Whilst effort has nothing to do with salvation, it has everything to do with spiritual growth. Seven times in the New Testament we are instructed to ‘make every effort’… towards becoming more like Christ. We are saved not by good works but for good works. If our faith doesn’t do anyone else any good then it can’t do us any good.
“Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered it. Nobody was there!”
Charles Blondin was a famous tightrope walker and stunt artist in America. Some years ago he stretched a wire rope across the top of Niagara Falls and walked across it several times, always with a different theatrical variation: He walked across blindfold; he went across on stilts, he carried a man on his back and he even sat down mid-way across while he cooked and ate an omelette! A newspaper reporter came up and asked him what he proposed to next. Blondin said he was going to wheel a man across in a wheelbarrow. “Do you think I can do it?” Blondin asked. “Oh yes, said the reporter. “You are the greatest tightrope artist of all time. I believe you can do it.” Blondin replied, “You do; you really think I can do it?” “I know you can,” said the reported. “Well then,” replied Blondin, “you get in the wheelbarrow!”
There is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge or faith. You can believe that the Christian message is true but unless you are willing to step out in faith and put your trust in Christ, you are never going to know what it’s really like; you’ll miss salvation by a foot, 12 inches, which is the distance between the brain and the heart; between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Faith is trusting in God.
“Our heavenly Father often sends troubles to test our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. It’s a poor faith that can only trust God when friends are true, the body healthy, and work or business prospers. True faith holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith that can say in the worst trouble, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord is greatly glorified in the virtues of His people, which are His own handiwork. When “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues… There must be night to bring out the beauty of the day. We would not be so supremely blessed in heaven if we hadn’t known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth. Peace will be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil. The recollections of past sufferings will enhance the bliss of the glorified.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning By Morning, October 7
Fear questions and retreats. Faith takes the things God has promised and moves forward. Fear says, “How?” Faith says, “God!”
There’s a story about a man who was out walking, and who lost his footing and fell over the edge of a cliff. As he slipped over the side he managed to grab hold of the root a tree. Filled with panic, he called out, ‘Help. Is there anyone up there?’ A powerful voice came from out of the sky, ‘Yes, what you want?’ The man pleaded, ‘I fell over the cliff and am holding on to a branch for dear life. Please can you help me?’ The voice from above said, ‘Do you have faith in God?’ And the man replied, ‘Yes, I believe and have faith.’ The voice said, ‘Then, let go of the branch and I will catch you!’ There was a tense pause, and then the man yelled out, ‘Is there anyone else up there?’
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:17 NIV
Bill Johnson says, ‘Although I no longer play football, I love to watch a good game. I have my favourite team and I love to watch them play on TV, rooting, sometimes loudly, from our sitting room. Occasional shouts of joy are heard when my team does well, as well as deep groans of travail when they have done poorly. Often my schedule doesn’t allow me to watch games live and so I catch up on [Match of the Day] or watching a recorded game. If it’s not live I like to know the outcome before I sit down to watch it. If my team lost, I usually won’t watch the game. This approach gives me an advantage… If my favourite player shoots but misses a penalty, or the opposition score first and take the lead, I already know it doesn’t change the outcome because my team has already won the game. There’s very little stress, if any, when I see my team make an error or fumble the ball. Why? I know the outcome. The one thing we are assured of in walking with the Lord is the outcome. He has already recorded the score of the game in His book of records, and we win! Because of this, adversity, conflict, or problems need not lead to panic or despair. I know ahead of time how it turns out. “All things work together for good” (Romans 8:28)!
Bill Johnson, 2016, God is Good, USA, Destiny Image Publishers, p.200-201
“Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.”
attributed to Ramona Carol
“Real faith is when you don’t know exactly what to do but you walk in the wisdom and knowledge you have, believing that God is directing your steps. That is what faith is all about.”
Paul J. Meyer
To understand the importance of the protective powers of the shield of faith, consider a space capsule re-entering earth’s atmosphere. When a space capsule returns to the earth after having completed its mission, it would not be able to reach the earth if it were not surrounded by a shield. The heat generated upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere would burn up the capsule and everyone inside it in a matter of seconds if it were not completely protected. With the shield, flames and smoke can engulf the entire capsule, but nothing inside is damaged at all. Similarly, taking up the shield of faith enables a believer to live a life of victory in an atmosphere that has the potential to bring harm.
