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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 19 No. 20 Faith Isn’t Arm-wrestling???

We live in a culture that tries to reinvent ‘faith’.  And while “Faith Isn’t Arm-wrestling” with God, there are those who equate faith with speaking our will into existence–with or without any regard for God, His Word, or His will.  Then there are those who say all we have to do is think positive and it will happen–kind of ‘cartoon’ mentality!  Then there is the mindset of “chase ‘your’ dreams”, and you will attain them; and the “pray harder” theology.  Well, I’d like us to take a look at what I believe to be a biblical view of faith (and praying in faith).

Now faith is

the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen…

3 Through faith

we understand that the worlds were framed

by the word of God,

so that things which are seen were not made

of things which do appear…

….5 By faith

Enoch was translated

that he should not see death;

and was not found,

because God had translated him:

for before his translation

he had this testimony,

that he pleased God.

6 But without faith

it is impossible to please him:

for he that cometh to God

must believe that he is,

and that he is a rewarder

of them that diligently seek him.”                            Portions of Hebrews 11:1-6

Let’s consider this powerful passage, part of the often called, “Chapter/Hall of Faith”, and see what scripture clearly tells us about faith. The word “substance” in verse one, among other things, means a firm assurance or confidence; kind of like the confidence and assurance one places in a lifesaver that is thrown out to save them from drowning in the ocean.  Jesus is our literal ‘lifesaver’, THE “life-saver” who paid for our sin that we might be saved from sin, hell, and eternal death at Calvary! And the word “evidence” means just that, but much more, to quote the Greek Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, “implies not merely the charge on the which one is convicted, but also the manifestation of the truth of that charge…”! Hence telling us that faith is real because God has proven Himself faithful at every turn.  He has kept HIS Word and He has fulfilled HIS promises to date (and the ones still pending will come to fulfillment just as surely!)!  The author of Hebrews assures us that our faith helps us to understand God’s truth as creator, as well as redeemer; and that without faith, no matter how “outwardly good” we may appear to others, we cannot please God without faith!  Not just meaningless words, but a true and confident belief that “he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”!

Did you notice that it’s not just simply speaking words but a belief in who God is, and HE knows who is “diligently seeking HIM!  Are we seeking God, or just wanting to convince HIM to do our will, to meet our demands, and make us “happy”!  Let me assure you, God is more concerned with our “holiness” than our “happiness”, considering that “happiness” regards our circumstances not our character.  Paul tells us in Romans what God is working toward!

And we know that all things

work together for good

to them that love God,

to them who are the called

according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow,

he also did predestinate

to be conformed to the image of his Son,

that he might be the firstborn

among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate,

them he also called:

and whom he called,

them he also justified:

and whom he justified,

them he also glorified.”  Romans 8:29-30

 God’s purpose is that we will “be conformed to the image of his Son”!  He isn’t as concerned about our comfort, as He is about our conformity to the “image of his Son”!  If I may, God wants us to reflect the glory of JESUS, not the popularity of the world!  Our payday (reward) isn’t usually here, it is yet to come!

Jesus makes it very simple and clear what our focus is to be–in our life, in our prayers, and in our choices.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father

which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

in earth,

as it is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:9-10

Are you and I ready to seek God’s will and God’s kingdom to come within us and be reflected outwardly to a lost and dying world who needs Jesus?  Am I willing to forgo my own desires to pursue HIS?

Trust in the LORD

with all thine heart;

and lean not

unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways

acknowledge him,

and he shall direct thy paths.

7 Be not wise

in thine own eyes:

fear the LORD,

and depart from evil.

8 It shall be health to thy navel,

and marrow to thy bones.”  Proverbs 3:5-8

 God also has promised us who have received the new birth in Jesus, that His Holy Spirit will interceded for us when we don’t know what to pray for, and those times when we just can’t find words or wisdom.

My brethren, count it all joy

when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this,

that the trying of your faith

worketh patience.

4 But let patience

have her perfect work,

that ye may be perfect and entire,

wanting nothing.

