Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Living By Faith

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: 
as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
Romans 1:17
(KJV)

What exactly does it mean for God to reveal His righteousness "from faith to faith"?
What does it mean to live by faith?


In my last post, I talked about how my Papaw used to say that "God will be everything to us that our faith will take Him for" and how the apostles said unto the Lord,
"Increase our faith."
Luke 17:5

As God continues to deal with me along this line,
He is showing me how much He has increased our faith during this current year of 2016.
All glory to God, I can look back and see how many long-standing fears were overcome.
Truly, I try to remember my exact feelings at the beginning of 2016,
and I am amazed at the progress in faith God has wrought for us this year.
I am humbled before Him, like never before, as I seem to never be able to completely release
all the praise I feel in my heart for all He has done.

And, do you know what I am finding, more and more, as I recall His leading this year and over the past few years?
His power has been there all along.
A lot of the progress has had to do with our willingness.
NOT that I am giving ANY credit to us...we deserve none.
Again, to GOD be all glory.
But, the point I am trying to make is this.
Much of the advances, development, and yes, even the breakthroughs we have seen, experienced, witnessed, and lived out have happened because we were finally brought to a place of willingness...to a place of total surrender....to a place of being compliant to step forward in faith and 
launch out into the deep, as He was asking us to do.
What startles me nearly speechless, is to think that we could have stayed where we were, indefinitely, through the paralysis that comes through our own lack of faith and unbelief.
We could have missed out on so much growth and so many blessings, if we had refused to move forward, at God's command.

He is faithful to send gentle urges to point us in the right direction...in the way in which He wants us to go.
He is faithful to even apply increased pressure, as we go along, trying His utmost to get our attention and further clarify the importance of our moving forward in a particular direction.
He will allow circumstances to intensify and light a fire under us, but He will not force us, against our will, to trust and obey Him the way He longs for us to.

As I think back over life, I just wonder how much I have, personally, missed out on,
because I dug in my heels and refused to live out a life of daring faith?

I'll be honest.
Many of the things God has asked of us have been difficult.
They have not even made sense, at different times.
When God gave us the word "Trust" as our "one word" for 2016,
we had no idea what all that would entail.

In our journey of trust, what I have found is that trust requires faith.
In order to place your trust in someone, there has to be at least a measure of faith 
in that person and their integrity to do what they say they will.
When Jesus told Peter to "launch out into the deep", Peter had to exercise a certain amount of faith and belief that Jesus would deliver on His promise of a great draught of fish if only Peter would position himself in the place Jesus specified.
Had Peter frozen in fear and refused to launch, he would never have received the fish.
The fish were not going to jump out of the water and land themselves in Peter's net inside his boat.
The fish were out in the deep, and the only way they would ever become the property of Peter,
was for Peter to follow Jesus' command, (even though it made NO sense, since he had been fishing all night and caught zero fish), and launch out to the place where the fish were.

Jesus always knows where the fish are located.
Peter had to trust that.
Even though he, as a seasoned, professional fisherman, 
had probably fished that Gennesaret lake countless times and thought he knew everything there was to know about it,
Peter had to come to the realization that Jesus knew more about it than he did.
He had to acknowledge that Jesus saw not only above the surface of the water,
He saw what was out of sight, behind the scenes, and under the surface, too.

Even though there was no humanly logical reason for Peter to turn around and launch back out in to the deep and give Jesus' suggestion a try, Peter had to accept the Isaiah 55:8-9 epiphany that this wasn't about human logic....that human reasoning and the thoughts of God are worlds apart.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8,9

This, my friend, is where faith comes in.

Seeing what God has already done in our lives is giving me a completely fresh, never-before-experienced level of inspiration to believe God for MORE.
There are mountains remaining in our lives...mountains that we cannot move on our own.
Obstacles that still stand in our way.
Impassable seas that need to be parted in order for us to progress yet even farther.

If God has done all He has already done, why would I think He cannot do the rest?
Is there anything in His Word that says once we have reached a certain level of blessings,
the blessings have to stop, and we just have to accept life at that level and be content with it,
when there are still mountains that need to be moved?
Does God ever do a half-way, unfinished job?
Does He give less than our faith takes Him for?

JESUS, Himself said this,
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Matthew 7:7-11

The first word is A-S-K.
A     - ask
S   - seek
K - knock

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."
John 16:23,24

As I survey all God has done, the nothing-short-of-miracles He has performed in our lives,
the bondage He has broken, the deliverance He has brought,
the thought occurs to me that we haven't seen anything yet.

