February 2019

Plan belief that grows for maturity

Belief that grows is not accidental; it’s deliberate and blessed by God. It’s far too easy to briefly burn brightly for Jesus then fade away due to performance anxiety. In other words, Jesus didn’t perform how you expected so you tell yourself; ‘this is a waste of time and effort.’

The truth is however, Jesus performed extraordinarily well, doing everything He promised. Jesus is never the cause of spiritual anxiety; rather, it comes from within the deceptive human heart. To align small but genuine belief with Jesus requires belief to be acted upon in spite of feelings and circumstances. Jesus taught; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). Real belief is a 24/7 life mission.

When Jesus was speaking to the church in Philadelphia through John (Revelation 3:8-10), He summed up their spiritual lives this way.I know your works… I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name… you have kept my word about patient endurance…” It’s a daily choice to live “patient endurance” with faith in Jesus as Lord.

Belief is intimate

Jesus intimately knows every believer. He knows that a little spiritual power through faith in Christ is enough when you continue to obey God’s Word. Simple obedience puts God’s Word into practice through works done out of love for Christ without any expectation of personal reward. Jesus watches for evidence of selfless surrender through “patient endurance.” This is evidence of small but authentic faith that is determined to carry on regardless of life’s circumstances.

It starts by doing what Jesus announced in “Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, saying …repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Absolute trust in and reliance upon Jesus substitutional death and resurrection in your place is the beginning of eternal life. It is the gospel which you believe to be your motivation for a new and ever changing life in Christ (2Co 5:17). Personal growth which is not content to be stagnant, lazy, or distracted from Christ should be the expectation of every Christian (2Pe 3:18).

It’s a wise investment in life to plan and move progressively toward maturity in Christ. With maturity as your goal, you are motivated to step outside of your comfit zone. This begins by intentionally positioning yourself in a solid Bible teaching Church and by inviting a more mature Christian to disciple you.

Growth is by God’s design

Little but sincere belief never grows accidentally. Intentional choices following prayer for God’s assistance is the path forward. Deliberate choices driven by belief grow you to be the believer you may never thought possible. Paul explains; “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Paul prayed “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). It’s God’s will to impart his strength in proportion to His glory energising your inner resolve and ability to be all that you can be in Christ. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

The Holy Spirit desires you to walk in unison with Him as you determine to grow, to mature, and to serve others in ways that would enable them to do the same. I encourage you to plan belief that grows for maturity.


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Putting small but sincere belief into action

Action is the spiritual game changer; it grows small belief into strong visible faith. It takes no effort at all to snuff out both small and great belief, simply do nothing. Spiritual apathy ensures nothing changes, nothing grows, and nobody experiences the blessing that could have been.

I recall Dr Steve Lawson saying; “It’s better to have small faith in a great God, than great faith in a small God.” The good news is, we not only have a great God, we have the greatest God! Therefore choose to focus your belief without compromise on the Lord Jesus.

Let’s consider some essentials for growing small belief into strong belief.

Feed yourself daily on the spiritual food of God’s written Word

The Bible is as necessary for spiritual growth as food is for physical growth. Genuine little belief should like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Remove God’s Word and you remove the most powerful source of truth God has given you.

Talk with God often

The apostle Paul explained the necessity of walking and talking with Jesus Christ through prayer. He instructed the Christians in Colossae to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). This means talking with the Lord should be the normal routine of your daily life. Paul points out that prayer involves personal engagement as you watch your life to observe how God responds. You then modify your discussion with the Lord based on your observations of how He is responding and interacting with you through prayer.

Daily live for Jesus as your Lord, placing yourself second

“He (Christ) died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Jesus Christ died your death under judgement for your sin on the Cross of Calvary and rose from the dead so that you would live for Him as your prime. Here’s the heart of authentic belief, an absolute turn around regarding Jesus being the reason for living a God honouring life.

Do and say things that communicate your belief in Jesus Christ

Jesus encouraged His followers to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Other people will know how to make the connection between changed behaviour and Jesus Christ. Even those who dislike your belief will not be able to deny the transforming power of Christ. Consequently, God gets glory when others observe your unashamed behaviour in following Jesus Christ as Lord.

Avoid isolation from God’s people 

Christians are God’s family who provide friendship, support, encouragement, and assistance in growing your relationship with Jesus Christ. It makes sense; if you want to get to know Jesus, you need to be where Jesus is – Jesus is in His Church. Jesus instructed Andrew and Philip saying; “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also… (John 12:26). King Solomon hit the bullseye when he wrote; “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). Isolation from consistent and committed Church life guarantees spiritual disaster.

I encourage you to put small but sincere belief into action. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask another Christian to help you. Desire faith which “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Request that He grow your little belief to great belief.


