Thursday 7 June 2012

Faith - I need more faith

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Faith is like flying gracefully against the wind.

Let Faith Do The Work

Watching over the bay on a windy day, I observed how easy it was for a seagull to glide against the strong wind without flapping its wings. I saw other birds vigorously flapping their wings in an attempt to move against the wind. The wind was too strong for them in some instances, so instead of gaining ground, they lost some. Observing the seagull gracefully glide compared to the awkward attempt by the other birds flying against the wind brought faith into my mind. 

So many Christians attempt to apply faith to their lives in a time of difficulties. However, some end up struggling to the point of discouragement and fall short of rising above. The emotional feeling is more of a battle to make faith work rather than to let faith do the work. 

"Believe me when I tell you, if your faith is only as big as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. You will be able to do anything,” Matthew 17:20 ERV

Some Christians are like birds that flap their wings hard and vigorously yet become tired and lose ground instead.  I was one of those birds and still am on occasion. My mind was full of anxiety, doubts, and fear. I wanted to believe, yet I failed miserably. I would not write this commentary unless I’ve learned an important lesson. This is not to put down Christians but primarily an exhortation. I share freely, as God intended all Christians to do.

Once in a while, we see a Christian going through life as if the wind was behind his/her back when, in fact, the wind is strongly against him/her. He/she mastered flying like a seagull going through all obstacles life throws at him/her. How does he/she do that? What makes this seagull so different from the other birds? 

What makes some Christians face life so differently than any other Christians? Is it all in the technique?

Ray Stedman explained it this way:
“Some seem able to learn it, and from time to time we see someone virtually come alive and their Christian life is simply transformed by learning to operate on this principle. They lose their egotism, as extroverts; or they lose their introverted feeling of self-consciousness...They begin to do things and to enjoy them, experiencing the blessing and excitement of Christian living. Others say, "I see all this, and I want to do it too. I know what is said about how to rest, but I try it and it doesn't work. Why? Why do we fail?”

What principles have they learned to apply? They learned to rest in the Lord, but how? This is where most Christians hit a hurdle. It is like an athlete who practices improving his/her skill yet has shown no improvement, no gain in performance. Why? Is it because he/she practices under the same principle and the same technique? 

In (1 Timothy 6:12(a)), we received this analogy: "Keeping your faith is like running a race.  (b) Try as hard as you can to win that race,"(ERV).  What does it consist of? An athlete is up early in the morning practicing all day long, putting great effort to follow precisely the instruction given, yet by the end of the day no gain, no personal record broken. So many athletes believe they have reached their full potential and accept the status quo. But then, this one athlete refuses the status quo and will question the technique and look elsewhere for resources.

This is why some Christians fall into a rut. They keep applying the same principle taught over and over again without showing any improvement in their Christian lives, living a defeated life as if it was intended to be, according to God’s will. I myself experience being stuck in a rut. 

Some are exemplary Christians; nonetheless, they are not at rest. When life conditions challenge them, they feel defeated, and some burn out. The feeling of abandonment is great, and rejection from God sinks in. They question everything, and many doubt their salvation status and seek answers. They consult, only to be told to keep on going, double the effort, and blame Satan for causing these defeated feelings.

James described these Christians has to be like waves of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. They are double-minded Christians, unstable in all their ways (James 1:5-8).  Doubts cause them to be unstable.  I know! I was exactly like that and still am on some occasions.  

What caused me to doubt? I doubted due to the principles that I lived by.

Ray Stedman described a Christian living a defeated life:

“I'm afraid most of us fit the self-description of someone who said he was a mouse studying to be a rat. By our best efforts we can rise to a high level of mediocrity -- inadequate, unable. Why? Simply because we are depending on our effort. We are either extroverts, confident that we can do things and therefore frequently falling flat on our face; or we are introverts, so afraid to try anything that we don't even dare show our face. It is all because we are looking to ourselves as our resource; our background, our training, our gifts, our talents, our education, etc. It either results in feeling that we have what it takes and can be confident, able, and powerful; or, as we look at ourselves we say, we don't have what it takes and therefore we can't take it and we won't even try. So, we become either over-confident and under-equipped, or under-confident and overworked, trying constantly to make up by activity what we lack in results.”
Does this describe a bird attempting to fly against the wind? Is this what life is to you, a constant struggle? Is it time that you question the principles you are constantly applying daily? Some of those principles are taught in some churches (not all). This is one of the reasons I am so against some church denominations' “Statement of Belief.” It’s served its purpose to guide its members; unfortunately, the “Statement of Belief” becomes a cap to further understanding God’s word. Most “Statement of Belief” has never been reviewed since the church's foundation.

