Faithfulness Day 5

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.  (Col. 1:3-5).  Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.   But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.  (Col 1:21-23).

We always thank God for all of you mentioning you in our prayers.  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 1:2-3).

1. In Colossions 1:3-5, where did the people’s faith and love spring from?

2. In what or who is your hope – where do your faith and love spring from?

3. In the later verses of Colossians, how were the people to continue in their faith?

4. In Thessalonians:
          What did their faith produce?
          What did their love prompt?
          What did their hope inspire?

Faithfulness – Day 4

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart.

How steadily all through the Old and New Testament God calls us to stand on the watch and wait for His indications, and how often God’s answers to our prayers have been squandered because we do not watch and wait.  Are you throughly perplexed over God’s way?  Are you unable to reconcile God’s clear way as revealed in His book with the way He is leading you?  Take the line of this prophet during his perplexity.  Stand and watch to see what God will say –watch in the right place.


The first thing to remember is to watch at the right place, the place where God has put us.  Watch, that is, for God’s answer to our prayers, and not only watch, but wait…The meaning of waiting in both the Old and New Testament is “standing under,” actively enduring.  It is not standing with folded arms doing nothing.  It is not saying, “In God’s good time it will come to pass.”  By that we often mean, “In my abominably lazy time I let God work.”  Waiting means standing under, an active strength, enduring till the answer comes.

We must never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer our prayer.  When God made a tremendous promise to Abraham, Abraham thought of the best way to help God … But God refused to speak to him for thirteen years, until every possibility of his relying on his own intelligent understanding was at an end.  Then Go came to him and said, “I am Almighty God” … 


I do not think we have enough of the wondering spirit that the Holy Spirit gives.  It is the child-spirit…When through Jesus Christ we are rightly related to God, we learn to watch and wait, and wait wonderingly.  “I wonder how God will answer this prayer.”  “I wonder how God will answer the prayer the Holy Spirit is praying in me.”  “I wonder what glory God will bring to Himself out of the strange perplexities I am in.”  “I wonder what new turn His providence will take in manifesting Himself in my ways.” … I wonder how many of us have been getting our ideas and convictions and notions twisted.  Thank God for the confusion if it is going to drive us straight to the watchtower with God.  There our doctrines and creeds are going to be God’s, not doctrines and creeds out of God’s Book twisted to suit our preconceived ideas, but the doctrines of God woven into the flesh and blood tissues of our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit–watching, waiting, wondering and witnessing.

(Oswald Chambers, If You Will Ask, Reflections on the Power of Prayer)

Faithfulness – Day 3

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.  (1 Cor. 13:13).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trial.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:3-8).  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.  (Romans 5:1-5).  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.  (James 1:2-8).

1. How does the world explain or define “faith”?  What things does the world encourage faith in?

2. What virtues appear together in these passages?  Why do you think that is?

3. Why do the verses in 1 Peter say we face trials?

4. According to the Romans verses, what do our sufferings produce?

5. What does the James passage say about “trials of many kinds,” why do they occur and what should our response be?

6. What kinds of challenges have you been facing in this season of your life?  Are you considering them a test and refinement of your faith?

Faithfulness – Day 2

But the fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness. (Gal.  5:22-23).

Sweet friends, I can’t help it.  I used my concordance again.  “Faithfulness” is 4102 “pistis” which is translated as, simply, faith in the King James version and defined in Strong’s as “persuasion, i.e. credence; mor. Conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), espec. Reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstr. Constancy in such profession; by extens. The system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.”

This exact same word is what the writer of Hebrews dives into defining, explaining and exhorting his readers about.  Below I have typed a large, but excerpted, portion of Hebrews 10:35-12:3.  It was really hard for me to asterisks-out numerous of the faith examples, but my poor fingers couldn’t take typing the entire passage – so please, grab your Bibles as well to read the passage in its entirety, too.

Here goes:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.  But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what The ancients were commended for.   By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.  By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.  And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away.  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please god, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
All these people were still living by faith when the died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.   People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained a put in prison.  They were stones; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinds and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 10:35-11:6, 11:13-16, 32-12:2).

