Posts Tagged ‘Faith in God’

Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another.” — John Clayton

I have always been intrigued by a particular snippet from a day in the life of the man called Jesus. Imagine him walking along the road on the outskirts of town when all at once ten lepers see him approaching. The lepers knew that it was unlawful for them to approach Jesus. From a distance, perhaps just across a thoroughfare or maybe a small field, they began to shout, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

A record of this event can be found in the Newer Testament book of Luke:

11-13 In the course of his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed the boundary between Samaria and Galilee, and as he was approaching a village, ten lepers met him. They kept their distance but shouted out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14-18 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.” And it happened that as they went on their way they were cured. One of their number, when he saw that he was cured, turned round and praised God at the top of his voice, and then fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan. And at this Jesus remarked, “Weren’t there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?”

19 And he said to the man, “Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)

Word was getting around that Jesus had the power to heal the sick. This Nazarene of no reputation was beginning to gain notoriety. Lepers posed an interesting conundrum. Under the law, they were not allowed to mingle within society. They were considered perpetually unclean and the good people of the community were forbidden to have any physical contact with them. Lepers lived banished lives, dwelling on the fringes of the social order. This is why Jesus never drew near to the lepers nor did he lay his hand upon them as he had so often done before when healing the sick.

Now here is what intrigues me: When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”  Why?  Because under the law, if a leper was healed of this accursed disease, he must “show himself” to a priest for confirmation of the cure and to obtain permission to mingle once again in society.  Any priest in town was qualified to verify the completeness of the restorationJesus very likely gave the lepers a reason to believe they would be healed. Nonetheless, this command which Jesus made before there was any visible indication of a cure was a deliberate test of their faith.  So off went the ten men with horrible contagion, and as they were walking along they began to notice their leprosy was disappearing.

One of the ten was a Samaritan. And, just in case you did not know, the Jews at that time hated the Samaritans. This is why Jesus made note of him. When this particular leper saw that he was cured, he freaked.   In his elation the once diseased Samaritan loudly screamed praises to God. But here’s what I really want you to get: filled with gratitude he turned around and “fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him.”

Where were the other nine? Just the one “stranger” (the Samaritan) returned to give thanks to the Almighty. This did not escape notice. Jesus said, “Weren’t there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?”

Imagine. An obvious miracle, a God of saving grace and power, but only one who stopped to give thanks with a grateful heart.  By the way, did you notice that Jesus credited the leper’s faith with his cure?  He said, “Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well.”  Hmm.

So, ten men took a walk for the cure but only one came back to say thanks. Leper number ten had the attitude of gratitude. If I were a gambling man, I’d wager he never forgot the man called Jesus who literally saved his life that day.

Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving. Turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Paul Harvey, the much beloved American radio broadcaster and writer, passed away in February of 2009. It is estimated that at one time his various programs reached 24 million people each week on over 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers. In a 1977 broadcast of his widely popular “The Rest of the Story, Paul Harvey shared this story,

“It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean…For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark…ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”

Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking…”Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

So, now you know that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker made it. And now you also know…that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy eye browed, and slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.”***

What does a grateful Samaritan leper, an old war hero who could never forget that God saved him through a seagull, and a grateful sinner like me, who was also once redeemed by God’s Amazing Grace, have in common?  The attitude of gratitude.

Maybe you have something to thank God for today. I hope you will take the time to tell him. He adores you no matter what, but he sure loves to hear those two powerful words – THANK YOU – fall from your lips.

Thanksgiving.  Celebrate it.  Pass it on….

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656

***Paul Aurandt, “The Old Man and the Gulls”, Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, p. 79-80.

“And you tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction… no, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction” – P.F. Sloan –

 Confidence in a Crisis

If you harbor dreams of a world filled with peace, harmony and goodwill toward men, your chances of finding such a Shangri-La here on spaceship earth are slim to none.  Sometimes it can appear like the whole planet is a combat zone. Is the world teetering on the eve of destruction? Let’s see, racial unrest, economic chaos, proliferating global terrorism, widespread natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, etc., and, well…, is it any wonder that many believe things are only going to get worse from here? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t look to the daily news for confidence building.

The ancient scriptures predict the eventual demise of mankind here on spaceship earth. We do not know exactly when that will happen. Even the Liberator Jesus on his visit to this planet said that he did not know the precise moment:  But about that actual day and time no one knows—not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, only the Father. (Matthew 24:36) There are a few clues scattered among the words of the prophets, but only the Ancient of Days (God, the father of all spirits) knows for sure. In the interim, we only have this one life to live, so let’s enjoy it as best we can and make the most of our time.

Have you ever considered that God may allow all of this bedlam for a reason? Through crisis, we often learn to have confidence in Him and not in human resourcefulness alone.  In the face of situations that seem hopeless, I find this quote from the Newer Testament scriptures to be a persuasive reminder:

18 “So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys… which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

On earth, we live a transitory life. The visible things happening all around us are only temporary. The invisible realm that exists beyond the laughter and tears of this momentary existence is everlasting. As a Christian, I am always learning to look beyond what I can touch and see. It is from within that eternal dimension – the dwelling place of our unseen Creator – that I draw my confidence and my strength every day.

