When Your Faith is Empty

got-faith_t1‘Have a little faith.’  It’s a phrase that gets used a lot in our world.  It is used in many different contexts and there are many different understandings.  For some it is simply a belief in an unknown.  You can’t explain why you believe, you just do.  For others it is seeing the best in people or situations.  Others see it as things will get better, as ‘the night is darkest before the dawn.’  Some see it as a way to get things from God.  If I just believe enough then God will …

Faith is something much deeper for us as Christians.  It goes beyond the wish list and blissful ideas of a better future.  It grabs ahold of your soul and creates passion inside that cannot be pushed away.  Faith is a deep-seated belief that cannot be swayed or dismissed that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  It is the gift of faith that allows you and I to connect with God on a personal level.  It is faith that opens the door to experiencing God’s greatness.  But what happens when that faith begins to fade?  running empty

Circumstances can cause you to lose faith if we allow them to.  The passion we once had for God can diminish and if left untended will go out.  Jesus warned ” For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.” Matthew 24:12 MSG  The passion people have for God can go out, and the excitement for who God is and what God is doing can disappear if we allow it to.

Some signs your faith is running low are;

  • You go through the motions without emotion
    • If your walk with God has become mechanical then your faith is running low
  • Your passion is gone
    • A sign of low faith is what once excited you is now empty
    • Reading your bible and praying is a chore
    • Attending services is simply what your supposed to do
    • Soren Kierkegaard said that “if passion, intense personal involvement with the truth of something, is eliminated, then faith can no longer exist”
  • Your walk with God has become an intellectual exercise
    • Knowing all the right scriptures and having all the right doctrines, but no transformation
    • The Pharisees had most of the scriptures memorized and discussed them diligently but it was worthless activity for them
    • Jesus said of them “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39 NIV
  • You have a faith no one wants
    • While it is true that many will not want to walk with God and know Him we often use that as a justification for no one coming to know Christ
    • What may be true is they don’t see anything happening in your life so they don’t want what you have
    • The early church had a faith that was transforming lives and everywhere God moves people want to be apart
      • “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 NIV

The good news is your faith can be restored again if you want it to.  But it is going to take some work on your part to do so.  Taking time to once again connect with God is the first step, because that is where your faith originated from in the first place.  Romans 12:3 “…God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith.” Voice.  So if your running low it is time to reconnect with your source.  Jesus said “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 NLT

We also to need to make sure that we are surrendered to God.  Often our faith has diminished because we allowed our focus to either wander from God into other things, so we need to reconnect, or we chose to not do something that God asked of us.  The reasons we have for it may sound really good to us, or it may simply be that we didn’t feel we could.  Whatever  the reason God is waiting to see if we will allow Him to lead us, which is what Him being Lord is all about.  If He isn’t driving, then our faith isn’t worth anything.  Surrender is essential to a passionate love for God.  Without it there can be no faith.  Alan Hirsch wrote “We do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because we have not attempted obedience.” 

We can have faith that transforms lives if we want to.  The question we need to answer is

What kind of faith do you want to have?

Worship? pt 5

Worship in Spirit.

Much of what we “offer to God” each week has little to do with what God wants or desires.  In fact much of what we do is centered on what we want and desire.  Having led worship in churches for almost two decades I am amazed at what people expect from worship.  We gather to “have our ears tickled” to borrow slightly from 2 Tim 4:3.  Worshipping God in truth means that we come before Him and see Him as He is, not as we think He should be, and we offer ourselves as we are, imperfect and incomplete.  We give God honor, respect, awe and proclaim Him for who He is, all the while recognizing who we are, knowing that we come before Him not on our own merit, but because of His value of us.

