Faith Factor 15 – Build Your Faith

Your faith is your responsibility. You have been given a measure of faith, as everyone has (Romans 12:3). It is your responsibility to use the faith you have and to build it up. So this lesson looks at how you can build your faith.

Faith in Various Sizes

People can have “little faith” (Mark 8:26), “great faith” (Mark 8:10), “faith as a grain of mustard seed” (Matthew 17:20) and “no faith” (Mark 4:40). While we all have the capacity for faith and have all been given a measure of faith, our personal faith capacity changes over time and even from moment to moment.

The variation in our amount of faith is dependent on us. It is up to us to do something about our level of faith and to choose to activate our faith.

Your Faith Determines Outcomes

There are several occasions in the life of Jesus where He reveals that the outcome a person received was directly linked to their level of faith. The expression, “Be it unto you according to your faith” occurs several times in various forms.

“Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.” Matthew 9:29

On another occasion we are told that Jesus did not do many mighty works specifically because of the lack of faith, or the high level of “unbelief” that was operating there.

“And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Mark 13:58

On another occasion we see Blind Bartimaeus determined to receive from Jesus. The man called to Jesus, was told by the crowd to be quiet, but cried out even louder. Jesus sent for him and then asked him what he wanted. The man said, “That I might receive my sight”. Jesus then healed him, telling him that it was the man’s faith that made him whole.

“And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” Mark 10:52

We see quite clearly in that series of events that the only reason the miracle occurred was because the man was sure that God “could” heal him and was determined that Jesus “would” heal him. Truly his faith was at work.

If Bartimaeus had listened to the crowd he would not have been healed.

Your Faith is Your Fault

We are held accountable for our use of the faith God has given us. God can rightly judge us if He has given us faith and we have decided not to use it.

When Jesus saw that His disciples were fearful in a storm He challenged them about the fact that they had “no faith”.

“And he said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40

On other occasions Jesus told them not to be fearful but to believe.

“Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach hear your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27

He even rebuked His disciples for not believing the report of His resurrection.

“Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” Mark 16:14

So, your level of faith is something which the Lord could rebuke you for. If He was to check your faith right now would He have occasion to rebuke you for not activating your faith?

Activate Your Faith

We saw in the verses just quoted that Jesus could insist that people believe and even rebuke those who did not. Your faith is your fault.

So you are to activate your faith in several ways. One is to make a choice to believe. Faith is, in reality, a choice to believe. You need to make up your mind that you will believe what God said. That’s what we see in those cases where Jesus specifically instructed people to “believe”.

“Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach hear your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken (that the man’s daughter was dead), he said to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.” Mark 5:36

The Apostle Jude gave us specific instruction to build ourselves up in the area of our “most holy faith”.

“But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” Jude 1:20

How to Build Faith

Two keys to building up our faith that I will point out here are that of prayer and “hearing” the Word of God. The Apostle Jude, in giving us instruction to build up our faith, indicates that this is done by “praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20).

Paul used the expression “pray in the Spirit” to refer to praying in the heavenly “tongues” language which he enjoyed and taught about. So it seems that Jude was also refer to the “speaking in tongues” type of prayer. Paul tells us that such praying means we are “speaking mysteries”.

“For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God (that’s what “prayer” is): for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” 1Corinthians 14:2

Taking time each day to pray “in the Spirit” will build up “your most holy faith”.

The other way to build up your faith is by “hearing the Word of God”, as Paul explained to the church at Rome.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Hearing of Faith

When you “hear” God’s Word you need to be careful how you “hear”. If you hear it as a religious notion you won’t activate your faith. If you hear it as someone’s opinion you won’t activate your faith. You must hear the Word of God for what it is, God’s Living Word to you, in which you are to place your faith and release the power of God.

“And he said to them, Take heed what you hear: with what measure you measure out, that’s how it will be measured to you: and to you that hear will more be given.” Mark 4:24

The fact that hearing the message builds faith is captured by Paul in his term “the hearing of faith”. He challenges the believers in Galatia that they received the Holy Spirit and worked miracles as a consequence of the “hearing of faith”.

“This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:2

“He therefore that ministers the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:5

The way you receive, or “hear” the Word of God determines whether it produces faith in your heart. You need to open your heart to God’s Word, so it can come alive within you, you can believe it, and the Word can be “made flesh”, which means it becomes a reality in your natural life.