 A messenger from God instructed Daniel that knowledge will increase at the end of time (Daniel 12:4). We are instructed to seek God and learn from Him. Doesn't the bible teach that we wrestle against principalities, (Ephesians 6:12), against the wrong technique that we were made to believe that if applied correctly we will have victory over all hurdles? Wrong principalities have crept into the body of Christ- its foundation nonetheless; many are unchallenged.

In many cases, it is not the church leaders' fault but the members who are benchwarmers and refuse to apply the good teachings of their ministers or pastors.

In my commentary title, “What kind of truth do you want God’s word to be?” I point out that most Christians are victims of their own demise. Most Christians do not question what is being taught or live by. What principalities and beliefs had they accepted as God’s word when actually it is not?  For example, “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the bible. Another one is, “Faith and obey to keep your salvation,” which is also not in the bible. Both statements implied that work (a condition) is needed either to gain and keep your salvation or work is required to have your prayers answered. How many pay tithes to buy favour from God? How many people promise to do something for God if their prayers are answered?

Some Christians will even quote you that “faith by itself if it does not have works, is dead,” (James 2:17).  What is misunderstood is that it is a faith that produces work, not the other way around; works that produces faith. As pointed out in (1 Thessalonians 1:3), “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even with this understanding, most of us will pray and ask God for His intervention, yet do not wait. Most of us will act like Sarah, Abraham's wife, taking the matter into her own hands, guessing God’s will. This is where the wrong principle, “God helps those who help themselves,” is applied. The Bible is specific. It instructs us to wait on the Lord. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him,” (Lamentations 3:25) and “Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him,” (Isaiah 30:18).

The specific reason why God wants all Christians to wait is so that no one can boast of their own works that they received His blessing. To wait on the Lord is to show the world, your friends, and family members that it is God who did all the work.  God wants you to testify by doing nothing but wait on Him. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith,” Romans 3:27

The Perfect Law of Faith

To see the perfect law of faith at work, we are to go to the Old Testament, in the Book of 1 Samuel, chapter 17. David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, was the youngest of all his sons. Let us take the time to read the whole story. This is a commentary.  It is not a daily devotional study.  This is for Christians who seriously want to make a difference in their life. Therefore, it is important to view this lesson from all perspectives. The ERV will be used to make it easy to read. As you read, please look for David's motive in battling Goliath and what gives him the assurance of victory.

1 Samuel 17 - Goliath vs. David

1 The Philistines gathered their armies together for war. They met at Socoh in Judah. Their camp was between Socoh and Azekah, at a town called Ephes Dammim.

2 Saul and the Israelite soldiers also gathered together. Their camp was in the Valley of Elah. Saul’s soldiers were lined up and ready to fight the Philistines. 

3 The Philistines were on one hill. The Israelites were on the other hill. The valley was between them.

4 The Philistines had a champion fighter named Goliath, who was from Gath. He was over 9 feet tall. Goliath came out of the Philistine camp. 

5 He had a bronze helmet on his head. He wore a coat of armor that was made like the scales on a fish. This armor was made of bronze and weighed about 125 pounds.  

6 Goliath wore bronze protectors on his legs. He had a bronze javelin tied on his back. 

7 The wooden part of his spear was as big as a weaver’s rod. The spear’s blade weighed 15 pounds. Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying Goliath’s shield.

8 Each day Goliath would come out and shout a challenge to the Israelite soldiers. He would say, “Why are all of your soldiers lined up ready for battle? You are Saul’s servants. I am a Philistine. So choose one man and send him to fight me. 
9 If that man kills me, he wins and we Philistines will become your slaves. But if I kill your man, then I win, and you will become our slaves. You will have to serve us.”