Worshipping God in Spirit is based on this one thing.  Life in the Spirit, as written about by Paul in Romans 8, hinges on the fact that we have nothing to offer God in ourselves, but ourselves.  Nothing that we can do will ever qualify us to receive anything that God has for us.  At no time can we stand before God and say “look what I have done.”  Everything we have to offer Him is a direct result of everything He has obtained and offered to us.  This begins our walk in the Spirit.  We begin by recognizing our standing before a holy and perfect Judge, who requires that payment be made for our actions.  Everything we do has a consequence, whether it is good or bad.  Isaac Newton only discovered God’s law that every action has a reaction.  Or to put it in Bible terms “we reap what we sow.”  When we recognize that we have completely missed the mark and fallen short of God’s standard for us, and we realize that God isn’t pleased with our actions and they require punishment we begin to have our hearts opened to life in the Spirit.  2Cor 7:8-10 states that we need to have repentance with Godly sorrow. ” I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. ”   Repentance is simply changing the way we think about something.  We begin to see things from God’s perspective.   We come to understand how much our actions have missed God’s intended mark for our lives and how deeply this has offended Him.  This then calls us to have a sorrow inside that regrets the thoughts and actions we have had simply for the reason that they have offended God.  If all we have is a feeling of ” now I’m in trouble” it does us no good. 

Godly sorrow leads us to open our heart to understand and receive the grace God offers to us.  We can never reach God on our own.  God’s grace, or His power doing in us what we cannot do, restores us again to relationship with Him and we come alive to His Spirit and are joined in relational communion with our creator who so greatly loves us.  Life in the Spirit is based solely in  that simple life giving relationship with God.  As we stay connected with Him and journey with Him we have a life lived according to His plan, fulfilling what He desires for us and we live empowered and guided by His Spirit in us.

This is also the way we need to worship.  That connection we have with God needs to be maintained.  It is the source of all we have to offer God.  Jesus said in John 15 that we need to abide in Him.  In modern language it simply means we need to stay connected.  The very fact that Jesus told us to stay connected means that we can become unconnected.  And once that happens no more life flows from Him to us, and we are off wandering around doing our own things even when they are covered with religious veneer.  Simply gathering with other “Christians” and singing some songs and listening to a teaching doesn’t mean we are connected.   And without that connection we cannot worship God.  How’s your connection doing today?  Does it need some attention?  The good news is God wants us to be connected and is willing to reconnect us if we have wandered off.  It is up to us to evaluate what we are offering when we gather.  It is just something that makes us feel good because we have “done our duty” or are we connected to our source and offering worship born from that connection.

Worship? pt – 3

Worship in truth – pt 1

worshipWorship is powerful when we get it right.  God’s presence fills our lives and we come to know Him deeper and deeper.  The problems we face surrender to the sovereignty of who He is and His care and provision for us.  Worship allows us to refocus ourselves from trying to do things our way, and brings us again to the place where we submit and align ourselves again to His hand and plans.  At least when we get it right it does.

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”   John 4:23-24 NLT

Every time I have read these verses I have asked how do we worship in Spirit and in truth?  Worshiping in truth takes on two facets.  The first is that we must worship God for who He really is.  So many people talk about God in our world.  We have people who talk about a God who is not the God revealed in scripture.  There are so many ideas put forward in our day that have nothing to do with God at all.  God is not a vengeful judge.  And He is not an all accepting loving deity with no expectations either.  He isn’t a faceless far off uninvolved substance drifting in space.

When we worship we need to come to a place where we are willing to yield to God and let Him describe Himself.  We can find who God is in scripture.  Jesus came to earth to show the Father to us.  Jesus said To see me is to see the Father.John 14:9 MSG.  We can read how Jesus interacted with people on earth and see how He lived.  We can learn of God in our relationship with Him.  Jesus states in John 17:3 “all who receive Me will experience everlasting life, a new intimate relationship with You (the one True God) and Jesus the Anointed (the One You have sent)Voice.

If we are willing to yield our expectations and understandings about God and allow Him to speak to us He will bring us into new understanding of who He really is.  All through scripture God revealed Himself to people and caused their understanding of Him to deepen and grow.  Every time God named Himself in scripture it was to describe His nature to people and He is still doing that today.  But we have to be willing to let go of our current understanding.

If we refuse to let go of our understanding of God as a vengeful judge ready to jump on you every time you do something wrong you will never be able to see the loving caring side of God who deeply desires to free you and care for your every need.  If you simply see God as a big bully in the sky, you will never come to understand God as your staunch defender.  So much of what we see about God has little to do with who God truly is.  And we can never worship God for who He is if we are unwilling to let go of our current understanding.

God is actively seeking those who are willing to worship Him in truth.  Who will let Him reveal Himself to them.  It is up to us to be willing to open our hearts to receive what He is so willing to share