Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stepping Out in Faith through Active Relational Christian Mentoring

Faith is often hard to explain to the unbelieving. Yet, for those who have faith in God and Christ as their Savior, it can still sometimes be difficult to rely on faith during a particular trial or tribulation. Faith, though, is having confidence in God that as His child, He will always be there for us to provide for our needs and to help us through our trials in life. Faith is the conviction that God is both willing and able to do the things that He has promised no matter what obstacles have to be overcome and no matter what circumstances are involved. One of the things that Active Relational Christian Mentors can do for both the unbelieving and the believing person is to help them see and faithfully rely on God in all situations.

Helping those in need to focus on God and to trust that He is there for them is an important aspect of ARCM. Moreover, many people just need to be reminded Who they can trust and why. They need to grow their faith in God and His Son both in the here and now as well as for their future. So, what is faith? Well, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.– (Hebrews 11: 1. KJV).  Another Bible translation says, “Faith is the assurance of things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality.– (Amplified Bible).  Both translations, though, explain how we are to live by faith every day of our lives. In fact, whether we realize it or not, we live by faith moment by moment in almost every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, we never think about God as the object of our faith. But, in order to help others, Christian mentors must teach and show their mentees how important faith in God is in their daily lives.
The evidence or proof that our faith in God is justified can be found in the most common of our routines and in the daily actions we pursue. One of those routines or actions is our nightly ritual of going to bed while still having faith that the sun will come up the next morning and a new day will start. It never occurs to us that the sun might not produce light for our orbiting earth or that we might not awake to see the day-light. We just accept on faith that we will awake and that the sun will still be there, and when we do awake and see light in the sky, we have evidence that our faith was justified. But, who is the recipient or object of our faith?

In the above example, the sun or day-light may seem to be the object of our faith, as we accept on faith that the sun will be here to awaken us each day. We may also think that the object of our faith is the sun, because we can go to some teacher or scientist to explain to us why the sun “comes up” every day and why it gets dark at night and then get a very scientific explanation. However, the object of our faith in this routine of faith should actually be God. For, in speaking of God, the psalmist said, “You made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun that knows when to set. You send darkness and it becomes night, when the forest animals prowl about.”  -- (Psalm 104: 19, 20. NLT). God is the One who has set the solar system in motion to provide for our needs upon this earth. But, because the rising of the sun has previously occurred so many times already, and we just expect it to happen again and again, most of us accept on faith that it will continue to do so and that our faith is well-placed in the sun to continue to do so. That is because, the evidence that our faith is justified in the sun is found in the fact that the sky lightens from dark to day-light every morning. Unfortunately, we often ignore the true object of our faith.

The Object of our Faith

As people who know that God is our Creator, we should understand that the object of our faith should actually be God. He is the One who set the sun, stars and moon in place. He is the One who in His knowledge of everything actually put our earth into orbit so that the sun would set each night and rise daily. Furthermore, God is the One who made our earth and everything on it. Indeed, God created us and every living organism within the universe. Additionally, this great Creator, i.e. God, is the One who provides for us and sustains us here on this planet. Yet, most people never think about Who should be the object of our faith, i.e. God. For, He is the One who has provided a working universe for us and has provided knowledge about Him along with giving us gained knowledge that we have been allowed to obtain over time.

Evidence for our Faith

The other day, I was reading about faith and what it entails, and I discovered that the word “science” actually means “knowledge”. Over the years scientists have diligently searched for knowledge and have looked for the evidence of that knowledge. Unfortunately, many scientists did not and some still do not know that God has already given us great scientific knowledge throughout the Bible on which to base our faith in God. Yet, so many people say they only believe in science or what they can observe and see with their own eyes and mind. If many would just pick up the Bible and truly study it, they would find that God has already given us much of the scientific knowledge that we searched for over the years.

Faith in what God has provided in His Word is important to our understanding of the evidence of knowledge that God has already given us. One example of this is in the book of Hebrews, where we are told that “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command (by His spoken Word), so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – (Hebrews 11: 3. NIV). So, even before the discovery of the invisible atoms and molecules, by which all things are made and exist, God told us in His Word that He made the earth and the universe out of nothing visible. 

Until scientists discovered the atoms and molecules that God had created, God asked us to have faith in His creation out of nothingness. At the same time, though, God also gave us factual information about His creation, as well as evidence of what He had done. For, in the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that “God created the heavens and the earth, …”  -- (Genesis 1: 1. KJV). The Hebrew word that was translated into English as “created” is actually “Bara”, which means “to create out of nothing”. For those without faith, that statement seemed impossible. However, with the discovery of atoms and molecules, that statement makes perfect sense, and we now have evidence that God did created everything out of nothing that was visible. We now know that God did create everything from nothing, using the invisible atoms and molecules He had previously created, which have now become “the evidence of things not seen” for our faith in God.

