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Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jan 23, 2017, 5:41 PM by Tracey Morris

          When I was in seminary, the writings of Ole Hallesby were still popular.  I don’t hear much about him anymore, but I still have a few of his books.  I have always appreciated his down-to-earth insights into the Christian faith. 

          Hallesby grew up on a small farm in Norway and did not lose the common touch after he became pastor, and then a world famous theologian and author.  The following quote is typical of his deep, but still practical faith: “I need not exert myself and try to force myself to believe or try to chase doubt out of my heart.  Both are equally useless.  I have let Jesus into my heart, and he will fulfill my heart’s desire.  I need only to tell Jesus how weak my faith is.”  

          Hallesby might have been referring to that story in the ninth chapter of Mark where a man come to Jesus to ask him to heal his son.  Jesus makes a comment to the father about the need for faith, and the father replies with words that have become a prayer for doubters ever since: The boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24).

          Faith in Jesus is not the same as feelings for Jesus.  Faith is stronger than feelings.  It is stronger than knowledge.  Faith often becomes a sheer act of will.  A person may say, “I don’t feel like believing, but I want to believe.”  And it may very well be that if a person were to say, “I don’t know whether this Christianity is true or not, but with all my heart I want it to be true,” then in God’s sight he has faith.

          To be sure, feelings are important.  In fact, Jesus will give us deep and lasting feelings.  He will help us to feel joy, to feel repentance, to feel hope, to feel love, to feel faith.  But when the dark days come, and these feelings seem to slip away, Jesus has not abandoned us.  He does not make feelings a condition for his being with us.  He is with us, even in those gloomy and depressed days when we hardly dare to think that he cares at all.

          Former Luther Seminary president Al Rogness told of how a man once said to him, “I feel that God has left me.”  Rogness replied, “Perhaps that does not make any difference to God.”  

          After all, God is our Father, and Jesus is our great Brother and Savior.  He has promised never to leave us or abandon us.  He has given us his Word.  We rest there.

--Pastor Leon

 

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