Faith: The Hope and the Evidence

Faith, Hope, God,The day that God called me to write and speak His truth was a turning point in my life.  What had previously seemed like a difficult period was actually preparation and training for the most exciting plan that God had ever shared with me.

Although I was full of passion and optimism I knew that what God had just asked me to do was far beyond my abilities.  I knew absolutely nothing about starting and maintaining a website or creating content.  I didn’t have the first clue on how to go about being a blogger or using the written word to reach an internet audience.  To get where God was asking me to go was going to take a lot of faith.

I’ve been a regular church attendee for most of my life.  I know the definition of faith.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). Even so, knowing the definition of faith was not going to be enough.  I was going to have to live out what I had learned.  I certainly hoped that God would bless my efforts as I labored to learn all I needed to know about being a blogger.  And I believe that hope in God is always rewarded as we strive to do His will.

But what about the evidence of things unseen?  Matthew Henry, who was a Presbyterian Minister in the 17th century, wrote “Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye”.  I certainly had no physical evidence to support God’s claim that I could do what He was asking me to do.  And if I had waited on that physical evidence to show up before I began I would never have started.  But by exercising my faith in God I trusted that He would give me what I needed exactly when I needed it.

This is God’s way.  We can see this pattern in the 16th Chapter of Exodus when the Israelites were in the wilderness and were in need of food.  They cried out to God and each day God caused manna from heaven to fall to the ground.  With this provision came the instruction to take only what was needed for that day.  God wanted His people to see His provision as fresh and new every single day and so it is with us.

I have also seen this in my own life.  In my 2nd year of college my family was facing some financial difficulties.  As I approached the end of the first semester it looked as if I was not going to be able to come back because we simply did not have the money to pay for tuition.  We prayed for God’s will and provision and with about a week to go until the end of semester I got a call from one of the college deans.

As I sat in his office that afternoon he asked me why I had not enrolled for the following semester.  I explained what was going on with my family and he listened.  As I finished he told me that it was his desire for me to stay in school and that I would be the beneficiary of a financial gift that had been provided by someone outside the school who just wanted to help a student in need.  This gift had just come in the mail.  It was just enough to keep me in school and it was just in time.

God grew my faith that day.

God is still growing my faith.  I look back at the last several months and I can see how God provided for me at every turn and how every day it is He who is giving me the message and providing my direction.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”  (Hebrews 11:6).  Day by day I am learning the truth of Hebrews 11:6.  If you are reading this it is my prayer that you also know the truth of Hebrews 11:6 and the power of a life lived by faith in God alone.  He loves you; He died for you and the life He now offers you is richer and fuller than you could ever imagine.  All you have to do is take that first step of faith.  God is waiting.

What step is God asking you to take on faith today?

The Problem With Praying For Gods Will To Be Done

prayer, God's willThe problem with praying for God’s will to be done is that it sometimes makes for a very short conversation.  If prayer really is supposed to be a conversation between we who are God’s children and our heavenly father then it seems to me that there should be more involvement on our part.

I honestly believe, based on what I have read in the scriptures, that God desires to use people to carry out His will.  People are important to God.  Me, getting involved in carrying out God’s will on earth, is extremely important to God.  When I pray for God’s will to be done, that is a start, but it should not be the ending.

If I really examine my motives, sometimes when I pray for God’s will to be done I am actually trying to absolve myself of any responsibility in the matter.  It is as if I am saying “I don’t know what to do, so you take care of it while I think about something else”.

I think the Lord would rather that I pray “God, make me fit to carry out your will and use me for your glory.  I invite you to use me as your instrument and I am here and available for you.”  If I pray this prayer and really mean it, then God’s plan will be carried out and I will be where He wants me to be.

Ultimately, God’s will is going to be carried out one way or another.  He has the final say, He is the author and the creator and His word stands forever.  That won’t change.  What can change, however, is me and my choosing to work together with Him.  Will I be His willing vessel or will I refuse and miss out on a great blessing?

My responsibility when I pray is the condition of my heart and the motivation behind my prayer.  Am I speaking just to hear myself talk?  Am I really asking for God’s intervention in the life of another or am I just trying to get through my prayer list so that I can go on to something else?  My flesh wars against my spiritual nature and wants to have its own way but through Christ in me I can pray in the Spirit in a way that pleases the Father.

