith Abraham left his home and obeyed God’s command to go he knew not where, then willingly offered up his only son (vv. 8-10, 17); by faith Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt (vv. 23-29); by faith Rahab received the spies of Israel and saved her life (v. 31). Many more heroes of the faith are mentioned “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (vv. 33-34). Clearly, the existence of faith is demonstrated by action.

Faith is the cornerstone of Christianity. Without demonstrating faith and trust in God we have no place with Him. We believe in God’s existence by faith. Most people have a vague, disjointed notion of who God is but lack the reverence necessary for His exalted position in their lives. These people lack the true faith needed to have an eternal relationship with the God who loves them. Faith can fail us at times, but because it is the gift of God, given to His children, He provides times of trial and testing in order to prove that our faith is real and to sharpen and strengthen it. This is why James tells us to consider it “pure joy” because the testing of our faith produces perseverance and matures us, providing the evidence that our faith is real (James 1:2-4).

 

What does it mean that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)?



 

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 author perfecter faith

Question: "What does it mean that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)?"

Answer: Jesus is described as the author and perfecter, or finisher, of our faith in Hebrews 12:2. An author is an originator or creator, as of a theory or plan. The Greek word translated “author” inHebrews 12:2 can also mean captain, chief leader or prince. Acts 3:15 uses the same word: “And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (KJV), while the NIV and ESV use the word “author.” From this we can deduce that Christ is the originator of our faith in that He begins it, as well as the captain and prince or our faith. This indicates that Jesus controls our faith, steers it as a captain steers a ship, and presides over it and cares for it as a monarch presides over and cares for his people. 

The Greek word translated “perfecter” in this verse appears only this one time in the New Testament. It means literally “completer” or “finisher” and speaks of bringing something to its conclusion. Putting the two words together, we see that Jesus, as God, both creates and sustains our faith. We know that saving faith is a gift from God, not something we come up with on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that gift comes from Christ, its creator. He is also the sustainer of our faith, meaning that true saving faith cannot be lost, taken away or given away. This is a source of great comfort to believers, especially in times of doubt and spiritual struggles. Christ has created our faith and He will watch over it, care for it, and sustain it. 

It is important for us to understand that God in Christ is not only the creator and sustainer of our saving faith, but He is also the sustainer of our daily walk and the finisher of our spiritual journey. For if God in Christ is not the author of our new life, and if Christ is not the finisher and perfecter of our faith through the Holy Spirit's indwelling power, then we are neither born again nor are we a true follower of Christ. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Philippians 1:6Ephesians 1:13-14).

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RelationshipsQ&A: "My husband wants to love on me and touch me and put his hands down my pants and kiss me passionately, and we have younger children... if I say no or kind of put him off and say "later let's do this." He thinks I don't love him. What sho

Q and A is your opportunity to ask questions regarding the Bible, church, or just about anything regarding Christian faith and life. Submit questions on the response form in your bulletin or E-mail the Church Office.

My husband wants to love on me and touch me and put his hands down my pants and kiss me passionately, and we have younger children... if I say no or kind of put him off and say "later let's do this." He thinks I don't love him. What should I do?

Q. My husband wants to love on me and touch me and put his hands down my pants and kiss me passionately, and we have younger children. The oldest is 9. My husband is kind of a fun, crazy kind of guy. I feel embarrassed to do this in front of the children, but he takes offense if I say no or kind of put him off and say "later let's do this." He thinks I don't love him. What should I do?

A. I believe it is completely appropriate for you to discuss this with him in private and explain why you feel the way you do. While it is very healthy and beneficial for your children to see their parent’s affection for each other, you should be able to discuss boundaries which you both agree on and are comfortable with, when it comes to being affection with one another. Your communication with him should help him understand these boundaries are not because you do not love him, but you have discomfort with certain displays of affection and hopefully understanding will be fostered. It seems unusual that your discomfort with certain displays of affection would cause your husband to come to such a drastic conclusion. Perhaps there is more than this driving his conclusion. It may be time to sit down and have a good long talk speaking the truth in love.

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RelationshipsQ&A: "What do I do when I try to communicate with my husband but he gets angry?"

Q and A is your opportunity to ask questions regarding the Bible, church, or just about anything regarding Christian faith and life. Submit questions on the response form in your bulletin or E-mail the Church Office.

What do I do when I try to communicate with my husband but he gets angry?

Q. What do I do when I try to communicate with my husband but he gets angry? I try to share in a loving way with him something that has hurt me or something that is hard for me....but he gets so upset and takes it personally, no matter how lovingly I try to share these truths. So...I don't share and I keep it in and then just feel resentment building. This really affects my ability to have intimacy with him. I feel misunderstood and shut off and a lack of love.

