Is it Faith or Hope

Faith is an important part of our Christian walk.  If fact without faith we are completely lost.  Hebrews says ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’. Hebrews 11:6  In a previous post I wrote about what faith is.    The kingdom of God, and everything He wants to do in our lives and those around us requires faith.  But how much faith do we have?  It is a question I have been asking myself recently.  Because Jesus stated that ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20  And so I wondered because I don’t see mountains moving in my life often.  I have prayed for people and seen God do wonders, but most times I pray and like many people nothing happens.   And yet Jesus stated that if we will lay hands on the sick they will recover.

So I began to wonder am I acting in faith?  When I pray for people is it faith driving my actions.  Do I believe God can?  More important do I believe God will?  or do I simply hope God will?  Hope is an important and life changing part of our life with God as well.  Rick Warren stated ‘Without hope in the future there is no power for today.”   Paul wrote that faith hope and love will remain but the greatest is love.  So hope is very important.  But hope on its own is limited.  It is not an endless supply to keep us running endlessly.   Solomon wrote in Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”   So hope can run out and many people today are giving up on following God.  One might wonder if there was just hope and no faith.

Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is the foundation and the substance of hope.  Faith is what allows hope to stay strong, and allows you to carry forward regardless of what your circumstances tell you, when that faith is in God.  Because God is never-changing and His nature is always reliable and He will always do what He says He will.   Abraham is our best example in scripture about walking in faith and he received a promise from God that He would be a father of many nations.  To be a father of many, you have to at least be the father of one, and Abraham had no children.  And yet Abraham believed, or had faith in God, that God’s nature was to fulfill His promises and to do what He said He would do.  And Romans 4:18-21 states Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  Against all hope Abraham hoped, because his confidence was placed in the nature and character of God and so he was able to consistently hope and walk forward towards the promises of God.

Are you walking in faith, believing and trusting in the nature of God regardless of circumstance or are you just hoping.  Without faith hope will run out.  Many people stop short of God’s promises because their confidence was in their circumstances and situations instead of in the nature and character of God and as a result their hope had no foundation.  Abraham walked forward never wavering in the confidence of God’s nature, even when it came time to sacrifice his son at God’s command.   Abraham was able to respond not because of what he was capable of, but because of God’s nature and what God was capable of.  “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,  even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead…” Hebrews 11:17-19

If you’re reaching out in response to what God has said never waiver when your circumstances don’t agree.  Faith says God is able, God is trustworthy, and God will do what He said.  Peter walked on water because He had faith.  When his view was placed on his circumstances he sunk.  If your simply running on hope you will eventually run out of steam.  But with God all things are possible and you can enter into all that God has for you.


Becoming Through Problems

Problems.  They are common to us all.  Ann Romney wrote “Everybody has problems. Everyone has issues. ” and 2000 years ago Jesus said “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”  We all have problems and difficulties in our lives.  Sometimes they can be simple, and only in our thoughts do they become serious.  At times in my life there have been people who came up to me and said “It’s not as bad as it seems!”  And as time passed and I could look backwards I could see the truth in their statement.  But at the time all I could see was the problem and they seemed insurmountable.  Other times those problems can be overwhelming and at times can be worse than we feel them to be.

What makes the difference is what we do with those problems.  Even the limitations and problems associated with life, like disabilities and birth defects which can be immense hurdles to overcome don’t have to be things which keeps us weighed down.  Problems exist for everyone.  What needs to be looked at is what is happening in you during the problems.

Every person born has meaning and purpose.  The Psalmist wrote “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.… Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:13,16 NLT  And often times what we fail to notice is it is the problems that we encounter each day which allow that purpose to be lived out.

Alfred Adler, a pioneering psychologist in the early 1900’s, performed several studies with people 

with birth defects, physical ailments, mental issues, poverty and other characteristics we see as disadvantages.  Over time he determined that success is not achieved in spite of those perceived disadvantages . It’s achieved because of them.  Many great people in our society rose up and overcame some serious difficulties and troubles.  Our greatest hero’s are not those people who were great without adversity.  Our greatest hero’s are those who became great and accomplished great things in spite of the great adversity.

I learned this lesson myself reading about Joseph in my Bible.  Joseph was a young man who was the spoiled rotten brat who was the favorite son of his father Jacob, and he was given a coat of many colors and usually was flaunting the fact the he was the favorite.  As a result he was deeply hated by his brothers.  If you want to read his story it is found in Genesis 37-50.  After awhile having had to put up with Joseph long enough his brother saw an opportunity to be rid of him and sold him into slavery.  Joseph spent much of his formative years in hardship and trials living as a slave, and then spent 13 years in prison simply because he wouldn’t sleep with his masters wife.  That is a lot of trouble to deal with for a young man.

The important part of Joseph’s story though isn’t the wrongs done to him, or the hardships and difficulties he faced or for how long he had to endure.  What was important was the fact that the trials actually formed and shaped his character to the point where he was a wise and thoughtful man, and not just a spoiled brat.

All the problems we face in life have the opportunity to do the same things for us if we allow them to.  We don’t get to choose if we have problems.  We do get to choose how we respond to the problems though.  We get to choose if they will make us bitter or better.  Some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my life that have formed me into the man I am today have come from some of the darkest seasons in my life.

Corrie Ten Boom survived the Nazi concentration camps and watched her whole family and many of her friends die would later talk about all of those experiences and the lessons she learned from them and she wrote

My life is but a weaving between my God and me, I do not choose the colors, He works so steadily, Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride, Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside. Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand, As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

What will happen in you as a result of your problems?


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?”