When Your Faith is Empty

got-faith_t1‘Have a little faith.’  It’s a phrase that gets used a lot in our world.  It is used in many different contexts and there are many different understandings.  For some it is simply a belief in an unknown.  You can’t explain why you believe, you just do.  For others it is seeing the best in people or situations.  Others see it as things will get better, as ‘the night is darkest before the dawn.’  Some see it as a way to get things from God.  If I just believe enough then God will …

Faith is something much deeper for us as Christians.  It goes beyond the wish list and blissful ideas of a better future.  It grabs ahold of your soul and creates passion inside that cannot be pushed away.  Faith is a deep-seated belief that cannot be swayed or dismissed that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He will do.  It is the gift of faith that allows you and I to connect with God on a personal level.  It is faith that opens the door to experiencing God’s greatness.  But what happens when that faith begins to fade?  running empty

Circumstances can cause you to lose faith if we allow them to.  The passion we once had for God can diminish and if left untended will go out.  Jesus warned ” For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.” Matthew 24:12 MSG  The passion people have for God can go out, and the excitement for who God is and what God is doing can disappear if we allow it to.

Some signs your faith is running low are;

  • You go through the motions without emotion
    • If your walk with God has become mechanical then your faith is running low
  • Your passion is gone
    • A sign of low faith is what once excited you is now empty
    • Reading your bible and praying is a chore
    • Attending services is simply what your supposed to do
    • Soren Kierkegaard said that “if passion, intense personal involvement with the truth of something, is eliminated, then faith can no longer exist”
  • Your walk with God has become an intellectual exercise
    • Knowing all the right scriptures and having all the right doctrines, but no transformation
    • The Pharisees had most of the scriptures memorized and discussed them diligently but it was worthless activity for them
    • Jesus said of them “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39 NIV
  • You have a faith no one wants
    • While it is true that many will not want to walk with God and know Him we often use that as a justification for no one coming to know Christ
    • What may be true is they don’t see anything happening in your life so they don’t want what you have
    • The early church had a faith that was transforming lives and everywhere God moves people want to be apart
      • “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 NIV

The good news is your faith can be restored again if you want it to.  But it is going to take some work on your part to do so.  Taking time to once again connect with God is the first step, because that is where your faith originated from in the first place.  Romans 12:3 “…God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith.” Voice.  So if your running low it is time to reconnect with your source.  Jesus said “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 NLT

We also to need to make sure that we are surrendered to God.  Often our faith has diminished because we allowed our focus to either wander from God into other things, so we need to reconnect, or we chose to not do something that God asked of us.  The reasons we have for it may sound really good to us, or it may simply be that we didn’t feel we could.  Whatever  the reason God is waiting to see if we will allow Him to lead us, which is what Him being Lord is all about.  If He isn’t driving, then our faith isn’t worth anything.  Surrender is essential to a passionate love for God.  Without it there can be no faith.  Alan Hirsch wrote “We do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because we have not attempted obedience.” 

We can have faith that transforms lives if we want to.  The question we need to answer is

What kind of faith do you want to have?

How Big is Your God – Pt 3

When I thought about how big God was I found  I was no different that most other Christians.  My life certainly didn’t reflect the God of the scriptures.  When I prayed I didn’t really see much results.  People I prayed about didn’t get healed, didn’t get delivered or set free, didn’t get saved.  And to be honest I was getting frustrated

What about you?  Have you ever faced these situations?  How’s your frustration level in spiritual matters?  Just how big is Your God?  Think about the people you have given up hope on.  People whom you think are a lost cause, feel like their never going to change.  Or think about the times where we turn to the credit cards and bank loans or pawn shops because there are bills to pay, instead of allowing God to provide.

Do we stand in the face of opposition and difficulty confidently assured of our God who stands with us, or do we cower in fear of what people think or may say.  Do we accept all challenges boldly, jumping in with both feet because we know “God will provide”, or do we shy away from difficult situations.  Do we willing step out into the unknown simply because God said ‘go’, or do we try to figure out all the angles first.  These were all questions I asked myself.

Just how big is your God?

Enter David in our story found in 1 Samuel 17.

Davids brothers were part of Saul’s army facing the Philistines.  And as David was to young to enter the army he would travel back and forth with supplies for his brothers.

So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts. He arrived at the outskirts of the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries.

21 Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army.

22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers.

23 As he was talking with them, he saw Goliath, the champion from Gath, come out from the Philistine ranks, shouting his challenge to the army of Israel.

24 As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright.

What I found interesting is Davids response to Goliath wasn’t fear.

“Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?

David response wasn’t to cower and hide.  He saw and heard the same things his fellow Israelites were hearing.  He served the same God they did.  He had grown up hearing the same stories they did.  If you were to ask him how great God was he probably would have the same answer his countrymen had.  But something was different in David because he didn’t even hesitate in his response.  Instead of running away to hide like everyone else had he charged headlong down to meet the giant saying

“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied”

David personally knew how great God was.  God’s greatness for him was not a theory talked about in church.  It was a confident assurance that gripped him in the center of his being  and it caused him to have great boldness.  He absolutely knew God was going to back him up and defeat this giant, and it was a boldness that none of his fellow countrymen had.