A. It is crucial that a husband and wife have open and honest communication for a fulfilling and intimate relationship. It can be very frustrating and lonely when you feel misunderstood, so it’s important to be aware of what has taken place in your relationship when trying to discuss sensitive issues. For example, if your husband does not feel that you respect him, everything you try to communicate might be filtered through the fact that he feels disrespected by you. So when you bring up the thing that has hurt you or that has offended you, he may see it as just another thing in the long list where he does not measure up and feels hopeless and frustrated. This does not justify any outburst of wrath he may exhibit, but may give you some insight to the context of why he is taking it so personally.

I would first encourage you to take these hurts and offences to the Lord and receive grace to absorb them, and ask Him for insight and discernment in communicating to your husband. It may be important to educate yourself on what it really means to respect your husband and how he receives or feels respected. You may have to sit down with him and ask him. Just as it is challenging and sometimes feels unnatural for men to effectively communicate love to their wives, it is equally challenging for wives to communicate respect to their husbands. You may need to spend some time building him up with encouraging words and the things you really appreciate about him. He needs to know you are on his side by your consistent and continued behavior and positive communication. You feel lack of love and he may feel lack of respect which is just as vital to him as love is to you.

The Scriptures repeat over and over in the New Testament for husbands to love their wives and for wives to respect their husbands. God understands our deepest needs and longings, because He created us. This is not to say the problem is entirely yours, because God has given instruction to your husband to resolve this problem as well, however, this is something you can begin to work on to bring resolution as far as is possible with you. In other words, your husband may be a jerk sometimes (and you have my sympathy) but you can still have a great impact on how these things get resolved by really searching out what respect means to your husband, and trying to obey this biblical principal with all of your heart for the Lord’s glory and honor.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

ClassicDevotionSeries: "PRIVILEGE AND EXPERIENCE" -Andrew Murray

PRIVILEGE AND EXPERIENCE

"And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." --Luke 15:31.

The words of the text are familiar to us all. The elder son had complained and said, that though his father had made a feast, and had killed the fatted calf for the prodigal son, he had never given him even a kid that he might make merry with his friends. The answer of the father was: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." One cannot have a more wonderful revelation of the heart of our Father in heaven than this points out to us. We often speak of the wonderful revelation of the father's heart in his welcome to the prodigal son, and in what he did for him. But here we have a revelation of the father's love far more wonderful, in what he says to the elder son.

If we are to experience a deepening of spiritual life, we want to discover clearly what is the spiritual life that God would have us live, on the one hand; and, on the other, to ask whether we are living that life; or, if not, what hinders us living it out fully.

This subject naturally divides itself into these three heads:--1. The high privilege of every child of God. 2. The low experience of too many of us believers. 3. The cause of the discrepancy; and, lastly, 4. The way to the restoration of the privilege.

  • 1. THE HIGH PRIVILEGE OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD.

    We have here two things describing the privilege:--First, "Son, thou art ever with me"-- unbroken fellowship with thy Father is thy portion; Second, "All that I have is thine"--all that God can bestow upon His children is theirs.

    "Thou are ever with me;" I am always near thee; thou canst dwell every hour of thy life in My presence, and all I have is for thee. I am a father, with a loving father's heart. I will withhold no good thing from thee. In these promises, we have the rich privilege of God's heritage. We have, in the first place, unbroken fellowship with Him. A father never sends his child away with the thought that he does not care about his child knowing that he loves him. The father longs to have his child believe that he has the light of his father's countenance upon him all the day--that, if he sends the child away to school, or anywhere that necessity compels, it is with a sense of sacrifice of parental feelings. If it be so with an earthly father, what think you of God? Does He not want every child of His to know that he is constantly living in the light of His countenance? This is the meaning of that word, "Son, thou art ever with me."

    That was the privilege of God's people in Old Testament times. We are told that "Enoch walked with God." God's promise to Jacob was: "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." And God's promise to Israel through Moses, was: "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." And in Moses' response to the promise, he says, "For wherein shall it be known that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not that Thou goest with us; so shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." The presence of God with Israel was the mark of their separation from other people. This is the truth taught in all the Old Testament; and if so, how much more may we look for it in the New Testament? Thus we find our Saviour promising to those who love Him and who keep His word, that the Father also will love them, and Father and Son will come and make Their abode with them.

    Let that thought into your hearts--that the child of God is called to this blessed privilege, to live every moment of his life in fellowship with God. He is called to enjoy the full light of His countenance. There are many Christians--I suppose the majority of Christians--who seem to regard the whole of the Spirit's work as confined to conviction and conversion:--not so much that He came to dwell in our hearts, and there reveal God to us. He came not to dwell near us, but in us, that we might be filled with His indwelling. We are commanded to be "filled with the Spirit;" then the Holy Spirit would make God's presence manifest to us. That is the whole teaching of the epistle to the Hebrews:--the veil is rent in twain; we have access into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus; we come into the very presence of God, so that we can live all the day with that presence resting upon us. That presence is with us wheresoever we go; and in all kinds of trouble, we have undisturbed repose and peace. "Son, thou art ever with me."

