Monday, February 29, 2016

Do You Know About God or Do You Know God?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Knowing about something and knowing something are two completely different things. When my daughter was very young, she wanted a pair of roller skates. We went to the store and bought some for her. When we got home, she wanted to go outside and skate. My wife asked her if she knew how to skate and my daughter’s answer was priceless. She said, “You put on the skates and go skating!” Much to her surprise, there was more to it than “going skating!”

The same is true about God. Knowing about God and knowing God are not the same thing. That’s why people, even learned theologians, can accumulate a vast number of facts about God, yet have no faith in Him. They know about God, they just don’t know Him.

A relationship with God is at the heart of knowing Him. And it is similar to our human relationships — they require time and commitment, and they must be cultivated. 

Obviously, the first step in knowing God is what we call being “born again.” The Bible refers to it as “salvation.” When we are saved, we are no longer enemies of God [Romans 5:10], but rather His friends [John 15:14-15]. Once that relationship has begun, it must be cultivated. How so? Through Bible study and prayer. When we read the Bible, God communicates His heart to us. When we pray, we communicate our hearts to Him. 

I know of no other way - no short cuts - to know God. There were many people in the Bible who desired to know God. Here are two examples from both the Old and New Testaments:

David - When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I will seek” [Psalm 27:8]. 

Paul - Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ [Philippians 3:8].

That kind of heart’s cry is instrumental in knowing God. Unless we have a vital, personal relationship with Him, we really do not know God.

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to Him, both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? I know a lot of Christ followers who seem to be weary and worn out, lacking power for daily living. After observation and council, I’ve discovered that most of them are trying to live out Christ in their own strength. Listen, if you are trying to live a godly life on your power alone, forget it, it can’t be done. You need to “plug in” to the ultimate power supply, God, Himself.

On a recent vacation in Maui, I woke up early and thought I’d make a piece of toast, sit on the lanai, and read Scripture. I saw the toaster on the counter, dropped the bread in, pushed the lever down to drop the bread, and waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing happened. Then I saw the problem, the toaster wasn’t plugged in; it had no power. 

Listen to, and be encouraged by, the prophet Isaiah: “He [God] gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” [Isaiah 40:29 NLT, 2nd Edition].

If you will ever “do all things through Christ who strengthens me [Philippians 4:13], you really need God’s power in more ways than you realize. I’m not referring to self-help power, grit-your-teeth-and-do-it-yourself power. No! I’m talking about supernatural power that only comes from God. 

When you are plugged into God’s power, you can handle stress when you are under pressure. You can make it through a financial meltdown. You can work through your bitterness and forgive. You can manage your health crisis. You can handle broken relationships. 

That kind of power comes from God, when you believe — put your full trust and confidence — in Jesus Christ.

By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When I started my devotional time this morning, an old hymn came to mind; Great Is Thy Faithfulness. The title of the hymn comes from a passage in Lamentations:

Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope. Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness! [3:22-23].

Contrast that with the unfaithfulness of today. Husbands and wives are unfaithful to their vows. Children are unfaithful in living by the godly principals taught by their parents. Politicians are unfaithful to their promises. And I’m sad to say that some Christ followers are unfaithful to God. 

That’s why my heart is glad to celebrate the faithfulness of God.

Deuteronomy 7:9 - Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Psalm 36:5 - Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.

1 Peter 4:9 - So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should keep on doing what is right and trust their souls to their faithful Creator, for He will never fail you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 - The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way that you can endure it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 - But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.

Nothing lifts a negative attitude, a discouraged spirit, a downcast soul, a broken heart like remembering and celebrating the faithfulness of God. He is completely faithful to do what He has promised, not the least of which is saving us!

God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Go or Send

eDevotion: Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I had a friend in Bible College who said that he had always wanted to be a missionary, but never experienced a “calling” to go. We attended many mission conferences, and prayed together about this. I heard him say on many occasions, “Lord, I’m available and I’ll go anywhere you want me to go.” To my knowledge, he never became a missionary. However, he was blessed with a good job and he supported a lot of missionaries. He said, “Until God instructs me to pack my bags, I’m going to send others to the ‘uttermost parts of the earth.’” 

The Apostle Paul asked a series of questions in Romans 10 that can be summed up like this: How will the world hear about Jesus if I do nothing? For the most part, God puts us in families and communities so we will mingle with others and share the Good News with those around us. That doesn’t call for extra expenses because it’s just living out life. Others He may call to far away places - “to the uttermost parts of the earth” [Acts 1:8] - and that requires extra resources. 

