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Understanding Faith

Understanding Faith

I was thinking about how our language works. It is interesting how we can hear a word so many times we become immune to its definition. There are many words like that. For instance, the word “terrific” originally meant something entirely different from how some use it today. There are other words that, over time, have changed their meaning, some of which have different uses for their intended purpose. Some words sound so much like the other words that we use them interchangeably. For instance, the word, bemused and amused. Bemused means bewildered or confused. It can also mean "lost in thought, or preoccupied." However, amused means "pleasurably entertained, occupied, or diverted."

Take the word, "Ironic." It doesn't mean something funny that happened to you. However, it does mean, "An occurrence that is the opposite of what you would expect." Let's say you run a stop sign and suddenly, a policeman pulls you over? It is certainly unfortunate, but it not "ironic." In fact, you should expect to receive a ticket! Or maybe someone gave you some good advice, but you refused to follow their advice. That would be poor judgment on your part, but it is not ironic.

The word, "Peruse," does not mean to skim over a text or to browse over essential parts of a book. Instead, it indicates that you read something attentively. See? If you are a student, I bet you have said that you “perused” your homework by reading the first line of every paragraph. But “peruse" traditionally means to read or examine something carefully or passionately

. Two words that mess us up sometimes are "Effect and Affect." An effect is "The outcome of a cause, like a 'Cause and Effect'" You should never use “effect” as a verb. It is a noun. Anytime you take a pill and want to describe what happens; you want to say “effect." The cause was the pill; the effect was drowsiness. If you were to share the Gospel with someone to “affect” change in their life, then you would use the “a” at the beginning of the word! explains,

"Most of the time, you'll want affect as a verb meaning to influence something and effect for the something that was influenced.

The difference between affect and effect is so slippery that people have started using "impact" as a verb instead. Don't be one of them! Another trick is to remember that affect comes first alphabetically, and an action (to affect) has to occur before you can have a result (an effect)"

These are the kinds of things that make the English language more fun! Like the word Awesome. If something is "Awesome," it is amazing, breathtaking, or overwhelming. I have always argued that this only applies to Yahweh! He truly is Awesome! However, today, visiting Chicago or seeing an extremely talented skateboarder is considered "awesome." No, they may be cool, or amazing, or skilled, but they are not "awesome." To me, that is like a seven-year-old proclaiming someone who can burp the alphabet as "awesome." Not so! It might be pretty entertaining (and skillful) but is certainly not awesome.

Christians have this kind of problem. We have many words that we use all the time, and, and well, they lose their meaning. Christians speak of the "Righteousness of God;" "justified by faith;" "saved by grace," but they have lost their power! We tell people that they must be "born again." What does that mean? If you are sharing the Gospel with someone, can you explain it, so they understand?

Isn't that what happened to Jesus when he told Nicodemus he had to be "born again"? Nic didn't take any time to think about it. He had a bewildered look on his face and asked Jesus, "Huh? What do you mean that I have to be 'born again'? I can't go back into my mom's womb and be 'born again,' can I?" See what I mean? Even Jesus had to deal with language problems.

The Scriptures say that we are "saved by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace isn’t just important; it is what makes our salvation possible!

Some believe that the more we sin, the more grace we discover in our lives. Some even teach that because we are saved by grace and not any of the things we do, we can live however we would want (leaving our sinful lives intact), and God’s grace will cover it. You sin, and bingo! Yahweh overlooks it, and He forgives you!

However, the New Testament states that kind of thinking is twisted and will mess you up, real bad!

Some define Yahweh's grace as His unmerited favor, and that may be technically accurate. I have heard it explained that "mercy is withholding what we do deserve, while grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. Well, that is certainly true, but Scriptures defines grace another way.

Yes, we are saved by grace, but what it means is that we are empowered by grace to live in Christ. I like to say that Grace is Yahweh's ability to do, what you cannot do!

"With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace [Yahweh's ability] was on all of them" (Acts 4:33)

"Stephen, full of grace [Yahweh's ability] and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8) And He has said to me, “My grace [my ability] is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9) You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace [Yahweh's ability] that is in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 2:1)

For the grace of God [Yahweh's ability] has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-12)

As one teacher explained it:

Before Christ, you were swimming upstream trying to survive (living by works, trying to be a good person apart from Christ).