    There are some people who seem to think that God, by some unintelligible sovereignty, withdraws His face. But I know that God loves His people too much to withhold His fellowship from them for any such reason. The true reason of the absence of God from us is rather to be found in our sin and unbelief, than in any supposed sovereignty of His. If the child of God is walking in faith and obedience, the Divine presence will be enjoyed in unbroken continuity.

    Then there is the next blessed privilege: "All that I have is thine." Thank God, He has given us His own Son; and in giving Him, He has given us all things that are in Him, He has given us Christ's life, His love, His Spirit, His glory. "All things are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." All the riches of His Son, the everlasting King, God bestows upon every one of His children. "Son, thou art ever with me; and all that I have is thine." Is not that the meaning of all those wonderful promises given in connection with prayer: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, ye shall receive."? Yes, there it is. That is the life of the children of God, as He Himself has pictured it to us.

  • 2. In contrast with this high privilege of believers, look at... 
            THE LOW EXPERIENCE OF TOO MANY OF US.

    The elder son was living with his father and serving him "these many years," and he complains that his father never gave him a kid, while he gave his prodigal brother the fatted calf. Why was this? Simply because he did not ask it. He did not believe that he would get it, and therefore never asked it, and never enjoyed it. He continued thus to live in constant murmuring and dissatisfaction; and the key note of all this wretched life is furnished in what he said. His father gave him everything, yet he never enjoyed it; and he throws the whole blame on his loving and kind father. O beloved, is not that the life of many a believer? Do not many speak and act in this way? Every believer has the promise of unbroken fellowship with God, but he says, "I have not enjoyed it; I have tried hard and done my best, and I have prayed for the blessing, but I suppose God does not see fit to grant it." But why not? One says, it is the sovereignty of God withholding the blessing. The father withheld not his gifts from the elder brother in sovereignty; neither does our Heavenly Father withhold any good thing from them that love Him. He does not make any such differences between His children. "He is able to make all grace abound towards you" was the promise equally made to all in the Corinthian church.

    Some think these rich blessings are not for them, but for those who have more time to devote to religion and prayer; or their circumstances are so difficult, so peculiar, that we can have no conception of their various hindrances. But do not such think that God, if He places them in these circumstances, cannot make His grace abound accordingly? They admit He could if He would, work a miracle for them, which they can hardly expect. In some way, they, like the elder son, throw the blame on God. Thus many are saying, when asked if they are enjoying unbroken fellowship with God:--"Alas, no! I have not been able to attain to such a height; it is too high for me. I know of some who have it, and I read of it; but God has not given it to me, for some reason." But why not? You think, perhaps, that you have not the same capacity for spiritual blessing that others have. The Bible speaks of a joy that is "unspeakable and full of glory" as the fruit of believing; of a "love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us." Do we desire it, do we? Why not get it? Have we asked for it? We think we are not worthy of the blessing--we are not good enough; and therefore God has not given it. There are more among us than we know of, or are willing to admit, who throw the blame of our darkness, and of our wanderings on God! Take care! Take care! Take care!

    And again, what about that other promise? The Father says, "All I have is thine." Are you rejoicing in the treasures of Christ? Are you conscious of having an abundant supply for all your spiritual needs every day? God has all these for you in abundance. "Thou never gavest me a kid!" The answer is, "All that I have is thine. I gave it thee in Christ."

    Dear reader, we have such wrong thoughts of God. What is God like? I know no image more beautiful and instructive than that of the sun. The sun is never weary of shining;--of pouring out his beneficent rays upon both the good and the evil. You might close up the windows with blinds or bricks, the sun would shine upon them all the same; though we might sit in darkness, in utter darkness, the shining would be just the same. God's sun shines on every leaf; on every flower; on every blade of grass; on everything that springs out of the ground. All receive this wealth of sunshine until they grow to perfection and bear fruit. Would He who made that sun be less willing to poor out His love and life into me? The sun--what beauty it creates! And my God, --would He not delight more in creating a beauty and a fruitfulness in me?--such, too, as He has promised to give? And yet some say, when asked why they do not live in unbroken communion with God, "God does not give it to me, I do not know why; but that is the only reason I can give you --He has not given it to me." You remember the parable of the one who said, "I know thou art an hard master, reaping where thou hast not sown and gathering where thou hast not strawed," asking and demanding what thou hast not given. Oh! let us come and ask why it is that the believer lives such a low experience.

  • 3. THE CAUSE OF THIS DISCREPANCY BETWEEN GOD'S GIFTS, 
            AND OUR LOW EXPERIENCE.

    The believer is complaining that God has never given him a kid. Or, God has given him some blessing, but has never given the full blessing. He has never filled him with His Spirit. "I never," he says, "had my heart, as a fountain, giving forth the rivers of living water promised in John vii. 38." What is the cause? The elder son thought he was serving his father faithfully "these many years" in his father's house, but it was in the spirit of bondage and not in the spirit of a child, so that his unbelief blinded him to the conception of a father's love and kindness, and he was unable all the time to see that his father was ready, not only to give him a kid, but a hundred, or a thousand kids, if he would have them. He was simply living in unbelief, in ignorance, in blindness, robbing himself of the privileges that the father had for him. So, if there be a discrepancy between our life and the fulfillment and enjoyment of all God's promises, the fault is ours. It our experience be not what God wants it to be, it is because of our unbelief in the love of God, in the power of God, and in the reality of God's promises.

