I have a guest blogger today! 🙂 Actually, two of them. My friends, Tom and Pat Hall, have followed our journey and stuck by us through thick and thin. They are true friends.
Tom has recently received his Bachelor’s degree in Religion. He taught at the Wednesday night services at their church this past summer.
Pat has been a great encourager during some of our toughest times of living by faith and wondering what in the world was going on.
Tom did a teaching on faith at their church, and Pat emailed me parts of it to cheer me on. Many of the verses he brought out were the ones that helped me make it through the dark days of not knowing what was going to happen, and the seeming victory that satan was winning over us. We made it through the struggles of doubt and discouragement through the encouragement we found in God’s word and through the faithful few who saw that God really did have His hand on us and was directing our steps.
I hope that this teaching will encourage someone today who wonders what God is doing or where He is in the middle of their storm.
Here is the teaching on faith:
Tom started his study with a quote from George Mueller:
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
What an awesome thought, and it’s true!
Tom asked the congregation: If God is so powerful, then why do we even need to have faith?
Then he read some parts of Hebrews 11 to us…
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…”
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…”
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…”
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark…”
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place…obeyed…”
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise…”
“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive…”
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…”
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…”
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau…”
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph…”
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel…”
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents…”
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”
“By faith he forsook Egypt…”
“Through faith he kept the Passover…”
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea…”
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down…”
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not…”
I am just going to go on now and make some statements which were in Tom’s notes…
The believer must live day by day with a constant sense that Jesus is alive—we do not serve a dead God
No other religious leader can compare to Christ—nothing the world can offer can compare to Christ
He is looking after His affairs—and He can be relied upon in any situation
How did Jesus, our model of faith, teach us about faith?
19 of Christ’s miracles give instruction on faith—why would He use so many miracles to instruct on faith?
Faith must grow because weak faith does not please the Lord—remember Hebrews 11:6?
Tom then gave a short illustration on growing faith—he had discussed a story he read about the suspension bridge that spans the Niagara. First, they attached a thin thread to a kite and sent both across to the other side on the wind. Then, by using the thread, a heavier string was attached and pulled across. Then a heavier one and so on until they sent a rope and finally the first cable. Growing faith can be like that, too. Sometimes it happens in steps.
Jesus condemned weak faith in His disciples 3 times—
When he stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee, when Peter walked on the water, and when the disciples failed to heal the demon possessed boy
And Jesus was grieved when His disciples showed a lack of confidence in Him—but he didn’t simply condemn the weakness in His disciples—He did something about it
He used miracles to build the disciple’s faith—if you have ever had a prayer answered that could be answered by no one but Christ or Christ moving a person to action on your behalf, then you have experienced a miracle—
Jesus performed His first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana where He turned water into wine—the miracle was designed to build the faith of His new disciples…and it did
Faith building continued throughout Jesus’ ministry—just a month before His death, Jesus was still working at building faith
Lazarus had died, and his sisters were full of sorrow. They asked for Jesus to come. He could have come sooner, but he didn’t. He didn’t come before Lazarus died. But, He did come and not just to console them in their sorrow. What did Jesus do? Was it the 9th inning or was it after the game looked like it was over? Jesus performed a miracle that would strengthen their faith in Him. He raised Lazarus from the dead.
The Gospels record 3 times where Jesus’ miracles resulted in saving faith—
A man born blind received both physical and spiritual sight. The Gadaran man delivered from the demon went out preaching about Jesus after he was freed and saved. One out of ten lepers came back to thank Christ, and Jesus told him to go on his way because his faith had made him whole.
Read Ephesians 6:16, and take the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked!
The Greek word for faith in verse 16 is “pistis”—it is the foundational faith in a God Who will protect!
The God of creation is still at work in the individual lives of His children!
Christ appeared to His disciples several times after His resurrection—
Once he appeared just to speak with Thomas who had said that he would not believe until he could put a finger into Christ’s wounds. He performed a miracle to build that one man’s faith which would serve to build the faith of generations to come.
Faith is believing without seeing!
Read Matthew 8: 5 – 13.
The servant of the centurion was being tortured by an extremely painful paralysis—he was nearing death. Christ offered to come and heal the man. What was the centurion’s response? He believed in the power of the spoken word of Christ because he knew Jesus had the authority to back up His words. He understood that Jesus’ authority transcends time, space, illness, flesh, life, and death. He expressed belief without seeing. Think about the fact that this man’s faith is recorded in the Bible for all generations to read about!
Persevering faith looks past obstacles and continues to ask until the Lord responds—
Think about the woman with the issue of blood. She had suffered from her disease for 12 long years. She was considered unclean and could not participate in religious rituals—imagine not being welcomed at church because of a disease. She fought through the crowd just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment…just the hem…believing she would be healed. Notice how Jesus addresses her…”Daughter”—sweet and loving words to a woman who had been cast aside by society. He showed she was a person with dignity…with great value.
Jesus revealed that He is more than just a miracle worker. After all, do you want someone to love you just because of what you can do for them or because of who you are to them? God has a heart, too! He is the Lord of Creation, the Great Healer, the Savior of Humanity…and He proved it by taking time out to claim this woman as His own. He is the Lover of our soul.
