The Encourager

The Encourager

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Walking by Faith

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Walking by Faith

by Jeff Curtis

 

The trial we experience in life often don’t make sense to us. in the midst of adversity, Christians are called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor. 5:7). Life is much more than what we can see from a physical perspective. We must trust God to cause “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28) and believe the promises of His inspired Word.

 

People of God must respond in faith to God’s plan and realize the His providential hand is at work behind the scenes to accomplish His will. In general, people are more comfortable walking by sight than by faith. Jacob had believed his eyes and assumed Joseph was dead. On the other hand, it seems that he always had some doubts about his sons’ story. When they returned from Egypt without Simeon and told that they would have to go back with Benjamin. Jacob blurted out how he really felt, “You have bereaved me of my children; Joseph is not more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36).

 

When the brothers returned home from Egypt after their second trip to buy grain, they told what seemed like a fantastic story. They said, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over the land of Egypt.” Jacob “was stunned” by their words, and since, their relationship had been strained by doubt for so many years, “he didn’t believe them” (Gen. 45:26). Nevertheless, they informed their father that Pharaoh had authorized them to move to Egypt. He had promised they would have “the best of the land” (Gen. 45:18). He also instructed Joseph to provide his brothers with animals to “pull wagons from the land to Egypt” to ease the travel for their wives, children, and aged father (Gen. 45:19. Joseph had also presented his brothers with changes of clothes and all the provisions needed for the journey; but Benjamin he had given three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments (Gen. 45:22). To his father, he had sent then donkeys, loaded with many of the best things of Egypt, plus ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and other sustenance for his father on his journey. (Gen. 45:23).

 

Joseph also informed them that the famine that had affected the land for two years would continue for another five. He told his brother, “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:8).

 

Throughout the centuries, believers who never saw Jesus or heard his voice have a similar challenge. Only a relatively small number of people were able to witness Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven (John 20:19-31; Acts 1:9-11; 1Cor. 15:1-8). The faith of believers for two thousand years has not come from seeing and hearing Him personally, but from the testimony of apostolic witnesses which lives in the Scriptures (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 4:12). Peter was referring to this kind of faith when he wrote to Christians being persecuted. They had not seen or heard Jesus during His ministry, but they believed in Him with inexpressible joy. The outcome of such faith was “the salvation of their souls” (1Peter 1:6-9). In the area of the world, it is called Turkey today, first century Christians believed because of the integrity of Peter’s life and his testimony to Jesus Christ. Peter knew Jesus to be the Lord and Savior who provided, through the new birth, an imperishable inheritance in heaven for all who love Him (1Peter 1:1-5). The great apostle had nothing to gain by lying; in fact, he had everything to lose from a human standpoint, but he was faithful to that divine calling. His example of faith made his message all the more powerful.

 

The writer of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see” (Heb. 11:1; NEB). Through the eye of faith, our hopes become real and certain that we can act in certain terms of them. That is what Jacob had to do when his sons returned from Egypt with Simeon and Benjamin and reported to him that Joseph was alive and was second only to Pharoah in the Egyptian government. Even though the grieving patriarch hadn’t seen Joseph in many years and believed he was dead, he accepted in faith – based on the testimony of his elder sons – that his favorite child had become a powerful ruler in Egypt.

 

God expects such responses from His people in every age. As we continue on our journey of faith to our home in heaven, we must act with the knowledge that faith is the victory that overcomes the doubts and fears of the world (1John 5:4).

"In Your Light we see Light"

Saturday, July 10, 2021

“In Your Light We See Light”

by Heath Rogers

 

    The sun is the ultimate and only source of light in our solar system. I know that fire gives off light. I know about bioluminescent creatures. Today we have electric lights across the globe. However, none of this would be possible without the light constantly given off by the sun. Because of the light given off by the sun, we can see our surroundings and navigate our way through this world.

     Man needs to understand that God is the only true source of spiritual enlightenment in this physical universe. Without God’s presence, we would be grasping in hopeless darkness. David wrote, “In Your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). This is the confession of one who realized his utter dependence on God. Blessed is the one who can say, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23), then turn completely to God for guidance.

      We see things clearly and correctly when we see them as God sees them.

      Instead of viewing the Bible through the various prisms offered by the world (philosophy, science, history, politics, traditions, personal feelings, etc.), the child of God will view these different things through the lens of the Bible. For example, instead of reinterpreting the Biblical account of creation to accommodate millions of years of evolution, we will view the world around of us having been created around 10,000 years ago. Instead of suggesting Moses borrowed from the religious traditions of his neighbors in writing the creation account, we will realize these traditions were founded on historical events passed down by their ancestors. Instead of allowing everyone to formulate their own version of truth, we will realize and insist there is a universal standard of right and wrong. Things get much clearer when we see with God’s light.

     God’s word is a light to guide us through a world of darkness. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). With the Bible in hand, we can choose the right path, avoid the pitfalls of life, and find our way to our heavenly home. When one turns away from God’s word, he finds darkness.

      God gave physical light to this world in the beginning (Gen. 1:3). He gave spiritual light through the revelation of His will. This revelation saw its fullness in Christ. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus knew His mission, and could say with confidence, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

     The comments made by Albert Barnes on Psalm 36:9 are worth considering. “There is no other source of real light and truth but God; and in the contemplation of himself, and of the light which encompasses him, and in that alone, can we hope to comprehend the great subjects on which we pant so much to be informed. All away from God is dark; all near him is light. If, therefore, we desire light on the subjects which pertain to our salvation, it must be sought by a direct and near approach to him; and the more we can lose ourselves in the splendors of his throne, the more we shall understand of truth” (Notes on the Psalms, vol. 1, p. 315).

 

Are You Like the Bears in Yellowstone Park?

The bears in Yellowstone Park get so used to being fed by tourists that when winter snows come many bears starve to death. They have forgotten how to feed themselves. Many Christians are suffering from the same problem. They get so used to being fed in the church building that they never learn how to feed themselves. Christians need both - faithfulness in Bible classes offered by the congregation and time spent in study at home. Have you fed yourself on the Bible lately?

Today, November 1985

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