Steward of Your Faith

You are a steward of the faith which God has given you. He will hold you accountable for how you use the faith which He has entrusted to you.

Be a good steward. Use what God has given you and add to it, by building up your faith. Hear God’s Word. Act on the faith you have. Choose to believe. Press in for the miracles which God has for you.

Remember, God “can” do it. And God “will” do it, as a reward for those who diligently seek Him. If you choose to believe that you activate your faith and bring delight to your Heavenly Father.

Faith Factor 12 – Double Delight

We saw in Faith Factor 3 that our faith “pleases” God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore only faith pleases God. That sets up a situation where faith becomes the “Double Delight”, and so that is my theme in this lesson.

Faith Pleases God

We know that faith pleases God, and we saw in lesson 4 that it is “Only Faith” that does the job. When you choose to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, God is pleased. When you step out in faith and rely on God, God is pleased.

When you do anything without faith being part of it, God is not pleased.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

In fact, if you are not engaging faith you are in sin!

“And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not in faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

No wonder, then, that Christians must have a complete lifestyle of faith; living by faith, because only faith pleases God.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith Not Results

We have a tendency to evaluate faith based on the “results” it produces. If we hear of someone who believed God for great things and those things came to pass we ascribe them as possessing “great faith”. Yet if another person steps out to believe God for great things and those things do not come to pass we see the person as foolish, irresponsible and lacking in faith.

Now, that tendency which humans fall into so easily is against what God thinks. God’s ways are higher than ours and we should always be ready to give up our natural thinking, since it will likely be far below God’s best.

Hebrews 11, the chapter listing the Heroes of Faith, not only lists people who achieved great exploits, but also those who seem to fail miserably. The early verses speak of Noah, the patriarchs and Moses. Then the list includes great achievers such as Samson and David. Great exploits are listed.

However, before the chapter ends mention is made, with equal respect, to people who suffered terribly and new saw some great breakthrough.

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” Hebrews 11:36,37

Celebrating Faith

We are ready to celebrate results, but God celebrates faith. It is “faith” that delights God, not might, money, muscle or mission accomplished.

God was delighted with those who were tortured or cut in two. God did not see them as ‘losers’ who couldn’t get the victory, but as ‘winners’ who brought delight to Him, by their faith.

And that’s a real turn-around for many Christians. Some of the people we look down on as having failed in their faith venture are included in God’s list of modern-day faith heroes. Some of those who made newspaper headlines and whose names have been mocked for their failed attempt to achieve for God are actually celebrated in heaven, while we have not yet made an impression there.

Did Moses Fail?

I always saw Moses fleeing from Egypt as a real loser. I have heard preachers heap scorn on Moses for trying to help the Israelites in his human strength and then falling flat on his face. Moses’ flight from Egypt is seen as a symbol of failed humanity.

Moses killed an Egyptian, but was then rejected by an Israelite who was fighting with his brother. As a result Moses feared and Moses fled.

“And he said, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.” Exodus 2:14-15

That sure looks like “failure” to me. And that’s how I always thought of it, not noticing what Hebrews 11 said about it, until many years later, despite reading it several times.

Moses the Faith Hero

Moses is not only listed among the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11, he is specifically commended for the very act of running away. What looks like failure from human perspective turns out to be a delight to God, from God’s perspective.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:24-27

If Moses can look like a failure to human eyes and yet be recorded in Heaven as a hero, then how many other people who we think of as failures have brought delight to God’s heart?

Faith Brings Delight

Our faith, and only our faith, brings delight to God. We don’t have to win or get the breakthrough to have pleased God. It is the faith, not the outcome, that is important.

God looks at the heart, not the record books. When God sees faith in the heart God is delighted. The person may stumble and fall, fail at their attempt, make a mess, offend others who despise their actions and failure, or whatever, but God will still be delighted with the faith that was in their heart.

I talked with a stranger on a plane many years ago who turned out to be the son of a pastor who stepped out to achieve something for God. The venture failed and the man was so shamed and attacked that he left the ministry. The son felt a need to apologise for his father’s actions. But I wonder if God might see that man’s venture entirely differently to how the newspapers saw it.

