Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Planting, Hearing, Faith and More

Romans 10:17 - So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We discussed faith last night at women's Bible study. It was presented in such an extraordinary way. I've been thinking... We are to always have our minds on the things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, of good report and of virtue (Philippians 4:8). How do we get faith? What is it? How much do we have? We covered these questions. But that's not what this post is about!!

We can all say we have faith. What is the source of that faith? If we cannot say it comes from God, we do not have proper faith. But even some will say they have faith in God, but... How do we receive that faith? Faith comes by hearing....but...so many buts. But it all ends with but God...

Let me tell you, as an unbeliever I tried many, well, several, well, maybe a few...or a couple...times, to pick up an old Bible my gramma gave me. I'd start reading in Genesis. I'd get to the begots and that was it. Over, done with. I didn't get it. The Word was not alive. So my faith was zilch. I was an unbeliever and would remain an unbeliever for many more years!

So, how do you receive faith in the first place? And this has nothing to do with our discussion last night because our discussion related to believers. In fact, the point made was we are all given a measure of faith. But even if our faith is as small as that proverbial mustard seed, as Sandra pointed out, it shows how big our God can be. We can grow in our faith, however. How? Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). But...that's for believers...

Still, that faith needs to be activated. It happens when we become believers. This might cause some to wince! Who is a believer and who is an unbeliever? How does one explain the difference between the two? We can say we know who Jesus is but I know it's not just knowing who He is, it's KNOWING Him intimately, which is where others get hung up. And this is what I write a lot about.

What is the element that is missing between a believer and unbeliever, the one thing that causes one to understand and the other to scratch their head or throw up their hands and say, I've had as much as I can take with all this talk!?

I can write blog after blog on knowing Christ to receive eternal life but there's still one thing that needs to be present for ANYONE to receive it. I think it's a very simple concept that I have complicated in my own mind, yet I have known all along. One plants, one waters, but God...(1Corinthians 3:6) It always comes down to but God... I can do nothing on my own. I can talk or write till I'm blue in the face, but God...

So what IS the difference between a believer and an unbeliever? One might believe in God and creation. There are a lot of people who say they are believers because they believe in or read the Bible. Some say because they go to church, any church. Some say they believe Jesus did all He said He did, that He was born of a virgin, lived, died and arose again. Some go to church at Christmas and Easter and call themselves believers. But there is still something that sets a true believer apart from an unbeliever.

And who really has faith? I think we all can say we have faith. But in what is that faith? Faith in government? Faith in their pastor? Faith in their spouse, Wall Street, themselves, their knowledge? Here's the answer again as to where we must gather our faith...faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. It all comes down to God.

Again, but how does this happen?? Laurie, will you just answer the question!? A person can't just pick up the Bible and start reading to understand. We might get some of it, but there's a depth that we will not have without... There's still another element. One that makes an unbeliever into a believer.

It has to be the power of the Holy Spirit upon someone at just the right time that causes them to finally know. The Holy Spirit can start working way before the final "strike" in a person's life! I can look back and see instances where I was heading into muddy waters and was saved. But it was one incident I've mentioned before that was the start of a turning point.

It was no more than four words spoken to me that changed me. My heart and spirit were pushing the idea of God and church away. I can still picture that day in a kitchen helping with dishes how in my mind I had my arms stretched out pushing words being spoken to me as far away as I could get them. I was so trying to reject and seemed so in control, and stubborn. Then in an instant, without my even knowing it, and yet I  knew something had changed in me, these words were said: God speaks to me.

Those outstretched arms became like wet noodles and in my mind went limp. And the words that came out of nowhere from my own mouth were: I want that! What?? I didn't even have time to think about what I said. I just blurted them out. From stay away to wanting in a split second. And the next day at church, the Holy Spirit was there again, consummating, as it were, my relationship with Christ.

How did that happen?

It was God's perfect timing. He sent His Spirit to wreak amazing havoc with my resisting heart and spirit. Only God could do that. It had nothing to do with the person who spoke those four words, apart from the Holy Spirit at work in her at that same moment. And I melted at the sound of those four words.

But God... I say this over and over...it's all about Him. We are so incapable on our own. But linked with the Holy Spirit, wow. A believer knows, or should, that it still has little to do with us and all to do with the Spirit of God. We are just the vessel.

So, I write my blogs not knowing, nor do I need to know, who might be affected by them. In a way it matters to me but.... It's about Jesus and what He does in a person's life. I once was an unbeliever and by the power of God I became a believer. I went from knowing Who Jesus is to being in relationship with Him. Four words began the journey.

My prayer is that even four of my words might be the seeds planted in someone's heart. Perhaps those "four" words will be watered by four more words by someone else. And at just the right time, four more words later, there will be a but God moment when His Spirit will cause the faith to occur that helps someone begin their walk with the Lord. Faith is an action...faith comes after the Spirit has been imparted.

At the time that Spirit begins the work, we are received a measure of faith. After that our faith grows depending on how much time we give to the matter. Faith comes by hearing... The Spirit brings life. Jesus brings life. The Word will come alive. When all things come together in an aha moment. After one has planted, several watered...but God.

Faith comes upon our receiving of Christ as our Lord and Savior. You will know when that faith becomes real. But it only comes when God gives us that gift. We cannot get it on our own. One plants, one waters, but God... There is a time and a place.

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:8-9)

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