Living by Faith?

Struggling to live by faith today? We often do struggle because we misunderstand or even misdefine faith. So, what is faith?

I was reading the story in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s testing as God instructs him to sacrifice his only son. Remember, Isaac was not only his only son, but a miracle son who came because of a promise of God. Needless to say, this was test. But, this was not the first “test” that Abraham lived through. His faith had been tested several times before as God so much wanted Abraham to come to the place in life where he could truly trust God with all.

This “testing” of Abraham was to find out if he now really believed the promise of God.

Paul, in Romans 4 sums up exactly how Abraham grew in his faith and what faith actually is. According to Paul, the reason Abraham was willing to do what none of us would ever consider doing, killing our son, was because of what he believed God was going to do.

Paul writes that Abraham placed his faith in God, “in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”[1] Abraham’s faith was that he determined if he trusted God and did what God asked him to do, God, by His own promise, would be required to raise Isaac from the dead and fulfill the promise that Isaac would be the promised blessing to the entire world. In summation, Paul gives the definition of Abraham’s faith:

fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:21, ESV)

Abraham isn’t considered the “father of faith” because he believed God would give him ability to do certain things; he’s considered a great person of faith because he believed God would do certain things. And note this, he believed even though he couldn’t see. Why did Abraham believe?

Abraham believed because he had already been tested and learned that God does everything He promises, without fail!

Faith is not in your own ability or even in the hope that God will give you more ability. Faith is believing that God will do what He promises, and that’s life changing, attitude changing, day changing faith. This is why you can trust God even in situations when you can’t see the answer.

“Faith can be defined as living in advance what you will understand only in reverse.”[2]

[1] Romans 4:17

[2] Wayne Cordeiro. Sifted: Pursuing Growth Through Trials, Challenges and Disappointments. 39

Then You’ll Be A Witness

For my morning Bible reading time during the last month, I’ve been following a pre-made reading plan called “thirty days with Jesus.” I’m constantly looking for Jesus when I read the Bible but it’s been great to spend 30 days in passages that consist of His story on earth and His teaching.

As Jesus instructs His disciples near the end of His life on earth, He spends a lot of time encouraging them about the future. Now, if you’re reading passages like Luke 21, you may wonder how I can use the word, “encouraging.” But, the focus of Christ’s words, in my estimation, are not about the end times as much as that the disciples, and followers of Jesus, will be ok.

Here are a couple of encouragements that I see in Luke 21 as Jesus teaches:

1.     The most difficult days of your life will be when God speaks through your life the most.

Jesus tells the disciples that they’re going to be arrested, imprisoned and some even killed because of the Gospel. But, His encouragement in all that bad news is found in these words: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” (Luke 21:13, ESV) In other words, Jesus is telling them, no matter their circumstances, they will be able to live the life to which He’s called them.

The same is true for you and me; difficult circumstances don’t mean that you can’t live your life in Christ today. Actually, Biblically, the opposite is true. Difficult circumstances mean you can live the life Christ has for you.

2.     The Gospel is never bound by circumstances.

If you were to study church history, you would notice that the church flourished when persecution was the highest. There can certainly be an argument for the same today as it’s believed that one of the nations with the fastest growing church is China which is a country that is closed to the Gospel.

Just as it seems the proclamation of the Gospel may be stopped, Jesus’ words to His disciples rings true again. “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” (Luke 21:15, ESV)

Just when I think I can’t be a witness for the greatness of Jesus and His story, He gives me the words and wisdom to do just that.

This is the good news of Jesus’ teaching that can make all the difference for you today. If you’re having a difficult day, this is the greatest opportunity for God to work in and through your life.

The Day Jesus Didn’t Show

Do you ever feel like God didn’t show up? Have you ever thought, “I feel like God could have interceded in this situation in my life and it’s like He wasn’t even here?” Well, maybe He wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean He’s not coming.

The same verse always jumps out at me when I read the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John. That being true, that verse still has incredible impact and is a great reminder every time I read it that God’s plans rarely match what I think He should do. In John 11:15, after reporting that Lazarus was dead, Jesus makes a startling statement; “I’m glad I wasn’t there.” What!? Really!?

Here are a couple of immediate truths I find in this passage:

  1.  Jesus does not take joy in your pain. If He doesn’t show up in a particular situation, it doesn’t mean He’s not coming.

Jesus may seem to be late according to our calendar but He’s always on time according to His.

  1. Jesus ultimately wants to give you even more evidence that you can trust Him.

If Jesus leaves you in an unpleasant life situation, it may very well be that He’s planning something even bigger in your life than what you’re asking for.

Those who witnessed Jesus’ interaction with Martha and Mary and witnessed Jesus’ heavy heart over the death of His friend asked a great question, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Yes He could. But, Jesus didn’t show the day Lazarus died so all who were present could watch Him do something even greater; raise the dead.

Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40, ESV)

So, if you feel that He hasn’t shown up in your life during a particular trial, just know, it’s in His nature to wait so He might show you something greater about what He can do.