Chapter 7: You can’t live beyond what you believe

Walking by faith is choosing to live based on what you believe in God’s Word, rather than by the things you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, we walk by faith and not by sight.

One of the problems we have with the words faith and believe in America is that we have turned them largely into intellectual words. The words, more often than not describe intellectual agreement. Do you believe that there are 50 states in America? Yes. But there is no implication to that belief. I can believe that all I want and it really does not move me to action in any way.

In God’s Word, faith is active. If you have biblical faith, the results are going to be evident. Read James 2:14-26. James goes so far to say that if your faith doesn’t produce corresponding works, you have a dead faith. Biblical faith is where you believe something to the extent that it becomes a conviction. You know you are walking by faith when the truth of God’s Word moves you to action.

If you are going to grow in your faith, you must grow in your knowledge of and understanding of God’s Word. This is where study, memorization, and meditation come in. You can’t believe something if you don’t know it. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. (Note: hearing is used because they didn’t have copies of God’s word for everyone, so much of the learning was by hearing the reading of the word of God).

But learning the truth of God’s word is only the first step. As you apply and obey God’s Word, you will experience the truth of God’s Word and your faith will grow. God’s Word will become a driving force in your life. You will see that your faith will empower you, guide you, and strengthen you as you walk through life.

If all you do is read God’s word for an emotional fix (kind of like a thought for the day), I don’t think you will see powerful, deep change in your life.

So where have you placed your faith? In whom and on what truth are you basing your life? Here’s an exercise that will clarify things for you. It will take a little while, but it will be worth the effort.

Step1

Take a few moments, quiet your heart, and then write out the deepest convictions of your life. What are the things that you deeply believe and to which you have committed your life. Be honest. If you believe money will ultimately bring you happiness and significance, write that down. Writing what you think you should believe won’t really help you. For the sake of this exercise, limit yourself to 8 to 10 key statements. Don’t be afraid to edit and remove a statement if you discover you need to add something more important.

To help you get started, here is a partial list of the truths of God’s word on which I am building my life. They don’t all drive my life completely, but it is honestly where I am headed. I list these simply to give you an idea of how to proceed. Give yourself time to think through your own faith base.

  • The Bible is the complete Word of God. It is God’s revelation of himself, what he desires of us, the blessings of walking with him and the consequences of rejecting him. If I want to know my Creator, the Bible is the clearest path. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • God created the heavens and the earth and he created people in his image. The most important thing about us is not how we relate to each other, it’s how we relate to God, because he is our creator and he created us for him. I believe every human being is accountable to God, because God is our creator. (Genesis 1-2)
  • Every person has sinned against God. The evil and suffering that I see in this world is a direct consequence of our rebellion against God. (Genesis 3:1-18, Romans 1-3)
  • God is “triune” in nature. He is one God, but he subsists in three persons. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus, the son to live a perfect life, die as a sacrifice for my sins, and rise from the dead thereby proving that he is the son of God and the future judge of all mankind. (Deuteronomy 6:4, John 1:1-4, 3:16)
  • The only way that any human can ever come in to a relationship with God and experience his mercy and grace is by placing his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Eternal life is not a reward for a good life here on earth; it is a free gift of God’s grace (John 14:6, Romans 6:23)
  • Jesus has given me the task and the privilege of telling others the good news that they can experience forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ. No matter what I do for a vocation, being a light for Jesus Christ and making disciples of those who believe is my calling. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)
  • There is a heaven and there is a hell. Both are eternal and how we live on this life determines where and how we will spend eternity. If a person has rejected God’s offer of forgiveness, he will stand before Jesus and be judged by the standard of God’s perfection. He will fall short and be cast in to the Lake of Fire. For me as a follower of Jesus, I will stand before him to be rewarded (or suffer loss) for the things that I’ve done as a follower of Jesus. I have eternal life, but living faithfully will bring eternal rewards that will never be lost or fade away. (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:1-5, 22:1-5)
  • My Christian Life is a daily journey to love God and those he has placed in my life, to grow to become more like him, to serve the body of Christ with my gifts and resources, and to do everything I can to help those who are lost to find God through Jesus Christ. (Matthew 5:13-16, 22:37-40; 1 Peter 4:10-11)

Those are a quick sample of my convictions. It would be really helpful for you not simply to copy mine, but to think through what you believe.

