Taking Ground through Faith, by Ps Chris Field

You are a Christian by faith.

As a Christian you live by faith.

Only faith can please God.

So, have your considered the significance of those statements?

Just Faith

You may have gotten the idea that God can be pleased by your singing, or song writing, or performing, or kneeling with tears of emotion, or preaching, or getting into the wonderful worship session, and so on.

If you watch the Worship Videos released by many big churches around the world today you could easily get the impression that being moved in an orchestrated worship event is the high point of Christianity.

But I am here to burst your bubble.

The ONLY thing that pleases God is your faith.  (See Hebrews 11:6)

Not Your Talent

Since you can only please God with your faith, there is no reason to believe God is pleased by your talent.  Your funky skills on an instrument or with a microphone may have absolutely nothing to do with faith.

Your ability to create poetic lyrics and stirring melody, or create fantastic riffs to accentuate a song, or to play the drum rhythm exactly as they do it on the Hillsong recording, counts for nothing.

ONLY YOUR FAITH pleases God.  Your talent has NOTHING to do with it.

Now I don’t say that to offend those wonderful talented people who I enjoy listening to.  I say that simply to pull down the wrong ideas that get sown in people’s heads.

I want you to hear what the Bible says, and not to let your wrong ideas rob you of the truth.

Evidence of Faith

So, if faith is the ONLY way you can please God what is the evidence of faith at work in your life?

Faith will lead you to works.  Those works will be expressions of your trust in God.

But if you have all your needs met and have good health, good income, no worries in life and no need to rely on God, you may not have any evidence of faith.

That does not mean you cannot have faith if all your needs are met, but it does put you at risk of cruising along relying on your natural conditions and not living by faith.

Remember what I said at the start, “As a Christian you live by faith”.  That is a truth stated several times in the Bible.

“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 (See also: Habakkuk 2:4, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38)

Take Ground or Hold Ground

Many years ago I realised that if I am not careful I will fall into the pattern or not living by faith.  In the affluent western world we have so many support mechanisms that we often rely on God as a last resort.

We have doctors, specialists, jobs, technology, money, material goods, security systems, ready access to food, running water, gas, electricity, ambulances, and on it goes.

So how do you use faith when you don’t need to?

That’s the challenge.  If you do not need to employ faith how to you “live by faith”?

The answer is that you must use faith to TAKE GROUND or you’ll have to use faith to HOLD GROUND.

Let God be God

If you do not need God in your life you will not exercise your faith in Him.  But if a doctor diagnoses some serious illness your prayer life will probably become more active.

If you lose your job you are more likely to pray for God’s provision or protection than when everything is going fine.

If you decide to take on the enemy and rout him out of your family or culture, then you will be calling on God to be God and to win the battle for you.

In order for you to be keen to find God’s power at work you will either be trying to Take Ground from the enemy, or you will be in one of those situations where you are struggling to Hold Ground against some calamity or challenge.

Choose to Take Ground

If faith is the only way to please God and you must “live” by faith, then you need to choose to Take Ground from the enemy.

That’s why Jesus taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.  That is a prayer for Taking Ground.  It is a prayer to see evil driven back and God’s Kingdom established in new ways and in new places.

If you are living to take ground for God’s Kingdom you will be living by faith.  You will be employing faith in your prayers and in your actions.  And God will be pleased, because ONLY FAITH pleases God and you will be employing faith.

Use It or Be Forced to Use It

You have heard the saying “Use it or Lose it” but in things of the Spirit it might be better said, “Use it or be Forced to use it!”

If you are a Christian you are to live by faith.  If you don’t live by faith what will God do?  God wants you to live by faith because only your faith pleases Him.

Maybe God will have to force you into a place where you use faith, so you can be living by faith and pleasing Him.  So, how would God force you to live by faith?  Maybe God will have to send a few problems your way.  Maybe God will have to pull the rug out from under your feet.

A sudden loss, health challenge, problem at work, financial crisis, upset in the family, problem neighbour, legal issue, or the like can put you on the back foot and fighting to hold your ground.  Your cosy world can be turned into upheaval in an instant if God chooses to bring a challenge your way.

Taking Ground is Better

If you have the choice of taking ground for God’s Kingdom or being forced to fight to keep what you already have, which would you choose?

I think it is FAR better to be taking ground than struggling to hold the ground I have.  I would much rather be claiming new horizons for God, than struggling to bail out a sinking boat.

Taking Ground is much better than being forced to pray in desperation to get your health back, or to survive a financial disaster, or solve some vexing problem that has attacked you and your family.

When I realised that, many years ago, I decided that I want to be one who takes ground for God’s Kingdom, seeing God’s Kingdom come and God’s Will done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Maybe that’s why I am doing such crazy things as taking on injustice and fraud from the banks and courts.  I am in a place where my daily prayer is for God to be God in my situation and for Him to win for me.  I am staking all I have on my determination to bring new levels of justice to my nation and for my children and grandchildren’s future.

