Faith. What exactly is it? Merriam Webster defines it as:
- Firm belief in something for which there is no proof
- Belief and trust in and loyalty to God
- Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
I think the first definition is where we get hung up. We live in a time when we believe what we see – or feel. At least that is what we say.
But really, you have faith for many normal, everyday things. When you fly, you believe (trust) that the pilot knows how to fly the plane, and land the plane, and that the plane is in good working order. When you go to the doctor, you have faith that the doctor knows what he’s talking about. Hopefully. Aside from maybe the diploma on the wall, or the uniform on the pilot, you have no real proof either of these are really true. When you turn on a light switch, you believe that power will flow and the light will turn on. Here you probably have daily experience that this will indeed happen.
These speak of everyday faith, but the next two definitions speak about belief in what we cannot see – or WHO we cannot see. God.
What does the bible say about faith? Better yet, what did JESUS say about faith? Lots!
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:22)
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:28)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20)
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.’” (Luke 17:6)
Jesus SAW their faith, and Luke 17 talks about faith the size of a mustard seed. Those seeds are small, but that still would be more faith than what we’ve ever “seen!”
There are a lot of verses on faith, but I’ll mention just two more…
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. (Mark 11:22, Luke 7:50)
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)
It is important what – or I should say Who – we have faith in. Faith in some “higher power” really has nothing and no one to hold on to.
Faith is very powerful. It can bring healing. It can transplant mulberry trees. It can release forgiveness (and who doesn’t need that!) And it can please God.
According to that last verse, without faith we cannot please God. Wow! We definitely want God to be pleased with us. But where do we get faith? You cannot order it from Amazon, or go down to the corner market. There is only one place to get faith – from God!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
It is a gift. That means you cannot buy it or earn it! But how do we get it?
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17)
We most often hear this verse when talking about evangelism. How can people know what Jesus did for them unless we tell them? And we know that the faith required is more than just believing that Jesus existed.
Years ago, I was reading this illustration about having faith. A man was sitting on a chair balanced on a tight rope stretched across Niagara Falls. He then got off the chair and asked a bystander “Do you believe this chair could support you?” “Yes,” he said. Then he was asked, “Do you believe it enough to sit on the chair?” “Uh, No!” was the response. I can’t say that I blame him. I wouldn’t get on the chair either!
The faith required for salvation is more than intellectual assent. We actually have to “sit, rest, trust” in what Jesus did.
But I have already trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I may not get on that chair, but “on Christ the solid Rock I stand” – or sit. I have faith in Him from His Word, and from experience.
Do I always feel that solid faith? Honestly, I’d have to say “No.” So, what can I do? What can you do?
From the above verse, faith comes by hearing the Word about Christ. Do I hope to hear something in church on Sunday, or find just the right sermon on YouTube? Maybe. God has often built my faith that way. But we need to preach to ourselves. What is shaking our faith? Finances? Chaos in the world? Health issues? Trouble in our family? Relationships? Find what God says about those issues and then preach it to yourself; aloud so you can hear it.
There are several reasons for this. Studies have shown that the more of our senses that get involved in learning, the easier it is to remember. For example, often when teaching children their letters, they hear the letter said, trace the letter with their fingers, see the letter, color the letter, and so on.
Speaking the scriptures OUT LOUD involves our hearing as well as our seeing. But there is more to it than just another of our five senses. Spiritually, the Word begins to sink into our hearts – not the blood-pumping organ, but the center of our being. What is so great about that is it changes us. It affects how we think and how we talk. Matthew 12:34 tells us For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. The New Living Translations reads, For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
Have you experienced that? We want to be nice to someone, but we have bitterness in our heart and our words come out kind of snarky. I’ve even had the reverse happen. I really wanted to tell someone off, but it came out gently and lovingly. I was pleasantly shocked! (And maybe a bit disappointed I didn’t let them have it! Oh well, Holy Spirit is working, in spite of how much I still need to be transformed!)
Or, we say we are trusting God, but deep inside, we have anxious thoughts and “what-ifs.” Will God really take care of me? Will He keep His promises – to me? Truths we can plant deep in our hearts: God never lies and He is always faithful.
What is my part in building up the faith that God has given me? I need to speak the truths of scripture, standing on His nature as a Good and Faithful Father. I cannot bemoan the circumstances of my life situations and expect to feel full of faith. Wallowing in self-pity just allows the enemy to fill us with fear, anxiety, and unbelief.
We must be like David in the Psalms. For example, in Psalm 103:1-5 he is preaching to himself, directing, commanding his soul to bless the Lord, whether he feels like it or not. And he is intentionally reminding himself of what God has done.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Think back on your life. How has God blessed you, rescued you, protected you, answered prayers, drawn you close? What has He promised? What has He done? When has He answered a prayer with what you needed, not necessarily what you thought you wanted (just like a loving papa would?) Choose to think on these things and not all the negative, fearful thoughts the enemy will whisper in your ear. Speak His Word which is always true.
(P.S. I’m preaching to myself here, too!)
Here are some of my favorites.
|My Declaration||God says:|
|I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.||God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.||2 Corinthians 5:21|
|I am healed by the stripes of Jesus.||But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
|I can do it!||I can do all this through him who gives me strength.||Philippians 4:13|
|I am strong, brave, and not afraid.||For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.||2 Timothy 1:7|
|He pours out His mercy and goodness upon me.||Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.||Psalm 23:6|
|I am forgiven||As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.||Psalm 103:12|
|I am not alone.||Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.||Deuteronomy 31:6|
|I don’t have to do it alone.||And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.||John 14:16-17|
We could go on and on, but you get the idea. Preach to yourself. Speak God’s Word – which is always true – to yourself. Build your faith.