A Second Delight

We know that our faith brings a delight to God.

So where is the second delight? How do I come up with a “Double Delight”?

When you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace and apprehend anything that God has for you in there, including, as Paul did, apprehending that for which you were apprehended (Philippians 3:12), God is delighted. So, what about another level of delight?

Daddy’s Delight

The second delight is the delight of God’s Father heart in giving good things to His children.

Parents enjoy blessing their children and God is no different. God gives good gifts to His children. He will give them better things than earthly fathers give to their children.

Look for the ideas of “father” and “pleasure” in this statement made by Jesus Christ …

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Wow! God gets a great delight out of giving things to His children!

And look here at an Old Testament statement about the delight God gets in giving…

“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Psalm 35:27

King David was confident that God enjoyed blessing His children.

God is delighted to give.

Double or Nothing

Every time you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace to take hold of what God has already prepared for you and placed in there, you have to use faith. That faith pleases God. It brings Him delight.

But at the same time you are receiving from Him, as His child, the very things He is delighted to give you as your Heavenly Father.

When you ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight. God enjoys your act of faith and God enjoys being able to give you what He always wanted you to have.

Delightful Faith

Let me recap the Double Delight, so you can see how delightful faith is to God.

God is delighted to give.

When we ask in faith God is also delighted.

So when we ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight.

You can put two smiles on God’s face at the same time!

So, let’s do it!

Faith Factor 11 – Shield of Faith

We have already seen how powerful faith is as a means of our salvation, as the only thing that pleases God and as the key to the door of God’s Storehouse of Grace.

The Bible also presents faith as a vital weapon in our warfare with the enemy. It is not an offensive weapon, but a powerful protective tool, to diffuse the attacks made against us. It is used as a spiritual shield, the Shield of Faith.

Faith as a Shield

Paul the Apostle listed a spiritual armoury for Christians, including a belt, shoes, sword, helmet and the shield, which is faith.

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16

Notice that the shield is a defensive weapon, but that the shield of faith not only protects what is behind it, but actually neutralises the weapons used against the Christian. The devil and his servants use ‘fiery darts’ which are potentially very dangerous. Those darts are extinguished by faith.

Fiery Darts

The Bible tells us that the devil is an ‘accuser of the brethren’ (Revelation 12:10), that he has various ‘devices‘ or strategies he uses against us (2Corinthians 2:11), that he is a liar (John 8:44), and that he uses fear against us (Hebrew 2:14,15).

The fiery darts could involve accusations, such as “You are not a very good Christian!” Or they could be lies which bring fear into our heart, such as “You will die of a horrible disease”. The devil can craft fiery darts which will hurt us at our most vulnerable points, uniquely impacting us, even though the same accusation or lie might not affect others the same way.

Many people’s faith is destroyed or held back by the many lies that challenge them. The devil says the Bible cannot be relied on and is unscientific. The devil says God is not real and religion is a human trick to sooth troubled minds. The devil says you are not good enough and will fail in your attempts to please God. The devil says he has power to hurt you with pain, sickness and death. The devil says that serving God will be bad for you. The devil says you can become great, without God, using your own abilities. And he says much more that seduces, terrifies, deceives or traps people.

Quenching Fiery Darts

Faith enables us to quench those fiery darts, because faith in God and God’s Word puts truth in our hands and protects our heart from the lies, fears and deceptions.

Remember that faith, based on the definitional verse I have used through this series, Hebrews 11:6, is a confidence that God is who He says He is in the Bible, and that God will reward you for trusting in Him and His Word.

So, when the devil lies to you that “You are not a very good Christian” you can extinguish that accusation with faith. You can declare that only God is good (Matthew 19:17). You can declare that there is nothing good in man (Romans 7:18). You can then declare that you are saved by your faith in Christ, not your goodness (Ephesians 2:8,9). So now it does not matter that you are ‘not a very good Christian’, because it is not up to you to make yourself good. You can then thank God that He loves you and has saved you from your sin. You can rest in the confidence that it is God who saves you, not you saving yourself. You can thank Him that He accepts and forgives you, just the way you are. You can confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour and that you rely only on Him.

By doing these things the fiery dart loses its sting and has no effect on you.

