The Trials and Tests of Our Faith

Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. 26 “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. 27 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”

Here is a picture of two men, a wise man and a foolish man. The wise man had a true and good foundation. The foolish man had a foundation made of sand—it would not last.

In this illustration, the wise man is a Christian. His foundation is Christ. The foolish man is a non-Christian. His foundation is his own works and his own philosophy of life. But his foundation is not true and so it is unstable—as sand.

The rain and the floods and the wind represent the tests of our faith and what our life if built on. Notice that both the Christian and the non-Christian are tested.

The rain may represent things like illness, loss or disappointment. Floods may represent the world, or worldliness—“the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” And the wind may represent Satanic attacks, such as to hurl doubts and evil thoughts at us.

Now for the non-Christian, the main disaster for him will come at the judgment, when it is discovered that there is no foundation, that Christ is not his Lord. The Christian does have a lasting foundation, which is Jesus Christ. But the trials of life will nevertheless test his faith to see how he has built upon that foundation (look at 1Corinthisna 3:12-15). And our rewards at the end of our life will depend on it.

One of the most important things for a Christian to do is to see to it that he has a good devotional life, and also that it doesn’t become mechanical. We must remember in our quiet times with the Lord, to stop and meditate on what we read from the bible, and listen to what God is telling us. Then determine to obey Him and to be always asking for His help and guidance along the way. He is our anchor and firm foundation.

Living Like a Christian In a Non-Christian World

I have been writing on the subject of worry. We are still on that subject, from Matthew 6; this time our emphasis is on not living like a Gentile (a non-Christian), but rather like a Christian. In Matthew 6:31 through 33 Jesus said,

“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

We Are Not to Live Like the Non-Christian

In verse 32 Jesus mentions that the Gentiles (non-Christians) are always seeking food, drink, and clothing, and yet they always seem to be worried over it. It is because they have a wrong view of life, a view that leaves open the door to worry. Here are two life views of the non-Christian.

1. The theory of contingency. This view holds that everything in life is accidental, that things happen without rhyme or reason and we never know what will happen next.

2. The theory of fatalism. This is the idea that whatever happens we can’t do anything about it. It is the belief that there are unknow powers, good and bad, controlling things, but we can’t do anything about it—whatever happens, happens; whatever will be will be. Doris Day use to sing that song, remember?

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

The non-Christian still has these views about life, and so you can see why they worry. And many will try to overcome worry by one of two way.

1. Party it up. They say, we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we might as well live it up now, for tomorrow we may die.

2. Suicide. There are all kinds of suicide. There is drug overuse, or immorality, both are used to blot out a depressed life. And some go crazy and just flip out, killing others and themselves.

Living by Faith

The Christian view of life is quite different than the non-Christian view. We could call it…

The doctrine of certainty. In this view things are certain because we are in the hands of the living God.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that l all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Therefore, we believe that God has a perfect plan for our lives, and much of that plan we see from day to day as we read His word and walk in His Spirit.

But why do so many Christians still worry (like me)? The answer is easy. Though they are believers and have the Holy Spirit, they unknowingly live not by the Christian view of life, but by the non-Christian view. And sometimes what they may say in ordinary conversation betrays them. They may say something like, “Well, we never know what the future holds.”

The answer to a worried life, of course, is to build up our faith; to constantly remind ourselves that we are a child of God and that we were meant to live by faith. Here are four things you can do to build up your faith in God.

1. Put every crisis in the context of your faith.

2. When faced with a crisis ask yourself, will my conduct show me and others that I am a Christian and that I belong to a higher realm.

3. Know that you will never be in any situation that is outside of God’s love and care.

4. When faced with any situation in life, know that you should seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and then believe that all other things will be taken care of by God (read Matthew 6:33).

Update: sadness, faith, walking, working and writing

Sadness. Lately I have been feeling depressed over the shootings and rioting. I’m not really on one side or the other, but I think if people would respect the police more and if parents would instill that respect in their kids, things would be better. If the police aren’t immediately obeyed, there is bound to be trouble; things could get out of control fast. I’m sick about all the riots and the deaths. But we can’t cancel the police. They are here to keep law and order and most of them do that well.

