Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Faith, Annunciation to St. Mary
Volume 7 No. 448 November 24, 2017
 
III. Featured Articles: Faith

The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith

by Oswald Chambers

"Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?' " - John 11:40

Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, "It's all a lie"? When you are on the mountaintop, it's easy to say, "Oh yes, I believe God can do it," but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (see Luke 9:28-42). Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, "I believe 'God shall supply all [my] need,' " the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?

Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it. Jesus said, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" Matthew 11:6). The ultimate thing is confidence in Jesus. "We have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . ." (Hebrews 3:14). Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5-6).

Source: The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers, 1935

The Supreme Climb - Abraham's Faith

by Oswald Chambers

"Take now your son . . . and offer him . . . as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you"
- Genesis 22:2

A person's character determines how he interprets God's will (see Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God's command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this traditional belief behind through the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way.

If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditional beliefs that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs which must be removed-for example, that God removes a child because his mother loves him too much. That is the devil's lie and a travesty on the true nature of God! If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of our wrong traditional beliefs about God, he will do so. But if we will stay true to God, God will take us through an ordeal that will serve to bring us into a better knowledge of Himself.

The great lesson to be learned from Abraham's faith in God is that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter what contrary belief of his might be violated by his obedience. Abraham was not devoted to his own convictions or else he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was actually the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic.

If you will remain true to God, God will lead you directly through every barrier and right into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself. But you must always be willing to come to the point of giving up your own convictions and traditional beliefs. Don't ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did that you are willing to do anything, even "to go . . . both to prison and to death" (Luke 22:33). Abraham did not make any such statement— he simply remained true to God, and God purified his faith.

Source: The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers, 1935

Jump Into Abba's Arms

by Sharon Jaynes

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see," (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

One night a family was startled from sleep by the piercing blare of their smoke detector. The house was on fire and smoke swirled up the wooden staircase. The father bolted from his bed and ran to his children's room. He grabbed his eighteen-month-old baby out of his crib, and dragged his four-year-old son by the hand. They were half-way down the stairs when the little boy remembered his favorite teddy bear in his room and broke away to go back and get it. In the mayhem and confusion, the father didn't realize his son wasn't with him until he reached the front yard.

By the time the little boy found his teddy bear, the flames had filled his room and trapped him inside. Smoke burned his lungs as he coughed and cried out the open window.

"Daddy! Daddy!" he cried. "Help me!

His dad called up to the lad, "I'm right here, son. Jump and I'll catch you."

"But Daddy," the boy cried, "I can't see you!"

"That's OK, son," he called. "I can see you! Now jump!"

The boy blindly jumped from the open window and landed safely in his father's arms.

I love that story. It is my story.

So many times my Heavenly Father calls me to jump. Sometimes He tells me to jump out of a situation, and sometimes he calls me to jump into an opportunity. Either way, I usually baulk at the idea…at least a little.

"But God, I can't see You," I cry.

"That's OK," He replies. "I can see you. Now jump!"

And so I jump. And He is there every time.

What about you? Is God calling you to jump out of a fiery situation? Is God calling you into a new opportunity? Well sister, if He is, jump. You might not be able to see Him, but He can see you. And that is all that matters.

Let's Pray

Father, thank You for always being there for me. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump out of any fiery situation that could singe my character, char my faith, or leave me smelling of smoke. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump into any blessed opportunity that could increase my faith, build my character, and leave me wearing the fragrance of Christ.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

All through the Bible God called men and women to take a leap of faith. Every time God promised that He would be right there with him or her.

Read Exodus 3:12 4:12 and notice what God told Moses.
Read Joshua 1:5 1:9 and notice what God told Joshua.
Read Judges 6:16 and notice what God told Gideon.
If you really want to gas up your faith tank, read all of Hebrews 11.

Go back to Hebrews 11:1. How does it relate to today's story?

Source: Girlfriends in God Devotional

Hope And Great Expectations

by Ralph Bouma

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD." Psalm 31:24.

Abraham waited 20 years for the promise, and it became humanly impossible. Through tribulation, through patience, he still had hope. We read in Romans 4 that he never doubted through unbelief, but he trusted that what God promised He was able to perform - against all hope, hoping against hope.

Now, where is the promise of our text? "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."

Sometimes it seems there is no hope. Where is our hope? It is in the Lord.

God's dear children are men of great expectations. I want you to understand what faith really is. It is a great expectation. It is a hope of that which is unseen or unacceptable by human reason. Human reasoning cannot accept the possibility. Abraham had gone past the time of life. His wife had gone past the time of life, but he yet hoped. Why? Because he hoped for that which he could not see a possibility.

