Great faith

Romans 10:17 ESV

George Müller is considered to be one of the spiritual giants of the church. Faced time and time again with overwhelming needs, he turned to God in prayer, claimed His promises and experienced amazing miracles.

But great faith doesn’t come overnight; it comes over a lifetime of walking with God. Müller said: ‘My faith is the same faith which is found in every believer. It has been increased little by little for the last twenty-six years. Many times when I would have gone insane from worry, I was at peace because my soul believed the truth of God’s promises. God’s Word, together with the whole character of God as He has revealed Himself, settles all questions. His unchangeable love and His infinite wisdom calmed me. I knew, “God is able and willing to deliver me.” It is written, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NKJV).’

So how can we get this kind of faith? The Bible says, ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (Romans 10:17 ESV). Just as nourishing food strengthens us physically, reading and studying God’s Word every day strengthens us spiritually. The ‘secret’ of successful Christian living isn’t a secret at all – we need to get into God’s Word and get God’s Word into us. We can’t avoid anxiety-producing situations in life, but when our faith is strong, we can face any challenge or problem with confidence, knowing that God’s ‘able and willing’ to walk through it with us.

Lev 18-20; Mark 1:21-28; Ps 25:16-22; Prov 10:2

Doubts (1)

John 20:25 NIV

Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to His disciples after the resurrection. And like many of us, other people’s experiences weren’t good enough for Thomas – he had to have his own. And Jesus made sure he got it. He didn’t put Thomas down for having doubts. Jesus understood that any question coming from an honest heart isn’t a sceptical question; it’s a search for truth.

The Bible tells us: ‘A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them…Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”‘ (John 26-28 NIV).

There are two important things we can learn from this story: 1) Our doubts can lead us to a new level of faith. When our world falls apart, when the pain of our circumstances seems unbearable, when some shattering event happens and doubt begins, don’t deny it – acknowledge it. Times of doubt become times of learning when our doubts lead us to ask God for answers. As we work our way through them, we can reach a new level of faith.

2) Our doubts can lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus. The testimonies and experiences of others will only take us so far; ultimately, we each need our own personal experience with God. As soon as Thomas experienced Jesus for himself, his faith was instantly strengthened. We shouldn’t be ashamed to have doubts; instead we should take those doubts to God and let Him use them to build our faith.

Lev 11:1-13:37; Mark 1:1-8; Ps 32; Prov 9:10-16

When your family doesn’t understand

Mark 3:35 MSG

The Bible says: ‘[Jesus] was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.” Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you – my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”‘ (vv. 31-35 MSG).

One of the greatest tests of faith we’ll face is friends or family members who don’t understand us or share our values and vision. Facing them calls for wisdom and grace. Even though some of His family didn’t understand Him, Jesus continued to care for them and respect them. However, He refused to let them dictate to Him or alter the assignment He believed God had given Him. His priority was the people who had gathered to hear what He had to say.

Are you feeling misunderstood by your friends or family because of your faith? Then pray this prayer: ‘Father, help me to live like Jesus lived – facing those who misunderstand me, hearing their words and feeling the sting of their accusations, but learning to live above them, knowing that You love me. Help me to be gracious towards anyone who is being consumed by resentment and fear. Open their hearts so that they can also come to accept Your love. Give me Your peace, so that even when my loved ones misunderstand me, I’m able to keep my eyes fixed on You and carry on following Your path. Thank You for letting me lean on You and draw on Your strength every day. Amen.’

Gen 35-36; Matt 20:17-28; Ps 77; Prov 6:29

Keep your conscience clear

Romans 9:1 AMPC

Paul writes: “My conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me.” Note that when the Holy Spirit speaks to your conscience, two things happen. First, He illuminates your heart with the truth. Second, He prompts you about what to do. Some things may be “right” for others and be “wrong” for you. Why? Because God has a particular plan for your life and He doesn’t want you to be negatively influenced, or even derailed.

Read the following Scriptures and consider them prayerfully: “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men” (Acts 24:16 AMPC). “Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Timothy 1:19 AMPC). “They must possess the mystic secret of the faith [Christian truth as hidden from ungodly men] with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9 AMPC). “For we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honorably and in complete honesty in all things” (Hebrews 13:18 AMPC).

As a redeemed child of God, when you sin willfully and don’t repent, you lose your sense of peace and joy and become uncomfortable in your own skin. So the word for you today is – keep your conscience clear.

Soul food: Gen 17-19; Matt 17:14-27; Ps 40:9-17; Prov 6:6-8

Hold on until your joy comes

Psalm 30:5 NKJV

Pain is an inevitable part of life and growth; a beneficial part! Stop and consider some of its benefits:

(1) It lets you know when there’s something wrong in your body that needs to be made right.

(2) It forces you to acknowledge a condition you didn’t know about; one that could potentially claim your life.

(3) It makes you rearrange your priorities and your schedule and seek help.

(4) It makes you willing to submit to treatment you may not enjoy, believing that it will make you whole.

Are you getting the idea? Strange as it may seem, the more you dread and resist the pain, the more you increase the effect it has on you. What we resist persists, and the more pain is resisted, the stronger it becomes.

When a pregnant woman goes into labor, the advice she generally gets from her medical team is to “relax.” They know the more she fights the pain, the stronger it will become and the longer the delivery process will take. So when you are experiencing pain, don’t fight it. Walk through it and allow it to accomplish its purpose.

The Bible says: “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know…when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT).

So the word for you today is – learn to endure this season of pain, knowing that God has promised you joy on the other side of it!

Soul food: Gen 13-16; Matt 17:1-13; Ps 40:1-8; Prov 6:1-5