Tag Archives: growing your faith

When Not If

When I was younger, we sang a song at church from Isaiah 43:1-2. In it, the Lord says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you” (GNT). Most of our songs were verses in the Bible back then. This one always made a string impression on me though.

One of the things I picked up on this verse was that it says, “When you go through,” not, “If you go through.” Every one of us will have times in our lives when we will go through waters so deep that we can’t touch the bottom anymore. We are all going to face difficulties that sweep us away like a rushing river. There are times when we will have hard times where things will get heated. But the promise of God first to us in this verse is that God will save us because He knows us by name.

Saving us doesn’t mean we won’t suffer loss, go through hardship or face difficulties. As I mentioned, this verse guarantees we will will. The difference is that you and I will not be overcome by the things that life brings against us. These things that happen should build our trust and faith in God because it’s in those times that our faith is proven and strengthened. In those times we find out what our faith is made of and how strong God truly is because we rely on Him so much. Don’t be afraid of these times. You belong to Him, and He knows you by name.

Photo by Kazden Cattapan on Unsplash

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Faith To Believe

Several years ago, we were taking a team on a mission trip. It was going to cost each person around $1,300 to go. We decided to do a couple of fundraisers to help bring the cost down. Since we live in Texas, we decided to sell BBQ plates. After everyone had picked up their plates, we still had several whole briskets left over. I asked the pastor if we could sell it after church the next day. He agreed, so we wrapped it up and put them in the refrigerator.

The next morning, my wife and I went to cut the briskets up. We decided to cut them into chunks of several pounds each rather than to slice it all. As the counter filled up with all these chunks of wrapped meat, my wife looked at me and said, “I hope God honors your faith instead of mine!” I said, “Me too,” as we headed to the foyer to sell them. Within 10 minutes all the brisket was sold, and we raised more money off of it than all the plates combined.

I tell you that because faith is essential to every believer. We need faith to believe God exists, and that He’s forgiven us. Beyond that, we need faith for our prayers to be answered. We need to be able to see in our minds something that doesn’t exist in that moment when we pray if God is going to answer. Many of us are good at asking for what we need, but we’re not good at believing what we are asking for. To me, that’s a critical part of getting your prayers answered.

When Jesus healed people, He almost always told them that their answer depended on their faith. Matthew 9:29 is a typical response from Jesus when someone asked Him for something. It says, “Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, ‘Let it happen, then, just as you believe!’” (GNT) I believe that’s still His response today to whatever you’re praying for. As you pray, begin to see in your mind what you’re asking for, and tell yourself God will answer until you believe it. God answers our prayers according to our faith and belief.

To help you grow your faith, I’ve published a book called “A Devotional Guide to Stretching Your Faith”. You can get the pre-release now on Amazon by clicking here. I’ll officially launch it in the next couple of weeks, but wanted you to be the first to know about it. If you’d like to be on the launch team, email me at chris@devotionsbychris.com.

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Improving How You Live

One of the things I have to do often at work is self evaluation. After my boss observes me either working in the field or in presenting information, I know that afterwards they’re going to come to me with three questions. What did you do well? What was your biggest opportunity? What will you do differently next time? After answering these three questions, my boss then answers them  from their perspective. The goal is two fold: to get me to calibrate my perception with theirs and to keep me constantly questioning how I can be more effective at what I do.

They know that if they can instill in me a mental process that asks those three questions constantly, I will improve whether they are there over my shoulder or not. Paul understood this principle too. He was mentoring Timothy from a distance. He offered him advice and encouragement in leading a church. Clearly, Timothy was a younger man than those he was preaching to and had doubts. Paul gave him pointers in the books of I and II Timothy that are good for each of us as believers. 

In i Timothy 412-16, Paul offered encouragement first. He said, “Don’t let anyone think less of you…but be an example.” He encouraged him to do the right thing knowing that he was under more scrutiny because of his age in a leadership role. He simply encouraged him to do the right thing and show others how to live. In essence, Paul was saying, “Practice what you preach.” We should live the life that we are asking others to live. Each of us should be examples of Christ’s love to those who see us. When we do that, it’s hard for anyone to look down on us.

Next, he encouraged Timothy to focus on reading the scriptures and using the gifts God gave him. The more we read the Bible, the more we put it into our hearts. We know that what’s in the heart comes out the mouth. If we spend time reading God’s word (publicly and privately), we and those who hear it will know what God says and will know how to live. We won’t just rely on someone else telling us what God says. We will know because we have heard it ourselves. Psalm 1:2 and Joshua 1:8 encourage us to not just read God’s Word, but to meditate on it as well. Meditating on it pushes it deeper into our hearts and minds.

Finally in these verses, Paul tells Timothy what my boss tells me. He said, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. (NLT)” He wants Timothy to not just do things, but to pay attention to what he’s doing and how he’s doing them. He wants him to question those things so he can improve as a minister. Paul then gave the payoff of such improvement: “Because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (GNT)” How we live affects how others receive the Gospel. We should constantly be questioning what we are doing well, what our opportunities are and what we can do differently in the future to improve. How you live matters whether you are a minister or not. Live in such a way that it points others to salvation. 

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