Understanding Faith!

Over the past few of weeks I have been teaching on the very interesting – yet, complicated subject of FAITH. And after studying this topic in depth, I have become acutely aware that in our society there seems to be many words spoken but very little understanding about it. It would seem that even in the realm of church leadership (especially from the pulpit) there are those who declare many things about faith — while not really grasping the issue themselves.

One of the books I read recently is entitled: Small Faith, Great God, by N. T. Wright. In the second chapter he describes the function of faith in this way. He writes, “Faith in the Bible is always determined by its object…what matters is not so much the faith itself as what it is in.” The way he describes this in greater detail is worth repeating. It provides a mental picture which I believe is most helpful to this somewhat complicated subject. He says, “Faith…is like a window. It is not there because we happen to want one wall of the room to be made of glass. It is there for the sake of what we can see through it–and in order to let light into the room.”

Faith then, is the resource given to us to help us see and understand God better. The writer of Hebrews states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And that is true! But so is the converse of that statement. With faith we can please God.

I think maybe it is time that we look again at God through the window of faith He has provided. For when we do, our eyes shall be opened to His power, His majesty, and all of His glory!


Finding Your Way & Discerning God’s Will

Over the past few weeks I have been teaching on the subject of prayer and having conversations with God. A part of the process of conversing with God is hearing His voice and being responsive. So, I thought it might be beneficial if I addressed one of the questions I have been asked over and over again as a pastor on this subject of hearing from God.

The question is simple — though the answer is maybe a bit more complex or subjective. Here’s the question: How do I know God’s will for my life?

Well, let me begin with a couple of verses from Scripture:

5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

1 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)

The foundation for such a question must begin with this: God Guides! He does direct and lead and show the way for us to go in relation to the choices and decisions we make in this life. That’s a fact. Discerning what “His Will” or “His Way” for us is — is a bit more difficult to settle.

Here are a few tools I have picked up over time which help me to make wise decisions and hear God’s Voice within my own life.

1. Become very familiar with God’s Word.

He will never violate His Word. He will never ask you to do anything that is contradictory to what His Word says.

2. Discover the strengths and gifts that God has placed within your life.

The promptings of the Spirit of God in your life will generally be in line with the gifts God has given you. Rarely will God call you in a direction that is not able to be supported by the very gifts He has placed within you.

3. Does the area you “feel led” to involve you serving others?

The Spirit generally leads people in a direction of servanthood.

If you find an idea, and it’s really all about your own selfish fulfillment and not about serving others, then it probably isn’t God’s best for you.

Then be relentless about saying yes and obeying!

4. Learn to trust God’s leading in your life.

If you discover that the “potential” direction you sense God leading is consistent with His Word, it does use your strengths and gifts, and it does involve you serving others in some way…then learn to say “yes” and become obedient to God’s guidance.

Part of following a guide is trust.

5. Sometimes the place God guides you will not be easy!

I’ve learned a number of times in my life — a wise guide will sometimes take you where you did not want to go! Take for instance the guide who taught me how to fly-fish. He made me practice the cast, stand in the water and even hike a long distance to where the fish were more likely to bite. It would have been a lot easier to just stand on the bank and do it “my way” — yet the guide knew what was best for me!

More often than not — God will prompt you to “Go somewhere that’s not easy!”

One way God guides us…is to deal with the SIN in our lives. This is rarely enjoyable or easy, yet it always leads us to His best for us! If you sense God is addressing a specific area of sin in your life — prompting you to confront it, then deal ruthlessly with your sin and move forward on the path before you!