Quenching Fear

When the devil tries to fill you with fear, such as that you will die of some disease, you can neutralise that fiery dart of fear with the shield of faith.

You can remember that God’s plans for you are for good, not evil (Jeremiah 29:11). You can remember the promises in Psalm 91, that you will be kept safe under God’s wings and protected from the dangers that happen to others. You can remember God’s promises to protect you from all the diseases which came upon the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26). You can declare that you trust God to heal you by the stripes of Jesus, even if you were to be sick (1Peter 2:24). You can declare that even if you were to die, that would lead you to better things, not worse things (Philippians 1:21). You can then declare, as Job did, that even if God killed you, you could no better than to fully trust Him (Job 13:15).

You can confront the enemy’s fears by saying, “I will not fear what the enemy can do to me” (Psalm 118:6). Then you can boldly claim that you will not die, but live, and glorify God (Psalm 118:17).

You can do what David did and say, “When I am afraid I put my trust in God” (Psalm 56:3).

Standing on God’s promises and resisting fear enable you to put out the fearful thoughts and torments which the enemy tries to being into your heart and mind.

Describing the Shield

While we are not told what the shield looks like or how it is designed, we know, since it is a shield of faith, that it has two major components.

The shield rings with confidence that God is who He says He is. The shield captures the dimensions of God Himself. Those who have faith “believe that He is” – they believe that God exists, just the way the Bible says He does. So that gives them a Huge shield.

The shield is also glowing with confidence that God ‘will’ bless. It is quick to action because it rejoices in the confidence that God is every willing to bring blessing. God Can do what needs to be done, and the shield of faith is confident that God WILL do it too!

Thus wielding the shield automatically prompts confidence, inspiring the holder to ‘come boldly to God’s throne (storehouse) of grace to receive grace whenever it is needed’.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, so we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Smith Wigglesworth

Smith Wigglesworth was such a man of faith that he is even described as the Apostle of Faith. One story from his remarkable life shows the amazing rest and confidence that can be enjoyed by someone who is strong in faith and who wears the shield of faith all the time.

One night Wigglesworth was woken by the shaking of his bed. He opened his eyes and saw the devil himself standing at the end of his bed, looking as menacing as he could. Wigglesworth said, “Oh, it’s only you.” Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I encourage you to become men and women of faith, who so wield the shield of faith that you, too, are unable to be intimidated or shaken, no matter what may come your way.

Faith Factor 9 – Rest and Rejoicing

While I have pointed your attention to the wonderful things God has for us, which we are to become confident to expect from a super-abundant God, I now need to remind you of your own posture of faith. If you are a person of faith, having the ‘substance’ of things you hope for, before those things materialise in your circumstances, then we will see some key “works” or actions which spring from that faith.

Faith You Can See

While we cannot see a person’s level of faith, we can see the ‘works’ they do because of their faith. A person who claims to have great faith, yet who is submerged in fear and anxiety, is challenged by their ‘works’, or what is evident in their life.

Faith must be accompanied by the appropriate behaviours which a person of faith would naturally display. Otherwise the faith is dead, and not faith at all.

“But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:20

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

What to Look For

Here are some things I look for in my own life, to determine that my heart is full of faith. These are not the exclusive signs, and they can be feigned by someone who wants to appear to have faith they do not have.

I do not present these as some kind of “test” of someone else’s faith. However, they are a kind of “fruit” of faith, and so, as Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16), so you can at least observe the fruit in people’s lives.

Confidence to Praise God

If you have chosen to believe God CAN do all you need done in your situation, and chosen to believe God WILL do all you need done, then you will find a confidence in your heart.

Because you now believe that God will work for you, you can Thank and Praise Him for the outcome that is on the way. You can also praise God for the problem you are going through, because you know that it has led you to find victory in Him. The problem has not defeated you, but led you to grow in faith.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom …. the flocks be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength.” Habakkuk 3:18,19

We are told, “In everything give thanks”, 1Thessalonians 5:18. If we have no faith we would hardly give God thanks for problems.

Created to Praise God

Long ago God said that a people would be created to praise Him.

“The people which shall be created shall praise the LORD” Psalm 102:18.

