Everyone’s faith is either growing or withering and the challenging days we’re currently living through are probably testing each of us in all kinds of ways we might never have imagined before.
We may be struggling to trust God for our very practical daily needs amidst the very real health or family or economic concerns. We may be grappling to have faith in God when it looks like, literally, the whole of humanity, our very planet, is threatened to its core.
We may also be aware though that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). So, how does all this work? Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When we have a thing, when we can see it tangibly, it is actually too late for faith!
Faith puts us in the place where we simply have to have God.
Faith puts us in the place where we simply have to have God. The alternative is for us to think that with our resources or our education or all our experience and competency we can ‘fix’ whatever the problem is: sort it without God. This actually goes back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve tried to fix their problem of nakedness without God by sewing for themselves fig leaves. They’d created a problem by not trusting and leaning on God and now they were trying to manage it by themselves. How often have you and I tried to fix it with fig leaves?
We need to be very careful that we don’t get comfortable living like that, trusting in our own independence from God. We weren’t actually designed to do life without him. In Genesis 12 we see how, by faith, Abraham went out not knowing where he was going; he had no idea about what was going to happen to him. What an adventure! What a role model!
However, many Christians find exercising faith difficult. In Luke 17:5 the disciples asked Jesus if he could increase their faith. Often, for us too, we find that the faith that pleases God is a challenge. Perhaps it is that we don’t need more faith but the right kind of faith; or we need to use rightly the faith we have. Perhaps we can take heart from what Jesus says here: a tiny mustard seed sized faith will do if he is with us in it.
When we are looking to grow our faith we desperately need to hear God’s voice
God has so helpfully given us the Bible, full of centuries worth of stories and people and scenarios that reveal to us the loving, giving, forgiving, God he is in order to exhort and inspire us to have increased levels of trust. Faith grows by hearing and hearing the word of God and allowing God’s Spirit to speak and transform us along the way. There are endless examples: one, in Judges 6, is of God choosing Gideon to be a leader even though he seemed the most unlikely person. But Gideon was willing to believe God. In a similar way, we read in Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is the son of God you will be saved.” The first step of ‘mustard seed faith’ brings us salvation. But that is the beginning of the adventure. When we are looking to grow our faith we desperately need to hear God’s voice: how? From his word. From his servants. From his spirit direct into our own spirit. This last way is intensely personal; a one-to-one with God himself. Have you ever heard God say: ‘don’t do that!’ Or: ‘that’s not right!’? When God speaks to us it is intensely personal. When we deliberately choose not to listen and not to obey we hear from him less and less: in order to grow our faith, we need to hear from the Spirit of God.
We also need to know the vision or the venture that God has for us. In Hebrews 11, by faith they did … mighty exploits! What is the vision God has for you even in these strange days? None of these visions are humanly possible which is why God gives us faith in order that we can attempt great things for God outside of our comfort zones. What would it take for you to agree to be in the place where you absolutely have to have God??
don’t plan to do things without faith; plan to grow your faith instead.
A word of warning ever here though: don’t plan to do things without faith; plan to grow your faith instead. When you read the word of God believe it in your heart and speak it out. Speak to the mountain and by faith it will move! God just spoke and creation happened. Faith’s chief occupation is about obtaining the promises of God. Many of the heroes of Hebrews 11 were on the verge of quitting. Hebrews 10:35 says: “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’”
So, brothers and sisters let us press on by faith in God and be obedient to follow him.
Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life says the Lord.
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