Got Faith?

 

How do I know if I have faith?  For many people faith is simply a belief they have.  Something they can agree is true.  It may not change anything, and for some it doesn’t guide or direct their lives at all.  But is this really faith?

Faith is a pretty deep subject, and one that can create a lot of discussion, and at times arguments.  If we don’t know what faith is it can leave us feeling lost in a storm of differing opinions and beliefs.   Faith isn’t about everything turning out ok, and it isn’t about being blessed and prosperous.  Just as Joseph, they young man with the coat of many colors, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, and imprisoned for something he didn’t do for 13 years because of what God spoke to him about.  Faith isn’t about everything being ok, and it has nothing

at all to do with our feelings.

Faith isn’t a feeling.  It is a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.  As we learned in a earlier post Faith is “Believing that God is who He said He is, and that He will do what He said He will do.”

 

But is faith supposed to be more than just something I can agree is true? Something that I can mentally state with some emphasis, but that doesn’t guide my life?  For many people faith is just that.  That is why people can say they believe in God and yet live like He doesn’t exist.  Because faith is something we agree is true, but doesn’t affect our lives.

Unfortunately this isn’t a biblical view of faith.  When you read scripture you see that faith creates action in those who have it.  In fact the bible is pretty clear, if there is no action, there is no faith.  James 2:19-20 says “Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?”

So if there is no action, there is no faith!  You can have action without faith, but you cannot have faith without action. Faith isn’t something that we give mental assent to.  It is something that drives us forward when everything around us says we should stop.  Faith is what allowed Abraham to walk out into the desert not knowing where he was going.  Because He believed that God was who He said He was and that He would do what He said He would do.  And because Abraham had faith when God said go, he could go.  Faith is what allowed Noah to build a great boat, when there had never been a boat before.

Faith is what allowed Joseph to endure everything that happened to him and not give up, although at times he probably thought of doing so.  Faith creates action.  The action it creates may be simply to hold our course and keep going.  Or maybe it is praying for the sick people you meet, regardless of what does or doesn’t happen.  Or simply sharing Jesus with people around you, even though it hasn’t gone well in the past.

Faith requires action, or there is no faith.  It doesn’t require us to make anything happen, because then we are trusting in our ability.  All of the hero’s of faith listed throughout scripture we simply people who believed God, and put one foot in front of the other doing what they knew to do, and what God had asked of them, simply because it was God who asked and they knew that God is trustworthy and faithful, and would always do what He said He would do.

Sometimes all God is waiting for from us is for us to simply take a leap and expect Him to catch us.  Big leap or small it doesn’t matter as long as it is faith moving us into taking the leap.

 

Now Faith is!!

Faith.  It is something that is wonderful and powerful in the life of a believer.  But it is also extremely misunderstood as well.  So many people are under the belief that they don’t have enough faith.  And they live under condemnation and self ridicule because they cannot seem to get enough faith together to act, or to get God to act on their behalf.  Many Christians today can be heard to say ‘If only I had more faith.’

Faith is extremely important in our lives because “And without faith it is impossible to please Him..” Hebrews 11:6 ESV.  Jesus also said to the blind men who came to Him to be healed  “According to your faith be it done to you.” Matthew 9:29 ESV  So it is important that we have faith, and much of what God can do in our lives is because of faith.  But what is faith?

First we need to dispel the belief that is faith is a magical substance that we need to exercise like a muscle to enable God to work on our behalf, or that we need to pray for God to grow our faith or to give us more faith.  There is no specific ‘measure’ of faith given where some get a little and others get a lot.  There is simply faith, and you cannot grow it or strengthen it at all.

Faith is a gift given to us by God yes, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God..’ Ephesians 2:8 ESV.  And the faith God gives you simply allows you to start your walk with Him and begin a life altering empowered relationship with the King of kings.  So God gives us faith.  We don’t exercise our faith or grow our faith because faith comes from God  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17 ESV.  Faith comes by hearing the “word” of God which when read in the Greek is a spoken word.  “Hearing through the word ‘rhema=spoken’ of Christ”.

Faith is a gift from God and it grows by hearing God speak and by acting on what He has said.  But we still don’t know what faith actually is.  So what is faith?

