The Necessary Elements of Faith

This Friday I re-post an old post from November 2020, with some light editing.

Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

1 Thessalonians 3 : 1-10 (NASB)

Here is a word that we all use, and in some cases abuse. I am talking of faith. How many of you remember writing letters and signing off at the end “Yours faithfully”? It was written as part of the structure of the letter without much thought. In everyday chatter we talk of having faith in this or that thing, or maybe in a friend. Yet as life often shows us things fail and friends can disappoint us, suggesting that our faith was really blind hope.

What is real faith? The book of Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The book of James 2:26 further tells us that the evidence of faith is found in our actions. Real faith is not a wishy washy blind hope, but the exercise of the soul trusting God and proving it in daily life. When I read 1 Thessalonians 3 I was struck by the detailed list of what I now call “The Elements of Faith.” Let’s not waste words as I share them with you now.

The Thessalonians’ faith is to be encouraged by Timothy (3:2), and It is also our duty as members of God’s family to encourage our brethren to greater faith. The enemy will afflict us tempting and trying our faith (3:4-5); our strength in faith hampers Satan’s plans against us, thus he endeavours to disable your faith by any and all means. Faith is a comforter (3:7) to the brethren in Christ who witness your faith in action, particularly those in need of encouragement amidst times of personal tribulation. The next element is closely linked to the last, faith brings joy (3:9)! In times of pain and sadness there is nothing better than a big slice of joy, it brings momentary relief from what ails us. The practice of faith witnessed is a joyful sight, to the witness and the one doing the faithful act. Faith must be prayed for (3:10) in the church family, in the name of Christ and, also often personally for ourselves, that we all may increase in acts of faith in our daily walk with God.

Dear reader, be encouraged today to not just pursue Godly faith but to also put it into action. In your practice of faith take note of faith’s partners in action; faith and love work hand in hand doing God’s work (3:6). Acts of faith are borne of love, for God and also for our brethren. Let us pray to our Father, seeking guidance and strength for our faith today.

New Morning Blessings

Poppy field on a misty morning, Holy Island, Northumberland, England.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB)

Yesterday I payed a visit to the local hardware store for a garden broom attachment, which connects the handle to the broom head. The green one is old and split. It reminded me of the famous sketch on “Only Fools and Horses” where Trigger receives an award for saving Peckham Council money, by having the same broom for twenty years. He proudly brags it has only had fourteen new handles and seventeen new heads, to his friends bemusement. This favourite sketch reminded me of todays chosen verses.

Old and New

As each day ends we thank our Father God for keeping us safe until bedtime, and the sun rises the next morning on a new day filled with His new blessings. The world may proclaim new this and new that, but the only thing that truly is new is God’s presence in our life. He sees, hears and feels all our aches and pains – covering them in His endless compassion. In His Fatherly care we see the perfect example of faithfulness in action, that we can follow in our faith walk.

Dear reader, in your walk with God focus on His many blessings – “They are new every morning.” Yesterday is past and it is a new day, you are still covered in His Compassion. Nothing is new in this world (Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NASB), but God’s blessings are new everyday.

Going Fishing

Wemyss Bay on the Clyde Coast, Scotland.
Photo by pacesetterforchange on Pixabay.

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Mark 1:17 (NASB)

After seeing Mandy’s post tonight regarding her fishing trip over the next few days I found myself reminiscing about one particular fishing trip when I was a laddie. We were on holiday in a caravan park in Wemyss Bay, overlooking the River Clyde. My brother in law who was a keen sea fisherman persuaded the boys and myself to go fishing off the rocks just outside the town. It was a warm sunny day with a slightly cool breeze blowing inland off the river. Our first task was digging the ragworms on the beach, after which we found a promising spot on the rocks to cast our lines from. We were fishing for Cod or more likely Mackerel, but nothing happened for a while. We passed the time counting fishing boats, ferries and submarines on the horizon. But then my brother in law caught a lovely big Cod which put up a good fight, he was like the cat who got the cream posing with his catch. He stored it in a wee rockpool behind us while we carried on fishing, only to see a Great Black Backed Gull swoop down and snatch the prized fish. That sour note signalled the end of our afternoon’s fishing that day, but it did become a story to laugh about later that night. Over the years it became a much loved fishing story on other trips.

As I remembered this old fishing story I thought of the above verse; of Jesus calling the brothers Simon and Andrew. In these famous words our Lord calls us too to join Him in fishing for men; seeking and catching lost souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. Look at the fishing story again; before we cast a line we had to get prepared by digging bait and tying our tackle specific to what we were aiming to catch. We had to find a good fishing spot to offer us the best opportunities to catch something. It is the same when fishing for souls; we must prepare by having good bait – Bible verses and tracts backed up by prayers before fishing. Sometimes fishing for souls can be like our fishing story; the fish were not biting, but we patiently kept casting our lines out. Eventually we may have a good catch for the Kingdom, but we mustn’t turn our back on our catch like we did in our story…for Satan will snatch them back at the first opportunity. Sparse fishing trips for the Gospel do not stop us fishing, they inspire us to keep sharing the Good News on future trips.

Dear reader, do you ever go fishing for Jesus? If you do be sure to use the best bait of God’s Word, soaked in prayer. Seek the best fishing spots for a likely catch. Gospel fishing trips need not be whole days, they can be a few minutes or an hour once a week or a fortnight. Whatever you can do if it is soaked in prayer, your Father God will use it to His Glory. I wish you good fishing my friend!

LIGHTS IN THE DARK

Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with difficult questions. 1 Kings 10:1

Solomon, David’s son, was a great King of Israel. Famous for his wealth but most of all for his great wisdom, all of which were from God as rewards for his faithfulness in serving God. The story of his rise and fall is one of the great Old Testament stories from which we can learn much.

While he remained faithful to God he was blessed and those around him were also blessed. The nation prospered in a time of peace and neighbouring regions shared the benefits also, news of Solomon’s wealth and wisdom travelled far. The royal palace played host to many visitors, such as the Queen of Sheba.

This aspect of Solomon’s story is a reminder to us that the world watch us, and are curious about our success in life. This may not be wealth, it could be our character or behaviour in trying circumstances. In Matthew 5 we who follow Jesus are likened to a light in a dark world, being encouraged to let our light shine that men may glorify our God. That is what happened with Solomon, people saw his success and acknowledged it was from God.

The story of Solomon is one that should cause us to stop and think, do we let the Light of Christ shine from us in our daily life in such a way folk can see we are different from others around them?

Dear Father God, thankyou for saving me through your Son Jesus Christ. I pray that the light of your love shines from me daily, that other folk may glorify You too. Amen.