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Thursday: Still Faithful When God Cannot Be Seen — 20 Comments

  1. Wouldn't it be so much easier if God came down on the top of a mountain and shouted his rules at us, punctuated with lightning and thunder? We would believe in God then wouldn't we? Ask the Children of Israel 6 weeks after that happened and see who they believed in. They had eaten fried onions and roasted quail in Egypt and right then 6 weeks after the visible and audible presence of God they wanted to go back to Egypt and return to tasty food and bull worship.

    Our beliefs are often changed by our stomachs. I had a conversation with an exSeventh-day Adventist where I asked what was so good about having given up his faith and he said, "Roast beef and sex!"

    I thought about what he said quite a bit actually and wondered what sort of God he believed in when he was an upstanding member and elder of the local Adventist congregation. The thing is we have often created an image of God in our own minds so that when our minds change, our view of the image changes. God has to be someone that does not depend on the state of our stomachs or hormones.

    I have mentioned before that Carmel and I lived in different countries during our engagement. Out of sight, out of mind? Definitely not. The relationship continued and grew. Were there times of doubt? Yes, of course. I got one strange phone call from Carmel. This was when an international phone call cost half a week's wages. Carmel rang me and asked me if I still loved her. I reassured her as best I could over the phone. I learned later that a friend of both of us, had asked Carmel to consider how distant I was and how close he was. (It did not work!) Our relationship had to withstand the separation and even the times when we could not communicate. I had my final examinations with London University in this period and you don't write letters even to future brides when you are sitting two three-hour examinations a day for a week.

    In our spiritual lives, there are times when God is going to appear distant. The dark clouds of life will surround us and we will seem alone. That is when the strength of our relationship will be tested, and we will have to rely on more than just feelings and urges.

    The writer of Hebrews has this to say:

    Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
    Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. Heb 13:8,9KJV

  2. Unless we prepare and develop our mind to walk by faith over sight (and/or feelings), our mind will default to walking by sight (and/or feelings) over faith. How can we co-operate with the Holy Spirit's re-developing of us to prepare and develop our mind to walk by faith over sight and/or feelings? We can do this through:

    1) Practicing consciously and intentionally reminding ourselves that without God, nothing would exist - everything and everyone would self-destruct (Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). So if you are still around, God is still on the scene!

    2) Consciously and intentionally consider (meditate, reflect upon) the truth that 2) God is unchanging (James 1:17) and therefore keeps his promises because His promises are an inseparable reflection of His nature and character (Isaiah 49:15-17).

    The practice of taking time on a daily or otherwise regular basis to meditate and reflect upon the truth and truths of God is something that is easily squeezed out of life these days. But if you consider the Psalms, David was very big on this practice (eg Psalm 1:2; 119:15,27,48,99,148; 143:5). This conscious and intentional activity, done repeatedly, results in progressive transfer of what you are meditating upon into your subconscious (repetition/practice automatically does this). Doing this, which is not something done independently of the Holy Spirit, will result in a change of the 'filters' through which you appraise a situation. Specifically, it will progressively result in a shift from an appraisal based more on sight and feelings to an appraisal based upon truth. This process is what Paul is referring to in Romans 12:2.

    A theologian I respected used to often say, "be my feelings what they will, Jesus is my Saviour still". I too have practiced repeating this truth with the result that this though now 'pops' into my mind when my feelings want to rise up and suggest that things are hopeless. Other Bible passages also do the same because I rehearse them frequently. Maybe you might like to give it a try for 3 months and see what happens when you do? (There's nothing 'magical' about "3 months" - but if you do it too little, the transfer won't be sufficient). If after 3 months you find a benefit, like David, keep the practice going.

    • Amen, bro Phil for the guidance. Indeed, I have realised late what a blessing it is to meditate on God's word, to memorise and rehearse these words. I had been caught up recently in depression and despondency over the life choices of my first born son such that I found it hard to pray or to focus on anything else. When I went back to prayer and studying God's word, I chide myself for having tortured myself mentally for nothing!