Here’s the point: Every Christ follower is called to missions as either a goer or sender! 

Talk with the Lord about it and be open to go wherever He tells you to go. Sink your roots in a community only as deep as God allows. And if he doesn’t call you to go, then be a sender. Offer your prayers, your money, or anything else that makes it possible to put other people on the mission field.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written [Isaiah 52:7]: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

Monday, February 22, 2016

Resentment Kills a Fool

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Question: Who do you think resentment hurts more, you, or the person you resent? If you answered “You,” you answered correctly. Holding on to resentment hurts you more than others. Because of that, resentment makes no sense; it is counter productive and self-destructive. 

If anyone had a reason to be resentful, it was Job, a godly man who had, but lost, everything. But Job was a wise man. He knew the destructive nature of resentment and refused to give in to its pull. 

How about you? Can you look back and see the silly, hurtful things you did when you gave in to resentment? “I’ll get even with him/her.” You probably said that at one time or another, and then found a ridiculous way to make it happen. 

I remember an episode of The Three Stooges. Mo and Curly were at it, and Mo kept hitting Curly on the chest. When Mo left the room, Curly said, “I’m going to get even with that guy. I’ll show him.” What did he do? He strapped a stick of dynamite to his chest and said, “The next time he hits me, it’s going to blow his hand off.” You can do some pretty stupid things when you are overcome with resentment!

The problem is, resentment isn’t helpful. You may get an ounce or two of flesh, but you will be miserable in the process. Here’s my advice: Let it go. Forgive!  

Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. Job 5:2

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Don’t be Afraid to Wait

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

If you are waiting on God for something, I want you to know this: You are in good company!

Old Testament saints, New Testament saints, and millions of Christ followers since then have been in God’s waiting room. So, if you are waiting on God for something now — a job, a relationship, an answer to prayer — you are not alone!

The book of Hebrews lists the names of a lot of people described by commentators as “The Household of the Faithful.” They were noted for their faith but, they too, had to wait. Think about…

Hannah - who waited many years to have a baby she had been praying for. Think about…

Joseph - who waited 14 years in an Egyptian prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Think about…

Moses - who remained 40 years in the wilderness, waiting for entry into the Promised Land. Think about…

Abraham - who waited until he was 100 years old to receive the child God had promised him years before. Think about…

Noah - who waited 120 years for rain to come. Think about…

The Nation of Israel - that waited thousands of years before the Messiah came.

We seem to be in a hurry for everything, don’t we? May I remind you, God is NOT in a hurry! Waiting is an essential component of your faith. 

And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. Hebrews 6:15

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Take the Hate Test

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’m convinced that one of the most destructive attitudes (arguably the most destructive) is hatred. Let’s be honest with each other, what kind of testimony does a Christ follower demonstrate when he/she exhibits loathing, rage, and malice? And worse yet, what does it say about the Christ they say they serve?

The exhibition of hate is disgusting, and the antithesis of the Christlikeness to which we are called. So why is it that so many professing Christ followers are teemed with hostility? Where does it come from anyway? Could it be our inability to forgive those who have hurt us?

I want you to think about someone that has hurt you — especially when it was underserved. Now, let’s take the “Hate Test.”

1. When you hate, there is no relief of memory: Does your mind repeat the offense over and over?

2. When you hate, there is a desire to inflict hurt: Do you secretly desire the offender to experience the same pain you have experienced? 

3. When you hate, there is ill-will: Can you sincerely pray for God’s rich blessing on the offender? 

The answers to these simple questions reveal what’s really in your heart. If you find any degree of hatred/animosity there, here’s what I suggest: Read the passage from Ephesians below. If necessary, read it over and over until you can personalize it into a prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse and heal your heart. If you will let Him, He will give you all the power you need to forgive any old hurt. 

All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:31-32

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Angels have played a prominent role in Western art. I’m sure it has to do with the Bible’s influence on it. There seems to be a resurgence of thought about angels today. They are getting more and more attention in our culture. However, due to the more naturalistic view of our society, this new spirituality has produced a belief in angels that is stripped from the absolute claims of Christianity. 

I saw a bumper sticker recently that read: I believe in Angels… and Wicca, Buddha, Jesus, and Joseph Smith. That is quite a statement!

Scripture describes angels as servants of God, and helpers of mankind. Here’s how the author of Hebrews describes them: Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation [1:13-14]. They are not almighty, but they are powerful creatures. And from the biblical record, their task seems to be to glorify God and fight on His behalf against all His enemies [examples: Isaiah 6:1-3; 2 Kings 19:35]. 