10 The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel. I dare you to send me one of your men and let us fight.”

11 Saul and the Israelite soldiers heard what Goliath said, and they were very afraid.

12  David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was from the Ephrathah family in Bethlehem, Judah. Jesse had eight sons. In Saul’s time Jesse was an old man. 

13 Jesse’s three oldest sons went with Saul to the war. The first son was Eliab, the second was Abinadab, and the third was Shammah. 

14 David was the youngest son. The three oldest sons were in Saul’s army, 

15 but David left Saul from time to time to take care of his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 The Philistine came out every morning and evening and stood before the Israelite army. Goliath insulted Israel like this for 40 days.

17 One day Jesse said to his son David, “Take this basket of cooked grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers in the camp. 

18 Also take these ten pieces of cheese for the officer who commands your brothers’ group of 1000 soldiers. See how your brothers are doing. Bring back something to show me your brothers are all right. 

19 Your brothers are with Saul and all the Israelite soldiers in the Valley of Elah. They are there to fight against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning, David had another shepherd take care of the sheep while he took the food and left as Jesse had told him to. David drove their wagon to the camp. The soldiers were going out to their battle positions just as David arrived. The soldiers began shouting their war cry. 

21 The Israelites and Philistines were lined up and ready for battle.

22 David left the food with the man who kept supplies. Then he ran to the place where the Israelite soldiers were and asked about his brothers. 

23 While David was talking with his brothers, the Philistine champion fighter came out from the Philistine army. This was Goliath, the Philistine from Gath. Goliath shouted things against Israel as usual. David heard what he said.

24 The Israelite soldiers saw Goliath and ran away. They were all afraid of him. 

25 One of the Israelite men said, “Did you see that man? Look at him! He comes out each day and makes fun of Israel. Whoever kills him will get rich. King Saul will give him a lot of money. Saul will also let his daughter marry the man who kills Goliath. He will also make that man’s family free from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What did he say? What is the reward for killing this Philistine and taking away this shame from Israel? Who is this Goliath anyway? He is only some foreigner, nothing but a Philistine. Why does he think he can speak against the army of the living God?”

27 So the Israelite told David about the reward for killing Goliath. 

28 David’s oldest brother Eliab heard David talking with the soldiers and became angry. Eliab asked David, “Why did you come here? Who did you leave those few sheep with in the desert? I know why you came down here. You didn’t want to do what you were told to do. You just wanted to come down here to watch the battle.”

29 David said, “What did I do now? I didn’t do anything wrong! I was only talking.” 

30 He turned to some other people and asked them the same questions. They gave him the same answers as before.

31 Some men heard David talking. They took David to Saul and told him what David had said. 

32 David said to Saul, “People shouldn't let Goliath discourage them. I am your servant. I will go fight this Philistine.”

33 Saul answered, “You can’t go out and fight against this Philistine. You’re not even a soldier! Goliath has been fighting in wars since he was a boy.”

34 But David said to Saul, “There were times when I was taking care of my father’s sheep that wild animals came to take some sheep from the flock. Once there was a lion and another time, a bear. 

35 I chased that wild animal, attacked it, and took the sheep from its mouth. The wild animal jumped on me, but I caught it by the fur under its mouth. And I hit it and killed it. 

36 I killed both a lion and a bear like that! And I will kill that foreigner, Goliath, just like them. Goliath will die because he made fun of the army of the living God. 

37 The LORD saved me from the lion and the bear. He will also save me from this Philistine.”  Saul said to David, “Go and may the LORD be with you.” 

38 Saul put his own clothes on David. He put a bronze helmet on David’s head and armor on his body. 

39 David put on the sword and tried to walk around. He tried to wear Saul’s uniform, but David was not used to all those heavy things.  David said to Saul, “I can’t fight in these things. I’m not used to them.” So David took them all off. 

40 He took his walking stick in his hand and went to find five smooth stones from the stream. He put the five stones in his shepherd’s bag and held his sling in his hand. Then he went out to meet the Philistine.

41 The Philistine slowly walked closer and closer to David. Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying a large shield. 

