Days such as these have shaken a great many people to their core. It has proven to be an age in which faith in God is essential not only in the esoteric realm of “religion” to which we often have attempted to relegate it, but in the practical living of life. Things like material success, financial security, popularity, and political party affiliations (in which we have blindly deposited the assets of our hope) have proven time and time again to be empty of sufficient power to protect and provide for us. Not only that, but such things as politicians, industry, financial institutions have all been abundantly sown with the insidious seeds of corruption, thoroughly contaminated by those in society who “call the shots” and demonstrate that the only interests they’re looking out for are their own.
But as Christians, instead of becoming overcome by anxiety and cynicism, we merely refocus our lives and allow Him to reorient us to the victorious life to which He has called us. We now begin to live a life of practical faith.
“We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39 ESV).
Faith is nothing more, but nothing less, than the entrusting of our lives to God. In doing so, we come to Him on His terms, and then live “in Him” as He leads, discovering that He Who called us is faithful (see 1 Thessalonians 5:24)! We humbly approach Him through faith in the sufficiency of His Son’s death and resurrection and, in repenting of our sin, find that He credits us with His Son’s righteousness. We then live in faith as we learn that being His “children” is more than theoretical but is in fact “actual”. We find that He has an active and intimate interest in our thoughts and attitudes, as well as how those work out in our relationships and daily choices. And we also learn that we must live by faith in our Heavenly Father’s desire and ability to guard us and to provide for us. It is in this latter point that many Christians today are rekindled spiritually and it is through our challenging circumstances that it is being made abundantly clear that “faith” is essential.
But as essential as faith is, it is a fragile thing indeed. It is a hair’s breadth of “fiery trial” that refines the faith of a person in one instance but becomes the catalyst for his despair in another. Are there practical steps that may help you in discovering the “lifesaving faith” that Hebrews 10:39 describes? Here are some of the basic ingredients for cultivating within yourself that kind of faith.
First, if you really are a man or woman of faith, you are saying that you are a person who takes God at His word. If this is true, then you must make knowing His “Word” a priority. In other words, become a person who reads and reflects upon the Scriptures, studying them not only for an academic understanding of them, but also for personal transformation and practical application of His truth!
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD…. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You…. Let Your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your promise” (Psalm 119:1, 10-11, 41 ESV).
Second, become a person of prayer. If your first response to this is, “But I don’t know how to pray,” then you’re making something harder for yourself than it needs to be. When the Lord Jesus models prayer for us in His “Lord’s Prayer”, He teaches us that it is simply a conversation with our Heavenly Father, humbly offered, but courageous in its being direct. Real prayer is an earnest talk we have with our God in which He is the only audience. Through prayer we tell Him how we love Him, share with Him our concerns and burdens, and lay out before Him petitions for others as we seek His grace on behalf of others. Prayer is also an occasion in which we learn to sit quietly and listen, hearing Him speak as He “brings to mind” what He has said through His Word.
Perhaps you can see that prayer and study of His Word work best when linked together. To talk to Him and to truly “dig into” His Word effectively, it’s definitely a good idea to set aside a special place and time to do so privately. Doing either (or both) publicly is necessary at times and very beneficial, but it is in the private encounters with God in which we really begin to sink roots of faith downward into the soil of Christianity.
Next, become a person of worship. Privately praise Him daily for being God, Savior, and Lord. But join your praises with a church family as well. The greatness and goodness of God cannot be adequately appreciated in lonely worship, but is amplified as if by a megaphone when we become a part of a larger body of praise and thanksgiving! In corporate worship you will find that your spiritual life is fed and enhanced as the Spirit of God flows through the conduits of faith that surround you!
“The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and all Your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations ” (Psalm 145:9-13a ESV).
Having discussed how Bible study, prayer, and worship are all necessary parts of building your faith, for that faith to take on the dimension of leveraging for you a meaningful and satisfying significance, it now needs the power and strength that comes only through application. For your faith to grant you the sweet and savory flavor of fulfillment, you must allow your faith to overtake every other dimension of your life.
Your material resources are a great place to start. Most folks are worried about their material wellbeing. Maybe you are, too. But here is a great place to start experiencing God’s power. If you are His child, apply what His Word teaches you in regard to material possessions. Pursue His kingdom rather than the accumulation of stuff. Don’t worry about what you don’t have, but seek His will and trust Him to provide for your needs. Remember that “your stuff” is really His stuff and that it has been entrusted to you to use for His glory. So employ a spirit of generosity (in tithing in your church but also in the helping of others in need).
Another area of life to begin the application of faith is in the area of service. Are you serving God through a local body of Believers? Are you joining with other Christians in the work of ministering to others in need? Have you ever participated in a mission trip? Are you contributing your talents and gifts, knowledge and experience to the work of God’s people in sharing God’s love? If not, stop holding back. Remember that in every area you feel weak, there is a vacuum waiting to be filled up with the power of God.
So now let the word “faith” take on a new meaning in your life as you offer yourself to Him for His glory. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).