As we seek to serve Christ, faith is our greatest ally. There is no serving without faith; otherwise, it is simply good will, charity, or works. Hebrews 11:6 says “6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (ESV). Regardless of the position we are called to serve in, we need faith in order to keep focused on the task at hand.
James 1:2-4 is a favorite passage of mine one that I keep close to my heart, especially in times of trials. It says: “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV).
Trials are meant to bring forth spiritual maturity; we should rejoice when we are faced with trials because God is stretching us, growing us. There are many references of scripture that speak to the same idea (Matt. 5:12, 1 Peter 1:6, 1 Peter 1:7, Romans 5:3, 5:11; Heb. 10:36). If we look further in James 1:12: “12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (ESV), we see that James reiterates the idea of blessing and reward for faith that perseveres.
We cannot get through life without it, so how do we get it? Like grace, faith is a gift from God. In Romans 12:3, Paul says “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” God has given us each a measure of faith. John Piper says that “God gives grace and God gives the faith to receive the grace. All boasting is excluded. To grasp this is to be freed from thinking more highly than we should and to think with sound judgment.” The moment we receive Christ as our Savior, we began to live by faith, trusting and believing in things unseen.
When my husband and I surrendered to our call and began Living Bread Ministries, we had to completely surrender every need in our lives to Him. In preparation to starting the ministry we knew we would need to slash our living expenses and would need a dependable vehicle for traveling and share the ministry. In February 2004 we purchased a mini van, March welcomed the closing on our 30+ year old double-wide and official launch of LBM. With April came our second child and Pat’s (hubby) resignation from his full-time secular job. By the end of May 2004 we were in Brazil visiting the slums and meeting with potential partners.
As crazy and even irresponsible (as we were called) the above description may seem, that was how we felt led by the Lord to do things. We were only able to do this because of the measure of faith that He gave us. Surely we had trials and periods of discouragement (we still do!), but ultimately we know that this is His ministry not ours, we will go as He leads us. As trials come we, must cling to the Lord as He reveals the faith He has given us; growing us and bringing us one step closer to that which He created us to be. We cultivate our faith by cultivating our relationship with the father and living in obedience to Him. To live by faith then, is simply to believe the promises in scripture.
John Piper, “Sound Judgement, One Body, Several Parts” (sermon), http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/sound-judgment-one-body-several-parts (accessed December 12, 2010).