Opening Session: Faith

What is your definition of faith?

The Bible says:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

— Hebrews 11:1 NIV84

Others say:

Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way. —Oswald Chambers[1]

Faith… primarily, “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing… The main elements in “faith” in its relation to the invisible God… (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth… (2) a personal surrender to Him… (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender… —Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary[2]

faith… allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty… fidelity to one’s promises… belief and trust in and loyalty to God… belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion… firm belief in something for which there is no proof… complete trust… something that is believed especially with strong conviction… — Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)[3]

[1] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).

[2] W. E. Vine et al., vol. 2, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 222.

[3] Frederick C. Mish, “Preface”, in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Eleventh ed.; Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

Carol says:

I used to think faith was purely a choice, but I’ve since learned it is first and foremost a gift of God’s grace. You can tell when you’ve received the gift, because faith changes you.

 From the moment He captured my heart in an ICU waiting room, something happened in my spirit that distinctly changed me. It wasn’t like God and the gospel were new to me. They were things I would have told you I believed, but really there had been no change in my life, therefore I really didn’t believe.

 Changes began in my life with a commitment, a desire, to seek Him out in His Word and in prayer.

 Changes came with my understanding that He is right, I am wrong. His Word true. My way skewed.

 Changes began to be revealed in my life, ones I hadn’t tried to change, they just changed. My taste in movies, in books, these changes caught me by surprise.

 This is faith.

Stacy says:

Faith is a concept that in the past somewhat confused me. I often wondered what people meant when they talked about faith. As an older child I spent hours watching television evangelists talk about faith. At the time I did not understand where that faith came from or how you got it. The faith they claimed could heal the sick, provide for the poor, free those living entangled in sin always seemed sort of magical. Something I did not have, but I wanted. Though sometimes it seems silly now, I realize that for me the beginning of the journey towards faith began there. It was a desire deep within, not to be like those I saw on television, but to have that kind of faith.

Though my quest began with a curiosity about what might have been real or not on the television screen, that journey has been full of opportunities to develop my faith. At times, I hoped I could just have it. I would go to sleep at night and hope that in the morning I would magically be blessed with this thing called faith. I hoped if I could say the “right” prayer or speak the “right” Scripture, faith would become part of me.

 Now I realize, faith is not some magical power bestowed upon us, but in most cases it is a choice. After all, look at the heroes of the Bible. Noah chose to build the ark. Abraham walked each step up to the place where he would sacrifice his son because he chose to. Moses went back to Egypt in his own free will. To me that is what makes them powerful. That’s what makes them faithful. Choosing to believe in the One who proves to us every day that He is trustworthy and sure to accomplish His will in our lives.

What is your first recollection of faith?

Think about your own personal faith journey, where are you? Is your faith stronger today than yesterday? stronger this year than last? Why or why not?

Read Hebrews 11:1. According to this verse, what is faith based on?

Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines faith as primarily, “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing… a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth.

What things have you heard that are hard to believe without seeing?

How does faith bring us to an understanding of God’s truth?

The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts Hebrews 11:1 like this:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

Let’s take a moment to meditate and pray Hebrews 11:1.

What does provide the foundation for your life? Is it God who makes your life worth living? Do you have a handle on what you cannot see?

We often think of faith as a belief system, something held in our mind. We don’t usually think about having to act to have faith. However, James makes it clear: if our faith doesn’t prompt action it is dead…

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. — James 2:14-17 NIV

Even Merriam-Webster’s definition implies an action associated with faith, allegiance to duty or a person. An allegiance requires you to uphold and fulfill certain obligations.

What would you have thought of David’s faith if he never actually picked up stones to slay Goliath? What if he said, “I have complete faith in God to take care of this giant!” and then sat down to have lunch?

Faith does not mean we have to slay giants (though it might feel that way sometimes) but we do have to act in faith daily. As Christians, God calls us to do many things, some may be easy for you and some may feel hard, yet all are a part of our faith walk. Sister Talk: Resuscitate Your Faith covers five ways Scripture calls us to exercise faith. Believing is the first step.

How confident are you in what you believe as a Christian?

One of the most important issues we need to deal with as Believers is our belief. We need to know with confidence what we believe and why we believe it. When we are firm in what and why we believe, we can help others come to the truth.

Believers are called to be prepared to give an answer for our faith and hope. We need to know what we believe in order to share it with others.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. — 1Peter 3:15 NIV

Confidence in our beliefs protects us from being drawn away from our faith.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. — Colossians 2:8 NIV

The first week of study we will be looking at the importance of believing, not only in the existence of God, but who He is and what He calls us to believe. We hope to inspire you and help you establish a firm foundation of your belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is an important step in exercising your faith.

The first aspect of faith we’ll talk about is Believe.

As you approach Sister Talk: Resuscitate Your Faith, ask God to show you where you are lacking in your faith. Be honest in approaching Him; tell Him the things you find hard to accept. God wants you to come as you are, in truth. Ask him to help you grow your faith.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” —Luke 17:5 ESV

Format:

Five days of study per week will cover a single aspect of faith. Each day’s study includes a time to Talk It Out:

  • Talk it over with yourself. Consider a question to help you look inside and examine your faith. Take time to journal your thoughts through words or drawings. You may even have your own questions spurred by the initial question.
  • Talk it over with God. A time of prayer to exercise the practice of reaching out to God. A prayer prompt is included along with Scripture. Incorporate the Bible verse into your prayer.

The end of each day gives you an opportunity to Exercise Your Faith:

  • Gratitude: The Psalmist writes, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving…”.Telling God what we are thankful for moves us into the gates of His presence. It is literally the first step in moving closer to Him. Use the prompt in your daily work to help you develop the spiritual discipline of gratitude.

Stacy says:

No matter where you are or what season you find yourself living in… no matter how connected or disconnected you feel, there is one spiritual discipline anyone can do anywhere: Offer thanksgiving to God. Mostly I exercised this discipline in the month of November and on a few special occasions throughout the year. I gave thanks for meals, but practicing gratitude daily was not priority. Not until I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She challenged her readers to list 1000 gifts to be thankful for, and I took the challenge.

  • Scripture Memory. Each week’s introduction includes a memory verse. At the end of each day’s study, take time to memorize the week’s verse. Write it down on a note card, carry it with you throughout your day, post it on your bathroom mirror where you see it every morning, or whatever way works best for you to tuck the verse in your heart by the end of the week.

Both Gratitude and Scripture Memory are great ways to build up your faith.

You will find a page dedicated to Vocabulary to Revive. Satan loves to take powerful words from Scripture and dilute or deaden their original biblical meaning in the world. Through a brief word study, we will revive, restore to life, reconnect with the true meaning of some of the words we’ve seen twisted by the world. The study will direct you to this page during the week or just go browse whenever you like. The list of pages is found in the dark blue box at the bottom of the blog.

We’ve used a variety of Bible translations throughout the study. Each is marked:

  • NIV — New International Version
  • ESV — English Standard Version
  • NASB95 — New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update
  • HCSB — Holman Christian Standard Bible
  • Msg — The Message

Have a great week exercising your faith!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s