I was reading some from Stormie Omartian’s book, Praying God’s Will for Your Life, this week. She said this: “Faith is obedience. Faith is a gift from God because He enables us to believe.”
Then she went on to say, What if this Jesus thing is all a hoax? I thought to myself in horror one day nearly two years after I accepted Christ as Savior. What if none of it’s true? What if the pastor suddenly says, “This is all a joke, and you fell for it! Jesus isn’t real and you’re not really saved!”
That day a wall of doubt settled around me like steel bars separating me from my future. The possibility of a life of nothingness became a temporary reality, and I panicked. What brought this on all of a sudden? I wondered. I struggled with that flash of doubt for days, and the more I thought about it, the more unhappy I became. I knew I had to reevaluate everything.
What was your life like before you met Jesus? I asked myself.
I was dying inside, I replied. How did you feel?
I questioned further. Full of pain, hopelessness and fear, I answered.
Are things better now? Much. What’s different?
I don’t feel depressed, fearful or hopeless, I answered.
When did that change?
When I received Jesus, I started to feel better.
Your experience with the Lord was real? I asked.
Well, yes, I think so.
Then what’s your problem? I asked.
The problem is I can’t prove that Jesus is real.
Can you prove that He isn’t?
No, I answered.
Well, then it looks like the choice is up to you, doesn’t it? To believe or not to believe. It’s your decision.
It’s my decision, I answered.
Okay, then. Weighing the quality of my life before I met Jesus against the quality of my life since then, I choose to believe Him.
Are you sure? I asked.
Yes. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
This little scenario happened five or six times in the first ten years of my walk with the Lord. In retrospect, I believe it occurred in busy and stressful times when I had not spent enough time in the Word of God or had neglected being alone with the Lord in prayer and praise. Eventually I realized that sending a doubting spirit to torment us is one of the devil’s favorite tactics.”
Faith is a spiritual muscle that needs to be exercised in order to prevent atrophy, which makes our entire spiritual being weak. Faith is first a decision, then an exercise in obedience, and then a gift from God as it is multiplied. Our first step of faith is taken when we decide we will receive Jesus. After that, every time we decide to trust the Lord for anything, we build that faith. And whenever we decide not to trust Him, we tear it down. Faith is our daily decision to trust God.
The Bible says, Romans 14:23 – “Whatever is not from faith is sin.”
How much clearer can it be? Like Stormie Omartian says, “Faith is obedience. Doubt is disobedience. Faith is a gift from God because He enables us to believe, but we have to obey by building on that faith.”
Scripture also says that a person who doubts is unstable in every way and cannot please God. If that’s true, spiritual well-being is not possible without faith. To bolster your own faith, read through the 15 characteristics of faith.
15 Characteristics of Faith
- Faith is a choice.
- Faith is a step of obedience.
- Faith is a spiritual exercise.
- Faith is taking God at His word.
- Faith is saying yes to God.
- Faith is looking to Jesus for everything.
- Faith is knowing we are never without hope.
- Faith is what lifts us out of our circumstances.
- Faith is not holding anything back from God.
- Faith is being obedient even if we don’t feel like it.
- Faith is a gift from God as we read His Word.
- Faith is knowing that everything will work out.
- Faith is a way out of our limitations.
- Faith is the mother of hope.
- Faith is the road to peace.
How do we start building faith? Once we have a little, how do we get more? The first step is to be totally open and honest about any doubt in God’s ability or His faithfulness to provide for our every need. Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams He would not stand by us.”
Doubt emanates from a lie of the enemy, which says God is not all-powerful. If you’ve listened to this lie, confess it as sin.
The next step is to fill your mind with the Word: Romans 10:17 –“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
Reading the Word daily, regularly submitting to Bible teaching, and speaking the Word aloud will build faith. Your mouth and heart have to be united in this. One can’t be saying, “God can,” while the other says, “God can’t.” Your mind will convince your heart as you read or speak God’s Word.
Whenever I’m afraid or doubt that my life is secure, I read the Bible until I sense God’s peace in me. The more I read the more hope I have. Then, when I pray, I’m confident that God will answer my prayers.
Even if you are not given to fear and doubt, you can be attacked by a spirit of doubt, as I was. When that happens, don’t carry it by yourself. Take it to the Lord immediately. Or ask a mature believer to pray with you if you need to.
Sensing your own limitations doesn’t mean you don’t have faith. Feeling that God has limitations is what indicates a lack of faith. When faith has blossomed, it gives birth to hope, and says, “There is an end to this. I won’t be in this situation forever. I won’t always feel like this. I won’t always hurt.” Hope and faith together give you a vision for your life. The Bible says of the people who could not go into the Promised Land, Hebrews 3:19 – “They could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Don’t let that happen to you. Choose to enter in to all that God has for you by taking this important step of obedience!
As Oswald Chambers prayed, “Lord, I have made a decision to follow You. I know You hear my prayers even if I don’t see the answers right away. No matter what happens, I am certain that I am not without hope. I have faith, but, Lord, strengthen my faith where it is weak.”
If you wobble in your faith, you’re not alone. And, you don’t have to stay there. We can bolster our faith. We can start today! Let’s get into the Word and pray and be confident that our faith is growing!