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Jude 20-23

It seems to me the worst thing that I can endure is waiting. I can’t stand to simply sit idle while I wait for others to finish whatever it is they are doing. In need something to do while I am spending time sitting. The Book of Jude has some advice for faithful followers along these lines.

What two things are recommended in verse 20? What else are we to do, according to verse 21? When will we do that?

What further instructions are offered in verses 22 and 23? How strongly are we to hate sin?

The first step in our faith is to believe. We are to know deep in our hearts that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God and our Savior. The second step is to build ourselves up in our faith.

Our beliefs, our faith, should not be a shallow thing or an empty thing. We need to be confident in our faith, knowledgeable in what we believe.

Many people keep their eyes fixed on the day they are going to heaven. There are even many songs that address the coming glory. And there is nothing wrong with anticipating our time in heaven. But we must not be caught up only in that distant vision. We have work to do here.

While we are waiting for the future glory there is much to be done for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. We can build our faith. We can pray earnestly to help others. We can work to show God’s mercy to others and we can work to save souls.

The faithful should not confess Jesus as Lord and then sit idly by. We must deepen our faith and help others find that relationship with God.

What do you feel you need to do to build your faith?

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Acts 12:12-16

It is amazing how often people – myself included – will pray about a situation and then be absolutely amazed when God answers our prayer. What does that say about our faith? In today’s passage we see great faith coupled with poor belief.

Where did Peter go? Who was there? What were they doing?

What does Peter do when he arrives? How does Rhoda respond?

In verse 15 the gathered group of faithful followers offers two explanations to what is happening. What are they? What is the end result?

The first verse of this reading is an end to what has gone on before. Peter was in prison and an angel led him out of the prison – great faith. But Peter thought he was dreaming – poor belief. These faithful people are praying for Peter (see Acts 12:5) – great faith. But they don’t believe it when he is set free – poor belief. Instead they are more prone to believe that the young girl, Rhoda, is insane or that she has seen a ghost. Those two explanations are much more acceptable than that God actually set Peter free.

But aren’t we the same way most of the time. We offer to pray for someone but deep inside we have our doubts that God can actually do anything to help. And when we do receive an answer to our prayers we are dumb-founded. It is good and commendable to thank God and praise Him for what He has done, but we shouldn’t be so amazed that God was able to do something. It is part of our faith isn’t it?

We seem to have a faith where we believe, but we really don’t believe. We can talk a good game but when it comes to really trusting God we have trouble. If we are going to be faithful followers of Christ we need to believe, and really believe. We need to live with confidence and act with confidence and worship with confidence.

We teach all about Christianity, about prayer, about faith in God, but do we really believe what we are preaching? If we really believe it – and we should – then why don’t we act like we believe it?

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to be more confident in your own faith?

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1 Corinthians 15:12-14

When I worked for the newspaper there was a desk and chair that no one was allowed to use. They belonged to a columnist who had stopped writing his column years before and was in such poor health he would never return to work. I could understand the demonstration of respect being offered, but I thought it was rather pointless to have a desk and chair for no purpose.

Is the same true of our faith? What do some people believe? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then what happened with Jesus? If Jesus did not rise from the dead, what does that say of our worship and our faith?

It was true in the time of Paul and it is true today. There are many people who believe that religion is something foolish people do to keep themselves busy. There are those who believe that Christianity is a centuries-old hoax, a foolish myth that is perpetuated to take money from others. There are those who refuse to believe in the miracles of God and the love of Christ.

And if they are correct then our faith is as useless as a desk no one will ever use. If there is no God and Jesus did not do what the Bible says, then we are wasting our time gathering to worship.

And it seems that throughout history there has never been a bit of evidence to prove undeniably that it did happen. Nor is there anything to prove it did not. It is always a matter of faith and belief. We can ask the question – did it happen? But we will never have a definitive answer.

The questions to ask are – do you believe it happened? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? And, if you do, what are you going to do about it?

One of the problems can be that many people don’t think about what they believe. We attend church, we listen politely as the message is given, and we go home. Where is our commitment to drawing nearer to God? What can we do to know more about the background of the Bible and more about what was being preached?

Never let others tell you what to believe. Decide for yourself what you believe and be able to stand up for it.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Write down what you believe about Jesus in just five sentences.

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Hebrews 2:1-4

I know it frustrates my wife but I have the ability to completely tune out whatever does not interest me. We sit together watching television and if there is a commercial or program that does not interest me it doesn’t enter my thoughts. Then Peggy will make a comment about what was just said and I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about.

What a wonderful gift to have when it comes to commercials. Unfortunately, many people use the same technique with God’s message.

What is the first instruction in today’s reading? What might happen if we do not pay attention? What fear is involved in hearing this message?

Where did the author get this message of salvation (verse 3)? How do we know it is important?

A close reading of the second half of verse 3 lets us know that the writer of Hebrews was not among the first followers of Jesus. The message of salvation that Jesus said was confirmed by those who heard him. The author has heard the message from someone other than Jesus.

Yet it is clear that the good news of Christ is an exciting and important message. It was spoken by angels, told by Jesus, and confirmed by God who has displayed signs and wonders to help confirm it. The author knows it is something we should not ignore.

We know the story of Jesus and the words of salvation are good news. We know they are valuable to hear and valuable to share. But at the same time so many people allow their faith to become so dull and lifeless. They have lost that excitement and urgency in knowing who Jesus is.

We must work to keep the message of God – whether we read it in the Bible, hear it in worship, or talk about it with others – exciting and new and important to us. We should not let it go in one ear and out the other, and we should be eager not only to hear the message but to share it too.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you excited about salvation? Do you need to give the message more attention?