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If You Believe

April 3rd, 2018

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Faith in God changes how we see all of life. Nothing remains the same to the one who believes.

The one who believes sees challenges and difficulties as opportunities for God to display His strength. He sees obstacles as classrooms where he learns more about the ways of God. He even sees unanswered prayer as God’s voice urging him to trust in God no matter the circumstances. He enters into grief with comfort knowing that nothing shall separate him from the love of God.

Before faith opens a door of physical or material opportunity, it opens the mind of the believer. Doubt, on the other hand, can witness great miracles of God and still not see them. It was in doubt that the children of Israel, though they were eye witnesses to the miraculous deliverance of God and daily beneficiaries of the gracious provision of God, still murmured and complained. Doubt can stand in the midst of God’s provision and despair. Faith, on the other hand, can stand in the midst of suffering, pain, aloneness, deprivation, and opposition and say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not live in want” (Psa. 23:1).

The doubter begs God to give him what he thinks he needs. He prays in fear and worry, wanting to get his own way and afraid that God has forgotten him. The one who believes, however, bends his heart to God’s heart, and prays for God’s will to be done and for His name to be glorified. The one who believes rises above all things and prays based on what the Bible says.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Faith in an instant age

Most of us would admit that we grow in our faith more slowly than we need to. If we were honest we would say to ourselves, as the Author of Hebrews said to the original readers, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers” (Heb. 5:12). Yet even for those who grow quickly in grace, time is still an element.

The climate of today says that everything should happen immediately. And even some Christians will teach that if we only had true faith we would then instantly have all things that God desires us to have. Christ’s teaching, however, included the element of time implicitly as part of His meaning. Growth was assumed but growth takes time. Not all that God wishes us to have comes to us instantly in this life. Christ said:

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Mark 7:20)

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 7:26-29)

We must be patient with ourselves, and know that God works for eternity. The greatest lessons are experienced in the midst of simple disciplines, taking one step at a time in the process of discipleship and spiritual growth. To be a growing disciple means to daily take His Word and read it and believe it. And we let God lead us step by step in Him, growing in strength and maturity.

Miles Stanford observed that we can push other believers into situations they are not prepared to handle, or teach them to expect God to give instantly what took us several years to learn.

So many of us, after having entered into some of the deeper realities of our Lord, seek to immediately pull or push others into this wonderful advancement; and then we wonder why they are so slow to learn and seemingly apathetic in their understanding and concern. We so easily forget the many years it took, and by what wandering wilderness ways our Lord had to traverse with us in order to bring us over Jordan and into Canaan. (“Cultivation” from Principles of Spiritual Growth)

And this also teaches us to be patient with others, to complain less and to encourage more.

Daily Devotions, Growth Points