July 3, 2008

Pick Up Your Umbrella!

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s Truth

Matthew 21:21-22 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

 

Friend to Friend

We all have faith! We go to a doctor we hardly know. He hands us a prescription we cannot read. We take that prescription to a pharmacist we have never met. He gives us a medication we do not recognize or understand – and we take it...all in faith! Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go. An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth. Here’s the picture!

 

The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River. Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan, the Promised Land. However, there is a problem.

 

A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land and there is no way around it. To make things worse, it is flood season and the usual places to cross are covered with deep, rushing water. The Israelites knew God could stop the river right before their eyes or He could throw a bridge across it - but He doesn’t. Instead, He gives Joshua some strange orders.

 

·         First order

The people are to keep an eye on the Ark of the Covenant.

 

·         Second order

As soon as they see the priests carrying the Ark, they are to fall in behind them.

 

·         Third order

Joshua tells the people to expect amazing things to happen.

 

·         Fourth order

Joshua commands the priests to pick up the Ark and stand in the river.

 

God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn’t even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theatre. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem - the priests couldn’t swim! This was probably the first river they have ever been close to. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before.

 

 

I don’t imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step!

 

Joshua 3:15-17 During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge of the river and stepped into the water, the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. So the people crossed over. (NCV)

 

Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water! That first step was all God needed to see! Many times, we won’t take the first step because we’re afraid we won’t be able to make the whole journey.

 

Don’t wait until you believe it all!

Don’t wait until you can see it all!

Don’t wait until you understand it all!

 

Just step out in childlike faith, knowing that every step deposits faith into your spiritual account and strengthens your trust in God. Got doubts? Don’t we all? One way to weaken your doubts is by strengthening your faith in God. Some people say it doesn’t really matter where we place our faith, as long as our faith is real. I could not disagree more!

 

A United Press release told of a mid-western hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected. For 35 years, the medical staff and the patients had believed in this system, but it had never been attached to the city's water main. The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground -- and then stopped. The expensive equipment was adequate for the building but it lacked the most important thing -- water! Yes, their faith was real but it was dangerously misplaced! We can play the religious games, say the right words and do good things, but if we do not place our faith in God, we are on dangerous ground.

 

A small country town was in desperate need of rain. One Sunday morning, the pastor of the church called for a special prayer meeting that night. The people gathered and when the pastor stood to lead the prayer time, his words stunned the crowd. “Only one of you came in faith.” He looked down at the first row where a little girl sat - her umbrella in her hand. We can pray for rain, but we have faith when we pick up the umbrella!

 

Let’s pray

Father God, I seem to have so little faith so much of the time. The mountains before me seem so tall and the raging rivers seem so deep. Help me take that first, tiny step of faith – through my fear, through my doubts – and even if it seems illogical. I want to live by faith, not by sight, Lord. Please help my faith grow with each step I take.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

 

Now it’s Your Turn

How would you define faith?

How strong is your faith – on a scale of 1 to 10, using one as the weakest level.

 

Create an acrostic using the word “faith” to illustrate your thoughts on faith:

 

F _______________________________

A _______________________________

I _______________________________

T ________________________________

H ________________________________

 

More from the Girls

I was so encouraged when I first read the story of Joshua and the Israelites. Why? I can relate to their fear. I can also relate to the fact that when we take the first step of faith, God is right there. There have been many times when I had no idea what God was doing. In fact, there were times when I couldn’t tell He was doing anything at all. “Just one step, Mary”, He whispered. “Walk through your fear and trust me, daughter” He promised. God has always been faithful in my life. He will do the same in yours if you step out in faith. In fact, I have a CD, Stepping Out in Faith that will encourage you on your journey of faith. Check it out!

 

 

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