Round Table Oct. 13th 7:30 pm (PST) Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87973507722
Faithful~ What does that mean? What does being full of faith look like? Let’s talk about how to have the kind of faith that moves mountains and maybe identify some of the stumbling blocks we set up in our own way in regards to prayer, our roles in serving, and exercising our spiritual gifts.
I wish faith was something tangible we could hold or earn a certificate for. In reality, faith is a gift, and using it is a bit like exercise or paying off debt! What I mean is, faith’s wisdom doesn’t arrive in a one lump sum just like I won’t become physically fit in one workout or pay off all my debt in one day—oh how I wish that could happen but I have the experience of knowing that my faith fitness like my financial and physical fitness has to be tended to on a daily basis. I know when I work out regularly I see results; I feel the changes in my body. My faith fitness is no different. When I work it out daily, spend time everyday with the Lord and knowing what he wants and then acting on it I have an assurance of my faith that I can confirm undoubtedly even though I can’t take it out and show it to anyone.
You know, I enlisted a fitness team, I decided I knew too much about losing weight for my own good and that I was dangerous to myself—so I put my fitness goals into someone else’s hands and decided to just do what they told me to do. The very first thing they decided (this was a doctor, a nutrionist and a sports physician) Was that I needed to eat more often during the day –every 2.5 -3 hours, and to cut down my workouts. I admit, I had to laugh to myself that day and thought, “Yah Right! I already have a weight problem, and now you want me to eat more, and workout less.—sure.” But I was committed to doing what they told me to do, or at least I thought I’ll give it 30 days, if I gain weight I’m walking. I can honestly say within 27 days I’d lost 13 pounds! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. I probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone else told me their story, but here I stood with the results staring me in the face. Even though I didn’t understand how this was going to work, now I have the experience to know that the plan works.
Faith is like fitness or getting into shape: we need to become more faithfully fit and just like working out we need to do a little every day. I remember when through scriptures I asked God for certain things and wondered if I could ever be a Christian that if the Bible were being written today, would I be worthy of being written about to inspire others? I remember the day I stumbled on Paul’s prayer that said I don’t do what I know I should do, and I do what I know I shouldn’t do! I can sooooooooo relate! But I began to read the bible daily and to do exactly what it said regardless of if I liked it or even if I didn’t understand it. Some days I had to pray: “Lord make me want to want what you’re saying I should but I don’t, but I want your will over my will.” And you know, God honored that surrendered heart. My faith has grown tremendously, but I have the experience now to see that when I’m faithful in the little things, I’m privileged to receive the big things.
At first in my life, I struggled with “Does God really answer prayers?” You can tell I’m a skeptic. But the Scriptures scolded me in Matthew 7:7 “You have not because you ask not. Ask and it shall be given to you.” So I began to ask. And things began to happen. The more I studied the word, and the more I asked in accordance with God’s desires for my life, the more my prayers were answered.
One day, based on Jeremiah 33:3, I asked God for wisdom and discernment. That verse says:”Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things that you do not know.” Now, I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to know all I need to know, but I am the child of the creator of wisdom and decided to hitch my wagon to His wisdom. As I studied, I learned that there are only 2 requirements for answered prayer:
- To Abide in Him –to remain in His perfect will at all cost. (Romans 12:1-2)
- His words are to abide in me; they are to become a vital part of our lives. I need to be filled with and guided by His words. (Colossians 3:16-17 And let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom and teaching admonishing you and one another with songs and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the father. )
If we meet these two requirements the Bible promises your prayers will be answered. The answers may not be exactly what you want but your prayers will be answered:
- The answers maybe immediate like when Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus (Matt. 14:22-31)
- The answer may be delayed according to His will. (Romans 8:28 Lazarus was healed but not right away. The stalling of the answer served a greater purpose.)
- The answer is sometimes NO. However, when God gives us the answer NO, he always gives us the PEACE that goes with trusting him. Phil 4:6-7 and grace
- Sometimes the answer is different than expected. You pray for patience and God sends more trouble to refine us! He does this because Romans 5:3 tells us “tribulation works patience” God answers all prayers but we need to realize he sees the forest when we only see the trees.
What Hinders prayer?
When prayers aren’t answered, we need to examine ourselves in the scrutiny of God’s word. If we find anything that does not please God, we need to confess it, believe God will forgive us and then believe that God will answer our prayers. (1John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us our sins …) So I’ve found in my life the things that hinder my answers to prayer can be:
- An unharmonious relationship with my spouse, my parents, my friends, family…etc.(1Peter 3:1-7)
- An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer—so I need to humble myself and seek reconciliation
- Unbelief will hinder my prayers (James 1:6-7, Hebrews 11:6)
- Known sin in my heart will hinder my prayers (Isaiah 59:1-2, Psalms 66:18)
When I recognize any of these things in my life, I go to God, in all humility, confess it in detail to Him, call it by name specifically, and ask for forgiveness. Then I pray a simple prayer like David did: Create in me a clean heart oh Lord and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence Oh Lord and take not thy Holy Spirit from me, but restore unto me, the joy of the salvation and renew a right spirit within me.
Ultimately, the best physical fitness for my body is to commit to doing my workouts and feeding myself correctly every day. Likewise, my spiritual fitness depends on my willingness to exercise my spiritual muscles and feeding my soul daily as well. It sounds easy…lol…I’m so thankful for Paul’s comments: I do what I know I shouldn’t do, and I don’t do what I know I should do—I’m getting better, but based on who Paul became for Christ, there’s hope for me and you! J
And when we become the faithful children of Christ, our families and especially those around us will follow what they have seen in us. I’d like to write a book filled with formulas to raise teenagers, but in truth, its more about living the kind of life through Christ that we want to embrace.