Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Faith in What?



“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” -James 5:15-16

Christmas is around the corner. It’s the time of year when cynics are pressed to enjoy hot cocoa and gingerbread and even non-believers begin to hope for miracles. It’s a time of year when faith pops into conversations.

Faith. People toss the word about, as though faith itself is a good thing. Hard-core LOST fans will recall that a conflict developed between the man of “faith” – John Locke – and the man of “science” – Dr. Jack Shepherd during the show’s early seasons. At one point at the end of the second season, Jack famously asked Locke why it was so easy for him to believe, and Locke said, “It’s never been easy!”

No, faith is not easy, and unfortunately for John Locke, his faith was in an ISLAND – an ISLAND with a smoke monster.

“Have faith,” people will say. Faith? Faith in what? Faith in God? Faith in money? Faith in the good nature of the universe? Faith in our own karma? [By the way, in what bank is karma held, and who are the tellers?] We need to make sure we are building our faith on the right foundation.

A skeptic asked us, “But see, there’s a problem when Grandma prays to be healed and she isn’t healed. She thinks she doesn’t have strong enough faith or that God doesn’t love her. What about Grandma?”

We all want to see miracles. We want to pray for Grandma’s crippling arthritis and see her healed; we don’t want her suffering for two more decades. We want to pray for healing and freedom and see them happen.

This is a hard issue. On top of it, the “name it and claim it” “blab it and grab it” “faith” teachers have skewed our understanding, presenting faith as the means to get anything we want. They leave out major components of what the Bible teaches, forgetting that faith has little to do with getting a Mercedes and everything to do with strengthening our relationship with our Savior.

And here’s the core of the question. What exactly are we supposed to be having faith in? How can we walk every day full of confidence in God, so that our lives shine as bright lights to the people around us? How can we stop being whipped Christians and be the mighty spiritual warriors we long to be? How do we walk arm in arm with Jesus and do the “greater things” that he promised?

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” – John 14:12

We want that! We want the power of God to work through us to open the eyes of the blind and free people from oppressive suffering. Why don’t we see more miracles around us?

For the next several weeks we’re going to really look at the issue of faith and answer these questions. First, we need to deal with some of the simple errors that we make, errors that get in the way.

Mistake #1: Forgetting Who God Is:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” -John 4:24

Why are so few Christians throwing mountains into the ocean? Because God isn’t real or doesn’t do miracles any more? Because He’s a liar? Because He’s not paying attention? Because He doesn’t care? No. No. No. And no.

God is alive and He still does miracles: We can declare this with confidence by His constant work in our lives and the lives of countless people we meet through our ministry. Jesus Christ is alive and working in the world today! We know multitudes of people who have been healed and freed, cleansed and miraculously given provision. We know the daily guidance He gives us and the miracles we ourselves see. Precious people around the world can testify to the power of Jesus still at work today. (Several stories will come up during this series of articles, so be sure to read them all! For past stories, see the links below.)

God is a God of Truth:

“That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.” – Isaiah 65:16

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” - Numbers 23:19

God pays attention to everything:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:6

God loves us extravagantly: One of the greatest insults we can give God is to suggest that He doesn’t love us. His love is so massive and deep and constant that when we catch just a whiff of it, it blows us over. He loves us with great patience, with longsuffering as He deals with our sin and foolishness and doubt and fear. He moves constantly in our lives to bring us into an ever deeper, truer, more pure relationship with Him. He doesn’t always do things the easy way, the way we often want Him to. He does things the right way – the way that will last.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:4-7

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38

When He doesn’t heal Grandma, and she feels like she doesn’t have enough faith and that God doesn’t love her, what do we say to her? In the leading of the Spirit, we need to put our arms around her as Jesus would, and we need to tell her, “Grandma, God does love you. Don’t be afraid. He loves you magnificently, and He longs for you to know His love. Trust Him. He’s very willing to take care of you in every way. It’s going to be okay. Trust Him.” He may still heal her, but whether He does or not, He absolutely loves Grandma. As Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” (Job 13:15).

If we are going to approach God, we absolutely need to approach Him in the truth of who He is. That’s where faith starts.

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” - Jeremiah 9:23-24


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