Paul, knew this better than most.  A great leader of the early New Testament era, he traveled extensively sowing the seeds of “The Way” that would eventually be called Christianity.  His journeys traversing the ancient world are nothing short of extraordinary.  More than once he faced the possibility of imminent death.  In a letter to the Christian community at ancient Corinth (a city-state located about midway between Athens and Sparta), he wrote:

8-10 “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”  2 Corinthians 1:8-10 – New Living Translation –

Looking back on the difficulties that his missionary team faced, Paul concedes that at one point they all expected to die.  Out of options and overwhelmed by extreme anxiety, he told the Corinthian Christians “…we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God…”  Paul believed that the extreme adversity they endured served to demonstrate that our trust must always be in God.  “We have placed our confidence in him”, he said, “and he will continue to rescue us.”

In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it.” Dawna Markova

The Liberator Jesus – God within You

Think about this, the Divine Spirit (God) is both above all things and at the same time living within all things.  When the Liberator Jesus came to the earth, he was called Emanuel (which means God-with-us). God with us is now God within us. Paul told the ancient Galatian Christians,

20As far as religion is concerned; I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old “I”, but the living Christ within me. The bodily life I now live, I live believing in the Son of God, who loved me and sacrificed himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

The scriptures teach us that Jesus himself was the payment for the recovery of the human race – he swapped his life for our lives. Paul told the Galatians that he was vicariously put to death on that Roman cross “with Christ”. In theological terms, it is known as the substitutionary death. Every true believer (genuine Christian) goes through this same process. Our metaphorical death triggers an internal makeover (also known as being Born Again).  We then inherit the nature and the power of the Divine Spirit who comes to live within our human spirit.   Yea, I know, all of this can sounds pretty wild. But not too long ago, so did space travel.

Paul put it this way when he wrote to the Christians at ancient Colossae,

27For I am a minister of the Church by divine commission, a commission granted to me for your benefit and for a special purpose: that I might fully declare God’s word—that sacred mystery which up to now has been hidden in every age and every generation, but which is now as clear as daylight to those who love God. They are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendor of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Jesus Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.” Colossians 1:27 – J. B. Philips –

It’s no longer a secret: the Creator of the universe actually lives in us!  Thus, his indwelling Divine Spirit provides the confidence we need to move forward assertively in life. Sure, we will face some obstacles and threatening circumstances.  But, like Paul, we can boldly declare, “God will continue to rescue us”.  Our creator wants us to learn to operate in the faith that Jesus demonstrated when He visited this planet. If His Spirit and power are truly in us, His confidence is also in us. It all comes back to TRUST. Do YOU trust God?  In hopelessness, helplessness or extreme anxiety – absolute trust in the Almighty (God) is essential. As the creator and sustainer of the Universe, He is NOT worried about anything!

Faith without work is dead and work without Faith is dead. For those who aren’t familiar with Faith, it’s simply to have absolute confidence in God.” —Author Unknown

Confidence in God has Benefits

Confidence in God makes things possible.  It relieves us of worry and mental torment and it brings healing into our lives.  It enables us to move in the spiritual gifts, to hear the voice of God and to fulfill our calling. Confidence in God opens the door for all of His promises to be made clear and visible.  The benefits of confidence in the divine, supernatural, unseen Almighty One are incalculable.

But first, you must trust in the completed mission of Jesus for the cleansing of all your past failures. Through the substitutionary atonement, God legally exchanged your imperfect record for the perfect blamelessness of Jesus. It’s a gift you receive by placing your confidence in the one “who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 – J. B. Phillips)

The Creator of all things can and does speak to his creation in our day. You must learn to listen for His voice and to be obedient when He speaks to you.  Your confidence will grow as you see how God works in and through your life.

The next time you are overcome by worry, fear and doubt, try this; take a walk outside on a cloudless night and gaze at the splendor of the visible universe above.  Now, consider the wisdom, understanding and omnipotent power of the architect of it all. Could that magnificent and unequaled master builder possibly look after your every need? Could He work supernatural power in your life to fulfill the purposes He has given to you? Could He make you a conduit of the gifts and power of His Holy Spirit?

I believe that He can. Indeed, I do.

May we pray?

God, it is easy to feel overwhelmed living in this dangerous world of darkness. Sometimes we feel trapped. Helplessly hopeless. When we forget who really is in control, remind us to put our absolute trust in you. And if we should have to face the gales of life head on, we are confident that you will either calm the storm or calm your child – but you will always be there to rescue us. In the name of the Liberator Jesus we pray. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656

 

We are what we believe we are.” C.S Lewis

 William James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century. He was an American philosopher, psychologist and trained physician.

Born in New York City on January 11, 1842, James was the oldest of five children. His father was a Swedenborg theologian and his brother, Henry James Jr., became a prominent fiction novelist.

A prolific author himself, William James gained widespread recognition for writing The Principles of Psychology (1890), a two volume work of over twelve hundred pages. It took more than 10 years to complete and it was considered a seminal work on the subject.  He is often called the “Father of American psychology”.

James became more interested in philosophical issues as his life progressed. He seemed to fluctuate between a scientific approach to the study of faith and the belief that religious experience encompasses the supernatural domain, making it accessible to the individual human spirit but somehow inaccessible to science.

Honestly, I resonate with very little of his philosophical leanings. But I did make note of one particular William James quote, “The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

In other words, we are what we believe!

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing is what makes it happen.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Some practitioners of modern Psychology are beginning to embrace the understanding that what we believe determines who we become. This construct is nothing new, of course. In fact, there is no such thing as “new” if you believe the words of the ancient book of Ecclesiastes which says,

9-11 History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

Since the book of Ecclesiastes is a part of Scripture, and I count myself among the multiplied millions who believe the Bible to contain the truth, I agree with what the writer said. History merely repeats itself.

