A Life of Faith

(by Vicki Lynn Gordy ~ vickigordy.com)

Does God exist?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  And, is our life on earth all there is or will we exist beyond this earthly life?  At some point, in the quiet of the night, we will all ponder these questions.  And there is nothing more important we can do than to sincerely pursue the answers.  How we answer these questions and how we respond to the answers will impact our lives more than any decision we will ever make.

We look at a beautiful sunset, the stars at night, the majestic mountains, fish swimming in a stream, and we look at our own reflection in the mirror.  These are not figments of our imagination.  These things exist … we exist.  Questions emerge.  How did all of this get here?  Could something have come from nothing?  How could order in the universe have come from chaos?  Could life have emerged from non-life?  How could intangible human attributes (like consciousness, beliefs and desires) have come from just physical matter?

We are not capable of creating these things we see.  And since we cannot create this, it stands to reason that a form of being lower than man would not be capable of creating all of this.  By process of elimination, we conclude there is a power greater than man who is capable of creating what we see.  Obviously there is something/someone more powerful, with more intelligence than mankind.

Some might question God’s existence because they do not understand everything about him.  Consider, though, that we are limited in our ability to know all there is to know.  But this should not surprise us.  We know we have limitations.  We watch birds soaring through the air, but we were not designed with the capacity to fly.  According to scientists, dogs have a sense of smell that is thousands of times more accurate than ours.  We were not designed with the capacity to smell certain scents.  Likewise, although our minds are an amazing creation, we are not without limitations.  We simply were not designed with the capacity to fully know all there is to know.

We understand that our knowledge is limited.  If asked to draw a circle indicating all knowledge, and within that circle to put another circle indicating how much knowledge we have, it would invariably be a very small circle in comparison.  Having such understanding, it is reasonable to acknowledge that God can exist outside of our circle of knowledge.

But, just because some things about God remain a mystery, it doesn’t mean that we know nothing about him.  So, what is he like?  What has he chosen to reveal to us?

First of all we learn several things about God through creation in the same way we can pick up clues about an artist by looking at his or her art.  Creation reveals that God is powerful, intelligent, creative and orderly.  To have created this universe, God clearly has capabilities and knowledge that we do not possess.  We only need to look at what we see in nature – from the animal kingdom, to the fishes in the sea, to the plants and insects, to understand that God is creative.  And, there is also an intricate order and a pattern in how the vast universe operates, as well as within the life of a single cell.

Second, God revealed himself to us through our conscience – we are programmed to know instinctively that some things are good (in our best interest as individuals and as a society), and others are bad (not in the best interest of ourselves and society).  What we know deep down to be good tells us that God is in favor of these traits and behaviors.  On the other hand, what we know to be bad, we know that God is not in favor of these traits and behaviors.  So, through our conscience we get a glimpse of God’s likes and dislikes.  God has, in effect, written some of his moral laws on our hearts.

We also learn what God is like through Jesus Christ.  In Billy Graham’s book Peace With God he poses the question that if we human beings wanted to communicate with ants in an anthill, how could we do it?  The only way would be for us to become an ant and dwell among them.  That is what God did.  He took on the form of a human being through Christ and lived among us.  Christ taught us many things about God through his life and teachings.

And, we learn much about God through scripture (The Bible).  The Bible is a compilation of 66 books written by over 40 authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years.  These authors were from many different walks of life (some of which include a fisherman, physician, tax collector, tent maker, and a king).  It was written in different languages, from three continents and it covered a variety of topics.  Yet, with all of the background variations, the Bible comes together into a consistent story and theme.

Not only do the scriptures teach us about God’s nature.  Through the scriptures we come to understand who we are, why we are here and about existence beyond this earthly life.

We are God’s creation.