How big is your God?  Is it a theory?  Its a tough question isn’t it, and it is one each of us needs to ask ourselves, because God doesn’t want to remain a theory we simply talk about.

What’s Going On God? – pt. 5

Confrontation and Transformation.  Two extremely important components to God’s plan in our lives.  God always reveals His plans for us to bring us to the place where we are willing to see ourselves for who we are, including all the parts we don’t want to see, so that He can transform us into the image of Jesus and accomplish His purposes through us.   Things happen TO me, So that things can happen IN me, so that things can happen THROUGH me.

Our circumstance that each one of us face are tools which God uses to draw out of us the areas in our lives that need to be shown to us, and so that He can change us.  If we are unwilling to see ourselves as we are, we won’t change because we won’t see the need to.  People all around the world have the same response when confronted with change.  “Well I’m a good person…”  If we don’t see the need for change, we cannot make the changes necessary, and if we don’t make the changes or allow God to make the changes in us we will miss out on the purpose we were created to fulfill.  So God allows circumstances in our lives to draw out of us the things we are often so good at hiding.

There are two things necessary in our lives for this process to accomplish what God desires in us.  We each face different circumstances, and many of them can be extremely difficult to deal with, but we all need two things if God is going to be able to use the circumstances to accomplish His purpose.

The first is a humble heart.  Without humility we will be unwilling to see the areas of our lives that need to be addressed.  Without humility we will be focused completely on getting what we feel we deserve.  Humility allows us to see things differently and be willing to set aside our plans and purposes.  Humility allows us to be willing to see the need for change and to accept the work of God in our lives, even when we are not always able to comprehend or understand what He is doing.   It is a humble heart that will allow God to confront us and change us.  Saul was proud and didn’t respond to the dealings of God, but every time God dealt with David he responded with humility and God was able to do amazing things in and through him.

If you think you know better than God you will won’t respond to His work in your life.  Denying the changes in your life does not make them any less important or necessary to our growth.  Denial is not a river in Egypt. If we insist on denying the reality of our lives we will never see the possibility of our future. 

Humility also releases the hand of God in our lives.  If we want to struggle and fight on our own God is willing to let us, but He would prefer if we allowed Him to mold and form us.  James 4:6 NKJV“God resists the proud,  But gives grace to the humble.”  God offers us His grace if we are willing to be humble.  Grace is “the transforming power of God, doing in you what you cannot do for yourself.”  God’s power working in your life, accomplishing God’s plan.  Without grace we would all be lost.  If we are willing to humble our hearts, God is able to accomplish great things in our lives, and through our lives.

Second we need a close relationship with God.  It is our relationship with Jesus that draws us into God’s plan for our lives, and it is what sustains us as we move forward into God’s purposes.  It is our relationship  with God that allows us to

  • feel and be secure in the love and safety of the hands of God regardless of our circumstances
  • allow God to deal with us knowing He is doing it for our benefit and not His.
  • allow God the freedom to work out the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

     

     

No relationship = No change

Are we keeping our relationship with God current?  Jesus said in John 15:5 NLV I am the Vine and you are the branches. Get your life from Me. Then I will live in you and you will give much fruit. You can do nothing without Me.”  It is our relationship with God that allows His life to flow in us, and it is His life in us that allows the changes to happen. 

Every move and promise of God in our lives always leads us to the cross of Calvary.

We always return to face our reality and our choice is whether we take up our cross and follow or turn away to our own path.

  • God always brings confrontation for a season to bring transformation for a reason.
  • Things happen TO me, So that things can happen IN me, so that things can happen THROUGH me

There is always a divine purpose to the struggles we have.

What will make the difference will be our focus.

Are we looking at our circumstances or the One who will see us through our circumstances.   It is a humble heart and a relationship with God that allows us to focus not on the problem but on the one who will see us past the problems.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”  Hebrews 12:2 MSG

 

Share the journey

shapeimage_2The journey to become who we were created to be is a powerful and life changing one.  It is unfortunately one that many people miss out on taking.  They become whoever their world, situation or friendships demand, and miss completely out on the adventure they were created for.  Once you start the journey, your life begins to shift, and things that you thought were once important often begin to fade away because your filters for life have changed.

As you journey you get to see yourself and others differently, and you become more accepting of others because you are becoming more secure in who you are so when others are different they no longer cause you to be uncomfortable or threatened.  It truly is an amazing journey that all of us should be on.  The world would be a much different place to live if we did.  As we journey we write about who we are becoming and the changes we are making because we understand ourselves better when we write about it.  Our journals begin to record the milestones along the way and we understand ourselves and our environment better.

Just as important as journaling is for us to understand ourselves, is sharing your journey with someone else.  Finding someone you can be honest with, and who can be honest with you is invaluable to discovering yourself.  We can come to some understanding by writing, but it pales in comparison to the depth of understanding we gain by sharing our journey.  Finding someone you can trust openly and begin to share your struggles, insights and victories helps you to process deeply who you are and their questions and insights as you share help you discover what changes you could be making.

