Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Believing God

As Christians we live by faith in a God we cannot see.  Our faith is vitally important in our walk with God. It determines our relationship with Him and is the source of all spiritual rewards. What exactly is faith?  Why does God want us to have faith?
The writer of Hebrews declares that faith "is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. " Hebrews 11:1. More simply, faith is the belief that God really is who He says He is--that what He says about Himself is true.  Faith is not believing by seeing; it’s seeing by believing.
Faith begins with our concept of God.  Who do you believe He is?  Is he a judgmental, critical, impossible-to-please God? Is He a benevolent but detached Father who is too busy taking care of all the “important” stuff going on in the world to actually care what is going on with you? 
 If none of the above, is He a God who loves you passionately and knows you infinitely better than you know yourself?  Faith knows He is the latter!
      Faith enables us to believe that these verses are true: God says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5. He has such a profound awareness of us that “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.  You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me”, Psalm 139, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered”, Matt.10:30.

It’s a mind-boggling mystery: how can He be a Sovereign Holy God who not only created the universe and all that is in it, but is also intimately familiar with and in love with you and me? Incredulously, He proclaims, “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…,” Isaiah 49:15-16. 
Over and over He declares and demonstrates His love for us. “The LORD appeared to us in the past saying:  ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’”, Jeremiah 31:3.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”, Romans 5:8.
God wants us to believe He is who He says He is:  knowing and believing Him is one of His great purposes for us.  “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me”, Isaiah 43:10.  
He compels us to believe because faith is the path to incredible blessings: eternal life with him, John 5:23-25, 11:25, spiritual fulfillment in this life, John 6:35, 7:38, and the granting of our requests, Matthew 21:21-22. He highly commends us for our faith:  “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’”, (John 20:29).  Faith enables us to truly be “more than conquerors” instead of living in the lie of drudgery and defeat.
Of all the stories in the Gospels, there is only one event mentioned that caught Jesus by surprise.  A centurion displayed such a remarkable depth of faith that even Jesus was amazed!  He sent some representatives to Jesus with a request for healing for the centurion’s esteemed servant.  The centurion had such great faith that he alone, of all those written about in the Word, believed that Jesus just had to “say the word, and my servant will be healed.” 
He knew it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to even be near his ill servant to heal him!  “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.’”  Oh, to amaze Jesus with our depth of faith!
Unbelief may be the greatest sin of all.   “…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.
            Even believers in Christ suffer from unbelief.  Do we really believe all the claims God makes about Himself in His Word?  We are called to “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God”, Hebrews 3:12. 
We are all lacking in faith at times in our lives.  None of us can claim that we have never suffered from unbelief!  When we are sitting in the dark and wondering if God is really real, Jesus will hear us when we cry out to Him, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  As the apostles cried out to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” we can also ask Him to do the same for us.  He is faithful, He will do it!
Faith is believing God:  believing that He really is who He says He is and all He says is true.  God wants us to have faith in Him so that He can pour spiritual blessings into our cup until it is filled and overflowing!

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