Since last night I have been thinking about this one thing. How is it that 70%+ of America can believe in Jesus, but yet we continue to see our country collapse into moral decay?
Here is the answer I have come too…Hebrews 11:6 New Living Translation (NLT):
6”” And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
It seems that as a society we have covered the first part of this scripture, in that we believe that God exists. However, that does not seem to be enough to produce much good fruit.
So we have to look at the rest of this scripture, and others that confirm it.
-Romans 10:9New International Version (NIV)-
9” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So, again people are confessing, at least in a survey, that they believe in Jesus. But, do they actually believe in their hearts the truths of Jesus?
Going back to Hebrews 11:6, it says that faith is the only way to please God; in both Romans 10:9 and Hebrews 11:6 it says that speaking or believing that God (Jesus) exists is not enough.
So the problem that I see is that there has to be more than just a head level knowledge that God exists. It has to be deeper, and it also matters where and what my faith is placed in.
For me that battle for believing that God existed was won very early in my walk with Jesus. However, the battle for believing that God is good was a completely different and way more important battle.
The problem that I recognized is that I can’t really believe in Jesus and who He is, if I don’t believe at my core that He is good. My faith can’t grow and I, for sure, can’t walk in true relationship with Him if I don’t believe that He is good.
It would be like being married or having a best friend that I didn’t trust. I would never really be able to have a truly deep and abiding relationship, because I would always be wondering when they are going to turn on me.
So this battle is the one that has been raging for the last 3 years.
As I said in my last post, we have experienced a lot of “bad” things in the last few years. But, we realized somewhere in the process that Romans 8:28 and other scriptures really are true.
It started with God showing us this—1 Peter 1:6-9 New Living Translation (NLT)—
6” So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
Again this process was all about growing and refining our faith, which is the key to pleasing God and Salvation. Salvation is a free gift received by faith and, in turn, faith is what pleases God.
So again the key I have learned is that it is not enough to just believe that there is a God.
The key is in believing that He is good, and allowing the process, usually through trials, of Him growing my faith. It has not been an easy or fun process, but when I look back now I clearly see the growth in our family and, for sure, in each one of us. What would have once sent me spiraling into depression and discouragement typically doesn’t even show up on my radar. Along with that, when I do start to struggle like I did last week, the time of struggle is usually under 48 hours, I don’t lose my faith and even though I may not feel Jesus’ presence, I recognize His goodness and wait for Him to reveal the growth that He is doing in my life.
I think that part of the problem we are finding in American Christianity is that we have forgotten that faith in God’s goodness doesn’t grow in comfort.
Throughout Church history, the times when the Church grew the most, and moved in the greatest levels of faith were typically really hard times. Christians have understood, and lived out hard scriptures that really revealed where their faith is, and if they truly believed that Jesus is good and worthy of praise or not. Look at these scriptures—
Acts 5:41New Living Translation (NLT)
41” The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.[a]”
2 Corinthians 1:5New Living Translation (NLT)
5” For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”
Philippians 1:29New Living Translation (NLT)
29” For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”
These are just a few of the many New Testament scriptures that talk about suffering for Christ. If you want to really understand this principle do a word search of the word “suffer”, and see how many times suffering is talked about along with how it is part of the New Testament life.
You will most likely see the same thing that I have found. That suffering is part of growing in Christ, and how I react to my suffering really shows where my faith is and if it is growing!
It is not pleasing to God to put me through the trial, but it is, for sure, pleasing to Him when I choose to come to Him and especially when I can choose to praise Him in my struggles. This reveals a divine grace that can only come from the Holy Spirit, who is greater than this world or anything that Satan can throw at me.
I am learning that what James 1:2-4 is referring to, in considering suffering and trials to be pure joy, is possible. It usually takes a little while for my feelings to catch up to my faith, but God is patient and cheers me on, the whole way. This is because I am revealing my faith and love in Him as the reaction to the trials reveals more faith, and less doubt.
So for me I don’t go looking for trouble or trials, they just come as I look for Jesus. As I follow Him and learn to look more like Him, the trials, attacks, and struggles just seem to show up. The good news is that, as they do I react in alignment with Christ and His word more and more, and, in turn, He trusts me with more and more.
That is how it works. He rewards those that diligently seek Him. It is a promise, and I am seeing it being fulfilled both in me, and in those that choose to walk this path of faith.
So I believe that we need to take a real and honest look at where, and who I am placing my faith in? Do I even really know enough about scripture, to be able to make an educated assessment of where and who my faith is being put in? And finally, do I have enough faith that God (Jesus) is good, that I can stand when the trials come?
If you begin to walk this path of following Christ, the trials will come, but the rewards that explode in your heart are well worth the struggles!