So far this month we have talked about the gifts that God gives us in the verse John 3:16, with the first one being love, and hope as an extension of that gift, and the second gift being Jesus. The third gift that this verse promises is the gift of faith.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, SO THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM…..
Belief, requires faith.
So many people in this world today are hurting, lonely, desperate, and hopeless – and many of those people are Christians. Many people who say they are believers, still surrender to a life of pain and heartbreak, finding no reason for joy or hope.
I think we are all guilty of feeling that way at some point in our lives, but the evidence of someone exhibiting in true faith, is that they choose not to stay in that pattern of defeat.
Even Christians who say they have faith, can live lives, or have attitudes, that do not portray that. When that is the case, is it possible that maybe they dont really understand faith? Maybe they believe in God, but they do not fully trust Him and His sovereignty? Maybe they are having a hard time believing that God is good, because they are basing their faith on proof, not blind faith? Maybe they dont really understand the power of prayer?
Never would I claim to be an expert on faith, much less an example of faith. Never would I claim to be a person who lives by faith every moment of their life and never falters. Never would I even place myself in a category of strong faithful people. I struggle, I fall, I feel broken at times. We all do. But I just think there is a diference between surface faith and heart faith – and that what we want to strive for in order to be fully dependent on Christ, is heart faith. Grounded faith.
Faith is such a precious gift. We have free will to choose it or not, but it is one of those gifts, that if left unopened, wanes and diminishes.
I dont think anyone allows their faith to diminish on purpose, it just happens – stuff happens – life happens – circumstances happen – to pull us away from God. Those series of events can sometimes cause us to feel so disconnected from God, that it seems like the journey back to Him is too long and impossible, so it becomes easier to give up, than fight the battle for faith. Sometimes giving up seems easier than giving in to God.
But no matter how far we have gone, faith is always available. We can always choose to embrace a new journey of faith. So what is heart faith? Lets take a quick look at what is faith, and what faith is not.
FAITH IS NOT:
-Faith is not religion. It is not ideas, doctrines,traditions, or positions.
-Faith is not by-laws and church procedures.
-Faith is not just going to church every Sunday.
-Faith is not just agreeing with your mind that God is real, for even demons have that kind of faith. Faith goes beyond belief, into true acceptance.
-Faith is not a way to manipulate God to doing what we want Him to do (like telling God, “I will love you forever, if….”)
-Faith is not wishing, or empty dreams. It is believing that God is listening.
-Faith is not just hoping anxiously for results to prayers, but being confident that God is already working on your behalf.
-Having the kind of trust and confidence in God that leads you to feel peace in any situation, knowing that He is in control.
-Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.
-Faith is a spiritual force inside of us that compels us to serve God, and that is so strong, we simply cannot help but follow Him.
-Faith is from the heart. It is not merely intellectual. It causes you to know in your heart before you see with your eyes.
-Faith involves the complete surrender of your heart and life.
So many role models of faith for us in the Bible, but just to name a few:
– Noah – built the ark – he didnt understand it or like it, but He did it
– Abraham – left his home, and went to the promised land as a foreigner
– Abraham – believed he would have a son, even though he was very old
– Abraham – willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, even He loved him dearly
– Moses’s parents – hid him in a basket in a river, trusting in Gods care
– Gods people crossed the red sea, knowing it would not engulf them
– The walls of Jericho fell after Gods people walked around them for 7 days
– Esther – stood up to the king at the risk of her life, but saved her people
– David – fought and killed the giant with one stone with confidence and zeal
And the list goes on and on. Are these people just stronger than us? Were these great characters in the Bible just better people than we could ever be? Did these people have less fear and worries? Were they better equipped emotionally, physically and mentally to handle issues than us?
No! They simply had accepted the gift of faith, and acted on it. They allowed faith to penetrate their inner thoughts and control their outward actions. They believed in the power of God with their whole heart and soul, not just with their mind. All of these people were regular folks like you and me, but they were guided by God, and not by their own agends, opinions, frustrations, doubts or desires.
They trusted in who God was, not just what they could see God was doing.
There are things in life that are so hard to have faith about. Things that we desperately want to sustain faith about, but find ourselves questioning God for answers and reasons.
As for me, right now I am facing serious health issues of several family members – my sister has a progressive form of Multiple Schlerosis; my step-mother has terminal lung cancer; my aunt has recently had surgery for ovarian cancer and beginning chemo; my father is facing a potential cancer diagnosis this week; and other family members and loved ones have different difficult issues to face. My marriage has its ups and downs, finances are not completely secure in this state of economy, my children are not without pressures. And I am constantly being asked to pray for people who have such heartbreaking situations occurring in their lives, that it crushes my spirit with sadness for them.
Life is not carefree, and Im sure you have your own list of concerns and problems. But what we share together, as sisters in Christ, is faith.
The one thing I know I can rely on, and that I always try to look for hope and answers, is Jesus. I try to believe to the core of my soul when Romans 8:28 says that all things will work for Gods glory in some way. That is the only thing I can believe, when times seem hopeless, scary, confusing or disappointing.
Without faith, what else do we have to help us get through? Without faith, where can we find hope? Without faith, what is left to do besides focus on despair?
A special gift always lifts a persons spirit, even when they are down. God knew we would have hard times, He assured that this life would bring trouble. But He equipped us to handle life, through His gift of faith.
Faith – an immeasurable, invaluable, priceless gift that sustains us, gives us life and gets us through life. Have you fully opened this gift this Christmas?
Consider taking some time to read Hebrews 11 today, the passage of faith. Ask God to show you ways that you need to trust Him, and areas of your life that you need to turn over to Him. Pray for His guidance and love during this month that we have set aside to worship the gifts that He has given us.