1. In what ways does this passage define and describe faith?

2. What acts did the faith-filled (faithful) people mentioned in this passage conduct?

3. Did the faith-filled people in this passage (other than Jesus) receive the promises before they died?

4. What is hindering your faith now?  What sin easily entangles you?  If you have a trusted friend, confess these things to them.

5. How does this passage tell us we will be able to run with perseverance the race marked out for us?

Bonus question 😉 if you had time to read the entire passage, which Old Testament person stuck out to on this reading?  Why?

Faithfulness – Day 1

But the fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness.  (Galations 5:25-26).  Would it surprise you to know that the actual Greek word used here is, simply, “faith”?  It surprised me, at first.

So much can be said about faith.  But, many months ago, as the seed of this Bible study was growing in my heart, I read the following explanation of Psalm 131.

Go ahead and read Psalm 131.

Now, since having children, I never understood the part about cultivating my soul like a weaned child.  A nursing child is nearly always comforted by her mother.   Weary, nursing mama friends, is that not right?  Weary, papas of nursing babies — isn’t that true?  Here your tired baby fussy.  Here your hungry baby is fussy.  No amount of gentle bouncing or distractions will comfort like mama’s breast.  Usually it’s instant contentedness.

Should not the Psalmist have said my soul is like a nursing infant with the Lord?

Eugene Peterson explains:

Hesed is Hebrew for “faithful love.”  It is God’s faithfulness in freely offering love and maintaining that love in the face of wandering hearts and even rejection – God’s love is available to all, whether they have turned away from His call before or not.

Psalm 131 (Message translation) GOD, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain.  I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.  I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.  Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.  Wait, Israel, for GOD.  Wait with hope.  Hope now; hope always!

Christian faith is not neurotic dependency but childlike trust.  We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies.  The Christian is not a naive, innocent infant who has no identity apart from a feeling of being comforted and protected and catered to but a person who has discovered an identity given by God which can be enjoyed best and fully in voluntary trust in God.  We do not cling to God desperately out of fear and the panic of insecurity; we come to him freely in faith and love.

The transition from a sucking infant to a weaned child, from squalling baby to quiet son or daughter, is not smooth.  It is stormy and noisy.  It is no easy thing to quiet yourself: sooner may we calm the sea or rule the wind or tame a tiger than quiet ourselves.  It is pitched battle.  The baby is denied expected comfort and flied into rages or sinks into sulks.  There are sobs and struggles.  The infant is facing its first great sorrow and it is in sore distress.

Many who have traveled this way of faith have described the transition from an infantile faith that grabs at God out of desperation to a mature faith that responds to God out of love, “like a baby content in its mother’s arms.”  Often our conscious Christian lives do not begin at points of desperation, and God, of course, does not refuse to meet our needs.  Heavenly comforts break through our despair and persuade us that “all will be well and all manner of things will be well.”  The early stages of Christian belief are not infrequently marked with miraculous signs and exhilaration of spirit.  But as discipleship continues, the sensible comforts gradually disappear.  For God does not want us neurotically dependent on him but willingly trustful in him.  And so he weans us.  The period of infancy will not be sentimentally extended beyond what is necessary.  The time of weaning is very often noisy and marked by misunderstandings: I no longer feel like I did when I was first a Christian.  Does that mean I am no longer a Christian?  Has God abandoned me?  Have I done something terribly wrong? // The answer is neither.  God hasn’t abandoned you and you haven’t done anything wrong.  You are being weaned.  The apron strings have been cut.

*** … what Psalm 131 nurtures [is] a quality of calm confidence and quiet strength that knows the difference between unruly arrogance and faithful aspiration, knows how to discriminate between infantile dependency and childlike trust, and chooses to aspire and to trust –and to sing, “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.  Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.  (Peterson, A Long  Obedience in the Same Direction, pp. 155-56, 158)

Goodness – Day 5

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6).  Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Phil. 2:12-13). Ask and it will be given to you seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to those who ask him, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?  (Matt. 7:7-12).  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  (Matt. 7:19).  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone, the new has come.  (2 Cor. 5:17).