      • "...having tortured myself mentally for nothing!" So easy to do in a fallen world - especially when Satan seeks to exploit this vulnerability and get us to self-accuse ourselves. I add my voice to uplifting both you and your situation and circumstances before God - and anyone else who may also need lifting up in their current situation.

  3. If we cannot take our heavenly Father by His word that He will never leave us or forsake us, what value does anything else we learn in the Scripture really contain? If this exclamation/promise is not the overarching Truth we accept, what else can we lean on in times of trouble? If we cannot rely on that His Word does not change, though heaven and earth may pass away, what can we substitute for this promise to convince us of the permanence of His presence with us?

    At times of doubt we realize that our relationship is not solid enough to withstand pressures experienced during this lifetime and that we are in need to solidify our faith-relationshipe with the Father and Son.
    If we doubt God’s existence or His benevolence toward us because we do not receive the job we were hoping to get, or the house we wanted to buy went to someone else, or the car broke down on the way to a crucial job interview, or we had an accident injurying us, or a loved one passed away unexpectedly, or we receive a heartbreaking diagnosis from our doctor – if we are thrown of the path of faith by those experiences, what can be put into place to sustain us during hours of hardships because of our faith, or outright persecution because we do not want to give up our faith? There is nothing else but His Word and His Promises and our faith.

  4. Yet Maurice Ashton, Psalm 103 very clearly indicates what one of God's blessings are: "Fills my mouth with good things," and then goes on to also say "so that my youth is nenewed like the eagles." Jesus told parables that contained "beef" (the return of the prodigals son's celebration with the fatted calf.) King David is documented as giving God's people "meat" from the spoils of his military victories. And the Prophet Elijah was given "meat" twice a day via unclean birds (ravens) by God for a signifcant amount of time at the brook Kidron during the drought God had also sent to Israel then. I am not trying to condone here the eating of meat as a regular diet but as long as it is clean meat and occassionally I see nothing wrong with it at all. And there is nothing wrong with sex either as long as it is with ones spouse and also in moderation.

    • It is not so much the rights and wrongs of "beef and sex" but rather the headspace that sees them as an alternative to salvation.

      • OK, Maurice, but who is to make thenselves as judges to then make a judgement on anyone who chooses to eat clean meat as doing this as an "alternative salvation"????????

      • Salvation has no "alternative," it is simply Jesus Christ and our faith in what He did for us 2,000 plus or minus years ago and is doing now interceding at His Fathers' Right Hand for us. And what people choose to do with eating meat or sex I will leave in Jesus and His Father and The Holy Spirit to deal with and I will also "Pray for Them too."

        • I think you will agree that some people do choose an alternative to salvation and that raises issues: Why do they do it?

          That is not making a judgement.

          • Maurice Ashton, give some examples of your so called "alternatives to salvation." The Apostle Paul very clearly said that we are saved "by grace through faith and not by works lest any man should boast." Grace is from God via His Son Jesus and what He did at Calvary once for all. Faith is via us in that very fact in our behalf. There is no other "alternative to this at all."

            • But, Pete, we can choose whether to accept that salvation or not. When a person deliberately chooses to ignore salvation, they have chosen the alternative to salvation. To be clear, it's not about "beef and sex", but about your relationship with God. In the case of the example that I gave earlier, this person had deliberately chosen to step away from his church and his faith. It was the relationship that he had severed. ... and that was his choice.

  5. OK, Maurice Ashton, but you did very clearly indicated this person to say that he was now into sex and eating meat did you not????? Then you went on to mention the idea of "alternatives to salvation" etc. did you not???? So that is the reason I challenge you to give me some examples of your so called "alternatives to salvation." Choosing to accept Jesus salvation is one thing. But choosing to now eat meat and have sex is another totally different thing that as long as he is having sex only with his wife does not necessarily mean that he has severed his relation with Jesus or for that matter his choosing to eat meat does not necessarily sever his relation with Jesus either.


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