On one of those lazy sunny summer afternoons, I was sitting in the recliner in our backyard, simply enjoying the calm and pleasant silence.
I had opened our chicken’s run and allowed the four of them to free range in our backyard. They happily scratched in the grass, watched over by our dog and two cats.
Suddenly we were all disturbed by the very loud squawking of half a dozen very large American crows coming in for a landing on two of our large trees.
I had not noticed, but the hens had all congregated below my chair and were looking up at these menacing birds. Suddenly my mind thought of scriptures which used the metaphor of God’s children as chicks resting underneath the wings of a mother hen regarding faith (In Psalm 91:4 the word for “trust” is the Hebrew word “chasah,“ which is a verb with the stem of Qal, it expresses the “simple” or “causal” action of the root in the active voice; indicating that the chicks behavior was an act of faith and trust in the hen based upon the past behavior and protection of the hen. Also see: Psalms 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; and 17:8-9).
I also remembered Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 23:37 (KJV), words not only of salvation but of PROTECTION, when He stated:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
I need to Go back first to Explain my Relationship to these Chickens
The chickens joined our family a couple of years ago, and they are beautiful black and white barred Plymouth Rock hens. They’re named Alma, Mildred, Gladys and Pearl after my wife’s grandmothers and their sisters, and wear stretchy, bright colored hair bands around their ankles so we can tell them apart. I call them “the girls.”
As I got to know the chickens, I would go out and feed them during the day. But I didn’t enjoy just feeding them regular chicken food. I always gave them treats, which after a very short time created a bond between the five of us.
It got to the point where I would give the “Super Chicken” call (for those of you too young to know what that is, you can Google it) when I came outside, and they would come running to me as fast as they can.
Now if you’ve never seen how some chickens look running fast, it’s both funny and adorable (See the looped video at the bottom of the page). They raise their wings up and lower their heads and run remarkably fast while rocking back and forth, side to side. Needless to say, I became quite invested in the girls.
The Day of the Crows
So the day that the crows showed up, I looked down and saw that they were bunched up tightly underneath my chair. I realized that the four girls were looking to me for protection as their master.
Poppa Brent went into action. I stood up and started making very menacing sound and growls towards the crows. I waved my hands and threw a few things into the tree branches until the crows flew away. Then I softly talked to the girls until they had calmed down.
From then on every day when I went in the backyard to read, the four girls would come and sit underneath my chair. Every time I came around they came running whether I called them or not.
I noticed that after I would give the girls treats like peanut butter and crackers which we all consumed in a sit down on the ground, that when I would put the rest of it into their feeding bowl and walk away, they would follow me rather than stay and eat their treats.
The Light went On
When I realized what this meant, it brought me to tears: my girls, who had seen a track record of me providing for them and protecting them, were more interested in my presence than my presents. They were more concerned about being with me than the treats and gifts I could bring them. I recognized that desire in my life.
Even after many years of failing God in every way I could, I am blessed and amazed that He has always taken care of me.
And now after this track record of building faith, I find myself seeking His presence, more than His presents, seeking to be with Him more than to get things from Him.
Why Focus on Faith
Occasionally, I am asked why I spend so much time in such a thorough examination and presentation of faith.
For one, I have found that many Christians only think of faith as a device to get what they ask for. At least until they get older and understand that faith is really about a relationship.
One common denominator seen in the moral failure of those in the church during our current culture is a lack of faith, but why.
The answer is quite simple, we have become so preoccupied with life and happiness that we spend less time with God and most importantly in His Word, the Bible.
You see, the main source of faith in the life of the believer is studying God’s word.
Experience only comes into play when it aligns with what God’s word has said in the first place.
Hence Romans 10:17, which states:
“so then, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The first two words of this passage, “so then,” are meant to bring us to the conclusion of all that was stated before in the book of Romans, not merely the immediate context, but the biblical context as found throughout this book of Romans in the Bible, which many scholars refer to as the gospel according to Paul.
Because we refuse to spend time in God’s word, growing by observing God’s track record of continuously displaying His trustworthiness and His faithfulness of always doing what He says; then why do we question why there is such a lack of faith?
Faith is the fruit of trust, and trust grows when a track record of faithfulness is thoroughly examined and believed to the extent that it changes behavior and becomes (action) faith, not merely cognitive assent (which is what the current English word believe means [look it up], a mental process that is necessary to coming to salvation, but if it does not go to becomes faith based upon conviction, and stays mental only; it will not bring salvation. Remember James 2:14, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” ~ KJV).
