Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Journey into Faith

When I read my bible, it stands out to me that God is VERY interested in our faith.

Years ago, I remember bursting into tears after reading Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God,...".  I felt like such a failure at faith. I imagined that God was very disappointed in me because of my struggle with a stronghold of fear.

But, what I didn't yet understand was that God is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He starts the whole thing in us and then He finishes it as well.

If you are still here, and you're alive and breathing.....He isn't finished with you yet. He knows exactly how to weave the events of our lives into experiences and encounters with Him that shape and change us from the inside out.

Sitting in a Henry Blackaby study called "Experiencing God" over 20 years ago, God zapped me with a one-liner that cut through years of frustration in my battle with fear. The author said simply, "If you have a fear problem, you have a love problem."  Those few words set me on a faith journey of self-discovery, and inner healing, that has continued to this day.

I occasionally still succumb to fear, but mostly I am victorious. I no longer believe God is disappointed with me (even when I fail), but I believe He is applauding my progress and journey.

Below are a few of the lessons I've learned along the way in overcoming fear.  I hope they help you, too.

1.  Perfect love casts out fear. (I Jn. 4:18) I had a fear issue because I had not encountered the love of the Father in my heart.  Once I began to come into the revelation of His all encompassing love, fear could no longer have it's hold on me. Now, when I start struggling with fear, I know I need another love encounter with the Father. When I run to Him, He does or says exactly what I need to hear or experience at that moment for whatever situation I may be facing.

2.  Guard your access points. There were certain areas of my life where I was more vulnerable to fear than others. I learned to distance myself from those things that might promote fear or give the enemy access to my vulnerable areas. Certain books, movies, conversations, etc. were off limits as far as I was concerned. For instance, when my children were small, I would not watch a movie about child abduction. Why give the enemy material to harass you with later?

3. Watch your agreements. As God began to renew my mind in the area of His love, protection, and Presence in my life, He also exposed the lies I believed in my mind and confessions I made with my own mouth. I learned that both God and satan work through the power of agreement. I had a lot of work to do with cleaning up my habits of speech and agreements with the enemy. I strongly believe and have witnessed first-hand, that some people experience continual difficulties because of the agreements with the enemies plans they continually make with their own mouth. Our words become self-fulfilling prophecies.

4. Speak words of life and faith even when you don't feel like it. This was key for me. I made lots of progress in learning what not to say, but I experienced huge leaps forward when I began to learn what things to say. You need to hear it, the enemy needs to hear it, and God wants to hear it. You can shift the atmosphere around you and others through speaking life and faith.

5. Find out what God is saying and hold on to it with everything in you. Remember, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.(Rom. 10:17) You won't be able to walk by faith if you don't hear what He is saying. We have the Word of God, and those are definitely promises we can claim. But, there is something special about getting alone with Him and having Him speak specifically into your situation. Sometimes it's only a word or two, but how precious those words are! It is no wonder that Jesus himself said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4)

It's amazing to me that now I can actually say I enjoy the faith journey. Sometimes, I think of the faith journey kind of like a video game where you get to go to the next level when you've overcome the enemies in your present level. The difference is we're not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us every step of the way training us, equipping us, clothing us for battle, and then cheering us on. If we mess up, we just get to try it again. He sets us up to win.

I love reading Hebrews 11, known by some as the Hall of Faith. The thing that strikes me most is that so many of the names listed as icons of faith made major mess-ups in their faith journey, and yet God saw fit to brag on them and list there names as examples of faith. I can imagine that He is penning another faith list in Heaven even now that He loves to brag on, and maybe our names will be on there, too.

Remember, He's the Author and Finisher of our faith.