Gary Carpenter Ministries
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in the book of Hebrews. It tells the proper attitude of the heart when faced with difficult circumstances. It describes what the heart must believe in order to please God. What we call the book of Hebrews was actually a letter written to first century Jewish converts to Christianity. They had grown up learning from their parents that the way to please God was by keeping the Law of Moses. But then someone came and preached Christ to them. They heard the gospel and put their faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross and no longer trusted in their own ability to keep the law to save them. They were genuinely born again Christians.
But great pressure was put on them by their parents and the Pharisees and Sadducee's to recant their belief in Jesus and go back to trusting in the Law of Moses. History tells us that oftentimes Jewish parents would have a mock funeral declaring their sons dead if they became Christians. What would have been their inheritance was divided among their brothers instead. They were denied education at the better universities. They were mocked and discriminated against. Some were arrested and some, like Stephen, were stoned to death. Can't you just hear the devil's voice resounding in their ears? "Where is your Jesus now? He has done nothing good for you. You are despised and hated. Your God has abandoned you. You were better off before you became a Christian." In those circumstances the letter written to them says,
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
No matter the circumstances around us, no matter what we see with our eyes, our faith must be the unwavering kind that believes our God IS … and … that He is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him. That is the kind of faith that will see a person through the trials of life, no matter what form they come in. Faith is so important in the life of a believer. In my studies over the years I found that Jesus often spoke of faith. He spoke of great faith, mustard seed faith, and little faith often. But did you know that in all the New Testament He used the phrase "no faith" only once? And what is amazing … he said it to those closest to Him … the twelve apostles:
Mar 4:35-41 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
For many years I could not understand why Jesus was so severe with the disciples after they had worked so hard to obey His commandment to pass over to the other side. They loved Jesus. They did their best to obey Jesus. Many of these disciples were fishermen and had spent their lives on the sea of Galilee. If anybody knew how to weather the storm, it was them. No doubt they used all of their lifetime experience working hard trying to make it through this storm also, but it soon appeared all was lost. And after all of their hard work to obey the Lord and get Him to the other side, He asks them how it is they have no faith? He doesn't even say they had little faith. He says they were demonstrating no faith at all. For years I just couldn't understand why Jesus was so hard on them.
Then one day a certain statement in that story just stood out to me. Notice in verse 38 they asked, "Carest thou not that we perish?" When you come to the place where circumstances have brought you so low that you now doubt that God even cares for you at all … that is the definition of having "no faith." Peter was one of the disciples in the boat that day. I can just see good old Peter working hard with the other disciples as they tried with all their might to make it through the storm. But even Peter came to the place where in his heart he was asking, "Jesus … do you care?"
Circumstances have a way rising up and pointing an accusing finger at God declaring "You do not care about my suffering." Real faith, however, stands up instead and declares, "My God lives and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Peter had to learn, just like we all learn over time, that God is who He says He is … that He cannot lie … and that He is one hundred percent faithful … all the time. Peter did learn. That storm incident occurred early in Peter's life. Many years later he wrote the epistle that bears his name in the New Testament and look carefully at what he learned through a lifetime of trusting God:
1Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
He cares for you. Don't be moved by present circumstances. Know that your God lives and that He cares for you. When I am faced with difficult circumstances I remind myself, "Jesus is in the boat with Me. He cares for Me. We will make it to the other side."
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,