trusting God

There is no path.

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

A number of years ago I was with a group of men and we were seeking God for direction about a critical decision one of the guys had to make. Like most of us he wanted assurance from God that the path he was about to choose to walk would take him safely to where he wanted to go.

As we prayed a man in the group had a vision. The Lord showed him a deep chasm with a primitive rope suspension bridge linking the two sides. The man seeking direction was standing with great trepidation on one precipice poised to begin traversing the narrow bridge. The problem facing him was that there were no wooden slats in the walkway portion of the bridge except for the one slat immediately in front of him upon which to take his first step out over the edge. In the vision the man summoned all the faith he could and stepped onto the first slat. No sooner had he placed his full weight on that slat when immediately a second slat appeared in front of him. As he took a step onto that board and transferred his weight fully to it, another one appeared in front of that one. He was elated. But then he realized that with each step forward onto an appearing slat, the one behind him was disappearing as it fell away.

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No Strings Attached Faith

One of the marks of the Christian life is a no strings attached faith! I am using the phrase “no strings attached” to describe an attitude of faith in which we yield full control to God in matters that concern us. Ultimately every transaction with God must always be based on our trusting Him to be who He says He is and to do what He promises He will do. Faith therefore should enable us to release our control of things in order to let Him have control. If we are going to live by faith, then as the old saying goes, we must “let go and let God!”

Interestingly the etymology of the “no strings attached” idiom has its root in Jewish culture. In ancient times legal documents were written on parchment with strings attached that were used to tie them shut when they were rolled up. When a document was delivered the transaction was not completed until the delivering party had released it and the strings binding it. For instance, according to the Babylonian Talmud, if a man delivered a bill of divorce but held on to the document’s string the transaction was invalid because at any moment he might snatch it back.

Jesus is our model of living a life of no strings attached faith. The culmination of His yielded life to the control of His Father was in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed “not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) And He encouraged all His followers to do the same when He taught us to pray “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Being a person of faith requires continually choosing to commit things to the will of God – to release things to His control with no strings attached. Unfortunately that is not always easy to do. Although we want to trust God and commit to the Lord Jesus full control of our lives, there are some strings we tend to grip very tightly. They are usually attached to things we love, hate to give up or still feel we need to have some say and control over. Those things to which we want to hold strings of control tend to be many and varied. They can range from material possessions, people and relationships to preferences, worries and dreams.

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Faith the Divine Exchange

“Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” Psalm 2:12

Faith is a divine exchange.
We exchange the visible for the invisible. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
We let go of what is tangible to obtain what is intangible. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
We forgo trust in self, in order to trust in God. (Proverbs 3:5)
We relinquish what we can control, to give God control. (Proverbs 3:6)
We surrender our will so we can live in His will. (Luke 22:42)
We give up doing it our way to do it His way. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We renounce self-centeredness for God centeredness. (Mark 8:34-35)
We confess our unrighteousness to receive His righteousness. (1 John 1:9)
We risk temporal loss for eternal gain. (John 12:24)
We exchange the ashes of our lives for the beauty of His. (Isaiah 61:2)
We ignore what we can see to discover what He can see. (Romans 4:17)
We set aside what we know in order to learn what He knows. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We exchange the unpredictable for the predictable. (Hebrews 11:1)
We give away what we have, so He can give us all He has. (Luke 6:38)
We forego our time-table for God’s time-table. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
We disregard the natural to appeal to the supernatural. (Romans 4:19-20)
We silence the negative to speak the positive. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 & 2 Corinthians 4:13)

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Ecclesiastes 11:1

What does this phrase “cast your bread upon the waters” really mean? It is basically a call to put your faith in action. It is a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind of challenge. It bids us to take a risk and relinquish control of something that is precious and essential to our existence in hopes that something even better will return.

There are three common interpretations of this scripture verse. The most accepted interpretation among many Bible scholars is that it refers to helping the poor. The verse is viewed as an encouragement to provide bread to those who have none. Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (NIV)

Another interpretation is that this verse was applied to the practice of planting on flooded fields. In biblical times when the Jordan River would overflow its banks, farmers were known to go out in a boat and actually sow their seed right on the water. They did this believing that the seed would sink to the bottom and eventually be covered with the fine silt left by the receding flood waters. That would serve as rich soil in which to grow an abundant harvest. Of course it took tremendous faith on the farmer’s part to sow in such adverse conditions. But he took the risk because of the rich return he hoped to gain.

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Shut in to faith

“Then the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16

Imagine what is must have been like for Noah and his family to finally board the ark. It was like moving into a barn chocked full of animals. There was nothing exotic about it at all. It was a three story, windowless monstrosity. It’s only source of natural light and fresh air was an eighteen inch gap at the very top just under the eaves of the roof that extended all around the perimeter of the ark.

And the ark had not been constructed to sit placidly on a plain. It was built to weather a natural catastrophe and the storm of the ages. Within hours of God’s all-aboard call, the underground waters would erupt from the depths of the earth and mighty torrents of rain would be loosed from the heavens. The Bible tells us that God himself closed the door in the side of the ark after everyone was on board. And with that He literally shut Noah and his family in to faith.

Do you know what being shut in to faith is like? Remember the last time you went on a scary ride at the amusement park? How did you feel when the attendant closed the door and cinched the safety bar across your lap? That was the point of no return and like it or not, you were shut in to faith. Within seconds you were about to be whisked away on the ride of your life. And there was nothing you could do but trust God that those maintaining the mechanics and operation of everything were doing their jobs.

Being shut in to faith is both exhilarating and terrifying. When God shut the door of the ark and all hell broke loose outside, what must have been going through the minds of Noah and company.

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