Trusting in God

faith

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 
Proverbs 3:5-6

Having grown up in a southern baptist church, I have fond memories of the old hymns, the classics, that we would sing in a regular rotation each Sunday morning.  One, in particular, had this familiar chorus, “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Now that might not seem like much, but the meaning of this brief refrain runs deep and true, holding a decisive truth upon which Christ taught throughout his ministry on earth.

Faith is the foundation of our hope, as stated in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We pray in faithfulness, seeking God’s direction and guidance in all things.  When we are troubled or facing uncertainty in life, we turn to our heavenly Father for his help.

Do we always know how to truly reach out in faith, to petition the Lord and trust in Him to work those things out for the best, according to His will? Over the years I have learned some valuable lessons in faith, having failed many times in my approach to God in seeking help with my problems.  Specifically, praying to God with certain needs and requests, then meddling in the expected outcome because I was not willing to wait, to exercise my faith.  By rushing ahead of God, I spoiled the opportunity to grow in my faith and receive God’s best for my life.

The greatest example we can observe in regards to prayer, faith, and accepting God’s perfect will comes from Jesus.  The hour was fast approaching for His betrayal at the hands of Judas, the subsequent crucifixion, and in these verses found in Matthew chapter 26, verses 36 to 39, we see in excruciating detail the proper way to petition our heavenly Father.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  

Gethsemane

Jesus was facing the darkest hours of his time on earth, yet knowing God’s plan and trusting in the Father’s unfailing wisdom, He sought not his own will, but the perfect will of God.  Jesus was filled with sorrow and grieving to the point of death, His own words to the disciples, and he fell facedown and prayed.  Picture that scene and try to imagine that point of grief.  Obviously, this is the extreme of grieving to which we hope never to face ourselves, but we all have times when we are afraid, maybe we have lost a job or face great uncertainty in other areas of our lives.  At that point, we turn to God, earnestly seeking help from the storms of life that rage all around us.  That is when our faith is tested and through these trials, we grow in our faith as God provides for us.  But it takes patience through faith, placing our needs at His feet, then trusting and waiting on God’s perfect timing to deliver us according to His will.  It may seem simplistic, but we should always remember if God all at once solved every problem we would face from this day forward, not only would we not need our faith, we would never grow in that faith which is what sustains us.  In addition, as we are delivered from our suffering through faith in God, our testimony is strengthened and useful in sustaining other believers that will face similar circumstances.

Philippians chapter 4, verses 6 and 7 says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  

A very important part of the faith process is to be patient, wait and allow God room to work things out according to his purposes for our lives.  Our human tendency is to reason things out, but we are limited in our view of each situation, but God is all knowing and is always at work for the best results according to His plans.  Often we come to God in faith, yet we bring our own solutions and we try to place our requests before God while including the expected outcomes that seem logical in our mind’s eye.  Or we do the same when we step up, with good intentions, to help others in need by praying for a given solution that makes sense to us but may not be aligned with the plans God has for that other person.

Look at the example of Peter, the strong voice that believed in Christ with all his heart, as demonstrated when Jesus asked the disciples who did they believe him to be, Matthew Chapter 16 verse 13, Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Yet we also see the well-intended Peter as he failed to understand God’s perfect plan of redemption for all humanity when he pulled Christ aside after Jesus had shared with them the coming persecution, death, and resurrection.  Peter believed that Jesus was the true Son of God, but he had given up everything to follow Christ, he was unable to reason it out in his own mind that he would have to watch Jesus die.  Peter was bound by his own small view of the world around him, thus remaining blind to the greater works of God.  We can see in hindsight why these things had to happen because we see the entirety of the perfect plan of salvation.  Peter was in the moment, as we are when we are faced with difficulties and tragedies, but we must learn from this lesson and put aside our own reasoning by trusting in God, knowing that His plan is perfect and His timing is to our benefit.  Peter suffered a terrible rebuke from Jesus for not trusting in God’s plans.