Time after time God displays His faithfulness in His word (See Endnote #1).
This is why faith is the only substance that pleases (Hebrews 11:6, Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:1-4; John 8:29; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5) God because it is the basis of every relationship man will ever have.
It was Adam who did not trust that God would give him a woman he would love as much as Eve, and desired to be with her enough to join in her sin to do so.
Adam and the fall
Adam was originally made in the image of God.
He sinned, and due to his sin all of us, his descendants, are made in the fallen image of our father Adam.
We display a very dim reflection of the image of God.
We share those character traits which God maintains in complete sinlessness.
God’s Righteousness Reflected in His Image
God can righteously get angry, He can righteously be jealous, He can righteously discipline in love.
In His righteousness, all of these traits are expressed in a holy way.
We as fallen creatures express these traits in sin and corruption. I get unrighteously angry when somebody assaults my ego. My mercy is limited and my grace is conditional.
When I was young I would become jealous when a girlfriend would look at another guy because my love was provisional. My sense of justice has been self-serving, calling for righteous judgment on my enemies, yet mercy for myself.
In all of those traits which God does in righteously, I corrupt them all, except..
There is one way in which we all as humans practice one of Godly character trait which — while corrupted — still, functions in a proper way.
God Is Social
You see, God is a social being. God does not need anything or anyone else, though He chooses to interact with other beings it is not a weakness but a reflection of His strength and desire to love.
And part of that likeness God created us to also be social creatures that need to be in relationships. But with any relationship, there is one mandatory ingredient, and that is trust (“faith”).
Faith is the Foundation of EVERY (healthy) Relationship
Please let me reiterate, faith is the foundation of every relationship you will ever have. This is because it is the most important ingredient in sustaining any relationship (rather with humans, animals, the laws of nature and physics, reality, anything and everything that exist, but most assuredly in any and all relationships between or with humans).
To have a positive relationship, a healthy relationship, you must have faith in the other individual. Without faith between the parties, most relationships often end in disaster.
Adam Broke Faith with God
Adam, in his leadership role for the human race, was aware that Eve listened to Satan as he blasphemed God and distorted God’s word, Adam said nothing to dispute Satan’s lies and after she ate.
Adam then made the cold, calculated choice to do the same thing the woman did so that he could stay with her.
Adam did not trust that God could either redeem Eve or give him a replacement he would love as much as her.
In these actions, he broke faith with God, he disobeyed because he did not fully trust; he was going to do it his way.
Now for those that might suggest that I am presenting cheap grace, a form of God’s acceptance without repentance, I am not.
Biblical faith in its essence is so completely trusting God that we repent of our selfish choices and choose to follow only His will.
There is always a price to pay for not trusting God.
Fortunately, God gives His grace (See Endnote #2) to us in the midst of our failings. Many in the church require that a person is perfected in the middle of their life, in the middle of their walk with God, in the middle of the story of their life, as when the prodigal son realized his error while he was at the pig’s trough.
However, Jesus completed that story by telling of the acceptance and love of the father when the prodigal son returned home.
Although he was a prodigal, he never ceased being his son. He was outside of his father’s presence, but never outside of his father’s unconditional love. And if you think God is conditional in His love, therefore you think you can deserve it – your lot will be in hell with all of those who did not truly believe God to the extent that they did it God’s way – the way of the cross.
This was seen in the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, whose problem was that they obeyed the law through outside discipline, thinking they earned God’s acceptance and not because of a life of faith as seen in choices made from the inside.
They obeyed for the sake of obedience alone, to earn the praise of men.
True faith comes from complete trust in God, our obedience is produced by our growing trust in Him.
Obedience should be the fruit of faith.
However, sometimes it takes years for this to be seen by others.
We have as examples obedience as seen in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, and many other individuals, that displayed more mature; obedient faith once they were also older and more mature. I can certainly relate to this.
There are many goats that think they are sheep, but an exterior apparent lack of sinfulness is not a true indicator showing the reality of a relationship between a human soul and God. Instead, faith in God is the indicator of a relationship with Him and that is why faith is the only thing that pleases God.
Instead, faith in God is the indicator of a relationship with Him and that is why faith is the only thing that pleases God (Please see: Hebrews 11:6, Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:1-4; John 8:29; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).
Man became sinful because he did not trust God and therefore did not have obedient faith in God.
