Sunday, March 17, 2013

Faith


Faith

 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

There are two kinds of faith.  Natural faith is what we all have.  We can see a bridge, and not wince at the thought of going over it.  We trust the bridge to hold our vehicle up, and we cross it.   This is natural faith.  Natural faith is also the faith in which we are saved.  It is the ability to believe that God is who He says He is, and Jesus is who He says He is.  It is God’s will that all be saved, and all have received this natural faith.
But divine faith is a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is an extraordinary trust in God to do what seems impossible to most.  It is, like all the other spiritual gifts, the manifestation of the unseen Holy Spirit at work, and is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Faith is a benefit to all when it is shared, showing others that God can be trusted.  It is a complete persuasion, a deep rooted conviction of belief.  It is defined in Hebrews 11:1, which says Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 

One of the greatest stories of faith in the Bible I believe is the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham was a man who was full of faith, completely trusting God to fulfill the promise to him of descendants more numerous than the stars, even if it meant raising Isaac, his only son, from the dead.
In Genesis 22 we read of Abraham’s trust in God, as he took his only son Isaac, a donkey packing wood for an offering, and his young servants to Mt. Moriah.  As he leaves his young servants behind he tells them in verse 5 “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” ‘We will come back to you’, he told his servants.  Abraham had full faith in God to deliver his son, somehow, someway. 

As they got to the top of the mountain to offer up the sacrifice Isaac asks his father where the offering was, and Abraham again speaks in faith and says in verse 8, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” I don’t think for a moment that Abraham was just trying to calm Isaac or trying to appease the young boy’s questions.  I also don’t think Abraham feared that God would kill his only son.  He had faith that since God had told him that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars that God would find a way, if it was necessary to kill Isaac, to raise him up again and cause children to still be born from Isaac.  This is supernatural faith, extraordinary faith, divine faith, that only God can give.  His faith was so great that this very example is retold in Hebrews 11 among other stories of great faith.
Paul and Silas were two men filled with great faith.  Sitting in a prison cell, bound in chains, they were not disappointed in God’s care over them.  They didn’t sit there looking at their circumstances, they lived in faith that God was not done with them.  At midnight they were singing hymns and praise to God.  Could God be trusted to come through?  Ask the prison guard about the earth quake and how that even he was saved as not a one of the prisoners tried to escape when their chains were broken.

In 2008 God sought to grow my faith through several events.  One of which was through the testimony of a strong woman of God in my church who told of being delivered from depression.  I myself had been on depression medications for years, and though the depression had ended, my doctors told me I “wouldn’t do as well” if I were to go off of them.  In addition, I was fully aware that depression runs in my family, and feared I was not going to be spared.  But this sweet woman of faith gave her story of God delivering her from depression medication at the altar of our church years before.  It did not fall on deaf ears, as God spoke to my heart saying “what I did for her – I’ll do for you.”
I trusted God, and acted on faith.  Gradually I began to go off the medication, and then as he will always do, the enemy entered in and threw a lot of trouble my way.  He used those closes to me to put me through trials that I felt too weak to handle.  But in faith, I believed God for what He had said, “what I did for her - I’ll do for you.”  One of the requirements for faith is to be unwavering (James 1:6-7), to stand strong in the face of the enemy when he attacks, and rest assured that God is God and no one else is in power.  One Wednesday night at church, as we were giving praise testimonies and asking for prayers, I sat there with my heart breaking, crumbling to tears.  I finally stopped being a silent warrior, and stood.  I declared to the entire church, but more so to satan himself, that he would lose because My God would be trusted.  I was not backing down, and I was not giving up on the God who told me He would deliver me.  I never took another pill – and I never will. 

Isaiah 26:3 is one of my favorite verses, and one I leaned on when going off my depression meds.  It says “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Another equally strong verse for those who are going through this trial is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Even more recently my daughter began to have nightmares.  They would linger in her thoughts during the day and she really hated sleeping because of these horrible dreams.  God showed me long ago that He can guard our minds when we sleep as well as when we are awake.  I began to pray with her before she went to sleep.  She put her faith in Him, and hasn’t had a nightmare since. 

A week ago today, after fighting a cough that had gone on for over three weeks, God came to my rescue again.  I’d been given antibiotics, cough pills, cough syrup, two different inhalers, a nasal spray, and basically everything the doctors could think of to give me.  Yet the cough continued, sometimes to the point that I’d have coughing fits and not be able to stop.  I’d be having conversations with my clients and have to mute my phone while I coughed uncontrollably.  Last Sunday I stopped taking all the meds and had a talk with God.  I simply said, “God, you created this temple and you live in it.  If it is going to be healed, you will be the one to do it, and you will get the praise – not some medication.”  My God is trustworthy.  Today I give praise to God Almighty, who has never failed me. I coughed for a few days after that, and then the cough stopped.  I just wish I’d have leaned on Him sooner.
I don’t give these examples to boast of having anything that isn’t available to all God’s children, and given by God as He wills.  Luke 1:37 says “For with God nothing will be impossible.”  The key word in that verse is “with”.  Divine faith is not from ourselves, but it is a gift from God.

Faith is a gift that must be exercised.  I say exercised because it is like a muscle.  You don’t overnight begin to believe God for the extraordinary any more than a weightlifter suddenly goes from lifting a sandwich to lifting a 1,000 pound set of weights!  God will encourage us and strengthen us as He grows our faith through the opportunities He places in our lives. If you want more faith, ask God for it.  He will help you, giving you opportunities to grow your faith in Him.

 

 

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