Faith

“(15)’Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.  (16) So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.’

(17)Then Jesus answered and said, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.’

(18) And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.  (19)Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’

(20) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”  (Matthew 17:15-20)

Faith.  It is one of the hardest concepts to grasp and hold on to; and it is one of the most pivotal things asked of us.  In my life I have begun to only recently understand the difference between faith and knowledge.  Quite often I thought knowledge was faith, and sadly most people mislabel knowing something is true as faith, or as trust.  When knowledge does not require faith or trust.  Sometimes you have to have faith to gain knowledge, but once you have that knowledge your faith needs to move beyond it. 

For me, personally, it took faith to read the Bible.  It took faith for me to believe the Bible.  It took faith in God’s word and character, and in Jesus’ word and character, to accept the very fundamental truth of the Bible.  Through this faith I have gained knowledge of a saving, grace-filled existence and relationship with my Lord and savior.  I am grateful for this.  I savor this.  But believing the Bible is true is no longer a matter of faith for me.  I have accepted it as fact.  It is now knowledge.  Faith no longer plays a factor in my acceptance in this.

This is where I once stumbled around like a blundering blind person.  I thought that my knowing the truth of the Bible gave me faith.  It doesn’t.  Faith requires you to believe something, when you don’t know if it is true.  You don’t have the sure answer; you don’t know the true answer, to not have that apple of knowledge.  Faith grows from chance.  Faith requires I push myself to believe the impossible.  For Christ has told me nothing will be impossible for me if I could have the faith of a mustard seed. 

Can you then imagine how small my faith was when that is all I had to go on in seeking for answers in the Bible?  The disciples had Christ right there in front of them.  Jesus told them even though they knew He was Christ, and they believed they could cast out demons, heal the impossible, and feed thousands out of nothing ….Christ still considered their faith smaller than a mustard seed.  This is just baffling to me when I look at my own faith.  How tiny it must be.

“(5) And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’

(6) So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  (7) And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?  (8) But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink.’?

(9) Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him?  I think not.  (10) So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.  We have done what was our duty to do.’”(Luke 17:5-10)

God has commanded us to believe in His Son Christ Jesus of Nazareth.  God has commanded us to believe in His teachings and in His Word.  In Faith we went seeking God and we found the knowledge of these commandments.  Following these commandments as servants of God doesn’t give us faith.  It means we are doing what is expected of us.  But it doesn’t increase our faith.  It doesn’t challenge us.  We know what God asks, and so we do it.  However, acting on knowledge will not challenge my faith.  It will not give me the opportunities to increase my faith.

Our daily routines as Christians or basic moral choices in our behaviors do mark us as servants of Christ.  Our obedience to God does distinguish us from the unsaved.  The closer we follow God’s word does show our knowledge of God’s wishes and will in our lives.  But it will not show you how much faith I have.  Me being a good Christian will not show God that my faith has increased beyond that first step I had to take in accepting His word as truth.  I have to do something more.  I need to do something more to fan the flames of passionate faith.  But oh how easy it is to fall into the comfort of knowledge, and how easy it is for me to pass that off as faith.

So how can I possibly do more to keep my faith alive? 

“(21) And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’

(22) So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God.  (23) For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, will have whatever he says. (24) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.’” (Mark 11:21-24)

And that right there is the hardest thing about actual faith.  Having it without doubt.  Believing in something that goes against the World and Science for no other reason than faith.  Faith, for me, is looking at my life, at my reflection, and seeing the demons of sin that plague me…and casting them out.  Demanding with soul deep conviction they leave me alone and not having a single doubt in my heart that I will be left alone.  But doubt, oh sweet horrible doubt, robs me of so much faith.  I am pretty sure after the sin of pride the sin of doubt is my worst.

Throughout the New Testament the apostles healed the sick, cast out demons, and performed miracles.  ORDINARY men, believers like you and myself, did the same.  Stephen spoke with authority on God to the point where Satan, demons, had to listen to him because he had faith.  Stephen wasn’t an apostle.  Preachers in the bible, deacons in the Bible, saints and believers in the Bible were so filled with faith that the Holy Spirit was powerfully alive in their hearts and it poured out through their actions.  Now I haven’t read every verse in the New Testament yet….but I have yet to see a single hint that these gifts…the abilities…this miraculous faith…was going to be taken away from us.

There are various sections in the Bible were people spoke in tongues, had visions, interpreted dreams, had dreams, could see angels and demons….and it is written in the Bible…..our book of God based TRUTH…that these are all faith-filled gifts given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.  I have yet to read a passage or a verse that says the Holy Spirit will only allow us these miraculous talents for the first 50 years of the church, or the first 100 years of the church, or only to the first 100,000 believers in Christ.  The Bible says we are all blessed, touched, and given these faith-filled gifts. 

If we just had the faith of a mustard seed.

When Peter, after Pentecost, came to the man who had been lame all his life—a man who had spent all his life begging in the Synagogue of Jerusalem—and told him that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk there was no doubt in his mind, no doubt in his heart that the man would do just that.  He had a faith much larger than a mustard seed at that point.  He knew Jesus would answer the call to glorify Christ through this miracle.  Peter didn’t doubt.  Peter didn’t say….”Jesus Christ please heal this man” ….he spoke with a faith I find terrifying and mindboggling and utterly beautiful.

That’s faith.  That’s the faith we need to strive for.  That’s the faith I need to hunt down with a vengeance.  To seek it avidly in my day to day life.  Now keep in mind Faith is about glorifying God.  And keep in mind “Jesus said to him (Satan), ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:7)  The point of a faith filled life isn’t to see how many miracles you can pull off in a day.  Or how many people you can impress.  Or to test to see if God is actually listening to you and paying attention.  Those motives aren’t about faith. 

Faith comes from a loving, devout, pure heart that only seeks to do the work of Christ, through Christ, and for the glory of the Lord.  And that faith, THAT faith….is what we need.  It is the sort of faith that is missing.  Sadly today too many things are considered impossible.  It isn’t.  If we have had the faith to accept Jesus as the Only begotten Son of God and we had the faith to believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life …then there is no way He lied to me.  There is no way those verses above aren’t true.  And there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to have the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit written in my Bible. 

The only thing that holds me back is doubt.  The only thing that keeps us in a miracle-less world is a faith that is so much smaller than a mustard seed.  Jesus has called us to behave as Christians.  Jesus has commanded us to live our lives according to His word.  But Jesus has also told us we can do the impossible if we just believe.  IF we stop basing our actions and our judgments on the limited knowledge this world has to offer and if we put it someplace higher.  Some place stronger.  Some place that can move a mountain from the land into the sea with a blink of an eye. 

I want that faith.  I hunger for that faith.  And I won’t find it in the safety and security of my knowledge of the Bible.  The Bible is my foundation for knowing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  The endless reaches of my faith breach out from that through living, growing, and stepping into the unknown of a loving relationship with Him.  I just can’t settle any more for having a knowledgeable faith.

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