A word about faith

A word about faith:  Faith is primarily a matter of the heart and secondarily of the mind; for with the heart man believes, and with the mouth he confesses his belief.  The natural man has trouble with faith for he needs to understand something before his heart can accept it; the spiritual man accepts something in his heart and leaves the understanding to God.  The natural man exercises his mental facilities (claiming promises, standing on the Word, etc.); the spiritual man rests in the faithfulness of God.  Both ask of God, one believes he’ll receive because of his efforts, the other believes he’ll receive because of God’s faithfulness.  One leans on his understanding, the other leans on Jesus.

Faith is a highly active force.  By it men have quenched fires, conquered kingdoms, and turned weakness into strength.  The power of faith is astounding.  However, the power of faith is not inherent in faith itself, but in the One in whom the faith is placed. Faith is powerful because God is powerful. (Our confidence is not in our faith, nor in our ability to exercise faith; our confidence is in God who gives us faith.)

Faith, like gold, is tried by fire.  One endures the fire, not by claiming or rebuking, but by weeding out everything that tends to choke the word of faith, such as unbelief, the cares of life, the desires for riches, and the tendencies to worry.  Man cannot make faith grow or become strong (faith is a gift of God and He alone causes the increase.)  Man can only cultivate the soil in which the seed of faith grows.  As we weed out the things which are contrary to faith and water the soil of our hearts with the Word of God, we walk in the sunlight of His love and the seed sprouts and bears fruit to eternal life.  Its fruit are works of love.  Our faith can be seen by our works of love.  While it is possible to give without loving, it is impossible to love without giving; for love is of God and God is love, and every seed bears fruit after its kind.  So our faith can be seen by our giving for the sake of others.  Peace to all who have faith in Jesus.

Rev. Jon Banks

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©2017 Jon Banks All Rights Reserved

 

In the shadow of His wings

Our kind Father has invited each of us to take shelter from life’s storms in the shadow of His wings.  What a wonderful place to ride out a storm!  When our only child was stricken with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis we were devastated.  JRA not only cripples, it also can cause blindness and/or death (it attacks organs as well as joints).  There is no cure.  Watching our son gradually losing mobility in his knees was heartbreaking.  Then he developed a problem in his kidneys — then his eyes — then his back…  it was an ongoing nightmare!  While whirling through the chaotic throes of this nightmare, one evening I caught a glimmer of hope and beneath the roar of the storm I heard a still, small voice say simply, “He’s allergic to onions.  Take him off onions.  It will get worse before it gets better.  Trust in Me.  I love you.”  The nightmare was over!!!  It was still dark.  It was pitch black!  But it was no longer a nightmare.  My heavenly Father had heard the cries of my heart.

From that moment on as I watched the disease progress (it did get worse before it got better) I was faced each day with a choice:  I could either let the circumstances overwhelm me, or I could seek shelter in the shadow of Father’s wings.  I sought shelter.  Each and every day I was tempted to doubt, to fear, to run away; but with each temptation the One who loves me made a way of escape.  As I continually chose to take refuge in Him, He led me beside still waters.  While my son’s body was being unmercifully ravaged by an unrelenting force, the One who loves me was restoring my soul and renewing my strength.   And today — my son is a healthy testimony that God comes to the aid of a broken and contrite heart whose hope is in Him!!!

                   The sun of righteousness has risen with healing in its wings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. He leads us beside waters of rest.  If a storm arises and we find ourselves tossed about, we’re not following where He leads.  The choice is ours — we can either sink, or we can walk on water.  Wait patiently. The One who loves you is closer than your own thoughts.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S.  I always let my wife read these letters before I publish them.  After she read this one I noticed that she was troubled and asked her about it.  She said, “Words can’t describe the pain we endured.  No one will have a clue of how painful it was.”

You see, we watched JRA attack our son for over a year.  We endured the first five months without a word from God.  After He revealed his allergy to onions, we literally hoped against hope for another nine to eleven months in God’s faithfulness to confirm His word to His most unworthy servant.  At the time of the revelation our son could straighten his legs all the way, but couldn’t bend them all the way.  By the seventh or eighth month he could bend them even less and was beginning to lose the ability to straighten them.  By the tenth month his ability to straighten his right leg had decreased quite a lot and his ability to bend both legs had drastically reduced.  He was slowly but surely becoming crippled right before our eyes.

But we walk by faith and not by sight — and the Lord had said to trust in Him — and we did.  Each day we endeavored to look past what our eyes saw and unto the hills from whence our help came.  And by the grace of God, the darker the night became — the brighter His light shone; the more deeply our pain stung — the more compassion His presence exuded.  To our most kind and gracious and loving and wonderful Father be glory and honor and praise forever.  Amen.  He is so good, so wonderfully good.  We are forever indebted to Him for this kind work He did for us and in us — so indebted and so thankful.

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Things too wonderful

In November of 1994 the Lord spoke and said, “Every year you share your Christmas with others.  This year I want you to give it all away.”  I told my wife and son about this and they graciously consented to the Lord’s will.  A few days later I received a letter from a Christian couple and while I was reading it the Lord spoke again, saying, “These are the ones you’re to give your Christmas to.”  On December 5th we had all their gifts purchased and I was packing them when the Lord said, “Put a hundred dollar bill with the gifts and mail them today.”  I thought it was a little early to mail Christmas gifts, but did as I was told.

On December 9th I received a phone call from the brother we had sent the gifts to.  They had arrived that day.  (Neither he nor his wife knew we were sending anything.)  He expressed his surprise and told me he had met a lady just that day that had a heart condition.  He went on to say that she lived with her son and that he was supporting her.  The son was in his mid-twenties and had a menial job that paid minimum wage.  In an effort to make ends meet, the son had also been selling his blood twice a week.  This brother said he was deeply touched by this and had purposed in his spirit to give them $100.00.  However, at the time he didn’t have the money to spare, so he determined to trust God for it.  When he arrived home that afternoon he found our package waiting for him.  He then asked if I would be offended if he gave the $100.00 to the mother and son.  I gave my blessings and he and his wife took the money to them that same evening.

When they arrived they learned that the mother and son were both Christians and that they had been crying out to Jesus for help.  The brother told them how the Lord had put it on his heart to give them $100.00 and how He had supplied it with such precise timing.  And when he handed them the hundred dollar bill the son broke down and wept uncontrollably.  Needless to say, these people were very appreciative and gave the glory to God.

After tasting of the Lord’s intimate concern just sixteen days before Christmas, this mother and son spent the holidays filled with peace and joy.  And thirteen days after celebrating the birth of their Savior, the mother unexpectedly said goodbye, both to her loving son, and to the trials and tribulations of earth.  On January 7th she joined Jesus, the Keeper of her soul, forever to dwell in His holy presence.  And the couple who had given the money were left standing in awe, in debt to Jesus for His having allowed them to be a vehicle of the Father’s blessings upon this mother and son during their last days together on earth.

As for my family and me, we sat around the tree that Christmas morning anticipating that even though we had no gifts of our own to open, it was going to be a beautiful and rewarding Christmas.  And as it so often is with God, our anticipations were realized abundantly beyond what we were expecting.  And for this we are eternally grateful to our most kind and considerate heavenly Father. To Him who leads us in things too wonderful to be imagined be reverent worship forever.

Rev. Jon Banks

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