For by him [God] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ~ Colossians 1:16-17 

God created us.  Just as parents desire the best for their children, God wants the best for us.  He wants us to experience real love and a meaningful life.  He loves us more than we can comprehend and it is his desire that we would love him and have a relationship with him for all eternity, beginning now.  But, he did not create us to automatically love him.  He could have, butthink about it: “required” love would be of no value.  If we had no other option but to love God we would be mere robots.  Instead, God gave us the free will to either love him, or not.  But, our natural tendency is to go our own way, to not acknowledge God nor give him his rightful place in our lives.  You might say it is mankind’s “default” setting, 

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. ~ Isaiah 53:6 NLT 

For everyone has sinned.  We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 NLT 

So, what is “sin?”  Several Greek and Hebrew words are translated to “sin” in the Bible, with slightly different meanings.  The most common meaning is “to miss the mark,” i.e., to not go in the direction we were intended to go.  So sin is any belief, attitude or behavior that is contrary to what God intended for our life.  Sin sabotages our ability to flourish.  It harms us in many ways – how we view ourselves, our peace of mind.  It harms our relationships, our society, and it causes destruction.

God designed us.  He knows what is in our best interest and what it takes for true contentment, true peace, true life.  It all begins with acknowledging him, realizing that we are dearly loved by him, entering into the relationship with him that we were intended to have and starting to allow him to transform us into who he created us to be.  We may seek success in our careers and other life pursuits, we chase wealth, fame and pleasure thinking these things will give our life meaning and make us content.  But, all they can offer us is a very shallow and temporary sense of satisfaction.  Deep down, we have a void that can only be filled through our relationship with God.  That is how he designed us.

So, how do we begin a relationship with God?  We might think that we have to do a lot of good works to earn his favor.  While good works should be one of the evidences of a genuine relationship with God, they are not the basis for it.  It is only through the grace of God that we have the opportunity to enter into a relationship with him.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

This is good news because we need God’s grace.  How often do we not live up to standards we set for ourselves, much less God’s standards?  To make it possible for us to have the relationship with God that we were meant to have – he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus lived a sinless life – showing us what God is like, teaching us what true life is, and then through his death on the cross he paid the penalty for our sins.  There is no greater way the God of this universe could have demonstrated to us how much we are loved by him.  By this act of love, mercy and grace, Christ created the way for us to have a relationship with God.  Jesus’ death on the cross makes it possible for us to know that we are dearly loved by God, to know freedom from our guilt, our shame, and from “…the sin that so easily entangles…” (Hebrews 12:1).  Having faith in Christ’s death on the cross as payment for our sins offers us the opportunity for a clean slate, freeing us to become more of who God created us to be, and securing for us life with God when we leave this earth.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13 NLT 

Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! ~ Philippians 2:5b-8 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17

There is no other way to God except through Jesus Christ.

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. ~ I Timothy 2:5-6 NLT 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6 

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. ~ John 10:9a

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ I John 5:11-12

The God who created us is not only willing to accept us, he is eager to accept us.  But, it takes two to have a relationship.   

The Lord stands ready to save us from the penalty of our sins, to free us from our shame and guilt for every wrong we have committed, and from the power sin has in our lives.  He wants us to know true freedom – freedom to be who he intended us to be, to live the life he envisioned for us now and for eternity.  He loves us so much, and wants to become our Savior, our Lord, our Father, our friend, our anchor in difficult times, our teacher.  All we need is to sincerely want this and to ask him for it.

If this is your desire, then express to God what is in your heart.  

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. ~ Matthew 7:7-8

Here is an example of a prayer, but pray in your own words if you prefer.

Thank you God for creating me, and for loving me so dearly.  Up till now I have not lived the life you planned for me.  I trust that you, my Creator, know what is best for me and I yield to your will for my life.  Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to this earth to teach us about you and to pay the penalty for my sins on the cross, and then you raised him from the dead. Now I can be free from the guilt and shame of my past and free to begin the life you envision for me.  With all my heart, I give you control of my life from now on for the rest of my days.  Come live in my heart, teach me and guide me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

From this day forward …

If you just now, with all sincerity, invited Jesus to become your Savior and the Lord of your life, congratulations!  This is the most important decision you will ever make.  You have crossed over from spiritual death to everlasting life.  

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. ~ John 5:24 

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  ~ John 1:12 

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.  ~ Philippians 1:6 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Being “in Christ” will change you.  It will change your heart, your spirit, your mind, your attitudes, your behavior, your life!  This does not mean you will be perfect, but as you seek to know and love God better, sin will have less and less control over you.  You will grow closer to God, and you will be more of who he created you to be.  Some changes may be immediate and some will be gradual.  These changes will take place as a result of the Holy Spirit of God living in you.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26 

… God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:5 

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22: 37-40 

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~ John 14:26 

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness ~ Romans 6: 17-18