Most people think that faith is the flip side of believing. In other words, if we believe something hard enough it will be so. So we clench our fists in a strong desire to believe something is so and then we can have what we want. Others equate faith with determination. If we are determined enough, faith will be the byproduct and we will have what we are determined to have. We begin to believe that we were not healed because we don’t have enough faith, or our prayers are not answered because we don’t have enough faith. But faith is much more than the power of positive thinking. And faith is much more than expecting God to give us what we ask him to do. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Faith is focusing on living that out—trusting and acknowledging God in “all your ways.”
Bottom Line: Real faith focuses on who He is not just what He does.
Something To Talk About:
How do you develop real faith?
- Immerse Yourself in God’s Word: The Bible remains the only source of divine revelation and power that can sustain you as a Christian in your walk with God. Faith grows as we spend time in the Word of God. Reading or hearing God’s Word is like planting a garden. If you want to grow or “build” a garden, you must first plant the seeds, or the actual plant or flower. God’s Word is the seed that grows faith. Knowing His promises, what God says about you, about life, and about Jesus’ plan for eternal life can’t be streamed into your head via wifi. We need to become familiar with the Bible and what faith is all about by meditating on its contents. This will give you the basis for growing or increasing your faith. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Act on God’s Word: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26) Real faith always results in action, although we can find ourselves evaluating our faith on how well God gives us what we want. Our faith can diminish when God doesn’t scratch our back, or when God does not sit us down at His table and begin to feed us because of all we have done for Him. Or we may even get resentful, feeling God is unfair or unjust. It is at that point that we find out that we never had much faith, and this whole God thing can become one big, religious game. Faith is doing the things to serve God regardless of rewards, punishments, duty, or results. We give ourselves to Him, seeking His will in all things. This kind of walk is the only one that will grow faith. You cannot try to have faith. Faith is not our ability to do things. It isn’t even our ability to do things for God. Rather, faith is a relationship whereby God can do things in us and for us and through us.
- What is faith? Describe the difference between faith and feelings?
- What makes real faith different?
- If you could ask God one question to increase your faith, what would it be?
- Take a moment to reflect on what it is. How does faith manifest itself in your life?
- How important is it to be faithful?
- What steps can we take in the next few weeks to increase our faith?
Take One Thing Home with You
Faith is crucial to having a relationship with God. But even though we learn more and more about faith as we mature as Christians, it is still difficult to define. The Bible makes hundreds of references to faith: Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” And 1 Corinthians 2: 5 says, “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” There are many many more. How would we complete the statement: For me, faith is ___________________.”
Luke 7:9 says, “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Who did Jesus say had such “great faith?” Luke 7 contains a familiar story about a Roman centurion who was willing to believe that Jesus could heal a loyal and trusted servant who was near death. The centurion told Jesus, “say the word, and let my servant be healed.” In response to the centurion, Jesus turned to the crowd that was following Him and said, “I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Jesus seemed to be saying that “great faith” was simply taking Him at His word. To me that is faith.
God told Noah to build an ark because He was going to bring a massive flood. Noah took God at His word and built the ark. God told Abraham to go out to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham took God at His word, left his familiar surroundings, and he went.
Faith grows when we take God for who He is despite our feelings and life experiences. We need to choose with our wills to believe that His Word is truer than our feelings. God will be faithful to His word.