What Does Faith Believe?

Faith mountain

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
(Psalm 107:15-16)

Do we believe God can break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron? Do we believe God can do things vastly beyond anything we could ask or imagine? Too often we say that God is powerful—able to do all things, even—but then rarely look for God to do powerful things in and around our lives. We temper our expectations down to more tame heights or abstract aims.

At times this is because of uncertainty or fear. We say, “God is might to save, but will He do it here and now with this specific situation?” Unsure, we draw back from asking because we do not want to be disappointed if God does not answer in the way we hope or timing we would like.

But this reveals a deeper problem of our faith. If faith “is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1), then even if we do not see what we pray for, true faith still believes that God is at work. We walk by faith and not be sight. True faith is not decimated by perceptions, otherwise it would not be faith at all but something else. Faith believes God is at work, able to do vastly beyond anything we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and bringing to completion the glorious work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

Praying with Praise [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

The Lord’s Prayer ends with a brief statement that returns our focus to the power and presence of God. This ascription does not appear in the earliest biblical manuscripts and is usually seen only in footnotes within our contemporary Bible translations. As John Calvin notes, however, “it is so appropriate to this place that it ought not to be omitted.”[1]

These final words are appropriate because they return attention to God at the conclusion of prayer, which is where Jesus taught us to begin our prayers. Jesus teaches that our prayers should be book-ended with Godward praise. After moving through the second half of the prayer’s petitions related to the needs of our earthly lives, the Lord’s Prayer concludes with deep assurance of God’s stability, faithfulness, and rule over all the earth. This assurance includes all that we have presented to Him in prayer. After all is said and down we enter into a place of rest and peace in the presence of our holy and good Father to whom all praise belongs.

When we pray, we go on a journey with God. The journey of prayer begins with His holy and good presence, meanders through our requests related to His kingdom and our needs, and concludes with attentive trust in God’s faithful character. And so, we begin to enter into what the psalmist proclaims:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Jesus teaches us to pray in such a way that from start to finish, in all our praise and confession, in all our gratitude and petition, we are held in the gracious power of our kingly God, who is also our loving Father.

Lord, receive the praise in me
that You truly deserve,
for all the praise truly belongs
to You before and after all others.
You are so holy and so good.
You are so righteous and so just.
You are my Rock and my Fortress.
You are my King and my Father.
And I trust You above all.
Receive the praise You deserve in me.
Amen.


[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 915.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

Faith. It’s a central element of Christianity. But what is it?

Ask around and so many people say things like: “At least I have faith…” or “I have faith that things will get better…” But what do they mean? What is the substance of their faith?

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews defines the ancient understanding of faith: “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is a surety and certitude connected with an enduring hope related to unseen things.Read More »

An Eternal Kind of Life

What does it mean to have eternal life? That’s a good deal of what I talked about this weekend as I continued our “Love Letters” series on 1, 2, & 3 John this weekend at Eastbrook. My message was entitled “An Eternal Kind of Life” based out of 1 John 5:6-21.

You can listen to my message online at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter. I’ve included my outline for the message below:

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