Sunday, May 5, 2013

Living by faith or living in fear

“I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”
-          Romans 8:21-23

There is a spiritual war between light and darkness waging in all our lives. There is a battle for the life or death of our souls. Our sinful nature leads us to the addiction of pleasure and to futile and desperate measures to escape pain.  We are tempted to gain more and more material possessions even at the cost of losing our very souls. When we face the storms of suffering in our lives, our restless hearts are filled with fear.

But we have a choice as to how we want to live our lives – we can live by faith or we can live in fear. We can put our faith in our wealth and health but we will then live in fear when financial crises or illnesses strike. We are constantly reminded of potential terrorist attacks and nuclear wars. We are fearful of living to a ripe old age for we are also afraid of death.

Our fears bring darkness into our lives and only the truth can bring in the light to chase away the darkness. Our fears are the weapon of deception of the evil one. It is our faith in Christ that is our shield against the flaming arrows of guilt and condemnation as we struggle with depression, anger, greed, lust, envy and pride. We are fearful when we're faithless. But God wants us to be fearless by being faithful so that we can live in the light of His agape love. God will not judge us for our faithlessness. Our fears are to draw our attention to our lack of faith so that we can pray for God to increase our faith in His faithfulness. Only then will God’s agape love cast out all fears in our lives.

To be faithful is not to be mindless but to have the mind of Christ. Faith is nonrational but not irrational. In faith we empty our hearts of our pride, guilt, anger, lust and our sinful attitudes so that we will be mindful of Christ. In faith we learn to be still in the storms of life by standing on the truth that Christ can still the storms.

Our faith is grounded in the faithfulness of God when we believe that we are more valuable to God than sparrows. It has been written that we can sing our cares away easier than we can reason them away:

“Sing in the morning. The birds are the earliest to sing, and birds are more without care than anything else that I know of.”

When our hearts are filled with the praise of God, we not be afraid of tough times. We will be better prepared to turn our difficulties and worries into opportunities to experience the resurrection power of Christ.  Like the prodigal son, we need to come to the end of ourselves and turn back to God so that He can begin His new work in us.

Rebecca Kruyswijk rightly noted that if we could handle every circumstance, we’d never reach the end of our self-reliance and realize our desperate need for God. We need to see that our trials give us hope for they purify us just as silver is purified by fire.  As we go through difficult circumstances we need to keep our eyes on the cross of Christ so that we can see God’s faithfulness and His enduring and eternal Love for us. We will then be able to pray with thanksgiving in everything and in all circumstances.

We need to follow Christ in order to understand God’s ways instead of trying to understand God’s commandments before we commit our lives to following Christ. “Follow me” is one of the most compelling sentences in the Bible according to Daniel Wolpert:

“Two words, when spoken by Jesus, create a sense of power and mystery and awe. To follow is to enter into the unknown, to give your life over to another. We rarely want to do this. Yet at the same time it is exactly what we desire: to be led into a better place, a better world, a better life.”

To follow Jesus is to follow His example of seeking to fulfill God’s will in our lives. Faith is not trying to do God's work in our own strength. Faith is the outworking of God's Holy Spirit in our lives as we put our trust in God's faithfulness by keeping our eyes on the cross of Christ. Faith comes to us when we recognize that we are lost and confess our need to let our Shepherd find us.

Our prayers will then not be focused on our needs and wants and for more blessings in our lives but on how He is using us to advance His kingdom here on earth. Our prayers will not be attempts to manipulate or persuade God to be on our side but expressions of our desire to be on His side and to glorify His name.

Let us pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life of love and compassion. Let us run the race of faith in the unlimited freedom of God’s truth –that comes from being confident of God’s love and acceptance and knowing and believing that God loves us as we are.

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