What Difference Does Faith Make

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).

All that God wants to do in your life, he does on the basis of faith.

Everybody has faith. Even an atheist has faith. It’s just a matter of what you put your faith in and the amount of faith you have.

Would you like to have more faith in your life? Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”. The Bible says we get faith through listening to the Word of God. Over the next few days, as we look at Scriptures that illustrate and explain how positive faith can make a difference in your life, your faith will grow.

So, what difference does faith make in your life?

Faith determines what God can do in your life. The Bible says, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). God says you get to choose how many blessings you have in your life. You get to choose how many answered prayers you have. You get to choose how much he can work in your life. It’s according to your faith. There are thousands of promises in the Bible, and faith is the key that unlocks those promises.

You don’t have to pray, “Dear Sir, if you’re not too busy and if you can afford it, here’s my request.” Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer”.

Faith is so powerful that when you put just a little of it in a big God, you get big results. Faith turns dreams into reality. It’s the basis for any miracle in your life. Does God do miracles today? Of course he does! He does them through people and through prayer.

The Bible says in 1 John 5:4, “This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith”. Faith gives you confidence. It neutralizes fear. It gives you the ability to press on. Imagine Moses and Aaron standing before the Red Sea and Moses turning to Aaron and saying, “You first!”

Faith gives you the confidence to move ahead, which produces success in your life.

No Matter How Badly You Mess Up, God Offers Mercy

“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).

No matter what you’re going through, you can live with hope. That’s the consistent, overriding message of the Bible. God will always treat you with grace and mercy.

Peter writes to those who are already believers, “All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again” (1 Peter 1:3).

The more we understand grace, the more we’ll be amazed by it. It’s completely undeserved. It’s totally unmerited. It is not something that you could earn or work for. It’s just a free gift of God’s mercy.

You can’t make God love you any more than he loves you right now. You can’t make him love you any less. His love is based on his mercy for you.

God’s Word tells us, “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).

This is extremely important to understand. When you make mistakes as a believer, God doesn’t get mad at you. God doesn’t want to get even with you. God doesn’t start planning to mess up your life. God always acts in mercy toward you. Why? Because you’re covered in the blood of Jesus Christ when you’ve accepted him as Savior. That’s why God responds in mercy every time you mess up.

And that can give you hope.

Trusting God When You Don’t Understand

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

I know many people who ask God to guarantee their success before trying what he has asked them to do, but that’s not faith.

Faith always requires risk. Faith means you obey even when you don’t understand it.

For example, forgiveness never seems like a good idea before you do it, but it’s one of the greatest tests of your faith. When someone hurts you, it may not seem right to forgive that person. It may not appear just. But forgiveness is always the right choice, regardless of whether or not you can understand it.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something that didn’t make sense you? But now you can look back with 20/20 hindsight and understand your parents’ perspective.

That’s how it works with God, too.

Faith is doing what’s right even when it seems absurd. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding” . You never know the whole picture, but God does.

The Bible gives us a great example of this in the story of Gideon in Judges 7. Gideon took 300 Israelites to battle 135,000 enemy soldiers. The odds were 450-to-1. God had the soldiers take torches, trumpets, and clay pots—a command I’m sure Gideon thought was ludicrous.

Then, God told Gideon to put the clay pots over the torches so the light couldn’t be seen at night and to go surround the enemy’s camp. God said, “When I tell you to, blow the trumpets, break the pots, and let torchlight suddenly shine out in the darkness. It will look like a huge army is surrounding the camp. It will cause mass confusion, and the enemy soldiers will end up fighting each other.”

Gideon obeyed, even though it didn’t make any sense! The Israelites blew their trumpets, broke their pots, and revealed the light from their torches. The enemy soldiers woke up in shock and started fighting each other instead of the Israelites. Gideon did what God told him to do, and the Israelites won the battle.