Since sin entered the heart of man in Eden, the Saviour of sinners who was first preached in Genesis 3:15 has been their only hope: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed [the Lord Jesus Christ]; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Where was the gospel first preached? In the reproof and curse pronounced on Satan. The curse pronounced on the old dragon was that his head would be crushed, that Christ would gain the victory over death and the grave. Think of how long Adam and Eve must have waited - more than 900 years that they lived on the face of the earth - longing and looking forward to that Son who would be born to redeem them from the power of sin.

This Saviour has been the only hope for sinners throughout Old Testament time. I want you to see this in Hebrews 11:36-39: "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise."

These died in hope - in hope of a coming Messiah who had not yet come. Our text speaks of all those who hope in the Lord. We are not easily shaken. Our hope does not vanish with the first disappointment. That is what the Lord is teaching us here.

Our text does not only speak to those who are strong in faith, but to the babes in Christ. Those who have faith as a grain of mustard seed, even though their hope is weak, yet it is in Christ, "ye that hope in the LORD."

Those in Hebrews 11 had hope in a coming Messiah. We have hope in a risen Saviour, who has come, who has gained the victory over death, sin and the grave.

Amen.

My spirit unto Thee
I trustfully commend;
Jehovah, God of truth, to me
Thou didst redemption send.
I hate the false and vain,
My rust is in the Lord,
And still my heart in joyous strain
Thy mercy will record.

From Psalm 31, Psalms and Hymns for Worship
Excerpted from sermon #232 - THE CURE FOR A WEAK HEART

Convert to Faith in Providence

by Pope Francis

Editor's Note:

Pope Francis talks about "the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ." He urges us to convert to faith in Providence, to be able to share the little that we are and that we have, and never to close in on ourselves. Faith in action.

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Feast of Corpus Christi is the Feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Gospel tells the story of the miracle of the loaves (Luke 9:11-17). I want to focus on one aspect that always strikes me and makes me think. We are on the shore of Lake Galilee, the evening draws near, Jesus cares for the people who have been with him for so many hours: there are thousands of them, and they are hungry. What to do? The disciples are discussing the problem, and they say to Jesus, "Dismiss the crowd" so that they can go into the neighboring villages to find food. But Jesus says, "Give them some food yourselves" (v. 13). The disciples are unsettled, and they respond, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have," as if to say: just enough for ourselves.

Jesus knows very well what to do, but wants to involve his disciples, He wants to teach them. The attitude of the disciples is human attitude, an attitude that seeks the most realistic solution, a solution that does not create too many problems: Dismiss the crowd - they say - let each one arrange what he can for himself; for the rest, you have already done so much for them: you preached, you healed the sick...Dismiss the crowd!

Jesus' attitude is completely different, and is dictated by His union with the Father and compassion for the people, the compassion Jesus has for all of us: Jesus feels our problems, feels our failings, feels our needs. Before those five loaves, Jesus thinks: here is providence! From this tiny amount, God can bring forth what is necessary for everyone. Jesus trusts completely in the heavenly Father, He knows that in Him all things are possible. So he tells the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of fifty – this is not accidental: this means that they are no longer a crowd, but they become communities, nourished by the bread of God.

Then He takes the loaves and fishes, raises His eyes to heaven, says the blessing – the reference to the Eucharist is clear - and then He breaks them and begins to give them to the disciples, and the disciples distribute them... and bread and fish do not run out! This is the miracle: more than a multiplication it is a sharing, animated by faith and prayer. They all ate and some was left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the bread of God for humanity.

The disciples saw, but didn't understand the message well. They were caught up, like the crowd, in the enthusiasm of success. Once again, they followed human logic and not that of God, that of service, of love, of faith. The feast of Corpus Christi calls us to convert to faith in Providence, to be able to share the little that we are and that we have, and never to close in on ourselves. Let us ask our Mother Mary to help in this conversion, to truly follow the Jesus whom we worship in the Eucharist. Amen.

Source: Radio Vaticana

Faith In Jesus Christ - No Doubt

by Oswald Chambers

"'Let us go to Judea again.' The disciples said to Him, '. . . are You going there again?'" - John 11:7-8

Just because I don't understand what Jesus Christ says, I have no right to determine that He must be mistaken in what He says. That is a dangerous view, and it is never right to think that my obedience to God's directive will bring dishonor to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonor is not obeying Him.

To put my view of His honor ahead of what He is plainly guiding me to do is never right, even though it may come from a real desire to prevent Him from being put to an open shame. I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right.

Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can't see anything (see Matthew 14:29). But faithfulness to my own ideas means that I first clear the way mentally. Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can't see the way ahead.

Are you debating whether you should take a step of faith in Jesus, or whether you should wait until you can clearly see how to do what He has asked? Simply obey Him with unrestrained joy. When He tells you something and you begin to debate, it is because you have a misunderstanding of what honors Him and what doesn't.

Are you faithful to Jesus, or faithful to your ideas about Him? Are you faithful to what He says, or are you trying to compromise His words with thoughts that never came from Him?

“Whatever He says to you, do it ” (John 2:5).

Source: The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers, 1935

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