    God's word teaches us, in the story of the Israelites, that it was unbelief on their part that was the cause of their troubles, and not any limitation or restriction on God's part. As Psalm 78th says:--"He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers." Yet they sinned by doubting His power to provide meat for them--"They spake against God; they said, can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" (vs. 15-19). Later on, we read in v. 41, "They turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." They kept distrusting Him from time to time. When they got to Kadesh-Barnea, and God told them to enter the land flowing with milk and honey where there would be rest, abundance, and victory, only two men said, "Yes;" we can take possession, for God can make us conquer." But the ten spies, and the six hundred thousand men answered, "No; we can never take the land; the enemies are too strong for us." It was simply unbelief that kept them out of the land of promise.

    If there is to be any deepening of the spiritual life in us, we must come to the discovery, and the acknowledgment of the unbelief there is in our hearts. God grant that we may get this spiritual quickening, and that we may come to see that it is by our unbelief that we have prevented God from doing His work in us. Unbelief is the mother of disobedience, and of all my sins and short comings--my temper, my pride, my unlovingness, my worldliness, my sins of every kind. Though these differ in nature and form, yet they all come from the one root, viz, that we do not believe in the freedom and fulness of the Divine gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and strengthen us, and fill us with the life and grace of God all the day long. Look, I pray you, at that elder son, and ask what was the cause of that terrible difference between the heart of the father and the experience of the son. There can be no answer but that it was this sinful unbelief that utterly blinded the son to a sense of his father's love.

    Dear fellow believer, I want to say to you, that, if you are not living in the joy of God's salvation, the entire cause is your unbelief. You do not believe in the mighty power of God, and that He is willing by His Holy Spirit to work a thorough change in your life, and enable you to live in fulness of consecration to Him. God is willing that you should so live; but you do not believe it. If men really believed in the infinite love of God, what a change it would bring about! What is love? It is a desire to communicate oneself for the good of the object loved--the opposite to selfishness; as we read in 1 Cor. xiii. "Love seeketh not her own." Thus the mother is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of her child. So God in His love is ever willing to impart blessing; and He is omnipotent in His love. This is true, my friends; God is omnipotent in love, and He is doing His utmost to fill every heart in this house. "But if God is really anxious to do that, and if He is Almighty, why does He not do it now?" You must remember, that God has given you a will, and by the exercise of that will, you can hinder God, and remain content, like the elder son, with the low life of unbelief. Come, now, and let us see the cause of the difference between God's high, blessed provision for His children, and the low, sad experience of many of us in the unbelief that distrusts and grieves Him.

  • 4. THE WAY OF RESTORATION--HOW IS THAT TO BE BROUGHT ABOUT?

    We all know the parable of the prodigal son; and how many sermons have been preached about repentance, from that parable. We are told that "he came to himself and said, I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight." In preaching, we speak of this as the first step in a changed life--as conversion, as repentance, confession, returning to God. But, as this is the first step for the prodigal, we must remember that this is also the step to be taken by His erring children--by all the ninety-nine "who need no repentance," or think they do not. Those Christians who do not understand how wrong their low religious life is, must be taught that this is sin--unbelief; and that it is as necessary that they should be brought to repentance as the prodigal. You have heard a great deal of preaching repentance to the unconverted; but I want to try to preach it to God's children. We have a picture of so many of God's children in that elder brother. What the father told him, to bring about a consideration of the love that He bore him, just as he loved the prodigal brother, thus does God tell to us in our contentedness with such a low life:--"You must repent and believe that I love you, and all that I have is thine." He says, "By your unbelief, you have dishonoured me, living for ten, twenty, or thirty years, and never believing what it was to live in the blessedness of My love. You must confess the wrong you have done Me in this, and be broken down in contrition of heart just as truly as the prodigal."

    There are many children of God who need to confess, that though they are His children, they have never believed that God's promises are true, that He is willing to fill their hearts all the day long with His blessed presence. Have you believed this? If you have not, all our teaching will be of no profit to you. Will you not say, "By the help of God, I will begin now a new life of faith, and will not rest until I know what such a life means. I will believe that I am every moment in the Father's presence, and all that He has is mine?"

    May the Lord God work this conviction in the hearts of all cold believers. Have you ever heard the expression, "a conviction for sanctification?" You know, the unconverted man needs a conviction before conversion. So does the dark-minded Christian need conviction before, and in order to sanctification, before he comes to a real insight to spiritual blessedness. He must be convicted a second time because of his sinful life of doubt, and temper, and unlovingness. He must be broken down under that conviction; then there is hope for him. May the Father of mercy grant all such that deep contrition, so that they may be led into the blessedness of His presence, and enjoy the fulness of His power and love!