Now to the point: prophets, priests and assorted writers of scripture have all pointed to this timeless truth – we are what we believe – long before it dawned on modern psychology that there just might be something to it. Consider this quote from the ancient biblical book of Proverbs:

“As a man thinks in his heart – so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7)

This providential truism was penned nearly 3 millennia ago. It affirms that our life is a manifestation of what we believe. (i.e. –REALLY believe – not random thoughts, fleeting emotional confusion or nightmares brought on by eating peperoni and anchovy pizza before going to bed).

If this is true – we are what we believe – I am in effect everything that I have consistently believed that I am. But why?

Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right” Henry Ford

The human spirit expresses itself through words. Whatever is inside of you – your core beliefs – will come out in the things you say. Our speech patterns reflect our belief patterns. In one of His great discourses, Jesus put it this way in the New Testament,

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:37).

Simply put, malevolent people speak malevolent words. Happy people speak happy words. Sad people speak sad words. Victorious people speak words of victory.

Now consider this, if you believe that you are a loser, your speech will reflect it. You will consistently reinforce through your words, I am a failure. And fail you will.

Some of you may be wondering, “are words really that important?” Yes, they are. Again, turning to the teaching of Jesus, listen carefully to what he said about inner belief and the power of your words:

“Have faith in God,” replied Jesus to them. “I tell you that if anyone should say to this hill, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, and without any doubt in his heart believes that what he says will happen, then it will happen! That is why I tell you, whatever you pray about and ask for, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-25

Jesus begins by telling his followers to trust in God. He then delivers the crux of his illustrative teaching; when you speak what you believe in your heart with absolute doubtless conviction, those things that you SAY will happen. We are what we believe because we speak what we believe. Over time, what we say is what we get. Get it?

Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks”. – Davy Crockett

Inner convictions (what we believe) train our lips. Trained lips shape our lives. Quoting from the Book of Proverbs once again,

“The heart of the wise teaches his mouth”. (Proverbs 16:23)

I am what I believe because I keep speaking what I believe over and over and over again. Eventually it manifests as my life. And, of course, I act accordingly.

When your heart is right with God and you fill your spirit with the truth, your spirit will teach your lips and your words will change your world.

Now some may misunderstand my purpose in this discourse. So let me be perfectly clear; you cannot go around speaking whatever your little heart desires and expect every selfish craving to materialize. God is not a genie or your personal leprechaun. I fully believe what the Psalmist wrote,

4”Be happy in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

But I also believe in the tempering Wisdom of Solomon,

Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 Amp)

When my thoughts are in agreement with God’s will for my life, I will be filled with His truth and I will speak in line with His purpose. As a result, I expect my plans to succeed.

Guard Your Heart

Once we understand how important our spirit is to human development, we must learn to guard what we let into our heart. Turning one last time to the book of Proverbs, listen carefully to this admonition,

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Wow. Our spirit charts the course of life. Every word we speak with conviction – over time –molds and shapes our existence. FAITH is born in our spirit. FAITH (trust, reliance, conviction, assurance, confidence, belief), is released with every word that we speak. Faith filled words can move mountains. Not by magic. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not a positive mental attitude. It’s THE SPIRIT OVER MATTER THRU WORDS. Or as Jesus explained it: Whosoever says… and does not doubt… but absolutely believes what he says… will have what he says.

We are what we believe we are… 14“May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

Time, like water, is fluid.  Today it seems to stand still.  I’m sitting at the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs enjoying lunch and watching a sentinel pelican preening on the piling.  It’s another idyllic moment here in Florida. And then a startling blast from a truck horn breaks the spell.  In the midst of what some would consider to be a paradise, my mind flashes with the thought: we’re living in really dangerous times.

Tarpon Springs 1Now before you break out in a chorus of “Golly, Ya think…” hear me out.  I have never tried to hide the fact that my faith in the Creator of all things (God) shapes my world view.  When the headline news starts to sound like excerpts from the biblical books of Ezekiel, Daniel or Revelation, I can’t help but take notice.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy named Paul the Apostle.  He was born Saul around 1 AD in Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor.  His letters account for almost half the written content of the New Testament (13 books) and they are the major source of Christian theology.  Paul was a zealous Jew who came to realize that Jesus was the long awaited Liberator of mankind (The Messiah).  He had a close friend named Timothy.  Let me tell you a little about him.

Timothy also lived in the first century AD.  He became Paul’s student, and later his trusted companion, co-worker and fellow traveler. Timothy’s name appears as the co-author of the New Testament letters known as, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.  It is believed that in the year 64 AD, Paul left Timothy at the ancient city of Ephesus, to govern a local church as its Pastor. In a letter to Timothy, Paul wrote these cautionary words,

1-5Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 MSG)

Paul does not mince words in describing how mankind (void of God’s grace) would continue down the path of degradation.  The way he defines the characteristics of human beings (especially as we draw close to the end of the world as we know it) is unnerving.  I particularly like that descriptor “allergic to God”.  I don’t know what makes some people more irritable, a nasty allergy season or bringing up God in a conversation.  Like it or not, Paul nailed it.  We are living in the predicted “difficult times”.  Religion to some is little more than appearance.  It’s amazing how many people assume the form of pious belief when it suits their purposes but their lifestyle nullifies its validity.

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” ― C.S. Lewis

How many characteristics from that list could have described you at one time or another?  Thank God for His grace!  Without divine favor we too would be the people that Paul warned Timothy to avoid. (I suppose that would make us the people our parents warned us about.)  Seriously, even though we still behave badly on occasion, a true Christian is being transformed into the image of Jesus a little more each day by the power that is at work within us.

