Faith Building, Part 1: Getting a New Set of Eyes

Living by faith….

Is it always by blind faith we believe?

What is too little faith and how do we tell when we have enough?

Is faith something we do by following a step by step instruction laid out in the Bible?

When do we know we’re acting in faith, or by some other motive?

When is our faith stronger? When things are going well, or during Hardship?

I have doubt and I have faith…does one cancel out the other?

By abiding by faith principles, does this mean my life opportunities are more restrictive, or more open ended?

In the book of James, we are told that anything we think, say or do is not lived by faith, it is considered sin. So in a sense, if we were to put on a scale when we act in faith and when we don’t, faith would be clearly outweighed by our non-faith.

And so we are all pretty much in the same condition as the man who came to Jesus requesting healing of a loved one, “Lord, help me in my unbelief.”

What’s fascinating is that:

• We put more faith in the medical community who are known from time to time to misdiagnose, than we do in God who created us.

• We believe advertisements that guarantee satisfaction if we buy our product.

• When we bought our last vehicle, it was touted to obtain up to 29 MPG but we’re doing good to get 20…we were certainly fooled.

• And not to cast dispersion on our local meteorologists and the Weather Channel, but people will glue themselves to lengthy reports and forecasts for planning their day, week and weekend and it seems the weather predictors are no more accurate than I can be by placing a rock outside my window and periodically checking it to see if it’s hot from the sunlight, sticky from the humidity, wet from the rain, or cold and icy from a winter storm.

• We believe those who come on the morning shows and evening news who tell us how to live healthier lives or to how to be more financially secure, or how to be a better father or mother. If you watch them enough over time, you find that the advice has a way of changing week after week.

• But, we’ll buy their book, check out their website, and purchase their products, anyway.

• However, there is only one book that’s known to be consistent and reliable through the ages, it’s guidance and outcomes are proven and true, but do we go to the Bible first…do we pay confidence in what God says will bring us satisfaction and wellbeing?

When it comes to God, why do we struggle with faith in His reliability?

For believers, faith requires a new set of eyes to make up for where our human eyes fall short. At one time, I had nigh near perfect vision, now I can’t see the road signs from afar or the fine print on anything. Glasses help, but even with them I have to squint and even take them off so I can see what I’m doing.

If we see faith as putting on glasses that allow us to see what we couldn’t see before, we can than appreciate the need, value and benefit of faith being a regular part of our lives and not just something we fall back on when we’re in a world of hurt.

Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1, 10, 11, 16-19) gives a description of what God is looking for in us. It is very clear, God isn’t looking for religious people, particularly religious people who do one thing on Sunday but behave differently every other day of the week.

Isaiah is making it real when he proclaims: 11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. 17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Isaiah identified that God doesn’t have much tolerance with those with a fake faith—who say one thing and do another.

As we read on, God is more interested in personally transforming our lives than whether we can be good religious people or not. Verse 18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

A clean heart is where faith can develop and grow. If we want build our faith, we must let God clean house. We need to invite Him to sanitize our thoughts and purge us from ill feelings and insecurities. Then God has fertile ground in which the seeds of faith can sprout, grow and flourish.

When God cleans house, we see things differently, because we have a new set of eyes. Those of your with glasses, isn’t it remarkable how much clearer things are when you take the time to clean the grunge, dust and smears off your lenses?

So too we can see as Jesus saw. In his teaching on possessions, He instructed to go sell everything and give to the poor, what do you think He meant?

Did He mean that to be a good Christian you need to be penniless and own nothing? Many a believer shudders when they hear this teaching (Luke 12:32-34):

Verse 32“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 33“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes.

Most of us think that Jesus is being conditional in this passage—that we’re not going to benefit from God’s kingdom unless we sell all we have. But it’s not conditional at all….it actually is liberating!

How many of you own things, but in actuality you find that they own you! You may own a car, but actually that car owns you because if you want the car to be reliable and kept in good shape you must wash it, polish it, give it proper engine maintenance, appropriate tire pressure and balance and so on. And when it breaks down…you get it don’t you? So, who owns who? If you look at it this way, a car robs you of time that you could be spending with family, friends and the community of faith…but we still buy and own cars, don’t we?

You can say the same to those with homes, yards, boats, sporting equipment, high tech gadgets and electronics, appliances….they are all OK when they’re working…but who owns who when they’re not.

Possessions are a faith detractor, they distract us from the things of real value….like, RELATIONSHIPS!

Husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and community find themselves more engaged on their devices communicating with a virtual world than they are with the person sitting right next to them.

Our communication devices make communication more efficient but we are finding that we don’t know how to actually sit down and talk face to face anymore.

So, Jesus is saying if something you own is getting in the way of your relationships with God and others, its best to get rid of it, because if you are valuing a “thing” more than “someone” then you will fail to see the Kingdom of God and the true satisfaction God’s Kingdom provides. And thus, Jesus continued, “Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

In order to have the Faith Confidence the writer of Hebrews (chapter 11) describes, “verse 1, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see;” we need to receive first the transformation only God can provide by letting Him clean house in our lives…once He’s cleaned the smudges and blurred vision from the lenses of our eyes we begin to see the beauty, the blessing, the benefit of God’s Kingdom—the way God sees, God thinks, God feels and acts.

Most believers want more faith, but they don’t want to let go of past memories of hurt, failure, or shame. Additionally, they want to build their faith, but still rely on “things” and allow those “things” to possess them rather than relying on their relationship with God for their confidence and then they wonder why their faith doesn’t grow.

Faith needs fertile ground in order to thrive. It requires the sunshine of God’s love to receive God’s strength and energy, as well as, the refreshing rain of God’s forgiveness to wash away impurities and vitalize the roots.

Then, yes then we can see with the eyes of faith and that same faith grows and develops all the stronger.

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