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?

Securely Anchored

anchorAnchors have been around as long as we have had boats on water.  They are a means of securing a boat to keep it from drifting away.  On larger vessels capable of ocean voyages they also secure the ship against the storms that come.  Oil drilling rigs are often stationed in some of the worst areas in our oceans for storms and they are anchored securely and even the worst of the storms the crew can remain secure in the fact that the anchors have been designed to keep them secure and in place.  They won’t drift or blow away.

In our lives anchors are important as well.  We live in a world that is going crazier every day.  With new bombings happening in Belgium, and Turkey, and terrorist attacks on the rise all around the world our lives are become more and more unstable.  People are beginning to question much of what they had counted on for securing.  With global instability rising, and markets crashing even the finances we had set aside and based some security in for our future is disappearing.  Overnight people are waking up to realities where the moneys they had worked so hard to set aside and plan for had disappeared.  Many lost thousands as the market values crashed and world currencies devalued.  Security has become an illusion for many people.  With home invasions on the rise, and gun violence all around us many have become disillusioned with what we had at one time considered security.

In all of this there is an opportunity to have real hope.  An all-encompassing sense of security inside, even when the world is going crazy outside.  There is an ability to have a confident peace that is secure and quietly allows you to weather all that life may send your way.  It isn’t an absence of things going wrong, but a confidence and hope that fills us regardless of things going wrong.

1 Peter 1:3 talks about this hope that is available to us.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” NIV Jesus is alive.  He was dead, and was raised to life again, and because of this we can have a deep-seated hope and confidence that is not dependent on our circumstances.  A hope which anchors us securely through all that life sends our way.  This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:19 NLT

As we enter the season where we as Christians reflect on what Jesus did for us, and offers to us because of His death and resurrection we need to refocus our lives at times.  We can get distracted and allow ourselves to let go of our anchor and tie ourselves to many other things which will never be able to hold us true and steady.  In this season we need to ask ourselves what are we anchored to, and will it hold no matter what comes?

Are you following?

follow meWhat does it mean to follow someone?  In our world it doesn’t mean much.  It usually means that we go in the same direction as the one we are following.  But in Jesus’ day follow me actually had a depth of meaning.  When Jesus spoke to His disciples and said “Follow Me…” they knew it was more than traveling together.

A modern image of following someone would be an apprenticeship.  When you apprentice for a trade, you are a student or follower, and you allow the teacher or master to guide you and train you to become like him.  If your studying to be an electrician you will follow a journeyman or master and learn to be an electrician by doing what you see done.

Following in Jesus’ day meant more than just learning a trade.  It also meant learning a life.  When you followed someone you became like the one you followed.  You learned to think and act like them.  You didn’t trade in your personal identity at all, but you submitted your life to the one you followed, and you learned to live life the same way they did.  It went deeper than apprenticeship.  You learned a lifestyle, a world view, a way of relating to the world around you, and you took on the mission of the one you followed.  Your character changed, your life mission changed.  Peter and the other disciples left their respective trades and jobs to become like Jesus.

Paul, who encountered Jesus and became a follower stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. NIV  Paul understood what it meant to follow.  In essence you become like the one you choose to follow after.  You take on their traits, some of their habits.  You allow them to speak into your life and character and to build you up.  And you take on their mission.  You become an electrician if your following one.

If you look at your life who would you say you follow.  As Christians we are called to follow Jesus.  But we don’t see much of the life of Christ when we look at our lives.  Wolfgang Samson wrote “In the West, the lifestyles of many Christians are still centered on careers, TV, hobbies, privacy, and pets. We sugarcoat our faith with a thin layer of Christian behavior: attending church services, praying before meals, and listening to Christian music. This is not much different from the lifestyle of the average person living in the West where almost everything is geared toward the pursuit of personal security, success, fun, and even individual spiritual growth.”   We call ourselves Christians, or followers of Christ but are we following?  A follower always becomes like the one they follow.

One quick way to check if you are following Jesus is to see if you are passionate about His mission.  Jesus stated His mission was For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 NLT  And He stated that following Him would have us taking on His mission.  Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” Matthew 4:19 NLV.  If we are not becoming sharing the hope that we have with those we come in contact with and seeking to connect them with Jesus, can we say we are following?  Someone once wrote “If your not fishing, your not following.”  Who are you following?  Does it need to change?  Only you can decide who you want to follow.  Everyone follows someone.  We need to decide if they are worth following and if we really want to become like them.

Who do you follow?

