Exercising the Faith Muscle

Faith is a such a hard thing in our culture to grasp. We do not have many things in our lives that require us to have faith. We are blessed beyond our understanding with what we have at our finger tips. When we are hungry we go to a restaurant or the grocery store and by food, we stop at a gas station, insert our credit card and fill up our gas tanks, we go to the mall and have a thousand options of clothing we can wear and most of us already have more than we need. We have enough money to buy fertilizer to keep our grass green so that we are aesthetically pleased with our lawn, we care for our pets as though they were our own children. Simply said we are BLESSED beyond our comprehension.

By no means am I saying all this blessing is wrong. I am not trying to establish shame or guilt, all I am saying is that we are so comfortable in our blessing that we have forgotten it is a blessing. The danger of forgetting the blessing and the one that blesses us is that our faith muscles become weak. Faith is a muscle? Joseph of the Old Testament lived a long but challenging life. When he was young, when his faith may have lacked humility and his brothers took offense, throwing him in a well and leaving him for dead, only to be sold to slave traders and taken to Egypt. In Egypt he is thrown in jail for false crimes and accusations, only to come out of prison to lead the entire country through a famine, saving an entire people with the wisdom God entrusted to him. It was by faith that at the end of his life Joseph said these words, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Gen 50:24). Joseph walked in this confidence ONLY by walking a life of faith and practicing the faith muscle often and seeing God show up. Do you think that he sat in the bottom of the well and was afraid, or was questioning what God was doing when thrown in a prison because he rejected the advances of a woman that was not his wife? My guess is Joseph felt a host of emotions running through his veins many times throughout his life, but one thing is for certain, “Faith inspired Joseph and opened his eyes to see into the future, for as he was dying he prophesied about the exodus of Israel out of Egypt” (Heb 11:22). The muscle had been exercised for a lifetime and it brought hope to his people.

Faith brings a roller coaster of emotions within me. When Danielle and I felt the call of the Lord to take a few significant steps in our life and our family, there was a level of excitement and anticipation of seeing God show up and do His thing. In the spirit of transparency those feelings come and go and are often replaced by doubt and fear. When the doubt and fear arise, then I have to pick up the “weights” and begin to pray, read the acts of faith and God’s response in the Bible. I have to serve someone else. I have to go out and run and spend some time with my Father to gain His perspective. Lately I have felt as though I have stepped off the mountain and am suspended in mid-air right now, simply waiting for the Father to move the mountain and plant my feet on solid ground again. That is the thing about faith, it REQUIRES us to put ourselves out there and in complete reliance of our Father in Heaven, because if it did not would it be faith? Is faith really faith, if there is not some level of discomfort? Is it really faith if the flesh does not revolt and have a fear of falling? As I ponder faith this morning I have been drawn to my wife’s favorite chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 11.

  • vs 7 – “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Noah practiced his faith in a crazy way!!! Who wouldn’t have thought Noah was a few sandwiches short of a picnic…or just flat out loony.
  • vs 8 – “By faith Abraham, when called to to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hold on a second…Abraham moved his entire family and had no idea where he was going? Could you imagine doing that today? Sell your house, quit your job, and have no idea where you were going?
  • vs 10 – “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God.” This is flat out one of my favorite verses in the Bible! It is the cry of and the desire of my heart to pursue the things of the Lord. I know there is more and I will never settle as I know our journey of faith is progressive and as we are capable of receiving our Father will give abundantly. Abraham had a spark in his heart and soul that told him that God was worth the pursuit no matter the cost!
  • vs 17 – “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” Abraham knew God would provide in the end, but do we not think that inside Abraham was in agony? By faith he walked the path regardless of his feelings.
  • vs 22 – By faith, because he had practiced all his life, Joseph prophesied to his people regarding God’s faithfulness to bring them out of captivity.
  • vs 23 – “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born” and then they put him in a basket and let him float in a massive river with crocodiles and pirahnas to be found and raised in Pharaoh’s home. I am sure Moses’ mother grieved and missed her son, but walked in faith regardless.
  • vs 32-34 – “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,  quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.”

Every one of these people put their faith in a God they had never seen before, in full confidence they walked, knowing He was and will be faithful. Was it easy for them? I highly doubt it as they fought the same flesh and worldly reasoning that we do every single day. They understood that when you practice and work out your faith muscle, the muscle tears a little bit and requires healing, you fall down sometimes, but the Father is there to pick us up…the journey of faith is not easy, it is not painless, but it is required if we want to understand and grasp the complete goodness of our Father.

I struggle in this walk of faith daily, it is a battle of flesh and spirit; my spirit longing to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the flesh revolting and trying to instill doubt and fear. I was reminded in our men’s group on Wednesday evening that it is only through the fire that we are refined. It is only by submitting ourselves to the Father and being laid out on the proverbial anvil to be shaped and molded into the person He created us to be. The fire burns a little bit, the shaping is painful, but the results are worth every little doubt, burn, or scrape along the way. I know without a shadow of doubt that the Bible is true…I know that faith the size of a little mustard seed will move a mountain, and I know God will move mountains on our behalf when we step out in faith.

Get out there and exercise that faith muscle!!! Accept the pain and discomfort and KNOW THAT HE IS FAITHFUL TO YOU!