Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Need More Than After-The-Fact Faith

We need more than after-the-fact faith.

One would think that faith would come natural during a crisis, After all, we spend much of our day bragging about our God, telling people to trust Jesus, that no one loves us like Jesus does. So, it should be a simple thing to look to him for the strength and resources we need in everything that is beyond our ability to cope; but faith seems to be a "last resort" sort of thing for us.

It seems most of us are taken by surprise when God answers our prayers and responds to our crisis.

When we have exhausted all our other resources and come to God with our need, we get all excited that he came through for us, like we just won the lottery or something. It's great to get excited about God's faithfulness but we should be just as excited before he answers as we are after because it is not "if" God answers our prayers. That's the problem, we don't know who we are to God and who he is to us. We need more than an "after the fact" faith. We need the faith Jesus talked about, that contains no doubts about God, and that acts on the certainty of God's love, character and promises. We need a determined faith.

Jonathan, the son of King Saul, did not know Jesus, yet he knew enough about God that he trusted him and acted upon that faith. Yes, I said acted on. He took determined steps before God's hand moved in order to see God's hand move. That's the thing, real faith acts according to the promise not the proof. Anyone can have "after the fact" faith, but it is the one who truly loves Jesus who acts upon the promise.

In Samuel 14 we find Jonathan facing an outpost of an invading army. There was only Jonathan and his armour bearer but Jonathan had enough of a relationship with God that he knew who his God was. He decided to act on that faith and attack that outpost and he said to his friend, "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few". (1 Samuel 14:16) Jonathan knew his history.

It ended up that Jonathan and his young armour bearer put the entire army to flight. Two men, one with unwaivering faith in the character of God, and we are still talking about it to this day. Determined faith changes everything because it brings God into everything.

Today we have no such determination. Today we treat prayer like the lottery. We buy our ticket and we hope that the odds are in our favour. That isn't faith, that's grasping at straws, an act of desperation and the world knows it. It robs God of his glory and brings no testimony to our lives. This certainly is not the faith that Jesus spoke about and not the faith that calmed the storms, healed the sick, raised the dead or saw thousands fed by a picnic lunch. Faith is a certainty not a lottery hope and a prayer of faith claims the promise today and acts on it, not waiingt until tomorrow, after the fact, to be claimed.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

Spend some time with that chapter in Hebrews, investigate some of those heroes, read through one of the gospels, look at Paul's life, consider some of the great modern day heroes of the faith and ask yourself if we have anything that even comes close to the faith that acts upon the promises and character of God. Be brutally honest with yourself and ask if you have fairy-tale faith or "stand your ground" faith.

We are heading into a period of history where the real hatred of the world toward the Church is going to reveal it's ugly head and we are going to face a persecution like never seen before. The Church will be purified and those who live by the promises and character of God will survive spiritually. They will be the ones who hold on to Jesus while rotting in the jail cells and facing their death. They will be the ones holding on to their faith when all they possess is taken away by the state and they are classified as second rate citizens or even enemies of the state. If you are a Christian who gets stressed out and fearful over matters such as your finances, school exams, relationships or job then you are in a lot of trouble.

Determined faith looks into the eyes of the enemy and says "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few". It faces the furnace with no regrets,

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17)

Determined faith understands its responsibility to do all that we can to stand, and after we have done everything, to stand. Determined faith acts on the promises before not after the fact. Determined faith starts celebrating before it happens not after. Determined faith keeps a smile on our face, peace in our hearts and a calm in our mind. Determined faith says more about our relationship with Jesus than a thousand conversations ever could. Determined faith is the only thing that will see us through the dark days ahead. The writing is on the wall, in the news, on the city streets, as the word "homophobia" because part of the regular vocabulary and is taught in our schools. The storm is already upon us.

Determined faith will see thousands saved from the depravity of this world and us safely home, with Jesus.

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