Subborn Faith

Doubting

The Faith that Gets Results


By Grantley Morris






Subborn Faith

















Faith that Gets Results

The following is from my How to Know God Deeper series. I urge you to read the entire series but if you prefer to focus exclusively on faith, here are the relevant parts.

If you donít believe your efforts to know God better will be rewarded by knowing him better, your motivation will evaporate.

Since faith and being motivated are inseparable, consider all the people in the Bible who would have missed out if they had just been a little less motivated and had given in just a little to natural shyness and defeatism. We will look at women and men who were hoping for healing or deliverance. Like them, you want results, but if what you want differs from them, donít be distracted by what their heart was set on. Instead, zero in on what these incidents reveal about the type of faith that wins Godís praise and gets results.

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A paralyzed man had no way of getting to Jesus. Rather than resign himself to the impossible, he talked and talked until he had persuaded enough people to carry him to Jesus. When they finally got there, the house was crowed out. Refusing to give in to the hopelessness of the situation, they had the audacity to somehow hoist him onto the roof and then dug a hole in it Ė a great way to make yourself popular Ė and then lowered him through the hole (Mark 2:2-4).

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A Canaanite woman, scorned all her life by every self-respecting Jew as a pagan foreigner, seemed to get the same treatment from Jesus. He ignored her pleas, virtually called her a dog and said it wasnít right to heal her. Pushing aside not only Jesusí inexplicable behavior but a lifelong history of rejection, she kept on trying. By sheer persistence she not only ended up with the miracle she craved but was publically praised by Jesus for having impressive faith (Matthew 15:22-28).

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The father of a demon possessed boy hunted down Jesusí very disciples, begging them for help. They tried their hardest and failed miserably. Instead of realizing it was impossible and giving up, this desperate father sought out the busy Jesus himself and pleaded for his help. He, too, ended up with what he wanted (Matthew 17:14-16).

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A despised beggar kept shouting out to Jesus. Told by the crowd to shut up, he refused to do the dignified thing and comply, but shouted all the louder. He got his miracle.(Mark 10:46-52).

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The woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years was unclean. She had no right being in a tightly packed crowd trying to touch a holy man. In any case, weakened by her illness, she could hardly expect to compete with all the healthier people jostling for a position close to Jesus who, (why not add another complication?) was on an urgent mission to get to a dying girl. Like all the others Iíve mentioned, no matter how impossible it seemed, she kept trying. Despite everything and everyone seeming to be against her, she forced her way to Jesus and got her miracle.

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Someone actually got to physically touch the Son of God for quite some time and to be publicly honored by him. To achieve this, she had to be so desperate to be close to Jesus that she not only gatecrashed a party where she knew the host and his friends despised her (Luke 7:39) but to literally let down her hair and humiliate herself by crying in public, with her snotty nose next to Jesusí unwashed feet (Luke 7:44) that had walked in open sandals on streets that were not only dusty but strewn with little gifts from donkeys, camels, hens, goats, sheep and who knows what else.

By recording such instances over and over in his Word, do you get what God is so keen for us to see? Faith isnít about mental gymnastics or screwing up your face until you burst a blood vessel. Itís simply refusing to give up, no matter how tempting it is to conclude that not just circumstances but the Almighty himself, who could change circumstances in the blink of an eye, must be against you.

Consider all the Apostle Paulís humiliations, floggings, stonings, foiled plans (Scriptures), and opposition from people in the church (Scriptures). You might dismiss some of these trials as opposition from anti-God forces but add to this list Paulís four shipwrecks. Perhaps all, but certainly the shipwreck we know the most about, was because of a storm (Acts 27:18-20, 41). In the light of Jesus calming the sea (Luke 8:24), the biblical affirmation that the Almighty ďhas his way in the whirlwind and in the stormĒ (Nahum 1:3 Ė note also Psalm 107:23-29) and that he used a storm to prevent Jonah from sailing away from Godís calling, it would be so easy to fall into despair by mistakenly interpreting such events as signs of divine disapproval, or at least indifference. But despite all sorts of opposition, Paul drudged on.

Great faith does not mean an end to dark times when everything and everyone in hell, heaven and earth seems to be against you. Great faith means slogging on regardless; stubbornly holding on to the conviction that nothing Ė not ďoppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword . . . nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thingĒ (Romans 8:35-39) Ė can mean that God has stopped loving you or has given up on you.

I do not say this lightly: rather than being indicators that you are second class; silences, hindrances and delays are divine invitations to enter into heavenís hall of fame, just like the very ordinary but inspirationally persistent women and men mentioned above.

Inspired by the Canaanite woman whom Jesus exalted as a role model for faith, we must refuse to take every apparent no for an answer. Thatís why I emphasize being passionate.