Follow-Me-To-photography-by-Murad-Osmann-Barcelona-550x410It was a question that was asked of me many years ago.  And there are as many answers as there are people.  It is something we all need to look at for ourselves, because we all follow someone in our lives.  We have someone we see as important, and we look to them for inspiration, even if they don’t know we exist.  Just based on the ratings there are many people in North America at least, who spend a great deal of time “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”  Who you choose to follow will make a large impact on your life, and on the lives of those who may choose to follow you.

The reasons we choose to follow someone often are because we see something in them we want to have.  Or we admire a character quality or an ability they exhibit.  Or they have a way of understanding the world around them that we admire.  They can be someone who can teach and input into our lives, or they can be someone we admire from afar who can be a role model for us.

We live in a world which is largely lacking in good role models.  There was a time where people of great character were looked up to.  When integrity and honesty were admiral qualities to have.  A time where we saw people who stood up against the wrongs in our society and spoke of greater values.  People like Gandhi, and Mother Teresa.  Others like Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King.  Great men and women who made great contributions to our world.

As Christians we have the opportunity to follow one of the greatest people in history.  A man who stood up for some of the greatest values we still see as important.  A man who impacted the world, and who is still affecting lives and conversations 2000 years later.  And on top of the opportunity to follow Him, we have His personal promise that He will be directly and intimately involved in our lives.

Who do you follow?  The choice is not if you follow someone, but who you follow.  A better question may be to ask is are they worth following?

I’ll do what’s right for me

I’ll do what is right for me is a famous saying that many people we know have used.  I know I have heard it several times in my life.  It is usually used when someone disagrees with you about how something should be  done, and what actions are appropriate.  Sometimes it is used when changing careers, or changing spouses.  There are many situations it comes up.

We live in a society where standards are disappearing.  You cannot even get a grade is schools anymore. You participate or not.  You don’t pass or fail.  People decide for themselves how to act given the situation.  Even standards of behaviour have gone out the window.  Growing up you never swore around women or children.  Now days even the kids are talking like sailors.
image

Working as a scale technician I have come to appreciate the value of a standard.  Every day I find myself looking at a scale which people say works correctly. And until I place my standards on the scale I could believe them.  Without having a standard to compare ourselves to we will never know if we are meeting the mark or missing it completely.  GPS has become a valuable tool for all of us.  It gives us direction and allows us to see where we are compared to where we think we are.  Standards are everywhere in our society.  We just neglect to use them when it comes to our personal lives.

Christians have gotten a lot of bad press over the years because of this very thing.  We have often missed the mark and without having a standard to guide us we have never known.  Christians have become some of the most bitter, judgemental and critical people around.  I know people who will not hire Christians because they cause the most trouble, do the least work, and complain and steal from the company.  We have completely missed our standard and done what we thought was right.  We speak out vocally against what we see is wrong in our society, and usually completely ignore what is wrong with us.  We have changed our tune to meet what we thought society wanted.  We have worked hard at being accepted the we have lost influence.  And it is because we have lost our standard.

A standard can never be changed.  It can never be disagreed with. Our situation has to measure up the the standard, not the standard to our situation.  When I find a scale that doesn’t match my test standards, I don’t question the correctness of the standard.  I adjust and repair the scale to meet the standard I have placed on it.  And it is much the same with us as Christians.  We have lost our standard over the years and have gone down many paths that God never intended us to.  It has spread division and spawned fights that have separated families, broken homes, and destroyed lives.  And it doesn’t sound like the church Jesus had in mind.

Jesus left us with one standard to follow.  And if we do it right we will fulfill every command that He gave us, and we will become who He called us to be.  Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “34 So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. 35 Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.”

The Voice (VOICE)

We can become all that God calls us to if we actually align ourselves with the standard Jesus left for us.  For most of us that will me a recalibration of our values and thought.  But that is ok because that is what God is best at.  We don’t work up our ability to love we receive it.  1John 4:19 “We love because He has first loved us.”  We need to plug in again to our source, recognize our need to be recalibrated and then we can spread the love God has for the world.

Do You Believe?

What we say we believe matters little. We can say a lot without anything being demonstrated in our lives. Our actions actually say more about what we believe than our words. Our beliefs always come out in our actions.  Science has demonstrated that we cannot even be hypnotised to act differently then we belief.

James states ”  Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body. All you have left is a corpse.”  What do your actions say about what you believe?  Peter walked on water because he believed Jesus was who He said He was.  When we truly believe it will always drive us to action.

Do You Believe?