Lord, I believe – grow my faith!

 

I find myself in a curious place with regard to ‘faith’ these days after the death of my wife. Some days I feel confident in my beliefs, assured of God’s care and love, hopeful in eternal life. Then moments come when it is as if the very ground I stand on is shifting. I wonder where God is, if He really cares for me at all. “Ah, Jerry,” you are saying, “you are looking in the wrong place for faith. You cannot trust your feelings and emotions.”  So right you are!  Faith is a complex mix of Truth, Observation, Conviction, and Feeling.

faith_topA Christian may have deep faith and still experience moments of mystery, even doubt! Simon Peter certainly had faith in Jesus, believing in Him enough to leave his livelihood to follow Jesus. Yet, in a couple of crises we see the “Rock” stumble. He got out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee and walked on water only to take his eyes from Jesus and sink into the waves.  He boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, only to deny Him under pressure.

Faith is not an ‘all or nothing’ kind of thing.  We can be a person of deep and authentic faith and still struggle with temptation, fear, or doubt.  Our faith is being perfected and therefore we all have gaps in it of which we are largely unaware. For example – a person may have a deep and authentic faith about God’s provision for her financial needs which makes her generous, consistent in tithing, and worry free about her stuff and yet be an anxious wreck in raising her kids, unable to commit them to the care of the Lord.  Or, a person may have a rock solid conviction about the promise of Heaven and yet have difficulty grasping the assurance of his own salvation.  That said, a mature Christianity will bring about a beautiful wholeness of faith if we choose to be faith-builders! Faith does not grow on us like moss on a rock. It must be cultivated, tested, stretched, and practiced.

How does a Christian gain faith that is beautiful and whole?

First, we ask for it!
Faith is a gift of God.  The Holy Spirit works in us to draw us to God, to cause us to desire Him and to live in a way that pleases Him.   We can pray, indeed we ought to pray, for other’s to know this work of grace in their lives. Jesus taught His disciples about living a holy life and their response was a simple, yet important, prayer –  “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5, NIV) A man who was in desperate need came to Jesus seeking healing for his tormented son.  He realized that the most basic need he had was for greater faith and his prayer was direct – “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”  (Mark 9.24)   We must not pretend to own a greater faith than we do.  Such hypocrisy blocks us from asking for the very thing we need most in time of need – the gift of faith.

Second, we inform our minds with godly truth!
The fertile soil of a strong, life changing faith, is the Scripture.  In the pages of the Bible, God is revealed to us. When our minds are shaped around God, when we understand the world with a spiritual view, faith grows.   The Psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, NLT)   What does he mean?   That he had taken time to integrate the truth of God’s Word into his thought life so that his actions would be consistent with faith.

Third, we invite the Spirit to school us, to develop faith.
James invites us to the gymnasium of faith where we work on those spiritual muscles! “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4, NLT) The Message says this way – “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:3-4, The Message) When people fail you, when your dear wife dies, when the future looks dark, when to all appearances there is no way to turn for relief- you are in the school of faith!   Step over your turbulent emotions and surrender control. Weep, pray, rage – but remember to find a place of quiet – your soul and mind still – where you give yourself to God’s care even when outward evidence tries to convince you that He is not there.

If you choose to exercise faith, God will make a way.   It might not be the way you would choose, but it will be the way that brings honor to Him. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself in anguish when your faith is being formed.  Even Jesus was pressed to the limit.  When He faced the Cross, He prayed for another way, but then released Himself to God’s plans, not with resignation to fate, but with a surrender that focused on His Father’s will! There is no easy road in the life of faith.   The natural man craves security, affirmation, and vindication of self!   The spiritual man is secure in the Spirit, affirmed by God, and is willing to wait for Heaven’s revelation. It’s a faith thing!

Here is a word from the Word. Meditate on Jesus’ words on this Monday morning and pray – Increase my faith.  “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6, NIV)  Such faith can never find its source in me; it must always be fixed on Thee! Amen.

__________________

Good Good Father

I’ve heard a thousand stories

Of what they think You’re like,

But I’ve heard the tender whisper

Of love in the dead of night.

You tell me that You’re pleased

And that I’m never alone.

 

You’re a Good, Good Father!

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am.

 

I’ve seen many searching for answers,

Far and wide,

But I know we’re all searching for answers

Only You provide.

Because You know just what we need

Before we say a word,

 

You are perfect in all of Your ways,

You are perfect in all of Your ways,

You are perfect in all of Your ways to us.

 

Love so undeniable I can hardly speak,

Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think,

As You call me deeper still,

As You call me deeper still,

As You call me deeper still.

Into love, love, love!

 

You’re a Good, Good Father!

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am.

 

Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett

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