Faith is simply the confident quiet assurance that God is who He says He is and He will do what He said He will do.!  That is it.  No magical formulas,  no special efforts and no exercise and effort required.  Faith is believing God period.  Abraham was a perfect example of faith for us to follow.  James records Abraham’s faith when he wrote “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” James 2:23 ESV  Abraham believed God and acted on what God said to do, and his belief was what pleased God.

If we go back to the rest of our original scripture in Hebrews 11:6 it says And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Faith is believing God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  That allows us to walk forward by faith because our faith is in the nature and the character of God and not on our circumstances.  It allows us to weather any storm because we walk with a God who said He will never leave us or forsake us.

Faith is simply a confident assurance in the character of God allowing us to follow as He directs us to.  This also allows faith to deepen because as we hear God speak to us and act on what He says So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17 ESV our understanding of His nature deepens and when we move forward into what God has said we then see Him doing what He said He would.   So our faith is in God, because He is faithful.

We don’t need to work up faith and we don’t need to pray for more or look for ways to grow our faith.  It doesn’t work that way.  We simply need to believe that God is who He says He is and that He will reward us because we are seeking after Him, and not looking for what He can do.  And as we step out believing what God speaks and directs us to our understanding of His nature grows which allows us to step out further as He leads and our understanding grows again and again and again.

Jesus said For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 ESV.  A little belief in God goes a long long way.  If we will stop looking for the magical essence that allows God to move and start getting to simply know God and allow He to show us His nature and to speak to our lives so we can act on His direction instead of our plans we would then see Him in action which would deepen our assurance in Him allowing us to see more of who He is and opening the door to God doing some very powerful things in our lives.

All it takes is for us to answer the question “Is God who He said He was, and will He do what He said He will do?”

Living an illusion

The journey to know yourself is one that is important to take, but also can be difficult.  In order to know yourself, truly know yourself it requires you to look at all the parts of yourself including the ones that you would rather keep hidden.   Everyone of us has parts of ourselves which we like, and try to make prominent.  The qualities of ourselves that we see as strengths which we work on and hope people see.  But we also have parts that we do our best to minimize and keep hidden.  The parts of ourselves that we see as shortcomings or weaknesses.

If we were to have our way these parts of our nature would be kept in the dark and never seen again.  The problem is we cannot truly know ourselves without seeing them for what they are, a part of who we are.  If we only focus on the parts of ourselves that we like, or think are our strengths we will not live in truth, because part of ourselves remains hidden and in the dark.  And it is part of us that God created.  It probably needs some work, because these weaknesses can lead us into areas where we can be tempted to sin, but it still is part of who we are and needs to be recognized as such.

“If, for example, I only know my strong, competent self and am never able to embrace my weak or insecure self, I am forced to live a lie. I must pretend that I am strong and competent, not simply that I have strong and competent parts or that under certain circumstances I can be strong and competent. Similarly, if I refuse to face my deceitful self I live an illusion regarding my own integrity. Or if I am unwilling to acknowledge my prideful self, I live an illusion of false modesty.”The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery” by David G. Benner

The Holy Spirit’s job here on earth is lead us to truth. Jesus said “The Holy Spirit is coming. He will lead you into all truth.” John 16:13.  That truth is usually seen as the truth about Jesus.  Which is a very important role the Holy Spirit has.  But the truth He is leading us into is also the truth about ourselves.  And if we are unwilling to see those parts of ourselves then we will resist the Holy Spirits job in us because only when we see ourselves as He sees us can we truly live in truth.  I wrote in a earlier post how the parts of ourselves that we try to hide keep us from becoming who God wants us to become, and usually keep us trapped in behaviors that we are struggling to be free from.

Unless we are willing to honestly look at all of who we are and allow God to reach into those areas we are trying to avoid ​
we will never be able to break free of the illusion we have worked to create, and we can never truly know what it means to live in freedom.   God is already waiting in those areas we are working so hard to keep locked up, so He won’t be surprised at all by what we find when we decide to open them.  The pain of opening them might be difficult, but it is infinitely rewarding and freeing when we can face ourselves for who we are and know we are truly loved and completely accepted for who we are, and exactly as we are.