A God with power so vast!
How can I doubt Him for what I still need?

Is God's arm shortened?
Is His power restricted?

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear..."
Isaiah 59:1

When we started out in 2016, we were in a very different place...
physically, financially, spiritually, and yes, geographically.
We were under a lot of oppression.
Fear stood in our path.
Intimidation by satan held us paralyzed.
Everything felt uncertain, except the certainty that change was coming.
And, in the midst of this, God spoke.
And, though His command was hard to follow,
and though some of what He was asking did not align itself with human reasoning,
we mustered mustard seed faith...not a drop more, I'm ashamed to say,
but a mustard seed portion was all that was required.
We launched out into the deep, in varying, progressive levels,
until we reached waters that were Ezekiel 47:5 deep.

"Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over."
Ezekiel 47:5

Our launching landed us in a before-undiscovered level of depth of what it means to trust God.
Our feet can no longer touch bottom.
He has had us to "let down our nets"...the safety nets that we clung to for security, stability, and sameness, and in our letting down of nets, 
we have discovered a draught of His blessings and provision.
As we have steadily turned loose of our own "adequacy" and there is less self on board continually hindering Him, we have found Him to be exceedingly enough.

God is a jealous God.
He does not want to compete with anyone else, including ourselves, for our dependence.
He wants us to walk life reliant upon Him.

All along the way, He has pointed out "idols" in our lives...things that we have turned to for what we should have been relying upon Him to provide in HIS way.
As He shines light, we must let go of our own illusion of self-sufficiency.
This journey has required us to forsake house and land, to let go of a vast percentage of our physical belongings, and to walk forward from a place of familiarity,
not knowing for sure where we were going, not yet knowing for sure where the journey will end.

God is teaching us to trust in Him for our physical needs,
our spiritual sustenance, and our financial provision.
To try to hold on to our own devices and our own nets of safety is counter productive to living by faith.
As long as we cling to our own back-up plans, we are not fully trusting God.

As humans, we don't like feeling dependent.
As a child, I grew up in what was near-poverty, and this foundation made me bound and determined to be fiercely independent as an adult.
It made me want to work hard and make sure and certain I was in charge.
God has had a time working with me and teaching me that I am not in charge.
He is, and He is fully capable of being THE All-in-All that we need...
that He does not need my self-contrived buffers, safeguards, and preventive measures kept in place,
"just in case" He doesn't do things when and how I think He should.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight..."
2 Corinthians 5:7

Tracing the hand of God and watching how He has navigated our path inspires me, dear friends.
It makes me see that it absolutely pays to mind God.
That God is true to His Word.
That He will not let you fall, if you fling yourself out upon the tide of His holy, Divine will
and dare to trust Him fully.

Though this journey towards minimalism and trust and living by faith may not make sense to anyone else around, I have never, in all my years of serving the Lord, known with such clear, decisive certainty that we are right in the center of God's perfect will.
This is the place of true peace, shut out from what the world calls "normal".

We can make the choice to follow Jesus and turn a deaf ear to what the world says our lives have to look like, and what the world says our lives have to look like is rarely, if ever, in alignment with what God wants us to do.

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4

Faith is building, as we see how God is taking care of us.
As we follow His path, however radical it happens to be when compared with the way of the world,
He is continually proving His faithfulness to us.
And His faithfulness to us is the very thing that is growing our faith in Him.

He has truly taken us from one level of faith to another this year.

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: 
as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
Romans 1:17

From faith to faith...isn't that where He wants to continue to take each one of us?
Are there not still, yet, vast numbers of levels of faith, undiscovered?
Is it possible to exhaust the power of God?

Seeing all He has done, gives me a new sense of boldness when approaching His throne.
It gives me increased, audacious courage to A-S-K...for more.
So, do you know what I am doing, as we approach the first day of 2017?

I am making a list of things I want to see God do in our lives during this new year.
Some may look at my list and call me crazy.
They may think I am being too daring.
That I am asking too much of Him.
That, after all God has already done for us, I should be content and stop asking.
That it would be excessive and extravagant for me to believe God wants to do more.
Satan would say that I am setting myself up for utter defeat and disappointment.
He would say that I don't deserve anything more from God...
that I have made far too many mistakes, that I have fallen too far short of God's glory,
that God would never overlook my past failures and give me the desires of my heart.
Satan is a liar.