42 Goliath looked at David with disgust. He saw that David was only a handsome, healthy boy. 

43 Goliath said to David, “What is that stick for? Did you come to chase me away like a dog?” Then Goliath used the names of his gods to say curses against David. 
44 He said to David, “Come here, and I’ll feed your body to the birds and wild animals.”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come to me using sword, spear, and javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel. You have said bad things about him. 

46 Today the LORD will let me defeat you. I will kill you. I will cut off your head and feed your body to the birds and wild animals. And we will do the same thing to all the other Philistines too. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel. 

47 All the people gathered here will know that the LORD doesn’t need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to the LORD, and he will help us defeat all of you.”

48 Goliath the Philistine started to attack David. He slowly walked closer and closer toward David, but David ran out to meet Goliath.

49 David took out a stone from his bag. He put it in his sling and swung the sling. The stone flew from the sling and hit Goliath right between the eyes. The stone sank deep into his head, and Goliath fell to the ground—face down.

50 So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and one stone! He hit the Philistine and killed him. David didn’t have a sword, 

51 so he ran and stood beside the Philistine. Then David took Goliath’s own sword out of its sheath and used it to cut off his head. That is how David killed the Philistine.

 When the other Philistines saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 

52 The soldiers of Israel and Judah shouted and started chasing the Philistines. The Israelites chased them all the way to the city limits of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. They killed many of the Philistines. Their bodies were scattered along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. 

53 After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back to the Philistine camp and took many things from that camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he kept the Philistine’s weapons at home.

What made David so different in the Israeli army under Saul’s command? To David's brother Eliah, David was cocky, snotty, and full of himself. David kept asking the same question concerning the reward given to the one who would defeat Goliath. The king would offer his daughter to marry, the highest position of command within his army, and the victor’s parent would be exempted from all taxes. Wow! That last one would make a daddy proud.

Sources: MGB

What was David’s motive behind questioning the men facing the Philistine? Was David interested in the reward and receiving honor and glory? Let's read that verse 26 again: David asked the men standing near him, “What did he say? What is the reward for killing this Philistine and taking away this shame from Israel? Who is this Goliath anyway? He is only some foreigner, nothing but a Philistine. Why does he think he can speak against the army of the living God?”

As you can see, David was not interested in the reward. David was offended to hear Goliath insulting his God and God’s people. He loved so much the Lord that hearing Goliath speaking against the God of Israel made his blood boil in his veins. You should know how it felt to David. It felt the same as you feel when you hear someone swearing and using God's name in vain, doesn't it? Why did David keep questioning the men? I believe that is because David saw the fear in Saul’s army, the hopelessness, and the lack of conviction toward God of Israel.

Of the thousands of Saul soldiers, only David had the audacity to confront Goliath. David's faith was exceptional. Why was David's faith so different than all other soldiers? Did they not hear the same stories of what their God did to the Egyptians and to the inhabitants of the land promised to Abraham and his descendants? Yet these stories did not give any of them the courage to confront Goliath. Jack Kelly from hit the nail right on the head.  David had a purpose. This is how Jack explains it in his commentary titled David’s Story Part 1 by impersonating David:

“ Now before you accuse me of an excessive dose of youthful bravado, consider this. The Lord had sent Samuel to anoint me as Israel’s next king. Then he empowered me to kill a lion and a bear, showing me that he wouldn’t let anything happen to me before His promise came true.”

David's faith was based on God’s promise.  He believed that he had a purpose in life ordained by God. David believes in God’s words. He literally took God by His words.  He chose to believe. He took the decision to believe.  That is the principle that Christians are to apply. It is to make a commitment to trust in the Lord as He commanded in (Pr 3:5-6):


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

This is not a suggestion. It is a commandment to believe. It offended our Lord when the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. The consequence was 40 years in the desert until the unbelief generation died.

God’s mercy never fails. 

His grace endures forever.  Although they refused to trust the Lord, the Lord cared for all their needs for those 40 years.  The same Jesus is with His Church.  He takes care of each individual, no matter what level of faith each is experiencing. He will never forsake His own.  Once saved, we are always saved. Inasmuch Israel is God’s people to perpetual, so is anyone who, by an act of faith, believed that Jesus is the one sent by God to forgive our sins and believed that Jesus is God, that He died and bodily resurrected.