Times are getting worse

 10-13You’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings—suffering along with me in all the grief I had to put up with in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. And you also well know that God rescued me! Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it. Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 MSG)

Paul was always down for the fight.  He epitomizes the real deal.  This unassuming follower of Jesus understood what it truly means to live a life that respects and honors the Creator of all things (GOD).  He also knew how easy it is to deceive people who are naive (sadly, many Christians, it seems) and who are openly searching for meaning in life.  Paul warns of the fraudulent “con men” for a reason. They gain your confidence and then exploit your trust.  Can anyone say “Pray cloths for sale?”  Their misrepresentation of God helps to worsen the public perception of the Christian faith. Don’t let that discourage you.  Listen again to what Paul went on to tell Timothy,

 14-17…Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 MSG)

Wow.  Through the (written) Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  The Truth (which is another term for God and His Word) defines who really has it together.  If we are (as the scriptures declare) but lumps of clay on the potter’s wheel; God is the Master Potter and He is shaping our earthen vessels for a specific purpose.

Never regret a day in your life. Good days give you happiness and bad days give you experience. Both are essential. ― Anonymous

The world will continue to grow more and more dangerous.  People will go right on rejecting the creator of all things (GOD).  In fact, God will facilitate their ultimate delusional state.  Say what?  Absolutely.  Here is what the scriptures have to say on that subject,

5-12 I expect you remember now how I talked about this when I was with you. You will probably also remember how I used to talk about a “restraining power” which would operate until the time should come for the emergence of this evil man (anti-christ). Evil is already insidiously at work but its activities are restricted until what I have called the “restraining power” (of God) is removed. When that happens the lawless man will be plainly seen—though the truth of the Lord Jesus spells his doom, and the radiance of the coming of the Lord Jesus will be his utter destruction. The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow.  (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – J.B. PHILLIPS)

The Lawless Man?  Evil Spirits?  Falsified signs and wonders?  Deluded by evil?  Yes, and a whole lot more.  It’s going to get really bad here on planet earth.  But we’ll save that discussion for another day.

For you are with a better captain, you are with a true sailor, a true leader; You are sailing with Christ, and He is always sure to lead us home. T.B. LaBerge

You can be spared the wrath that is to come.  You can live now and in eternity with the true champion of Truth and Justice.  His name is Jesus and as I have told you before, He is the doorway through which we enter and the road upon which we find our way back home.  Follow Jesus and you’re on the path that will lead you to genuine life here on earth and, after death, eternity with the Creator of all things. (GOD).  Follow the ways of this present darkness and, well, you’re lost, delusional and on your own. Your call.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)

The story of Adam and Eve is meant to help people grasp the dilemma of humanity. In Adam, the whole future of the human race is personified. He was placed upon the earth by God, provided with a soul-mate to complete him and instructed as to what they could and could not do. Eventually, Adam listened to the wrong voice, overlooked the rules and violated the will of God. In the parlance of Christianity, this singular act of disobedience is often referred to as “Original Sin”.

13”Yes, people sinned even before the law was given (to Moses). But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did…” (Romans 5:13-14)

From the incident at Eden with Adam & Eve to the rise of the prophet Moses was about 2500 years. But, from the moment Adam knowingly transgressed, there were consequences. The whole dynamic of the earth and the human relationship with God – the architect of humanity – was now in disorder. It was not until the time of Moses that God communicated the magnitude of the disruption.

19”Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.” (Galatians 3:19)

The disobedience of Adam brought “Death” to the human race. It is helpful to think of this death as separation from God rather than cessation of life. Physical death is just one byproduct of this disconnect from the giver of life.  Every human being born on this earth inherits the consequence of Adam’s breaking the rules. We are all born in “sin” (death).   Eternity is where we belong, but time is where we are marooned. The human dilemma (death) is a huge abyss separating us from God. The only remedy is a rescue mission.

But who can do this for us?

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.”  ― Criss Jami, Killosophy
The Real Superhero

14”…Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. (Romans 5:14-16)

Ironically, Adam, the one who got us into this mess, also points ahead to the One who will set the captives free. When Adam transgressed, God declared that the Seed of the woman (a child) would one day come to the earth as the Liberator of humanity. The long awaited and greatly anticipated “rescue mission” commenced with the birth of the God/man fusion called Jesus. He arrived on the earth without pomp or circumstance about 4000 years after the blunder of Adam.

“And she (Mary) will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus is a visitation by the creator to this planet embodied in human form. The purpose of His visit: to seek and to salvage a lost civilization (mankind).   He came here to save us from the human dilemma (death). Jesus is also called Emanuel which means God is with us.

  • He is fully God and fully human thus he is a relative to us all
  • He is our Redeemer, and our Liberator
  • He is the Entry Door and the Pathway to eternity
  • He came from infinite time to live briefly in finite time
  • He is the Light being that stepped into the darkness of the earth

Our congenital Sin nature is what keeps us at odds with the great designer. That breach needed a link. Jesus became that connection. He is the doorway through which we find the road. He is also the road upon which we bridge the great abyss. Follow Jesus and you’re on the path that will lead you to a genuine life here on earth and an eternity with the Almighty.

