“…but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2
Life is a series of lessons. Your life is based on a true story. That true story is imperfect and has challenges. Today more than ever we have a need to put our faith in God and practice faith steps, one day at a time.
Learning to live by faith is a bunch of practice sessions geared to teaching us the truth about God’s involvement in our lives. Trouble is, faith thoughts are not often our first thoughts. We may have learned to make them our “first words” in Christian conversation, but often what we say is far from what we actually believe. We can learn to say the right things and still be hopeless in heart, living chronically under our problems and challenges.
To the onlooker we might seem full of faith. We can boast of God’s goodness and care but behind closed doors or with our family we can sadly live out our fear, insecurities and doubts more than we even realize. A few months ago one of my adult children was sharing their journey with me. This young adult that I love with all my heart is learning to say NO to fear and turn more towards the truth of God. Raised in a Christian home, imagine my surprise when he said to me, “No offense but it’s kinda hard because I was raised with a mom who had a lot of fears.” Ouch! But, truth.
God is not calling each of us to be perfect people who never doubt or fear. But he is calling us into a relationship him. A kind of relationship that relies on God’s word for direction and understanding with the temporal things of this life. Because always looking to God might not be normal for us, we have to enter a sacred path of learning to trust God. What does this path look like?
James talks about it to the early church. Infact he begins his letter to the church with the teaching,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Consider here is from the original that means ” think” ” lead” or “leading thought”. Some translations use the word ” count” as that word represents a leading thought, the very thing you count upon. The word for joy is chara which means, source of joy, awareness of God’s grace and favor.
For me it is eye-opening to read it as,
“When faced with a problem of any size, let your leading thought be joy and what you think when faced with hardships be the grace and covering of God.”
Why is this so eye opening? Because it is a realization that what I think and allow myself to dwell on matters. Once again I am reminded that the spiritual discipline of retraining my thinking to line up to Biblical truth is a life-long lesson involving lots and lots of practice.
- What do you do when learning something new? You practice.
- What do you make your children do when learning an instrument? Practice!
- What about preparing for a test? Study, memorize the facts and practice!
The same is true with life. If we are going to learn to live upon God’s promise instead of under our circumstances, we will have to practice the truth in our minds. Often the truth is contrary to what we naturally believe. Faith represents the very thing we hope for. But to please God we must believe this:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” Hebrews 11:6
- we must believe he exists
- we must count on that he rewards those who seek him
God is good. Even in our trials and tests there is a promise that God is at work. He is developing us, strengthening us, maturing us, refining us. Every time something happens to me you can bet God is at work within me. The same is true for you.
What is your current situation? You will always have problems. Once you solve one, another crops up in it’s place. I think it’s a good idea to line up with Scripture in an area that is a regular challenge, don’t you? How can you make God’s goodness and grace towards you your first thought when you begin into another challenge? How can you count “it” whatever it is, a joy, knowing there is promise of an outcome of God being at work inside of you?
I don’t like pain and I am sorry for both yours and mine. But, finding God in my pain and trusting him in my circumstance is one of the steps to learning to Live UP upon the promises of God rather than buried underneath my problems. Living buried under is living stuck.
Here is a promise for your day:
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good…. And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter4:19, 1 Peter 5:10
learning to live up,