The Jewish people of old had to live by law, and law did not make them feel like praising God. But through Jesus Christ people can be made right with God through faith. When you receive what you do not deserve, without having earned it, and you know it to be a fact because you BELIEVE it, you find it easy to praise God. You are part of that people “created to praise the LORD”, and you can do it because of, and as proof of your faith.

Your praise does not replace faith; it is only an evidence of it. If you find that your heart says you are lying when you praise God you need to review your believing.

Prayer of Praise

You might like to use this prayer of praise, to encourage your faith.

“I Praise You Lord. I offer You thanks and praise, despite my problems. I praise You because You  CAN fix all my problems and You WILL move powerfully for me. I praise You because my problems have led me to learn more about You and to grow in faith. I praise You for loving me enough to use problems to bring me to You. I offer my praise and thanks in the lovely name of Jesus. Amen.”

Resting in Faith

Another evidence of your faith is your ability to rest. When faced with problems people tend to become agitated, unsettled and distracted. Once you decide to ‘believe’, you have confidence that God has it all under control. So you can rest.

God has promised Rest to His people.

“There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

We are meant to live with a sense of rest on the inside. We still have to work, build, learn, and do the things that this life and God require, but we do so with a sense of resting on the inside. We no longer struggle or strive with life’s circumstances or with God.

“Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

“He that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works.” Hebrews 4:10

Are You Resting?

If you say you believe, but continue to be agitated and unable to rest, then your believing needs to be worked on. There is beautiful peace and rest to those who believe that….

“If God be for us, who can be against us” Romans 8:31

“All things work together for good to them that love God” Romans 8:28

“My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19.

Make a conscious effort to enter into the Rest that God has for you. Build your believing until you enjoy permanent rest.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13.

Prayer for Rest

“Living Lord God, I rest in You. I choose to believe that You have everything under control. I choose to believe that You will never fail me nor let me down. I choose to believe that everything You do is good, and that I can always trust You. So I rest. I give up my panic and worry I throw away my fear and agitation. I give up my striving to make things work out. I trust You, and will continue to do so.

And so I find peace and rest in You. In Jesus’ name Amen.”

Lifestyle of Rest and Rejoicing

To ‘live by faith’ means that your whole life is constantly affected by your choice to believe that God CAN and WILL bless you. Your walk with God is to be the central focus of your life. Therefore the Resting and Rejoicing which spring from your faith will be a natural part of your daily life.

Others will become fearful, agitated, distracted by the latest new story, negative in their speech and pulled away from quiet confidence. But you, as a man of faith, will go on your way rejoicing.

Faith is not something to think about only when you are facing problems, but something that needs to fill your life.

“For we WALK by faith, not by sight” 2Corinthians 5:7

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)” Hebrews 11:6.

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” Romans 14:23.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” Proverbs 3:5,6.

Let The Song Begin

Let me hear you singing with melody in your heart to the Lord. Let me hear that faith in your heart ring from your lips with songs of confident rejoicing. Let me hear to breathing easy, even when the pressures are on top of you.

It is time to fill every pore of our being with a faith-filled confidence in God, that transforms the way we walk and talk and go on our way. Let there be singing. Let there be joy. Let there be rejoicing in the House of the Lord.

These are the natural fruits of lives filled with awesome faith in our awesome and miracle working God, who not only Can do what needs to be done, but who Will do what needs to be done.

Praise His Holy Name!

Faith Factor 3 – Pleasure

No world religion empowers its adherents as Christianity does. Christians do much more than follow religious prescriptions, read a holy book and believe in a particular deity. Christians engage the reality of God into their lives with awesome, transforming impact. And the mechanism by which they do that is an on-going process called ‘faith’.

So what is faith and how does it work? What do we have to do to operate in more of it? How is faith built up and how do we see more results from employing it? I am now up to the third part of a series exploring faith and addressing these questions.

God’s Pleasure

I was surprised many years ago to see a particular word attached to the definition of faith that I had never considered before. I am using Hebrews 11:6 as my reference text for a definition of faith and that verse speaks about God’s pleasure.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

My initial religious training made me think of man’s need to engage with God for man’s benefit: salvation. My evangelical roots pressed the argument that man needed to be saved and that could only be achieved by having faith in God.

