I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
Is your faith genuine? Is it real? Is it manmade or God-Inspired? It is important to know if one is authentic in their relationship with Jesus Christ or simply practicing counterfeit religion. Imagine paying thousands of dollars for a diamond, then upon appraisal finding out it is just a piece of meticulously cut glass. Would you be upset? Would you demand your money back? Of course, you would. Christians struggle with the value of true salvation because they did not pay the price. It was not their son or daughter hanging on a Cross nailed by their hands and feet bloody and beaten that absorbed the high price of everyone’s sin so how could we possible comprehend the true value and exorbitant worth of such a sacrifice. It is no sacrifice for us at all but a gift given in unfailing love and overwhelming grace. No wonder we take God for granted. We did not pay the price so there is no cost to produce value in our life. It is up to you and I to get to know Jesus Christ and truly understand the price that was paid on the Cross for us. In doing so, we will begin to comprehend the vast love of God for His Beloved Children and the price that was paid for our salvation. This enables us to go through the trials of life in persistent pursuit of faith by fiery trial and claiming confident hope in our deepest desperation.
The word “synthetic” popped up in the news headlines today. A father on “synthetic” drugs murders his five children, drives them across several states in his SUV, and dumps their little bodies in the woods. I looked up the word “synthetic” in a vain attempt to distract my mind from something so heinous. Synthetic means manmade. It is a counterfeit reproduction of the real thing. It is not real or genuine instead artificial, feigned or counterfeit. This is the world in which we live. No longer willing to wait for anything – everything has a quick counterfeit. We do not want to wait on a meal so there are microwave meals. I don’t care what you say – you forsake taste for time saving substitutions every day. We do not want to endure the process so we create a substitution, but then do not understand why we cannot be satisfied. Life is a process. It is an opportunity to enter the process of faith that becomes confident hope. However, since it is not manmade but according to God’s Plan there are no substitutions even though we have tried to create some. Where are the genuine people today? The father in the headlines had never displayed any violence against his children and was described as a good father. He is not the only one who “has gone mad”. Every day the headlines express unthinkable acts of violence that once would only happen among strangers. Love is growing cold. The hearts of fathers have turned from the children. Sin is rampant. We need genuine faith if we will ever turn our hearts back to the Lord and receive His Inexpressible Joy once again. “He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:17) This is a part of the description of the life of the John the Baptist spoken to his father, Zechariah. I believe God is calling us to the commitment to Christ that John had before he even knew the Lord. He had not met the Lord face-to-face but called men and women to genuine faith demonstrated in authentic belief. The Holy Spirit calls us to the same today.
Job 2:2-4 (NLT)
“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life.
“A man would give up everything he has to save his life”. Would he now? If your life was required of you today, how far would you go to save it? If the one requiring it of you, promised you could live if you denied Christ would you do it? This is not meant to instill fear in the heart of anyone but allows us to examine the innermost parts of our heart if only in theory. Remember, Peter didn’t think he would give up on Jesus even offering to die with him. But when he was sitting in the courtyard with the other people, he denied the Lord not once or twice but three times. What about Job? First the enemy took everything that he had from him including all his children. Job was found to be a man of integrity with his heart set on God. So he asked for another go at the man physically – Job remained firm in his faith in the Lord. If you think for a second that the enemy stopped with Job, you are wrong. He is the accuser of the brethren just waiting for a crack at you and I. What will remain of our faith when a fiery trial consumes us? What will happen when our whole world falls apart and all that we have left is our hope in Christ? Job was found to be a man of integrity. What will our testimony be?
James 1:19-25 (NLT)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Genuine faith is the product of a process. It is daily submitting our life to the power and authority of Jesus Christ choosing to turn our entire being over to the Lord accepting His Word, Will and Way as our directive. Faith in God requires something of us. It is not a spoken commitment but a life’s calling. Faith creates the foundation on which we live, breathe and move until Christ returns. It is developing a relationship not a religion. It is to look at the gift we have been given to appraise its value and worth. Only then will we consider the cost as we lay our life down at the foot of the Cross. Otherwise it is just like every other counterfeit that we have impatiently accepted rather than waiting for the real thing. The Word of God not only reveals God’s Love for all mankind pointing to Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith but tells us how to develop our faith into confident hope. It shows us how to live a life of authenticity that the world can see and follow as well. “Otherwise, you are fooling yourselves. You see yourself, walk away and forget what you look like.”
I have a confession to make. I have no idea what my natural hair color is. There may even be gray mixed in there after all these years. Somewhere in my thirties, I decided to “enhance” my natural color with synthetic hair dye which has continued into my late forties. I am really not that concerned and will continue to highlight and color my hair. But it has made me think of the man (or woman) in the mirror who looks back at me each day. Are there areas of my life that are not genuine? If you carefully look at the roots of my hair, you will begin to see the new growth of my hair. It is here that you see a hint of what color my hair really is. As a believer, this is how I determine just how genuine my faith is. Am I growing? What is my life producing for Christ? Is there any good thing coming from the harvests in my life? If not, Lord show me the areas of my life that lack spiritual integrity. Change me. Renew me. Restore me and revive me again by your Spirit! When hints of my natural color start to overcome my color, it’s time to get my hair dyed again. When my old nature begins to overtake the growth process of God in my life, it is time to be washed in the Word, and covered in His Blood once again. Rinse and repeat as many times as it takes to be genuine in faith and authentic in our hope. Finally, God make me more conscious of my inner man and the new creation that I am called to be then my outward appearance and momentary struggles.
Romans 12:9-18 (NLT)
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Pretend love is a real problem in the world we live in. Love has grown cold just as Jesus predicted and mankind is desperately in search of real love. Many are victims of love grown cold ranging from the heartbroken to those who have lost their lives at the hands of a loved one. It is a heinous representation of the work of the enemy which has caused us to pretend to love each other rather than really doing something with this great love given to us by Jesus Christ. The time has come to reevaluate the Body of Christ and discover real love all over again. Everything that Jesus Christ did for us was motivated by His Love for us. Anyone who tries to follow His Example without true love will fail. “Pure and genuine religion is caring for one another and refusing to let this world corrupt you.” (James 1:27) We have let the world into the church and it is time to bid it goodbye with all of its counterfeit and substitutions. It is time for real love to flow through the hearts and minds of believers once again attaching our life to Jesus Christ as we develop confident hope that is representative of true and genuine faith in God through His Son. We must be real in our commitment to the Lord and stop bringing Him what is left of our life rather than tying our lives to His Altar each new day. Only real and genuine faith in Christ allows us to live with Him forever.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
I will take this opportunity called today to examine my heart and mind for genuine faith. I will test myself to make sure that His Spirit is in control of my life and not my only sinful self. It is important to know that everything I do is in accordance with Jesus Christ not because I have to but it is my profound privilege to surrender my life to Him. I am free to live how I want but I choose to live in the shadow of the Cross. I want my faith to be memorable (2 Timothy 1:5) not because I have it but because Jesus gave it to me. It is the hope that I hold onto. I must strive to know what true love is. It is found only in faith in God through Jesus Christ. I have to know Him more…
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.