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What is faith? The first two definitions of the word “faith” in dictionary.com are 1) confidence or trust in a person or thing and 2) belief that is not based on proof.

The Bible has many references to the word “faith”. We see them throughout the Old and New Testaments. There is the faith of the various prophets in the Old Testament. Each of these men and women relied upon God for something. For some it was a son to inherit. For others it was for the needs of daily living. For still others it was health for themselves or a loved one.

Some people put their faith in science and scientists. Not that there is anything wrong in using scientific advances such as medicines and surgical procedures. Engineering advances have given us faster modes of transportation and increased safety in our transportation and housing. But where did these ideas come from? And, is science separate from a faith in God? Can we have a belief in the Triune God as well as a belief in scientific advances?

Faith is really a choice we make. The Holy Spirit nudges us. God calls to us. We have a choice. We can choose to believe, or not. If we believe, God will be there with and for us in all things. We may not see Him or hear Him, but He is there. God will even be there for people who don’t believe. He wants them to come to a belief and faith in Him.

When we have faith in God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, we reap the blessings He bestows on us. He will provide for us as he does the birds, animals, the flowers, trees and plants.

Sometimes our faith is weak. We think we need to “do” something. Many times, when we don’t rely on God for our daily needs, we find ourselves facing a crisis. Sometimes we are tested to see if our faith is strong. That happened to Job. God had blessed him with children and wealth. Job praised God daily for all the good gifts. Satan thought he could turn Job away from God by taking those gifts away. God allowed Satan to attack Job, but not kill him. Instead, Satan killed all Job’s children and took his health and wealth away. Job continued to praise God for all His mercy. Satan lost. God rewarded Job’s faith by giving him more children and rebuilding his wealth.

We have our own times of adversity. A car accident that keeps us from working. Loss of a child or grandchild to death. Loss of a job, or our home. If we cry out to God for his salvation and redemption, He will hear us and give us strength to continue.

God has never told us that following Him would be easy. In fact, Jesus told us in Mt 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Are you one of the many? Or one of the few?

Posted by Stephanie Fuller with

Who Is My Neighbor?

In Leviticus 18:1-5; 19:9-18, we hear that “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I AM the LORD your God.” And in Luke 10:25-37, we have Jesus telling a lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan who helped the wounded man on the road.

That brings up the question for us of “Who is my neighbor”?

We have all seen the men and women with a sign asking for food, sitting on the corner, at the entry to the supermarket, near the fast food restaurant. Are they really a neighbor? Are they truly hungry?

It is so hard to know. Yes, there are homeless people. There are people who have missed meals. Some of them even have children or pets with them.

And yet, there are people who play the “pity” card. There have been articles that show some of these folks are gleaning $50,000 to $60,000 a year getting money from others. They may be the exception according to some studies.

Yes, there are people who fall through the cracks in our social services system. There are those who are ex-convicts that have trouble finding jobs. There are people with physical or mental health issues that make it difficult to get or keep a job. There are drug addicts who want money for their next “fix”.

How do you tell the difference between those who are truly needy and those who are just looking for a “quick” buck?

What, as Christians, are we called to do?

God calls us to be wise stewards of the gifts He has given us. What is a good steward? Someone who does not waste the gifts and talents given but uses discernment in using those gifts and talents wisely to the glory of God.

Being a wise steward could be purchasing an additional meal or sandwich for the one who is asking for money. Those who are truly needy will take the sandwich or meal and be appreciative of the meal. Those who are just looking for the cash will turn down the food, and not be very kind about it.

Be discerning when approached by someone asking for help. Helping our neighbor is appropriate. So is being a good steward.

Posted by Stephanie Fuller with