“Faith; Rejoicing in Grace”, from Martin Lloyd Jones (overcome, Trust God, courage)

godofhopebeloved.jpg

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Faith, Rejoicing in Grace

In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!”  The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.

Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.

The truth is, you never know what is going to happen!  The last shall be first!  What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!

When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day   (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!”  We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service. 

 This life is all of grace!  “By the grace of God we are what we are!”

The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!” 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?”  The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith.  Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.

Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.

Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith. 

“We walk by faith, not by sight!”

God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.”  Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”  The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.

Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat!   A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. 

Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like.  The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances.  That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.  

The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”

 – Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you?  Do you not trust Me?”  Remember the words of the disciples:  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). 

Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed.  It is the same response as the unbeliever.

The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God. 

A Trial by Faith

One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.”  Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.”  They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried.  Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7). 

That is the theme of all Scripture. 

Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified.  James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2).  Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in. 

In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –

                   When all things seem against us          
                        To drive us to despair,                           
                     We know one gate is open                              
                   One ear will hear our prayer.

What is the nature of “your faith”?

Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.”  The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?” 

That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith.  First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next.  Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia).  Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically.  Faith has to be exercised.  Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.

So, how does one put faith into operation?  The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them.  Faith is a refusal to panic.

That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may.  Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface.  Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart. 

“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”

Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!”  Satan isn’t stupid!  He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!

Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts!  And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself!  and pull yourself up!  and control yourself!  You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory!  You assert yourself!  Now is the time to control your thinking!  You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know! 

Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.

That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact.  That is the way faith reasons.  The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture.  Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).

To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness.  Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him. 

Here is an example of what to say –

God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.”
I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know
that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into
this world for me.  You did that for me while I was an enemy,
a rebellious alien.  I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself
for me.  I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation
and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. 
I know that.

Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.

Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.”  Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.”  Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point.  It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.

So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true.  Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?  You have it!  Why don’t you apply it?”  Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful. 

Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.  He loves you with an everlasting love. 

You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.”  God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good.  That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it.  You refuse to be moved.  You stand on your faith. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).

Martin Lloyd-Jones

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)

“Faith; Rejoicing in Grace”, from Martin Lloyd Jones (overcome, Trust God, courage)

godofhopebeloved.jpg

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Faith, Rejoicing in Grace

In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!”  The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.

Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.

The truth is, you never know what is going to happen!  The last shall be first!  What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!

When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day   (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!”  We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service. 

 This life is all of grace!  “By the grace of God we are what we are!”

The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!” 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?”  The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith.  Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.

Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.

Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith. 

“We walk by faith, not by sight!”

God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.”  Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”  The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.

Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat!   A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. 

Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like.  The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances.  That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.  

The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”

 – Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you?  Do you not trust Me?”  Remember the words of the disciples:  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). 

Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed.  It is the same response as the unbeliever.

The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God. 

A Trial by Faith

One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.”  Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.”  They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried.  Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7). 

That is the theme of all Scripture. 

Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified.  James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2).  Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in. 

In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –

                   When all things seem against us          
                        To drive us to despair,                           
                     We know one gate is open                              
                   One ear will hear our prayer.

What is the nature of “your faith”?

Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.”  The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?” 

That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith.  First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next.  Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia).  Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically.  Faith has to be exercised.  Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.

So, how does one put faith into operation?  The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them.  Faith is a refusal to panic.

That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may.  Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface.  Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart. 

“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”

Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!”  Satan isn’t stupid!  He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!

Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts!  And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself!  and pull yourself up!  and control yourself!  You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory!  You assert yourself!  Now is the time to control your thinking!  You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know! 

Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.

That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact.  That is the way faith reasons.  The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture.  Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).

To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness.  Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him. 

Here is an example of what to say –

God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.”
I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know
that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into
this world for me.  You did that for me while I was an enemy,
a rebellious alien.  I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself
for me.  I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation
and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. 
I know that.

Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.

Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.”  Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.”  Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point.  It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.

So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true.  Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?  You have it!  Why don’t you apply it?”  Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful. 

Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.  He loves you with an everlasting love. 

You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.”  God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good.  That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it.  You refuse to be moved.  You stand on your faith. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).

Martin Lloyd-Jones

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)

“Placing Hope in a God Who Sees”, from L.Willows (trust, faith, encouragement )

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My journey both in prayer and in life continues to rebound back to the theme of Hope and how miraculous God’s encouragement is when I walk forward in faith. If I am tempted to lean into outer sources or anything other than God for reassurance or hope – I falter, there is a struggle. I realize that the message is clear. (was I listening before, where have I been?) In the walk with Christ, we are not meant to lean into the temporal world for hope or take assurance from a source other than God.

When I walk with trust, placing all into God’s capable arms, everything enters a realm that I can only describe as ‘lifted’. I am out of the way. Faith is emboldened. Trust is strengthened. The God who Sees is a great encouragement. (Why didn’t I take this leap before? I thought that I did.)

Affirming Hope. Sharing Trust.

From Strongs Concordance the Biblical definition of “to lean upon” is to affirm confidently. I can clearly affirm that when we lean upon God we are assured of hope that will be encouraging to our hearts and in our lives. Nothing has ever built a lasting sense of confidence in my own heart and mind than feeling seen and loved by God.

