How to Be a Faith Hero

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What would it take to be listed in the “Hall of Heroes”, Hebrews chapter 11? What made people like Abraham and Sarah, Barak and Rahab, David and Daniel and the others stand out? Do you think you have heroic faith?

Romans 4:19 says, “And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.”

Maybe that’s what it takes—maybe the kind of faith God wants us to have never doubts, never weakens, struggles or asks questions.

Before you get too discouraged and give up, knowing you’ve already had a few doubts or questioned God a few times, let’s take a close look at Abraham’s life.

In Genesis 17, God told Abraham that He would give him a son and that through Abraham God would make a might nation. But Abraham was already 100 years old and Sarah was really old too! It hardly seemed possible that they could have a child. Abraham reminded God of this fact:

“Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. ‘How could I become a father at the age of 100?’ he thought. ‘And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?’” (Genesis 17:17)

Abraham laughed at God! At first, he didn’t believe that God could really do what He said.

Later on in Genesis, Abraham was following God on a journey toward a promised land. He came to a city called Gerar. There, he told his wife, Sarah, to lie and say that she was his sister, because he was afraid that the king of that place might kill him in order to marry Sarah himself because she was very beautiful.

God never tells us to lie. But Abraham doubted that God would protect him, so he took matters into his own hands.

If we look through the rest of the Bible and examined the lives of the other faith heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11, we’d find that they sinned, failed and doubted God sometimes, too. Gideon did not believe that God would deliver the nation of Israel through him. David disobeyed God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father and stole his brother’s blessing. Rahab was a prostitute, and Samson rebelled against his parents and acted pridefully.

God doesn’t expect us to have perfect faith. Even the men and women that the Bible commends for their strong faith, doubted sometimes.

One of my favorite Bible stories is in Mark 9. A man came to Jesus asking Him to heal his very sick son. Jesus told the man, “‘Anything is possible for the one who believes.’” With great honesty and humility, the man replied, “‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!’”

At the end of the story, Jesus did heal the man’s son.

Don’t be ashamed if your faith wavers, if you have questions or difficulty believing. Ask God to help you with your unbelief and to strengthen your faith. The Bible says that God knows our hearts. Tell God about your fears and questions; He is big enough to handle your doubts and to give you answers.

Bearing Fruit, Looking Like Our Father

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“After all, I’m only human.”

You’ve heard that excuse, right? Wait, you’ve made that excuse? Yep, me too. Usually after I’ve royally messed something up; done something that is completely un-Christ-like. It’s my little way of letting myself off the hook. I mean, nobody’s perfect.

Guess what? That’s no excuse.

Don’t panic. I’m not going to lambast you for falling short. I’m not going to tell you that with more faith, more Bible reading, more discipline, you can figure out how to grow more Fruits of the Spirit. The truth is, you and I will only bear the Fruit of the Spirit when, just like a child ages and matures, we grow up and begin to look more and more like our Father.

Let’s take step back and think about where fruit comes from. Apple trees produce apples, orange trees produce oranges, grape vines produce grapes.

Throughout Scripture, Jesus calls himself by many titles. One is the True Vine, another is the Son of Man. We are also told in Genesis that when God created man, He made us in His image.
When Adam and Eve sinned, one of the ways we looked like our Father—sinless and pure, was lost. Later in 2 Corinthians 3, we are told that we are to become like Christ. That is God’s ultimate desire for each one of us—in essence to once again bear resemblance to, take after or look just like the God who made us. We are to take on the likeness of a son of God.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18

There’s a saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Consider the full lifespan of an apple: eventually it splits open, spills its seeds and produces another tree—an apple tree in the likeness of its parent tree.

Jesus is the True Vine. He is also, in Hebrews 1:3 and John 1:18, the exact image—the impression of the character of God. Jesus shows us what His Father looks like. The word character in the Greek actually means “a stamp or a signet”. When you place an inked stamp onto a piece of paper, the resulting image is the exact reflection of the stamp. That is character.

Christ is the exact replication of the Father, as believers we are the branches sprouting from Christ, The Vine. And guess what—because of who we come from, The Vine, our own life-source, we bear His fruit.

A lone branch will never produce fruit, least of all fruit that looks like the parent tree. A severed branch of an apple tree will never, ever birth more apple trees. We cannot conjure up, and manifest Fruits of the Spirit, no matter how hard we try unless we are connected to The Vine. It is Christ who produces The Fruit of the Spirit through us. And then, it is in allowing Him to produce that fruit, that we take on His appearance.

Think of it: It might be hard to tell an apple tree apart from dozens of other trees except when it has apples hanging from its branches. The fruit identifies it. What comes out of our lives blossoms into an accurate reproduction of the character of our Father.

Bearing fruit is what makes us look like Christ and marks us as His own. One of the Fruits of the Spirit is love. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Bearing fruit in the likeness of the Son of Man is the most natural thing we can do as children of God. The fruit that we produce is a harvest that can lead others to our source of life. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

Finally, others who consume our fruit have the opportunity to come to Jesus also. Then they will one day grow up into the likeness of the very One who created them “in His image”.

A Dog, A Fishhook and The God Who Speaks

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2014-06-02 09.46.09Many people might discount a miracle that saved an animal’s life. But I believe Scripture indicates that God has interest in, compassion for, and often purposes for all of creation.

Before God made Eve to be Adam’s perfect match, He brought each of the animals to him. One by one, He allowed Adam to name in the animals (Genesis 2:20), sparking a unique symbiotic relationship between man and beast before sin entered the world. But, when man sinned, the curse fell on all of creation (Romans 8:19-21), and after the flood, God declared that the fear of man would fall upon animals (Genesis 9:2). Sin broke more than God’s relationship with man; it damaged all of creation.

Over five years ago, I was emerging for the second time from the bowels of anorexia. My husband was on his third deployment with the Army and our marriage was on the rocks. We’d bought a house in Washington State, near his duty station, but far from family. I felt discouraged, lonely, anxious, hopeless and angry. But then God made me Brave.

I’m blessed to be sharing this testimony at My Story of Grace today. Please finish reading this post over there …