Unworthy Still

The skinny weakling staggered before the hulking thug. After several knock-out blows that had sent the upstart to the hard floor of the ring, it was a miracle the bony stripling could move at all, let alone dance to duck the next lethal blows. The jeering, cheering crowd urged their hero to finally finish the job and mince the lanky fool.

That the weakling had already endured so much beggared belief. It was as if his fragile frame was recreated after each crushing blow smashed it to the floor. Was there no end to this insect dodging around the ring?

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An Allegory

Got the picture? That’s what a faith venture can be like at times. We are totally unqualified for what we believe for. We are totally incapable of bringing even the tiniest portion to reality. Yet we get into the ring, against fears, spiritual foes, oppressive circumstances, medical prognosis, obvious facts, and other belligerent opponents who smash at us with their destructive fists.

At times we are hit and knocked to the ground. The facts, the medical results, the legal opinion, the circumstances turning against us, our own ineptitude – all pound upon our weakling faith and throw us around like a leaf in the wind.

Yet, with nothing more than determination to believe God and His Word, we stagger to our feet again. Somehow new strength surges through our mangled limbs and they straighten again. New energy lifts our feet and we begin to duck and swerve around the obvious, belligerent realities which stand squarely against our faith expectation.

Unworthy Us

Clearly we are unworthy of the fight. We are no match for the foes that arraign themselves against us. We are not able to quench or quell their determined violence. Our only hope is the Lord. Our only ambition is to stay in the ring until the Lord declares us the champion.

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We cannot strike a blow. We cannot get the smallest point for our prowess, strategy, footwork, or for laying the least blow upon our enemies. We can only hold on, in desperate hope of survival.

We will not win the fight. Jesus will win it for us. We will not defeat the foes. Jesus has already done that for us. We will not have the strategy. We rely on Him for that. We do not know the way forward. We look to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We bring nothing into the ring but our determination to face the foe with the Lord as our deliverance.

Knocked Down Again

Then another powerful blow knocks us to the ground. The enemy sneers, “What are you doing here? Go home where it’s safe. Only a fool comes here to confront us!”

Our heart is gripped with the realisation that we are getting nowhere. There has been no breakthrough. We still face all of our foes. The facts have not changed. There is no new development to rescue us. Our resources are depleted even more. The taunting voice of the enemy speaks the truth. There is no reasonable excuse for expecting anything to change. We are fools to take up such a venture and attempt so daring a breakthrough.

It’s All About Him!

And then, by God’s grace, a voice reaches us from somewhere and asks, “Were you relying on your own worthiness?” And we realise the answer is, “No!” The battle has never been about us. It has never relied on our ability, our wisdom, our special skills, our divine calling, or anything else of ours. This challenge is not about “us”, but all about “HIM”!

We stagger to our feet again and wave our arms to the crowd. We shout, “I am unworthy! I am undone! It has nothing to do with ME! I stand here today in His name, under His grace, seeking His miracle working power, looking for His Kingdom, according to His will, relying only on Him, and giving all the glory only to His holy name!”

Strength surges through our limbs again. Long, lanky, useless limbs that can barely hold the weight of sweat-drenched gloves begin to move again. We face our foe yet another time. He stares in consternation. How did we rise after his last powerful blow? He cannot figure it, but be moves toward us yet again. We duck and swerve and break into a smile of joy.

Hope to Endure and Win

We are still alive. The battle is not over. We have not been destroyed. We are being sustained. And he who began this good work in us will continue to perform it until it concludes with the revelation of Jesus Christ made flesh in our circumstances! The miracle is on the way! We are being supernaturally sustained. We are taking hold of that which is far beyond us. We will prevail!
And so it is that useless ones, like you and me, move from the pit where we should be to the exalted place where the Lord wants us to be. We do not progress in God’s Kingdom by jumping through the world’s hoops. We don’t get there by natural means. We need “hind’s feet” to reach the high places of God. Colleges can’t get us to Mount Zion. Money, positions, peer approval, government endorsement, big congregations, professional programs and the like will never give us victory in the fight that counts.

It is our insane faith, claiming things that don’t belong to us (in natural terms) as if they are rightfully ours by God’s perfect will and Christ’s perfect sacrifice. That is what teleports us from unworthy to worthy. That’s what makes a sinner a saint. That’s what makes a loser a leader. That’s what makes a has-been a hero again.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Fight the good fight of faith. You will get knocked to the floor, but the very fact that you can stand again is testimony to the Lord’s sustaining power. You will learn to rejoice in your unworthiness, not in your natural credentials. You will wave your weakling arms and all heaven will break loose, while those with natural strength watch on in dismay.

To all those who resonate with the call to live by faith I say, “Go for it! Stand to your feet yet again. You won’t win the fight, but you will be declared the victor. The Lord will fight for you. He just needs you to stagger to your feet again and determine that you are useless, but that your weakness is of no consequence.”

Some time soon a champion will step into the arena and tear down the ring in which you have been tormented. He will carry you out on his shoulders and take you to the place of victory you dared lay claim to. So, hang in there, you hopeless thing, you! That’s what I’m doing, and I’m just as hopeless as you are.

It’s a pretty good place to be, this ‘hopeless’ place. Now it’s all about Him! And HE is pretty amazing!

