October, 2003 Wingspread

      The Meaning of Faith
      By Billie Marie Zal
      Sometimes we think the Lord must be very amused with His children when we feel we have
     done some great exploit in His name, yet secretly claimed the glory for ourselves.
      We hear about the faith of some child of God, and we try to imitate it in order to get some prayer answered. But even though we may fool others with our imitation we never fool our God.
      Perhaps the Apostles felt much the same as we do when they said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” And instead of agreeing to do so the Lord replied, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this mulberry tree, ‘be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6).
      As we study the Scriptures we discover that immediately after Jesus told His apostles they had no faith He began to relate a parable to them, and there is a definite connection between this parable and the disciples’ own lack of faith. Let us see what it is.
      Jesus began to tell them about the life of a servant, and his responsibility toward his master. If a master had a servant, the Lord said, and the servant came in from the fields after a hard day’s work he would first have to fix his master’s meal and do all the necessary tasks before fixing his own meal. And even after all this, he could only say concerning himself, “I am an unprofitable servant. I have done only that which was my duty to do” (See Luke 17:10-17).
      The disciples’ desire for faith, then, would be only a means to and end, to make themselves profitable, or important, to the Master.
      There is no scriptural indication that the apostles grasped the significance of the Lord’s parable. They were satisfied, for the moment, to have only a frothy, shallow kind of truth.
      And so it is today. The vast majority of Christians go around saying, “All you have to do is just have faith. Just believe God, and He will do whatever you ask!” This kind of thinking can be dangerous to spiritual growth. It can be dangerous because in a way it gives man, rather than God, the glory for whatever is accomplished.
      It is true that God delights in us when we take Him at His Word. But first He would have us learn the deep lessons of humility and submission to His sovereign will before we can receive the gift of faith. Otherwise we might claim the victory for self rather than for God.
      One time during an illness in our family Christian friends came to us and said, “You don’t get healed because you don’t believe God. Healing was in the atonement, and you have a right to be healed. Just have faith and God will hear!”
      We have never doubted that God could and does heal. We have seen Him heal, both through the wondrous skill of earthly physicians and through divine intervention. And that is why we could not accept the premise that healing was not granted simply because WE did not believe.
      Therefore we went to the Lord asking His will on the matter. And He impressed us with many, many truths during this time of sore trial.
      First He showed us that His appointed time for healing had not yet come. There was a work of grace to be done in our lives. We had asked that He make us conformable to His image in a more definite way in order that we would be more pliable in His hands, and thus be better able to hear His voice and obey His commandments. This illness, then, was His means of purging us of many attitudes over which we had longed to have victory.
      Then He showed us that we could not use our own logic and decide that it was time the trial ended. He who made us knows best, and He would end the trial when He saw fit to end it and not a moment sooner.
      Looking back at what we learned during this suffering made us thankful indeed that we had not received immediate healing. There are lessons of faith that we cannot learn any other way than through the valley of suffering!
      Many people believe that because we do not make our needs known to man that we have some kind of mysterious “gimmick” with God and that we just sit back and ask God to give us such and such a thing and He does it. This is far from true. We had to go through years and years of harsh discipline - doing without nice clothes, driving broken-down “junks,” giving up every simple little luxury, and yes, even being willing to starve if God so willed (some Christians HAVE starved!) before we could learn to have faith not in God’s supply, but the GOD OF SUPPLY!
      Let us never mistake what true faith means. True faith must not be in healing, or in physical supply, or in blessings. True faith always culminates in the words of our Lord in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thine be done.” For no matter what we ask, God must always have the last word.
      There are all kinds of people in the Bible who had true faith - a faith that did not demand but bowed to the sovereign will of god. And it cost them something. It always cost something to receive the gift of faith.
      It cost Zacchaeus the Israelite half his wealth.
      It cost the twelve apostles their livelihood.
      It cost the blind man his religious affiliation with the synagogue.
      It cost the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment her pride.
      It cost Paul the Apostle his reputation.
      It cost John the Baptist his head.
      To have faith in God always costs self something!
      It is true that there are times when it seems that God has forgotten you. He does not answer your prayer. The days stretch on in weary monotony and you begin to hear the tempter’s voice, “Does God really care about you? If He is your Father why doesn’t He do something?”
      It is at such times that you decide, by your own volition, what kind of faith you want -a superficial, frothy, petulant kind of faith that demands all, yet is willing to give nothing; or a deep, abiding, trusting faith that says, “Lord, I will go on, even if you do not grant my petition. It is enough that you have saved me.” The choice is entirely up to you.
      The next time someone says you should have faith and then you can have anything you want from God, go to the Lord, letting HIM show you, as He did His disciples, what the meaning of faith really is.
      He may lead you through many dark valleys. There may be times of affliction. Sorrow may become your companion. You may suffer financial loss. Friends may shun you. But remember, He knows what is best for you and He will surely bring you into still waters and green pastures when your eyes become fixed not upon His blessings but upon the Blessed One! Then indeed, you will have the faith in God.
      Originally published in February, 1964.
      Prayer Requests
     For: James Carr at Lawton, Oklahoma - His transcripts were lost during his transfer to Lawton. Pray that he will somehow be provided with another copy so that he can proceed with his Post Conviction appeals;
     For: Always pray for for Jerry Brock’s health, and for Colleen, and their entire family;
     For: Willie Scott who is at Quachita River Correctional Unit - that the Lord will show him favor when the Governor reviews his clemency application;
     For: Michael Small’s son, Derek, and Derek’s girlfriend.........that the Lord will bring them both to Him and that they will raise their child in the Church; Also, he asks for prayer for Nancy Gene Hermes, that she will be comforted with God’s Love;
     For: James Walker’s heath as he awaits the results of his biopsy. He is at OSP;
     For: Kim Tardif - She is doing time in Laconia, New Hampshire. She asks that we pray that her aunt will soften her heart and let her see her 3 daughters; that she is granted parole October 30th; that she goes to the halfway house soon; and for her uncle who is a herion addict and is very sick. Pray that he finds the Lord in case his time comes due to his being so sick. He has hepatitis B & C. And pray that Kim continues to stay drug free;
     For: Rudy Sisneros in Buena Vista, Coloroda - for his special friend, that she will come to understand the power of God; and for her sons, that they might become closer to Rudy and have faith in him;
     For: Robert Jernigan - He says that he needs the prayers of the righteous concerning his clemency consideration in January. Robert is at Menard, Ilinois;
     For: Dale Fowler at McAlester - For God to greatly bless the book he is writing entitled “Combating Abusive Encounters with Self, others, and Demon Spirts;
     For: L.D. Thomas at Lawton, Oklahoma - Pray that he will become closer, spiritually, with his sisters, Debbie and Maggie, and with his brother, Robert. Pray for them, too. Also he asks for prayer to ask Jesus to work on his anger and bitterness;
     And pray for all of us here.
     A Note: Chaplain Jimmy Huff in Loraine Texas has a very special program where his ministry is trying to send Christmas gifts to children of those incarcerated. The gifts are sent to the children in the name of their Father or Mother. So if any of you would like to have a gift sent to your child at Christmas (from you with your name on it), then contact Chaplain Jimmy at: Chaplain Jimmy Huff, 125 S. Main St. #213, Loraine, Tx 79532. As equally important, anyone who would like to help Jimmy with this project write to him also.

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