“Trust in the LORD. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the LORD.” (Ps 24:14 Good News)
The most important life decision we will make is how to respond to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. The second most important decision is how to how to live, in the light of the first decision. The second decision carries with it awesome responsibilities. The scriptures clearly state, “It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. The reason why is simple, because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6 MSG)
Choosing Jesus as a personal friend and taking the next step to embrace His words, His will, and His ways as the ultimate, overriding priority of your life cannot happen without an active faith. This kind of faith is not acquired over night.
There’s a place where faith redefines abandonment, which we must pursue on God’s terms alone, or we would be self serving. Some core elements that create the right atmosphere for a dynamic faith to thrive are; knowledge of the word of God, obedience, intimacy to the word, and genuine true prayer.
Faith in the Word
The quality of a Christian’s faith does not really depend on the depth of the revelation of God’s word in his heart, but on state of the heart itself. Until a believed word or embraced principle is tried in the furnace of life’s challenges and by various agents of death; it is passive, resting quietly in the head and imagination of the believer.
When faith engages the word of God, it leans its weight on the person of God, not just His power. The saltiness of a message bearer becomes more pungent and his light more brilliant when the trials of his faith manifest the awesomeness of the God he represents. The ideas of men, saved or lost may sustain them for a season but the word of God, which is purified seven times, endures forever. (Ps 12:6, Matt 24:35)
Cultivating Faith with Obedience
No one obeys God by accident. We make that choice, sometimes in the midst of a multitude of opportunities. Many could be good and even great by world standards, but are far from His dreams. The natural tendencies of the heart of a fallen man leans heavily toward evil. (Gen 6:5, Jer 9:17)
As regenerated souls, we still struggle to embrace our new state and take full advantage of it benefits. A study of the life and times of the children of Israel reveals this profound truth.
“For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith …” (Heb 4:2 AMP)
God’s word seems meaningless in the absence of faith. What makes faith effective is not the hearing, understanding of the word and the will of God, but the unconditional obedience of the same. This alone produces divine results.
The three Hebrew children in the Book of Daniel treaded the path of obedience at the peril of their lives. Was it their faith in God or their obedience to His commandment never to bow to idols that stood them out? Both! But first, they understood that the commandment of the Lord was not to be broken. They accepted that the will of God must be done regardless of the consequences.
A close study of their reaction shows that their verbal response was occasioned by the contempt poured on their God by the king. He said, “…and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands? (Dan 3:15-18) Their reaction made room for God to answer for Himself and He did.
I wonder how this generation would react to this kind of disposition to life? Call it reckless faith, wild trust, total abandon, presumptuous, or tempting God. The point is simple; these guys are our examples today and we better follow in their footsteps.
We all need to ask the following questions; how did they get here? What gave them the nerve to take such a radical stand over and over again? We recall they had started earlier by trusting God for what appeared then to be “small” favors, as recorded Daniel 1:8-17. They said, “Test us ten days… give us vegetables and water to drink…”
These kids had demonstrated a trust in God that was uncommon for their age and in their era, when hope in God would be so distant under slavery. But if they could pass this test, they were well on their way in the path of obedience that always connects with God’s singular global objective- worship from all nations. They did and the rest is history. Their unflinching faith made God famous and followed. Is this not the goal of the message bearer?
Nothing is too great to lose to gain God’s smile. But trusting God will certainly challenge our senses and expose our weaknesses as humans. The Lord Jesus discussed this reality with His followers, wanting them to understand and accept that a life of obedience to God is the ultimate mark of love for Him (John 14:15;15:10). This kind of life will not be appreciated by a selfish and sinful world.
All who commit to living in full obedience to God will surely experience spiritual battles. But God will always protect us when our dependence on Him is not based on selfish aims and expectations. In fact, the moment His glory and name is at stake and we are remotely connected to it, He shows up. Though, this could be well after we have suffered unspeakable pains and apparent losses. Our obedience and patience gives credence to following Christ and pursuing His cause. Both virtues guarantee God’s visitation as they prove our faith in the unseen and create a platform for what has never been, to occur.
Cultivating Faith with Intimacy
Discussing faith, trust and dependence in the unseen God without relating it to intimacy with Him is playing religion and hoping for divine results. A result oriented faith walk is more than mere knowledge or belief in the existence, goodness and power of God. It is a faith that springs from a relationship which has been tested and found selfless, one that is anchored on a strong desire to see Jesus embraced, loved and followed.
Many seekers who fail to come to God in spirit and in truth (His terms) will sooner or later be disappointed by Him. He is too jealous of His purpose to be courted for mere earthly gains. Though we’ve seen His mercies thrive on the altar of humility as with Jabez, who asked for a blessing and got it. But this same God entered into a covenant relationship with Abraham, David and our Lord Jesus.
Matthew 1:1 speaks volumes. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” This is the first sentence in the New Testament. How profound!!! These men mentioned had several things in common. But their faith, obedience, patience and intimacy, all of which were tested, yielded great results as they were cultivated on the fields of hope. They knew God will do what He promised so waited for Him and in the process cultivated a fondness that was intense.
As social beings, we don’t trust easily. Trust takes time to build. We cultivate every relationship we are in, consciously or unconsciously. What or who we spend time with will influence us, positively or negatively. Listen to Elijah, “As surely as GOD lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service, the next years are going to see a total drought–not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.” (1 Kings 17:1) Take note of his claim, “before whom I stand.”
The man had a relationship with God that authenticated his words and actions. James says, “Elijah was a man of flesh and blood as we are…” This simple verse leaves no room for negotiations on the subject matter. All the prophets of God were first and foremost human beings, saddled with similar challenges we currently nurse and maybe even more. But the difference could lie in the level of our hunger and passion to see God’s word obeyed and His Kingdom come.
The Path of Prayer
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged.” (Lk 18:1)
Joshua 10:12-14 reads, “On the day that the LORD gave the men of Israel victory over the Amorites, Joshua spoke to the LORD. In the presence of the Israelites he said, “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; Moon, stop over Aijalon Valley. The sun stood still and the moon did not move until the nation had conquered its enemies. This is written in The Book of Jashar. The sun stood still in the middle of the sky and did not go down for a whole day. Never before, and never since, has there been a day like it, when the LORD obeyed a human being. The LORD fought on Israel’s side!” (BBE)
This will always be a sweet story to read any day. What an awesome scene to imagine! I wish I was there to witness such a wonder. The use of prayer as a faith builder cannot be over emphasized. Nothing is impossible to him that believes in the God to whom all things are possible. Joshua prayed in the presence of his soldiers and made a most audacious request to this same God we pray to today. He took a risk by speaking publicly.
Why didn’t he pray quietly in his heart? Many Christians like playing it safe by gathering as many facts as possible, analyzing the options, and making choices in order to be reasonably certain of the outcome. We have declared uncertainty and risk undesirable because they could end up causing loss. It might also have to do with appearing foolish or incompetent, incurring financial loss, lawsuits or encountering physical danger. From a human viewpoint, eliminating uncertainty just makes sense. It’s difficult to argue against that, even with strong biblical perspectives.
But how does God view “uncertainty”?Are there times when we’re to take risks? The answer is a resounding yes! Whenever His glory or His word is at stake. With God, there’s no uncertainty, because He is the First and the Last, controlling all things. Failure cannot be imagined as He will never fall short of accomplishing His purposes. (Ephesians 1:11)
When men step up in faith and dare to honor God by attempting seemingly impossible tasks leaning hard on Him without selfish intent or alternatives, He will show up and manifest unimaginable wonders. He’s still waiting for us to take Him seriously enough to speak and act in faith.