Matthew chapter 16 verses 21 through 23, 

From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!”  Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

So what does this mean for believers and where do we go to grow in our faith? Remember this verse, Romans chapter 10 verse 17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  We must strive to know God better each day and the way to grow in knowledge and faith is through the study of the Word of God.  Through this, we will learn to understand and trust in God’s will for our lives and the lives of others.  When someone needs prayer for illness, we always go first to the request for healing, but what about praying for the afflicted to remain faithful, humble and steadfast in their commitment to the Lord.  We may pray for healing, but God may have other plans for that person’s life and their testimony.  I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for healing, to the contrary, but in this and all situations, we should strive to put aside our own reasoning and know that God is working all things for the good to those that are called by his name.

We thank you for reading our messages and we hope you find them helpful in your journey of faith through God our heavenly Father.  We encourage you to share our site with others, to use it as a way to witness to the lost and as a resource for learning through the many links shared on this site which you will find here –  “Helpful Resources”

 

 

John Stephen Frey is the author of this message and serves as our director emeritus and member of the prayer team

 

 

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What are you afraid of?

As we grow older doesn’t it seem as if time passes faster and faster? Days turn into weeks, then months, and before we know it, another year has come and gone. What do we have to show for it, other than the realization of being another year older? All those plans we made in our youth somehow seem to slip away as we find ourselves established in a work a day lifestyle, paying the bills, running from one function to another, pushed to the brink by deadlines and unexpected challenges that come at us from all directions. At times it can be overwhelming and we need that place to escape. We find our refuge in sports, movies, television…maybe we get a vacation now and then, but Monday always takes us back to the reality of life.  What does it all mean, what is our purpose in all of this?

For believers, we have our purpose, our commission, as given by our savior Jesus in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 through 20, 

Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For those that have not come to know Jesus as their personal savior, the world becomes a road to nowhere. Without God, there is no purpose or meaning, the grave represents the final destination.  I appeal to anyone reading this message if you have not experienced the true love of our heavenly Father, the one who loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to live among us and become a sacrifice for all sin so that we can have eternal life, that you would come to know Him.  If you’ve never made that decision, please visit the following link to find out what it means to be saved and how you can take that life-changing step of faith – Pathway to Salvation 

Again, speaking to the believer, have you found your purpose in life? Beyond paying the bills and building your career, what are you doing for the kingdom of God? Have you answered the call or have you become so engrossed in the daily grind that you, like so many other believers, have pushed God into a small corner, a place you visit once a week at best, then it’s back to the world.  What are you waiting for…what are you afraid of? Are you a living testimony to the love of Jesus Christ that resides within you? Have you shared that love with those around you? What are you afraid of?

Lukewarm as defined by Merriam-Webster is to be moderately warm, tepid, such as a lukewarm bath or lukewarm coffee, also lacking conviction, halfhearted, cold, without conviction.  We live in a world of moderately warm Christians, going through the motions, lacking in purpose and conviction. This isn’t how it is meant to be and certainly not what we have been called to do.  

So what are you afraid of, what is holding you back? Why have you settled, you know there is more in life, where is that life more abundant that Jesus promised? The answer may lie with you….why haven’t you answered the call of our heavenly Father and taken up the course which He has laid out for you? For most people the answer is simple – it is hard to walk that line, being a Christian is not easy.  Follow the lives of those first disciples, only John lived out his years and even at that he was exiled to a solitary existence on an island after having survived his intended execution. Watch this short video, listen to the message, then ask yourself this question – am I living the life that my heavenly Father has called me to undertake? What am I doing to add to the kingdom of God? Step up to the challenge, get out of the pew, start living the life God has for you – be the strong disciple that Jesus called you to be – starting now!

