After I became a Christian in college, I made a tee-shirt which said, “Jesus made a believer out of me.” Our faith starts out as a seed which God plants in our hearts. It germinates and begins to grow when Jesus becomes our personal Savior. Yet how we live out our Christian life matters. Depending on what we do, our ability to believe God can reach great heights or shrivel up.
Jesus means our faith to grow into a powerful, deeply-rooted tree, supporting us as we each follow the path of His choosing. A natural tree needs sunlight, water and good soil to grow. In the same way, our faith becomes stronger when we nourish it.
Moses and his people experienced more miracles and divine care from our heavenly Father than any other believers–ever. For the vast majority, their trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob remained pathetically weak. When the twelve spies reported in, the entire nation rebelled and wanted to return to Egypt. God punished them with forty more years in the wilderness, until that unbelieving generation died out. Here was His reason:
The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? (Numbers 14:11) NIV
Only Joshua, Caleb, Moses, Aaron and perhaps Miriam grew so strong in their faith that they could trust God when facing impossible obstacles. He’d supernaturally acted on their behalf in the past. They believed He would again in the future. But how did Joshua and Caleb come to trust the Almighty so deeply? What caused their faith to be so strong?
I think I know the answer. Here are seven ways I’ve nourished and grown my own faith.
1 Cultivate a personal, deepening relationship with God. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know my Lord’s tenderness toward me, His wonderful sense of humor, and His amazing ability to bring good out of life’s worst traumas. I’ve developed a deep trust in my Redeemer, as I’ve sought to obey Him and seen my prayers answered. My life has truly been transformed.
2. Listen to other Christian’s testimonies. Nothing builds my faith like hearing stories of the amazing things Jesus has done in the lives of my fellow believers.
3. If you need more faith, ask for it. Remember the father who cried out “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:17-27)? Jesus didn’t get mad because this man struggled to believe. Instead our Savior answered his prayer. Jesus overcame his unbelief forever by casting the demon out of his son. Likewise, when I can’t believe God in a certain area, I ask for more faith and the Holy Spirit answers.
4. Live a life of thanksgiving. Thinking about the blessings of God in my life helps me trust Him more, because it brings His goodness and loving care into focus. Indeed, for most Americans, our blessings are past counting. Our inner emotional environment is one of the few things in life we control. Grumbling and whining are personal choices–but so is thankfulness.
I for one, am grateful for indoor plumbing. (Yea, no smelly outhouses!) I’m also blessed with a pain-free body, hot water, air conditioning, Greek food, glasses, color vision and a personal Savior who continues to change me in amazing ways.
5. Ask other Christians to pray for you. Other Christians often have faith for my situation when I don’t. Their prayers give me hope, strength and comfort–and are often answered.
6. Praise and Worship. Hebrews 13:15 speaks of offering a “sacrifice of praise.” When I actively worship and praise God, I focus my mind on all His power and goodness. God becomes greater, and my problems start to shrink. So when I’m in deep pain, I praise God even through my tears. I know where my real strength lies.
7. Stones of remembrance. I strongly suspect this is one of the key differences between Caleb and Joshua and the rest of the people. Most of the Israelite nation lived as unbelieving complainers. Unfortunately, constant grumbling weakens faith. I believe Joshua and Caleb frequently reflected on all of God’s past glorious deeds, both in Egypt and in the wilderness. They filled their minds with internal ‘stones of remembrance’, kept praising the Lord and remained thankful.
My friends, may your own faith be strengthened this week.
If this post has encouraged you, or stirred up questions, I would love to hear about it. Please contact me at faithfulwanderer(at)gmail(dot)com.
All images in this post are from Pixabay.com.