Posted by: pastortomvabeach | March 6, 2012

Thought for the Week March 11, 2012

Last week we began a discussion about faith. Have you been thinking about what we shared? What is your toughest challenge when it comes to actually exercising and living out your faith? When you read the righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17) or without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) do you wonder if you have “enough” faith? How much faith do we need in order to carry out God’s plans for us and be “pleasing” to Him?

Bill Gillham writes in Lifetime Guarantee, that we all have all the faith we need to experience victory in every area of life. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has distributed a measure of faith to each one, meaning that if we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus is our Savior, then we have all the faith we need. Gillham also writes “if you want an exercise in futility, try to generate more faith by tomorrow morning.” It isn’t that we don’t have faith, it is the object of our faith that needs adjustment. Our faith is not in outcomes but in the One who brings the outcomes. But I’m getting ahead of what I wanted to share.

In his book, Gillham gives a four step approach to being practical and making the faith God has given us work. I want to share those with you. Step one is truth. We always begin with what is true which means what God reveals in His Word. This is important because God’s truth is true whether I believe it or not and whether I live it out or not. So in whatever situation we may find ourselves in life, God has already told us what is true and He wants us to know that truth so that He can carry us through the situation by His grace into victory.

Step two is faith. Once I know what God has to say about a situation, the truth, then faith means trusting Him and what He says. For instance, when the Bible says that you are a new creation in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17), you may look at yourself and think that you look the same, you have the same thoughts, even some or all of the same desires, and all of the same old temptations keep coming at you, so how can you be a new creation? Well, the truth is not what you see but what God says. Faith trusts even what we can’t see. Jesus told Thomas, Those who believe without seeing are blessed. (John 20:29)

Step three is the place most of us trip up because the thing we add to faith that makes it function in our lives is works, performance, or behavior. In other words we have to “act as if we have faith”. James says faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself, (James 2:17) To “live by faith” is to make faith my mode of operation in life – find God’s truth, believe it, act on it. Gillham says the problem is that most Christians miss this because we want to jump to step four which is feelings. We want to “feel” something as proof that what we believe is true before we act on it. He says our “flesh always ‘seeks for a sign’ so it can hang its hat on the sign instead of the Word of God… and that makes the sign the object of faith rather than the Word that God has spoken.”

As a side note, I have often taught that the correct biblical way to approach feelings is that we act our way into feeling instead of acting like we feel. When we allow feelings to determine how we act, more often than not, we’ll miss it. An illustration is a train where Truth is the engine, Faith is the coal car, Behavior is the coal shovel, and Feeling is the caboose. A train will not go very far if it waits on the caboose to pull it but so often we let our feelings pull and/or push us away from God’s truth and the life of faith.

Step four, as I mentioned, is feelings. When I walk by faith and act like Christ is living His life through me because I set my mind on His truth and trust that He’s taking care of me, eventually I get transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2) and I will begin to “feel” more and more like what God says is true is really true about me and my life with Him. Gillham follows that statement with the addendum, “sort of”. While we continue in this world, challenges will continue to come where we must “walk by faith, not by sight” and we won’t always feel like it. Remember, the Lord says, the righteous will live by faith. That doesn’t mean we live by faith until we figure it out and then we’ll have it all together. The underlying assumption of living by faith is that it is a life of total dependence on Christ and thinking we have it together moves us into a life of independence which doesn’t fit into God’s plan.

Here’s a quick example of how this may work. The New Testament over and over describes those who follow Jesus Christ as “saints” (to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints – I Corinthians 1:2). That is the truth. Christ cleanses us from sin, makes us righteous, and sanctifies us (makes us saints). If that is true, then we trust it is true by faith and begin to act like a “saint” would act. Most of us, though, would say we don’t feel like saints. In fact, we feel more like sinners, failures, etc. Do our feelings make the truth any less true if God says it’s true? So then, though we feel like we can’t be saints, we know “Christ in me” can and, again, we begin to act like it is all true of us, of me!

Can you see what a difference this would make? Let’s take this one small example this week and see if we can “act” like saints. Keep an eye on how things go while you’re doing it. Watch what happens with your feelings and see if faith doesn’t work! Just a thought.

Note: All Scripture quotes from Holman Christian Standard Bible

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