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If you ask most people what faith is they will tell you it is believing in something or someone. Jesus said that if you had even a small amount of faith you could move mountains. Does that mean that if you believe you can fly then you can? If so every child who had a strong imagination would be able to fly. Even people who are mentally unstable and really believe these things would be able to.
So it should be clear to us that faith and belief are different. We really need to understand what the difference is and when we do understand it we need to learn to use our faith. Because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
The word belief is very easily defined. It means we assume something to be true. The issue with belief though is that you can know something to be true and not care. If you believe God is a great judge it doesn’t mean you will not sin.
Faith is different. Faith is a combination of belief with action. An example would be believing a cop may give you a ticket if you speed, so you slow down.
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Substance is defined as: The actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality.
The Bible makes it clear that faith is active…and it is the actual touchable and visible action made for the purpose of obtaining the thing hoped for (Substance). Just like a tree moves by the wind our faith is evidence of what we do not see.
Peter is a good example of belief in action. He had the faith to step out of the boat and begin to walk on water. The rest of the disciples may have believed, but they had no action connected to their belief. So their faith was dead. Of course we all know that Peter began to sink AFTER he started to doubt. But he still had faith. It was just weak.
It was weak because he had the action, but his belief began to fade. He began to believe what he knew naturally rather than the words of Jesus telling Him to come to Him. Our faith can be weak like this too. If we don’t have a balance of both total belief along with total commitment to action then our faith is weak.
In the case of the speeding ticket we believe there is a risk to speeding. Because of that we hope to travel without being pulled over. We slow down and it becomes clear (evidence) that we will not have to pay a ticket. Our faith is strong because we fully believe we may be pulled over and so we fully commit ourselves to slowing down.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
Here is another example in the Bible of faith. Abel had a hope to be righteous. The substance of his hope was seen in his offering to God. This action was evidence of what was unseen otherwise (that he was pleasing to God).
So if you believe something, it does not mean you have faith in something. Faith comes with action.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Unless you act on your belief in Jesus then you have not yet put your faith in Him.
There are two ways you can use faith. The first way is that you can shout and yell trying your best to get what you believe is rightfully yours for the asking. The second way is to learn that faith and miracles are not magic. They are methods for making things happen.
The first way reminds me an awful lot of the pagans in the day of Elijah.
1 Kings 18:26-28
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
This doesn’t sound like something we would do right? I mean we don’t think fasting from food is a way to get God to hear us because we are starving our bodies do we? We don’t think that our straining of our bodies and faces in deep hard prayer is going to somehow change God’s mind right? Or do we really think that it is so hard to get God to hear and act for us when we call that we resort to these things?
The Bible does indeed talk about knock, seek, and ask for things. While in many things perseverance is a good thing we need to understand that the Bible does not say we should hound God until our prayers are answered. It does however speak of the judge that would not act unless he was harassed by the victim of a crime.
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
I always looked at this and thought it was Jesus who was asking the question, “shall he find faith on the earth?” But that is not the case. Jesus says in verse 6 to listen to what the unjust judge says next. The judge says, in almost mockery, that God will avenge His people…but who is there that trusts that God will act? That is what the judge says.
We often times have to pound on the doors of people and remind them daily of our requests because we do not trust them to answer without hounding them. So the judge is saying people do not have faith in God to act for them. Yet Jesus said in verse 1 that men should always pray and not faint in their faith when it seems God is not answering.
Essentially Jesus is saying here that the lack of faith in the judge caused the widow to hound him. We have taken it to mean the opposite in that we believe faith means we keep asking God for the same thing over and over as though our repetition will bring an answer.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Where did we come up with the idea that having faith means we have to pound on heavens door until we weary God enough to answer? What kind of nonsense is that?! Look what happened to the last guy that tried that. His name was Balaam.
He was asked to curse Israel so he prayed about it and God said no. He prayed twice about it since the first time he didn’t get the answer he wanted. Then God said (as though He would have changed His mind from the continued prayer of Balaam) for him to go with the men who requested the curse on Israel.
On the way the angel of God stood ready to kill Balaam. This man was persistent though! Even though the donkey he rode turned away 3 times to save him, Balaam still continued to push forward. Even after the donkey literally spoke to him Balaam pushed to continue even while threatening the donkey. Finally God opened this mans eyes to see that God would not be moved by his continued hounding.
So instead of Jesus trying to tell us to hound God until we get an answer He is actually trying to tell us that praying without fainting means to pray knowing God hears. Anything else would be fainting…because we fail in our faith. If we have faith that God hears then why do we think we have to ask more than once?
If faith is something we can use to change the world how do we use it the right way? Are there any examples of faith being used in the Bible? Of course there is! There are so many examples that a whole chapter was written about them in Hebrews 11.
So lets take a look at the common theme. In your Bible turn to chapter 11 of Hebrews and read all of the examples. There is one thing I want you to take note of. All of the people that used their faith did so with action. They moved and acted in accordance with what they believed. Their faith was based on truth and because they acted on truth they were blessed.
Today people think that if they ask God for something then God must do as they ask. Their faith is not based on truth because of this. God is not their genie. They should bow to Him and not the other way around. So when they try to act on their belief they fail since their faith is not in what is true.
So if you want to use your faith there are some things you need to do.
First you have to know the truth. Get in the Bible and know what God really said. Maybe He already said no to a request you just made, thousands of years ago when the scripture was written. You must be established in truth before your faith can work. Knowing the truth gives faith according to Romans 10:17.
After you know the truth and believe it you must act on it. Look at the actions they made in Hebrews 11. They obeyed God, they cried out without fear or doubt, they had hope and did what they could to see it happen.
Read it again. Abel offered a sacrifice to God to honor Him. Enoch walked with God. Noah built an ark. Abraham left his land and lived among strangers. Sara knew her husband even though they were older and lacked the strength (in the same way Adam knew Eve if you understand what I am saying).
Abraham offered Isaac to God. Isaac opened his mouth and proclaimed what would come to pass to his sons. Jacob worshiped God as he died. Moses was hid by his mother without fear of the king. When he was old enough Moses disowned his adoptive family to be with the family of Christ. He left Egypt, kept the passover, and led them through the dry land with water heaped up on either side of them.
Israel obeyed God and was mocked as they walked around Jericho 7 days. Even the prostitute Rahab used her faith by hiding the spies and placing the scarlet thread in her window.
Take note that all of them believed the truth. They also acted on it. So what is facing you today? Is there a mountain in your way, or a giant named Goliath? What do you need your faith to do?
Find out what God says about it. If His word says you have power to take the mountain down then you do. If His word says it is good and right for you to do so then it is. If otherwise then you can not use your faith in that way. But if God has given the right in His word for it then it can be done. All you have to do is trust Him and act on it.
Sometimes it is hard to know how to act on it. In the case of moving a mountain you may need to start moving one stone at a time. It may not seem like it will ever be moved. But remember that Abraham never did get to see the full promise come to pass while he was here. Nevertheless it has come to pass.
Find out what part God wants you to play in making it happen. Then take action and trust Him to do the rest.
July 13, 2015 at 12:13 am | | No comment