WHAT is the REAL MEANING of HAVING FAITH?
BY: DAVE GARNER
MARCH 22, 2008
I have been trying to come to an understanding of what it really means to have faith and believe. When Jesus told Peter to go down to the sea and cast in a hook to catch a fish… in whose mouth he would find the money to pay the taxes for them both… I asked myself, by whose faith was it? Was it Peter’s? I realized that he would have had to have had enough faith in what Jesus said in order to go down to the sea and cast in the hook to catch the fish. Did his faith matter or was the coin produced only by the authority of Jesus – through His spoken word? In some places Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole,” but in others, like the man at the pool of Bethesda, He asked him if he wanted to be healed, and the man simply answered “yes.” And still in other places He said, He could not do any miracles because of their unbelief, especially in His own hometown. They did not believe in Him because they could not get past seeing Him only as the carpenter’s son. He also repeatedly told His disciples that if they believed they could ask what they will and it would be done, even to moving a mountain. In one place He sends the disciples out with the power to do all kinds of miracles and return rejoicing, but shortly after this they could not cast out the demon in the little boy, and they asked Jesus why, and His answer was straight forward and blunt, “unbelief.” In the letter to the Hebrews it is said that it is impossible to serve/please God without faith. I know I see Him as more than just the carpenter’s son, but is it possible that there may be a little unbelief lurking in the shadows somewhere?
Up to this present moment, I have not walked on water, reached out my hand to a cripple and bid him or her to stand up and walk, healed a sick person, cast out a demon, caused an axe head to raise up out of the water, parted any seas, raised anyone from the dead, confronted a whole bunch of false prophets of Baal, nor endured near death experiences to testify of the power of faith. I have not calmed any raging storms, made the oil to increase nor have I astounded any crowds with my great wisdom or speaking skills. I am not complaining, I am just stating facts. I can choose to ignore them or claim they were of a spiritual or metaphysical nature, but then I would have to figure out why there was any need for me to have faith for miracles and the supernatural moving of Holy Spirit, such as these, in the first place. In order to do this I would have to willingly force myself to ignore the miracles that I have experienced and seen with my own eyes. I would also have to ignore the many times the Lord miraculously moved on my and family’s behalf. It made me wonder, do I really have the quality of faith which could move the mountain? If not, how do I get it? I can’t buy it, that’s for sure. Could it be maybe, I am not saying the right thing, or maybe God just has not supplied me with enough faith? Could this be why I am not moving in a greater awareness and anointing of His presence? If I allow myself to think along these lines, then I must invariably come to the logical conclusion that it must be God’s fault not mine, that there are not more miracles and greater things happening in my life. So, if it is God’s fault (will), then my having faith would not be a requirement and faith has nothing to do with it. Oh what a quagmire of unbelief this would produce if I allowed my thinking to continue along this path of reasoning.
I have come to the realization that it is to easy to separate myself from the reality of the words I speak and the actual contents of my heart or mind. For instance, it is easy to teach a message on faith; anyone can do it now days, especially with all of the modern technology that we possess. All I need to have is a computer and the internet and I can express my thoughts to as many people as I desire and am bold enough to send my message out to, and I never have to prove to anyone that I personally have any faith at all. I have ministered all over the United States and I have quoted the apostle Paul so many times that I can’t count, when he said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” but I don’t remember ever being pressured into having to display my faith. I can quote scripture and tell you my opinion about what he meant, and I don’t doubt what I believe about it, but I began to ponder if I really do, right now, at this very moment, possess the mustard seed kind of faith that can move mountains. I still have some pretty big mountains before me that are not moving, so something is awry. Crazy huh, especially after all of these years being a minister? Since I had to ask myself this question; then is this recognition of my lack? I could just ignore those scriptures and go on and satisfy myself with what I have now, but I won’t. For I am convinced that the same power and authority of the Holy Spirit which existed back then, exists now and therefore I have only one recourse left open to me, I must continue to knock, ask and seek, “I must believe.”
