More Than a Feeling

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Psalms 11:3

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True faith is more than a feeling.  Our feelings change but the foundation of our faith never changes.  That’s not to say we can’t change our opinions, of course we can.  I once believed drinking alcohol in any fashion was sin, but I no longer hold to that opinion. I once believed only conservative, evangelical baptists were truly “saved” and “heaven-bound;” thank God, those blinders have been removed and my narrowed vision, widened.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Paul is saying as we grow we change.  As we grow in Christ, our personal convictions may change over the years, and that’s okay.  We shouldn’t be so rigid in our opinions that we become hardened to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus once asked his disciples, ” Are your hearts hardened? Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear and listen [to what I have said]?”  I hate to say this, but it seems to me, the disciples could be rather dense, but to be fair, I suppose we all are, in some areas; especially when it comes to being “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.  Most of us only want to be “hearers” and then “tellers” of the Word.  It’s so easy to skip the “doing” part.  

Anyway, much of the time, the disciples,  just didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say. Why?  I believe it was partly because their hearts had been hardened by their own preconceived ideas and selfish desires.  When we assume we already know what’s right or what’s wrong it becomes hard for our spiritual eyes to see or our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.  It is so important that our hearts remain tender to the voice of God. We should ask him everyday to give us understanding hearts that are receptive to His Spirit. 

So, have I lost my faith because I no longer believe everything taught to me as a child?  Of course not. Do I have to be “right” in all my opinions to have true faith.  Absolutely not. When it’s all said and done my faith rests on this one simple concept:  My God loves me.  No matter how I feel, no matter my interpretation of “certain” passages of scripture, and no matter what I perceive to be or not to be sin, this one thing is ever constant; God loves me.  (And you should know that He loves you too!)  The fact, God loves us, should be rooted within our inner most being, and should be the foundation, upon which, everything else is built upon.

I John 4:19 tells us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  When a person truly realizes just how much God loves them, they can’t help but fall madly in love with Him.  It doesn’t happen overnight because it takes us time to grasp the full spectrum of God’s love; However, the more we meditate and dwell in God’s love the more we grow to love him. Jesus says in John 15:9, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”  He admonishes us to abide [live] in His love for good reason.  In the very next verse he says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”   And so, the benefit of abiding in God’s love is joy, and the proof that we are abiding in God’s love is our love for others.

Oswald Chambers suggests that our faith must be tried and tested through the “everyday realities of life,” and until that occurs, our faith is  only sustained by feelings and blessings. How easy it is to have faith when there’s an abundant supply of God’s blessings in our life. Or when our emotions are quickened, so much so, that we feel on fire for God.  How strong we feel in our faith during those times!  I love those mountain top experiences.  Don’t you?

But, what do we do when all of that is stripped away? What happens when God’s blessings are ripped from our lives?  What happens when we feel alone and it seems that God is no where to be found?  If our faith is based on our feelings, then we are left naked, bare, and of men, most miserable.

David in Psalms 11:3 laments, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The key word from David’s question is “foundations.”  What or who is the foundation of our faith?  Is it a feeling, or is it Christ?

It’s a law of physics, (or should be if not) when the foundation crumbles the house will fall. There’s a song I used to sing as child about two men who built, for themselves a house.  The foolish man built his house upon sand and when the stormy rains came, the foundation was swept away and his house fell.  The wise man, built his house upon a rock and when the stormy rains came, his house withstood and stayed firm upon the rock.  The lesson, of course, being, make sure you build your faith upon the right foundation, because the storms will come and our faith will be tested.   It is inevitable.  Of this, Oswald Chambers writes, “But once we get there [the trying of our faith], no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.”

Faith placed in God’s love will never fail because God’s love for us never changes.   Even during the hardest of times, when we “feel” all is lost, we can know our faith stands, because faith is more than a feeling.  Feelings change with the wind, but God never changes, and because He never changes our faith remains when all else fails.

Each trial, of our faith, makes us stronger.  James 1:3-4, Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”  

What does, all of  this mean, and how can we, actually apply it in our daily life?

We can, and should, exercise our faith, and it would be wise to do it before we have to face the “big trials and tribulations.”  Our faith is tested, in small ways, every day, and if we are conscious of this, we can exercise our faith and it will begin to grow on a daily basis.  From Charisma Magazine, Joyce Meyer, writes,

“Faith can grow, but it only grows when we use it. It’s like a muscle. The way you build a bigger muscle is through effort—you have to use it.  As it grows, you have to use heavier weights or exercises that require greater effort to keep it growing.