Tony Evans, 2011, Victory In Spiritual Warfare, Oregon: Harvest House Publishing, p.94.
“Faith says that odds are irrelevant. Faith argues that the only ‘impossible’ thing is for God not to keep His promises. Faith says that even death can’t stop God bringing life.”
Explore Bible notes 30/06/2003
Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you;”
Matthew 9:29 NIV1984
In 1997, a team of IBM engineers designed and developed Deep Blue, the computer that outmanoeuvred chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue was equipped with thirty-two processing engines that could calculate 200 million chess moves per second. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time with the fifty-fifty stuff: true or false; right or left; chocolate or vanilla? I can’t even imagine contemplating 200 million contingencies in a split second. But 200 million contingencies is laughable compared to our Omniscient, all-knowing God; the One who took every contingency into consideration before a nanosecond had even ticked off the clock of time. Think of your life as a game of chess. You are the pawn and God is the chess grandmaster. You have no idea what your next move should be. But God already has the next 200 million moves planned out. Some of His moves won’t make sense to us, but that’s because we can’t compute 200 million contingencies at a time! You’ve just got to trust in the LORD and stop trying to figure everything out.
Source: Mark Batterson, 2006, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, Colorado: Multnomah Books, p.29-30
“Feed your faith and starve your doubt to death.”
Faith is the willingness to look foolish. Noah looked foolish building an ark in the desert. Moses looked foolish asking Pharaoh to let his slaves go. The Israelite army looked foolish marching round Jericho blowing trumpets. David looked foolish attacking Goliath with a slingshot. The wise men looked foolish following a star. Peter looked foolish stepping out of the boat in the middle of a storm. And Jesus looked foolhardy hanging on the cross. But the results speak for themselves, don’t they? Noah stayed afloat during the flood. Moses delivered Israel out of Egypt. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down. David defeated Goliath. The wise men found the Messiah. Peter walked on water. And Jesus rose from the dead. There comes a moment when you must quit hedging your bets, quit playing it safe and doing what you’ve always done. You need to build the ark, or at least plant some trees or saw some planks! Faith is acting as if God has already answered our prayers, and acting as if God has answered means acting on our prayers even if, as in the case of Noah, it takes over a century. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24 NIV). What has God told you to do? Start doing it!
Source: The UCB Word For Today, 15/12/2017 adapted from Mark Batterson, All In
F.R.O.G. = Fully Rely On God
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.
“Atheists affirm there is no God. Yet they cannot hold this position dogmatically. For us to be able to make this type of statement with authority, we would have to know the universe in its entirety and to possess all knowledge. If anyone had these credentials, then, by definition, he would be God.” – Josh McDowell & Don Stewart
“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings to greet the dawn, while it’s still dark!”
James S. Hewitt
Every lifeguard knows you can’t save people as long as they are trying to save themselves. If somebody is drowning and flailing around in panic, a lifeguard knows to just stay back for a few seconds and wait until that person gives up. Because if you try to save others while they’re trying to save themselves, they will pull you under, too. When they finally give up, they relax; you put your arm around them and just swim back to shore. It’s really quite easy. God wants to save you. Jesus Christ wants to save you from your hurts, your habits, and your hang-ups. He wants to save you for his purpose and by his grace. But you’ve got to quit trying to do it yourself. You’ve got to relax. You need to let go and let God be God.
Rick Warren quote taken from a daily reading plan from YouVersion Bible app.
Faith is trusting in God, but we are not called to have blind faith – we are called to have faith in God’s Word. Christian faith does not depend upon our feelings, which are always changing, but on the facts of what God has done and promised.
‘Imagine being lost is the dessert and having a compass with you. You could do one of two things: You could rely solely on your sense of direction to tell you which way to go or you could rely on the needle of your compass pointing north. No matter how strongly you ‘felt’ about which direction to take, you’d be stupid to trust in your feelings over and above your compass. Why? Well, because our feelings go up and down depending on our mood. Feelings are important, but we must not rely only on our feelings. We must instead rely on God’s promises which do not change; we must rely on the Word of God… because God does not change. North is always north.’