Won’t you step up and join us in serving our most loving heavenly Father….reach out to us, leave a message, request prayer, read our message Can I get a Witness?  then seek God in prayer.  You can make a difference in your community, become a Trader, read our message Trader or Traitor?  and join us in the mission field. We encourage you to follow our site and tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers – use our resources as a place to steer the lost to come to know Jesus Christ. Many of us have that person in our lives that need the good news of salvation, but it never seems to be the right time or place. Maybe it just seems awkward or you’re really not sure what to say.  Try this approach, break the ice by telling them about this website you’ve discovered, how you think they might find it interesting, a site that doesn’t ask for money and allows it’s users to remain anonymous.  That’s why we started this site and it has helped us bring many to the message of salvation – your friend, co-worker, or that stranger that God brings across your path might be changed forever.  Step up and may God truly bless you in your journey.

 

 

John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

*video is provided by our partners at Right Now media

 

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Like Taking Candy from a Baby

Olivia_Kay_Nature

As believers in Christ, we have a higher calling, known commonly as the “great commission” which comes from the book of Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 to 20, which reads as follows;

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  

To put this into proper context, Jesus had been crucified and now risen from the dead, speaking before his disciples for the final time, after which he would ascend into heaven. This message is not limited to those early followers but is carried forward by all that accept the free gift of salvation thus becoming disciples of Christ. Jesus is passing the torch so to speak and giving us His direct guidance, we are to share the light of salvation to a lost world.

It seems simple enough, as a believer, we have all come to that point where we’ve confessed our sins and professed our belief that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected by God. Romans chapter 10 verse 9 states;

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Yet somehow we complicate matters, allowing our own agenda and bias to enter the equation, or we fall into traps laid by our adversary. Our best intentions are thus lost in the fallout. I believe we often underestimate the craftiness of our adversary.  Have you ever stopped to consider that Satan has existed much longer than man and throughout time has worked long and hard to destroy what God created in His own image. 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8 offers this warning,

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 

Basically, Satan has a huge advantage over us in that he has been working at his craft for thousands of years and many of us have been followers of Christ for a few decades at most. Thankfully, through Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit, we have power over Satan. 1 John chapter 4 verse 4 states in part;  because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. 

The world is ignorant in the ways of God, but that is not their fault.  How can they know the truth unless we allow the light of Christ to shine through ourselves in all that we do? This is the very foundation of our call to service through Christ’s great commission to His disciples. Yet often times in our best intentions, we fall into Satan’s traps….the very tricks that he has laid out for believers throughout history. Satan may have lost our souls to eternal life in Christ, but that doesn’t mean he is finished with us. His work goes on and he will stop at nothing to silence our witness.  I often wonder, does our enemy sit back and laugh at how easily we are sometimes derailed and rendered ineffective. As the old saying goes, at times it must be like taking candy from a baby.

Let us take an example from recent headlines, this story came out of Oregon, regarding a Christian couple that owned a bakery.   Their website proclaimed the sanctity of a man and a woman coming together in marriage and included John 3:16 at the bottom of the page.  Anyone visiting their business would know beyond any doubt that the owners are believers in Jesus Christ.  One day two women approached the business seeking a wedding cake for their upcoming same-sex wedding.  I do not believe for one second that they chose this particular bakery at random.  This brings me to my point, which is not to condemn the bakery or its owners, but to shed light on an alternative scenario that I want you to consider.  Whether this couple came in with an agenda or not, the way the story played out is not only predictable but also tragic in the fallout for this bakery. The owners refused to bake a cake for the wedding and took the position that to do so would go against their beliefs as Christians.  They denounced same-sex marriage and refused to provide service to the couple. The owners soon found themselves in court and all over the news media as intolerant and hateful people that had discriminated against the gay and lesbian community.  A judge would eventually rule against them, they were fined a hefty sum upwards of one hundred fifty thousand dollars and ultimately closed the bakery.

Pending before the Supreme Court today is the same story but it involves another Christian business in another state that also refused to provide service to a same-sex couple. You can read our message on that story through this link – What Price Victory?

On the one hand, we have people in a business that have publicly declared their faith in our savior Jesus Christ.  I believe that our adversary, the very one that Peter warned us about as being a lion roaming about seeking those he may destroy, was squarely behind this directed public attack on these owners.  As I stated earlier, I do not believe these customers simply picked this establishment out of thin air, I believe they went there with an agenda and they received the denial of service that they anticipated all along. In the aftermath, we have a business shut down and more importantly, we have an enemy that has furthered his cause in the court of public opinion.