1. In Phillipians 1:6, who began the good work in us and who will carry it on?

2. What good work has God begun in your life?

3. In Phil. 2:12-13, what are we to do and what does God do?

4. That good work God has begun in you – are you working with Him in it – or, perhaps waiting for Him to do it all – or maybe trying to force the good fruit in your own strength?

5. Are you in a place where you can honestly ask God to make you a good tree that bears good fruit?  Why/why not?

Goodness – Day 4

Today, another lectio divino.

Let your imagination fill in the blanks as you would experience if you were physically there: imagine what the weather was like?  Imagine the smells – food,  wine.  Listen with your ears – was there a chatter of people talking around the table?  See with your eyes, was it dimly lit inside, growing dark outside with a fire burning in a hearth?

Keeping these things in mind, turn to Matthew 26:6-13 – read it, or even listen to it on a Bible app. 
What did God impress upon you?

Look again at verse 10 – “Why are you bothering this woman?”  Jesus asks in response to the disciples indignation.  “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”  “Beautiful” is what my version says.  But, according to Strong’s Concordance, that word is “agathos” or “good.”  Beauty = good.

What beauty have you experienced recently?

Goodness – Day 3

Today, another lectio divino.  Jesus is traveling through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem – a journey of about 15 miles.  He had just miraculously healed a blind man and the crowd grew in size and fervor. 

Now, open up your Bible to Luke 19:1-10 – imagining the sights, smells, sounds – put yourself in the scene.

What did the Spirit impress upon you?

Goodness – Day 2

Love does not illustrate, it simply is the goodness beyond the goodness of the scribes and Pharisees.  All the illustrations [Jesus] has given in the various situations discussed in 5:20-48 are illustrations of it.  In it we achieve living union with, have fully entered into, the kingdom of the heavens.  (Willard, The Divine Conspiracy p. 181).

The rest of this week is going to be a little different.  While I was praying about how to study goodness, I think God impressed upon me that doing a word-study on “goodness” was not what He had in mind for this week.  What I felt prompted to do was have us look more deeply at a few instances from Jesus’ life here on earth.

Jesus is goodness incarnate, what better way to study goodness than to become more familiar with Him?

Remember lectio divino?  While I’m not entirely sure of the “right” way to practice lecio divino, my “version” of it is to settle yourself in a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths and ask the Holy Spirit to come, awaken your soul to truth in the scripture.  Then, as you prepare to read the passage, use all your senses.  Let your imagination fill in the blanks as you would experience if you were physically there: imagine was the weather hot?  Imagine the smells – dusty perhaps on the road, mingled with animals?  Listen with your ears – was there a chatter of people talking as they traveled, the sound of wheels creaking on a donkey drawn cart?  See with your eyes, look at the scene and the people around.

We are going to look at a story from Luke 17:11-19.  Before we read it, though, let’s set the stage even more.

The Levitical law prohibited a person with an infectious skin disease – who had been declared “unclean” by the priest – to live within the general community.  That person had to wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out “unclean!  Unclean!”  As long as the infectious disease lasted, the person had to live alone,  outside the camp.  (Leviticus 13:9-1, 45).

If you don’t know much about leprosy, feel free to look it up on the internet.  My “internet research” shows that it is a skin condition that causes white sores on the body that can be quite painful – the pain can include nerve pain, a leper may be unable to feel their extremities, and have a  disfigured face (among other things).  It is contagious, although the incubation period can be a period of years.
Now, come to the scene from Jesus’ life.  In Luke 17:11-19.  He is traveling along the road when the lepers appear to Him.  Employing lectio divino, read through the scene.

What did the Spirit impress upon you?

Goodness – Day 1

But the fruit of the Spirit is … goodness.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  (Genesis 1:1-4, 31).  [L]ive a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  (Eph. 5:1-4, 8-10).  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 1:6). 

1. What kinds of things does the world say are “good”? 

2. In Genesis, what did God call good (feel free to also look over the entirety of chapter 1)?

3. According to the Ephesians verses, what are we now in the Lord and how are we to live because of that?

4. According to Philippians, what has God begun in us?