Confidence is an important word. It means belief and faith. It measures the level of trust in something. I will honestly share with you that for me, confidence and levels of trust have been things that I do not easily give out. Now, my complete confidence and trust are in God, more than any words could ever describe.

We learn and move forward in our walk with God in degrees as our hearts and mind open up to Him. It is a journey that keeps expanding and growing.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” 

Our confidence belongs only in God Himself.

As we form the picture of what we hope for and how to put confidence only in God Himself, it is helpful to see where and how we usually fall from this not because we want to but because of our mortal state. We are His precious beloveds, but we do walk the journey in this life wearing blindfolds that can mar our ability to “see” with acuity. Our vision of life and of truth is dimmed. We cannot even see God as he truly is.

We are promised that in 1 Corinthians that when we are face to face with the Lord, and see His Glory in its’ fullness, we will then See Him, we will know him as we have been known.

1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

For now, we see only in part.

We see God’s reality partially. We see only in part. The world that we live in and see and touch is only this world. It is the world of ‘for now’. It is like seeing in a mirror dimly. His beauty and truth are veiled here yet we can experience His Love and Transformative Resurrection Power as we walk in His Love here and now.

That is what we hope for. This is the power of faith in God. Though we cannot see Him, we are convinced (by all evidence, all of His Promises, His Truth) that He is The Eternal Reality that we live in and amidst.

We have hope in a God Who Sees.

I am so grateful that when I pray it is to a God who sees all of my heart and each detail of my life. Often I will be stilled with awe to praise His vastness because He sees every heart and life the same generous mercy and kindness.

I am awed to fathom how a God that is the Creator of the Heavens, the Earth and each of us also has the ability to hear all of our prayers and everything that we utter from the depth of our hearts. Witness that He does. God is greater, vaster and more miraculous than what our mortal hearts and mind can even fathom.

Experiences from scripture describe this:

Psalm 52:2 “God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God.”

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

Our God is one that Sees. Seeing, when it is from God- is active, creative and embracing. It is more than we can fathom with our mortal ways of conceiving. We can pray that by the power of His Spirit we are given wisdom and faith to increase our ability to absorb the miracles of being seen by God. They are life-altering. Faith strengthens. Hope increases. We are Encouraged.

We begin to see this world in a New Light – call it Gods’ Lense; Hope born in Faith, encouraged by God’s Love.

The Active, Creative and Embracing Power of God alters us.

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

We get distracted when we try to place hope or confidence in what we can see. (When I use the word “see”, I mean notice with our senses including the faculties of the brain; ie thinking; it sees and notates more than the physical eye, but is it a clear vision- who is the notator?)

We live in this world and we have mortal hearts and minds that wake up each day. We absorb, respond and desire what our senses interact with. That means all that we feel and all that we think. Have you ever really watched your thinking? It is like AM, FM and some really interesting satellite programming if you are honest!

We try to get a bit more honest about what we see and may not see, we become self-searchers with a Godly view:

  1. We learn to let go of what we are holding on to and trying to create by our own strength alone and we embrace the strength and love of God instead.
  2. We shift from having faith in what is external and temporal to having faith in the Eternal Truth and Promise of God.
  3. We learn to discern the voices of our senses and desires; the ‘response chatter’ that elicits reactions and replace it with inner quiet that is able to listen for the Voice of God’s Spirit.
  4. . We recognize that our hearts and minds are powerful absorbers of our environment and actively take part in filling them daily with pure sources.
  5. . We become faithful “living Bridges to God” as we build up our own commitment to daily prayer, spiritual resources, fellowship, scripture reading and develop a willingness to review our own hearts with humble honesty about what we do not see.

When we allow ourselves to be open and humble before God, He joins us in generous ways. His Grace is active and creative. Faith is filled with miracles, hope, and encouragement.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” 

We are encouraged to find that He leads us towards more that we might ever have hoped for with a mortal perspective. The Lord, who is our Shepherd, who sees what we do not see is able to provide the steps and the details of the near and the far future that will give you and me all that we could ever hope for.

Hope, for all, is a trust placed in the Lord alone.

Psalm 71:5-9 “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”

All Hope is for, from and towards God. As Psalm 71 so eloquently praises, The Lord is our constant hope. God, our Father formed us before birth in our mother’s womb and brought us into this world. Using the word “trust” (biblically) literally mean “a bold, confidence, certain security or action based on that security.”

We have heard of things like a ‘trust fund’, something put away for the security of the benefactor. In this case, trust a way that we benefit (we are the beneficiaries) from having confidence in God. When we lean completely upon the strength of God (and not upon our own) we recognize who we belong to, who has our inheritance, (from what treasure we benefit) and where we need to place our hope.

God is our hope and our trust.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Prayer ~ A God Who Sees

Thank you, Father, that you are with us – that you are a God who Sees.
Thank you for being our eternal hope and our trust.
I praise you for being our security, the source of all belonging and the One that placed us in Your Precious safekeeping, in the womb of Your Creation.
Thank you for the plans that you alone have, I place my heart and my mind in Your protective care now, today for this hour and all time, with You, for You and because of You.
I lift my heart, my life, and my gratitude to you. 

In Jesus Name,
Amen

© 2019 Linda Willows