Monday, June 05, 2006

Losing Faith or Losing Focus?

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong
(1 Corinthians 16:13 – HCSB)

Faith is based upon fact: if you feel that you are losing your faith, it is because you are either not looking at the facts, or you have placed your faith in something other than truth. If you have actual faith from God you cannot “lose” it, because it is given to you (Ephesians 2:8-9). What you lose is focus. True faith is not simply belief, speculation, presumption, or mere wishful thinking.

Firstly, place faith where it belongs, in something outside of you, outside of people, outside of things, and outside the wisdom of men. Faith must be something you can rest in. This is why it is critical to stay in the Word of God, to continue to renew your mind in the knowledge of God by reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and praying about God’s written Word, the Holy Bible (Romans 12:2 / John 17:17).

The struggle of faith is one reason we need to attend church, to be with other believers who have similar problems (1 Corinthians 10:13 / 2 Corinthians 1:3-7). These people are the Body of Christ and are there to encourage, edify, and empathize with you in your situations (1 Corinthians 12:26 / Hebrews 12:12). Even when they let you down, however, God is still faithful, and belonging to and attending church puts you in position to hear from the Lord through your pastor, receive the benefits of Communion, and allows you to help others, which lessens stress upon yourself.

One way to renew your strength in the Lord is to recall His prior faithfulness to you and to others. By journaling your walk with the Lord, you can look back and see where God brought you through before, and where you learned lessons about being conformed to His image in spiritual maturity. This is why God told the Israelites to teach their children by rehearsing the goodness of God through stories, why they keep the Passover, and why they placed the Law, manna, and Aaron’s rod in the Ark of the Covenant, as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness.

By reading and listening to testimonies of others who have weathered the great storms of life you can remember God is Sovereign, that He has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11), and that He will work all things to your eventual good (Romans 8:28). Reading the trials of the martyrs, or the stories of grace in Christian periodicals or at your church can encourage and equip you to better handle your weakness, and rely on His strength.

Daily devotional reading has a peculiar way of becoming a providential means of God speaking lessons about faith to our hearts. Starting your day in devotion is a great way to keep your mind focused on God and His will for your life. Our daily lives will change, but Jesus does not (Hebrews 13:8). Godly devotion can overcome wayward emotion.

A key to consider is that even when we falter, God does not, and remains faithful to His Word (2 Timothy 2:13 / Psalm 138:2). When we sin, as we will continue to do (1 John 1:8), we know that we fall, not away from the faith, but into the Everlasting Arms. It isn’t about our being good; it is about Him being God. We do not place faith in our strength, but faith in His grace (Ephesians 2:8 / Job 22:3). We can pray for God to help us with our heart of unbelief (Mark 9:24), which will increase the steadfastness of our faith. It is about God’s faithfulness, not our human “faith”, and He will give us abundant, steadfast, and unwavering faith if we will pursue it. After all, faith is a supernatural gift of the Spirit (Romans 12:3 / 1 Corinthians 12:9 / 2 Corinthians 4:13 / Galatians 5:22).

We must recognize our motives, to see if we are really “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). We are not in this to try it and see if we will like it: faith is exactly that, faith no matter what (Job 13:15). True faith is faith in God, that He will forgive our sins and change our ways (Philippians 1:6). We must have faith through circumstance and in circumstance, not simply faith because of circumstance, because circumstances change, but God does not! This is why we must always look to Jesus Christ, the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Those that only “try” Christianity will almost always fall away, for their faith is about their circumstances, not God, repentance, and trust. “Real faith is always increased by opposition, while false confidence is damaged and discouraged by it” (J.B. Stoney). Faith is based on knowledge, and seeking knowledge of God and Jesus Christ through His Word will allow the Holy Spirit to impart true faith to our hearts (Romans 10:17), and make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:2-4).

The BASIS of our faith is the Word of God: not feelings, impressions, probabilities, circumstances, other people, positive thinking, or presumption.

The FOCUS of our faith is Jesus Christ: not our own strength or well-being. The focus needs to be upward, to understand Jesus and His plan for our lives, not inward, to understand ourselves and have our own needs met. Christ centered, not self-centered.

The RESULT of our faith is holy living: a repentant mindset focused on the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and a yielding to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We fall down, we look up, and He lifts us up to Himself.

The END of our faith is salvation: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9). Amen.


Anonymous said...

Even So - What would you say to those who say they just don't have the time to daily read His Word?

Even So... said...

Fifth time trying to post this...

Make time.

It is the right thing to do, it will yield many benefits, and it honors God.

Try reading while you eat, or sleeping 5 minutes less. Just a few verses will have a tremendous impact. No guilt, no huge committment, just a couple, even one verse a day. Just do it.

Even So... said...

Yeah, it finally went through!

Seriously, I realize that many have a full schedule, but we are talking about a very small quantity of time, and we are talking about God's Word, and you are talking like you are a Christian, no?

Come now, let us reason together.