Lately we (Sheila and I) have really been taking a close look at ourselves. It has caused us to face some really hard issues within ourselves and with each other. Not too long ago, we both were overweight (we still are, but we continue to work on it) and we could have continued to tell ourselves that God was taking care of it and ignore it, but the truth is we were not happy in this condition, as our health was suffering terribly from our neglect. As Sheila began to search for answers we began to receive information and more and more our understanding of what was happening within our bodies, and truth began to unveil itself. There were so many things that we read about, proper eating habits, types of food, food addictions, processed foods and food mixing, information that we never even thought about before and it boggled our mind and almost overwhelmed us. The condition of our bodies was evidence enough that we were not doing something right. We could have chosen to ignore these truths, but we would have remained in our unhealthy condition and even gotten worse. We had to face the truth; we were the ones destroying our own bodies because of our unwillingness to take the time to confront the issues pertaining to our physical health. We did not want to believe that it was our own actions or inaction and ignorant bliss that had brought us to the unhealthy condition we were in. We also knew that exercise and real sunshine were essential for any successful endeavor at weight loss, but we tried to avoid facing the exercise part as long as possible. But the more she read, the more information she found… it became abundantly clear, the first step we had to take in order to change our condition was to be honest with ourselves and face the truth. We were just plain ignorant and undisciplined in our eating habits. We ate what we liked to eat, and when we wanted to eat it, and this had to change. We wrestled with it and it was a real challenge to change the way we thought about our eating habits, but God gave us the strength by putting action behind our faith to make the necessary changes. We began a determined effort to eat better and to exercise and over a short period of time our health has dramatically changed for the better. We still have struggles in some areas, but I am no longer addicted to chocolate and sugar. We have each lost over twenty-five pounds and feel better than we have in a very long time. Through the chain of events over the last five months we have found that if we do not remain diligent in what we have changed and start eating again the way we were eating, we begin to suffer the same problems we were having before. We could have continued to read the information over and over hoping some day that something would change for the better on its own, but the truth is, if we had not taken the steps to change our eating and exercising habits, we would never have lost any weight or become healthier.
The Lord continues to use the health issue to bring me to a deeper understanding of how faith works. I have really come to understand that I can have all kinds of opinions about faith, but if I do not activate my faith through active movement, it does me no good. I know now that it is the same with believing in the reality of God as my Lord and Savior; if I do not recognize Him daily as my Lord and daily seek to know more of Him and about Him and diligently push myself to press on in into the promises of the Holy Spirit that I know are available to me, I will never enter into the realm of faith that I am seeking to walk in. I must learn to hear His voice speaking to me personally, beyond what I do now.
When I was a young Christian I had this deep hunger to hear Jesus in such a way that we could talk to each other, such as pretending He was setting right next to me in the car seat as I was driving. Over the years I guess I have grown beyond that desire… to wanting to see Him shining out of me, specifically, and out of His church body, corporately, for other folks to see. But lately I have begun to look back and see if maybe we could talk, side by side, again. There is something to be said about talking to Jesus, but it is a whole different situation when it is a two–way conversation. I do so love to hear the sound of His voice and know that it is His voice speaking to me. It is so easy to become so self involved and side tracked. I so yearn to hear His voice in all of its clarity. I don’t like the guessing game. I want to know that it is Him speaking and no one else. I realize more and more every day that I can receive all kinds of information about Jesus by reading the Bible and listening to sermons that describe who He is, and I can attend all kinds of worship services that declare the wonderful meetings that He has done for mankind, but before I can know and personally experience Him as He really is… within my own heart… to the depth that I am yearning for, I must hear His voice in clarity and allow what I receive to actively transform and renew my thoughts, and – by faith – walk out His word that I hear. Oh, teach me Lord, teach me!
It is becoming ever more real to me that I must change my way of thinking, or I can never change my way of doing or becoming. I have to have a vision… a purpose for being. It is this that keeps me stirred, inspired and spiritually healthy. I have to believe that I am doing something, going somewhere or that there is hope for better things tomorrow… or there really is no reason to have faith. I have to believe that all things are possible and that I have the right to reach for them and attain them. I am really challenging myself to put into active practice the principle that “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.”
The Lord has really opened my understanding to the truth that the seed of faith begins in my thoughts. It is so easy for me at times to negate my faith by allowing negative thoughts of doubt and unbelief to go unchecked. I know now more than ever, that if I desire for my faith to become fruitful and productive, I must confront any negative thoughts immediately with the promises of God. This prevents the leaven of unbelief that pops up unexpectedly at times, from polluting my faith and robbing me of my heavenly inheritance. I have set my course to obtain the mustard seed kind of faith, a seed of pure faith, the kind of faith that has no doubt and unbelief mixed in with it. I have searched my heart and found that I want to believe more, in a greater way, and that if I believe in Him with all of my heart, mind, and soul, I cannot but help receiving from all that He is, and I most definitely will see and hear Him as He really is.
WHAT is the REAL MEANING of HAVING FAITH? [Dave Garner] 3-22-08 1