Faith - Do You Really Believe What You Believe?
God has provided a standard of faith, illustrated in Abraham of the Old Testament and practically applied and lived through Christians in the New Testament. As scripture declares in 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’" Israel was looking for a mighty warrior king to protect them from enemies. Could God protect them? God’s view of faith is clearly revealed by the trustful obedience of men to what God reveals to them. In other words, when God sees us faithfully obeying His clearly revealed will given in the Bible, without understanding why we should take these actions, or without seeing results or benefits to ourselves for doing what we are told, and even without ever seeing that it effects or helps others come to salvation and faith in Jesus, He sees a faithful heart. He sees faith. He does not need our strength.
Doubt is the opposite of faith!
If you lose heart, waver, give up, lose interest, etc. your heart is not right before God. “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’" [Luke 9:62] And James 1:6-8 explains, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” The Greek word behind double -minded means “two spirited,” or “two hearted.” The obvious result is vacillating between two purposes or two opinions.
Doubt is the opposite of faith! Trust moves ahead without outward props to hold up your confidence; like a ship moving carefully forward through fog and listening to the fog horn of a lighthouse, until the beacon of light is spotted from its top. A faithful heart does not waver in the fog, from the course that was clearly given on a clear day to reach the harbor, but trusts the light and the fog horn for a safe ride home. A Christian does not need to doubt in the darkness of confusion and spiritual testing the direction God gave him in the light of His Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [Psalm 119:105] God guides by His Word.
How does God heal broken men, and give them heart and faith? Abram was a sinful pagan, seeking riches, deeply involved with his family, and enjoying the pleasures of this world. God intervened into his life, and called him to leave everything he knew: his home, business and friends, his family, and his secure comfortably thought out future. To receive blessing from God he had to have faith. He had to trust in a God he could not see, go to a place he did not know, follow step by step instructions without an answer to what the second step would even be, and not waver in his response to God. To receive God’s promise meant to follow God’s instructions without argument and trust God was powerful enough to accomplish the impossible.
Courage, determination, and wisdom
Faith demands adjustments to everything that is normal to you. Steps of obedience effect everyone around you also. Abram’s wife, Sarai, had to adjust and follow her husbands leadership. She had to go camping for the rest of her life, instead of enjoying their beautiful home. She had to endanger her family through a wild, untamed and hostile environment. These adjustments were God’s will, not her husbands and contrary to her likes, feelings, and dreams. God’s will is never your will! God’s timing is never your timing. God will bring His plan to an end when we trust Him to fulfill His purposes through and in us.
This takes courage to resist the temptation to give up to an easier life. It takes determination to stand firm when faced with spiritual battles and opposition. It takes wisdom to not allow success or seeming failure to distract us from God’s divine guidance. We must become bold in our prayers for wayward friends and family.
Faith begins when you give up your life for Jesus
How does God build a heart of faith in a man? Abram learned to trust God through each experience of God’s hand of mercy and deliverance. God told Abram to move to the present day Israel. He got there and the circumstances were terrible. There was severe famine, little food for his herds, and a desperate need for rain. He did not trust God to provide for him. So Abram reasoned it was better to do what he thought was best for his family, so he moved to the big cities of Egypt. There he could do business with the rich people, but Sarai was beautiful, and Pharaoh wanted her in his harem, thinking she was available through Abram’s lies. Since there was no faith in his heart to trust God’s protection, he told the Egyptians his wife was his sister. Abram had faith to move from his home, but not faith that God would protect and provide for him. He did not believe that God really loved him. God delivered Sarai from Pharaoh's hand and the great king forced Abram out of His country right back to the land Abram left in fear.
Now Abram sees God is powerful and able to deliver him from death. He finds out God can protect him and his heart is enlarged. His faith is enlarged! With the famine still bringing distress, Lot and Abram have to divide from each other to keep from fighting over food and water. Now he can trust God to provide and allows Lot to pick the most visible place of survival, the plain with the most water and vegetation. Abram has more faith.
God forced Abram to grow in faith to the place that he had to choose between believing the impossible could happen or giving up on God. Remember God promised Abram that he would give him a son and through him he would become a great nation of unnumbered descendants. Isaac was born by a miraculous birth when they were too old to have children, after the already impossible fact that she could not have children when she was young enough! Now to finalize Abraham’s faith, God ordered him to sacrifice his son and burn him on a stone altar. Now the test of unwavering faith was given.
Did Abram believe that God does not go back on a promise? Abram went to a mountaintop to kill his son believing that if necessary God will raise him from the dead to fulfill the promise. [Hebrews 11:19] And God could finally proclaim, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." [Genesis 22:12]
You will prove your faith when you actually give up your life, your money, your possessions, your health, your future, and your all into God’s hands; not in theory, but in practical real life actions. Jesus calls all Christians to the exact same life of faith as Abraham, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” [Matthew 10:37,38] Remember, the book of James says, "faith without works is dead." Faith does not sleep in your head, but is lived out in what you really do everyday.
What are God’s purposes today? They never change! Love the Lord your God with all your life. Love your neighbor as yourself. Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them [accepting them into the new family of God’s kingdom], and teaching them to obey all the clear commands of Christ. How do we do this? We become a disciple of the Lord Jesus through faith in His death on the cross for our spiritual crimes. When we admit our spiritual crimes, turn from them to serve the living Christ, we start a life as Abraham. You act in obedience and faith to Him by joining the local church and living out Acts 2:42, fully surrendering to your authorities including serving your church pastors [Hebrews 13], and taking God’s message to the ends of the earth.
Your loyalty to Christ and His church proves your faith!
Your faith is tested everyday! Will you get up and follow the commands of Christ found in the Bible? Will you love your enemies? Will you tell others about Christ? Will you obey your parents? Will you obey God even when you see hypocrites inside the church? Will you obey your husband when he wants to spend money in a different way then you want? Will you stick to your spouse instead of divorcing he/she because you do not get your way? Will you love your God with all your heart? Will you obey your God and trust Him all the days of your life?
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