Answers to My Own Questions re Faith
Faith to me is believing with all my heart and soul in Almighty God in heaven who loves me with an everlasting love and wants me to experience all of His best, an abundant life, a life of joy, peace, and contentment---not because of anything I do, but because of His grace alone. Grace is unmerited favor. I don't work to receive his grace, and I don't have to work up faith on my own to receive all the blessings He wants to bestow on me. It is His gift to me. All He asks of me is that I believe in Him, His character, His nature as revealed to me in His Word, the Bible. My faith does increase or decrease by how much I know God. If I learn more and more of His character, my faith in Him does grow---but I don't make it happen just because I read. I learn to accept all of whom God is just by learning to know Him in a greater way. The more I know Him, the more I trust Him and His promises to me.
My works do not determine the measure of faith God gives to me. My works only prove that I know God and what He desires of me. My works are an outward expression to the world around me of how much God means to me. My faith is not measured by what I do, but by what God does through me as His vessel. God expresses Himself through human vessels that surrender to His will for their lives. God creates us with a purpose, and that purpose will be accomplished only through the power of God's Spirit at work within us. The greater I surrender my whole heart to His purposes, the greater works will be accomplished through me---and the world may never openly see that purpose, because my works should be accomplished for God's praise and glory alone, not for the world to see and give glory to me.
Do we compartmentalize our faith? I believe we do. God wants our whole heart. And I believe it is easy to give an area of our heart to God and leave other parts of our hearts closed to Him. For an example, it is easy to have faith that God will heal Aunt Mary's cold, but so much harder to believe He will heal Aunt Jane of terminal cancer. It is easy to have faith that God can save sinners in general, but so much harder to believe He will save the family member you have been praying for for years and years. It is easy to believe God will send missionaries to Africa, but so much harder to believe that God is sending you to Africa to be a missionary. It is easy to believe God could feed the 5,000, but so much harder to believe He will bring in that rent money that has been owed for two months. It is easy to believe God can forgive me for that little white lie, but so much harder to believe He can forgive me for the hate I've built up for years against one who hurt me so deeply years ago.
I think we have trouble at times surrendering areas of our heart to God---we like to keep those secret doors closed. If we reveal those areas and bring them out into the open, then we bring shame or guilt or fear or anger to the surface, and it's just too hard to deal with. But God says, have faith in me. Have faith in my love for you. Have faith that I can deal with that and together we can heal that area and open those doors to bring refreshing clean air to flow through. I created you for my pleasure, you don't have to hide from me. Open all your heart to me and together we can walk in the garden in pure fellowship.
Can we determine within ourselves to have faith that moves mountains? No! That's why He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. It is in the Holy Spirit's power alone that we can make any changes in our lives. It is our surrender by faith to believe that the power is there to claim. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to release the power to us that brings about change and conformity to Christ. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We cannot please God by our own determination. We need God, the Holy Spirit, to teach us how to surrender to His power. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, our Comforter, our Guide to lead us to God's will for us. We just need to submit all of our hearts to Him.
Does God always honor obedience with good results? Yes! You may not visually see them this side of heaven, but if God leads us toward a goal, He will provide for us the power to accomplish that goal. If we surrender our all to Him, even if it means laying down our lives for Him, He will accomplish good from our obedience. God will reward our faith. The object of our faith is all important. If God is whom we have placed our faith, He will honor that faith with good. For all things work together for good to those that love the Lord. He didn't say some things, He said ALL things.
May your faith in God be increased more and more as you serve Him,