Let me illustrate further. ‘Imagine three men walking along the top of a narrow wall. The first man is called FACTS, the second FAITH and the last, FEELINGS. As long as the middle man, FAITH, keeps his eyes on FACTS, he can walk securely and steadily on the wall. But if he turns around and keeps looking over his shoulder for FEELINGS, he starts to wobble and feel insecure. Similarly, in the Christian faith, solid faith is based on the facts of Jesus as learned in the Bible. If we go too much by our feelings, our faith will always be unsteady and weak.’
[Note: Christianity Explained, New Malden, Surrey: The Good Book Company (1985), p.55]
John Dickson, Hanging in There, Matthias Media (1991), p76
“Just as old soldiers compare stories and scars, when we arrive at our heavenly home we’ll tell of the faithfulness of God who brought us through. I wouldn’t like to be pointed out as the only one who never experienced sorrow or feel like a stranger in the midst of that sacred fellowship. Therefore, be content to share in the battle, for soon we will wear the crown.”
Romans 8:28 says: ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’ This is the modus operandi of the God we claim to love and serve. It’s not the exception; it’s the rule. God is working for our good in everything we go through – good and bad, successes and mistakes. God is in charge. He’s in control. There seems to be a paradox here: God loves us and is working for our good; He is in charge and in control of events and yet, He allows us to mess up, and He allows his people to suffer… but in all things God works for our good! How does that work? Well, because God turns things around to accomplish what He desires.
‘God never has to say, “Oops!” because he never makes a mistake. Everything that happens in your life fits into God’s plan for you. He uses every situation – even the problems and heartaches and difficulties that you bring on yourself – to work out his purposes in your life. He fits everything perfectly into his plan for you… All that God expects from us is that we trust him without trying to figure everything out. God is in control.’ Sometimes, we have to completely abandon to God.
Rick Warren, God’s Power To Change Your Life, 2006, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.93
“Think about it! You go to a doctor whose name you can’t pronounce, receive a prescription you can’t read, take it to a pharmacist you don’t know, get medicine you don’t understand and take it with confidence! Now that’s faith!” – Bob Gass
“God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones.”
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of faith is the end of anxiety.”
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher that the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55v8-9 NIV). Astronomers have spied galaxies 12.3 billion light-years from earth. To put that distance into perspective, consider the fact that light traveling 186,000 miles per second takes only eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles between the sun and planet earth. Sunlight is only eight minutes old. But the light from the furthest galaxy takes 12.3 billion years to get here. That distance is virtually incomprehensible! And God says that is about the distance between His thoughts and our thoughts. Your best thoughts about God on your best day falls 12.3 billion light-years short of how good God really is. We underestimate God’s goodness by at least 12.3 billion light-years. (…) Maybe it’s time to stop putting God in a box the size of your cerebral cortex. Maybe it’s time to stop creating God in your image and let Him create you in His.
Mark Batterson, 2006, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, Colorado: Multnomah Books, p.28-29
I heard a story about a missionary working among children in the Middle East who was driving her jeep down a road when she ran out of petrol. She had no jerry can in her car. All she could find was a potty. She walked a mile down the road to the nearest petrol station and filled the potty with petrol. As she was pouring the petrol into the tank, a large black limousine drew up alongside with two wealthy oil sheikhs in it. They were absolutely fascinated at seeing her pouring the contents of the potty into the jeep. One of them opened the window and said, ‘Excuse me! My friend and I, although we do not share your religion, we greatly admire your faith!’
Quoted by Nicky Gumbel in Alpha Questions of Life, 2007 edition, Eastbourne: Kingsway Communications, p.21
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I shall believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good to me;
And, though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
“I trust in Thee.”
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I shall believe it is an all wise Love
Which has refused those things for which I yearn;
And though, at times, I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardour of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I shall believe the heights for which I strive,
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And, though I groan and tremble with my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses,
The greater gain.
I will not doubt; well anchored in the faith,
Like some stanch ship, my soul braves every gale,
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To breast the mighty, unknown sea of death,
Oh, may I cry when body parts with spirit,
“I do not doubt,” so listening worlds may hear it
With my last breath.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Faith is like a muscle; it grows stronger with frequent exercise.
The most famous geyser in America is Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. It is not the biggest geyser in America, nor is it the most powerful. What makes the geyser famous is its faithfulness! It runs like clockwork. Dependable. People appreciate dependability – even in a geyser. Do you have a reputation for being reliable?
Rick Warren, God’s Power To Change Your Life, 2006, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.159
Whatever may be my future lot,
High or low concerns me not.