Many people claim to have faith in Christ Jesus, but they do not act upon that faith. Active Relational Christian Mentoring shows evidence of our faith in Christ Jesus through our loving deeds toward others. Jesus must be the object of our faith, if we believe that Jesus died for our sins and that He conquered death to be our risen Savior. “Born-again” Christians have faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior and know in faith that through Him we will have eternal life with God. Although we cannot see God, the Father, or Christ, the Son, Christians have accepted on faith that the Bible, the Word of God, is true and that God sent His Son, Christ Jesus, to save us from our sins. This faith in God’s mercy and love for us sinners, has opened our hearts to the desire to repent of our sins so that we can be made righteous and clean in the presence of God. Because of our faith, we are then given evidence of our justified faith in Christ as the risen Son of God when our hearts are changed forever and when we truly want to live our lives for Christ and the Truth. Furthermore, evidence of our justified faith in the object of our faith, i.e. Christ as our Savior, has not only led to our Salvation, but has opened our heart to love and to loving our neighbors as ourselves. The evidence of this love is found in our obedience to God’s command to help others and to share the Gospel message. Although there are many ways to share the Gospel and to help others, Active Relational Christian Mentoring shows our faith in Christ Jesus while empowering another woman to be all that she can be for the Lord, herself, and her family too.

The Importance of Faith

So, why is faith so important to our lives? First of all, faith allows us to exist on a well-constructed and beautifully made earth, while still not completely understanding why things work the way they do. Before knowledge was gained through empirical data and scientific discoveries, mankind accepted on faith that if we planted a seed that it would grow if there was enough rain and if the sun shone upon it. Then, as we waited for the plant to grow, we accepted on faith that we would be able to harvest the grown plants or the fruit produced at a certain point in time. Although we don’t think about it, most people realize that God prepared an earth that would provide for His children even if we sometimes have to work hard to bring in the harvest. But, we do accept on faith that the seasons will continue and that springtime and harvest will come.

Secondly, faith is important because it pleases God. It pleases God that we trust in Him without actually seeing Him. It also pleases God when our faith brings us into obedience to Him. Furthermore, it pleases God when we trust in His Son, Christ Jesus. One example of such faith and trust in Christ was recorded in the Bible.  For, on one particular day two blind men were following Christ begging Him to have mercy on them. Finally, Christ turned to them and asked them what they wanted. They told Christ that they wanted to be able to see. Then, Christ ask them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” When they said yes, Christ then touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen. And suddenly they could see! …” – (Matthew 9: 27- 29. NLT). Accordingly, God was pleased that these two men trusted in faith that Christ could make their eyes whole again. Because of their faith, they were healed by Christ Jesus. Remember, that today God still works in our lives through our faith. We just have to believe in faith that God will help us!

Pastor Tommy Higle in his “Journey” study on the book of Hebrews, said that “faith” is more like a sixth sense. He said, “Faith gives substance to the invisible and intangible realities that cannot be sensed with our five physical senses.”  -- (Journey into Confident Living, p. 76. c. 2010). In other words, faith is a part of our soul. It is that part which connects directly to God and knows that God is listening and doing for us even when we can’t physically see, hear, smell, taste, or touch Him. We also have faith in His Son’s cleansing of our sins, because Christians know in our souls, by using our sixth sense, that we have been made clean and righteous and that we are going to Heaven to be with God someday. Although we cannot see Eternity in Heaven today, faith has also given substance to the existence of Eternity, and now we have the conviction that we will someday see Eternity and exist in our Heavenly home. Furthermore, we have received justified evidence of our faith in Christ, because our souls have been cleansed and changed for the better. Even other people can usually see the change in one who has asked Christ into her heart. So, Christ is the object of our faith, and faith in Him means that He has bestowed upon us eternal life, and eternal life will be not only be the evidence but the substance of our conviction that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, are real.

How Much Faith Do We Need?