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Desire for unbelief to become belief

The distance between unbelief, and belief in Jesus, is not as great as you may think. Human thought, emotions, and the voices of those who want you to remain distanced from Christ all confuse weak belief. Let’s consider briefly how Scripture brings clarity to this.

In response to Jesus telling the father of a demon possessed boy that “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23); Immediately the father of the child cried out and said,I believe; help my unbelief’” (Mark 9:24). This father wanted the freedom from demons for his son that only Jesus could give. Yet this father recognised his own questionable belief in Jesus. Yes, the man had genuine desire for his son’s well-being. Likewise, he knew his own lack of sincere and surrendered dependence in Jesus. His weak belief would likely turn away from Christ should Jesus deliver the boy, like so many others had done. What a terrible dilemma he found within himself.

He recognised and wanted the best of Christ for his son. He had a genuinely sincere measure of partial belief that he knew was NOT sufficient. He must have thought that he was a faith failure. However, we then witness the quality of this father’s little belief. He speaks directly to the deliverer of demons and the healer of deficient belief. The most amazing request is made knowing that only Jesus Christ could answer; “help my unbelief.”

Relevant Lessons

These lessons still apply today. Self-examination is needed when asking for an increase in belief because God knows what really motivates the request. Should you ask with a wrong motive and receive nothing, sin within you will typically blame God and grow resentment against Him.

To believers struggling under the trials of Christian life, James advised the following. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” (James 1:5-6).

Often peopleask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Sadly, this can be true when considering believing Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life. Deep within, some simply want Jesus so that they can prosper. Repentance becomes nothing more than a magic little prayer chant. The devil’s lie says; ‘come to Jesus and He will give whatever you want.’ What’s missing in this scenario is humble repentance over personal sin while turning to Jesus as permanent Lord.

The Salvation Sermon

During Jesus sermon on the mountain (Matthew chapters 5-7), He referred repeatedly to how genuine belief interacts with God. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you”. If you are certain that your motive is genuinely for spiritual cleansing, for new life as a follower of Jesus, and for eternal life in heaven, then Jesus words stand true. Ask for greater belief, ask for a repentant heart, and ask for a selfless humble attitude toward Jesus as Lord over your life. Ask Jesus to make you a seeker of these qualities, and knock at heaven’s door expecting God to place them within you.

Be encouraged, if you realise your faith is weak yet genuine, ask the Lord to help you. Desire faith which “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Request that He grow your little belief to great belief.

Next week we shall consider how to put sincere little belief into action.


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Celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work of belief

Within every human is the belief mechanism. Everyone uses this God given ability to either believe in Him or to disbelieve. There is no neutral ground and no void where nothing spiritual happens. Humans are spiritual beings who either accept or reject divine truth.

The apostle Paul had a particularly clear understanding of this inner mechanism with relation to God and His truth. Paul wrote celebrating what God had done in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians; because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Notice that it was God who orchestrated all that was required for unbelieving people to transition to be believers. The Lord patiently continues this work in people’s lives today. In spite of human resistance, and despite the many times people ignore Him, God persists calling people to Himself. God’s mercy works through intervening grace which perseveres to bring about trusting faith in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul explained this to be “the sanctifying work of the Spirit.” In other words, without realizing how, the non-believer is influenced by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God begins the process of redirecting and setting apart their beliefs toward Jesus Christ. This initial softening of attitudes and refocusing of belief is not salvation in itself, but the Holy Spirit’s preparation work which will equip the person for that moment when they put genuine faith in Christ.

The Invisible Worker

God’s Spirit is invisibly yet powerfully at work to bring the sinner to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Thankfully, this life transformation is not left to chance or personal feelings. Rather, God the Holy Spirit implants and grows “belief in the truth.” But what’s this truth that Paul is referring to? Jesus prayed in John 17:17; “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. At the most basic level, God’s written Word is His authoritative and absolute truth on all spiritual and moral matters. There, and there alone, we find the gospel truth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus own testimony was that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Until you know Jesus for who He says He is, and until Jesus owns you, you do not live in the truth of God.

The Bible clearly states “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Paul later expanded in Ephesians 1:13; “In him (Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him (Jesus), were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” So, the Holy Spirit is proactive at every point of belief. God’s Spirit then seals the newly born-again child of God so that rebirth cannot be reversed, undone or tampered with.

The Goal

The Holy Spirit’s goal is to move people to “belief in the truth, ” starting with the “gospel” (2Th 2:14). Your faith relationship with God begins when you turn to His Son Jesus Christ and believe that He died your death, for your sin, on the cross of Calvary (Luke 5:32; Romans 3:21-25).

I encourage you to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work of belief in both your life and the lives of others. He is not whimsically or vaguely nudging without conviction for no purpose. No, God’s Spirit works deliberately to generate intelligent agreement with, and surrender to God’s truth, through God’s Son, which we read about in God’s Word, the Bible.


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