Thursday, August 8, 2013

What is Faith?

One of my photos of flowers. 
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Faith is a funny thing. Where do you draw the line between faith and irresponsibility? When is waiting on God, just lack of action, indecision or laziness?

Without faith it is impossible to please God. So if I want to please God I have to some how have faith. Where do you get it? Do some people just come by it more naturally than others? Are you born with it or do you have to learn to have faith?

Lets look at some of what the Bible has to say about faith. Keep in mind I am just scratching the surface this is not an exhaustive study.

Galatians 3:22
But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

From this verse we see that with out faith in Christ we are not going to be able to unlock Scripture. Its won't make sense. So if by chance you are reading this blog and you are not already a believer a lot of what I am saying just wont make a lot of sense for you. We also see that something has been promised and one obtains that promise through faith in Jesus Christ and is given to those who believe.

Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Some where along the line one needs to hear about Jesus. Somehow in hearing about Jesus and the Kingdom message, faith begins to emerge. I can look back and actually remember the instances that someone talked to me about Jesus. I was pretty closed to it for many years. I was 20 and had moved from St. Louis to Ohio to live with my aunt and her family to help take care of my grandmother who was dying of cancer. My grandmother passed away several months after I got there and the church the family attended at the time had one of those missionary camps. I figured I could enjoy the nature and tune out the speakers. Which I did. What I did not count on was that the message was also in the music. As I listened to one of the musical concerts I started to hear about the love of God, and belonging to a family. I did not make my decision to follow Christ that weekend but the message in the music had some how connected and got my attention. So I started watching the folks that claimed to be Christians. I attended some church service and youth events and asked more questions. There was an altar call in church one Sunday and I felt moved to respond. It is a decision that I have not ever regretted making in 30+ years of following Christ. He is all that He promises and so much more.

2 Corinthians 10:15
Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand,

From this verse we can see that faith is something that grows. As it grows the activity of other believers and leaders and even the teaching of the Word also expands.

Romans 12:3
[ Humble Service in the Body of Christ ] For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

This verse helps us to see that not only does faith grow but it is distributed to us by God. So I believe that God created each of us with a seed of faith that upon hearing the message of His love begins to grow and there are points through out our life where we are called to a place of decision. Decision to follow Christ is the beginning and over time we begin to see that we need to allow Him in to more and more of our life. We may have invited Him in to fix the plumbing but he takes that invitation and begins a whole renovation of our life. Of course He is always a gentle man and does not barge in where he is not welcome. He does not force us to follow Him or to do things His way. It is more that His kindness leads us to want to turn from our old ways and begin to do more and more His way.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

How is your life stacking up to His Word? How is your life stacking up to Jesus and how he lived and responded? We must test ourselves. You are either moving toward Jesus or away from Him. It is really uncomfortable to remain sitting on the fence.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Faith is an interesting thing. I have seen people who are sick try and as a last resort try to shore up or drum up their faith. If you have been walking closely with Jesus that faith has already grown up in you. Taking your health concern to Jesus was just part of your on going walk with Him. I think sometimes there is a race against time between the illness and the person whose has late to bloom faith. I always pray for people to receive God's healing. Some do and some don't and I don't begin to know all the reasons why. I think sometimes its a matter of too little, too late. I have also seen great people of faith who had many people praying for them die. In those cases I have to trust that God knows how our days are numbered. Seeds must fall into the ground and die for new life to spring up. I think that when you are in the midst of a crisis - its a bit late to try and build up your faith. You may want to shake your fist at God because He does not immediately fix things. All too often we blame God for inaction when it was our own choice not to include Him in our life. Maybe you called yourself a Christian but you don't really have much of a relationship with the Lord.

Romans 14:1
[ The Weak and the Strong ] Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

It is important for all of us to set a good examples for others. Our lives should reflect the love and the character of Jesus to others. We are all working on different things. An area that you have mastered may be one that I have not even begun to work on.

1 Corinthians 13:2
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Well this seems to be a good place to stop for this blog post. Here are some more verses about faith for you to consider. I pray that the Lord will strengthen and encourage you in your faith as you grow to know Him more and more. 

2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, not by sight.

Galatians 2:16
know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 3:14
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:26
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,

Galatians 5:5
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Ephesians 6:16
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

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