  • Posted via email from ..................The Last Call Digest

    MikeMacintosh: If you are "bearing with" someone, that person is affecting your life right now.

    Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
    Colossians 3:12-13

    If you are "bearing with" someone, that person is affecting your life right now. I wonder if there is someone, or a number of people, with whom you are struggling right now? It may be a family member or a co-worker, and that old nature of yours is getting frustrated with them; you are tired of bearing with them. But the new nature says that you are to love them, and we know from 1 Corinthians 13 that love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things. How can we possibly respond in love when our old nature is telling us that we've done enough, that to respond in love isn't worth the effort? Simple. God's Word shows us that as we walk in the Spirit, our old nature is put to death; the nature of Jesus will respond instead, and that response will be one of love.

    Paul also instructs us here that as Jesus Christ has forgiven us, so are we to forgive others. Forgiveness involves dealing with things that have already happened. I know from talking with people over the years that there are many people who struggle with things from their past. They still remember things that their parents said or did. Hurts from an old boyfriend or girlfriend still affect them. And with so many of the stories I have heard, there is often a justifiable reason to assign blame. But we know from Scripture that Jesus forgives us completely -- our sins have been erased by the blood of Jesus, never to be brought up again. Today, let us use Jesus as our example, and forgive in the same way.

    Posted via email from ..................The Last Call Digest

    DailyHope: The Principle of Evaluation: Assess Your Situation

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    The Principle of Evaluation: Assess Your Situation
    by Rick Warren

     

    “Do not think of your self more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3 (NIV)

    "Do you believe you can change? Do you believe things can be different in your life?"

    You can’t get to where you need to be until you first know where you are. That’s why, if you want to change anything in your life, Romans 12 says you need to humbly assess or evaluate your current state.

    Now the reason I say humbly is because we don’t want to admit what’s not working in our lives. We don’t want to admit we’re in a hole or things aren’t working out. We don’t like to admit we need to change. We want to pretend we have it all together. That’s the barrier of pride.

    Humility is the ingredient for change that will counter our pride. We have to start by admitting we don’t have it all together.

    What are you pretending is not a problem in your life? Is it a problem in your marriage? An addiction? A problem with your body? Whatever it is, you need to start with an honest evaluation of yourself.

    Change also takes faith. Do you believe you can change? Do you believe things can be different in your life? Ask yourself how much faith you will need in order to make the changes you want in your life. Is it more than you have right now? That’s evaluating the measure of your faith.

    I want you to grow in your faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. I want you to grow in the measure of your faith, and I want you to set goals that are so big they force you to grow in faith.

    Where will you get this faith to grow? Romans 10:13 says, “Faith comes from hearing the Word of God” (NIV). In other words, if you read the Bible more, then your faith will grow, then your trust in God will deepen, and then you will change.

     

     

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    Posted via email from ..................The Last Call Digest

    MyAnswer: Billy Graham "How to Help Your Children Grow ."

     

     

    How to Help Your Children Grow

    Sometimes our little boy refuses to say his prayers. What should we do then?

    Don't try to force your child to pray. Every night set aside fifteen minutes or half an hour before his bedtime for reading and conversation. Show your child pictures of Jesus, and tell him stories of the Saviour. Talk to him of the Heavenly Father. Explain to him that God sends the sun and the rain. Tell him it is God who makes the flowers grow, and gives us food to eat.

       Let your child hear you pray, using simple words he can understand. Say: "I like to thank God for the good things He's given me." Do this for a few days. Then some evening when you've finished praying, ask, "Isn't there something you would like to thank God for?" If your child says only a few words, be content.

       There is no better way to encourage a boy or girl to pray. Later you'll want to teach your child to ask God to forgive the mistakes he's made, and to pray for strength to do what is right. But don't be impatient, or try to force your little one. Let him hear you pray. Surround him with love. Tell him of Jesus and the Heavenly Father. And soon he'll want to express his thoughts in prayer.

    My wife and I do not agree on the matter of disciplining our children. I maintain that a child needs a firm hand, and a spanking now and then. My wife says that all they need is love and understanding. Who is right?

    Both of you are partly right, and both partly wrong. They need both discipline and love. Cold, harsh discipline without love can do irreparable damage to a child. But an insipid love that indulges the child and caters to his every whim, can also do great harm.

       There is a great difference in children, too. I have one child who rarely needs to be disciplined. Even if I spoke to her reprovingly, her heart would be broken. I have another who responds to punitive discipline, and pays little attention to the "soft reproof." I think it is hard to lay down any hard and fast rules because children vary so much. The Bible teaches that discipline should be used when required. But it suggests that discipline and love must go hand in hand. It says: "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."

