Saturday, April 9, 2011

On Faith...

In the past I have almost made faith into a work.  I looked inside myself to see if I had enough faith to get God to move.  And I always felt my faith was lacking and needing a boost.  I was constantly examining my faith, which left me more focused on myself than on God.  I had more focus on faith than on its object!  And so somehow, in my performance-oriented way, I turned faith into more of a work, when actually, faith is the end of our work.  Faith isn't something I work up but something that I've been given as a gift from God.  The faith of Christ Himself rises up in me by grace as God shares His true nature and the good news of Christ with me (Ps. 8:10, Rom. 10:17).  Faith isn't about looking at myself to see if I've got enough trust; it's about looking to Him and seeing He's got enough trustworthiness!  These are some of the things I'm starting to understand about faith.  God is still teaching me and I have much to learn.

I recently found some great quotes on faith from a book called "Overwhelmed by Grace" by Kent McQuilkin. You can find the whole book online here.  Here are some of the parts about faith that I really liked:

"Jesus is not demanding faith from us as a prerequisite to grace.  He is giving grace to us as a prerequisite of faith.  He is inspiring faith in us as we look into His strong, loving face and know that this is One we can trust beyond all doubts."

"It's a mistake to think that 'Trust is that rare and priceless treasure that wins us the affection of our heavenly Father' - Never!  It's rather our Father's affection that wins our trust, that produces our trust.  Faith is not a payment we render to God for His grace, faith is the bag God gives to hold all the grace He is pouring out on us."

"We wrongly focus on faith as though it has power to win grace.  Grace is not the reward of faith, faith is the reward of grace.  It is always grace that comes first and produces faith, not vice versa.  Grace gives us the content of faith (Rom. 10:17), the understanding for faith (2 Co. 4:6), and faith itself (Acts 18:27).  Faith is God's gift from first to last (Heb. 12:2)."

[When he thought that it all depended on him to get grace from God:]  "How could grace break through when so much depended on me?  The obvious answer is that nothing did depend on me.  That's why it is called grace.  Faith is not something we must stir up within ourselves...it's an abandonment of all effort and a resting in God.  The question is not 'is your faith strong' but 'is your God strong.'  Faith is an act of giving up on ourselves, even on our faith, and trusting wholly in God, who will grace us despite our badness and weak faith."

"Faith is simply a true understanding or knowledge of God.  Is He the kind of person you love to spend a lazy afternoon with...or is He the kind you have to tiptoe around and try not to disturb?  Does His presence make you grow relaxed or uptight?  When He thinks about you is it with delight or disappointment, and are those thoughts based on how good you have been?"  [This whole quote shows me it's so important to have the true picture of God in our understanding and not receive a teaching that would give us any other picture of God besides 100% pure Love!]

"Faith is not the currency of the kingdom, something we pay God to get His approval and love.  God doesn't need to be induced, even by faith, to love us.  He loves us passionately regardless.  Faith doesn't win God's love - it merely recognizes that His love is already there.  Gods' grace is pounding at the heart's door and faith says, 'Yes, You are welcome!'....and they lived happily ever after."

                                                                   from Overwhelmed by Grace by Kent McQuilkin

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14