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It is not that biblical faith is selfish or augmentative; it is convinced of Godís kindness, goodness and generosity and that God delights in us building muscle on our faith by pushing through obstacles.

We are to ďhunger and thirst after righteousnessĒ (Matthew 5:6). In fact, Scripture goes as far as saying:

    1 John 2:3-4 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. One who says, ďI know him,Ē and doesnít keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isnít in him.

Disobedience distances us from God and alarmingly dulls our spiritual perception. Scripture affirms this so frequently and powerfully that it is hard to limit the quotes:

    James 4:4  . . . donít you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    1 John 2:9, 11 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now. . . . he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and doesnít know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

    1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears open to their prayer; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

    Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you . . .

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who donít know God; that no one should take advantage of and wrong a brother or sister in this matter; because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. Therefore he who rejects this doesnít reject man, but God, who has also given his Holy Spirit to you.

    Many More Scriptures.

Consider what faith looks like in this light. Without this mellowing influence, faith could almost turn ugly.

Jesus grants us the honor of praying in his name, but do we take to heart what this means? To act in someoneís name is to act as his representative. Itís a grave responsibility because to act foolishly or immorally in his name is to blacken his name, damaging his reputation.

Biblical faith is not just about believing, but believing the right thing. It is trusting in Jesusí righteousness and not in your own attempts as sufficient for you to have divine approval. It is refusing to resign yourself to receiving anything less than all the wonderful things God wants you to enjoy. It is being so convinced that Godís way is always best that you are unshakably committed to obeying and honoring him. No matter how great the agony, you join your Savior in saying, ďNevertheless, not my will, but yours, be doneĒ (Luke 22:42). And because God is good and you do not resist him but let him do everything he wants in your life, he purifies you, believes in you and has good plans for you, no matter how much evidence to the contrary seems to pile up.

Our persistence makes God proud.

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Of course, if our Lord truly means no, as he did with Jesus in the garden and to Paul with his thorn in the flesh, faith yields, confident that Godís way is best, but it refuses to yield to signs that merely masquerade as a divine no. Notice that in the incidents just mentioned, Jesus and Paul took so much convincing that Godís Ďnoí really meant no that both of them sought God not once, not twice, but three times over it (Matthew 26:44; 2 Corinthians 12:8).

Too often, however, instead of seeing beyond all the oppressive circumstances and silences and apparent rebuffs, we mistakenly presume that they reflect Godís heart. When we think that way, instead of pushing through, we will give in to the obstacles and so rob ourselves of the blessings God has prepared for us. Then we have the audacity to take our refusal to break through into all that God wants for us as proof that we were right and that God did not want to bless us!

Most of us tragically miss out on far too much, simply because we are too easily tricked into the believing the lie that God treats us as second class Christians or that he is stingy.

God is a rewarder, not of those who cave in to laziness or defeatism, nor of those who convince themselves that God is stingy or prejudiced against them; he is a rewarder of those who, by stubbornly clinging to the truth that God is love and is good, are sufficiently driven to keep pushing through. By having a high view of Godís love, generosity and goodness, they not only honor God but eventually end up with concrete evidence of his love, generosity and goodness.

Faith is believing that when God seems to be standoffish and to treat us as inferior to other people, that no matter how convincing it seems, God isnít like that. And this is the faith that causes us to know God better.

Like Jesus agonizing with God in the garden, faith is surrendering to God. It is saying, ďNevertheless, your will be done, not mine.Ē It is stubbornly persisting with oneís determination to not settle for less than Godís best; never an attempt to get your own way at the expense of Godís best. Faith must never be confused with manipulating God, forcing his hand or making him do anything he is genuinely reluctant to do (rather than something he merely seems reluctant to do). Trying to use faith and prayer to get our own way at the expense of Godís best might be some form of witchcraft (regardless of whether we tack Jesusí name on the end of it) but it is by no means Christian.

We know that the Bible contrasts faith and works (Romans 3:27; 9:32; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9) but even faith could degenerate into a works program if we lose sight of truly biblical faith. Faith is responding to Godís initiative. It might not feel that way, but we come to Jesus only because God draws us (John 6:44; Luke 10:22; 1 John 5:20). Faith gets results because it empowers us to receive what God wants for us. And because of this, faith is resting in God, not wrestling with him.

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Some people (why is everyone looking at me?) can get very discouraged when they ask God something and are greeted with icy silence. I Ė er, they Ė need reminding that just as prayer is not always instantly answered, even though the answer eventually comes for those who persist, so it is with answered questions. Our faith is critically important to God and, as frustrating and counter-intuitive as this truth is, it is delays that end up doing the most for developing our faith. Not only do delays to answered prayer stretch and strengthen our faith, having to hold on by raw faith without being given any reason for that delay, also strengths our faith. When not being given the reasons for a delay has suitably strengthened faith, however, Iíve found over and over that God eventually gives me reasons. (I once heard a sermon titled God is Slow. Boy, ainít that the truth!)

