Monday, March 26, 2012

So Where Is This Faith You Claim To Have?

To say it's all about faith is an understatement. Either you believe God, everything he has said and everything he has done, or you don't. If you believe and act upon that belief then you have faith but if you don't then you don't. It is not all that complicated, but we make it complicated. We are willing to have faith until the possibility it may cost us something, look a bit risky, or may leave us looking like a fool. If we feel any of these things when it comes to acting on the promises of God, we do not have faith and without faith we cannot please God:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Why serve a God who you do not believe desires the best for you, who you do not think wants to bless you and increase you? It is amazing how many people think they serve a mean-spirited God. So it goes beyond having faith to believe and also encompasses what you believe.

We are told that Abraham is our father because he was the first to have this faith in God, so in this sense he is the father of our faith. This is important to take note of because then we know what faith is. Faith is simply to believe God:

So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  (Galatians 3:6)

God's promise to Abraham was simple: Do what I tell you and I will make you into a great nation that will be a blessing to all nations. No proof offered, simply God's word on the matter. That was good enough for Abraham. But it was a faith that cost obedience. Abraham didn't get to do what he wanted to do. He was in a covenant of obedience to God now, so when God told him to pack up, leave everything that was familiar to him and move to a strange land with strange people, Abraham did exactly that.

Some of you even call God a liar. You say, "I tried faith and it didn't work". You would never come right out and say "God's a liar" but you may as well say it. Most of us have the patience the size of a gnat. When you sign on with God then you sign on to his time table. Do you realize how many years it was between God's promise to Abraham and the birth of Isaac? Twenty-five years. That's a life-time for some people. In fact, some people can't even wait for a day. No stamina to their faith. They have conditional faith. "Do it now God or I'm jumping ship."

Do you realize that it took 20 years between David's anointing as king by Samuel and him finally becoming king over Israel? And in that time he faced giants, became a legion, was turned into a fugitive, became a leader of misfits and an enemy of the king. Even when the opportunity was at hand for David to take the kingdom by force he refused until God's appointed time. We, who claim to have faith, often mess up our lives by our impatience and doing things according to our own timeline. Then we blame God and accuse him of being a liar.

Here are the facts:

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  (Galatians 3:7-9)

We rob God of his glory when we refuse to live in victory according to his promises, based on the same faith Abraham had. We make God out to be a liar. It doesn't matter if it takes a few years for God to do what he promised; his timing is perfect. Our part in it is to continue in faith, believing that what he promised is coming. "Those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." Would you dare look at Abraham and say that he was not a blessed man? Of course he was blessed, beyond our imagining. However, faith is not for the weak:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1)

You have to have faith that Jesus Christ loves you and due to that love he pours out his compassion on you. His blessings flow for you every day and he desires to build you up not tear you down. That's the important thing to understand; God is interested in your good so that he will be glorified through your life. You have to be convinced of this or you will not have the perseverance you need for a life-time of serving Jesus Christ:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Faith will do you no good unless you go to the end with it. You can afford to lose everything else in your life but you can't afford to lose your faith. Without faith we cannot please God and I don't think any of us what to come to the end of our life in a condition where everything we have invested in is thrown away. It is not good enough to have faith for a period of time. Salvation is by faith and faith must be ours to the end.

So no matter the storms we face or the condition we find ourselves in; no matter if everything has been robbed from us or if we have been told to take 100 years to build a boat; no matter if God removes us from everything that is familiar or takes a while in fulfilling his promises; we have to have faith that the promises are being fulfilled, that God has our best interest at heart and that he will glorify himself through us. It is not enough to have faith for today, we must have the determination to persevere in our faith no matter what tomorrow holds for us because Jesus has promised better things are on the way. I leave you with the words Paul wrote, inspired by the Spirit of God and born of his own faith and experience:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

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