Monday, March 22, 2010

Faith - What is it and how do we exercise it?

So I just finished preaching a 4 part series on faith while our pastor was on a mission trip.  I thought it might be good to just summarize what I have learned and taught over the last few weeks.

The concept of faith is different for different people.  There is a general view of faith that is akin to a strong hope.  There is a secularist view of faith that pretty much dismisses faith as blind hope.  There are also various religious views, one of which comes from some Christian circles that says faith is a force or power that if manipulated right can get a person what they want.  With all these different definitions of faith it is easy to see how many Christians can become confused themselves.

Biblical faith is two things.  It is allowing our belief to influence how we think, speak and act.  In essence, it is becoming more like Jesus.  It is also trusting God to help us become more like Jesus.  As humans of flesh and bone we can never hope to be like Jesus unless we learn how to rely on God's power to help us.

It is an interesting phenomenon in American Christianity where two opposing views of faith exist.  Many fall into a pattern of complacency believing that there is nothing to really have faith about.  Most of us have our basic needs met.  We have food, shelter, clothing, etc... If we don't...well there is always government organizations out there that can help.  America is fortunate in that those who are poor usually have had some choice in their poverty.  Then there are those who are all about faith, but unfortunately they view it as the dollar bill that gets a person goodies out of the cosmic vending machine.  

I don't know too many people who have a correct biblical view of faith which is sad because Christians are supposed to be a people of faith.  I think the real issue is, we just don't know how to exercise our faith in the right way.  Christians know that faith should play a part in their life.  Some throw up their hands in despair and say "Oh, well.  I guess I'll use it when the opportunity arises."  Others, because they know faith is important, choose to redefine it.

Truth be told, neither has to happen.  Plenty of opportunities to exercise our faith (trust in God) exist on not only a daily basis but a moment by moment basis.  Just a few of the opportunities that exist are moments of temptation (especially concerning those temptations we don't have any control over), moments of trials (situations of no control), particularly moments of suffering and using our God given talents and gifts to glorify God.

How do we seize these opportunities to exercise our faith?  We first have to know what God's word says about the situation.  The Bible speaks to every single possible situation.  We need to know what the Word says and what God promises.  Knowing what God promises gives us a foundation for our faith.  Then we need to draw near to Jesus in prayer.  Jesus experienced humanity.  He experienced everything we did.  He knows how to handle every situation.  If we ask him, he will show us how to deal with circumstances that are beyond our control.  Most of the time God helps us find peace in the situation and allow Him to work.  The last thing we need to do is live by the Spirit who lives in us.  The Holy Spirit was sent so that we may have someone who can help us.  He confirms and reminds us of what Scripture says.  We need to learn to live by what he says.  When he speaks we need to get in the habit of doing.

There are numerous opportunities to exercise our faith.  I say exercise because a basic principle about faith is that it builds upon itself.  As we learn to trust God we will find it easier to put things in his hands.  I encourage all to take the opportunities presented to have faith.  Know and trust in God's promises.  Draw near to Jesus in prayer.  Live by the Spirit who lives in you.  Be a person of faith.

If you want to hear the series I preached you can go to the Kingman Christian Church website.  Just follow the link here.

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