When speaking of satan, Jesus said,
"He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:43,44

I choose to believe my Father in Heaven and the many promises He has made,
than to listen to satan's pack of lies for one more minute.
For too many years, I have lived cowering, believing his lies, instead of embracing the real truth of God's Word.
For far too many years, I have allowed the thief of unbelief to rob me of blessings God has wanted to bestow.
I have read about the people in the Bible who refused to have faith and believe, and I have judged them, even though I was following in their footsteps.

"So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Hebrews 3:19

I have often wondered how many people in Jesus' hometown missed out on healing,
deliverance from demon possession, and other miracles, because they allowed their unbelief to stand in the way of the mighty things Jesus so longed to do for them.
There He was, Almighty God personified, standing right in front of them, in a body of flesh and bone, holding within His grasp the power for every, single thing they needed,
and yet, He was so hindered because they would not believe.

"And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
Matthew 13:58

Seeing what God has already done has vastly increased my faith.
It has accelerated my boldness to approach His throne and lay out my petitions at His feet,
unashamed and with full knowledge that I have been invited to do so.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

Dear friend, what do you need?
What is most pressing upon your heart, as you watch 2016 come to a close?
Which desires of your heart, in particular, have not yet been granted?
Are there burdens you started out with at the onset of this year that you are still carrying today?
Is there an immovable mountain in your path?
Perhaps there is an impassable situation that looms in front of you as large as the Red Sea.
Maybe there is something that seems too big for God to change, 
and because of its size and gravity, you haven't even dared to ask Him to.

I want to encourage you to pick up your shield of faith with a new and emboldened passion,
to recklessly abandon fear, doubt, and unbelief, and to grasp hold of a new level of faith,
to make a list of all of the things you need from God,
and, then, my friend, I encourage you to ask.
"...ye have not, because ye ask not."
James 4:2

Don't hold back a second longer.

Let's dare to believe God in 2017, as we have never believed Him before.
Let's open our minds to the possibility that He really does want to bless us this year,
that the blessings of the past were sent to us to move us from one level of faith to another,
that He wants to continue to build upon those blocks of faith with consistent increase,
that the best is not behind us, but ahead of us in this new year.

Are you sick?
God still heals.

"I am the LORD that healeth thee."
Exodus 15:26

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed."
I Peter 2:24

Are you in need?
God still provides.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:25-33

"And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:"
Deuteronomy 28:13

Are you discouraged?
God is still our refuge.

"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble."
Psalm 9:9

"Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow..."
Psalm 146:7-9

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
I Peter 5:7

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

Let's approach 2017 with faith, instead of fear.
Let's believe in the God of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, David, Daniel, Esther, Peter, and Paul...
the very same God Who has brought us, personally, through so much already.
Let's take the plunges God is asking us to take and launch yet even further out into the deep of trusting Him and His plan.
Let's toss unbelief aside and dare to take Him at His Word, dear friends.
Let's just see how many of those items on our list can will be crossed off by December 31, 2017,
if God spares time and life.

He has already done His part.
His promises have been made.

"For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
2 Corinthians 1:20

His Word is out.
It will not return unto Him void.

"So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:11

"God will be everything to us that our faith will take him for"....
sounds like a lot of this is going to be up to you...and to me...and just how much we are willing to trust, obey, and believe.

24 comments:

  1. CHeryl, so very well said.. Faith......... The most wonderful thing.. If only I would remember this more. thank you so much for the wonderful lesson.
    Pray you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and that Lord bless each of you this upcoming new year.. Hugs, Judy

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    1. Thank you so much, Judy. Oh, my, I surely know what you mean! I am far too much like the Old Testament characters who so quickly seemed to forget all God had done for them each time they were up against a new struggle. May the dear Lord bless you and your family in the new year, too. Sending you love and hugs and gratitude for the encouragement you are to me!

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  2. Thank you for this very encouraging post, Cheryl! May God bless you and your family abundantly in 2017. It's wonderful to know God is faithful.

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    1. Amen, and amen, sweet friend! He is ever faithful to His trusting children. God bless you and your dear family in the new year, Bethany!

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  3. Faith is to believe when your common sense tells you not to.

    God bless.

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    1. That is a wonderful way of wording it, Victor! God bless you and your family in the new year, my friend. :)

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  4. Beautiful written! Amman Amman.
    Good certainly knows what we need in our lives to strengthen our faith, but are we obediently willing to listen and yield to the working and leading of the Spirit?
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

    God bless you, dear lady~~

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    1. How true, Debbie...are we obediently willing to listen and yield to the working and leading of the Spirit? I think too often our human reasoning gets in the way of our willingness. God bless you and your precious family in the new year, sweet friend!

