Prayer & Praise: March 7-13
How to Believe
When truth is given, it then becomes the responsibility of the one who receives it. That responsibility is gauged by your reaction to the truth. In other words, if you don’t like anything about the teaching of Christ and if you choose to reject it all, you will never be able to say, “Nobody told me.” So, if you don’t want to hear the truth, stop reading right here.
If you are a skeptic or have ever been one, then, chances are, you have had the experience of going to a Christian, asking about his or her faith, only to receive a “You just believe, that’s all” in response.
I don’t know about you, but I remember feeling frustrated by that. To tell a pagan simply to believe is silly!
Jesus had a lot of amazing things to say about belief. He said we could move mountains and that, with Him,nothing would be impossible. But the problem is—How to believe. What is the process of belief?
Belief is born in need (John 4:47). If you have no need to believe, then you will not believe. In the text, this father had a son who was dying. That is need. Perhaps it began when his little boy had a sore throat. He didn’t get over it; it only got worse. Th e boy’s fever rose, death drew near and out of fear, panic and need,his father went to Jesus. When your kid is sick, you will do anything. This was a man of power and influence, used to giving favors, not asking for them. He had a need and without that need, the man would never have believed.The difference between strong faith and weak faith is need. The paradox: the strongest Christian is the weakest Christian (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is in the business of putting His children in holes so deep that they can’t get out without His help.What is your need right now? Whatever it is, God is going to teach you how to believe.
Belief is nurtured in Christ (John 4:47). Whether or not belief grows depends on the object of your belief.When God digs your hole, make sure you reach out to the proper “helper-outer.”
The fact is, belief, unless vested in the proper object of belief, will die. Are you hurting? Go to God. That is how you nurture belief.In John 14:12, Jesus teaches that, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Jesus does not say that “He who believes in the power of positive thinking (in the power of the church, in the power of himself, in the strength of theology) . . .” Belief will not grow unless the object of that belief is proper—Jesus Christ Himself.
Belief grows in faith (John 4:50). Jesus said to the father, “Go your way; your son lives.” If it were me, I would have said to Jesus, “Would you do me a favor and go down to Capernaum with me? If I get there and my son isn’t well, then I will have to come all the way back to Cana and my son might die in the meantime.” That isn’t what happened. The man accepted what Jesus said as reality . . . even when he didn’t know the reality for himself at that moment.You say you believe? How much are you willing to bet on that belief? Your money, your life, your relationships, your family? Without risk, there can be no belief.
In John 5, When Jesus told the man who had been sick for a lot of years, “Take up your bed and walk,” the man could have said, “Are you out of your mind? I can’t walk!” If the man had said that, he would have remained a cripple.Acts 3 describes the time Peter and John went to the temple and saw a lame beggar. Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I’ve got, I’ll give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk.” What if the beggar had said, “No, that’s impossible! I can’t walk.” If he had said that, he would have stayed at the temple gate,begging until the day he died.
When I was just out far enough on the limb to hesitantly believe, I was afraid to talk to people about it.
Someone might challenge my faith and I was afraid to risk. One of the great discoveries of my life was that faith in Christ is true. It holds water.Within the context of your faith, God is asking you to risk. Maybe it is money, maybe it is a relationship,maybe it is in witnessing, maybe it is in a moral error. Belief grows in proportion to faith. And another word for faith is risk.
Belief is matured in fact (John 4:51). The mature believer is the one who has seen God act in direct and specific ways and whose faith cannot ever be shaken because it is built on fact. How do you get there? You have to have a need; you have to risk; you have to invest in a proper object and then, God acts in ways that will simply leave you speechless.I don’t want you to miss one of the most exciting things about this text: “ . . .And he himself believed, and his whole household” (John 4:53). Not only was the son healed, but the father, the mother, the siblings and the servants were also healed.Paul got it right: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). A mature Christian is not the Christian who says, “Lord,zap me with faith and belief, so that I can move mountains.” The mature Christian is the one who has gone through the process of need, Christ-centered help, faith and risk . . . and has seen God literally stagger that Christian with His faithfulness.
Maturity never comes in shallow water. I will never forget the day, when I was a little boy, my father let me go in water over my head. I then had the absolutely thrilling experience or realization that I was in deep water and I was swimming! I laughed in excitement and my father laughed, too. In the area of faith, the Heavenly Father laughs for the same reason.