Convenient faith is the kind of faith that people call upon when they are in trouble or need or want something, but it is not part of their lives at other times, and this may not be true faith in God, for true faith is always present.
We live in a corrupt and violent world and in it are many people with convenient faith, for like the ďbenefitsĒ of this violent world, such as meat, but they fail to recognize or care about the fact that the same violence that brings them what they want is the same violence that causes millions of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year, but when they become one of the people who suffer, they call upon the Lord and expect Him to answer and help.
Letís think about this convenient faith as we look at Genesis 21:8-21Ö
8. And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
We are not told what was included as part of the great feast, and since we are not told anything about the presence of the Lord, it seems that this was a worldly feast.
9. Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
This is jealousy and this kind of jealousy is not in the heavenly will of God, and has a habit of escalating.
10. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac."
Sarah wanted Abraham to have a son by Hagar even though it was not the Lordís desire; it was because she and Abraham had convenient faith and didnít trust in the Lord for them to have their own son, so they had to wait an additional 10 years until it was fulfilled, thus her lack of love leads her to make this decision.
11. And the matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.
But Abraham loved his other son, and didnít listen to Sarah.
12. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.
Abraham had obviously prayed to God about this decision, unlike Sarah.
13. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant."
Even though Abraham had convenient faith some 12 years earlier, God in His lovingkindness will take care of Ishmael and his mother Hagar.
14. So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.
This was really a death sentence.
15. And the water in the skin was used up, and she left the boy under one of the bushes.
But unlike Sarah, she prayed to God about her situation.
16. Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, "Do not let me see the boy die." And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept.
We are not told anything about Hagarís faith in God, but God still heard her prayers, even though they seemed to be from a position of convenient faith.
17. And God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, "What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
God hears everyone; nothing happens that He doesnít know about.
18. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand; for I will make a great nation of him."
And God did, but it came with consequences, for there has been strife between the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac ever since.
19. Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.
The use of the skin for water is another sign that they were living in the sinful and corrupt ways of this world, for to have the skin or bladder they had to have killed an innocent animal, which is not in the heavenly will of God; however, God provided a miracle to keep them alive.
20. And God was with the lad, and he grew; and he lived in the wilderness, and became an archer.
Unfortunately, bows and arrows are instruments of violence and death, and they can never be in the heavenly will of God.
21. And he lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
And this started the Arab nations and the later formation of the Islamic religion.
Letís continue to think about convenient faith as we look at Psalm 86:1-17Ö
1. Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy.
When we see or hear this kind of a prayer we need to consider whether or not it is only a prayer when someone is in trouble or if this prayer and thanksgiving are a consistent part of the personís life, for if it is consistent within the personís lifestyle, it is in the heavenly will of God, and this is something each of us needs to ask ourselves.
2. Do preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O Thou my God, save Thy servant who trusts in Thee.
God knows who we are, and we donít need to self-aggrandize ourselves; we just need to pray from the depths of our heart and soul.
3. Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to Thee I cry all day long.
This prayer is in the Bible and it is intended to give us an example, but we still need to think about it in terms of the heavenly will of God and not one of convenient faith; in other words, are we calling to the Lord all day long because we are discontented with our lives, or is part of it thanking the Lord for what we have?
4. Make glad the soul of Thy servant,
For to Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Part of having an unhappy soul is because we are not truly thankful for what we have and what the Lord has given us.
5. For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.
This is another important aspect of our lives before God, we need to have a consistently repentant soul; one that listens to the Holy Spirit and recognizes our sins and immediately confesses them, and God will hear.
6. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
We donít have to tell the Lord to hear our prayers and answer us, for He always hears, and if our prayers are in the heavenly will of God, He will respond.
7. In the day of my trouble I shall call upon Thee,
For Thou wilt answer me.
Why wait for a day of trouble; for we should be consistently thanking God and if something goes wrong, then ask for His help, but trouble should never be the only reason to pray.
8. There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Thine.
We should always praise the Lord, but we also need to remember that our thankful spirit is also a way of praising God.
9. All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord;
And they shall glorify Thy name.
This is a good thought, but as we look around the world, we know that this has never happened, even though the people all know about the Lord.