So I was surprised when I actually stopped to take stock of what the Bible said about faith. I subconsciously expected the Bible to say, “without faith it is impossible to be saved”! But instead it said, “without faith it is impossible to please God”!

Wow! That was a complete turn around.

Pleasing God

Somehow I had come to see God’s person and sovereignty as so immense that man was absolutely insignificant to God’s consciousness. I don’t know where that came from, but I imbibed it at a very early age. I concluded that there was nothing man could do to influence God and that man was simply inconsequential in God’s grand scheme of things.

So, to discover that man had the personal power to bring pleasure to God came as a shock to me.

But take a look at what that verse says. “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God”. Faith not only gives humans the capacity to bring pleasure to God, but operating in faith is the ONLY way man can bring pleasure to God.

When I discovered that, my whole comprehension of what faith is and how mankind relates to God was expanded. I began to see a picture of God eagerly awaiting man’s faith-filled response to Him. Faith was not one-sided, giving man opportunity to enter God’s rescue plan, but a two-way relationship-building connection. Man’s response of faith not only brought benefit to man, but it fulfilled something of God’s wish for mankind, thus causing delight to God.

Win – Win

I began to see faith as a ‘Win-Win’ arrangement for man and God. Faith was no longer the self-seeking arm-twist that man could put on God, for man’s personal benefit. I now understood it as the mutually rewarding completion of a Father-Son interaction.

When I step out in faith I create a Win-Win situation. I win by accessing more of what God has for me. God wins by receiving the pleasure of a Father’s heart, seeing His child step into what He has created for me.

This previously unseen element of God’s pleasure made faith a much friendlier, relational quality within Christianity. It is a joy for me to move in faith, when I know that my faith brings delight to God.

As a child of God I am motivated to exercise faith as my gift to God. I can please Him. But I can only please Him by stepping out in faith.

Failure Pleases God

From the human perspective our actions are measured by the results they produce. If humans were to evaluate each other’s faith they would likely evaluate the ‘outcome’ of the faith. Faith that gets people healed, saved, delivered or otherwise changed in a measurable way gets the big ‘thumbs up’ from man.

But God is not pleased by the ‘output’ of faith or by the ‘results’ which faith generates. God is pleased with faith, pure and simple. When a person steps out in faith God is pleased. When a person chooses to trust God, in the face of all odds, God is pleased.

So, when a person trusts God, but everything falls apart, God is pleased. When a person steps out in faith and fails in all measurable human terms, GOD IS PLEASED! Even failure pleases God!

Now, isn’t that a radical idea?

Exhibit A – Moses

Don’t take my word for it that failure pleases God. Just take a look further on in Hebrews 11, the great ‘faith’ chapter of the Bible.

There we find many people being hailed for their faith. “By faith” this one did that and “By faith” that one did something else. There’s a whole chapter celebrating the heroes of faith.

So, take a look at what Hebrews 11 says about Moses fleeing from Egypt. Moses made a failed attempt to deliver some Israelites. But they rejected him and so Moses fled into the wilderness. Every time I read that account in Exodus 2 the clear impression is that Moses failed. Moses is seen fleeing with his tail between his legs, so to speak.

Yet in Hebrews 11:27 we have the same event described as if it was a triumphant moment of faith.

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

Man would call that a failure. God calls it faith. And faith pleases God! So, Moses’ failure pleased God.

More Failures that Pleased God

Have a look at these other heroes of faith who ended up in ‘defeat’ in human terms, yet who are listed alongside those who won out in the end.

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were killed with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” Hebrews 11:36,37

Does that sound like prime candidates for Christian Television or cover photos in Christian magazines? Absolutely not! They sound like a bunch of ‘losers’. Yet they are listed among the heroes of faith.

God was pleased with each one of those losers. They did not please God by getting a home run, or by clawing their way back to win the race. They lost. They died. They did not get the upper hand or win the day. They failed!

Please God

Faith is not about achieving a unique testimony to take you on the preaching trail. Faith is about pleasing God. God is pleased by your decision to trust Him. The outcome is far less relevant than you might think.

So, go ahead and please God. Get into the wonder of stepping out in faith in Him. Don’t get hung up by the outcome, but get excited about the privilege and opportunity you have to bring delight to the heart of your Heavenly Father.