Taking ground is better – because it puts me in a place of living by faith, and that faith pleases God.  And I get to see God work miracles of deliverance and powerful works of transformation on the inside of my life.

I encourage you to do a faith audit and to do whatever you have to do to keep your own faith life active and vital.

Now, to clarity, you don’t need to be in a spiritual storm to be living by faith.  All those pressing in to God for rescue or new ground are engaging their faith.  And once you’ve staked your claim and are standing by it, you are living by faith, even if there is no drama about the matter.  The issue is to be living by faith – engaging your faith so God is delighted with you.

Faith and Doubt A Lesson by Ps Chris Field

My recent Doubt Dungeon post led to further thoughts about how doubt blocks faith.  So here is a fresh analogy for the place of faith and doubt in our lives.

I pointed out in Doubt Dungeon that doubt blocks our will.  When we have doubts we are afraid to engage our will to make a choice, since we might be making the wrong choice.

So doubt is a terrible force to allow into your life as it destroys your capacity to make choices and move forward.

Biblical Insight

The Bible speaks about how doubt disables our will, so this is not some mere psychological observation, but a principle that we need to be aware of.  When you have doubts about the choice to make you “halt”.  You are blocked from moving forward.  The ancient Hebrew word used for halt speaks of dancing from one foot to the other, unable to step forward.

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long will you halt between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” 1Kings 18:21

Having doubts leads you to struggle between two opinions, so you become “double minded”.  And that makes you unstable.  You cannot make clear, effective decisions that you will stick to.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8

The Springboard

To give practical form to how doubt and faith work in your life I suggest the idea of a Faith Springboard.  Imagine you have a springboard, similar to those used in athletics to launch a person forward.

Faith is a Springboard that launches you forward in the things you are believing for.  With faith you connect with God and receive His blessings.  God is pleased when you use faith.

However, your faith springboard must be plugged in.  While normal springboards don’t need any power source, your faith springboard needs to be plugged into something.  It needs to be plugged into your Will.

Unless you “choose” to believe, your belief machine (springboard) sits idle and gathers dust.  No matter how many times you look at it or talk about it, your faith will not work until you activate it with your will, by choosing to believe.

So, to get the picture clear, you have a springboard of faith that will catapult you forward in the things of God, but your must activate it with your will, by making a choice to believe.

Faith is choosing to believe.  Faith and the will need to work together.  It is “you” who believes God, with your will.

Abraham Believed God

The most famous man of faith in human history is Abraham, who believed what God promised him.  God told Abraham he would have a son by his wife Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah were already too old to be parents, but Abraham made a choice to believe God.

We know from the New Testament that faith is the only thing that pleases God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that God exists, and that God rewards those who diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

When Abraham chose to believe God, God was pleased and God blessed him.

“For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3

Abraham believed God.  He didn’t get carried away in some emotional high, but he chose, with his will, to trust and rely on what God told him.  When Abraham chose to activate faith, by his will choosing to believe God, God credited Abraham with righteousness.

And that is the model for salvation in every generation since then.  We are not made right with God by anything we do, except the choice of our will to believe what God says.  Since Christ’s sacrifice for us 2,000 years ago, we must choose to believe in Christ as our saviour.  Then we are forgiven and made a child of God.

Just as Abraham had to use his will to choose to believe God, we also must use our will to choose to believe God.

Enter Doubt

When doubt comes into the picture it has the effect of pulling the plug on our will.  Faith needs our will to make the choice to believe.  Doubt pulls the plug, so our will is no longer connected to our faith.

When we ‘doubt’ we suddenly have a dead springboard.  It doesn’t work any more.  That’s not because doubt is greater than faith, but because doubt disconnects our will.  When we won’t “choose to believe” our faith lies dormant.

Faith in God is still the most powerful force we can activate.  But it cannot help us until and unless we make a personal choice to believe.  Doubt frightens us off making that choice, and so our faith sits like a broken down machine, unable to do for us what it is designed to do.

Activate Faith

We all need to activate our faith.  We need to choose to believe in God and to trust God’s Word.

If you activate your faith you can keep on springing forward in the things of God.  If you let doubt disable your will, faith will be of no effect to you.

Faith is a choice, not a feeling or some emotional state you get into after hearing a positive message.  It is a choice made in the cold light of day, that you will believe God to be God and believe His Word to be true.  Those who get swept along could easily be swept away, but those who activate their faith, by a choice to believe, squashing their doubts and stepping onto the springboard of faith, will be able to enter into the salvation and blessing God has for them.

So, the lesson is “Choose to Believe”.

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 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.