Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Despiest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?’
Romans 2: 4
"'God wills but ill,' the doubter said;
'Lo, time doth evil only bear:
Give me a sign His love to prove,
His vaunted goodness to declare!'
The poet paused by where a flower,
A simple daisy, starred the soil,
And answered, - 'Proof of love and power
Behold, - behold a smile of God!'"
William Cox Bennett
“Speaking of flowers, William Wilberforce said that they seemed to him ‘like the smile on the Father’s countenance.’ So all the beauty of the sky and the earth is like the smile of God; and a smile shows us the disposition of the person just as certainly as any words He can use. This accounts for the expression spoken of. Once cannot sit down in the midst of this loveliness without being conscious that it is a Divine Presence that makes it lovely.”
Henry Ware Jr.
Today’s Study Text:
“How is it that you have no faith, no firmly relying trust?”
Mark 4: 40
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 19
“Have Ye No Faith?”
“For we walk by faith, we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor.”
II Corinthians 5: 2
How do I define the word “faith”?
What does it mean to me personally when I say, “I have faith in God”?
“One of the mysteries of faith is that, although it constitutes our deepest response to God for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, yet it is, at the same time, a gift from Him when we lift our eyes beyond ourselves. He meets us with faith when we want to have faith.”
“I do not want merely to possess faith; I want a faith that possesses me.”
After asking His closest friends, “Why are you so afraid,” Jesus then asked another important question which we need to explore. His question is today’s study text: “How is it that you have no faith, no firmly, relying trust?”
This question goes right to the heart of the reason the disciples were frightened by the overwhelming storm they encountered. Matt and Beth Redman, in their book Blessed Be Your Name, ask this probing question which relates to Jesus inquiry: “We may have faith to believe in God as Lord of the calm –but do we also have faith to believe in Him as Lord of the storm?”
This is the position the disciples found themselves in. When the sea was calm, with their years of experience as fishermen on Galilee, they were perfectly capable of making their way to the other side of the lake. They had made the trip repeatedly with no problem. But this time the storm was different. It was stronger. The winds were louder and more fierce. They really had no idea how to handle the situation. When they needed to have faith in “Someone” stronger than they were, unfortunately, they realize that their personal well was on empty.
In order, to better under the word “faith,” I went to Webster’s Dictionary where faith is defined as “confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing.” But there was also this explanation of “faith.” “Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence.”
Sadly, it is this last phrase which I believe many people use to define “faith,” even Christians who call themselves followers of Jesus. Ever since I was young, I’ve listened to well-meaning individuals call “faith” just “a leap in the dark.”
Well, I don’t look at “faith” as a leap in the dark and I will tell you why. If we take the storm that enveloped the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, we need only go back a few chapters in Mark in order to get hard-core evidence that Jesus wasn’t asking His followers to just “leap before they looked,” and blindly trust Him. Not at all. In Mark, Chapter 1, there is a record of Jesus’ baptism and the confirmation by God the Father that Jesus was “My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 11, Amplified Bible). Then Jesus called “Peter and Andrew to become disciples. Right after the acceptance of discipleship, Peter and Andrew became eyewitnesses to Jesus’ power when a demonic, possessed by an unclean spirit, was healed by Jesus. Mark tells us that “Jesus rebuked him (the evil spirit), saying ‘Hush up, be muzzled; gagged, and come out of him. And the unclean spirit, throwing the man into convulsions and screeching with a loud voice, came out of him” (Mark 1: 25, 26, Amplified Bible).
Now I want to bring you over a few chapters to Mark 4: 39 where Jesus said to the destructive winds, “Hush now! Be muzzled. And the wind ceased.” There’s an interesting thread that runs from Jesus healing a person filled with a demon spirit and the ferocious winds that churned up the Sea of Galilee. J.R. Mac Duff enlightens us with his commentary on this night-time experience:
“Who can estimate the priceless worth of that handful of voyagers, who, in the dusky evening twilight, push off from the Western shore? That humble fishing boat contained the Infant (Christian) Church. It is freighted with the world’s Salvation.”