We are sealed with the presence of God’s spirit in us. (2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13). The Oxford Dictionary defines a seal as a device or substance that is used to join two things together to prevent them from coming apart, a design resembling a seal embossed in the paper as a guarantee of authenticity, and a thing regarded as a confirmation or guarantee of something.

Only Jesus has the heavenly authority to remove any seal (Revelation 5:5) or to ascribe a seal (Revelation 7:3, John 20:22). Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). We are at one with Jesus.

So, as much as Saul’s soldiers were of God’s army, no one trusted God. So it is among Christians where few commit by faith to trust Jesus in all parts of their life.  A seagull was taught young to fly gracefully against a strong wind. Few Christians, once born again, learned to trust in the Lord. Jesus commands us to learn from Him early in our Christian life so that we might be prepared to face the difficulties that life challenges us (Matthew 11:29). We are not like a seagull who learns by instinct. Yet, we have been given a teacher named the Holy Spirit to help us along the way (John 16:13). Enoch lived 365 years. He walked with the Lord for 300 years.  It took him 65 years to learn to trust God. Do you have 365 years to live? No, life is much shorter.

What is the wrong principle you are living by that keeps you from trusting God?  What causes you to doubt?  The consequences are that when a storm shows up in your life, you are too weak to fly in faith and, therefore, fail.  In your feeling of failure, you asked why God allowed difficulties in your life. You can’t have one foot in the church and the other in the secular society. The teaching principle of the secular society is 180 degrees opposite to Jesus' teaching. 

Christians live with a purpose: We are the beacon of hope.

Yes, Jesus is merciful, yet He commands us to grow in trusting Him, to let Him live through us, and that is for a purpose, which is so that we may be a beacon of hope to this world, to let our light shine so that whoever sees us may ask us what make us so different.  That is how we can give glory and honour to Jesus. Not by attending church service once a week but by letting Jesus live in us daily. That, my Christian friend, is what we called 'bearing fruits'. The promise made to David also applied to us. God will never forsake us, for we have a purpose, even to death.

As long as we fulfill God’s purpose in our lives, God will bless us, even when living in poverty.  James explained that “if a believer is poor, he should be proud because God has made him spiritually rich,” (James 1:9).  It is not your lack of faith that makes you poor, for it is God's purpose to make you spiritually rich in the knowledge of His words. Wealthy or poor, God has a purpose for each one of us, and that is to bear fruit no matter what the circumstances and conditions we find ourselves in.  No matter what life throws at us, we learn to fly like a seagull gracefully against the wind. How do we do that? By letting Christ live in us (Gal 2:20). Did we not die in Christ (Romans 6:8)?

By Jim Richardson

Therefore, ask the Lord to show you the wrong principles, the false teachings, and the myths that cause you to struggle in your life.  Please read my article titled, "What kind of truth do you want God’s word to be?  I promise you that God will answer your prayer.  I encourage you to read my commentary titled “Rest”

 Everything that I have written I personally experienced; therefore, be assured that this is a testimony of God working in my life. Everything I share is free. It is my way of sharing God’s blessing with you. As my commentary titled “Faith applied is faith invested “ suggests, it is my goal to live by what I preach. Growing in faith is continuous (Romans 1:17, Romans 10:17).



Late Ray Stedman, at His library is full of commentaries, available in audio also.  

Lambert Dolphin, at  Very resourceful website.  I suggest that you download a free book titled, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

Jack Kelley, at, offers a question-and-answer session. He will reply to any scriptures that you have difficulty understanding. He also offers Bible study in MP3 format and ebooks. I recommend that you read this excellent commentary, "Cognitive Dissonance." 


    Andre Delage said...

    Biblical faith is to believe in God's word, believe in Jesus' teaching. It is to trust Him and to take Him by His word. It doesn't always feel warm and fuzzy inside. In some circumstance, it is down right scary. Believing in Him to receive salvation that is the easy part. The difficult part is to walk the rest of my life applying His teaching. An unbeliever and I face life challenge in different ways... the unbeliever trust his skills and experiences...I threw all that by the window... now that's the scary part.

    Tony Kiar said...

    a good word for a discouraging time. We forget that it is the wind of the Holy Spirit that lifts our wings when we encounter the head winds of hard times. thank you Abdre.