5 If any of you lack wisdom,

let him ask of God,

that giveth to all men liberally,

and upbraideth not;

and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith,

nothing wavering.

For he that wavereth

is like a wave of the sea

driven with the wind

and tossed.”  James 1:2-6

Our great comforter is ever working in, through and for us; and when James speaks of “want” he isn’t speaking of our fleshly desires but God’s work and provision to bring us to maturity and glory in HIS presence as HE works in and through us.  James wants us to understand that real faith stands fast in WHO God IS, not just what He does!  Yet, there’s more!

Likewise the Spirit also

helpeth our infirmities:

for we know not

what we should pray for

as we ought:

but the Spirit itself

maketh intercession for us

with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts

knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,

because he maketh intercession

for the saints

according to the will of God.”  Romans 8:26-27

What amazing promises, not so that we can twist God’s arm to get what we want, but that we can be in perfect harmony with our Lord Jesus as we pray, seeking HIS “kingdom” and HIS “will” to come in our hearts, our lives, our ministries, our families, and our testimony before this lost and dying world.  They don’t need our boasts of our own power, but the confidence in a God who is “good all the time” for “all the time GOD IS GOOD”!

We all have times when we are confused, but often our confusion comes when we have failed to seek God first!  I know I ‘wrestle’ with this continually.  So often the demands, pressures, physical issues, emotional hurts, and just LIFE gets between us and God.  That is when we must, I repeat–we MUST–turn to God and HIS Word to find our lodestar again!

Humble yourselves therefore

under the mighty hand of God,

that he may exalt you

in due time:

7 Casting all your care

upon him;

for he careth

for you.

8 Be sober,

be vigilant;

because your adversary the devil,

as a roaring lion,

walketh about,

seeking whom he may devour:

9 Whom resist

stedfast in the faith,

knowing that the same afflictions

are accomplished in your brethren

that are in the world.”  1 Peter 5:6-9

Praise God for HIS gracious care toward us, and may we pursue HIS will, rather than dictate to HIM!

Ask,

and it shall be given you;

seek,

and ye shall find;

knock,

and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh

receiveth;

and he that seeketh

findeth;

and to him that knocketh

it shall be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

 Notice that Jesus said to ask, seek and knock to receive, find, and have doors opened (in HIS time); He did NOT say “demand”, “decide for yourself”, or “push the door down”!  And if we back up to chapter 6, we’ll see the context of truth that we can’t overlook.

But seek ye first

the kingdom of God,

and his righteousness;

and all these things

shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought

for the morrow:

for the morrow

shall take thought for the things of itself.

Sufficient unto the day

is the evil thereof.”  Matthew 6:33-34

 We are to pursue God and “his righteousness” and rest in His faithful provision for us; knowing that He has called us to be faithful fathers and mothers, faithful employees, faithful students, pastors, wives, husbands, caregivers, cooks…we could go on, but I think you get the picture, for our call is to take in the ‘whole counsel of God’ (The Bible–all of it) which calls us to be a reflection of HIS faithfulness in all we do, not just our ‘religious’ activity!  It’s one of the reasons that I believe we have become so powerless in our churches; we have chosen busy-ness rather than faithful holiness; we have compromised in almost every area of Holy living, to be popular and ‘fit in’!  Well, my friends I choose Jesus!  How about you?

I close with one of the most powerful, but often written off to children’s verses or funeral passages, scriptures that help us know that we can rely upon our God.  We aren’t to arm-wrestle with our God but love and devote our lives to trust in HIS care!

The LORD is

my shepherd;

I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down

in green pastures:

he leadeth me

beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth

my soul:

he leadeth me

in the paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me;

thy rod

and thy staff

they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table

before me

in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest my head

with oil;

my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy

shall follow me

all the days of my life:

and I will dwell

in the house of the LORD

for ever.”  Psalm 23:1-6

Is HE your shepherd?  I pray that God’s Word will direct, comfort, and encourage your heart today!  Blessings on your day–

Amen and Amen!!!