If only the disciples had thought about what Jesus had done when a human being, one of His children, was filled with a demon spirit, they may have been better equipped to handle the hurricane like winds for it was Jesus who told both to “be muzzled.” But in a time of complete fear, the disciples completely forgot the evidence Jesus had already given them that faith in Him was not misplaced nor was it just a wild leap in the dark. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that God has never asked His children to do anything without evidence laid out that we can trust Him. The life of Jesus, from His birth to His ascension to heaven nearly 34 years later, gives me all the evidence necessary to say, “My Master, I can place my faith in you without reservation and without question, even when I do not see clearly how you are working.” As Biblical commentator Matthew Henry tackles this passage found in Mark 4: 39, “‘How is it that ye have no faith?’ Not that the disciples were without faith at all. It was out of the way, when they had occasion for it, and so it was as if they had not had faith. (We) may suspect their faith, for who can entertain such a thought as this that Christ careth not though His people perish.”
The great Bible student F.B. Meyer provides us with perceptive insight regarding the way we face the challenges in our life with a faith-filled heart: “Would that we had faith to look upon every trying circumstance, from every fretting worry, from every annoyance and temptation, into the face of our Guide, and say: ‘It is the right way, Thou great Shepherd of the sheep lead Thou me on!’” This isn’t a leap in the dark. As the chorus of the old hymn, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” states:
"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him
Over and over;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more."
Louisa M.R. Stead
I appreciate the words of Pastor Charles Spurgeon who penned that “Faith is reason at rest in God.” This I believe with all my heart! Why? Because when Jesus asked His followers to trust Him – He provided the evidence for them to make a decision based on what He was doing, right before their eyes. If Jesus could cast out the demons which possessed a man’s life, would He be overcome by hurricane force winds? No way!
But maybe you are thinking, “Dorothy, we can’t see Jesus right now. I haven’t seen Him do something miraculous before my eyes.”
My testimony to you today is that we have the Bible as a testament to Jesus’ life. We have the confirmation of thousands of Jesus’ followers down through time. And then let us go to this very day. Every time you receive the Prayer Blast and there’s an answered prayer, doesn’t it lock you into the belief that Jesus is worthy of your trust. And during those stormy times in our lives, is there anyone better to hang onto than Jesus? Is there anyone else you’d want sleeping calmly in your boat? Praise God that we can have faith in “Someone” we have proved over and over again. The great Scottish Pastor, author, and poet George MacDonald in his 19th century sermon, “The Higher Faith,” states that we are “blessed to whom a wonder is not a fable, to whom a mystery is not a mockery, to whom a glory is not an unreality – who are content to ask, ‘Is it like Him?’”
What a tremendous opportunity for you and me to review the past chapters of our own lives and as we look at times when our boat was battered beyond belief, we can turn our eyes to heaven and say, “Thank You Lord. It is just like You to come to my rescue. Praise Your name.” In the wonderful words of Pastor Lloyd John Ogilvie:
“What if God was only faithful when He felt like it, only dependable part of the time, only loving on special occasions? Thank goodness, He is always faithful. The world desperately needs to see that same kind of faithfulness in our lives.”
“Peace of conscience, liberty of heart, the sweetness of abandoning ourselves in the hands of God, the joy of always seeing the light grow in our hearts, finally, freedom from fears and insatiable desires of the times, multiply a hundredfold the happiness which the true children of God possess in the midst of their crosses, if they are faithful.”
"When the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail:
I know that right is right;
That it is not good to lie;
That love is better than spite;
And a neighbor than a spy;
I know that passion needs
The leash of a sober mind;
I know that generous deeds
Some sure reward will find;
In the darkest night of the year,
When the stars have all gone out,
That courage is better than fear,
That faith is truer than doubt;
And fierce though the friends may fight,
And long though the angels hide,
I know that Truth and Right
Have the universe on their side;
And that somewhere, beyond the stars,
Is a Love that is better than fate;
When the night unlocks her bars
I shall see Him and I will wait."
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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