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” ― Francis Chan

If this information is not new to you, I offer a word of caution; knowing that as a true Christian you are no longer estranged from God is not a free pass to live recklessly. In a broken and dysfunctional world system we still can (and do) behave in ways that are displeasing to God. We sometimes refer to these inappropriate behaviors collectively as “sins”. We need to apologize to our Maker and ask His forgiveness for our indiscretions as we become aware of them. Especially our secret sins like…

  • worry
  • unrighteous anger
  • gossip
  • addictions
  • lust
  • impurity
  • envy
  • etc., etc., etc.
Remember:
  • Sin is born through our thoughts and intentions (James 1:14–15)
  • Sin is intrinsic – wickedness is in our nature (Romans 7:14–25)
  • The Sin Nature was inherited from our ancestor Adam who was the first of our kind to go against our maker. (Genesis 3)
  • Sin brought separation from God—both physical and spiritual—to humanity (Genesis 2:17)
  • Sin merits an (eternal) death penalty before a holy and righteous God
  • Sin cannot be overcome on our own no matter how desperately we try to do what is right.

Jesus is our Superhero because He alone can give us freedom from our depravity and a pardon from our well-deserved condemnation. As Divinity in the form of man, the Liberator Jesus came into this world to both buy us back (redeem) and to set us free (save). Like an attorney in a court of law, Jesus is our advocate. He has obtained for us an eternal acquittal.

“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do.  He is himself the way.”Karl Barth

Still wondering why you need a Liberator? Because, we are all reprobates and we cannot meet the standards of a holy and righteous God without His involvement. Resistance is ill-advised. Behold Jesus – the chosen one. He is our Liberator; a genuine Superhero. Death could not handle Him. The Grave could not hold him. We cannot know genuine life without Him.

The good news – He’s waiting to walk you home.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“My life really sucks”

I hear that a lot from people that I meet. Many seem to live with endless drama and uncertainty; hanging onto emotional and spiritual sanity by a thread. Some complain about being trapped in the status quo. Others are exhausted, anxious, and feel like they are running out of options. They often feel helpless, with little control over their state of affairs.

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever wondered if it was time to throw in the towel?

Let’s talk.

When you reach the end of your rope, you just may find the hem of HIS garment. Author Unknown

So you’ve reached the end of the rope and you’re slipping fast. Some would tell you to hold on to that rope for dear life. Re-claim control of your circumstances. Not me. Here’s my suggestion. Let go of the rope.

The burden of life’s uncertainties were never yours to carry. I’m not saying that letting go of the rope won’t hurt. Some things in your life may even get worse. But once you let go of the worry and give up the struggle to control everything, God can take over.

Check out this verse from the Bible,

6-7”So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 Phillips)

Isn’t that awesome?  God is always watching everything that concerns you. He will grip you in His strong hand and hold on to you as long as it takes. The French say, La vie est dure mais Dieu es bon si bon. In English it translates, Life is hard but God is good, so good.

But God is more than good. If you will trust Him, in time, He will lift you out from under the mess you’ve made (or the one you got sucked into). In the interim, you will learn all about endurance.

Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance. – Virgil

Endurance is the capacity to withstand hardship or stress. In the New Testament letter written to the Hebrew Christians, the writer encouraged them by saying,

35-38”Don’t throw away your trust now—it carries with it a rich reward in the world to come. Patient endurance is what you need if, after doing God’s will, you are to receive what he has promised. ‘For yet a little while, and he who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him’.” (Hebrews 10:35-38 Phillips)

When you remain determined in the face of a struggle and trust God to deliver you from your current miseries – that too is endurance. As a Christian, I have learned that no matter what I face in this life, I can confidently wait with patient endurance for God to act. He can do the impossible. I cannot.  

20”God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 The Message)

Stressed out people have generally allowed inward or outward pressures to consume them. For some, constant anxiety is a way of life. But the Scriptures admonish us to have a single mind; an undivided resolve. We are to press in and learn God’s unique purpose for our lives. And when troubles come, God wants us to welcome the challenge as an opportunity to test our trust in Him. The New Testament writer James put it this way,

2”…is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience (endurance) has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience (endurance) is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.(James 1:2-4 TLB)

It always comes back to this: Who do you trust? Yourself? The doctrines of the cultural, social, and political elite? Or is your trust in God and His word? Where you place your faith is critical. When you really learn to trust in the Lord, you can let go of your rope and with confidence enter life’s endurance run.

The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials.  – George Muller

1-3”Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message)

Get it? Life is an endurance race. The joy of knowing that you will come out a winner in the end should motivate you to endure every test and trial. No, it isn’t easy – nothing of any real value ever is. One day we will all pass through the veil of death. It is then we will cross that great and glorious finish line into eternal rest. But first, this earth will enter a time of great sorrow and extreme tribulation. So expect bad days, but remember, Jesus made a promise to everyone who endures the trying times,

10“Because you have kept my command to persevere (endure), I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)

Do not grow weary in the struggle. Learn to find your rest in the God. Stay focused on the truth that Jesus shared. And always run with patient endurance the race that lies before you. One day, you will reap the harvest of God’s faithfulness – if you do not quit!

Just hang in there baby!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ― Robert Frost

Traveling on unfamiliar roads can provide many opportunities to enjoy some new sights, sounds, and experiences. However, aimless wandering is not the best approach when you have a specific destination in mind. Especially if you’re running late. There’s nothing more frustrating when I travel than getting lost, or worse, not knowing where I am going.

What about you? Do you know where you’re going in life? How about after you die? Your destiny is not a twist of fate. You have choices to make –especially regarding your spiritual life. Let’s talk.

“It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.” Jean Nidetch

Whenever I hear the cacophony of opinion regarding “pathways” to God, I think about these words spoken by Jesus,

13 There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. 14 Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it. – Matthew 7:13-14 – The Voice

Is that so hard to understand? There are two paths before you. But, you only get to travel on one. Your choice. Every human being will determine their ultimate (eternal) destiny by the singular and specific spiritual path they choose to follow. And remember, a failure to make a choice is a choice.