It thrills me to know that angels watch over us [Psalm 91:11-12]. We are not guarded by chubby cherubs with tiny wings. No! The angels that protect us are mighty creatures who have been given their strength and mission by God. I see no reason to believe that they are any different or operate differently today than they did in biblical times. 

God has not abandoned us. The Lord of Hosts (armies of angels) is on our side. Because of that, what enemy need we fear? 

For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands. Psalm 91:11-12a

Monday, February 15, 2016

Stay Focused on the Right Thing

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

You can be full of joy even when life seems to be falling apart, if you stay focused on your purpose and not your problems.

The Apostle Paul is a great example of that. He was in a Roman prison, far away from home. The time of his execution was near. He had no freedom and privacy now; he was chained to a guard every minute of every day. Humanly speaking, it wasn’t a happy time for Paul. 

Even though he was stripped of the basic things of life, Paul remained joyful because he stayed focused on the right thing, his purpose in life — serving God by serving others. With that, he told the Philippian Christ followers that as long as he remained in life, “I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” [Philippians 1:25].

One of my all-time favorite books is, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He survived Nazi death camps and became a renowned Jewish psychiatrist. He was separated from his family and friends who were killed, some by bullets and some by gas. He described a day when everything was stripped away, and he stood naked before a Gestapo officer. A powerful (may I say, divine) revelation came to him. It was something that sustained him during the horror of the Holocaust; the Nazis could take everything away from him but one thing—how he chose to respond to his circumstance. 

There are many things in life that are beyond our control. It does make life difficult at times. If we focus on those things, life can be miserable. But if we focus on the right thing, God’s purpose for our lives — serving God by serving others — we can, like Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always” [Philippians 4:4]. 

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet, what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. Philippians 1:22-25

Friday, February 12, 2016

Godly Wisdom

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

One of the great sins of fallen man is the tendency to think they know more than anyone else, including God. You’ve probably known people that refuse correction under any circumstance. If you’re honest, you’ve probably refused correction too. I know I have. The truth is, that is a manifestation of our tendency to exalt our wisdom above the wisdom of others. It’s not new; it goes all the way back to the beginning when Adam and Eve thought they were wiser than their creator and chose to eat the forbidden fruit [Geneses 3:1-7].

That’s why throughout Scripture we are warned not to think more highly of ourselves than we should, not to lean on our own understanding, and not to be wise in our own eyes. We are constantly reminded to first and foremost trust in the Lord and His Word, and also trust the godly wisdom evident in the life of faithful Christ followers [see Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 13:20; Colossians 2:1-3; James 3:13-18]. A wise person is always open to correction. 

When a person is wise in his own eyes, the less likely he is to fear the Lord and turn from evil. It causes him, as it did Adam and Eve, to believe he knows better than God, to reject God’s way, and to do what is right is his own eyes. 

It stands to reason that there are blessings that follow those who trust in the wisdom of God and others, not the least of which is “repentance that leads to salvation” [2 Corinthians 7:10].

Matthew Henry wrote, “There is not a greater enemy to the power of religion, and the fear of God in the heart, than conceitedness of our own wisdom.” When we put our wisdom above God’s wisdom, we fall into sin, and it only gets worse from there. To stay on course, we must daily turn to God and His Word, confess our own foolishness, and seek to learn from others that are wiser than we are.

Don’t consider yourself to be wise: fear the LORD and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8

Thursday, February 11, 2016

God Is On Our Side

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Among the most precious promises in Scripture is that the Lord is with us, whenever and wherever. That promise was given to Israel and to the Church—every Christ follower [see Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5]. Think about that for just a moment. He is with us every step of the way, with assurance and His providential care. And remarkably, He gave His word that He would fight for His people [Exodus 14:14]. He is on our side.

But let’s be very clear, God is on our side because we are on His side! He is on our side because we have bowed our knee to Him and surrendered to His way. And by the way, that is no guarantee of success in every endeavor.  He sometimes allows what seems to be a loss in order to win the victory. Consider Jesus, if you will. The cross appeared to be a defeat at the hand of sin, but now we know it was victory [Colossians 2:13-15].

Augustine wrote, “From what class soever my enemies may arise, whether from the number of evil men, or from the number of evil angels; in the Lord’s help, unto whom we chant the confession of praise, unto whom we sing Allelujah, they shall be despised.” 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Too great for Him to handle? Absolutely not! So we praise Him, with complete confidence that He will bring the final victory. He is our all-sufficient help in time of trouble.