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  5. yes yes yes! This post drew me in just by the title. I love the verses you shared too

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Caroline! I trust 2017 is the year of your personal miracle, my friend!

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  6. Thanks for sharing these encouraging words. May we each see the more of God in the coming year.

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    1. Thank you so much, Wanda! Yes, may our hearts and eyes be wide open to God as never before. God bless you with a wonderfully blessed new year, my friend!

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  7. Dearest Cheryl,
    thanks most sincerely for another inspired and inspiring post of yours, bringing so much solace and joy to my heart, blessed be !
    In the hope that you and yours had a wonderful Christmas Day, I'm wishing you all many blessings for your New Year ahead.

    Thinking of you with so much love and gratitude

    Xx Dany

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    1. Dear Dany! It is always such a dear blessing when you stop by here! I do trust your Christmas was abundantly blessed, and may God just pour out the richness of His grace upon you all through the new year. Sending you much love and hugs from the USA, sweet friend!

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  8. Cheryl, have you ever felt like you are on the mountain top with Jesus, then you turn around for 10 or 15 minutes and plunge over the cliff and are hanging on for dear life calling for the Shepherd to come and rescue you again?
    This morning I woke up with a particularly worshipful heart, and I guess I must have been a little too joyful, because the enemy blindsided me. Thanks for this post and the reminder that God alone is Lord; I have to obey Him no matter what others may do or say. He is my God and there is no other.
    Thanks for pointing out that He can see "what (is) out of sight, behind the scenes, and under the surface".
    We can still ask, seek, and knock in the name of Jesus and be assured that He hears us.

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    1. Yes, my friend, I have felt that very same way...multiple times. I am SO sorry you are going through this, and I trust you are finding His presence especially sweet through this trial. Sending you much love and many blessings, Ruth. God bless you in a special way!

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  9. It is always encouraging to look back over the past and see how God was faithful! I was blessed last night when our Pastor reminded us that God's Word never fails, and that He keeps every word of every promise. What a comfort that is as we enter a new year, with all its unknowns and uncertainties.

    Hope 2017 is a great year for you!!

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    1. Amen, and amen! Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement, Tracey. God bless you in 2017, also, my friend!

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  10. what a comprehensive, rich, inspiring reminder of the power of faith and God's promises..I will print this out and read over and over again as I have sensed God call me to 'walk on water' this year which is the most terrifying call because I've had some years of paralysis about certain aspects of my vocation..this spoke to me deeply! Thank you..I think I figured out my word this year..Faith..yes..beautiful.

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    1. Oh, bless your heart! Thank you for your precious encouragement, and I am so thankful to the dear Lord that this ministered to you! May GOD just give you the courage to step forward in faith, in spite of all fear, and take the launch He is asking you to take. Oh, FAITH! What an excellent word for this beautiful new year! I am SO encouraged by your visit, Kathy! God bless you. :)

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  11. So often we are content to wade in ankle deep in the River of Life, when God says to launch out into the deep and swim. It is time to claim that verse in Ezekiel 47:5 "Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over." Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Oh, I love that passage of Scripture you quoted. That is the very portion of Scripture God gave me last year, as we were making successive launches of faith. Oh, my, you get out in those waters that are to swim in and a river that can not be passed over, and I'll tell you what...you learn what it really means to trust when your feet can no longer touch bottom. Thank you for your dear encouragement, Hazel.

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  12. Beautiful post Cheryl!

    The Lord is definitely working on change in me this year, and your post just added confirmation to that. As I've shared many times, I tend to be fearful and at 56 I don't want to look back and regret how much of God's time I wasted because I was paralyzed in fear. I just started reading the book Fear Fighting and I can tell it is going to be a life changing book reminding me how to "do life with God" where there is no fear. I want to live the abundant life God has promised me in His Word, but like you said, that won't happen if I refuse to move when He says go.

    I've always loved the verse that speaks about us going from "faith to faith" Because for me, I too often go from "worry to worry".

    Your insights are always so humble and extremely edifying. Iron sharpening Iron.

    I leave here feeling refreshed and courageous for 2017. Thank you dear friend. With much love,

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    1. Bless your dear heart, Karen! I SO appreciate you and your precious encouragement to me. I trust God will abundantly bless you. Sending you much love and many blessings!

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