One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible describing faith is in Hebrews (11:1) - "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." All throughout the Old Testament and the New, we find people of strong faith demonstrated not specifically by acts of miracles but by the very lives they lived. Each of their lives portrayed faith in action, faith in belief, faith through prayer, faith by righteous living, faith through works of charity, faith as an exercise, and so on. These qualities of faith are what helped people of the past overcome worldly struggles to reach new heights of Spiritual living and that which is applicable even today for each and everyone of us; to overcome the world, by faith.
* Faith in action:
Let us take Abraham for example. Abraham was a man who loved God so deeply that he believed whatever God told him. God instructed him to leave his hometown with his nephew Lot and go to another place, and he got up, packed his belongings and left with all he had. God promised him children as much as the grains of sand on the sea shore and Abraham knew that even one son was enough for this to happen and his name carried on. While he and his wife Sarah were in their old age, God blessed them with a son Isaac. It was faith that made Abraham look forward to the arrival of his son, when any other human person would have given up hope long before this. The story goes on. Abraham was ever faithful to God.
To test him, God asked Abraham to surrender his son Isaac on top of the mountain; to kill him as a sacrifice. Abraham might has grown faint at heart, or possibly heartbroken at this, but in all surety, he must have told God, "You promised me heirs, and children as much as the sands on the sea shore. I don't want to kill my son, I love him very much and he is my pride and joy, but if you want me to sacrifice Isaac, this is your problem. You can see that I am a very old man and so is my wife. But I trust you with this and know that you will not let a finger harm my son. I will obey you, if this is what you want because I love and trust you." He took his son to the mountain and his faith is so clearly displayed when he told his servants that he and his son would go on top of the mountain, worship and then return. It was all in the plural form - "We will worship there and then we will come right back" (Genesis 22:5). This chapter of Genesis later records that Abraham obeyed God; was willing and ready to sacrifice his son, but God prevented it in time as He was pleased with Abraham. Isaac returned back with his father after worshiping God on the mountain.
* Faith by belief:
'Faith' and 'belief' are one dependent on the other, and what one believes might end up being one's faith. Saul in the New Testament is seen as the persecutor of the Church. He was a staunch Jew and believed that Jesus was a blasphemer; evilly drawing the faithful away from the Jewish faith; away from God. He is seen as the person instrumental in the martyrdom of Stephen, a disciple of Jesus and a strong believer of all that Jesus taught. This very same Saul was chosen by Jesus to help lead the Church forward when Jesus appeared to Saul as a bright dazzling light while on the road to Damascus. Saul was blinded not only physically, but also spiritually. He heard the voice of Jesus speak to him and he believed, making a turn around in his life and becoming one of the strongest pillars of the Christian faith, merely by believing the voice he heard while on the road to Damascus.
Another instance of faith by belief can be seen when the Centurion sent his men to request Jesus to heal his servant who was very sick and on his deathbed. He sent word that he (the Centurion) was unfit to have such great a man as Jesus under the same roof, and for Jesus to only say a word that his servant may be healed. Jesus marveled at the faith of this man and the result can be seen in Luke 7: 9, 10. The servant was healed even without the physical presence of Jesus in that house, but merely by the Centurion believing that Jesus could heal from wherever he was, if he wanted. (Only say a word and my servant shall be healed.)
* Faith is authority:
Prayer is the two-way means of communication between God and man. It is this communication that develops into a bond of love, trust and total surrender to the Will of God and determines spiritual authority. James 5:15 quotes "And the Prayer of Faith shall save the sick, and the LORD shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Again, Mark 11:24 tells us, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." This can be seen so amazingly displayed when Peter met the crippled beggar at the temple gate. He authoritatively healed the crippled man "in the name of Jesus of Nazareth". And the man was healed. (Acts 3: 1-10)
* Faith is an exercise:
Faith is not something that can be developed overnight. It has to be cultivated just like any other quality in us and depends totally on the the relationship a person has with God. It is a daily walk with God. The Old Testament so aptly witnesses to David. David's belief that he could kill Goliath did not arise all of a sudden. This belief that God would help him was borne out of the continued 'exercises of faith' he went though daily when he had to defend his flock of sheep from the wild animals. These daily exercises made him sure that what he was up against (Goliath, in all his size and fury) was no match for the hand of God that would work through him.
* Faith by righteous living:
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was a person who lived right in the eyes of God. God saw that her heart was pure and destined her to conceive His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary was a young virgin. She could easily have run scared, shocked and devastated that she, an unmarried girl, was to bear a child. She could easily have resorted to all forms of negative choices like refusing to comply with the plans of God, run away from home or even possibly commit suicide. Yet she stood firm and say "YES" to the Will of God. She lived a righteous life and believed that God was in control of her life. This resulted in her total dependence on God which made the plans of God come to pass and create history; the birth of our Saviour, Jesus.
* Faith by love / acts of charity:
Love is a quality of faith. Loving God and neighbor is the very essence of the Christian faith. All the commandments that have been given to us are summed up in these two great commandments of love. It is this love for God and neighbor that can overcome the struggles of this world and lead to peaceful living. All the examples illustrated above depict characters who loved God with all their heart and also loved their fellow human beings to be able to work for, fight for and live for them through love.
* Faith as victorious:
"This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:3-5).
This verse portrays an aspect of faith that so easily gets overlooked. Faith is victorious. Faith through love for God, a yearning to be ever obedient to the Will of God and belief that Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity; the Son of God, makes for a victorious and glorious ending to the battles of our worldly struggles. The culmination of Christian faith in action as ever victorious can be seen in the passage of Mark 16: 14 - 20. " And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This is the essence of our victorious Christian faith, believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that all things as possible in His name.
The modern day struggles of man are no different from the scenes of yesteryears. Scenarios change over time, but the similarities between events and episodes are constant. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and without faith is it impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him. Faith helps us stay calm in the midst of the storms of life. Faith helps us overcome the temptations of this world, literally overcoming each of our worlds. Faith helps us reach new heights of Christian living which we otherwise would not have achieved. Faith heals. Faith shares. Faith takes us through on our walk with God and faith is ever victorious when in the name of Jesus.
All that is required is the faith the size of a mustard seed. Just this little faith can help us make right day to day decisions, affect our careers, determine our relationships with others and work through difficult struggles on the basis that "all things work for good to those that love the Lord. " And all this through the gift that God has given us; Faith.
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