The battle of the Christian life has always been not just to believe, but to keep on believing. This is how we grow strong in faith and see the actual fulfillment of God's promises in our lives.
Today we tend to soft-pedal unbelief as little more than a common weakness. But God takes no such easygoing approach (Heb. 10:35-39).
Rejecting God's promises to us is far more destructive than the sensational sins we often talk about. The Bible says it is a "sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" (Heb. 3:12, NIV).
The great target of Satan is to break down our faith. He knows all too well that the righteous live by faith, so he aims at cutting our lifeline to God.
Faith is like the hand that reaches up to receive what God has freely promised. If the devil can pull your hand back down to your side, then he has succeeded.
Real faith is produced when our hearts draw near to God and receive His promises deep within us. There, by divine power, His Word will work supernaturally.
The chronic disease that afflicts us is not a lack of effort; it's a lack of real faith. Many times we are treating the outward behavior and not its source.
We are running the race of faith. And we desire to receive not only God's ultimate promise of salvation but also the many other promises He has made to us along the way.
Faith Follows Promises
Because of the unique place God has given to faith, His grace flows along the channels of His promises—not His commands. God's commands show His holy character and reveal our sinfulness, but they have no ability in themselves to empower us to obey.
It is not that we don't know what is right or that we don't desire to live that way. Our problem is mustering the spiritual strength to obey, and the commands of God cannot impart that (Rom. 7:18).
Saints down through the ages have not so much clung to the holy commands of God and the accompanying judgment to all offenders as they have cherished the promises and revelations concerning His great salvation through Christ (Rom. 4:5; 8:1, 3; 1 John 1:9). When trusted, these blessed promises of God release His supernatural grace in and through us.
It is these promises that draw the heart to God in faith. In fact, the great command of the New Covenant is to believe!
The Israelites who left Egypt came up short with regard to possessing the new land for this reason: They heard clearly what God promised, but their hearts did not receive it in faith (Heb. 4:2).
Today it is possible to make a living as an esteemed theologian and yet have no more living faith than a slug. Christians can listen to the Word preached every Sunday—and even have a devotional life of sorts throughout the week—without rising above the cynicism, depression and unbelief that are so prevalent in our culture.
The Word must find within our hearts an atmosphere in which its divine power can be released. That kind of dynamic faith fairly oozes from the words of the great Israelite leader Joshua near the end of his life.
He was one of only two men who left Egypt as adults and actually made it all the way into the Promised Land. His parting instructions reveal the environment in which faith blossoms and grows.
Look Back With Thanksgiving
Joshua begins his farewell with this ringing statement: "You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you" (Josh. 23:3).
In other words, look back and think about all He has done. How can we have faith for the future if we don't look back often and thank God for all He's given us in the past?
A lack of gratitude is, in fact, one of our besetting sins. In most of our churches, there is no outpouring of vibrant thanksgiving and praise each Sunday because we are too preoccupied with our problems.
Give Him praise! Let Him know from the depths of your heart how much you appreciate His goodness!
Whether it is part of your religious tradition or not, get past your self-consciousness and formality to praise the Lord. Refuse to be embarrassed or hindered by anyone.
Look Ahead With Anticipation
Next Joshua turned his attention to the future. At the end of his years, he was still invoking the promises of God and boldly declaring that "the Lord your God Himself" would conquer the remaining Canaanite nations (Josh. 23:5).
Every one of us can point to things in our lives that are not yet the way God wants them to be. He wants to root out things that hinder and mar our Christlikeness.
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