Step 2, take each of those convictions and write down the answer to this simple question:

If I truly believed this, how would my life change? (or what would be the visible results)

 As you compare your answers to your current life, you will see quickly the change that God wants your faith to produce. As you meditate on the truth of God’s Word and submit your will to the Holy Spirit, your ability to live by faith will grow! As your experience of walking by faith grows, your influence for God’s kingdom grows and that gets pretty exciting!

To stir your thinking

  • How can you build your faith?
  • What is getting in the way of a strengthening faith in your life?
  • What would be the blessing to you if you grew in your walk of faith?
  • What would be the blessing to those God has placed in your life if you grew in your walk of faith?

Chapter 6: The power of believing the Truth

Faith is a powerful force in this universe. Wilma Rudolph demonstrated what can happen when faith is matched by hard work and determination. You might tend to think that it wasn’t the faith, it was the hard work and determination. I would argue that the faith was at the foundation of the hard work and determination. If Wilma had come to the conclusion that there was no hope for her poorly developed legs, she might have “accepted” her situation. However, Wilma did not accept her situation, she believed God has something greater in store for her, so she was willing to endure the pain, and work her legs tirelessly.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. I must believe that God exists and that he is worth the effort of seeking him. Faith is how I receive the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and God’s desire for me is to walk every day receiving his grace by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7, Colossians 2:6-7).

Faith is powerful, but dangerous if we put our faith in the wrong object. If I believe with all my heart that, on my own, I can overcome gravity; that faith could lead me to do something foolish or deadly. There are millions of people who sincerely believe in a false religion. They believe with such intensity that they are willing to give their lives in pursuit of a wrong path. They believe with great sincerity, but that does not change the fact that they have put their faith in something that is not true.

I have placed my faith in the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and that God proved that fact by raising him from the dead (Romans 1:4). I have placed my faith in the truth that Jesus died as a sacrifice for my sins and, by faith, I have received God’s offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Furthermore, I have placed my faith in Jesus as the Lord of my life, so my goal is to live every day in obedience to him.

I have also placed my faith in the teaching of God’s word that this world is temporary and Jesus is coming again. When he comes again, he will judge every person who has ever lived on this earth. Those who have received God’s offer of forgiveness will spend eternity in God’s kingdom. Those who have rejected God’s offer of forgiveness will spend eternity separated from God and his people. My faith is leading me to speak to people God has placed in my life about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Faith will lead you to action! In fact, if your faith doesn’t produce visible results, James says that it is a dead faith (James 2:14-26)

So how do you grow your faith? Three ways:

  • First, grow in your knowledge of God. The more you get to know God, the more you will know that you can trust him.
  • Second, grow in your knowledge of God’s Word. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
  • Third, exercise your faith. Live as if God’s word is true. When you study God’s Word always ask the question, ”if I believed this were true, how would I live?” Then live that wa\

Take time to read and meditate on the twenty “cans” of success (p 115). Pick out one or two and make them your own. When you apply the truth of God’s word to your situation, you will discover the great power of faith.

One of the great truths of faith is God’s unconditional love for you. When you stumble in your walk of faith (and you will) realize that God still loves you and that the truth of Romans 8:1 still stands: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Confess your sins (1 John 1:9) and believe that God has forgiven you. Satan will do everything he can to make you “feel” condemned, but he cannot condemn you.

Learning to walk by faith is how you will actually put into practice the truth you’ve gained from God’s Word. It is how the promises of the Christian life will become yours! Let the truth of God’s word shape your perspective on every experience, every challenge, every tragedy, and every blessing of life.

