Friday, March 6, 2015

The Chair, The Cross, and This Thing called Faith

On March 26, 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago Cubs first baseman Derek Lee had been injured during a pregame meal when the chair he was sitting in gave way, causing him to fall to the floor. "He was eating before the game and the chair just collapsed on him," manager Lou Piniella said, Derek Lee would only miss a couple games; however, I can assure you that Mr. Lee will be much more careful when choosing which chair he will be sitting on in the future, why? because his faith in that chair has ben crippled. Because of this encounter with this particular chair, Derek Lee’s faith has forever been altered, so let’s talk about faith and the chair.

Faith, what is it? Well according to the Bible, it's the substance of things hoped for with the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) So, what does this mean, and why is it so important? Well, to answer the first part of the question, we must simply examine the average wooden chair. The everyday wooden chair that one would find at their grandmother’s house or at the local restaurant, has four wooden legs, a seat and a back. Generally speaking, you and I both will walk right into a room and plop ourselves right down onto that chair without giving it a second thought, and why is this? It is because we have trained ourselves to believe that the chair will hold us up without falling no matter how much we weigh or how many times someone has set down in that particular chair. Although there is nothing that can physically confirm our belief that the chair will hold up our weight, we simply believe, and that my friend is Faith, the belief that something you do not know or something that you cannot prove is indeed the truth. Because over a period of time, we have witnessed the fact that the chair in question, or one of similar design, has held our weight before, time and time again in fact, we choose to believe; thereby, exhibiting faith. Now, let’s talk about this thing called faith.

The Bible tells us in the third chapter of St. John that God our Heavenly Father had sent Jesus Christ to this earth two thousand years ago, not to condemn us, but to save us from the sin filled world in which we live. This sin filled world has an uncanny attraction that can’t be understood, nor can it seemingly be resisted; although we know the wages of sin is death, and we know that by all accounts that the sin of this world will destroy us, we just cannot seem to let it go. The prince of this world is indeed strong, and his plan to destroy mankind appears to be operating as a well-oiled machine; however, God has another plan for you and I, a plan to restore us, redeem us, reinvigorate us, and give to us the great gift of salvation. Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, came into this world, that according to the book of John chapter one was not created without Him, to give to us the freely given gifts of liberty, freedom, salvation, and everlasting life, but how? how do we attain these freely given gifts? Well, it is actually fairly easy, we simply believe. (John 3:15-17) Although this may sound complicated, it is really a very simple thing to understand, if we have Faith, and if we Believe that Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of God the Father, we shall receive these freely given gifts; most noticeably, the gift known as Everlasting Life. These gifts are freely given, and not anything we can earn by our own hand, as they are purely provided to us through God’s Grace, Mercy and Love, it is up to us to do what it takes to attain these gifts, and that starts by believing Jesus is the Son of God.

So, what comes next? Well, believing is absolutely the first step, the Bible tells us that without Faith, it is impossible to please God, (Heb.11:6) so believing and having faith are definitely the first steps; yet, there is so much more to a life lived with God and for God. In the book of Acts chapter nineteen, Paul asked a young group of followers, new to the faith, if they had yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost since they believed to which they replied, "we have not so much heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." After hearing this response, Paul stated to them that which Peter explained so powerfully in Acts chapter two, verses fourteen through forty, although there is not enough room to quote the entire set of verses here, I will share with you a few of the more famous verses among this group, culminating in one of the most well-known, and often repeated, verses, Acts 2:38...

Acts 19:3,4
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus...

Acts 2:37,38
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost...

So, what does this all mean? Now that is a great question, and here is the very simple answer, once we believe, once we have stated before God and man that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we are ready to take the next step, repentance. Repentance, or to repent, means that we literally turn away from our past, our sin, and our mistakes, we then turn toward God and ask Him to be our guide; we declare that we will follow Him, forsaking all other gods and ungodly desires. According to, the word repent means “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” So after we repent and urn away from our old ways, we begin moving towards the next step which is Baptism. Baptism is the full immersing of oneself into a pool or body of water with the understanding that the power isn't actually in the water, but in what the water represents, the act of publicly declaring to both God and man and announcing that Jesus Christ is Lord; yet more importantly, it represents the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In essence, we have been buried in death and raised again to life with Christ; therefore, it is no longer we who live, but Christ Jesus who lives within us. (Galatians 2:20) Now, after baptism, we finally, arrive at the third and most important step, and that is the receiving of the Power and Presence of God through the Holy Ghost living within us and through us, guiding us as we live out our daily lives. Now, as we move on from here, I feel that it is important to state to you that all of these things may not happen in the exact order as listed here; however, if we are to live a successful life for God and with God, we must follow all of these steps as they have been laid out by Christ as foundations and pinnacles of our faith and beliefs.

Acts chapter one, verse eight gives us a promise directly from Christ Jesus Himself, a promise that once the Holy Ghost is upon us, we shall receive Power, and the fruition of this promise was realized by the Apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the brothers of Jesus, and several others numbering120 individual men and women in the upper room fifty days after the resurrection in the city of Jerusalem on what we know as the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:2-4
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

When the presence of the Holy Ghost comes upon us, there is always some type of physical response, whether it is a shout, a leap, a jump, speaking in tongues, or just standing to your feet, there is always a physical and notable response when we allow the Holy Spirit to take charge of our lives. For some, it is this notable and physical response that then forces the  individual to repent and turn and turn away from their sinful and reckless fleshly desires, while for others, it is the act of baptism, immersion and emersion, that causes the overwhelming presence of God to infill then; thus, causing the Holy Spirit to become active in his or her life. At other times, there may be a powerful sermon brought forth by the preacher or the suttle message of a Sunday morning hymn or worship song by the choir that brings forth the Power and Might of the Holy Ghost, regardless od just how or why the presence of the Lord arrived, or what caused the fire to explode within them, there is always an undeniable change once the Holy Spirit is manifest on the lives of the believer.

That very same Power that was unleashed on the Day of Pentecost, that very same Power that was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, and that same Power mentioned by Jesus in Acts chapter one is available to you and I today, if only we would find it within ourselves to Believe. (I Corinthians 12) If one would take the time to read the book of Acts, we would find that through the Power of the Holy Ghost, chains were literally broken asunder, the sick were healed of a multitude of ailments, the dead were raised, the deaf where made to hear once again, prison doors were torn apart opened wide, those that had been lost in sin were found, lives were changed forever, and so much more, all through the Power and the Presence of the Holy Ghost and the strength of  Faith... 

Just like the old four-legged chair, and the Old Rugged Cross, all we must do is have Faith and Believe... God Bless... Amen...  

Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make know My Words unto you..

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