Faith and Consistency

Do you believe in gravity? Do you believe in electricity?

Of course you do. So do I. And we prove our belief every time we take a step or turn on a light.

But when it comes to biblical truth and spiritual matters, our beliefs don’t always translate into actions. And I confess to being as guilty of this as anyone else.

The reality is that I often fail to live in accordance with what I claim to believe.

  • I claim I trust God as my heavenly Father…then I worry.
  • I say God is worthy of sacrificial service…then I pick and choose the most convenient way to serve Him.
  • Or I declare my gratitude for forgiveness found in Jesus Christ…then I withhold forgiveness from those who have offended me.

Funny thing is, many who claim to not believe in God sometimes live as if they do!

  • They ask for prayer when tragedy strikes, even though they claim to not believe.
  • They express gratitude for the good things in life, but refuse to thank the Giver.
  • Or they hold to a moral code of right and wrong (e.g. stealing and lying are both wrong), while denying the Source of that moral code.

Many Christians often surrender to fear that keeps us from living what we claim to believe. For example, we say we trust God, but we’re afraid when He works in our life for our good, the “good” will be like medicine: helpful, but it tastes terrible.

We worry God’s definition of good differs from ours. We define “good” as pleasant, comfortable, and convenient. But God defines good as that which accomplishes His purposes for us. And His purposes are usually related to stretching us out of our comfort zone and growing us beyond our convenience.

We say we want an eternal focus, but we’re consumed with making this temporary life as comfortable as possible.

So what’s the key to consistent living?

1. Start with prayer:

  • Sometimes we want to change, but need the Holy Spirit’s help to do it. Other times we need the Holy Spirit’s help to give us even the desire to change! Ask the Lord to give you the desire and the ability to live consistent with what you claim to believe.

2. Maintain an eternal focus:

  • Our broken world aches from the consequences of sin. And just as creation groans under the burden of sin (Romans 8:22), we also groan. But I wonder if part of our groaning is because our focus causes us to behave as if this world is all there is.
  • There’s a better world coming. Our best life is not now. Our best life is yet to come. This world is nothing more than a glorified bus station…and we’re all in transit.

3. Take a step of faith:

  • Just as we manifest faith when we flip a light switch, we manifest our faith in God by placing our full confidence in Him and His promises. I can claim a chair will hold me, but never actually sit in it. Or I can place my full weight in the chair as a demonstration of faith in what I claimed.
  • What “chair” is waiting for you to demonstrate your faith? Is it the chair of trust? Sacrificial giving? Service? In what area do you need to step out in faith, knowing God has already proven Himself trustworthy?

4. Do it again:

  • Don’t stop with one step. Take another. And another. Studies confirm it takes more than two months to form a new habit. It could take even longer, depending on the old habit you’re trying to replace (Philippians 4:9).

The key is not doing it in our own strength. This is not about trying harder, working smarter, and doing better. This is about depending on the Holy Spirit for the power to say no—or yes—as the situation requires. And to do it day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute.

Do you desire to live consistent with the faith you claim to have? It’s rarely convenient. But you’ll find yourself on a faith journey that will exceed your greatest expectations.


Oaks From Acorns Grow

Oaks from Acorns Grow

Remember the song, “Tall Oaks from Acorns Grow”? It’s a cute children’s song—one I hadn’t thought of in decades…until I began catching up on long overdue yardwork.

For the past 2 years, circumstances have caused me to neglect our yard. Shrubs grew wild and leggy. Weeds invaded where flowers should have bloomed. Two years of growth in a state where the growing season is year-round.

The solution to tackling this task is much like the answer to the riddle about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. So in recent weeks I’ve trimmed a bit, weeded a lot, pruned the plants I want to keep, and cut out the unwanted vegetation. Even with all that work, I’ve barely made a dent in our abundant Florida growth.

Oaks from Acorns GrowBut before discouragement could set in, I realized that in recent days I’ve been crunching acorns underfoot. And the children’s song came to mind.

We can joke about clichés, but the truth is, the large oak I labored under did indeed start as a tiny acorn. Planted in fertile soil, it simply did what it was created to do: hold its ground and grow.

As I work in the dirt, reflecting on oaks and acorns, I’m reminded that even though it might seem as if my situation is burying me, God is using it to plant me instead.

Oaks from Acorns GrowStill, I need to remember…

The darkness can be frightening, but His light shines brightest in the dark.

The duration and weight of our circumstances may be painful, but the combination of time and pressure drives us to the One who is our Refuge.

And the sense of loneliness in the face of our trials helps us appreciate the intimacy of our relationship with the One who created us, saved us, and indwells us with His Holy Spirit.

Thinking about acorns and oaks also reminds me of the passage in Isaiah 61:1-3:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (NIV).

This prophetic passage pointed to the Messiah—Jesus Christ, the anointed One who would come hundreds of years later to God’s chosen people as their Savior and Lord. It speaks to people who are hurting.

Those who feel buried in dark circumstances.

People in mourning and despair.

People who have been waiting so long that they’ve almost given up hope.

Yet this passage refers to God’s people as “oaks.” Plantings of the Lord for His glory.

Are you feeling discouraged today? In dark despair? Are you convinced your circumstances will bury you because you don’t have the strength to persevere?

Consider yourself planted instead. And know God does not abandon His children, regardless of their situation. Run to Him when you’re lonely. Welcome the light of His presence to dispel the darkness. Trust His perfect timing.

And remember…oaks from acorns grow.