This doth set my heart at rest:
Whatever my God appoints is best. (Anon)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV
The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
2 Chronicles 15:2 NIV
“You will never be saved by works; but let us tell you most solemnly, that you will never be saved without works.”
T. L. Cuyler
All good wine has the flavour of the ground it was cultivated in. If it doesn’t then it’s just plonk!
“The trouble with some people is that they have no invisible means of support.”
Dr Joseph Murphy
G.K. Chesterton said: “If there were no God there would be no atheists.”
Atheism’s creed is clear and cruel: we began as a fluke, we live as a farce and we end as fertilizer.
The modern atheist is always angered when he hears anything said about God and religion. He would be incapable of such resentment if God were only a myth.
Plan, Pray, Trust and Obey.
450 years ago in England, under the reign of the Roman Catholic, Queen Mary, or Bloody Mary as she became known, and during the reformation of the church here in England, 288 people were burnt at the stake for their Protestant faith. Few of the martyr’s final words are more stirring than those of Bishops Hugh Latimer to Nicholas Ridley as they were tied together at the stake and burnt alive in Oxford, on 16th October 1555. As the fire was lit Latimer said to his friend, “Be of Good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV1984)
If you have ever seen people riding a tandem, the person in the front steers and the person behind offers peddle-power. We, all too often, want to steer and have the control and just call upon God to give us the extra ‘umph’ to get us up the hills! But we need to give control to God and let him steer.
I look for your deliverance, LORD.
Genesis 49:18 NIV
“Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man who can comprehend God.”
John Wesley (1703-1791), English preacher and founder of Methodist Church
“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), English scientist famous for discovering the law of gravity
“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and domain of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
Sir Isaac Newton
It is much easier not to have faith.
Imagine a young boy stuck up in a tree and his father comes to rescue him. “Let go and I will catch you,” the Dad says. Now the boy may agree in his head that his dad can catch and hold on to him, but until he trusts him enough to let go of the tree he will remain stuck. – Faith is letting go of the branch and trusting in God.
Follow your gut feelings, your intuition, and turn head faith into action.
R. Ian Seymour
Faith is belief gone courageous.
I wasn’t born a believer. I was told about Christ and I saw Christ in others, but I doubted before I came to believe in Jesus. If doubt results in questions… that lead to answers… that are accepted, then doubt has done an excellent job.
“You call for faith, I give you doubt to prove that faith exists. The greater the doubt the stronger the faith, I say, if faith overcomes doubt.”
Robert Browning (1812-1889, English poet)
If it’s of God you can forget about it, because if it is He won’t.
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
Proverbs 21:30 NIV
Believing is not seeing, otherwise there would only be a few hundred believers in 1st century Palestine. And yet, believing is seeing.
“God made the world round so that we would never be able to see too far down the road.”
“God made us in His own image and we, unfortunately, like to repay the favour!”
We live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
Faith is the belief that runs ahead of evidence.
If Christ isn’t Lord of all, He isn’t Lord at all.
“It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances.”
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (2000 edition), Worcester: Oswald Chambers Publications, p.359
Either God is in control of He isn’t. Which way is it with you?
God does not play dice! – Albert Einstein
Keep the notion of mind that God is behind all things. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (2000 edition), Worcester: Oswald Chambers Publications, p.204
‘Let Go and Let God’
As children bring their broken toys
with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
because He is my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can You be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “what could I do?
You never did let go!”
“Faith is like stepping out on tissue paper, believing that when you do, God will put solid rock beneath your feet!”
The depth of a person’s faith is always tested when their pocket is challenged!
Faith is not really faith unless it is all you are holding on to.
Great fear will always lose out to great faith.
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, O LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
“The ultimate reason… why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities, of one sort and another, is to ensure that we learn to hold him fast. The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defence, and a sure refuge and help for the weak, is that God spends so much of his time bringing home to us that we are weak, both mentally and morally, and dare not trust ourselves to find, or to follow, the right road.”
J. I. Packer, lecturer and theologian
If God always rescued those who were true to him, then Christians would not need faith. Christianity would be nothing more than an insurance policy! We should be faithful to serve God whether He intervenes on our behalf or not.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou for ever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960)
“Have faith in your faith and doubt your doubts.”
Dr Robert H. Schuller (US pastor, writer and television presenter)
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV1984)