Faith Factor 14 – Good Fight of Faith

Faith is for fighting! In all that we have learned about faith there is the reminder that faith involves a form of contending, or fighting, to see a spiritual breakthrough.

Yes, I have spoken about the “rest of faith”, and that doesn’t sound like fighting. Yes, I have spoken about the rewards of faith. But I have also spoken about the need to “apprehend” and to hold fast to our faith, even when it is being tried and the results do not turn up.

Birth Pangs

At times faith is like giving birth. While the outcome is glorious and makes for an impressive testimony, once everything is over, the actual process of bringing the spiritual outcome to reality can be a protracted labour.

Sometimes we are assailed with doubts and counter arguments, insisting that we should give up our faith or our outrageous expectations. Sometimes we face insurmountable circumstances, expert medical opinions, and obstacles which dwarf the little faith we have.

Holding on in faith, and persisting until we have the victory, can be a long and tortuous battle against unseen assailants, the attitudes and opinions of those around us and our own private insecurities.

As with a natural birth, once the outcome has been achieved, the pain of the process is easily put behind us.

Faith and Trials

It seems that faith needs trials to refine and test its quality. If faith is never tested, then we can never be sure of its durability and value. When faith stands up to the pressure test, heat test, wind and storm test, and so on, then we can see how strong that faith is.

Facing these trials of our faith is part of “fighting the good fight of faith”.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1Timothy 6:12

Facing these trials is also so much a part of the process that the Bible speaks of the “trial of your faith” as it is a natural thing to be expected.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1Peter 1:7

Refining Fire

When the Apostle Peter mentioned that our faith is “tried with fire” (1Peter 1:7) he was alluding to the process of refining gold and precious metals. Gold is super-heated so the rubbing (dross) will float to the surface to be skimmed off. The way to tell that the gold is pure is to heat it and see that no rubbish comes to the surface.

“The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD tries the hearts.” Proverbs 17:3

God puts you under pressure to see how your heart and your faith will respond. If you have confidence in God you will give thanks in everything. If you have no faith in God you will panic and despair when troubles come. If you can “rest” in God, amid all your problems, then your faith is strong. If you can praise Him despite what you are going through then your faith is strong.

Do not be afraid of the delays, opposition, frustrations and so on, since they give you opportunity to “fight the good fight of faith” and press through to victory.

Remember, you will not be tested beyond what you can handle.

“No temptation has come upon you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you can handle; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, so you can bear it.” 1Corinthians 10:13

Head For the Red Sea

In my teenage years, as I first came to understand the awesome dimension of faith, I also realised that faith and trials go hand in hand. The Biblical example that impressed me was what happened to the Children of Israel as they moved away from Egypt.

The Israelites had already been set free from slavery. They were made fabulously wealthy with the jewels of Egypt. They walked out of Egypt as the victors. The faith of Moses, persisting in obeying God, despite the opposition of Pharaoh and the Israelites, had won them the victory.

Yet God then led them to the Red Sea. It is understood that the place they found themselves in had the sea in front of them, mountains on either side, and the Egyptians coming after them from behind. However, this was no accident. God deliberately led them there, knowing He would work a miracle to destroy the Egyptians.

The Red Sea also became Israel’s first trial of faith after gaining their freedom. And so, what did they do? They panicked and rose up against Moses. They accused him of leading them there to kill them (Exodus 14:11,12). Moses, on the other hand, was full of faith in God. That’s why I like him as my Faith Mentor. He declared that they would be victorious, even before he knew what God was going to do.

“And Moses said to the people, Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show you to day: for the Egyptians whom you have seen to day, you will see again no more for ever. The LORD will fight for you, and you will hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13,14

Many Trials

That ordeal at the Red Sea was not the last trial of the Israelites. Many times God tested them, to see whether they would trust Him or not. They needed water at times. They needed food. God led them to places where the provisions were not visible.

If they were full of faith they would have simply confessed their confidence in God to supply their needs. They would have maintained faith that God, who set them free, would lead them all the way to the Promised Land. Each new trial would have had them looking eagerly for the next miracle.

Instead they caved in, accused God, rejected God’s man and proved they did not have faith.

The Heart Tried

The trials of your faith, which you are to win through on, are part of you fighting the good fight of faith. And that good fight of faith is fought in our own heart. It is God who fights with our enemies and deals with our circumstances. That is not our part to do. Ours is to win the battle against our fears, doubts, weakness, and so on.

Moses knew the truth. God does the fighting for us. So, our fight of faith is not against people or circumstances. Our fight happens in the inner recesses of our life, where we choose to “only believe” despite what the report says.

We win the fight when our heart is established in confidence in God’s grace. No matter what people say or do to us, or what the expert prognosis may be, we win when we determine to trust God and stand upon His promises.

When your faith is tried and you continue to trust in God, you develop a divine patience to wait on God. You are not covetous and not impatient or demanding. You trust God and rest in Him.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.” James 1:3

The ancient holy man, Job, won the battle of faith when he said, “Though He kills me I will yet trust in Him!” (Job 13:15)

Your Faith

I cannot have faith for you. Your faith belongs uniquely to you. If I grow in faith, that has no bearing on your faith. You must grow your own faith.

“Be it unto you according to YOUR faith” (Matthew 9:29). It is the trial of YOUR faith that works patience (James 1:3). So, value your own faith and build it strong.

You build up your faith in various ways, and that will be the theme of the next Faith Factor.