Because he went against God’s will, which is perfect, and because God cannot be in the presence of sin (Habakkuk 1:13), the relationship was broken.
This is why before (Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20; Psalms 2) the world was ever created, God set up the amazing provision of Jesus Christ, who is all of God and all of man, to become the Lamb slain for the sins of the world. Those who truly exercise the action of faith, those who put their faith solely in Jesus can reestablish the relationship that we were always meant to have with God the Father.
It is amazing to me that even after my many decades on this earth I continue to see example after example of God’s grace in the simplest things, even in the faith that is exhibited by chickens in their master.
I praise you, my Lord and my God.
1. Biblical Faith
Faith is found in God’s word because of the consistency of witnessing miracle after miracle (unexplained occurrences which go far beyond mere suggestion due to the exactness of the details given) exhibited in God’s word, with the end result being an understanding that truly this book could not have been authored by man, but must have been authored by HIM who has seen, or better stated: “declared the ending from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10) – God Himself, wherein this book, the Bible deserves our greatest attention as God’s revelation to man.
Biblical faith is to be primarily based upon an interaction with God’s word, as is declared in Romans 10:17, which states:
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“
The Source of Biblical Faith
Biblical faith is created and grown wherein as a person reads the Bible, and the Holy Spirit opens their spiritual eyes to perceive that which is laid out, faith is a logical reasonable process of coming to the conclusion that this book could not have been written by mortal men (2 Timothy 3:16).
We should first consider the issue of prophecy.
Generically, the word prophecy means to “speak for another,” yet in a majority of the Old Testament prophecies it is used in a specific sense of where men speaking for God spoke about future events, it is these future events that establish that they come from God and not man.
Let us consider 2 Peter 1:18-19 (KJV), which records Peter statement:
“And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”
In this instant we have Peter who had walked with the Lord for three years observing miracles, healings, the wisdom of God incarnate on a daily basis, speaking about the event of observing Christ in his majesty in the divine meeting with Moses and Elijah.
However, here Peter assures us that even stronger than eyewitness accounts, and all that he had witnessed; that we have something more proving concerning the reality of Jesus Christ and His word than all these events that he – Peter personally saw – prophecy.
The telling of detailed exact events before they occur is something man cannot fake, and only God can do.
Faith comes from God’s Word, the Bible in the following ways.
1) There are prophecies given in Old Testament, which are fulfilled in the New Testament.
2) There are prophecies given within the Bible as a whole, which are fulfilled since its closing.
3) There are scientific and natural insights presented in the Bible, which were once considered completely false; in time, science has caught up with the Bible proving that it was correct in the first place and that it is beyond human insight.
4) There is deep wisdom that is written between its pages, which are far beyond the capacity of a human being to create.
5) There are internal evidences found in the Bible when it is crossed-referenced within itself in such a way that it is obvious that 40 different men could not have utilized the exact same type of “Figures of Speech,” including: typology, such as seen in metaphor, similes, models; along with prophetic symbols as seen in even the use of numbers, colors, events, material and substances, dates, mathematics, names, roles, and even people’s personality and lives; all done to portray “shadows” of things to come (Colo. 2:16-17; Heb. 8:2-5; Heb. 10:1-7) rather in heaven, or in the particular case of Jesus, the fulfillment of the Messiah. As witnessed in His First and Second coming – as well as Last Days events – all done in such a way that the only explanation is that God orchestrated the creation of this Book – The Holy Bible – as it is “The Word of God.”
All leading to the conclusion that this book was not written by man, but by a God that is outside of our time domain, who can see the ending from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10); who is all-powerful, and in total control of His creation (Isaiah 45:5-7), and therefore this Book is worthy of our complete trust and faith in what it says, as God declared concerning what He has done, and will do still yet (Isaiah 46; Jeremiah 29:11).
2. Grace, Mercy, and Salvation
Grace is one of those words that does not have an equivalent in the English making it more difficult for us to understand. When I was a child I remember grace being defined as “God‘s riches at Christ expense.” While I like this expression it really falls short in trying to help people grasp the concept of what grace is. I hear many preachers speaking of it as if it is a mystical all-changing experience or gift from God that falls into the realm of the spiritual, something we are unable to conceptualize.
I have been fortunate enough to have been taught by some great teachers that wisely understand both the Hebrew and the Greek languages, and would like to pass some of their wisdom onto others as well. When speaking about grace we need to first address the issue of mercy. While life is always complicated and complex, it is the love of our God that He makes such paramount issues as grace and mercy simple enough for a child understand, so please allow me to convey the meaning of these words as simply as possible.