This is a hard lesson and one that I am still working on.  The concept of prayer is a simple one but because it is communication between me (who is finite, flawed and flesh) and God (who is spirit, infinite and perfect) the actual process of prayer is anything but simple.  It takes Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between what I am and who God is and it is only through His work on the cross and His shed blood that I am able to come before God with a pure heart and clean hands.

I want my prayer to be heard by God and I want to pray in a way that pleases Him.  I want God’s will to be done but before I can honestly pray for it I need to ask for God’s will to be done in me and for the willingness to say “yes” to whatever He asks.

No Matter How Much You Ask, God Will Never Give You More

Time, Faith, God's willIf there’s one thing that I could use a lot more of, it’s time.  If I had more time I could write more blog posts about God and the amazing things that He does.  If I had more time I could get involved in an array of worthwhile causes and charities.  If I had more time I could spend it with my parents, family and friends that I love as often as I wanted.  More time seems to be the easy answer to much of what I view as an obstacle to God’s glory.

Of course with my very limited view and finite mind, what appears to be an obstruction to me is nothing of the sort to our Heavenly Father.  He’s working and He desires to use me in His work if I will just remain humble and obedient.  Can I walk day by day, in faith and at peace with God and man?

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NASB)

With that in mind, perhaps what I need is not more time at all.  What I really need and what God really wants me to learn from all of this is just to trust him.

My perspective needs to be a Godly one.  Instead of wishing for more time I should be praying for more faith, more hope and more love.  And what are the tools that God uses to grow my faith?  Often times they are trials, tribulations and obstacles.  The very things that I say I need more time to overcome and get around are the very things that God can use to bring me closer to Him.

Is my desire to really know Him better and to see Him more clearly or is it merely to be comfortable and blessed?  Honestly?  I think it’s more the latter than the former, and that’s a problem.  Knowing God brings blessings and God loves giving His children good gifts.  But if my desire is the gift and the blessing more so than the Giver then I need to check my priorities.

I must recommit to walking by faith, day by day.  I must have wisdom enough to realize that God has granted me the strength I need to make it through each day and to accomplish the work that He has given me to do.  And I must not worry and fret about the trials and obstacles in my life.  God is bigger than they are and perhaps through them, He is trying to teach me to rely on Him even more.

Go With What You Know: Know All You Can

Bible study,learning,faith in actionAs Christians, we are called to act on our faith.  Certainly, what we believe is very important, but it is our speech and our actions that ultimately show the world God’s love in a personal way.

Go with What You Know

I have been in more than one conversation lately where the speaker expressed some confusion over finding God’s will for their life.  This is something we all struggle with from time to time.  Regrettably, it is all too easy to become anxious in our searching and to let the search become our focus.  In doing so, we overlook God’s provision and blessing that is sufficient for today.   We lose our joy and our simple moment by moment dependence on God because we’re looking in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

God reveals His plan as we are ready to receive it and on His timetable.  Our God is a God of order.  His order always includes our surrender and obedience first and then His word to us second.  He will not give us a fresh word until we’ve been obedient with that which He has already given us.  If there is something that we have not dealt with, some sin or matter of faith that we are not acting on, then we can’t expect God to speak beyond the place that we have stopped.

God is pleased when we seek His plan for our life.  Even better, however, is when we seek God Himself above anything and everything else.  The moment we try to get away from “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33a) is the moment we take our eyes off of Him and, like Peter, start to sink in the waves of our circumstances.

Go with what you know.  Live each day in simple reliance on our Heavenly Father and seek Him above and beyond anything else.  “and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33b)

Know all You Can

Even as we seek to live in simple reliance on God we never have an excuse to stop learning, cease growing or stand still in our faith.  I believe an honest and true search for the face of God will encompass as much study, prayer and learning time as we can muster, and will continue even into the next life where finally see Him face to face.

That’s why we simply don’t have time to be distracted.  God is so big, so wonderful and so amazing that spending the time to get to know Him is always to our benefit.  God wants to bless His children by using them to bless others and by giving them more of Himself.  That can only happen as we strive to know Him ever better and understand His love ever greater.

No matter where you are in your journey of faith, the principles remain the same.  Seek God first and above all.   Love Him with your whole heart and let nothing stand between you and Him.  Learn all you can about your Heavenly Father by spending time with Him and His children and grow strong in your faith and your knowledge of God.

Are you searching for God and His will in your life right now?  What obstacles seem to be in the way?  What’s keeping you from being exactly what God would have you to be?