To stir your thought:

  • What was your reaction to the story of Wilma Rudolph? What can you learn from her about your situation?
  • Hebrews 11:6 says that we must believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek him. What are the rewards that this world offers? What are the rewards that God offers? Right now in your life, which do you value more? How does this affect your life?
  • Colossians 2:6-7 says that we should walk every day in the same way that we’ve received Christ Jesus the Lord (by grace through faith). How do you receive God’s grace by faith today? What difference does it make to your life when you live by God’s grace?
  • Which of the “cans” of success meant the most to you? How would it change your life if you applied that to your life?

Chapter 5 – Becoming the Spiritual Person God wants you to be

I pray that your desire is to love others with the transforming love of Jesus. The story at the beginning of Chapter 5 about Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller illustrates how powerful genuine love can be. So how do we become that kind of influential Christian?

Learning your identity and calling in Christ is a huge first step. As you rest in your identity as a child of God who is unconditionally loved by your father, you will develop a sense of peace and security that comes from knowing that you have peace with God. As you grow in your understanding of your calling as a saint, you will grow in your understanding of the significant part God wants you to play in his kingdom plans.

With all this, however, we still need something else. We need to learn to deepen our obedience to and dependence on the Holy Spirit who was given to us at the time of our salvation.

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3 is a very important passage in understanding the importance of our relationship with the Holy Spirit. It presents 3 different kinds of people.

  • There is the natural person – This is a person who does not know Christ and does not possess the Holy Spirit. This person is controlled by his flesh. Read and meditate on Romans 8:5-8. People who are according to the flesh are hostile towards God and they are unable and unwilling to submit to God. According to 1 Corinthians 2:14, the natural person is unable to accept the things of God; they are foolishness to him.
  • There is the spiritual person (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) – This is a person who is a believer and is governed by the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is in control, the fruit of the Spirit flows from your life and your ability to understand and value things comes from God himself.
  • There is the fleshly person – This is a person who knows Christ and possesses the Holy Spirit, but is, at this time, allowing his flesh to dominate his life. Even though he is a Christian, much of his life will mirror someone who doesn’t know Christ, because his flesh is in control. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 that his life will be filled with jealousy and strife. This person will have very little influence for the kingdom of God and his life will be devoid of the joy that the Holy Spirit wants to give.

So how do we become that Spiritual person? Paul gives the answer in Galatians 5:16-25. This is one of the most important passages in my life. I have committed it to memory and I would encourage you to do the same.

Paul says, Walk (or live) by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do(Galatians 5:16-17)

Walking by the Spirit is a relationship of dependence and obedience with the Holy Spirit. It is a moment by moment relationship. I find myself praying throughout the day for God’s help (his grace) and his direction. When I blow it (as I often do), I confess that I fleshed out and resubmit myself to the Holy Spirit. As you practice this, you will grow and become better at it. The more you are in tune with the Holy Spirit, the more you will see the fruit of the Spirit coming out of your life (Galatians 5:22-23) and you will experience greater victory over your fleshly desires.

One other important factor in walking by the Spirit is the Word of God. The Word of God is your spiritual food that will strengthen your desire to walk by the Spirit and your knowledge of how God wants you to live. Learn to set time aside on a regular basis studying God’s Word and going over your day from his perspective. There is a neat cycle that you will discover. The more you spend time in God’s Word, the more you will find yourself walking by the Spirit, the more you are controlled by the Spirit, the greater your understanding of God’s Word will be. It’s awesome, those two practices feed each other! God bless – Let him control you this week.

 

To stir your thought:

  • When you are walking by the flesh, what are the particular struggles that come out? (see works of the flesh: Galatians 5:19-21)
  • Think about your key relationships. How would greater consistency in walking by the Spirit transform those relationships?
  • Think about your key struggles in life. How would walking by the Spirit help you in those struggles?
  • What are the roadblocks that keep you from walking by the Spirit?
  • What will you do this week to overcome those roadblocks?