The amount of faith that we have is not as important as actually having faith. In fact, Jesus said, that “… if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” – (Matthew 17: 20. NASB). A mustard seed is very small, so it isn’t the amount of faith, but rather your desire to have faith and then your desire to stand on that faith that counts. Jesus explained this in a story about a man who brought his son to Jesus for healing. Previously, the disciples had tried to get rid of the evil spirit in the boy, but they couldn’t, and the spirit was constantly throwing the boy into water or fire to try and kill him. In talking to Jesus, the father said to Jesus, “… if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us! And Jesus said to him. ‘If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes. Immediately, the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’ … He (Jesus) rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’ … Jesus took him (the boy) by the hand and raised him, and he got up.” Jesus recognized that the father had a small amount of faith, but that he wanted to believe or have even more faith, so even with this father’s small amount of faith or belief in Jesus’ ability to heal his son, Jesus could then go ahead and heal the boy.

All it takes to receive Christ into your heart is a small amount of faith in Christ Jesus as the risen Lord. God would never require a gargantuan amount of faith for Salvation, because that would mean that some could not receive Salvation. But, we do have to have a certain amount of faith in Christ Jesus in order to believe, repent, and ask Christ to come into our hearts. However, if you have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed you will have enough faith to be “Saved.”  Moreover, like the father in the above story, if we are struggling, we can also ask Christ to help our unbelief. God is there for us and He doesn’t want anyone to perish. You just have to be willing to believe and then ask for Christ’s help.

When it comes to praying for the needs of our mentees or our family, we sometimes forget that even though it doesn’t take a great amount of faith to pray for someone, we still have to pray and are to pray believing. We have to pray believing that God will answer our prayers and that He has our best interest at heart. Furthermore, if you do not think that you have enough faith, ask Christ to help your unbelief and give you more faith. But, we have to pray believing that God will do what needs to be done. Remember, God wants to see your faith in Him and His ability. Even though, our prayers may not be answered in our timing or in the way that we, as humans, think it should be done, God will always be there for us in the way that He sees will benefit us in the long run.

Producing Fruit from our Faith

Genuine faith, means we are not only willing to put in the time to pray, believing God has the best interest for ourselves or others, but we are trusting or have conviction that God will provide evidence of His care. However, there is one more aspect of faith and faithfulness that is also important. As “born-again” Christians we have to, in faith, be willing to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. Faithfulness produces fruit for the Kingdom of God. For, our faith and resultant fruit bearing means that we are willing to show God through our faith and our deeds that we not only believe in Christ, but that we are willing to sacrifice time and effort to do for others, so that those in the Kingdom of God will be blessed by their brothers and sisters in Christ. Faithfulness and fruit bearing can also produce a harvest of people who turn to Christ just from having heard the Gospel message that you willingly shared with them. Remember, in Active Relational Christian Mentoring you can both help others in the body of Christ and share the Good News with those who still need to hear it.

We cannot just pretend we have faith in Christ, but then do nothing for the Kingdom of God. To clarify this, there is a story about Jesus destroying a fig tree. You see, God made fig trees to provide food and nourishment for humans. Then one day, from a distance, Jesus and His disciples saw a fig tree. They were hungry and were looking forward to eating some of the figs. But when they got to the tree, the fig tree had not produced any fruit even though it was the season for it to do so. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, “… ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ Then Jesus told them, ‘I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. … If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’” – (Matthew 21: 19-22. NLT). In other words, Jesus was telling the disciples that they had to have faith, and they had to pray believing that what they prayed about would be done or their wavering in doubt would not be heard.

Jesus was not telling the disciples that prayer is some magic formula that gives us what we desire. Instead, Jesus was speaking to the disciples about their faith or lack thereof. We have to pray believing that God has our best interest at heart and that He will help us. However, we also have to understand that we cannot treat our requests to God and His Son like Santa Claus and expect to get trivial things that we have prayed for. Moreover, God will never grant a request that is not in line with His character, or a request that would hurt us or someone else. In other words, our requests must be in harmony with Who God is and with the principles of the Kingdom of God.

In this experience with the fig tree, Jesus was also teaching the disciples that they had to truly have faith in Christ to accomplish things for the Kingdom of God. Moreover, their faith must produce evidence of their faith in Christ. For, just as this fig tree looked good from a distance, but upon closer examination, it was not living up to its purpose or expectations as a fruit producing tree, we cannot just say we are Christians and then do nothing for the Lord. So, just like the fig tree the disciples were to faithfully fulfill their God-given purpose. If the disciples back then did not, or if we, Christians, today do not put our faith in Christ, and work for Him and work to help others who need to hear the Gospel or need to be helped in some other way, then we are like the fig tree that bore no fruit. There has to be substance to our faith. In other words, in faith, we are to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Active Relational Christian Mentoring gives each of us a chance to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.