Jesus spoke of two entrance points. One door is very large and by implication much easier to see and perhaps even more appealing. There is also a narrow door, not as conspicuous and doubtless less alluring.

In describing the wide door, Jesus said, the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it.

Hey, that sounds cool to me. A big attractive door that opens up to reveal a substantial road that is accommodating, easy to travel and filled with all kinds of people – I’m down for that!

But… that is not the door He tells us to choose. Jesus said we’re to go through the narrow door. And, it was not a suggestion.

Of course there are reasons why Jesus said to choose the narrow door. First, the big attractive door that opens up to reveal a road that is very large, accommodating, filled with the “in crowd” and easy to travel – leads to death. Ok, it’s the road to hell. You have heard it said “the road to hell is paved with good intention?” I say that it is paved with ignorance and deception and foolishness. The big door and the big road are a BIG mistake!

Why? Because the narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to a real life. Jesus said, go through the narrow door. That’s the right choice.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Joanne Kathleen Rowling

Still cynical? You won’t find critical answers to life’s most important questions on the emblematic superhighways where the in crowd hangs out. For that matter, the numerous paths to spirituality or inner peace peddled in the vast marketplace of subjective religious conviction won’t cut it either.

Conversely, that narrow and often obscure little door that opens to reveal a constricted and undeniably difficult road is the only one that leads to real life – now and in eternity. That doorway and that road is the only way to the one true God.

Some would take issue with me for saying that there is a singular and specific path to the one true God. Pack me off to diversity training camp they would. How could I be so narrow minded? It’s simple really. I am a Christian. The author of my faith made the statements I have quoted. If I take issue with a portion of His word, why believe it at all. Jesus either spoke the absolute truth or He is a liar and Christianity is a charade. Truth is never subjective.

I am not a hypocrite. If Jesus said it then I believe it. End of story. It’s not up for debate. Like it or not, the Christian Faith is anchored to this fundamental truth: If you really want to find God, Jesus Christ is the door through which you gain access to the road that leads to an eternity with Him.

…“For sure, I tell you, I am the Door of the sheep. All others who came ahead of Me are men who steal and rob. The sheep did not obey them. I am the Door. Anyone who goes in through Me will be saved from the punishment of sin. He will go in and out and find food. 10 The robber comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I came so they might have life, a great full life. (John 10:7-10)

Not to put too fine a point on this but again, according to Jesus, He is the only door through which you gain access to God now and forever. Think of it like this, God’s way on God’s terms = God’s Life. You don’t get to pick your own version of the Truth.

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ― Led Zeppelin

Not sure which path you’re on? No worries. You can change. Consider yourself fortunate. Jesus said, it is hard to find that narrow road and not many people manage to do it. But right now, there’s a fork in the road you are on. You can keep drifting along the wide, broad, easy, crowded path that leads to destruction, or make a change by passing through that little gate to the right and follow the road less traveled.

One more thing. Jesus also said,

6-7 “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father (God) apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father (God) as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!” (John 14:6 – The Message)

Truth and Life are yours when you get to know Jesus. See Him and you get a glimpse of God. Jesus is the door, the road, the truth and the genuine life. Can’t think of anything else we need on this journey. Bon Voyage!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

Each day is a step we make towards eternity and we shall continue thus to step from day to day until we take the last step, which will bring us into the presence of God.

– Catherine McAuley

Eternity is frequently defined as duration without beginning or end. Some call this infinite time. On Earth, our time is finite. We measure our brief appearance on this planet in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc. When we pass away, our measured time comes to a close. However, we do not cease to exist. Only the body dies. Our life-force (the spirit that animates the flesh; aka the soul) will continue to live on in infinite time. But have you considered that simply living forever and having an eternal life are not the same? Let’s talk.

In truth, we are living in eternity at this very moment. That’s right. Forever is forever. No beginning and no end. So it stands to reason that time without end – was, is and always shall be. The reason we do not view our lives from a never-ending perspective is simple enough; our finite time-based existence on earth obscures our awareness of the vast eternal.

Christians understand the significance of the term eternal life because it was defined for us by Jesus. He was sent to earth by God with a specific mission – to seek and to salvage lost human beings (Luke 19:10) and to give them everlasting life (John 17:1-5). When His time on the earth was drawing to a close, He told his friends and followers,

28 “I came from the Father and have come into this world. I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28)

And then, raising his eyes toward the heavens, he said,

1 …“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of your Son so that he can give the glory back to you. For you have given him authority over every man and woman in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—by knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth! I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to. 5And now, Father, reveal my glory as I stand in your presence, the glory we shared before the world began.” (John 17:1-5)

Jesus makes some extraordinary claims. For one, He asserts that His authority comes directly from Almighty God and it extends over every man and woman in all the earth. Jesus also declares that He can grant everlasting life to everyone whom God has given to Him. But nestled in the narrative is the most significant declaration. According to Jesus, the definition of eternal life is:

  • To know the one and only true God
  • To know Jesus as the Christ (anointed one) sent by God

Know God + Know Jesus = Eternal Life. It’s not about picking the right church or getting religion. Our relationship with God through Jesus (the one whom God sent to free us) is how we receive His eternal life for all eternity.

By the way, the only other eternal existence spoken of in the scriptures is the one that provides never-ending payback for those who reject God. (Matthew 25:46). Hmm.

We ought to get out of the judging business. We should leave it up to God to determine who belongs in one arena or another when it comes to eternity. What we are obligated to do is to tell people about Jesus, and that’s what I do.

