CU National Fast for Courageous Christian Leadership
January 2-22, 2023
Day 12 (video devotional)
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Growth is a normal expectation. We expect children to grow physically, emotionally, and cognitively. We expect healthy relationships to grow from one degree to another. We want our money to grow for retirement and vacations. We not only expect plants to grow, but we also want to grow in various ways and areas of life. And summarily, most consider it problematic if there is no growth. And yet spiritually, too often, believers are inattentive to, or unaware of, what it means to grow in faith. Too many believers receive Christ and presume that faith for salvation alone is enough for an entire life in Christ.
However, “the just shall live by faith”! (Romans 1:17) As fish live by remaining in water and humanity lives by oxygen, those who belong to the Lord live by faith, not factual information or feelings but with confidence in God’s promises, and with actions that reflect the same regardless of circumstance. Hence, faith is not a fixed entity but a growing, ever-evolving capacity to believe. And, like any living organism, if it is not growing, it is dying. Therefore, growing our faith cannot be a passive endeavor but rather an intentional nurturing of the measure (Romans 12:3) we have each received. And, while each believer has the same starting point, the process of growing strong in faith is in hearing and responding to what God has said.
Scripture points to different levels or measures of faith, saying that without faith, you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6); without works, faith is dead (James 2:14-26); and those who worry about basic provisions have little faith (Matthew 6:30); while plenty of examples are offered of those with great faith. And it is from those examples that we can learn how to grow strong in faith. For instance, Matthew 13:58 says that Jesus could not do many works in a certain city because of their unbelief; however, His response was not to leave them in that state but to teach them. (Mark 6:5-7). Thus, we grow strong by hearing God’s Word. When sea waters roared, the disciples were afraid (Matthew 8:26), but Jesus didn’t coddle any of them; instead, He called their faith little and challenged their doubt. Hence, fear may be present in life, but we grow faith by embracing a response that looks like confidence and surety rather than timidity. Personally, I marvel that Peter got out of the boat to walk on stormy water! (Matthew 14:29-30) It seems like strong faith to me, yet Jesus asked Peter why he doubted after beginning to sink and called his faith little. Which may mean that initiating or starting doesn't grow faith but holding fast, continuing, enduring, and increasing with confidence does.
Jesus called the faith of the woman who came to Him for her daughter’s healing great! (Matthew 15:28) He seems to credit her confidence and persistence. The same is true with the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant by speaking a word only. (Luke 7:9) Jesus marveled and commended his great faith. Likewise, the men who lowered their paralytic friend through a rooftop to gain access to Jesus were said to be strong in faith. And we’re told that Abraham never wavered at the promise of God through unbelief—despite obstacles related to age, barrenness, and what many would call long delay; instead, he gave glory to God, making him strong in faith too.
These are examples to learn from when identifying where we are and how we can begin to grow our own faith. And, based upon Romans 10:17, “hearing” grows faith! It reads, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It’s the beginning of a process based upon v 14, where we who believe first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in hearing, our faith grew enough to place trust in the unseen; hope in the intangible; and confidence in a promise for eternal life through Jesus Christ alone. We each heard a message of Truth, and it was in hearing that we acted by confessing Jesus as Lord and setting an expectation that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord;” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) that though this “outward man is wasting away, the inward man is being renewed day by day;” (2 Corinthians 4:16) and that there is a second coming for the bride of Christ, where a new heaven and a new earth is to unfold. We have a living hope because we exercised our faith! “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10)—this is the template needed to grow strong in faith!
Our decision to live by faith is more than a cerebral hope in tomorrow; it is also mixed with a daily and concerted dedication to the Word of God that spurs action; a response of illogical obedience, wide-eyed expectation, and bold expressions of confidence where we say and do what is written in Scripture even when life contradicts God’s promise or feelings outweigh the conviction of what is written. The incremental moving away from dependence and reliance on a seen world to an unseen is what it means to grow faith, and because the transition from little to strong faith can be challenging, it means that every believer must honestly assess and consciously choose to believe what the world would call unbelievable, and our flesh could consider as impractical.
We must hear the Word of God, and like the mother whose daughter was healed, or the friends of the paralytic man, we too must ignore barriers and replace head doubt with a continual boast in Jesus’ ability to do all things! Even more, we must live as if God is alive—where we imitate Abraham, who gave glory to God despite appearances; we get out of the boat like Peter, keeping our eyes off boisterous winds, a metaphor for problems, lest we too begin to sink. In other words, we grow strong in faith by staying focused on the promise and the promise-Keeper by hearing from Him, and responding to Him because He is a faithful Father, and we are complete in Him alone.
Father, may we believe You regardless of what we are experiencing or feeling today! May we live with child-like faith, our eyes on Jesus, our heart steadfast in hope, and our mouths aligned with Your Word, regardless of what we see or how we feel. I declare that we walk by faith, and I pray now that circumstances and situations in this life, that are so easy to believe and so distracting from the Truth of Your Word, would no longer inform who we are and what You have made possible for us as Your own! So, as Jesus prayed, I ask that You sanctify us by Your Word so that we are set apart from fear and fret, worry and angst, as well as from the cares of this world.
Give us ears to hear what Your Spirit is saying so that we have the mind of Christ—lest our thoughts become futile. Stoke greater conviction for Your Word so that we’re always thankful—lest we become faithless; create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, so that we glorify You at all times and Your praise is consistently in our mouths. Make us hear joy and gladness today so that we endure as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, steadfast in giving glory to You. Father, may our discipline to attend to Your Word yield strength to stand when tempted to faint; and boldness to speak peace to storms and the moving of mountains from here to there, according to Your Word. Manifest Your glory as we walk by faith and not by sight, growing stronger and stronger in the hope that does not disappoint.
You are the God who watches over Your Word to perform it! And, You do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think. There is nothing too hard for You! For You are the Creator of all things, and You remain to be the excellent glory, therefore, we repent for every place within our heart that is filled with doubt; we renounce a spirit of unbelief and declare together that we believe You, Lord, and we trust You. May we never again flatter with our lips and lie with our tongue, but when we are afraid, lead us to the Rock that is higher than ourselves as we draw near to You with a true heart in full assurance of faith; our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our conviction to believe demonstrated with sacrifices of joy, righteousness, and worship, akin to Abraham.
May today be the beginning of our bold profession of the Word of life; where we are stronger in faith today than when we first believed; a hearer and a doer of Your Word; and one who continues to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, holding fast to the Word of life, because You who promised are faithful, in Jesus’ name.
D. Qwynn Gross
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Nova
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