The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is my helper, therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me. Psalm 118:6-7

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Conviction or Preference

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

We develop conviction by evidence and argument. In our culture, most people choose to live by preference rather than conviction. Preference chooses on the basis of conditions and circumstances. Therefore, as situations change, so does loyalty.

Contrast that vacillating approach with the resolve of the great men and women of Scripture. Like…

Joseph - Despite years of unfair treatment, he never wavered in his convictions. The undeserved circumstances, however,  put him in the right place at the right time to ensure the future survival of Israel [Geneses, 50:20]. Like…

Daniel - He was ripped from his homeland to live in an idolatrous culture. Yet by standing by his convictions, he earned the trust of the Babylonian rulers [Daniel 1:19-20]. Like…

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - They stood by their convictions, which caused the king to recognize Jehovah as the one true God [Daniel 3:29].

Godly convictions withstand the changing opinions and persuasive arguments of its opponents. The big question is, where do we get, and how do we develop, godly conviction. The answer is easier than you may think. Get grounded in Scripture and trust what God has said. Confidence in God’s Word generates courage to stand by your convictions even amid the many conflicts that enter your life. 

Rather that following your own preferences, make the right choice and stand by godly convictions. Trust God and take Him at His word. As you continue to walk in the way of the Lord, you’ll find that His promises hold true. Daily prayer and study of Scripture go a long way to help you to be firmly rooted in solid, biblical convictions.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Keep Growing in Christlikeness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The Bible often portrays the believers’ life as a walk. We are called to “walk in the Spirit,” “walk in God’s ways,” “walk in love,” “walk in truth,” “walk in like manner [of Christ],” et al. The idea of walking suggests that we should never become stagnant, we should continually be growing in Christlikeness. That is the biblical idea of the ongoing process of sanctification [see 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8].  

But what do you do when you are going backwards instead of forward? That happens in the life of Christ followers at times. Obviously, we need to change direction, but how? Here are a few suggestions to correct your course:
  • Remind yourself that God keeps his promises. Be confident in that. There are amazing things God promises His people, including wisdom when we ask for it, His abiding presence, His peace, which passes understanding, and much more.
  • Anticipate the Lord’s response. What I mean by that is, joyfully expect that your faith in Him will lead to a change in the right direction. 
  • Spend time with God in the Word and prayer. In other words, be aware of His involvement in your life. Be sensitive to what the Lord is doing in you.
  • Pray with bold confidence. You are His child. I’m not saying to pray in prideful confidence, but rather an overflow of your assurance in Him.
  • Obey the leading of the Spirit. This is the true test of your belief and assurance in God. James said that our faith without action is dead [2:17].
Are you becoming more like Christ? If not, what is holding you back? He will make all things beautiful in His time [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. Therefore, don’t resist, but cooperate with His gracious work in you!

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good. Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lord and Savior

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Never downplay the Lordship of Christ! It’s an issue that has plagued the evangelical church for decades. The idea that you can receive Jesus as your Savior and not your Lord was unthinkable in Bible times. It’s the Lordship of Christ that demands our obedience to Him. Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I received Jesus as my Savior when I was twelve, but I did not really make Him my Lord until I was forty.” Or maybe you know someone who responded to an altar call some time back, but their present life shows no evidence of concern for following Jesus. Some commentators call either of these, examples of “carnal Christianity,” that is, a belief in being saved even if there is no evidence of a changed life. The truth of the matter is that Scripture refers to good works as a necessary fruit of our redemption.

Let’s be clear, we are justified by faith alone, apart from works [Galatians 2:16]. However, that faith is a living one, and it produces good deeds of service [James 2:12-26]. Those deeds do not justify us, but they do justify our faith. 

The sign of being a Christ follower is our love for Jesus as Savior, and our obedience to Him as Lord. It is a package deal. I doubt it is possible to be in Christ without having a desire to serve Him.

We are starting a new week today. Be encouraged that you are in Christ — if you are striving against sin [He is your Savior], and striving to live faithfully for Him [He is your Lord].

So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?  Luke 6:46

Thursday, February 4, 2016

He Came to Preach

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

If you listen to some Christ followers, you’d think that Jesus came into this world to perform miracles, signs, and wonders. As important as they are, they weren’t His primary mission. They actually took second place to His preaching. 