Mercy is not receiving the spanking that I deserve for bad behavior, and grace is receiving a reward which I never earned. Both of these qualities are part of salvation, which is simply being “saved.” What we need to understand is that Christ provided mercy for us because He paid the penalty, sin was not merely set aside as if it never occurred, this would violate the justice of God.
God’s justice demands that where there is a violation there must be punishment, therefore He sent the most precious thing to Him that we are aware of throughout eternity, His Own Son; to pay the penalty for my sin, called the propitiation (See Endnote below, #3), which mandates a ransom (“freed by a ransom having been paid in exchange,” primarily used concerning a market slave. 1 John 5:19; John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2-3; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 1:18-19) be paid in return for the violation.
Yet beside the mercy of having Christ take our place and pay for our sins at the cross, akin to a prisoner who is been acquitted because someone else paid for his crime: we receive grace. It’s like watching somebody train day after day for years to go to the Olympics and to simply be sitting in the stands when that individual wins the race. Then afterward he walks up and tells YOU to go stand on the pedestal and receive the gold medal and all the privileges that he had earned, which you could never have earned.
When Christ paid for our sins on the cross and showed us mercy, He was treated the way that I deserve to be treated. Crucified on the cross for my sins and separated from God as I deserve to be which would condemn me to hell throughout eternity. Yet on top of this great privilege there is a bonus. When I die and stand before God, I will be treated as Jesus deserves to be treated: accepted and loved by the Father, and adopted into His family.
Grace is much more than NOT getting the punishment I deserve. Even this weak analogy doesn’t come close to expressing the unfathomable riches that Christ has extended to me in His grace.
Have you ever considered the problem that man created when he broke faith with God and created an unfathomable breach between ourselves and Him? God is worthy of complete trust, and trust is the foundation of every relationship, so man’s choice not to trust God, not to believe in Him, but to violate not only that trust, but everything that it encompasses by transgressing God’s Will, which is perfect is perfect; a problem which man could never ever correct.
God is worthy of complete trust, and trust is the foundation of every relationship. Adam chose not to trust God. When he violated not only that trust but everything that it encompasses by transgressing God’s Will, which is perfect; that caused a problem which man could never correct.
You see of the attributes of God, those reflections of his image, his nature behavior principles values and essence never contradict each other, yet we created a contradiction that God found a way to remedy.
Of God’s attributes His justice is complete, which means that He cannot merely sidestep or ignore a violation of his justice. here must be retribution, there must be vengeance, there must be a punishment for any injustice. This mandated that man would be doomed away from God’s presence to the place created for those that did not trust God and defied his will: Satan, and the fallen Angels, in a place we refer to as hell.
What could God do? In His greatness, He found a way to show mercy as well as justice and it is described by the word Propitiation.
Propitiation is a Greek word which simply means “Covering” (Greek: hilasterion), and “the lid of expiation” (Expiation is defined as the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing; atonement.), and the Greek word epithema (“to cover or a covering”) which comes from the Hebrew word kapporet (Exo. 25:10-22; Lev. 16:2; Heb. 9:2-10), all are used to convey propitiation.
It is the greatest word of love in Scripture because it displays how far God would go to redeem man by covering man’s sin. Sin cannot be simply forgotten, or just set aside.
Sin is opposition to God and His Will, & cannot be tolerated. God’s justice could not allow sin to go without punishment, man took himself out from under God’s protection when he chose to NOT obey; because of his lack of faith in God (we obey because we trust God – it is only natural to obey God if we trust what He says – only a fool sticks his hand in fire after God has warned him of the harm, obedience is the natural fruit of faith. Faith should be our motivation, & it is our motivation that God is concerned with – obedience for the sake of obedience [such as Pharisees], can be manipulation, yet obedience because of faith sets up a relationship, which is what God wants), this is what Adam gave up: a relationship based upon faith.
Being part of God’s family means God protects & covers us; and after man’s fall, this covering was withdrawn* yet now through faith in Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, having paid the price for our sin, we are adopted back into God’s family, and made righteous by Christ’s blood.
God’s covering of man’s sin cost Him the most valuable thing in existence, the life of His Son.
This is the price of our covering, & proof of God’s love. (* God always protects His Own, which includes before they respond in faith, God is always the Master of His Creation, He is Supreme in all, thus His covering does not mean others are without protection.)
4. Running Chicken below