For example, the Lord showed Daniel something he couldnít make head or tail of. So he asked God, ďWhat in the world was all that about?Ē (at least thatís my version). You could have heard the crickets chirping half a mile away. But instead of sulking, Daniel kept on asking for an answer for three weeks of fasting until finally an angel turned up. Then Ė and only then Ė was his question answered, plus he was told the reason for the delay (Daniel 10:1-14).

Even if it takes faith and the memory of an elephant to realize it, God eventually gets around to telling me what I need to know. To my frustration, however, it in his perfect time, not mine, and in the way he chooses, which, to my exasperation, is often an inconvenient moment and comes in mere dribbles rather than an impressive gush, and in thoughts that seem indistinguishable from my own.

Like Elisha telling Naaman to have a bath (2 Kings 5:11), itís easy to get offended by the way God does things. Doesnít God care that I want it to be quick and more dramatic so that I feel special? Isnít he concerned that I already feel too pathetically inferior to ever show my face in the presence of all the spiritual hotshots with their flashy testimonies?

Even if Iím kicking and screaming or sulking the whole way Ė and I usually am Ė he prefers to force me to grow in faith in his love, rather than giving me signs and goosebumps that require almost no faith to believe he really cares about me. Even I can believe God has spoken if he announces it with ten thousand angels (I might even settle for a few hundred) in dazzling white nighties in the presence of a million human witnesses (although a commemorative video would be nice, just in case at some time in the future I begin to worry that it was just my imagination).

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At the heart of my beef with God is that I keep thinking that spectacular displays cause faith to grow but they merely cause spiritual laziness to grow, and faith to atrophy.

To say, ďIf God really cared he would have done it this way,Ē is to abandon faith in God. It is to stop believing in his love, goodness and wisdom. What one is really saying when making such a statement is, ďIf God loved me as little as I do and were as short-shorted and dull-witted and as intoxicated by my own yearnings as I am, he would have acted differently.Ē

Silences do not mean God doesnít care, nor that you have less faith than someone who gets a quicker response. They do, however, (and this will shock you) mean that God is smarter than me.

I can see Godís glory through the eyes of faith far more than when I was younger because Iíve seen so many apparent disasters in my own life turned around by the King of Glory until they shine. I am now more able to look at evil and by faith see into the future when God turns it around for his glory. We can see divine glory in Josephís life when he was raised to prominence in Pharaohís court, but would we have had the faith to glory in the divine plan before it became obvious, and Joseph was still languishing in prison?

It is typical of our astonishing Lord to pour so much good into an appalling situation that the evil ends up swallowed by good. Surely this is the good Lordís greatest glory; the pinnacle of which is the cross. We should be careful, however, not to insult the Holy One by confusing God defeating evil this way and him initiating or approving of evil. That, of course, would be utterly contrary to who he is.

The disgusting behavior of Josephís jealous brothers, Potipharís wifeís attempted seduction and scandalous accusations resulting in false imprisonment, and the cupbearerís betrayal, were in no way divinely inspired, even though the Almighty, in his genius and power, triumphed over it all by managing to wring good out of acts that sickened and infuriated him.

Godís glory truly is over all the earth, even if sometimes it is simply his astounding grace in allowing opportunity for repentance by displaying stupendous patience in deferring his execution of justice. To be raptured by his glory, however, we must seek God for the ability to see through the blatantly obvious.

We need never fear the full truth. It is merely gaps in our knowledge and understanding that challenge our faith. But faith does not run from a challenge. Faith stands its ground and by doing so brings itself eternal glory.

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Related Pages

Save this list until every link that interests you has been explored

Fear, Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Christian Help & Cure

Does God Love Me? Godís love for You Revealed Help when you doubt Godís special love for you

Hounded by Guilt Help when you doubt Godís forgiveness

God & Suffering Help when you doubt Godís goodness

To God, You Are Special When you doubt your ability to achieve great things for God

Godís Wonderful Will For You When you fear obeying God

Tempted, Condemned, Put Down Demonic influence in our doubts

Faith in God Vs Faith in Self When self doubt is good

God Isnít fair? What matters to God is not the size of our faith (or anything else entrusted to us) but solely how well we use the little of much we have

Faith for Finances Stories to inspire faith for financial miracles

When God Seems Far Away: Spiritual Wilderness Survival Guide When you canít feel God

Peace: Godís Supernatural Answer to Worry, Panic, Fear and Doubt

Godís Mysterious Ways Help and inspiration when god seems cold and indifferent

Intellectual Doubts

Issues that Make Christians Squirm Common objections to Christianity

Fact or Fiction? The historicity of Jesusí bodily resurrection

Soul-winning Tips Spiritual causes of intellectual doubts

Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2017 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.


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