Someone once said You don’t truly understand something until you try to teach it to someone else. The process of sharing anything that you think you understand deepens you level of understanding because you have to take that mess of information, sort it out, repackage it and organize it in a way that someone else can understand.   By having to help someone else understand your journey you open the door to you understanding you.

When we are trying to explain something to someone else, we are forced to ask ourselves the most important question in leaning… in gaining true understanding… “why.” When we have to answer the question “why,” superficial understanding won’t do. We have to know something deeply in order to not just say how, but why.  Why we are is just as important as who we are and who we are becoming.  Only by sharing the journey with someone else can we truly and deeply understand ourselves.

Seeing the sights

one thingInside each and every one of us is a wonderful person the world is desperately wanting to know.  Every day all around us are people that have incredible talents and gifts that often go completely unseen and unknown, and the world is worse off for it.  So much potential that goes unused and unnoticed.

The world doesn’t need more carbon copies of others.  It doesn’t matter if they were the greatest person around.  What the world needs is people who are willing to be authentic, and allow their potential to be lived fully.  This comes by knowing yourself, your limitations, your talents and giftings and being secure enough in who you are that there is no need to “fit another mold”.  We were created unique and special.  Every person born is important and has a wonderful potential.   There has been and never will be another you, and if your life goes unlived because you were trying your best to fit in or measure up the world will have lost a great treasure.

Coming to know yourself is a journey.  It isn’t something that happens overnight.  In fact because we are developing and growing it is a journey that is continually ongoing.  Everyone of us needs to be going on that journey.  This is done with a lot of soul-searching, and thought spent deciding why we do things, what we love to do, what we are passionate about.  It involves analyzing motives to understand the reasons for behaviors we have.  Many of our behaviors are a result of our childhood, and often they are self-protection mechanisms that have completely outlived their usefulness and are now just keeping us from become ourselves.

This journey isn’t easy at times.  In fact it can be painful as we come to understand things about ourselves that we won’t necessarily like.  But the rewards for going on the journey exponentially exceed any discomfort we may go through.  The world around us needs people who know who they are.  There are a lot of people compensating, calculating and even being like a chameleon and changing themselves to fit the expectations of those they relate to.  Very few people are truly self-aware and confident in who they are and what they are gifted to do.

So it is an important journey for all of us.  The big thing is that we need to enjoy the journey.  Every journey we take in life has its ups and downs.  The car breaks down, tires go flat, engines overheat, flights are delayed or cancelled, traffic jams cause us to be late.  Everywhere we turn there will always be joyous highs and heart breaking lows.  Unfortunately it is a facIMAG0157t of life.

But even with the lows and high the journey can be worth while and very memorable.  I recently traveled to Turkey and Armenia, and there were difficulties and frustrations.  There were highs and lows, but the memories will stay with me for a life time.  It is the same when we journey to knowing ourselves.  The journey was meant to be enjoyed.  It will be hard at times, definitely life changing, and an incredible release of burdens we hang on to, and passions we have bottled up.  We are all worth knowing.  That is the way God created us.  But to be known we have to know.  I need to know myself so I can share myself with the world I live in.  If you haven’t started your journey, it is never ever to late.  Every journey begins with a single step.  Just enjoy the journey and see where it takes you. journey enjoy

Stay Connected

unpluggedWe have all heard the saying “it’s not about what you know but who you know.”  There is more that happens in and around us based on the connections that we have with others.  The idea of being “an island unto myself” is something that none of us were meant to be.  Who we are comes from what is allowed to be encouraged within us by the relationships we have around us.  It was Paul who wrote Do not let anyone fool you. Bad people can make those who want to live good become bad. I Corinthians 15:33 NLV  We actually become like the people we hang around with.

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone. ” – Margaret J. Wheatley

So when it comes to our walk with God why is that so many of us try to do it ourselves.  It is something we are all guilty of.  Statistics released by George Barna show that the average American pastor spends 7 min a day in prayer and the average Christian about 1 min per day.  And we wonder why we struggle so hard to become what we know we are supposed to be becoming and the world around us thinks we are just a bunch of hypocrites who spout off rules for life that we don’t even follow ourselves.

All this work invested into becoming and Jesus stated that we would become if we follow Him.  Matthew 4:19 AMP And He said to them, “Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men.”  We strive and struggle and work and miss out on the most important connection we have with our Father in heaven.  There was a reason Jesus spent so many hours in communion with His Father.  It was because He knew that His source for all He was to become was that connection.

It’s like we have a power cord attached to us, and that cord needs to be plugged in to a power source.  And when we desire to follow our path and do what we desire, or do what God wants but in our way and on our schedule we come unplugged.  And we instantly lose our ability to become what God designed and desires us to be.  Jesus said to stay connected to Him and the fruit would take care of itself.  Fruit is a result of being connected, not of us striving and struggling to be something.

John 15:5-6 MSG “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.  It is up to us to decide whether we will bear fruit or not.  If we maintain the connection a harvest is a sure thing.  Or we can continue to fight it out on our own convinced that we can do it ourselves.  The truth is we become because of relationship.  Will we plug in?

get plugged in