Yesterday, I was given the honor and privilege to speak to a group of ladies who love the Lord. Here is the lesson I gave; I hope it blesses those who read it as much as it blessed me to study it. God is good all the time!
“Faith is a topic I used to shy away from… I had a skewed idea of what it was, and what it’s not, and to be honest it was just more comfortable for me to ignore it.
But that’s part of the problem isn’t it? Comfort. Choosing my comfort is not choosing faith; at least not the faith of the Bible. And that’s the ONLY faith I want for my life.
So I’d like to dive right in with you guys and talk about 3 points that are so intertwined with biblical faith you can’t have one without the other.
In whom/what do I place my faith?
When I travel on an airplane, I have faith the that pilot is sober and competent. (Though I’ll be honest, I choose to pray a LOT on airplanes!)
When I go to a restaurant, I have faith that the cooks are going to be clean and there aren’t bugs everywhere I can’t see. Right?
When I go to the doctor’s office, I choose faith in my physician, don’t I? That he/she will guide me according to the knowledge they’ve earned and experienced.
Even something as simple as going to my kitchen sink for some water—I have faith that what I drink will be clean and not tainted with poison.
Those are just every day examples of how we practice “faith.” Believing in something we can’t see. But Hebrews 11:1 defines Faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Assurance of things hoped for. What do I hope for? What does God ASSURE me of in His word? (Forgiveness, Heaven, Peace, Blessings, Communion/Community/Companionship with Christ and His Church, etc.)
Faith is being assured that THOSE things are MINE in Christ Jesus.
Have I seen Heaven and all those promises fulfilled? No, of course not. But I hope for it based on the promises of God.
Something I see a lot these days is “trust your heart” and “believe in yourself.” And while I get the idea behind those phrases, they’re not biblical, friends. The world tells you to trust your heart. The bible tells you “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” Jer. 17:9, and to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Prov. 4:23.
Guard your heart. Be watchful! Why?? Because our heart can be an open gate to the things that sound nice, but are deceitful.
And Christ says in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Don’t store up treasure with what you can see.
Hope for what you cannot see.
“Believe in yourself!” they say. I have been known to preach such a message myself, but it’s wrong! If I’m believing in myself, then I’m as far as I can go.
I don’t want to be as far as I can go. I want my God to take me as far as HE can go! And that will ONLY happen when my faith is in HIM, not myself.
When I can identify my weaknesses and watch God show up through them. THAT is Biblical faith, isn’t it? 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Faith in myself isn’t the faith I want to choose today.
I choose Faith in the God of the Bible. The God of Creation. The God who emptied Himself to die for me while I was deep in the muck of sin. I choose Faith in HIM. And in everything He has promised.
I’ve identified the Object of my faith, right? The One and only living God. But how do I know Him? Well I need to hear about Him! I need to learn of Him! How will I do that? “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17. I must surrender my idea of God. I MUST SURRENDER MY IDEA OF GOD. I must get in the WORD. Scripture is the only way I’m going to learn who God is and what He expects of me. Choosing faith isn’t choosing emotion. It isn’t choosing laziness. It’s choosing a CROSS. Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27 All say “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Choosing faith, is choosing to surrender my wants, dreams, ideas of success, all of that! I lay that at His feet and humbly acknowledge that He is my God and I am not.
There’s a song that illustrates this so well…
“if you say ‘go’, we will go. If you say ‘wait’ we will wait. If you say ‘step out on the water’ and they say it can’t be done, we’ll fix our eyes on you and we will come. For your ways are higher than our ways, and the plans that you have made are good and true. If you call us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand. We’ll gaze into the flames and look to You.” That is FAITH. That is surrender.
Faith has no room for fear, for what ifs, for anxiety, for “but….”.
Faith is surrendering my will to His. If I’m not doing that DAILY I’m not walking in faith, but pride.
God has made it very clear what pride will do to my soul: “’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:6b-10
If there is ANYTHING I’m holding onto so hard that I wouldn’t give it up if He asked me to (as in… I see someone who needs it more than me and I refuse to give it. As in… I see in God’s Word I’m living contrary to the life He expects of His children, but I “can’t” change. As in… I would like to attend church services, but I just need to make more money first….) I am not living out Faith.
I’m saying “God I “love” you, but I don’t trust You to handle this.
I don’t trust You to take care of me, so I need to keep doing what I can see. Even though You’ve made it clear it’s not what I need to be doing. Y’all. How often do we do that?! Relationships we don’t need to be in, jobs that require we sacrifice our families on the alter of “success”, refusing to give God our FIRST AND BEST because we have to pay bills first…
What if Christ had done that? I am SO THANKFUL He not only illustrated so perfectly the God we put our faith in, but he demonstrated faith as well! He demonstrated Surrender!
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38 Over and over again, Jesus told us that He didn’t act out of His own will, but the Father’s. How can I claim Him as Lord of my life, if I refuse to do and say the same? Not my will, but Thy will be done.
Faith is SURRENDER. Without surrendering my will to His, I cannot honestly say I choose Faith.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Hebrews 11.
This is often referred to as the “heroes of Faith” or the “faith” chapter. [read if time]
Able, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the Christians who died horrifically for the cause of Christ… they all share a common thread. Obedient Faith.
Would Noah have been saved from the flood if he’d refused to build the ark?
Would Moses and the Israelites have been able to escape the Egyptians if they had not walked across the Red Sea?
What about Daniel? What if he hadn’t continued to pray? God’s power to save him from the lion’s den would have never been displayed!
Obedient Faith is what gives God’s power opportunity to shine through my life.
Obedient Faith is stepping out of the way and saying “whatever You have told me to do, I will DO it! I won’t argue or excuse myself from this, because your ways are higher than my ways!” (Is. 55:8-9)
Faith must be coupled with ACTION in order for it to be a biblical faith. Romans 1:5 talks about the apostles doing their work to bring about “obedience of faith” in us. Words Paul uses are serve, proclaim, labor, etc. James puts it this way in 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Remember how we talked about “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ”? James tells us to not hear only, but DO! That’s OBEDIENCE. That’s biblical faith.
In Mark 5, Jesus heals a man possessed by a demon. He did that often, didn’t He? I read something that stuck out to me a few weeks ago… check out verse 7, “And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
That demon knew exactly who Christ was and confessed and believed it! That demon had “faith”. Look at James again with me. Chapter 2 vs. 19-20 “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?”
So what is the difference between my faith and that of demons??
It better be humble obedience. If Christ Himself had to learn obedience (Phil. 2:8, Heb. 5:8), why would I ever think I’m exempt?
My obedience to God isn’t about earning salvation or better favor with God. NO! It’s about CHOOSING FAITH. It’s about allowing GOD to work THROUGH ME to do HIS WILL.
OK, but what are we supposed to do?
That’s where getting in the WORD comes in. Daily. God’s love letter to us, and plan for how approach Him and access the blood of Christ, how to love our neighbors, how to best worship and love HIM, how to love our husbands and children, and ultimately how to be more like Christ… It’s all in the Word. If we aren’t diving in as often as we can, how can we know Him who we are claiming to believe?
[I have some excellent Bible Study resources that I would love to share with you’d like. Or if you just want a one-on-one study with a friend, I’m here for that, too! Community is such a beautiful blessing God provides those who seek Him! :-D]
Identity. Surrender. Obedience.
In ALL THESE THINGS, I choose Faith.”
How can I pray for you this week? Send me a comment or message if you’d like; I would love to go to God on your behalf.