Strengthening our Faith
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I've always been amazed by the different ways two people can view the same event. Some people are the proverbial "little engine that could," while others are "chicken little" whose sky is always falling.
Psychologists say pessimists and optimists have two different ways of viewing life. The pessimist thinks bad events will last a long time and will undermine everything else in life. The effects are permanent and far reaching. On the other hand, the optimist believes the effects of a bad event will be short lived and will not effect other things. (Reader's Digest, Jan 2001, p. 146.)
If I had to pick between, the two extremes, I'd choose optimism any day. But really there is a third choice I'd prefer, that is to be a person of faith that may not understand what is going on in my life, but knows God is in charge, and knows, that in the end, everything will work out according to God's plan.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
In his book, When God Interrupts, M. Craig Barnes writes: "When we are abandoned by the things we value, when we discover that no matter how much we have gathered we do not have enough, when we realize that even in the currency we value we are very poor, we are ready to start talking to God. Not before. Faith means betting our lives on the grace of God. (page 75)"
So how do we become that person of faith that bets our lives on God's grace?
Developing faith is a cooperative effort between God, yourself and God's messengers. It begins by understanding that FAITH IS A GIFT FROM GOD.
In Romans 12:3 (NLT), Paul wrote, "As God's messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you." God, according to Paul, gives us faith.
The writer of Hebrews sheds some light on one way He does it. Hebrews 12:2 (NASB) says, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
The key to receiving God's gift of faith is keeping our eyes on Jesus. Something Simon Peter learned on the storm tossed sea.
The winds howled, the waves crashed against the shore and the sea tossed the boat from one hand to another. On a nearby mountain, Jesus was escaping into the tranquility of solitude, recharging his soul in prayer.
The disciples were alone. They fought to keep the boat sound. They were afraid. They were wet. They were tired.
About three o'clock in the morning, the disciples fell deeper into their fear. They saw what looked like a ghost moving across the water and coming toward them. Their exhaustion turned to terror. They lost it and started screaming.
Jesus said, "It's OK, it's me. Don't be afraid."
"Is it really you?" Peter asked. "If it is really you then give me the word and I'll walk to you." Jesus answered him, "Yes, it's me, come on."
So Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water. Peter must have really been afraid. I mean, how could he have thought it would be safer with his feet in the middle of a storm tossed sea than in a boat?
Peter began to walk toward Jesus, and was able to walk on the water,
until he noticed the waves again and became afraid. In that instant, his
fears overcame him and he began to sink into a liquid grave. His fear had
wrestled his faith to the ground-he was going to die. But with a remnant
of faith left, he cried out to Jesus, "Save me."