Sometimes God tells you to do something that appears foolish—like going into battle facing overwhelming odds. Faith is obeying God even when you don’t understand what he’s asking you to do.

You can’t live by faith without risk. But God knows why he is asking you to do it. You can trust him.

Faith Is Believing What You Can’t See

“Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is visualizing the future in the present—it means seeing the future in advance. People say, “Seeing is believing.” God says the exact opposite: “Believing is seeing.” Some things you’ll never see unless you believe them first.

Every great achievement started when someone first believed it was possible. Faith turns dreams into realities. It makes reality out of what’s in your imagination. Nothing happens until someone believes it’s possible first.

You need a dream, too. Your dream, your goal is an act of faith. When you’re tuned in to God and asking him what he wants you to do, you’re saying, “God, I believe you want me to accomplish this action by this time.” When you do that, you’re acting on faith.

Make Every Step Count

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow boxing” (1 Corinthians 9:25-26).

Spiritual growth must be purposeful.

We don’t know how many days we have left. Our next breath may be our last. So every step in our journey with Jesus should be taken on purpose.

We must be disciplined.

To become the person God wants you to be, you must deny yourself. I’ll be honest with you: You won’t get to do everything that other people do. You can’t follow everyone else’s plan and follow God’s plan at the same time. Being a disciplined disciple of Jesus means sometimes taking the more difficult path.

Olympic runners must give up all kinds of stuff that other people do in order to go for the gold. They must go to bed at a certain time. They must eat a certain way. They must train in a certain setting. They must deny themselves. They must count the cost.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:25-26, “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing”.

Every step, Paul says, must be purposeful. That’s how you finish the race God has marked out for you.

Don’t be tempted by shortcuts. Stay on the straight and narrow path, and keep pressing forward toward your goal. Remember the purpose God has called you to. Remember the example of Jesus, who used his time on earth for God’s glory and was not distracted by the things of this world.

Make every step count.

How To Bear Fruit That Lasts

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

God’s mission is for everyone—including people like you and me.

We don’t have enough missionaries in the world to fulfill God’s mission by themselves.

Jesus said of us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16 ).

Fruit is a metaphor for a successful, productive life. Jesus wants us to bear fruit that will last.

Most of what we do won’t last. No one will remember most of what you did 10 years after you die. People won’t care what movies you saw, what books you read, or how you spent your summers.

But Jesus wants you to do something that will last. Only two things really last: truth and people.

Imagine this scene one day when you get to heaven: A person comes up to you and says, “I just want to thank you.”

And you say, “Thank me? I don’t even know you.”

“You’re right, you don’t know me. But you helped in a ministry. You helped in a project, a humanitarian effort through your church. You did something that caused me to get to know God. I’m in heaven because of you. I’m your forever friend.”

Nothing you do is more important than helping people determine the destiny of their lives because it’s fruit that will outlast your life.

William James is credited with saying, “The greatest use of your life is to invest it in that which outlasts it.”

When you invest your life in people, who are going to last for eternity, you’re bearing fruit that will last.

You might be a teacher. You might be an accountant. You might be a janitor.

But your greatest calling is to use the gifts God gave you to make sure more people will go to heaven.

To Find Joy, Give Your Life Away

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10).

You’ll never find happiness in pleasure, power, possessions, positions, or prestige.

You also won’t find it in success, sex, salary, or status. Those are all temporary.

Permanent, ongoing happiness only comes when you give your life away in service. God wired you to give your life away. Why?

Because God wants you to be like him.

Most people don’t know this, but there are secrets to joy. And you can find both of these secret pathways to joy through service.

Here’s the way to find joy:

First, get your mind off of yourself. The more you focus on yourself, the more miserable you will become. To find real joy, you must shift from an inward focus—“It’s all about me”—to an outward focus—“It’s all about God and serving others.”

Of course, this is countercultural. Our society screams that it’s all about you. But the Bible says, “I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (Philippians 2:17).

The truth is, the most helpful people are the happiest people.

