“If a claim to spiritual revelation leads us to depend less on the once-for-allness of the historical Word that comes to us by Jesus Christ through the apostles (Hebrews 2:3), then that claim is dubious.” —John Piper
“God, change me today because I have spent time being exposed to Your thoughts in Scripture. As risky as it is, I want Your Word to cut away everything in me that doesn’t look like Jesus.” —Kenneth Blanchard (see Hebrews 4:12)
A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand, I march on in haste through an enemy’s land; The road may be rough, but it cannot be long; And I’ll smooth it with hope, and I’ll cheer it with song. —Henry Francis Lyte
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.
Do I Have Faith?
Man cannot please God without bringing to himself a great amount of happiness…. It is because [God] gives him the blessings of adoption, pours upon him the bounties of His grace, makes him a blessed man in this life, and ensures him a crown of everlasting life, which he will wear and which will shine with unfading luster when the wreaths of earth’s glory have all been melted away. … If, then, we are right in saying that to please God is to be happy, the one important question is, how can I please God? …
‘Without faith it is impossible to please [God]’ (Hebrews 11:6). That is to say, do what you may, strive as earnestly as you can, live as excellently as you please, make what sacrifices you choose, be as eminent as you can for everything that is lovely and of good repute—yet none of these things can be pleasing to God unless they are mixed with faith. …
Have you faith? Shall I help you to answer that question? I will give you three tests, as briefly as ever I can, not to weary you….
He who has faith has renounced his own righteousness.
Then true faith may be known by this: It begets a great esteem for the person of Christ. Do you love Christ? Could you die for Him? Do you seek to serve Him? Do you love His people?
He who has true faith will have true obedience. If a man says he has faith and has no works, he lies. If any man declares that he believes in Christ and yet does not lead a holy life, he lies.
Both my parents and my grandparents on both sides of my family tree were Christians. They had faith in the God of the Bible. In my younger years, I thought just believing what they believed was good enough. But I had to come to a point where I could say, “I don’t have faith in God because my parents and grandparents do, but because I really believe it is true.” In other words, not just Jesus is the Savior, but Jesus is MY Savior.
Does having faith mean I have no doubts? No, there are still things I don’t fully understand. Faith means believing God for the things I do understand and still trusting Him with the things I don’t understand yet.
That’s pretty much the resume of every person in the great faith chapter of the Bible (Hebrews 11). For instance, Noah didn’t understand what a worldwide flood was, but he built an ark in faith; Abraham didn’t know how God would make him the father of many nations, but he moved from his homeland by faith; Joseph didn’t know how God would deliver the Israelites from Egypt, but he gave instructions by faith; and on and on the list goes.
I commented on Hebrews 11:4 on YouVersion, “I want to live my life so in step with God that people can say of me as the writer of Hebrews said of Abel: ‘Although Craig is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.’ Don’t you want that for your life too?”
The Bible itself tells us that faith comes into our heart by hearing the Word of God. If your faith is struggling, I would encourage you to open your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word to you, and begin reading with an open heart and mind. That’s exactly what I did, and I came to the conclusion that I believed the God of the Bible not because my parents did, but because He showed Himself to me to be Real.
If you are struggling with your faith in God, I’d love to talk with you. Please get in touch with me and let’s begin a dialogue.
“While we may not be able to take every thought captive in every situation we face every day, we can learn to take one thought captive and, in doing so, affect every other thought to come. So what is the one thought that can successfully interrupt every negative thought pattern? It’s this: I have a choice.
“When we’re spiraling in noise or distractedness, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through stillness. When we’re spiraling in isolation, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through community. When we’re spiraling in anxiety, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through trust in His good and sovereign purposes. When we’re spiraling in cynicism, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through worship. When we’re spiraling in self-importance, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through humility. When we’re spiraling into victimhood, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through gratitude. When we’re spiraling in complacency, we have a choice to shift our minds back to God through serving Him and others.
“If you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior, you have a God-given, God-empowered, God-redeemed ability to choose what you think about. You have a choice regarding where you focus your energy. You have a choice regarding what you live for. You are not subject to your behaviors, genes, or circumstances. You are not subject to your passions, lusts, or emotions. You are not subject to your thoughts.
“No fixation exists outside God’s long-armed reach. Because we are a ‘new creation,’ we have a choice.
“When we think new thoughts, we physically alter our brains. When we think new thoughts, we make healthier neural connections. When we think new thoughts, we blaze new trails. When we think new thoughts, everything changes.” —Jennie Allen, from the YouVersion reading plan Get Out Of Your Own Head
I love to read (just take a peek at the number of books I read and reviewed last year). But without a doubt, hands-down, the clear runaway favorite read is my Bible.
“The Bible alone seems broader, and deeper, and fuller the oftener it is studied. We have no need to look for allegorical and mystical meanings. The fresh truths that will constantly spring up before our eyes are simple, plain, and clear. Of such truths the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. Nothing can account for this but the great fact that the Bible is the Word, not of man, but of God.” —J.C. Ryle
I thought I’d share with you some of the current Bible study tools I’m utilizing—
I am reading through the Bible on YouVersion’s plan called As It Happened. This takes you through the Scripture in chronological order.
Along with this chronological plan, I have also subscribed to the daily devotional called Missionary God—Missionary Bible. This comes as a daily email from premier missiologist Dick Brogden, and follows the readings of the chronological Bible.
Tim Elmore has fantastic insights for those who work with today’s youth. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth pastor, or a coach, you are always guaranteed some great content when you study what Dr. Elmore presents.
YouVersion has a reading plan based on Tim Elmore’s book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. The reading plan has three advantages over the book—(1) Daily Scripture readings which augment the material covered each day; (2) A video message from Dr. Elmore explaining how we can avoid these mistakes; and (3) A place to have an honest dialogue with another parent/coach/teacher, if you are doing this reading plan as a shared plan.
There is also one huge advantage the book has over the reading plan—lots more content, including warning signs, and ideas for recovering from past mistakes.
So the real winning combination is not either-or, but both-and. You should both read the book (you can check out my review by clicking here) and do the YouVersion reading plan along with another adult or two (or three or four…).
Don’t get blindsided by these 12 mistakes. After all, they are all avoidable and correctable!
(You can also check out some quotes I shared from the book by clicking here.)
I love listening to the Jesus Culture band lead people in worship! Their humble spirits and biblically-sound lyrics are a powerful combination. If you haven’t checked out their latest album called “Love Has A Name,” please do so! And also check out their YouVersion devotional with the same name.
Love Has A Name is a 10-day reading plan on YouVersion in which the members of the Jesus Culture band have written the devotional for each day. Each devotional is associated with one of the songs on their new album and will take you behind the lyrics to the seed-thought of that song. Then you will also read the biblical passage(s) that were woven into the song’s lyrics.
Each morning during this 10-day reading plan I read the devotional thought, read the Scripture, and then worshiped along with the song that corresponded with that day’s reading, and then journaled some thoughts. I found that hearing God’s Word sung in such a passionate way was a fantastic way to keep God’s Word in my mind and heart all day long.