* God declares us righteous when we believe
Although Abram had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was his belief in the Lord, not his actions, that made Abram right with God. We, too, can have a right relationship with God by trusting him. Our outward actions—church attendance, prayer, good deeds–will not by themselves make us right with God. A right relationship is based on faith–the heartfelt inner confidence and believe that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Right actions will follow naturally as by-products. (NLT)
Genesis 15:6 – And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith.
* What you do can’t be separated from what you believe
Moses was reviewing the law with the new generation of people. When we decide to believe in God, we must also decide to follow his ways. What we do shows what we really believe. Can people tell that you are a member of God’s family? (NLT)
Deuteronomy 27:9-10 – Then Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel as follows: “O Israel, be quiet and listen! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God. So obey the Lord your God by keeping all these commands and laws that I am giving you today.”
* – Some self-professed athletes can “talk” a great game, but that tells you nothing about their athletic skills. And not everyone who talks about heaven belongs to God’s Kingdom. Jesus is more concerned about our walk than our talk. He wants us to do right, not just say the right words. Your house (which represents your life) will withstand the storms of life only if you do what is right instead of just talking about it what you do cannot be separated from what you believe. (NLT)
Matthew 7:21 – [Jesus said] “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.”
* Belief seems too simple to many
Naaman left in a rage because the cure for his disease seemed too simple. He was a hero, and he expected a heroic cure. Full of pride and self-will, he could not accept the simple cure of faith. Sometimes people react to God’s offer of forgiveness in the same way. Just to believe in Jesus Christ somehow doesn’t seem significant enough to bring eternal life. To obey God’s commands doesn’t seem heroic. What Naaman had to do to have his leprosy washed away is similar to what we must do to have our sin washed away—humbly accept God’s mercy. Don’t let your reaction to the way of faith keep you from the cure you need the most. (NLT)
2 Kings 5:12 – “Aren’t the Abana River and Pharpar River of Damascus better than all the rivers of Israel put together? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
* What your attitudes reveal about your belief
The new settlers in Israel worshiped God without giving up their pagan customs. They worshiped God to appease him rather than to please him, treating him as a good luck charm or just another idol to add to their collection. A similar attitude is common today. Many people claim to believe in God while refusing to give up attitudes and actions that God denounces. God cannot be added to the values we already have. He must come first, and his Word must shape all our actions and attitudes. (NLT)
2 Kings 17:27-29 – The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests from Samaria back to Israel. Let him teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord.
But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Israel had built.
* Gives us courage when you believe
Some people think that belief in God is a crutch for weak people who cannot make it on their own. God is indeed a shield to protect us when we are too weak to face certain trials by ourselves, but he does not want us to remain weak. He strengthens, protects, and guides us in order to send us back into an evil world to fight for him. And then he continues to work with us because the strongest person on earth is infinitely weaker than God and needs his help. David was not a coward; he was a mighty warrior who, even with all his armies and weapons, knew that only God could ultimately protect and save him. (NLT)
Psalm 18:30 – As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
* How to measure the strength of your belief
As a youngster, Joseph was overconfident. His natural self-assurance, increased by being Jacob’s favorite son and by knowing of God’s designs on his life, was unbearable to his ten older brothers, who eventually conspired against him. But this self-assurance, molded by pain and combined with a personal knowledge of God, allowed him to survive and prosper where most would have failed. He added quiet wisdom to his confidence and won the hearts of everyone he met–Potiphar, the chief jailer, other prisoners, the king, and after many years, even those ten brothers.
Perhaps you can identify with one or more of these hardships Joseph experieinced: He was betrayed and deserted by his family, exposed to sexual temptation, and punished for doing the right thing; he endured a long imprisonment and was forgotten by those he helped. As you read his story, note what Joseph did in each case. His positive response transformed each set back into a step forward. He didn’t spend much time asking why. His approach was “What shall I do now?” Those who met Joseph were aware that wherever he went and whatever he did, God was with him. When you’re facing a setback, the beginning of Joseph-like attitude is to acknowledge that God is with you. There is nothing like his presence to shed new light on dark situations. (NLT)
Genesis 41:38 – As they discussed who should be appointed for the job, Pharaoh said, “Who could do it better than Joseph? For he is a man who is obviously filled with the spirit of God.”
