Growing Your Faith-Part 2
In Growing Your Faith-Part 1, we looked at what could be meant by the phrase “I want to grow in my faith.” We especially focused on two aspects of growing our faith:
- Strengthening our personal relationship with God
- Increasing our level of faith in God and His ways instead of our own
So, how do we do it?
How do we “grow in our faith?”
In Growing Your Faith-Part 2, we are exploring some “how-to’s” to grow our faith in our everyday lives. As it is with growing and strengthening anything, it takes three important steps:
- Intentional Time
1) Intentional Time
Our muscles in our body don’t get stronger if we don’t use them. Likewise, our faith doesn’t get stronger if we don’t use it. We need to exercise our faith like exercising our muscles.
Before you actually exercise, you make an intentional decision to exercise. Then, you spend intentional time exercising the areas you want to improve (e.g., cardio, flexibility, specific parts of the body, etc.).
First, we need to decide to exercise our faith. Then we need to work out and develop our faith through worship, prayer, and reading and studying the Bible. We need to exercise faith by worshiping, especially when we don’t feel like worshiping.
In these times we are making the decision to have faith in God, even when there may be no visual evidence He is working in our circumstance. We are choosing to spend intentional time with Jesus.
We can do this in prayer by telling God He is still good and praising Him anyway, right in the midst of our most difficult struggles, circumstances, and temptations. I am talking about something as simple as praying out loud, “Thank you, God. I praise You. This is hard, but you are still a great God.” It is not natural (in our humanness) to thank God and worship Him when bad things are happening in our lives, but that is what we need to do to build and grow our faith.
We need to decide, over and over again each day, to spend time and to have faith in God, instead of putting our faith in only the things that we can see with our eyes. This takes INTENTIONAL TIME.
And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
(Psalm 50:15 ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 ESV)
Our movements follow our focus. Where we walk, run, and drive follows what we are looking at and focusing on. Focus on Go, so your movements will follow Him.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2 ESV)
We have to intentionally drive ourselves back to our faith in God over and over again.
I have a friend, Gordon Wickert (see Hope In Numbers ministry here) who taught me, “What you focus on gets bigger.” I have found this to be very true and have used this truth to put myself “in check.”
Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “What am I focusing on? What receives my attention and resources of time, talent, treasure, and thought?”
It does not always work out naturally for the answer to that question be “loving and serving God and others.” Yet, if we adjust our focus intentionally, we can train ourselves to make God and our faith in Him much bigger in our lives. We can place God as #1, where He belongs.
How can we practice this kind of focus? Here are just a few ways:
- Carry on conversations in prayer with God throughout the day like you would with a friend. He’s with you always, so you might as well talk to Him! 🙂
- Ask God questions throughout the day…any questions.
- Ask “What does the Bible say about _______?” (write it down in your journal, pray about it, research it in a study Bible or online at sites like YouVersion.com, BibleGateway.com, GotQuestions.org
There are many ways to practically implement focus on God into our everyday lives. If you need a step-by-step resource, the Changed Through Faith 30-Day Action Plan is a “how-to” guide and journal for doing this.
I once heard a phrase that I always remembered: “to surrender is to win.”
This seems opposite, doesn’t it? Our culture teaches us to “win at all costs,” to “never surrender,” to “climb to the top” (even if you have to step on some people along the way).
But the truths that Jesus demonstrated and taught over and over as recorded in the Bible, were also counter-cultural, including this one:
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Luke 14:11 ESV)
Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for us. His death on a cross looked like defeat. Yet, His surrender of His life, His surrender to His Father’s will, turned into the ultimate victory that God had planned all along! Jesus Christ rose on the third day and crushed death itself. His death and resurrection provided the opportunity for us to be forgiven of our sins and have a right and eternal relationship with God through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. What a victory!
When you love someone, you SACRIFICE your time for them. You SACRIFICE (give up) what you want or need and you serve their want or need instead.
In our relationship with God, can we sacrifice what we want and serve instead what He wants for us and for others? Can we spend more time seeking what He wants us to do instead of what we want to do or get for ourselves?
God can do anything He wants, but He often wants to use us to get it done, because He knows that will bless us and grow us.
So, let us stop trying to control things that require FAITH.
Maybe like me, you:
- can’t figure it out
- aren’t supposed to figure it out on your own
- aren’t supposed to know how to do it
- can’t convince them of it
- can’t grow it by yourself
- can’t change it by yourself
- don’t seem to be in the right place or time for it right now
- aren’t ready yet, even though you think you are (P.S. God gets to decide when we’re ready, not us)
How can you discover the answers to these bullet points?
Surrender it to God.
Give it to God.
…over and over if necessary.
Then WAIT on God’s ways and timing and find out!
Here’s what Jesus told his followers:
“For truly I say to you, if you have faith, like a grain of mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain move from here to there
and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 ESV)
“For everyone who has been born of God, overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.”
(John 5: 4 ESV)
You see, faith is a big deal to God and it should be a big deal to us. My hope and prayer is that you’ll grow in your relationship with God and your faith in Him. I pray that you’ll activate your faith and grow it through Intentional Time, Focus, and Surrender.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)