       The lack of the right kind of discipline may indicate a lack of love. It is much easier on the nerves to just let children go, than to plan and execute the kind of discipline they need. But greater than discipline is the power of a good example. Children are more impressed by conduct they can see than by lectures and spankings. If parents would live the Christian life before them, it would have a tremendous influence upon their children.

    My wife and I have no church home. Now that we are parents we would like to have our child christened but do not know where to go. Can you give us some help?

    You have a more serious problem than to find a place where you can have your child christened. At the same time, it is gratifying to know that you do have some spiritual concern, for such concern is at least hopeful. The Bible says: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Your responsibility is to find the full truth of the Gospel and to accept its provisions and conditions for yourselves. Only when you have made a complete commitment of your lives to Christ and familiarized yourselves with the message of the Bible can you do for your child what needs to be done. Find a church home where the Bible is preached and where Christ is exalted. Receive the Saviour for yourselves and then you will be in a position to provide the religious and spiritual home and background your child needs to grow spiritually as well as physically and intellectually.

    My wife and I are wondering if it would not be better to keep our children away from Sunday school and church until they want to go? We do not wish to prejudice them in any way, but feel that they should make their own decisions.

    I suppose you will keep them from public school also, lest their individuality be somehow distorted and their freedom restricted. Do you not realize that only those who are fully informed are really free to make wise decisions. The intention of a good Sunday school is to present to young people the basic truth of the Christian faith. A parent is responsible for the training of children and for affording them the best education available. Our whole concept of government rests upon the basic principle that people should be informed. We teach our youth the principles of democracy and the American Constitution so that they can vote intelligently. Why do you hesitate giving them a good basic teaching of the Christian faith, so that they can make a wise and enlightened choice. Someday God will hold you accountable for the religious training you either gave or denied your children. Give them the best you can, and above all, tell them the story of Christ and His love.

    My husband and I have just become parents of a baby girl. Until now we have never thought of religion, and we would appreciate your help on how to begin.

    The first realization of responsibility often makes us realize how much we need Divine assistance and guidance. Your coming to be parents makes you sense your responsibility to another soul. You must give her direction and instruction until she can make her own decisions. I would suggest that you first secure a Bible and begin systematic, thoughtful reading together. Begin with the Gospel of John. As you come to any particular Scripture that calls for any decision or action, accept it and act upon it. Questions of a critical nature can wait. As an example, when you read John 1:12, it says that "As many as received him, to them gave He the right to become children of God." Ask yourselves: "Have we received Christ, and do we have the right to become children of God?" Continue that way, of life through a personal faith. Above all, obey God's word and always settle each question as you come to it. Problems you can't understand will soon have their solution as you progress in your prayerful search for the truth.

    In the school where my children attend, there has been much dishonesty and even some immorality. I don't like to have my children associate with such people, but cannot afford to send them to a private school. Are there any steps I can take to protect my children?

    There is a danger of protecting our children too much. That is, we can withdraw them from society as it is until they come to have a pharisaic attitude. We must face the real situation. These dishonest and immoral children are a normal cross section of humanity and your children will always have to live in contact with them. The wise course of action is to give them the spiritual and moral training and example at home that will equip them for working and doing business with such people. They will be more likely to develop strong spiritual powers through opposition than through living in a situation where they never need to make decisions. The important thing is to give them the grounding they need in the Scriptures, let them see sin in its real light, and show them that with Christ as Saviour and as their guide, they can face opposition and win. Their small victories will prepare them for the larger battles ahead.

    My husband and I adopted a child a few years ago. We decided never to tell him about it, but to let him feel that he was our own son. Now at the age of almost fourteen, he hears from another source that he is adopted. He has not mentioned this to either of us, but is very cool to us, even though we have sacrificed so much to make him happy. How can we make right this error in our dealings with him?

    It will do little good now to say that such things had better be discussed openly. It would be much better if you had explained the matter to him long ago. It is no justification for his coolness, though, and I believe that he will understand a clear explanation. Any young man who has been given a fine home and cared for through his early years will know that what you have done has been done in love and generosity. There is only one thing you can do. Have a heart to heart talk with him, acknowledge your error, and tell him why you tried to make him feel that he was your own son. Assure him that your early love for him is just the same, and that all you desire from him is that he love you as foster parents and accept your care and kindness in the spirit in which you have given it through the years. It is the element of secrecy that is disturbing him now. Remove that and I am confident he will be very understanding. Make it clear that all that you have done has been in the name of Christ and for His honor.

    I am writing for my husband and myself. We have a son who is unruly and undisciplined. We have tried to show him how much his disobedience hurts us and have tried to reason with him, but in vain.

    Although he is just a young teen-ager, we are afraid he is out of control. In our desperation, is there anything we have failed to do for him, or is there anything we can do to save him?

    God may do for you what you have already failed to do for your boy. Discipline and the recognition of authority can seldom be taught when a child reaches his teens. Discipline and control begins at the cradle, just as your training in other matters begins there. It is no kindness to a child to permit him to have his own way in infancy and young childhood. He will pay for such liberties later and will cause you much sorrow.

