Five Ways to Grow Faith in 2010-11
1) Expand your world. Expand your territory.
- “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)
- “I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” (NLT)
- “I will run the course of your commandments, for you shall enlarge my heart.” (NKJV)
Chasing God’s heart and yielding to His authority produces true freedom, which ultimately leads to a divine broadening of our understanding/thinking. By submitting to His boundaries, fixed in love, yet abounding in purpose, our hearts can encounter holy development. A stagnant heart suggests either an embracing of obduracy or a false contentment in merely walking the course. Satan desires us to remain content on merely “wanting to go” – the reciprocal of an Isaiah 6:8 heart.
Territory in the Bible often refers to land, nations, physical measures of influence, etc. We see this in numerous occasions, including Job 12:23, Exodus 34:24, and Deuteronomy 12:20. But territory refers to internal points as well. In 2 Samuel 22, David relates territory as a spiritual pathway (v. 37). The entire song paints territory as a matter of heart, soul, mind, and the utmost spiritual reality (praising the Lord for who He is).
2) Be rooted & established in love.
Ephesians 3:14-19 – “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (NIV)
Establishing every word and action in love is crucial. Great rewards are inherited when the loveless are loved, and often, it starts by meditating on the infinite dimensions of Christ’s love. The Spirit enables us to experience the deep places of God’s heart, so faith is essentially increased. To experience fullness, faith must rush with rivers of love, for it is the Holy Spirit’s power that permits us to understand the depths of eternal, unconditional love.
3) Put yourself in radical faith positions.
I Peter 1:6-7 – “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (NIV)
Faith is jello when it’s not anchored. Radical faith is anchored by divine opportunities met with consistent courage (see point #4). But joy has to be incorporated into the picture. Note how Peter opens with “greatly rejoice”, then in the next sentence, remarks on faith maturing by fire refinement. Fire grooms and tests faith so it may be real in our lives. What are ways this is evident? Peter answers this in the passage: giving God praise, glory, and honor.
4) Garner strength. Be courageous. Rejoice in the process.
Philippians 1:18-21 – “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (NIV)
A familiar theme emerges when comparing Paul and Peter’s writing. Strength becomes weakness without reJOYcing. Here, Paul summons courage that stands fearless when death abounds. Real strength discerns the link between God’s ability to save us from death, while realizing death is a greater victory. Courage gives us the win-win – no matter what the outcome, Christ is exalted.
5) Strive for peace with holiness in tact.
Hebrews 12:14-15 - "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (NIV)
Peace is futile apart from holiness. You can’t aim for either/or. The two must be joined together. Secular culture places a premium on peace (or the lack thereof), and holiness is quick to exist stage left. Don’t create bitter roots that will eventually have to be excavated. Plant the right seeds. Let fruit grow in your lives, not weeds.