God, in His grace, gave you a row-boat (salvation). But many Christians don’t realize that also in His grace, He gave you a motor for your boat. Too many of us are content with our row-boats. For whatever reason, perhaps fear, we haven’t given in to allowing God’s grace to empower us. Many of us are scared to start the motor because of where that boat may take us if we do.

It is by grace that you are saved (in the boat) but it is also by His grace that you are empowered to live righteously by the Holy Spirit (the motor)


Yes, we are saved by Grace, but we must understand that it is the power of God that works within us teaching us how to live and grow and the empowerment for us to function in our lives and flows through us to reach those around us. When we see a need in someone else's life, His Grace [His ability] is available to meet that need!

Now, have you ever wondered what "faith" entails? I mean, everyone has faith. When you punch the time-clock each day at work, it takes faith that when payday arrives, your employer will have the money to pay you for the work you have done. If you own your own business, you must have faith that your clients will pay you for your services, and sometimes they disappoint you, don't they? Shoot, it takes at least a measure of faith to sit down in a chair without first testing whether it is strong enough to hold you!

Okay, I realize that believing that a chair can hold you is quite a bit different from trusting Yahweh with our lives. If we are wrong about the chair, we get a bruise, but our faith in our Lord determines not only a victorious life here and now, but also our eternal existence.

So how do Scriptures define faith? Hebrews 11:1 says that it "Fatih assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see." And if you have hung around church people long enough, you should know that it is impossible to please the Lord without faith (Hebrews 11:6). In fact, there is nothing we can do that will earn our salvation; the only way to heaven is by having confidence in Jesus' death on the cross, which paid the debt we owed for our sin. Not only that, faith is nothing we can create within ourselves; it is a gift of God (Romans 12:3).

So let me ask you, have you accepted the Father's gift of faith and started on the incredible journey He invited you to share with Him? God answers every searching heart. If you are not sure whether you have trusted your life to Him with all your confidence, well then, ask Him to guide you and reveal the truth.

It will be the first step into an incredible journey, but a serious step for you to take. Don't agree to travel with him too quickly and without thought. Consider the cost. In Luke 14:28-33, Jesus told a story about that very thing. He said that if you are planning to build a new house, you have to first sit down and figure the cost so you will know if you can complete it. If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you are going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: "lol. He started something he couldn't finish! What a fool!"

I remember a time when I was driving back-and-forth for work each day; I had fun watching someone building an addition to an old house. It was interesting to see the addition take shape. Step-by-step, they added one portion, the next day, another one. It was fun to imagine what the finished project would be like.

But then one day, the work stopped. Weeks passed, months passed, and the plywood that was nailed to the outside began to curl, and the house turned into a disaster. I have no idea what happened. Maybe they failed to consider the cost. I don't know. Maybe there was a personal crisis like a divorce or a death in the family. It is a sad thought, but it is possible. Maybe they didn't have enough manpower or materials. The point is, what started out to be so grand and exciting turned into a major embarrassment for the owners.

Well, Jesus doesn’t want his followers to begin something they wouldn't finish, especially when it came to their continued faith in him. He explained that his “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11:30), but that is when we are remaining faithful to Him. Are we willing to walk in step with Him when the road gets rough? Or are we only willing to remain faithful as long as the weather is right? As long as everything is comfortable and rosy for us we will follow, but whoa boy, when problems come our way do we hold God responsible and resist the yoke we are given? Are we willing to continue trusting Him?

As your friend, I'm going to assure you that "stuff" happens. I can't guarantee a quick-fix to whatever "ails" you. But I can assure you that if we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus and are willing to rise above the circumstances of life, you must count the cost and stay in step with our Lord. That is the only way we will succeed!

Father, lead me and help me to remain completely surrendered. I thank You that no matter how things look around me, you will crown me with Your goodness, and every step I take will drip with abundance (Psalm 65:11). I know Father, that when I call on you, you will show me great and mighty things that I can't understand, and frankly, that's okay. My confidence is in You and You alone. So pour it on! Show me the path you want me on and point out the right road for me to walk. "Lead me; teach me; for you are the GOD who gives me salvation." So today I ask that you would continue Your work in me.

I have counted the cost, and I count it all Joy as I trust you to help me weather the storms that occasionally come. I rise to the challenge and share your word with others, regardless of the cost. Amen!!

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)

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