– Tony Campolo

 So, Jesus left the planet to return to God. But the Spirit of God remains present in all the earth. And eternal life is still being imparted to everyone who places their trust in the one true God and the liberator Jesus Christ.

One day, when our finite time is up and the eternal becomes instantly visible to us, we will see Jesus again. For now, He is only discernible to the eye of faith. Do you have faith?

Faith sees beyond the moment

The nature of mankind is to trust only what can be observed and verified. Think of it as the “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach to living. Consequently, the faithless masses stumble through their days trying to make sense out of this quagmire called “life”.

In contrast, faith empowers the believer to live by trusting without seeing. Faith is the eye of the soul. By faith we can grasp what is not yet revealed to our physical senses. Faith is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it just yet.

Jesus makes God’s greatest and most precious promises available to those who put their trust in Him. It is now possible to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust (in all of its forms) is rapidly producing in the world. And, because of Jesus, believers now share in God’s essential nature. We accept as true and receive all these things by believing, not by seeing.

The New Testament writer Paul said it this way.

“We walk (live our life) by faith (absolute trust in the unseen eternal God) and not by sight (things that are seen and experienced)”. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Take a good look around. All that you see with your eyes and believe to be important in the physical world will cease to exist in the future. And yet, so many are preoccupied with the material world and filled with anxiety because of what they see and experience every day. This world is full of troubles. Paul wrote to the Christians living in ancient Corinth and told them,

18“…we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)

We all experience difficulties. But when we turn to God for help, He allows us to see beyond our temporary distresses, into His domain – the invisible realm of eternity. From that unseen dimension we find His help in our darkest hours.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Jesus plans to return to our planet. We don’t know when. It could be at any time. We only know for sure that He is coming. He said so. And when he does, we’re taking an awesome trip beyond the stars. Read about it and rejoice!

1“Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in me also. There are many rooms in My Father’s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with me. Then you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know how to get there.”

Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way to get there?” Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me. If you had known me; you would know My Father also. From now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-7 NLT)

You’re invited to join us on this fantastic voyage. Just get to know Jesus. He is the way. His truth will set you free. And his eternal life, now that’s really cool.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch in mixed company when someone asked, “What is your candid opinion of our current president.” I paused for a moment and then replied, “He is smart and very persuasive, but he is also a fool”. Reaction was swift. “Don’t you think that is rather harsh? How disrespectful. You must be tea party or a right wing conservative republican.” Honestly, my response to the question was not politically motivated. Observant scrutiny over an extended period of time has shaped my view. The President and for that matter many of the political and social elite of our day behave foolishly. I did try to clarify my position. But when things went from bad to worse, I politely changed the subject.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato

Let me explain. I read the Bible. In its pages I have discovered many things. I encountered the real Jesus by reading the scriptures (not the one so often presented by structured religion). He is a remarkable teacher. Through Him, I found the path to a genuine life – now and forever. Over many years of study, I also came to understand the true meaning of the word fool.

In the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, the prophet laments over the condition of his people and the great nation that he loved. Through tears he said,

19”My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries. 20 Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed. 21 How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war? (Jeremiah 4:19-21 TLB)

Jeremiah recognized the negative spiritual and social changes of his day and the destructive consequences those changes were bringing down upon the land. And so he asks of God,

21”How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?”

The Lord gives no direct answer to his question. Instead God states the cause of Judah’s calamity,

22 “My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the Lord. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” (Jeremiah 4:22 – TLB)

The people of Jeremiah’s times had effectively become deniers of the one true God. They had sown wind and now they were reaping the whirlwind. But here’s the troubling part, this rejection of God and His ways is happening in our time too – right now – all over the world. If you don’t believe me, just look with discernment at modern politics, entertainment and popular culture. They are swarming with fools who do not know God. And even those who profess to “believe in God” often act like “stupid children who have no understanding. …no idea how to do right!”

31”It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:31

Decades of ignoring God has accelerated our societal downward spiral. As human acts of wickedness, deception and defiance accumulate, the truth is hidden or distorted. Even so, whenever sincere men and women open their eyes and look around, they can find God. There is this God imprint on every human soul and each atom of creation reflects His reality. Hence, no human being has a legitimate excuse for denying God. The New Testament Apostolic writer Paul expressed it this way,

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push the truth away from themselves. 19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day. 21 Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. (Romans 1:18-22 – TLB)

Foolish minds filled with darkness? Men and women who think up silly ideas of what God is like and what he wants them to do? Yes, that is what Paul said. “Claiming to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead.” No wonder the Psalmist declared,

53 Only a fool would say to himself, “There is no God.” And why does he say it? Because of his wicked heart, his dark and evil deeds. His life is corroded with sin.” (Psalm 53:1 – TLB)

You’ll find these fools among politicians, universities professors, Hollywood superstars, even friends and family. Because of a conscience corroded by sin, they cannot separate right from wrong. Some may feign Spirituality, and even speak of God with platitudes, but their foolish hearts are far from Him. Consequently, by their actions they proclaim “I do not know God”. Thus, they are fools. I was once that kind of fool. But God, in His amazing Grace, opened my foolish eyes and let me see the wretched man that I am without Him. And even though I still may act foolishly on occasion, I am not a fool. I know God. I know the liberator Jesus Christ. I know that His absolute truth trumps all of the wisdom of mankind. Of course, it’s your right to disagree with me. Call me crazy if it will make you feel any better. Laugh in my face. But, I will not argue the point any further with you. Why? For the same reason I politely changed the subject in the restaurant that day:

4”Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” (Proverbs 26:4 – MSG)

I rest my case.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“So take care how you listen—more will be given to the man who has something already, but the man who has nothing will lose even what he thinks he has.” – Jesus –

They call them Buzzwords. Trendy phrases that have come into vogue in popular culture. We hear them every day. Among the many I frequently encounter are: Believe! Have Faith! Keep the Faith! And of course the nebulous, Believe God!