* Difference between belief & faith
Demon-possessed people are under the control of one or more demons. Demons are fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God and are now evil spirits under Satan’s control. They help Satan tempt people to sin and have great destructive powers. But whenever they are confronted by Jesus, they lose their power. These demons recognized Jesus as God’s Son, but they didn’t think they had to obey him. Just believing is not enough. Faith is more than belief. By faith, you accept what Jesus has done for you, receive him as the only one who can save you from sin, and live out your faith by obeying his commands. (NLT)
Matthew 8:28 – When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the land of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so dangerous that no one could go through that area.
* When it is hard to believe in Jesus’ help
How could the disciples experience so many of Jesus’ miracles and yet be so slow to comprehend who he was? They had already seen Jesus feed over 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, yet here they doubted whether he could feed another large group.
Sometimes we are also slow to catch on. Although Christ has brought us through trials and temptations in the past, we don’t believe that he will do so in the future. Is your heart too closed to take in all that god can do for you? Don’t be like the disciples. Remember what Christ has done, and have faith that he will do it again. (NLT)
Mark 8:17-18 – Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “Why are you so worried about having no food? Won’t you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all? What about the five thousand men I fed with five loaves of bread? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said.
* Faith requires belief
The Christian faith goes beyond knowing what others believe, it requires us to hold beliefs for ourselves. When Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” he wants us to take a stand. Who do you say Jesus is? (NLT)
Luke 9:18-20 – One day as Jesus was alone, praying, he came over to his disciples and asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.” Then he asked them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”
* Don’t miss opportunities to believe
Jesus’ brothers had a difficult time believing in him. Some of these brothers would eventually become leaders in the church (James, for example), but for several years they were embarrassed by Jesus. After Jesus died and rose again, they finally believed. We today have every reason to believe because we have the full record of Jesus’ miracles, death, and resurrection. We also have the evidence of what the Good News has done in people’s lives through the centuries. Don’t miss this opportunity to believe in God’s Son. (NLT)
John 7:3-5 – and Jesus’ brothers urged him to go to Judea for the celebration. “Go where your followers can see your miracles!” they scoffed. “You can’t become a public figure if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, prove it to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
* Refusing to believe leads to a hardened heart
People in Jesus’ time, like those in the time of Isaiah, would not believe despite the evidence. As a result, God hardened their hearts. Does that mean God intentionally prevented these people from believing in him? No, he simply confirmed their own choices. After a lifetime of resisting God, they had become so set in their ways that they wouldn’t even try to understand Jesus message. For such people, it is virtually impossible to come to God—their hearts have been permanently hardened. (NLT)
John 12:39-41 – But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts—so their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he made this prediction, because he was given a vision of the Messiah’s glory.
* Stages of belief
People who hear about the Resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. Like the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief: (1) At first, they may think it is a fairy tale, impossible to believe. (2) Like Peter, they may check out the facts but still be puzzled about what happened. (3) Only when they encounter Jesus personally will they be able to accept the fact of the Resurrection. (4) Then, as they commit themselves to Jesus and devote their lives to serving him, they will begin fully to understand the reality of his presence with them. (NLT)
Luke 24:11-12 – but the story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
* Important to believe in others
Paul showed his love for the Roman Christians by expressing God’s love for them and his own gratitude and prayers for them. To have an effect on people’s lives, you first need to love them and believe in them. Paul’s passion to teach these people began with his love for them. Thank God for your Christian brothers and sisters, and let them know how deeply you care for them. (NLT)
Roman 1:6-12 – You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ, dear friends in Rome. God loves you dearly, and he has called you to be his very own people. May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me say first of all that your faith in God is becoming known throughout the world. How I thank God through Jesus Christ for each one of you. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by telling others the Good News about his Son.
One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord. I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.
* Believing for the wrong reasons
The antichrists were not total strangers to the church; they once had been in the church, but they did not really belong to it. John does not say why they left; it is clear that their reasons for joining in the first place were wrong. Some people may call themselves Christians for less than the best reasons, Perhaps going to church is a family tradition,, Maybe they like the social and business contacts they make there. Or possibly going to church is a long-standing habit, and they have never stopped to ask themselves why they do it. What is your main reason for being a Christian? Unless it is a Christ-centered reason, you may not really belong. You don’t have to settle for less than the best. You can become personally acquainted with Jesus Christ and become a loyal, trustworthy follower. (NLT)
1 John 2:19 – These people left our churches because they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left us, it proved that they do not belong with us.
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