Another example of persevering faith can be found in Matthew 15: 21 – 28.
This mother of a non-Jewish girl came to get help for her demon-possessed daughter. The disciples did not want to help her because she was not Jewish. Jesus agreed—He came to the Jews first and to the Gentiles second…Peter was apostle to the Jews…Paul was apostle to the Gentiles. Some ministries have to take priority at certain times. But she pursued Christ in faith, and God honors persevering faith—Jesus responded to her.
Each time Tom teaches on Wednesday night, he offers a profile of someone who exhibits the particular character trait he is talking about—people aren’t perfect, but Christians are supposed to shine for Christ—
So that week, Tom profiled Darlene Deibler Rose—and I’d like to tell you a little about that—and it really is just a tidbit—her life was so full
Her autobiography is titled “Evidence not Seen”—a difficult read because of her experiences, but worth every single word.
Darlene married a man by the name of Russell Deibler and became a missionary to Papua New Guinea just before the outbreak of WWII. When the Japanese came in and conquered the area, they were extremely cruel to the missionaries that were there. they separated the men from the women and put them all to work. They lived in true concentration camps. They were beaten and starved and fed horrible things. Darlene’s husband would perish in a short amount of time. When she finally found out, the camp commander or commandant told her about it, and she could have been bitter and angry, but instead she gave her testimony to him.
Darlene lived through horrible things—too many to relate here. Suffice it to say, she offered up many prayers and many prayers were answered. I’m certain Darlene prayed to walk out of that camp, but God doesn’t always remove us from the horrid circumstances—He will, however, walk through them with us.
Finally Darlene was accused of being a spy. There was no evidence of such a thing—poor Darlene didn’t even know what was going on in the outside world. She was removed from the concentration camp and put into a cellblock where the occupants were condemned to die. There she was regularly tortured and beaten. But, Darlene still had faith.
She recited poems and sang songs to herself—(Penney, this is why your Bible work with your children is so critical—my praises to you—we have to hide His words in our hearts!)
Darlene never had enough to eat—if she had anything at all, it was spoiled or contaminated with maggots, etc. One day, she was peeking out into a courtyard from her cell and was watching the native female prisoners walking around. She noticed that one of them walked over to a hedge when the guard was not looking, and someone slipped her a bunch of bananas which the prisoner hid in her dress. Darlene began to crave them, to see them in her mind, and to smell them.
She dropped to the floor and told the Lord that she didn’t want a whole bunch of bananas like that woman had—she prayed for just a single banana. Then she did what we all sometimes do. She began to rationalize how God could get a banana into that cell. The guard wouldn’t help, she thought. The interrogators wouldn’t help. There was an old night watchman that might help, but she didn’t want him to even think about it because she knew he’d be shot if he were caught. She’d run out of possibilities, but she prayed. She told the Lord there was no one there who could get a banana to her—so there was no way that He could get a banana to her. She then went on to say that she was truly grateful for the rice porridge. (By the way, the porridge was covered in flies and maggots, and yet she was truly grateful for it.) She explained to God that the bananas just looked so delicious.
Even though Darlene had experienced her own miracles, she had trouble seeing how God could get a banana through those prison walls. (Aren’t we like that sometimes, too?)
Well, officers would come by the cells periodically, and the prisoners would have to get up and execute a proper bow—at a 90 degree angle—exactly—or they would be beaten with a cane. The next day, Darlene heard officers coming, and she prayed for strength to give a proper bow.
When the door finally opened, it was her old camp commander. She’d undergone much cruelty in his camp, as did others. But he was smiling at her, and she’d not seen someone smile in such a long time that she told him that seeing him was just like seeing an old friend. He observed that she was very ill and asked her what word she had for the women back at the camp. She said to tell them she was all right and was trusting in the Lord. She said they would understand and that she believed he understood, too.
When he and the other officers left, Darlene panicked. She’d forgotten to bow. When she heard the guard coming back, she knew it was for her. He opened the door and laid 92 bananas at her feet! She immediately apologized to God for her lack of trust.
(Then Tom read an excerpt from her book—“In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart: ‘That’s what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think.’ I knew in those moments that nothing is impossible to my God.”
Even those who have experienced miracles designed to strengthen their faith have sometimes struggled. Hang on! Christ lives yet! Nothing is impossible to Him!
Tom’s final words for this study: “When my wife and I are experiencing a particularly difficult time and we don’t know how the outcome can possibly be good, we often think of Darlene Rose and we pray. For us, her story seems to put everything into perspective. We know that even when we cannot see how He can do it, Christ has always come through for us—always! And then we look at one another, and we just say ’92 bananas’”.
Penney, I know you and Gary have had “92 bananas” moments before…and I know you’ll have them again…so I am praying for you and cheering you on!
I’ve left most of Pat’s personal comments in so that you could see what an encouraging friend she is. She is a wonderful writer, and I hope that some day she will have her own blog so that she can share all of her wonderful words of encouragement, wisdom and inspiration with many others.
I found a website for Darlene Deibler Rose’s ministry which she asked friends to continue for her. It is here at http://darlenerose.org/
There are testimonies and updates about a documentary that is being made based on her story. There’s a video of her actual speaking at the website. If you would like to read her book, there is ordering information there.