In the Bible, we have some examples of great faith. Amazing faith. Faith of Peter walking on the water. Faith of the centurion knowing that Jesus just had to speak a word and it would be done. Faith of the Gentile mother who kept asking for healing for her child. The hall of faith in Hebrews 11. It takes faith to go through life. It takes faith to do what Jesus calls you to do. It takes faith to keep focused on His will even when it doesn’t seem like it lines up, when it isn’t going “good”, or when things just don’t make sense.
Are you prepared to exercise your faith?
I have a college friend who is now in the Secret Service. His joke is, “I’m heading to Rome, or Hawaii or some other place, to watch a dumpster.” That doesn’t sound exciting at all, but how much training does he need to watch a dumpster? What possible scenarios could you come up with that he has to be ready for? How many more possibilities are actually possible that we, especially those not trained in this area, could even think of?
Are you prepared? Are you ready for what might be coming up? How do you get prepared for something that you don’t know will happen?
One night I woke and kept having this thought in my head that I couldn’t get out. Since I was awake, my bladder decided it was awake too, so as I was walking into the bathroom, I grabbed a dry erase marker and wrote my thought on the shower glass door. “Be so rooted in the Word that if you are moved by any other thing like emotions or passion, that you will only move if it is the will of God.” That message stayed on our shower door for months. Each day we would walk in and see it. Little did I know that God was preparing us for something that would rock our world.
So where should we even start to prepare for things unknown?
Psalm 119:129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
First, recognizing that the testimonies of God are wonderful. Once you realize this, then you want more. Recently, Jenna made some pudding for a friend’s birthday. She gave me a taste test and it was so good that I wanted the whole bowl right there. The “wonderful” the psalmist describes isn’t like we just got a raise, or we won the lottery, this is FULL OF WONDER!!!! Wonder as in AWE!!! You just can’t get enough of God’s testimonies.
As Paul puts it to the Ephesians, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from who every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” The NKJV puts the last part as, “now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” EXCEEDINGLY… ABUNDANTLY. Do you believe this? Do you believe this when things look impossible? Or when everything seems against you? Or you are about to face the hardest thing you have ever faced? Do you believe God is able?
But do you believe this when things aren’t going the way you think they should? Do you see that the love of God is not just infinite, but it is so much more. If it was just infinite in length, it would be a line going on for eternity in both directions. But there is breadth too. So it is an infinite number of lines next to each other, which creates a plane. There there is height so now we have a infinite number of planes stacked on top of each other making a cube that has volume. Except this “cube” goes on forever to the left and to the right, to the front and to the back, and up and down. We can comprehend volume, we can wrap our minds around this, even if we think of it as being of infinite length, breadth and height. But there is one more dimension added, depth. O how deep is the Father’s love! This is a deepness that we can’t comprehend in this physical world. His love is powerful. His word is powerful. Why wouldn’t we keep it!
As you study your Bible, you start to see how God moves and loves through His Word and the truth in it. How many different people have gone into the Word to prove it wrong only to come out the other side a believer. Lee Strobel who wrote, A Case for Christ, Lewis Wallace who wrote, Ben Hur: A Story of the Christ, J. Warner Wallace who wrote, Cold Case Christianity and many others. If it can change these individuals, how much more can the Bible do for a believer.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
The psalmist uses u n f o l d i n g of the words to describe how he sees it. Although you could unfold something quickly, you would undoubtedly miss many things. But picture taking something and opening it up and as you take in everything that you can see, you notice that you can open another flap… you study it more and another flap… it is a continuous thing. As we study God’s testimonies, we desire to keep them and then God opens up more for us.
Psalm119:131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.
As we learn, we need to understand that it takes time. We all get impatient when we want something. We have the drive through mentality. We have drive through fast food, drive through banks, drive through pharmacy, … If we can’t get it right away, its almost like we don’t want to wait. Having that desire to learn more. Being open to it yet willing to wait for it. Remembering that it takes time, God will show us what we need when we need it, but we have to be ready, watching, looking, being thirsty and expectant for it.
Psalms 147:10-11 (ESV) 10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, 11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
As we learn more, want more, and seek out more, we find it consuming. Strength seems to fade, but we can be strengthened. And as we go, we will be strengthened by God. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS might.” Again, God takes pleasure in those who fear Him, not in those who put their own strength first. If we focus on our own strength, it fades, if we focus on the unlimited strength of the Lord, then we can keep going.
Be so rooted in the Word that if you are moved by any other thing like emotions or passion, that you will only move if it is the will of God.
Keeping focus on God and all that is about Him and not focused on your earthly problems helps us keep things in right focus. It is a focus on the cross. When we took our 7 day old son, Toby, off of the breathing machine and they stopped doing compressions, all I could do was sing “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you, oh my soul rejoice.” My wife immediately called for her phone in order to get worship music playing. Our son was dying but our focus was still on worshiping God. It wasn’t a conscience thing that we chose to do, but something that came out of how God prepared us before hand. We went through a huge horrible loss, but our strength came from God. The “me” would have bolted down the hallway looking for a dark empty room to hide in. I would have focused on my pain and been angry or worse. But God! Because God had prepared me by getting me rooted in His Word, I was there, holding my wife and my 7 day old son, worshiping the Lord as he took his last breaths.
So, as the author of Hebrews puts it:
Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
It is about being prepared for the trials. As the brother of Jesus puts it, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its FULL effect, that you may be perfect and compete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1 emphasis mine)
Allow the trials to strengthen you. It is about faith, trusting in the one who created you. You can be prepared by getting into the Word and seeking the Lord. He knows what you are going to face and what will strengthen you for those times to come. He created you and me and knows what it will take for each of us. It probably won’t look the same for you as it does for me.
It is about being rooted in the word so much that you won’t be moved unless it is the will of God.