I should also say that God knows all about what is going on in the world, and so we (I) need not be anxious. So, I will pray about it and leave it to Him. I can only so much according to how He directs me, and then He will finish it up according to His will. God is in control of all things, and when we (I) understand that we (I) will have more peace.

Faith. The idea that most of our troubles result from our little faith has been churning in my mind. When Jesus was speaking about how to overcome anxiety and worry by observing the birds and the flowers, He concluded by saying, “O ye of little faith.” And that is the summation of most of our problems, isn’t it? We just fail to believe in Him, that He will take care of us and bring us hope and good things; that He will show us His love and put us at peace and in His joy.

The paths of the Lord are mercy and truth.

He pardons our iniquities

and teaches us to fear Him.

He tells us to keep looking to Him

and to trust Him to deliver us.

(from Psalm 25)

Walking, working and writing. I walk most to enjoy nature and to photograph nature. You will see my photos in my blogs. But I also walk for exercise and to feel better.

I’m a retired painter, but I still work once in a while just to keep busy and to see my customers. I have a few clients that I know and have worked for for a over twenty years. It is good to see them and to keep painting for them.

I’m also a writer and a self-publisher. I enjoy writing books, but I haven’t sold too many. Hopefully that will change soon when I go with a different publisher. I’m thinking of Xulon. They are a Christian company so I think that will help. I’m writing a book now on the Tribulation. Hopefully it won’t take long to write, and I’m sure you will soon be getting some of the book excerpts.

Moving on from Little Faith to Great Faith

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus talks about how we ought not to worry or be anxious in life; and He talks about how we should look at the birds and the flowers to see how God our Father takes care of them and how He will even more take care of us. Then in Matthew 6:30 Jesus points out to us what the ultimate problem is that is causing us to worry. We have a lack of faith. He said, “O ye of little faith.”

What does He mean by little faith? He does not say “no faith,” but little faith, or not enough faith. And Jesus is not speaking to unbelievers, but to believers—those who began a life of faith in Him.

But we must proceed on from the faith we began with—from the faith that saved us. Let us desire a larger, deeper faith. Or let me say this: if we don’t move on to a larger faith, we may always have trouble with worries and doubts—and along the way, some may even doubt their salvation!

What is a larger faith? It is a faith that believes on God for more than salvation; for our entire life—for every little thing; for food and drink and clothing, and also that He will care for you in everything you do.

To be of little faith means that we are mastered by our circumstances. This should not happen to a Christian! We as Christians should be above our circumstances. We can even rejoice in tribulation.

Another way of looking at it is that we as Christians who are of great faith learn to be thinkers not just responders. Hence, the trouble with the one of little faith is that he does not think; he does not think of the truth and the promises of God. He is just blown around by the wind of circumstances.

We must spend more time studying the bible and thinking of on the lessons that the Lord gives us, and on His promises, and to believe them. This is the essence of faith. And conversely, little faith is not to open the bible but rather to cling to a vague memory of our salvation.

I am not saying that our salvation is not important. But we must go on and build on that salvation. A larger faith realizes the full implication of our salvation. It sees who we are as Christians; that we are children of our heavenly Father and that we have a great inheritance in Christ. All the promises of God are meant for us. Paul wrote, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Ro. 8:32).

Here are some things to think about which He has given us:

  • He has put our names in His book (Rev. 20:12). He has many things in store for us for all eternity.
  • Think of His great love for us (John 3:16).
  • He is concerned for us. He cares for us (1 Pt. 5:7).
  • He is so strong for us. His great power is working for us (Eph. 3:16-20).

Faith of Abiding

Prayer A to Z

Faith is that element in abiding that I think is most dominant. Also, it is that element that ties all the other parts of abiding together, for we cannot meditate on the Word, bear fruit, obey God’s commandments, or please Him without faith.

Here are eight things that the abiding Christian does to build his faith in order to keep him abiding:

 1. He makes it his habit to meditate on the Word every day. This daily meditation time helps him to see things from God’s perspective, gives him a desire for God, and helps him to adjust his desires to God’s desires.