Thus, we need to set the example.
10. For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds;
Thou alone art God.
This is still part of praising God, but it can also include our thanks for having such beautiful wildflowers, or for the wildlife that is all around us, or for the scenery or for anything else that brings joy to our heart.
11. Teach me Thy way, O LORD;
I will walk in Thy truth;
Unite my heart to fear Thy name.
Jesus has already taught us the heavenly ways of God, for there is no pain or suffering or death in heaven and we are to do the same on earth as it is in heaven, so we need to be diligent to not directly or indirectly cause pain or suffering or death to any other living being, and we are to love one another (all others including the animals) and to have compassion and empathy for the whole of Godís creation so that we feel its pain and suffering and do whatever we can to end it.
12. I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Thy name forever.
This is not just in our prayers for to be truly thanksgiving it must be in the way we live our lives.
13. For Thy lovingkindness toward me is great,
And Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
God does this for all His children.
14. O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set Thee before them.
There have always been people like this from the beginning of recorded history for they are of the world and the devil, and we need to rise above them, and stand against their actions in the name of the Lord.
15. But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
16. Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Thy strength to Thy servant,
And save the son of Thy handmaid.
We need to remember that even if we die because of the corrupt and violent world, and then go to heaven, God has indeed saved us; history has shown us that this does not always have to happen on earth.
17. Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed,
Because Thou, O LORD, hast helped me and comforted me.
We donít need to see any wondrous signs, but if we are truly living in the heavenly will of God, we will see almost continuous subtle signs all around us, and we will be content and thankful for everything we have.
Letís close our discussion about convenient faith by looking at Matthew 10:24-39Ö
24. "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.
We cannot be greater than Jesus Christ, but we should be like Him and follow His commandments, which includes bringing Godís heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven.
25. "It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
They called Jesus the devil because they didnít want to listen to Him and His message about living in the kingdom of God; His message was a threat to their lifestyle, just as it is to most of the people we talk to about Him and His message.
26. "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
We are not to fear the people of the world, for every one of their ungodly acts will be revealed for what it is, and they can never destroy our salvation; we are to be steadfast in our faith as peacemaking children of God.
27. "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
We believe that Jesus was referring to us listening to the Holy Spirit even as we sleep or when we are awake, and we are to both live it and proclaim it to everyone we can.
28. "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
If we hold steady to our faith in the Lord and what He has is continuing to teach us, we have nothing to fear.
29. "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
No matter what the devil and the people who follow him may say, we are not to listen, but fully trust in the Lord our God.
30. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31. "Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Only the devil and His followers try to use fear and convince us to use convenient faith as the world does; we are to always have faith in the Lord and His heavenly will.
32. "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.
And remember that our confession is not just our words, but our consistent lifestyle; in other words, we need to be the peacemaking children of God at all times and speak out against each and every act of violence and distortion of the truth.
33. "But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
Only people who use convenient faith deny God and His heavenly will that teaches us to live in His peaceful heavenly way here on earth as it is in heaven.
34. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
We need to always remember that in heaven there is no pain or suffering or death, thus what Jesus is saying about not bringing peace but a sward cannot be an act of violence, but a spiritual message to separate the true peacemaking children of God from the rest of the world who live in violence that causes millions of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year.
35. "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36. and a man's enemies will be the members of his household.
This separation is what we were just talking about, for the people who live in the corrupt and evil ways of this world will even be in our own families, and in our churches, and we are not to be like them.
37. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And we are not to put the worldly people and their way of life before God and His heavenly will, even if they are members of our own family.
38. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
If we are not willing to turn away from our former worldly ways and confess our sins before the Lord, we are not worthy of Him.
39. "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.
There are many in the church and in the world who think that they have found their life who will lose it because they are not truly spiritually bonded to the Lord and His heavenly will, for they are still trying to live in the ways of this corrupt world while claiming to have found new life in Jesus, and to us this is an example of convenient faith.
Convenient faith is lukewarm faith and God told us that He will spew such faith out of His mouth.
We are to put our faith in God and His heavenly will which Jesus taught us about and we are to bring that heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven, where there is no pain or suffering or death.
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