Monday, October 8, 2012

What Kind of Faith Do You Have?

I have recently been challenge as to this matter of Faith. As we read through the word of God we learn that faith is not just for a select few, like preachers, missionaries and other full time workers! Faith is something that every Christian is called to live by. We live in a sight driven world, we must see it to believe it. But the Christian lives by a different set of principles. We are to live by faith, not by sight. In Hebrews 11 we read of a description of faith (11:1-3) and then of a demonstration of faith (11:4-40). When we look at the first few verses of Hebrews 11 we see not so much a definition of faith, as much as a description of what faith does and how it works. What we learn is that true Biblical faith is confidence and obedience to God's Word in spite of the circumstance and consequences. But the verse that stands out to me is verse 6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."

What I found very instructive about this was what pleases God! It is not my activity or my service, but my faith. When I read through the gospels I find the same thing. What grieved the Lord Jesus the most was when people did not believe that He would do what He said. Simply put, their lack of faith grieved Him deeply! But what pleased Him was when people took Him at His word and fully trusted Him! Faith believes that God says what He means and means what He says!

In looking at this in the gospels I have learned that the Lord responds to our faith, He does not respond to our needs. He always meets our needs (Phil 4:19), but He responds to our faith! Let's look at this a bit in a few places place to see this principle.

Mark 10:46-52 is the last miracle mentioned in Mark's gospel. It reveals the tenderness of the perfect Servant, but it also demonstrated what persistent faith accomplishes! As the Lord was on His way through Jericho, along the road was a blind man named Bartimaeus. It wasn't uncommon to see blind beggars along this road. But what was uncommon was this man's faith. As he sat by the road Bartimaeus cried out for mercy, others told him to be quiet. But persistent faith will not be hushed by unbelief or by the circumstances! His cries were heard and the Lord stood still (Mk. 10:49). The Lord called him near and asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" When Bartimaeus responds from his heart, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight" the Lord Jesus declares "Go your way. Your faith has made you well." Notice two things here, first this term "Rabboni" which is usually translated "my Lord and my master," but I have also seen it render "my great One." I like that. To call someone my master is to show great respect for who they are and what they can accomplish. The second thing that stands out to me is that this man's persistent faith caused the Lord to stand still and then open the door for him to draw near to the Lord!

Notice the Lord's reply, "Your faith has made you well." Not your need has made you well, but your faith. The Lord responded to his faith!

Mark 5:25-34 is a well know miracle, but it is easy to miss the lesson of faith there. This women had been sick for 12 years. She had spent all she had on doctors and didn't get better. We are told she actually got worse. Then she heard about the Lord Jesus and thought, "if only I could touch Him, even just touch his garments." She had faith that if she could just get close enough to touch Him she could be healed. She didn't let the crowd stand in her way! Her faith would not be hindered by obstacles, her faith made her well, not her need!

Luke 5:17-20 we see four friends that had faith enough to bring their friend who was paralyzed to the Lord Jesus. The way seemed blocked by the crowd, but true faith doesn't get discouraged. They end up doing what it takes to get this man to the Lord. They lower his bed from the ceiling. Faith takes the top right off of the impossible!

Matthew 15:22-38 we read of a gentile women coming to the Lord. At first the Lord is quiet, wanting to draw out her faith, we might even say growing her faith. Then because her faith doesn't give up, the Lord declares you are a women of great faith!

In each of these cases faith was the key to the Lord responding. He is always responds to determined faith. James challenges us to ask in faith with no doubting when we come to the Lord (Jm. 1:6-7). My definition of faith is Forsaking All I Trust Him. This acrostic helps define what faith is! Faith is not leaning to my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledging Him (Prov. 3:5-6). Faith is not allowing anything to keep me from believing that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I ask or think (Eph. 3:20)!

Some of us have some huge mountains in our lives that might hinder our faith. But look at what Mark 11:22-24 has to say about that. There we are told to have faith in God and we can move mountains. The thought isn't so much to be able to move an actual mountain as much as things that feel like mountains in our lives. I suppose if it would somehow glorify God and be required, He might have us move a real mountain and He would be able to move it! But I think the real lesson is that many of us have mountains of one kind or another and if we trust Him He is able to move them!

Look at Matthew 17:14-21. Here we are told that to move certain mountains we may need to prayer and fast! Which speak of being dependent and denying self! The Lord will sometimes exercise or test our hearts before He answers! I am told that a mustard seed is extremely small, it has the diameter of only 2 millimeters. Most of us wait around for God to work through the big things, but faith starts out by taking God at His word! His word is the incorruptible seed, it is the seed that lives and abide forever (1 Peter 2:23-24). Romans 10:17 reminds us that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God! We are also told in Romans 10:10 "for with the heart one believes" The heart is the seat of our belief, so this is where the seed must be planted. That is what we get in the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The seed is the word and the ground represents different types of hearts. But the lesson for us is what type of heart are we going to have? We may be facing a mountain right now, but do we have living faith that is able to take on that mountain and conquer it?

I am reminded of Caleb in Joshua 14. At the young age of 85 he was still walking by faith! When he was a young man he and Joshua walked by faith, they were the minority. Everyone else saw giants in the mountainous land, but they saw God was able (Num. 13:17, 29-33)! Now 45 years later Caleb is still walking by faith. He is still ready to move mountains (Joshua 14:12). How was Joshua able to maintain walking by faith all those years. Notice the phrase that appears at least three times in Joshua 14, he "wholly followed the Lord." His heart was totally sold out to the Lord. He lived by the thought Forsaking All I Trust Him! He was completely willing to trust the Lord with everything! Are we?

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