Second, use your gifts to help others. It feels good to use your gifts to help others.

The Bible says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10).

God blesses you so you can bless others. When you bless others, God will bless you.

If you’re struggling through a lack of joy in your life, try serving people in your community and in your church.

Then watch God change your perspective.

Whatever You Do, Do It as a Ministry

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

God has called you to be a minister.

Maybe you’ll never preach a sermon. Maybe you’ll never officiate a wedding or a funeral. Maybe you’ll never lead a church.

But make no mistake about it: If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re a minister.

God has called you to be a bi-vocational minister. What does that mean? Think of the word “bifocal.” Those are the glasses that allow someone to see two things at the same time—both far away and up close—with clarity.

When you follow Jesus, you do everything for two reasons, not one: to help others and to honor God. That makes you a bi-vocational minister, whether you’re a truck driver, an attorney, a janitor, or a stay-at-home parent. You have a job, but in that job, you work to help others and to honor God.

The Bible says it like this in Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

That Scripture reminds us that anything we do can be a ministry and a blessing if we honor God and help others through it. Whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus. Taking out the garbage, changing a dirty diaper, and cleaning the living room can all be ministries.

As long as your motivation is right, the Bible says that whatever you do can become a ministry. That means menial tasks become meaningful tasks when you do them out of love for God.

When you look at life from this perspective, everything you do becomes significant.

When Temptation Calls, Just Hang Up

“A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless” (Proverbs 14:16).

It’s common sense that if you don’t want to get stung, stay away from the bees! If you don’t want to get burned, don’t get close to the fire! If you don’t want to fall off the cliff, don’t hang off the ledge!

The goal is not to see how close you can get to temptation but rather how far away from it you can stay.

Proverbs 14:16 says, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless”. You might think you can handle temptation, but who are we kidding? You need to do a frank assessment. You need to analyze when and where you are most tempted and vulnerable. Then you need to stay away from those situations as much as you can.

The Bible says to run from temptation: “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws” (Psalm 119:59). If you have to physically remove yourself, do it! When Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph, he left his coat and split. Sometimes you may have to leave your coat. Get out of the situation. Run from it. Don’t stick around.

When you’re tempted, get up and change the channel. Or turn on music. Go for a walk. Read the Bible. Call a Christian friend in your small group. Do something to break the spell.

Here is some practical advice: Don’t ever try to argue with the Devil. You’ll lose every time. He’s had thousands of years to think up lines to counter anything you could come up with. Don’t rationalize it. Don’t justify it. Don’t argue it. The key thing to do is break the focus. Don’t look at the cookies and repeat, “I don’t want them! I don’t want them!” Turn around! The more you fight a feeling, the more it grows in intensity.

When temptation calls you on the phone, don’t try to argue. Just hang up, and go do something else.

Want to Be Like Jesus? Spend Time with Him

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

You’ve likely heard this old cliché: “You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re running with the turkeys.”

That’s a great lesson for your kids to remember, but it has ramifications for our spiritual lives as well.

You should invest less time in certain relationships because they’ll drag you down. If you hang out with people who have no ambition, you’ll have no ambition. If you hang out with critical people, you’ll become critical. The people you spend the most time around will influence what you’re like on a day-to-day basis.

The Bible tells us this about our spiritual growth: “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

That’s why it’s so important to spend time with Jesus every day. Your spiritual growth depends upon it. You become more like Jesus when you spend time with him.

I highly recommend finding a special spot where you can spend time with God each day. Start with five, 10, or 15 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter when you do it—just do it! Grab your Bible, find your favorite chair, read for a few minutes, and then talk to God about what’s going on in your life.

Even Jesus made a habit of going to a place where he could talk with his heavenly Father. Luke 22:39 describes him going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as usual”.

If Jesus made it a point to spend time with his Father, won’t that habit benefit you, too? It’s the only way you’ll really start to become more like him.

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