For a small word it has a heck of a punch. Doesn’t it!
What immediately comes to mind when you read the word, faith? Lots of things I expect and sometimes we assume we understand it and more automatically assume we have a lot of it.
Yes of course we possess it because we wouldn’t be Christians if we didn’t have it. It’s essential because “for by grace you’ve been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) and we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Belief determines behaviour
A Greek friend of mine shared that the words: “Faith”, “trust” and “believe” are all the one word in Greek: “pistis” or its derivative “pisteuo.”
We do what we believe. If we believe God’s Word we do it or we should.
And the key to do the doing is whom we believe in.
This year has been a fascinating year for me as I’ve felt the scales of my “unbelief” have fallen from my eyes. That the things I know about God and my identity have finally suck in. It’s like finally the words (the knowledge) have got out of my head and into my heart. (Or perhaps it’s the other way round, as Graham Cooke believes. Thanks Dineen.)
“Until the truth of our union with God gets into our heart, it remains information.”1
As some of you know I love to learn so gaining knowledge is something I regard as fun and strangely invigorating. But as that quote above suggests, knowledge can be just that: information, unless it melds into our hearts.
Often we strive after more of Christ. We get frustrated with having all this information (or knowledge) but don’t feel any closer to Jesus.
“So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Rom 101:17 NKJV)
Why’s the “hearing” duplicated? Many commentators believe the first hearing reflects what we hear and the second reflects what our heart hears. It’s the heart that is pivotal to what we believe and then what we do.
Who we believe in
In being seriously committed to studying the Word I’ve come to know God better and have chosen to believe He is who says He is in the Word.
Many of you will know that anxiety has been a struggle for me all of my life. “I was always the anxious one” as my mum described me whenever we asked what my twin brother and I were like when babies. I’d accepted that I would always be anxious. It was my “thorn”.
But this year I’ve come to realise that anxiety isn’t what God desires. There’s no anxiety in heaven (“will be done in earth as it is in heaven”) and so I shouldn’t choose to believe it’s my “thorn”. So I’ve chosen to believe. Believe God. Believe I am a joint heir in Christ. Does Jesus suffer anxiety? No, of course not.
Certainly there are day’s when the tentacles of anxiety reach out and squeeze me but in those days I choose Jesus and His will, His Kingdom, His power.
“The depth of your faith is determined by just one thing: how well you know the one you put your faith in.”2
Read that statement again.
All the greats of faith (refer Hebrews 11) had faith because of they believed (or trusted) God.
"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matthew 17:20 NLT)
The amount of faith doesn’t really matter does it – just a mustard seed size (read: tiny) will do. Because it’s not our power that moves the mountain or brings our spouses to faith, it’s whom we believe in, God’s.
Our faith keeps growing when we choose to act on what God says is true. When I start to feel the symptoms of anxiety I choose to act in His truth and call out to Him. Often it’s as simple as saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” repeatedly.
The power of praise
This year I’ve studied the Psalms using Tim and Kathy Keller’s devotional style of book “The Songs of Jesus”. I’ve used that as a starter and then jumped into other sources to meditate on them more. David was a man of praise. Pretty much every one of his psalms, even the ones of lament, will end with praise.
This week I discovered the shortest Psalm and shortest chapter of the Bible: Psalm 117. 2 verses but what verses. Here’s The Message version of it.
“Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!”
Praise strengthens our spirits because I believe it helps us focus on the one whom we can trust. The one who is worthy. The one who is Almighty. The one who adores us. The one who is never going to leave us. Never. Ever.
Praise helps us take our minds off ourselves and step into faith. It brings our heart alive and gives us a shot of courage as we know our Lord is present and is with us no matter what we are going through. Yes, our circumstances may not immediately (or ever) change but knowing we have Jesus with us helps fill us with peace knowing He’s in charge.
Dear heavenly Father, we love you, we worship you. We praise you for your constant presence. Fill us with more faith to know that you are always present. Awaken our hearts to our union with you, that we are the sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Help us to receive all that comes from being one with you, our dear Father. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Notes: 1. Fil Anderson, Closer than Close (Foreword) by Dave Hickman, NavPress. 2016 p. xiii. 2. Steve Goss, Free to be Yourself, Monarch Books, 2008, p69.