James, the brother of Christ, wrote to his fellow Christians about living for Christ. One section of his book is specifically devoted to faith and good deeds. In this section, James said, “So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all – it is dead and useless.– (James 2: 17. NLT).  In other words, our deeds of service to the Kingdom of God are actually evidence of our Salvation and of our faith in Christ.

Obviously, deeds cannot get us into Heaven, or we would all be trying to work our way there. What would be enough work or what would be too little work to get there? But, the Bible and Christ’s own words tell us that there is only one way to get into Heaven and that is through faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God. Thus, we are required to have received Salvation in order to enter Eternity in Heaven. But, the work that we do for the Lord will not be for naught, for I have previously talked to you about rewards we can receive in Heaven for our work for the Kingdom of God? Indeed, we will be well rewarded for our work, deeds, and efforts to help others enter into the Kingdom of God. We will also be rewarded for our love, care and concern for those less fortunate or for those who need some type of help that we can provide. So, in the above verse, James is telling us that not only do we have to have faith, but that we need to use our faith to help others find Jesus Christ. As loved children of God, we are also to show our love for others through good deeds.

Stepping Out in Faith

So, why am I emphasizing “faith” and our need to believe when it comes to Active Relational Christian Mentoring?  Well, there are still so many Christians who refuse to step out in faith to serve the Lord. We are afraid of what stepping up to actively mentor another woman might require of us. We are afraid of the time that we might have to give up from our own life. We are also often afraid that we might be turned down or embarrassed in some way if we ask someone about becoming their mentor. But we must believe or have faith in our ability to help others through our God-given talents and with God’s never-failing help.

Sadly, most people usually over think situations, and most negative “what if’s” never materialize, so there is really no reason not to step out in faith to help another. Furthermore, Active Relational Christian Mentoring only requires a small amount of faith, about the size of a mustard seed. But, the greatest lack of faith comes when we listen to the devil tell us that we cannot possibly have anything, such as a talent or knowledge of some kind that could help another woman, and we then believe the devil. Instead of faithfully believing in I John 4: 4, which says “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”, many Christians do not trust that God will take care of them and guide them even from all the shenanigans of the devil. We forget Who the object of our faith is, i.e. God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and we forget that God has given us evidence throughout life of our justified faith in Him. As Christian women we must remember God’s provision and have faith in Christ and in God’s protection and love for those who attempt to obey God in service to Him and others.

Another word for “faith” is “trust”. Christians have to trust in God to help them through this world. We have to trust in Christ as our Savior, and as our Lord. He should be Lord of our lives. This means that we need to focus on living for Christ and focus on doing for Him. So, ask yourself, “What would Christ want me to do to serve Him and His Father?” Are you willing to step out in faith trusting that God will never give you a job that you are not capable of doing? Are you willing to give a portion of your life to another Christian who needs to be empowered through your talent, your knowledge, your skills, or the resources that you could share? Perhaps, God is asking you to step out in faith and trust in Him as you embrace a new job or a new home. Perhaps you are being given a golden opportunity to meet women who may need your expertise or your knowledge of Christ. Just trust in or have faith in the Lord that He will be with you every step of the way.

For those of you who have not yet stepped out in faith and trust to give your lives to Christ, it is not too late. Moreover, whether or not you have yet believed on Christ, there is still hope that you will someday believe on Him, so that you, too, can spend Eternity in Heaven with God and your loved ones who have already given their lives to Christ. Remember, all it takes is faith as small as a grain of mustard seed to reach out and ask Christ to come into your heart. In fact, Christ will meet you wherever you are. He will come to you holding open his arms so that you can run into them and be forever changed. If you are really struggling, ask Christ to help your unbelief, and He will. But, God and His Son want to know that you want to know them. They won’t force you to do something that you don’t want to do. Unlike other so-called religions, the One true God will never make you do anything that you don’t want to do. The One true God will never ask you to do anything bad or ask you to hurt anyone else. The One true God is about love, mercy and faith.

I hope you take a moment to accept on faith, that Christ died for your sins and that He arose from the dead. I hope that you accept and open the gift of life that Christ is offering you through your belief and faith in Him. If you are struggling, please pray asking God to help your unbelief and He will.

For those that are “Saved”, I pray that you will think hard about your service to the Kingdom of God. You need to produce fruit for the Kingdom. Don’t become like the fig tree and wither, because you are not producing fruit for God. Instead, find ways to share the Gospel and find ways to help other people. Active Relational Christian Mentoring may be a great way for you to reach others and to help them. Think about it! I know that you can do it!  

No comments:

Post a Comment