When we first moved to Portland, I was out hiking with my dog and talking to the Lord. I asked Him, “God, I just don’t see You doing much in my life right now and I’m frustrated.” I heard Him reply, “what steps of faith have you taken lately?”
Without faith you come to an impasse, just as the Israelites did when they came to the Jordan to cross over into the Promised Land. A mighty river stood between them and their future. God said to them, “cross the river here.” Hadn’t God taught them a similar lesson back when they left Egypt and passed through the Red Sea? Here is the test…
"And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap." Joshua 3:13
When the people set their foot into the water, God pulled the waters back and the people crossed the Jordan on dry ground. BUT they had to put their foot into the water first. They had to step out in faith, then God met them there.
"If you don’t want to go by faith, you cannot go," my father taught me. Also, he says, "all progress in the Christian life is by faith." Faith moves us forward!
I believe God periodically will bring us to an impasse, where we must obtain fresh faith to move forward. It is that faith that proves we are serious about where God is taking us. He can’t do it all for us, but if we will just step into the water, He will help us.
What steps of faith have you taken lately?
"But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
I had coffee with a dear friend of mine today. We were talking about the way we speak to our husbands. And naturally, another of my father’s sayings came to mind…
"You can only put so much garbage in the bag before the bag blows out," he would say.
If you are speaking garbage to your husband (or wife, or parents…), there is only so much garbage you can give him or her before they have a “blow-out!” Be careful how you use your words.
"…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…" James 1:19
"…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Galatians 6:7
"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32
In honor of Valentine’s Day yesterday Chad and I finally watched a video his aunt gave us of our wedding. It was fun to reminisce of the day we married and what it took to get there…
When Chad and I were first getting to know each other, he decided it would be wise to ask my father if he could take me on a date. My father was Chad’s mentor, so he knew he should tread very carefully with his mentor’s daughter. A wise decision, indeed.
What was my father’s response to this carefully posed question? “NO.” My father then proceeded to tell him that he should not think about any girl, let alone his daughter, until he had moved some significant boulders in life.
"Marriage is like bench pressing 300 pounds. How much can you bench press?" he asked Chad.
Chad was encouraged by this challenge and went on to “work out” his faith by adding more weight to the barbell. A year later we were engaged…and the rest is history.
Trials, testing, waiting…and more trials, testing, waiting…these build our faith muscles. Would you believe God allows these into our lives because He loves us and wants to bless us? Trials teach us to steward His blessings. Marriage is truly a blessing…IF you can steward it.
I’m so thankful my father taught Chad to bench press more in life. He has been a faithful, patient, enduring, loving husband. I’m certain being married to me has not been easy, nor are the other challenges we’ve faced together. But I’m confident in his ability to walk by faith no matter what.
Are you asking God for more in life? How much can you bench press? Embrace life’s challenges by faith and learn to overcome, press through, endure, stand strong, be faithful…You will surely be blessed if you do!
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 3:21
"…work out your own salvation…" Philippians 2:12
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-5
"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise…" Hebrews 10:36
So, there is this crazy story in the Bible about a man named Jacob who puts up a spotted, striped stick where his sheep go to water. When the sheep look at it they would conceive spotted, striped lambs. You can read about it in Genesis chapter 30. Weird huh? What does this mean?
I asked my father about it awhile ago. He told me, “what you hold up as your model is what you will become.” Now, I don’t understand how striped sticks in front of sheep is going to make them striped, but I can understand the idea of having a positive, visual example of what you want to be like.
Another thought came to mind…when I used to train in equestrian horseback riding, they taught me if I looked at the ground, the ground is where I would end up. I paid careful attention to this advice and kept my vision and focus straight ahead to where I wanted to go and I never fell off my horse.
So, I was thinking about this today…we need more role models in our society and culture, especially, I believe, for young marriages! Who is your role model for a good, healthy, loving, fruitful, life-long marriage? OR whose character, work ethic, generosity, selflessness do you want to emulate? Etc, etc, etc???? What do you hold up before yourself as the standard? Jacob’s flock became stronger as he bred them toward a certain standard.
If you are a Christian, Jesus should be your standard for all things. He has also put good people in our lives to follow. Look around you. Ask yourself, “who do I admire? Who do I want to be like?”
Or another thought…Are you someone people would want to be like? Am I? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Can this be said of us?
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…" Hebrews 12:1-2
Who are your role models? Hang out with them. And read some biographies of people you admire like Martin Luther King Jr., Keith Green, Abraham Lincoln, or Rees Howells. You’ll be inspired.
“Have you not asked me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.”—Streams in the Desert - Feb. 1