In a world where people will believe (and repeat) just about anything, few seem to know exactly why they accept something as the truth and even fewer can pinpoint who decided it was truth to begin with. For many, if it sounds good than it must be true. Modern belief, it seems, has become just another cheap commodity.

Where does that leave the teachings of Jesus Christ? After all, He said, “Only believe” (Mark 5:36), and “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)  If we claim to believe in God then we should have a proper understanding of what it is to have faith (trust) in Him. Otherwise, we just might be speaking buzzwords too.

Here is a portion from the New Testament letter called Hebrews,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Heb.11:1 & 3 – KKJV).

FAITH is SUBSTANCE

By definition, the word translated FAITH In Hebrews 11:1 could also have been rendered trust, firm persuasion, belief, confidence or conviction. This helps us to grasp the significance of the proclamation – I believe.

However, there is something infinitely more important than grasping a simple explanation of the word faith itself. With reference to our absolute trust (faith) in God, the writer of Hebrews declares two very significant facts. First he says that faith is the substance of things that we hope for. Secondly he says that faith is the evidence of things we do not yet see.

The word Substance literally means “to under-gird and support”. Faith stands under and supports our hopes and validates our dreams. Faith assures us that we are never hopeless. If we are strong in Faith we will be confident in hope. But weak Faith results in uncertainty. Our hope is only as secure as our faith is strong.

FAITH is EVIDENCE

Faith is also the evidence of the things that are not yet visible; the proof that our hopes and dreams will one day appear. When we put our absolute trust in God, our faith persuades us that every promise He has made will be fulfilled. As a Christian, our Faith is neither an emotional response nor a vision-less acceptance of the unknown (aka: The Blind Leap). Our trust in God is based on the integrity of His word and every assurance He has made. Of course, if you don’t read His book then you are ignorant as to the exceeding great and precious promises that it contains.

Some months ago, I reserved a room at a vacation resort. They sent me a confirmation letter promising that I would be thrilled with all that awaits me there. Until I actually arrive at my destination, I have to trust their word. The New Testament is God’s confirmation letter. It guarantees that you will be thrilled with all He has promises to you. It’s never too late to start reading it.

FAITH is NEVER BLIND

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God. The man who approaches Him must have faith in two things, first that He exists and secondly that it is worth a man’s while to try to find God.” (Hebrews 11:6 – Phillips)

God always responds to our faith. But unbelief (a lack of trust) does not please Him. The author of Hebrews stresses that if we desire to approach God we must believe these two facts:

  • God is real – Therefore, we “believe that He exists.”
  • God will reward our effort – Therefore, it is worth a man’s while to try to find God “

When you are convinced that God is, you will accept His word without question. When you put your trust in the God who is, you will obey Him without reservations. This is a far cry from Blind Faith.

Our faith may not be blind but it does operates in the realm of the unseen. As the New Testament writer of the letter to the Hebrews put it,

“It is only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible. (Heb. 11:3).

The New Testament writer Paul said it this way,

5-8“Now the power that has planned this experience for us is God, and he has given us his Spirit as a guarantee of its truth. This makes us confident, whatever happens. We realize that being “at home” in the body means that to some extent we are “away” from the Lord, for we have to live by trusting him without seeing him. We are so sure of this that we would really rather be “away” from the body (in death) and be “at home” with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Phillips)

Trusting without seeing? Is faith irrational? No more irrational than believing men visited the Moon.

Think about it. We accept as true that astronauts have walked upon the surface of the moon. But, we can neither duplicate that experience for ourselves nor empirically prove that the event actually took place. We simply believe that the lunar landings happened based upon the evidence presented to us by the eyewitness of others. There are many things in life that we cannot know through direct experience (like our past human history), but they are nonetheless accepted as true.

The evidence that supports the Christian faith is found in the Bible. It too is based upon the proof presented to us by the eyewitness of others. But, the God inspired origin of scripture makes it infinitely more trustworthy than the words of secular historians.

FAITH: The Journey of a Lifetime.

Biblical faith always begins with the saving grace of God; the redemption of the Human spirit through the atonement of Jesus Christ our liberator and mediator. This is how we initiate our great journey of faith. Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians living in Rome,

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Gentile. I see in it God’s plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: ‘the just shall live by faith’. (Romans 1:16-17 – Phillips)

FAITH gives essential support and provides a comprehensive foundation for every hope and every dream in our lives. It is what persuades us to put our absolute trust in an unseen God. Faith is our title deed to every promise made to us by God. Above all, Faith is meant to be the guiding force in our lives.

From the moment we take that first step of faith and put our trust in God thru a lifetime of faith adventures that culminate on the day when we depart this world to enter a new life — every step taken in obedience to God is a step we take by faith. Likewise. But, every step taken in doubt of or disobedience to God is no less than the rebellion of unbelief.

It isn’t easy, this life of faith. There will be dark nights of the soul; minutes that turn into desperate hours. Never forget these words from the New Testament letter to the Hebrew Christians,

23“In this confidence let us hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation—for God is utterly dependable— 24and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. 25And let us not hold aloof from (skip) our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 – Phillips)

Hey, you really can believe that too!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD, is an author, broadcaster, popular Bible teacher,
and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.