Thursday, December 19, 2013

Does God see your faith by how you live?

            Five military recruiters came to a high school to make a presentation to the senior class. Each recruiter represented a different branch of the service. Each was given 15 minutes to make their pitch. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force recruiters each got up and did a nice job but they ran over on their time. When the Marine recruiter got up to speak, he only had two minutes left before the kids would be dismissed. He walked up and stood completely silent for the first minute and just stared at the students. When he finally spoke, he said, “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marine Corps. But I want to see those two or three in the dining hall as soon as we are dismissed.” When he arrived in the dining hall, he was mobbed with requests for applications. The motto for the Marines is “We’re looking for a few good men.”
            If you look in the Bible, you can find several “good men” - Moses, Job, Joshua, the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, Peter, and many others. They were not perfect but set a beautiful example we would do well to follow. The Scripture also gives us many examples of “good women” – Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, Lydia, Mary the sister of Lazarus, etc.
           The one that the Bible holds out as one of the best is Abraham. He is called the ‘father of believers.’ That’s because he had such a strong faith. One example of his faith was when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Don’t forget, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. He was the son to whom the promises were attached – that Abraham’s seed would be as countless as the stars, he would be the father of a great nation, and most importantly, the line from whom the Savior, Jesus, would come.
            One day (cf Genesis 22), God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. As difficult as this request must have been for Abraham, he shows us that he was willing to carry it out. Right before he is about to slay his son, the Lord intervenes. He told Abraham that he now knew that Abraham loved the Lord more than his son.
            While I can’t imagine ever being faced with such a request, I know the Lord asks me to demonstrate my love for him all the time. Abraham’s faith was evident from his love for God, his obedience to his command, and his trust in God’s promises. Our faith is made clear in the same ways.
            When we make it clear by our choices and our priorities that we love the Lord and his Word more than anything else, we demonstrate our faith. Will you go to church on Sunday morning or stay in bed? Will you read Scripture or simply watch TV?
            When you are tempted to lie to your boss, have an affair with someone at work, cheat on your taxes, etc. you let the Lord know what you think of him. Abraham showed his faith by his readiness to do what God asked.
            When you do not worry about the future, face trials and troubles in life knowing the Lord is watching over you as he has promised; when you know that death is no longer your enemy but your friends; that your sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ because God says so; you are living by faith.
            We can never be as “good” as God wants us to be. Our faith is often weak and imperfect. Thank God we have a Savior who wasn’t. Through his perfect life and innocent death, he gained forgiveness, life and salvation for us. That’s why we rejoice and look forward to celebrating his birth and his return to take us to glory on Judgment Day.