 2. He obeys God and keeps himself busy with His work. The abiding believer knows that faith isn’t really faith without obedience and work. In fact, he is convinced that his faith is perfected by obedience (Ja. 2:22).  Therefore, he is always diligent to listen to…

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Starting A House Painting Business

After I resigned from Seminary, and put my ministry goals on hold, I determined to look to the future. I immediately thought of starting a painting business, because I had been doing that already and it seem like a logical step. My brother Jim happened to be thinking along the same lines, so we decided to do it together. But after the first few jobs, it was apparent that we weren’t thinking the same way. I wanted to have a legitimate business (which included paying taxes) and he did not. So, we went our separate ways.

One of the first things I did was to go and talk to a man (I think it was in the Minneapolis Federal building) about how to start a business. It didn’t take long. He asked me what kind of a business I wanted and he set me up. The name of my company would be Nielsen Painters. I felt good about it. I had a business name, a business tax number, and I was good to go. All I needed now was some jobs and maybe some help.

The year was 1981. I was off. I put an add in the Newspaper and also did my best at making fliers to distribute. The first few fliers didn’t look all that great, but they got better. Sometimes I walked around a neighborhood myself and put the flier just inside the screen door or under the mat. Sometimes I would pay to have about 5,000 of them distributed as an insert in a local newspaper. And sometimes I had my nieces and nephews (my sister’s kids) help me pass them out. That was great fun for them, and I paid each of them one stick of Juicy Fruit gum for the day. They thought it was a good deal! And you know what? After forty years they still remember that day and laugh about it.

Surprisingly, the adds and the fliers worked. People started calling me and I went to give them a bid. I did paint estimates (bids) before, but I had never been trained at it. Some guys go around measuring everything and use certain calculations. But I was never comfortable with that method. The way I saw it, it was easier to just walk around and try to guess how long it would take me to prep and paint each section of the house, then add all those numbers together and multiply that number times what I wanted to make per hour—which at first was about $15 per hour. Almost always I gave them a firm bid, which most people wanted; but sometimes, if the job was harder to estimate, I tried to get them to agree on doing the job by the hour.

Usually people got more that one bid, so I didn’t expect to get every job I bid on. Normally, I got about a third of them. But I have learned some tricks along the way, like taking time to talk to the client. People like that. They want to know who is going to paint their house. And if I give them a good impression—even charm them a bit—that always helps.

Right away, after I landed a few jobs, I knew I needed some help. I asked a friend from college and he was more than willing to help me; and he was a pretty good worker too. The first house we painted I had to rent ladders, but I knew that couldn’t continue.  I decided right then to use all the money I made on that first job to buy two 32 ft. ladders, two 20 footers, a 16 ft. plank and two ladder jacks. We were all set!

Not long after that I bought and little blue Mazda pickup truck. Those were the days. Whatever I needed for the business I found a way to do it.  The first few years were kind of scarce, but each year was better. I had no big dreams; I was just doing my best to live by faith. And He was moving me, each day, one step at a time. I didn’t know what exactly He was calling me to do—with a painting business, but I knew that if I stayed obedient to Him, He would show me.   

A New Prayer Focus: Reopen the U.S. by Easter

President Trump suggests the high goal of reopening the county on Easter Sunday–April 12th.

woke up extra early this morning and was unable to fall back to sleep. I had on my mind what President Trump was hoping for: that we could reopen the United States by Easter. That after so much suffering and lock-downs and being isolated from the world due to the Coronavirus, that we could, very soon, by Easter reopen our country. Here are three quotes from him that I read in my Newspaper this morning. He said,

I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full?

You’ll have packed churches all over our country.

It does seem a little early for that to happen. But President Trump seems confident that it could happen, at least in most of the country. And what I have been thinking is, why don’t we make it a prayer! As long as the President is thinking that way, why don’t we as Christians get behind him with our prayers. What have we got to lose?  Let’s make it a matter of prayer with faith—a prayer focus. Let’s pray every day until Easter that God would heal our land and open up our schools and churches and our work places and meeting places. Like the President has said, “It will be a great celebration on that day.” And all believers will give thanks to the Lord.