It’s the same way with our faith. We put our faith in God to get through a challenge or trial, and later on, another harder trial comes along. Eventually we find that things that used to bother us or were hard to deal with aren’t a problem for us anymore because our faith has grown.”

Faith, like our muscles, grow when when exercised.  How do we exercise our faith? Well, here are some practical ways in which I try to exercise my faith on a daily basis…

  • Start early.  In the mornings, before I roll our to bed, I try to remember to spend a few moments with God.  It can be as simple as telling him “good morning” or thanking him for a safe night.  Maybe, I’ll use this time to ask for guidance, or better yet, just to tell him how much I love him.  The key point is to acknowledge God early in your day.
  • Commit to having a thankful heart.  I try to be conscious and thankful for the little things that make my life better. Such things as, having a bathroom in which all I have to do is use and flush.  Some don’t have that luxury.  In the mornings, I enjoy coffee in my cup, butter on my toast and wind-chimes playing in the breeze.  God gives us these things because He loves us and He wants us to enjoy our life.  Since it’s so easy to take these things for granted, I try to, “on purpose” commit to having a thankful attitude throughout my day.
  • Resist temptation.  Be aware of the little things that trip us up.   The Song of Solomon warns us it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines.”  Just to name a few of the “little foxes” we all need to be wary of:  Our thought life…Are our thoughts positive or negative?  Are they moral or immoral?  Our love life…How am I treating my spouse?  My children?  Or the driver who cut me off in traffic?  Our eating habits…Am I going to stop eating when I’m full or will I go for round two?  Do I make wise choices in the kinds of foods I eat?  Am I sensitive to God’s voice in this matter or do I just go with my cravings, and eat whatever I want?  Taking care of the body God gave you…  Do I exercise?  What if I don’t feel like taking that walk?  Do I give in to my feelings or do I exercise my faith and just do it?  Laziness…Do I clean my house or stay on Facebook?  (Ouch)  How much do I give in to procrastination?  (Double Ouch)  Our mouth…What comes out of my mouth?  Do I praise God or do I brag about myself?  Am I “haughty” in my speech, or do I try to use humility?  Am I gossiping? Do my words lift up or tear down?
  • Live out the word.  The only way we can do this is to read God’s word.  I try to set aside a time each day to do this, even if it’s only five minutes.  Sometimes, we become legalistic and try to commit to so many chapters or so many hours a day. That’s never worked for me, in fact, it only served to keep me away from God’s word. Reading God’s word shouldn’t be a burden.  We should go to his word with the expectation of God speaking.  It doesn’t take God a whole chapter to speak to us; sometimes one verse will suffice.  We just need to listen to him and follow his guidance
  • Listen to God.  Ask God to make your heart tender to his voice.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  Of course he speaks through his word but he also uses people and circumstances to convey his will to us.  He has given us his Holy Spirit which communes with our hearts, that’s why it’s important to ask God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts, so we may hear.  Ask God to speak and then listen expectantly.
  • Remain in the spirit of prayer.    I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  Prayer doesn’t really consist of being on your knees and keeping your eyes closed. Prayer is simply talking to God and this can be done quietly in our mind.  Talk to God often throughout your day.  We can talk to God anywhere and during any situation.  When an ambulance passes, ask God to help that one in need.  When someone asks for prayer, pray for them right then and there within your heart. Sometimes, when I’m looking for a parking space, I’ll say to God, “Lord, it sure would be awesome to find a good parking space…”  When I’m nervous about something, I simply say to God, “Help me, Lord.”  Psalms 46:1 tells us God is, “a very present help” in our time of need.  “Help me” is probably the simplest but best prayer we can pray through out the day.

Every time we exercise our faith it becomes stronger.  The more we daily live our faith the better equipped we will be to face the harsh storms of life.  With our faith anchored in Christ, we can be certain our foundation will stand.  Sometimes we feel our faith, but sometimes we do not.  No worries, my friend, because our faith is much more than a feeling!

My Prayer:  Father, help me to walk in faith, throughout my day.  Keep my heart tender to your voice.  Help me, not only to hear your word but to live it as well.  Jesus, I accept your peace; show me how to walk in it.  May I love all those around me just as you have loved me.  All praise, honor and glory belong to you, Jesus.  Amen.

...our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life…Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life._____ Oswald Chambers

(This is a publication of “Walk Through Psalms” series)

(Also in participation of Devotional Friday Event  and Scripture Sabbath Challenge )

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