The Gospel of Mark records a morning after a rather remarkable evening of healing and deliverance from demon possession [Mark 1:29-38]. Evidently, many people had already come to the house to see Jesus, but He wasn’t there. The disciples found Him in an isolated place where He had gone to pray. They told Him about the crowd looking for Him, but Jesus told them it was time for Him to preach elsewhere. In fact, He told them the reason He came was to preach [1:38].

Miracles, signs, and wonders do no ultimate good if people reject the gospel. The message of Christ, and about Christ, surpasses miracles, signs, and wonders in terms of importance. He came to “seek and to save that which is lost” [Luke 19:10]. He came to shed His blood “for many for the forgiveness of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. If you diminish that message, there is no “Good News” to proclaim. 

Perhaps that is why the Apostle Paul put so much emphasis on preaching. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” [Romans 10:15-16].

In his book Sharpening the Focus of the Local Church, Gene Getz points out that in the book of Acts, “preaching” was always to unbelievers; “teaching” was always to the believers. When Jesus came to “preach,” He was preaching Himself, the “Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world” [John 1:29].

You are a preacher rather you know it or not. That is really a wonderful thing. You are born again and have been entrusted with The Message the world needs to hear. In the words of Andrae Crouch:

I'm gonna keep on singin'
I'm gonna keep on shoutin'
I'm gonna keep on liftin' my voice
And let the world know that Jesus saves
© Words and Music by Andrae Crouch, 1971

They found Him and said, “Everyone’s looking for You!” And He said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.”  Mark 1:37-38

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Faith in Action

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

“Actions speak louder than words.” How many times have you heard that? Probably a lot, yet there is the ring of truth in its message. It certainly is true of your faith. How you act on your faith speaks volumes about it. Real faith takes risks. Real faith will stop at nothing in order to achieve its objective. An example of that is found in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus healed a leper, who didn’t let anything stand is his way of getting to Him [Mark 1:40-45].

Then there were the friends of a paralytic man, another remarkable example of what real faith is willing to do in order to reach its goal. It happened in Capernaum, where Jesus and the disciples were staying after ministering around Galilee. 

By now, many people had heard about Jesus and they crowded around the door of the house He was staying in to hear Him preach. This crowd presented a problem for the men who had gone there, carrying the paralytic on a cot. Their way to Jesus was blocked. 

It would have been easy for them to go away, hoping that Jesus would be available another time. But these guys were determined to get their friend to Jesus right then, while He was presently with them. They made their way to the roof of the house. The typical 1st century house in this area would have had a flat roof made of mud. Hence, when they “made an opening," they dug a hole to lower their friend down [the literal meaning of the Greek word exorusso, to dig out, or dig through]. 

One commentator pointed out that these men would never have kept going unless they put their faith into action. In this case, they didn’t give up when access to Jesus was closed on all sides. They were so sure of Jesus’ ability that they would stop at nothing to get to Him. 

May we pursue Jesus, our Lord and Savior, with such fervent faith!

They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they made an opening through the roof above His head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:4-5

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Growing Faith

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The just [or righteous ones] will live by faith.” That’s what Paul told the Roman Christ followers [1:17]. So I have a question for you: How is your faith — strong, weak, or barely existent? I’m not referring to saving faith here. Saving faith is a gift from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that [faith] is not of yourself, it is a gift of God…” [Ephesians 2:8]. So again, how is your daily-living-it-out kind of faith?

I have an encouraging word for you today. No matter where you are in “living by faith,” your faith can grow [see 2 Corinthians 10:15].

So, how does your faith grow? Interestingly, both saving faith and daily-living-it-out faith comes by means of listening to the Word of God/Christ. When you are hearing God’s Word, the Holy Spirit generates faith in those who have yet to believe, and strengthens the faith of those who have already believed. God uses His Word to bring us to faith, and to strengthen our faith. 

That’s why it is so important to read and hear the Word of God. The Lord strengthens the faith of Christ followers through the teaching of the living and active Word of God. In a way, it’s just like your body. Without a proper diet, you become weak and sickly. The same is true of your faith. And when your faith is weak, you are more readily tossed around by false teaching, and more prone to fall into sin. 

There are opportunities each day to hear the Word of God so that you will grow strong in faith — personal daily Bible study, small group studies, listening to the Word of God being read, ordinary conversations with godly people, and don’t forget Sunday sermons!  

God still uses His Word to make us mature in faith just as He did with the Apostles and early Christ followers. After listening to the Lord one day, the Disciples asked Him to “Increase our Faith!” [Luke 17:5]. Is that your desire too? If you want to grow strong in your faith, take as many opportunities as you can to hear the Word of God. 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 [The Textus Receptus reads “word of God.”]