Posted On March 24, 2007
I’ve been learning a wee little bit about this area in my life over the last couple of years. Back about to or so years ago, I asked God to help me with my faith, specifically, to have more of it. And it has honestly been two years of the wildest rides of my life. One thing that I can assure you of though – it isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be really really rough. However, the overriding lesson to be taken from this is that God is always faithful. Always. Ha, if I could even say that I was sometimes faithful, I’d be happy 😛
Something I’ve noticed along the way is that faith entails a lot of trust. This is because in order to have faith that God is going to do something, or just faith about God in general, you have to trust in His faithfulness, and trust that He is able, even when it seems impossible. This is reassuring however, because we don’t serve the God of the possible. Rather, we serve the God of the Impossible! However, the line by P.O.D. is very true – “The hardest part of holding on is letting it go.” This is especially true when God is concerned, because He does so much that we cannot see. And, as you’ll be able to tell from my other “thoughts” and if you actually know me, I struggle with this as much as, or even more than, the next guy.
Some key points that I’ve learned. First, faith isn’t faith if it just happens when things look promising, or when it’s easy. Faith means sticking it out even when things look impossible. This is especially when the things of God are concerned. It wouldn’t be faith in Him if at the first sign of trouble we turn and run, although that does tend to be the first “human” instinct – to avoid any kind of unpleasant situation. Secondly, faith isn’t always the most popular position to be in. We may get jeered by our peers. We may get mocked by strangers. Even by people that we love and care about. Third, faith is tested. There is an important distinction here between being tempted and being tested. Temptation does not come from God; rather it comes from our enemy, with the sole objective to lead us to sin. Temptation in and of itself is not sin, it’s a part of life. But when we act upon temptation, then we sin. Being tested however, is kind of like yanking on a rope. If you pull and it is strong, it will not break. However, if you pull and it is frayed and weak, it will snap. This is kind of a gross generalization I know, but it’s kind of how God tests our faith sometimes – He will allow a certain circumstance or even to happen in our lives that correlates to something we’re trying to be faithful about, and He watches to see how we react. Do we turn our backs on what He has showed us? The rope snaps. Do we look the other way for a while, and then come back to the path He has for us? The rope stretches. Or do we keep looking straight at Him, not paying attention to that circumstance that just cropped up? The rope holds firm.
One of the best chapters in the Bible that outlines so much of faith is Hebrews 11:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him out of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received 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 raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison, They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
As I’m sure you can easily see, there are so many different angles from which I can approach this. And, if I tried to get them all in one post, you would probably go insane from trying to read everything, which is why I’m going to do this in several parts.
The reason that I have become so interested in faith itself is because of what all has happened in my life, and the tremendous impact it has made. My life today is so incredibly different from where it was just a few short years ago. And my life today is so incredibly different from where it was just a few short months ago as well!
This isn’t to say that I’m faithful. Rather, much the opposite is true. I have doubted with the best of them. I have flat-out told God that I didn’t believe Him when He has spoken to me. However, even when I am faithless, He is still faithful. Even when it seems so hopeless, so impossible, He is there to reassure me. Even when I don’t have the strength to go on one more minute, even when I’m so burnt out I can’t stand, He gives me His strength to hold on.
In my experience, one of the biggest enemies of faith is thought. Especially in my life. So much so, in fact, that one Thursday evening I was at a prayer meeting and someone there started prophesying over those of us who were present, and one of the things that he said about me was that my thinking was the biggest obstacle to my faith. You see, thinking is the very fertile breeding ground to doubt, and doubt, to disbelief. Prayer, on the other hand, is the herbicide to doubt. And trust is the fertilizer for our faith. The more we trust to God, the more He can prove Himself faithful, and the more faith we have the next time something happens.
In conclusion for tonight, you’ll see in the passage above that the writer of Hebrews mentioned something happening by faith 22 times. Notice that not once did it say that they saw something happen, and then they believed that it had happened. That in reality doesn’t require any faith at all. In every instance, the end result occurred because the person held onto something they couldn’t see. In a number of the cases, they never even saw the realization of their faith before their death. And in other cases, it was because of their faith that they lost their earthly lives. Faith is at the core of Christianity. It is a chief requirement of every believer. We have faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He was born of the Virgin Mary, that He lived a blameless life, that He was falsely charged, beaten, and then murdered, only to be raised from the dead victoriously on the third day! We have faith that by His death, our sins are forgiven, covered by the Blood that He shed on that cross. We have faith that because of the price He paid, we are saved for all of eternity, and that when we die, we will see Him face-to-face.