       Perhaps the problem now is a spiritual one. Perhaps the only place you can take the matter is to the Lord. God is patient and able when we call upon him. I would say that you should first settle any spiritual problem you may have of your own. Take Christ as Saviour and Lord and give His word free course in your lives. Then ask God to somehow use your consecration to Him to influence your son for Christ. I am confident that although every other means may fail, if God touches the heart of your son, he will still grow to be a respected citizen and a loving and appreciative son.

    Many modern child psychologists disapprove of spanking a child. What do you think?

    I believe the real question lies in the effectiveness of the punishment rather than the method. Each child differs in temperament, and a patient, observant parent will watch carefully to note what is the most effective way to handle each child. Punishment is the negative part of discipline. While very necessary, we should also be careful to emphasize the positive angle. Keep children happily occupied. The Bible says: "A child kept to himself, bringeth his mother to shame." Keep children happily, wholesomely occupied and they will usually stay out of trouble.

    We live in a crowded section of Brooklyn. My wife worries all the time for fear our two boys will join a gang. I'd like to move, but can't afford to. What do you think we should do?

    If you and your wife are sincere Christians, and have led the boys to a personal faith in Jesus Christ, you don't need to worry about them. Ninety per cent of juvenile delinquency can be traced to careless homes. The Bible says: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

       I appreciate your wife's desire to move to a better neighborhood. Do that, if you can. But remember that some juvenile delinquents grow up in mansions, with servants to wait on them. It isn't a high ceiling, or beautiful furniture, or air conditioning that makes a fine home. What counts is the character of the parents, and the example they set their children. Let your discipline be governed by love. Be absolutely honest. The boys will know if you try to cheat the corner store, or the government.

       See that the boys are kept busy, and given responsibility. This should begin when a child is three or four, and increase with each year of growth. Young people who gain satisfaction from their accomplishments seldom get into trouble.

       As it has been said: Don't send your boys to Sunday school; take them. Go to church as a family, and bring your religion home with you. Invite Christ into your house. Speak and act as you would in His presence. Read the Bible and pray together every day. Establish a Christian home, and you can be sure your boys will seek good companions.

    Our home isn't the same since we bought a TV set. The children leave the table before they've finished eating. My husband cares more about the programs than about me. What can I do?

    You didn't say how long you've had your TV set. If only for a few weeks, I'm sure it will not always have the drawing power it does now. But in the meantime, good manners and consideration for others must not be forgotten. The Bible says: "Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife" (Proverbs 17:1).

       If you once had a Christian home, where love and peace were found, surely your husband and children are missing it. Sit down as a family and discuss not only the use of TV, but rules you must follow to maintain an orderly, happy home. Let the children know what is expected of them. Don't indulge them today, and then scold tomorrow. However, sometimes it may be wise to change the dinner hour to let the children see a good program. Talk this over as a family. Decide, with God's help, what is best for all. Then stick to it.

       This will be easier if you begin the day with God. Family devotions are as important as breakfast. Read the Bible and pray together. Ask God for guidance, and He will show you how to use all the good things He has given you. TV, like the family car, can be a disrupting force; for it can bring the members of your family closer together as you share the best it has to offer.

    My ten-year-old son wants to spend all of his spare time playing ball. How can I keep him from wasting his time?

    It is possible that he is not wasting his time as much as you think. Young people need the recreation and stimulation to be found in wholesome games. They have much excess energy and playing ball means much to young folks. This does not mean that he should be permitted to neglect home duties. These should be assigned to him and he should be required to carry them out. But, do not make his work a punishment: make it a share of the responsibilities all participate in. Then, let him understand that you want him to have a good time and I know of no better way than playing ball. It might be a good thing for you to go along some afternoon and watch the game. It means much to our children if they find we are interested in their sports and in their friends. Learn about the game so you can appreciate the plays. This will give him a feeling of your interest and that in turn will make him happy to tell you about his other experiences and friendships. Above all else let your boy know that you love him and are interested in what he is doing. His spiritual welfare must come first and if you prove to him your understanding in his boyish interests you have a stronger bond to help him in spiritual matters.

    I hear you speak of family devotions. Is a family altar really practical in this streamlined age?

    Family devotions are not only practical, they are essential in the well-adjusted home. I list below seven reasons why I consider family worship important:

    1. It unifies the homelife, and puts faith in the place of friction.

    2. It brings to the family group a sense of God's presence.

    3. It shows the children that God is relevant to everyday living, and not just a Being to be worshiped on Sunday.

    4. It gives members of the family an opportunity for self-examination and confession of sin.

    5. It strengthens the members of the household for the tasks and responsibilities they are to face during the day.

    6. It insulates us against the hurts and misunderstandings which come our way.

    7. It supplements the work of the church, and makes of our homes a sanctuary where Christ is honored.

    "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house . . ." (Deuteronomy 6:7).

    Recently our young son has become very argumentative over everything that concerns our religious faith. We have always taught him the truth and until recently he accepted it. How have we failed that he should now question all he formerly believed?

