Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Have Faith In God

Previously on My Thought-filled Journey:

we believe but we are tormented with the question, Will God? We just don’t know if God will…we doubt the character and faithfulness of God. Not always openly but certainly subconsciously. We doubt the will of God, usurping it with a mixture of mistrust and uncertainty. We either don’t know or we’ve forgotten who God is; so we seek assurance elsewhere.

Throughout scripture, the overriding point of emphasis is to trust God. God expects this of us. He anticipates this from us. God awaits this from us. Why? I do not know but I believe it is because God seeks preeminence in every aspect of our lives.

Think about this, throughout the Old Testament, the recurring cycle of events is that the nation of Israel would experience apostasy, oppression, repentance and deliverance; and throughout the Old Testament, God remained faithful. Time and time again, a generation would worship the gods of other people. This was usually because they no longer knew the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As a result, apostasy would initiate a new cycle of the same events.

This cycle wasn’t just confined to the Old Testament nation of Israel. There may no longer be a worship of Baal or Dagon but the gods of greed, lust, selfishness, cruelty, hatred, discord, jealousy, dissension and envy are religiously followed and worshipped. I can’t have faith in God if I practice these things in my life. There is no room for God and other gods in my life.

In the Gospel of Mark, he states that:

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves…Then he said to the tree,May no one ever eat fruit from you again.…In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus,Rabbi, look! The fig you cursed has withered!’ ‘Have faith in God,Jesus answered.1

God wants me to trust Him to the degree that I agree with Him. My faith in essence is agreeing with God. I do not believe I’m required to know the intricacies of God’s plan for me but I am required to trust that plan. The thing is, I don’t believe God needs (or depends) on me to fulfill His plans. By that I mean that if I yield to God's will, He can use me. If I don't yield to His will, He will still accomplish His purpose. God told Jonah to tell the people of Ninevah to repent but when Jonah refused, God used a whale to get his attention and obedience. God is never caught off guard by my actions or responses; because he intimately knows me. If I don’t trust God, it does not nullify the faithfulness of God. God will fulfill His purpose however and through whomever He chooses. If it’s through unfaithful me, it will just take longer. Not because God is slack concerning His promises; I am the slacker.

The bible says,

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God…2

Why is wisdom important? It enables me to understand the purposes of God in my life, so that when I pray, I’m asking in faith; agreeing with God to allow His will to work in and through me.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.3

How do I have (possess) faith in God? The bible identifies three components to having faith in God:
  1. Believing in God
  2. Trusting in God
  3. Accepting the will of God
Believing God has an imperative for the Christian; knowing God. Knowledge of God comes from planting His word in me, empowering me to agree that God is truthful. The bible teaches that God is in agreement with Himself but for my faith to bear fruit, I need to reach agreement with God. The struggle for me is intellectually, emotionally and physically; these parts of me resist agreement with God. This is no surprise to God; it is however, a surprise to me. My mind tries to comprehend the things of God but often I’m unable to deduce (intellectually) how or if God will answer my prayer. My emotions grapple with fears, inadequacies and worry reminding me the worst possible scenario is about to play itself out in my life. My body echoes the reality of limitations or its threshold to pain bringing me to focus on myself.

In each of these areas of my life, I’m turning inward to myself, focusing on me; insulating myself with my thoughts, emotions and physical limitations. But this is where belief conquers doubt. Belief overcomes and transcends my thoughts, emotions and physical limitations, empowering me to agree with God. God does this on my behalf through the power of His word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in me. God does not leave it up to me to believe Him; that is an impossible task for me alone. God has put the Holy Spirit in me, empowering me to agree with Him. The word of God gives me a basis of knowledge about God, enabling me to learn more and more about His love, faithfulness and concern for me. As I learn more and more about God, I gain the awareness that God is the embodiment of truth. Knowing that God is truthful with me positions me to agree with God’s word in my life.

Trusting in God takes me beyond simply agreeing with His truth. Trust is more than acknowledging God’s truth; trust embraces the truth of God’s word. Trust assures me that I am not alone. Trust is the realization that God goes before me; no matter what I am faced with in life. Trust is a confidence in God and not in me.

The bible says,

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.4

It is a reminder that I am not alone. The Lord is at work demonstrating His life, power and salvation in my life; producing His character in me.

All my life, I’ve struggled with patience. I can remember walking up to the express counter in a store and changing to another line because it was taking too long. When I became a Christian, I prayed for patience and God gave me opportunities to produce fruit. Instead, I tried to deal with the challenges that tried my patience on my own; I wouldn’t trust God. I had to know God, learn about God’s patience and believe that God was patient with me. These opportunities for patience, were my one-on-one practice sessions with God; teaching me to wait on the Lord.

Today, I continue to have opportunities for patience but I’m not that same man; I trust God now. I don’t mean to say that don’t fail in demonstrating patience; I do. But those instances of failure have significantly decreased over time.

Accepting God's will for me is the final component of having faith in God. It is the understanding that God’s will for me is perfect; in spite of my circumstances and environment. As my knowledge of God increases, I’ve learned to accept His will for any area of my life. When things do not occur as I’d hoped, I don’t blame God for deserting me, I thank Him for knowing what’s best.

I believe God is looking to demonstrate Himself in the life of each Christian. The Marines may be looking for a few good men and women but God is looking for people of faith. I remember years ago, we had this old clunker. It leaked oil, was always in need of a tune-up and was misaligned. One day it just died on me. As I rode in the tow truck, I wondered what it was going to cost to repair it. When the mechanic gave me the estimate, it was close to three hundred dollars. It didn’t matter to me. He could’ve said three dollars, three hundred dollars or three thousand dollars; I couldn’t afford to pay any amount. In that moment, I began to pray for the money.

In my mind, I knew I didn’t have the money so it needed to come from another source. It was then that I was reminded that the Lord will never leave or forsake me. I had this thought in my mind which said, “This is an opportunity for me to demonstrate that I am God”. I remember thinking that God wanted me to allow Him to prove Himself in my life. In that moment, I totally accepted God's will for this circumstance. Instead of a miraculous infusion of money; we paid the repair bill over time because the owner of the shop extended grace to us. God answered my prayer and I was willing to accept His plan for this opportunity. God also answered a subsequent follow-up prayer; that was the last used car I ever owned.

Belief, trust and acceptance. If you practice these three, you will have ample opportunity to have faith in God.


Footnotes:
  1. Mark 11:12-15; 20-22, NIV
  2. James 1:5, NIV
  3. James 1:6, NIV
  4. Hebrews 13:5, NIV
References:
  1. Is it, Will God? or God Will!, My Thought-filled Journey
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126

2 comments:

God's girl said...

Wow, once again, you put into words what I needed to hear. God is so timely in His messages. I only wish I could express my heart as well as you do. Thank you for your prayers.

Blessings, Heaven

DC said...

This was a good and timely word Daddy. I know that I have wrestled with the question of "Will God?"
I know He can but is it His will?

This word pointed me in the right direction of remembering that God does what's best for me and I need to have faith, trust, and accept this wonderful Truth. Thanks!