I want to put forth an alternative scenario, one in which the bakery does not compromise their beliefs, but takes advantage of the opportunity to follow our number one expectation, the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ. To go back to the beginning, the couple walks in and requests a cake for their same-sex wedding.  What if, instead of denying service, the owners engaged this couple in a conversation. You see, at this point, I think they had an opportunity to share the love of Christ with this couple, to be the light in an otherwise darkened world. If the owners seized this moment, possibly asking the couple to sit down, enjoy a free cup of coffee while perusing the many examples of wonderful cakes they could provide, they would have opened the door to untold possibilities in sharing their faith. While discussing their faith, they could and should acknowledge that they do not believe in same-sex marriage, that the bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  But having said that, the door is now wide open for them to share their own personal testimonies…to acknowledge that they were lost sinners and how God brought them to salvation through Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins and conquered both sin and death through the resurrection.  What response would this couple have to such an outpouring of the love of Jesus Christ? How would this have ended if they had chosen this path as opposed to the denial of service?

I would take it a step further, at this point what if they had not only offered to make the cake but told the couple that they would pray over every ingredient and make this cake with all the love they could muster. What if they took this opportunity to ask the couple if they could pray together, to ask that God watch over them and guide them and if they have not yet experienced the free gift of salvation, that the Holy Spirit would work in their hearts to one day bring them to that place of amazing grace. What if they told the couple to please share with those that attend the ceremony that the wonderful cake they are enjoying came from their bakery and they would love to have all of their business as well.  How many more opportunities could there have been to share Christ with their circle of friends? After all, isn’t that the point, the reason we are here? Matthew chapter 5 verse 15, 

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 

I would say at this point, maybe the couple is receptive or maybe they would turn and leave….the choice would have been theirs to make, not the bakery in denial of service. This would not have ended up in court and all over the national media.  Either way, the seeds would have been planted and this bakery would still be in business today. Most important of all, at the very least, a dialogue would have been started and maybe this couple and some of their friends would have returned for more visits.

Think about the calling we have from Jesus Christ, then think about the role we play and the outcome we desire. Do you take a firm stance and refuse to do business with those that participate in activities that go against the beliefs we share or do you consider the opportunity you have before you to share a witness? On a personal level, I have to wonder, did any of these businesses have a vetting process to ensure they did not serve anyone that was violating the sanctity of their beliefs? Did they serve the adulterer? How about the client that is drowning in envy and hatred? Are these not also sins that go against the beliefs of the Christian church?

I’m not trying to stir the pot, but what are the goals and determined outcome….to lead a lost world to know the love of Jesus Christ.  The same love that covered a multitude of our own sins and brought us to salvation.  A lost world knows nothing of this love and unfortunately, many of today’s TV evangelists are doing nothing to bring the lost to salvation, they are speaking that message of comfort, self-help, and prosperity to the itching ears of a restless world.  We should never expect the lost to act in a way that is pleasing to our God but that’s why we are here…..to serve as His missionaries right where we are each and every day.  What a tremendous opportunity to bring the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to those that may never hear or experience that love any other way.  God knows our heart and I dare say, any bakery owner or florist that extends the love of Christ to sinners, by sitting down with them at their table, serving them, witnessing to them, will always be supported by our heavenly Father. The world, the church, in particular, may throw stones, but how else can we reach a lost world?

Through it all, we have to remind ourselves, what is our goal and what are the outcomes? We should not compromise our beliefs, but don’t let that become a trap whereby we miss opportunities to share the joy and love that we have experienced through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The enemy will set the trap, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us see and avoid it, otherwise, our best intentions will fall to the wayside…and for the enemy, like taking candy from a baby.

 

 John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons

J Stephen Frey

*(photograph courtesy of Olivia Kay Photography used with permission)

 

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