As I mentioned recently, I spent about a week sick in bed with an acute sinus infection. Think terrible cold on steroids and that was me. It hurt my eyes too much to use my computer, so I tended to read a book (the old fashioned paper and ink kind 😉 ) during that time. I finished a book that I really enjoyed and I earmarked part of it for a few “Mindful Monday” devotion posts.
What’s on my mind today after contemplating on some things I learned from the book is faith. I always feel like I’m falling short from being the woman of great faith I would love to be. I absolutely believe in Jesus, in His death, burial, and resurrection for me. No problem there. That’s cemented deep down in my heart. I think I tend to struggle with what many Christians do these days. “I know He CAN, but WILL He??” Does that sound familiar? 🙂
Now, I’m going through some things in my life I can’t discuss here just yet and it’s a number of things that are adding up to really knock the wind out of my sails some days. I keep thinking about needing more faith, I need to trust the Lord more through all of this, I need to believe He is going to pull me out the other side of this even better than when I went in. To believe that and lean on that requires…you guessed it… faith.
Look at the tiny little mustard seed in the picture above. Jesus said in Luke 17:6, “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” At that time and place in history , the mustard seed was the smallest known seed. So Jesus is telling us if you have even a minuscule of faith, you can do great things.
So it would seem that you need faith enough to have faith and if that’s the case, where does faith come from to begin with? I don’t think I’d ever really reflected on that before this past few weeks. If you need MORE faith, that would assume you HAD faith to begin with, and if that’s the case where does the less-than-a-mustard seed you have to begin with come from?
That’s where my book comes in. Page 181 and 182; “Fire From Heaven”, by Bill Myers (Zondervan):
“But what if we don’t have the faith to have faith?”, Katherine asked…”Remember that guy in the Bible asking Jesus to help his unbelief?”
Sarah nodded….”Maybe it’s that Love that stacks the deck, that gives us the faith to have faith.”
Katherine quoted, ‘The Author and Perfecter of our faith.’ Another one of God’s jobs.”
“Exactly. But it doesn’t negate the fact that faith is a freewill decision on our part, that we still have to be willing to receive that faith.”
The Author and Perfecter of our faith. That got me thinking and I had to look it up:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)
“Love gave us the faith to have faith”. Jesus is the author of our faith. HE is where the faith starts. Period. He is also the finisher of our faith! So where are we in this faith thing? If it starts with Christ and ends with Christ, it stands to reason that we are in the middle. It starts with belief in Jesus and then the seed starts growing till it is harvested as beautiful fruit by Jesus Himself.
I always used to think that faith was something that we had to try to muster up within ourselves somehow. We had to believe SO hard…almost like we have to manufacture faith. Hebrews 12:2 teaches us otherwise. Like the book quote I just shared says, it’s God’s job. So if Jesus starts it and finishes it, then the key to faith is with Him, wouldn’t you agree?
That makes me think of an example I’ve been given about salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is a free gift, by grace we are saved THROUGH FAITH. It’s a gift. Now think about when someone has given you a gift in the past. They select something just for you, put it in a box and wrap it with a fancy bow and they are holding it and saying, ” I have a gift for you.” It’s a gift FOR you, but at what point does it really BECOME YOURS? It’s not yours till you reach out and receive it! That’s the same way with salvation. The gift has been bought (by Jesus on the cross) and thus it’s been offered to you, but it’s not yours until you reach out by FAITH and receive it. So then the gift of faith is not going to grow in us unless you reach out and receive it and since Jesus is the author of our faith, it is given root when we receive Christ’s gift of salvation. So THAT is where faith starts!
Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)
So we know where faith begins and ends and what faith IS. Now then…how do we get MORE of it? I think anyone who truly knows that they are a Christian always hungers for more faith. It’s part of being a follower of Jesus. It’s how we grow in our faith…by baby steps. So getting more faith lays between Jesus authoring it in our hearts at the point of salvation (Hebrews 12:2 and Ephesians 2:8-9) and Jesus finishing it (Hebrews 12:2)
How do we get more? If it starts and ends with Jesus, then clearly it’s with Jesus all along. So it would stand to reason that to GET MORE faith would be all about Jesus and me receiving it. Getting to know Him better by spending time in the Bible, spending time in prayer, and believing that He wants only the best for us. If we believe He wants the best for us, then we stay following Him by obeying His teaching and not being swayed to follow the ways of the world. It also goes back to what Jesus HIMSELF said above about faith. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed. What Jesus is saying here seems to be: “If you have the slightest faith in me I will move mountains for you”.
Another passage that comes to my mind involving Jesus Himself is Mark 9:23-24 (as this is the passage the portion of my book I quoted above is referencing):
“And Jesus said to him, “‘… All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Immediately after this scripture, Jesus cast an unclean spirit out of the father’s child.
I think of that scripture often. It’s just two little verses, but it speaks so much! The father says he does believe but confesses he needs more belief by asking Jesus to help his unbelief. The confession of needing Jesus to help him believe is that mustard seed of faith. It’s confession to Jesus that the mustard seed is there but we are nothing without His help. I think Jesus honored that by having mercy on the father’s confession by answering his request.
One of my favorite passages is this:
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)
I think this passages goes along with what we’re studying here about faith quite well. The father asks Jesus to help his unbelief. Since we know that the Father in heaven would never give us a snake if we ask him for a fish, we know that He only wants the best for us. So, if we ask Him for more faith by helping our unbelief, He will be faithful to give us the good gift of faith.
So if you put all of these passages together, the answer to the burning question of how to get more faith seems to be:
More of Jesus in our lives, less of ourselves. Confess that we do believe but don’t be too proud to confess our need for help with our unbelief and believe that the Lord will give us the faith we ask for because of His love for us and His goodness. The way to SEE that extra faith then, would be to remain close to Him and hold on to the fact that just as the father in the book of Mark, “”I believe, help my unbelief”, our boost of faith begins when we are at the end of ourselves and confess our need for Him.