Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Life of Faith, Pt 3: Practical Issues

One thing that I hear a lot is "how does faith actually affect the practical issues of my life?" So, as promised, I want to delve into that subject. Many people, who call themselves Christians, don't seem to apply much of what the bible teaches about the integration of our faith into our daily life. They separate their "spiritual life" from their "real, everyday life." Maybe they attend church on Sundays but there is no carryover into the rest of their week.

As we defined in part one of this series, saving faith is a total trust in Jesus for our salvation. It seems that some people believe that there is nothing more to it. "Ok, I'm saved, now I run my life any way I want. I've got my fire insurance." But if you look a little closer at the scriptures, there is no evidence you can find, that defines faith in Christ as trusting Him only as your Savior. It is always connected to trusting Him as your Lord. Acts 16:31 says "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." The New King James translation of the Bible uses the term "the Lord Jesus" SIXTY times. If you don't see Jesus as your Lord, It is hard to see how it is possible that He could be your savior. Don't just rely on me though, search the scriptures yourself and put it to the test.

The Greek word for Lord in these passages is kurios. It can also be translated as master and it is defined as supreme in authority. Included in the description of this word is the idea of having power. If we are going to trust Jesus as our Savior, we must also trust Him as our master, a master with the authority and power to actually save us, but also to meet our deepest needs. If we have accepted Jesus as Lord, (master) that would imply that we are choosing to follow and obey Him. That is what Jesus meant we He said to His disciples, "Come, and follow me." So when we look at how faith affects our lives, in a practical day to day sense, we must acknowledge this truth as our foundation.

When we have truly accepted Jesus as our Lord, it will affect every aspect of our lives. We say with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20 NIV) Our entire life is one lived by faith, so let's begin to look at that in practical applications. I would like to take examples from the major categories of our life and see how it might work. Before we get to each specific area and how to apply our faith, I want to give you some universal guidelines for applying our faith to all the practical areas of our lives.

  1. Proper application of our faith is explained in the Word of God; therefore I must study the scriptures that teach about the specific areas to which we apply that faith and the scriptures concerning faith itself.
  2. We do not put our faith in faith; we put our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the object of our faith. Whenever we say the word faith, it means faith in Christ (Mk 11:22)
  3. God gives you a measure of faith (Ro 12:3) and your faith in Christ rest on God's power not men's wisdom (1Co 2:5)
  4. We live by faith (in Christ) not by what we see. (2 Co5:7)
  5. When we pray in faith, we know that He hears us and that His answer is always in our best interest. (Ro 8:28)
  6. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for guidance and counsel. Seek His help. (Jn 16:13; 14:16)

I am going to make an educated guess that one of the areas that might you struggle with, is how faith operates when it comes to making financial decisions. Why do I say that? Well, it's a hard one for me so I figure it must be difficult for you as well. If not, you can just go ahead and skip this section. OK, I see you are still here, so let's continue and see how this works.

Let's say you are trying to decide on a major purchase, like buying a house. It can be overwhelming to think about all the ways a bad decision could affect your life, so you want to be sure it is the right thing to do. You also want to be sure that if you do decide to purchase, that you make the right choice, considering space needs, budget, location etc. So how can we apply these principles to making that decision?

Let's start with principle number five. Knowing that God wants what best for you, seek Him in prayer. Ask Him to give you wisdom in this decision. Trust (have faith) that He will, because He promises that to us in James 1:5-7, " If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;" (NIV)

Next, go to the scriptures (pr. #1) and look up the passages that speak about money, possessions, and our responsibilities for its use. You might want to get a topical bible or bible dictionary to help you find those verses. There are more passages about money in the Bible than almost any other subject, so take your time. Ask the Lord to show you what He would want you to learn and how these verses apply to your specific situation (pr. #6).

Do all your practical homework in terms of researching the market, looking at what would best fit your needs and seeking advice from professionals. Once you have done all of these things and you sense that you have a direction from the Lord, don't proceed in fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. (2 Ti 1:7) Use the knowledge you have gained, the wisdom that the Holy Spirit is giving you and rest in the measure of faith He has provided you (pr. #3).

One thing I have done when making these kinds of decisions is to pray that if I am not doing the right thing, that God would slam the door shut. When I do that, I am just saying to the Lord, "your will be done!" Even if it means I don't get what I thought I wanted, it gives me the confidence that if I do, it was the right thing. I have to admit that sometimes, even after you do all these things, it may look as though the final decision turned out to be wrong. Maybe you didn't get the house you desired or maybe you did, but now it looks as though it was a bad decision. Look again at principle number four. Sometimes a good decision can look bad, but we must walk by faith, not by sight. Remember, Jesus said in Matt 7:9-11 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (NIV)

Now it is possible, that even though we followed these guidelines, prayed with sincerity and trusted the Lord, we can allow our fleshly desires to cloud our judgment and actually make a wrong decision. But, I sincerely believe that if you do follow these principles, that such a case will be a rare occurrence. If however, that turns out to be the case, then we confess our sin and He is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 Jn 1:9) We may have to suffer some consequences but remember, God loves you and He will use every circumstance of your life to conform you into the image of His own dear Son.

This is one example in applying our faith in the practical decisions of life. Next time we will look at some other examples of financial decisions as well as other practical areas of life and how we apply these biblical principles of faith.

May God bless you as you continue to follow Him,


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