I hope you had a blessed and beautiful Easter! When I think about the death and resurrection of Christ I am overwhelmed with gratitude and I find myself days after reflecting upon Christ's love and sacrifice. Thomas, known as doubting Thomas really stuck out to me this Easter. We can be so quick to criticize those in scripture that did not automatically fall into obedience. Doubting Thomas as he becomes known had a difficult time believing that Christ had risen. Maybe in his grief and the horrific crucifixion felt to final and he could not fathom the resurrection of Christ. Maybe Thomas relied on his emotions, on what he saw, to dictate what he believed. But, I think it is only fair to give Thomas a break especially when I think about my own faith, and belief and how I've experienced my own doubts on my faith walk. Which brings me to the question of how do we nourish, strengthen and protect our faith?
1 Peter 1:6-9
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
I love how Peter conveys the weight and value of our faith. He describes it as greater than gold and how it needs to be refined! Faith is invaluable to our lives as Christians. Although we can not physically see Christ, through faith, we believe in Him and the resurrection, the ultimate sacrifice that gives us hope and eternal life. Through faith we are shielded by God's power. Our faith acts as a shield and protects us against the enemy's lies and schemes. When we walk in faith we walk in the light and not darkness, we view life as full and not as empty, we feel assured and not anxiety ridden. Our faith is the cornerstone to an abundant spiritual life, that sustains us and helps us live on purpose!
If we protect, strengthen, and nourish our faith it will do the same for us!
So let's dig in!
Nourish Your Faith
How do we nourish our faith? We nourish it with the word of God, through studying the scriptures and applying it to our daily life. We fatten up our faith through the spiritual meat of the scriptures that fills us with the wisdom of God. The word is active and breathes life into our faith and is the substance that is necessary for our faith to stay in good condition! It keeps it healthy, and growing! That's is why it is so important to develop the spiritual discipline of studying the scriptures and making it part of who we are and activate it in our life.
Strengthen Your Faith
I view faith as a muscle that continually needs strengthened. If we don't exercise our faith it becomes flabby. Flabby faith makes us waver in our belief. Our faith is strengthened through nourishment, but also by surrounding ourselves with faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. Iron sharpens iron, and when you fellowship with those whose faith is visible, you can draw upon them to sharpen yours. Think about the heroes of faith in the Bible, they are there as examples to us to follow, not just to provide a good story. Seek out people and friends in your life who encourage and strengthen your faith! That is why we are members of the body of Christ, to build each other up!
Obedience also strengthens our faith. When we practice obedience we put our trust in Christ, we believe in Him, in His will and in His promise. Every time we practice obedience we see his faithfulness and in turn that strengthens our faith. When we see God at work we have a testimony, we see how his faithfulness works and it becomes the building blocks that our faith becomes firmer on.
Protect Your Faith
The number one defense in protecting our faith is by praying for that protection. We need to put on our spiritual armor everyday to protect us against an enemy who looks to wage spiritual war against us and make us doubt in our inheritance. Protecting our faith requires us to live by God's standards and not the world's standards which are in direct opposition. Faith requires that you believe without seeing and the world says unless you see it don't believe it. Jesus said to Thomas, "Thomas you believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen and believed." Thomas' had a crisis of faith because he stepped away and believed in what he saw but he did not believe in what Jesus had told the disciples prior, because it seemed impossible. He let human faith override his faith in Christ. He didn't protect his faith.
I think of Mark 9:23, when the man whose son is taken over by evil spirits, says to Jesus, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” and Jesus replies, "If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.” Jesus doesn't work in "if's!" He says everything, not some things, not the easy things, EVERYTHING is possible for the one who believes! The key word is believe, that faith, that knowing the power of Christ is infinite! We see this again in Mark 10:52 in another story of a man with an affliction, and the man is told to "Go, said Jesus, your faith has healed you!"
Our faith, our belief in Christ has healing power. We will never receive the comfort or inexpressible joy of faith if we rely on external solutions, that are useless in comparison to our faith. Things may not work out in a way we we had hoped, but it will work out in accordance to God's will and He will continue to hold you in the palm of His hand! If we find ourselves as Doubting _____ ( insert your name) know that God is merciful, patient, forgiving, loving and full of grace and will restore your faith if you ask and believe!
Let's take time to nourish, strengthen and protect our faith and it will faithfully do the same for you!