to believe, but to keep on believing. This is how we grow strong in
faith and see the actual fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives.
Today we tend to soft-pedal unbelief as little more than
a common weakness. But God takes no such easygoing approach (see Heb.
Rejecting God’s promises to us is far more destructive
than the sensational sins we often talk about. The Bible says it is a
“sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb.
The great target of Satan is to break down our faith. He
knows all too well that the righteous live by faith, so he aims at
cutting our lifeline to God.
Faith is like the hand that reaches up to receive what
God has freely promised. If the devil can pull your hand back down to
your side, then he has succeeded.
Real faith is produced when our hearts draw near to God
and receive His promises deep within us. There, by divine power, His
Word will work supernaturally.
The chronic disease that afflicts us is not a lack of
effort; it’s a lack of real faith. Many times we are treating the
outward behavior and not its source.
We are running the race of faith. And we desire to
receive not only God’s ultimate promise of salvation but also the many
other promises He has made to us along the way.
Faith Follows Promises
Because of the unique place God has given to faith, His
grace flows along the channels of His promises—not His commands. God’s
commands show His holy character and reveal our sinfulness, but they
have no ability in themselves to empower us to obey.
It is not that we don’t know what is right or that we
don’t desire to live that way. Our problem is mustering the spiritual
strength to obey, and the commands of God cannot impart that (see Rom.
Saints down through the ages have not so much clung to
the holy commands of God and the accompanying judgment to all offenders
as they have cherished the promises and revelations concerning His
great salvation through Christ (see Rom. 4:5; 8:1,3; 1 John 1:9). When
trusted, these blessed promises of God release His supernatural grace
in and through us.
It is these promises that draw the heart to God in faith. In fact, the great command of the New Covenant is to believe!
The Israelites who left Egypt came up short with regard
to possessing the new land for this reason: They heard clearly what God
promised, but their hearts did not receive it in faith (see Heb. 4:2).
Today it is possible to make a living as an esteemed
theologian and yet have no more living faith than a slug. Christians
can listen to the Word preached every Sunday—and even have a devotional
life of sorts throughout the week—without rising above the cynicism,
depression and unbelief that are so prevalent in our culture.
The Word must find within our hearts an atmosphere in
which its divine power can be released. That kind of dynamic faith
fairly oozes from the words of the great Israelite leader Joshua near
the end of his life.
He was one of only two men who left Egypt as adults and
actually made it all the way into the Promised Land. His parting
instructions reveal the environment in which faith blossoms and grows.
Look Back With Thanksgiving
Joshua begins his farewell with this ringing statement:
“You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all
these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for
you” (Josh. 23:3).
In other words, look back and think about all He has
done. How can we have faith for the future if we don’t look back often
and thank God for all He’s given us in the past?
A lack of gratitude is, in fact, one of our besetting
sins. In most of our churches, there is no outpouring of vibrant
thanksgiving and praise each Sunday because we are too preoccupied with
Give Him praise! Let Him know from the depths of your heart how much you appreciate His goodness!
Whether it is part of your religious tradition or not,
get past your self-consciousness and formality to praise the Lord.
Refuse to be embarrassed or hindered by anyone.