“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
How many verses containing wonderful promises have become so familiar that we fail to consider what they actually say? I suppose I’ve read Hebrews 11:6 dozens of times in my life but only recently have I given it any thought. When it comes to faith, it seems to me that the issue in the Bible is not how much faith a person has but do they have it at all? Without faith it is impossible to please Him. On the other hand, Jesus says in Luke 17:6 that if we have faith like a mustard seed we could command a tree to go jump in the sea and it will obey.
This distinction between “no faith” and “a little faith” is clear throughout the gospels. When Jesus returns home to Nazareth in Mark 6:1-6, he wonders at their unbelief and does only a handful of miracles there. On the other hand, Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28, who at first seems to have no intention of granting the Syrophoenician woman’s request, is moved to act by her persistence saying, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done as you wish.”
I think it is safe to say: where God finds just the smallest amount of faith He is willing to come rushing to the aid of His children to do more than they are able to ask or think. And yet, even the smallest amount of faith seems at times to be rare. Jesus asks in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on earth?” Truly faith is a wonderful and powerful gift from God to men. Those who live by faith will be a demonstration and an illustration of Hebrews 11:6. But faith is not to be taken for granted. More to come…
Since I’ve been blogging again I’m averaging about 10 hits a day, 5 of which are probably me checking to see how many hits I’ve received. But for you five faithful who continue to wander over I give you five books that excited me this year. I do think lists are something we do well here at The Savannah Project.
George Mueller of Bristol by A.T. Pierson: This won’t be the last you hear of this one if you keep checking this blog. See the post below for an introductory quote. Not only is this a fascinating story but Pierson is a very good writer. This is a challenging book that I highly recommend you read immediately. It will go on my list of book to read again. That, by the way, is a short list.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain Murray: This past summer was one of the toughest seasons of pastoral ministry that I can remember. Reading about the ministry of Dr. Lloyd-Jones was a huge encouragement. If you’re looking for anything critical Murray won’t scratch your itch at all. But if you need to be encouraged to preach the Word in the good times and the bad this account of Lloyd-Jones life is just what the doctor ordered.
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung: Trey and I led a young adult Bible Study around this book. I’ve interacted with stuff about the will of God before but I haven’t seen anything this clear. I think you may be shocked by just how much of our thinking regarding decision making is tainted by unbiblical and even pagan ideas. This is an easy read. You won’t be disappointed.
Sinners in the Hands of a Good God by David Clotfelter: I’ve known about this book for a while and I’ve known of those who have liked it. I finally picked it up this fall and was glad I did. This is a very pastoral attempt to answer some tough questions about hell, judgment, and God’s mercy according to what the Bible says. It is great to see how a study of God’s judgment can actually lead one to a clearer view of His mercy.
Why Four Gospels? by David Alan Black and Who Chose the Gospels? by C.E. Hill: This all started with a discussion with my father-in-law about Black’s book which then led to an evening with Dr. Black himself. His book is a really helpful, lay-friendly attempt to deal with the synoptic problem. Here’s a (very short) summary: Matthew wrote first, then Luke, followed by Mark who wrote down Peter’s lectures in Rome in which he authenticated Luke. I came upon Dr. Hill’s book just as I was preparing to teach on the subject and was greatly helped. When it comes to the gospels, the question of how we came to have only four, and these particular four, just isn’t as murky as some would have you believe. Even the chapter on papyri is interesting!
This book caused me to spend the last 4-5 months thinking, reading and teaching about faith. I’m going to post some of those thoughts in the days to come. For now think about this:
“Things which are unseen and eternal seem, to the carnal man, distant and indistinct, while what is seen and temporal is vivid and real. Practically, any object in nature that can be seen or felt is thus more real and actual to most men than the Living God. Every man who walks with God, and finds Him a present Help in every time of need; who puts His promises to the practical proof and verifies them in actual experience; every believer who with the key of faith unlocks God’s mysteries, and with the key of prayer unlocks God’s treasuries, thus furnishes to the race a demonstration and an illustration of the fact that ‘He is, and is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’”
From George Mueller of Bristol by A. T. Pierson
This morning I decided to dust off the blog and see if the thing still runs. I had to pull the cord a couple of times to get it to turn over but it started. I had pretty much decided that I needed to either start blogging again or shut this thing down.
It hasn’t really been that I have forgotten about the blog. I think about it from time to time. The question for me has been, “Do I really have anything worthwhile to say?” Often the answer has been no. But I think it will be good for me (if no one else) to try to discipline myself to write something of substance more consistently in the space in this upcoming year of 2011.
I hope to do the same over at the BOMI (blog of more importance.) Our adoption from Ethiopia has stalled for the time being which is all the more difficult given that we have a little girl with a name and a face whom we would desperately like to bring home. We invite you to pray with us that God would providentially move the agencies and individuals in Ethiopia to get all the paperwork necessary so that we can bring our little baby girl home. It was harder than I thought it would be to spend Christmas with a member of the family in Africa.
In the meantime I hope you’ll start checking here again. This blog is called “The Savannah Project” for a reason. The project is still ongoing (in my mind) and I’ll try to do a better job of keeping you updated. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go bowl with Erika on the Wii that we got for Christmas.