    All of the arguments your young son is putting forth against your religious faith does not mean that he has no longer any faith. He is right now at that age when he must base all of his convictions upon something other than what his parents believed. It is a most normal thing for teen-agers to question established beliefs. You will find that down in his heart, he really wants to have that faith confirmed, and he hopes you will do it for him. He wants to know why you have believed the Bible and how you first trusted Christ. You would have much more reason for concern if he became completely indifferent or passive. He wants to believe, but he must have faith for himself, and not one that is just handed down. From you, he needs understanding and a good reason. The Bible says: "But sanctify in your hearts Christ Jesus as Lord: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is within you yet with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

    I am a Christian leader in my community. Recently I was embarrassed to find that my youngest son has been stealing. I have four other children, all of them examples of Christian training. Why doesn't this one follow in their steps? How can I save face in such a problem?

    It is too bad you are only concerned about how the thing looks and how it reflects upon you. Your concern now should be for the boy. Most likely, the pride you have taken in your older children is one of the reasons why the youngest is now your problem.

       God has given the children to us as a trust, and often our usefulness is related to our concern for their spiritual welfare. The Bible says: "For I have known him to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice" (Genesis 18:19). There are two possible reasons for this deviation. Perhaps you have neglected this boy, seeing that the others have done so well, or you have made him resentful because of your frequent comparisons between him and the other children. Take time with the boy,

    and praying God's help, you may direct him into a right relationship with God and society as well. Let your concern be for his spiritual welfare rather than your professional standing.

    My sister and her husband are wonderful Christians. They are kind and loving in the home, and yet one of their daughters completely rebels against the Bible, the church, etc. Explain this.

    This is not at all unusual. In the Christian ethic, no one is forced to follow Christ. The Bible says: "Whosoever will may come." Christianity is an involvement of the will, and no one can be coerced into becoming a Christian.

       I have observed a number of rebellious children from Christian homes, but this is usually just a stage in the child's development. It is often a sign of strong character in the child. Some children take things for granted, and others will not accept Truth until they have examined it carefully. In the end, these types make the best Christians.

       The Bible says: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old [mature] he will not depart from it." We don't want our children to be rubber stamps of what we believe, just to please us. We want their faith to be deep-rooted and strong. Don't be discouraged if there is temporary revolt against Christ and His claims upon life. When they are mature, they will "not depart" from what is True and right. Some of the strongest Christians I know (including my wife) are people who were slow to accept the Truth of Christ in their late teens.

    You keep insisting that we parents take our children to Sunday school. It seems to me that this is taking advantage of our authority and forcing them to accept a certain religious view. Don't you think it's better to let them come to their own conclusions, and not force them?

    According to the Bible, we all have a sinful nature (Psalm 51). If this nature is allowed to express itself, a person will invariably turn to sin and wickedness. By your failure to direct your children, you are not allowing them to make any choice but leaving them in spiritual ignorance. Certainly this is not the proper function of a parent.

       As a parent you have the responsibility of directing your children in the ways of the Lord. The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This also means that you must make sure that you know the way so that you can direct your children. Should you fail here, you will be like the blind leading the blind.

    How responsible are parents for the conduct of their children? My husband and I are concerned as our son is rather a bad boy.

    Apart from religious influence, the family is the most important unit of society. It would be well if every home were Christian, but we know that it is not so. The family and the home can never exert their proper influence while ignoring the Biblical standard. The Bible calls for discipline and a recognition of authority. If children do not learn this at home, they will go out into society without the proper attitude toward authority and law. There is always the exceptional child, but the average tells us that the child is largely what the home has made him. The prophet Eli was judged by the Lord because he had put his sons above Jehovah (I Samuel 2:29). The only way to provide the right home for your children is to put the Lord above them, and fully instruct them in the ways of the Lord. You are responsible before God for the home you provide for them.

    My wife and I both work, she on a day shift and I at night. Our children are getting out of hand and we want to make a real home. How can we do it?

    I do not believe you can have a normal home life under the conditions which you have described. First of all, a husband and wife need the companionship, one of the other. Working on different shifts as you are, this would be very difficult. Also, under this arrangement your children must have a sense of insecurity which could do them permanent harm. While jobs are important, your home is also vitally important and you alone are responsible for your children. You brought them into the world and it is your obligation to give them the best home possible. It is not things in the house which make it a home. Rather it is love and companionship and laughter and sympathy and interest in each other's lives and problems. Not knowing what kind of work you are doing, I can only suggest that your wife stay at home and make a real home and you take a job working in the daytime, so your evenings can be spent together. This will mean a smaller income but what profit is it to make more money, have your children unhappy and probably harmed, and even have your home go on the rocks? Most important of all, make your home a Christian home by asking Christ to live in your hearts and direct your lives. Have family worship by reading the Bible and praying together. If you do this, you may have less in this world but you will be laying the right foundation for eternity.

    Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

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