“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
In God We Trust, by Randy & Gini Kittle


There was a little boy who, after waiting quite some time for his parents to pick him up after a weekly church activity, decided that his parents must be lost and that he would have to walk back home by himself and see what had happened to them. When his father arrived to pick him up, he was informed that the meeting had ended early and that his son was no longer there: most likely he had gotten a ride home with one of the other parents. Upon arriving at home and realizing that his son was indeed missing, the father quickly set back out to find his son while his wife enlisted the help of some friends to aid in the search. Hours later the father finally found his son wandering in a meadow not far from the church’s building. He called out to his son; who in answer exclaimed, “Dad, I’ve found you! How did you get lost?”

This story reminds me of those whom a few years back proudly proclaimed, “I found it.” They had “found” God and received their salvation. But God was never lost, it was they who had wandered away from Him. They finally allowed God, who was seeking them, to find them and reconcile them back to Himself.

The Gift Of Faith
Our loving God has truly done an amazing and complete work of reconciliation! He has not only made the atonement for our sins to bring us salvation; He also gives us the faith to receive His reconciliation.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8­­-9). Faith is a gift that God gives to all believers. This initial gift of faith that we are given was originated and perfected for us by Jesus: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:2). In fact, it is not our faith at all that brings us salvation, but it is the faith of Jesus, “… and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus came not only to live a sinless life and give Himself for us that we might be reconciled to God. His very faith, the faith of the Son of God, is imparted to us as a gift whereby we can not only receive this salvation from sin, but also be able to live a more abundant life.

Increasing Our Faith
Faith is not only a wonderful gift, it is also a fruit of the Spirit; which grows, expands, and increases over time. The word that is translated faith in the preceding verses is the same word found in Galatians 5:22 where it lists the fruit of the spirit. Although some translations have rendered this word faithfulness — faith is a fruit of the Spirit, which should be increasing toward fullness in our lives.

What can we do to help increase or strengthen our faith? What can we do to receive more faith? The bible tells us in Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Greek word translated “word of God” in this verse is not logos — the written word, but rhema — utterance or revealed word of God. Faith comes to us as God reveals Himself to us, and we begin to see His faithfulness.

This verse begins with the words
“so then.” If we look at the context of this verse we will see what these words refer to so that we can more fully understand it. “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’” (Romans 10:15–16). Once we have believed the gospel of peace, so then comes faith. Once we have accepted God’s great gift of reconciliation, we become Christians: followers and disciples of Christ. We want to please Him and be pleasing to Him. To please God we must have faith for we know that “… without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The Bridge Of Faith
But what is faith?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is by faith that we realize what we are hoping for — for faith is the substance of those very things. Faith is the bridge between the spiritual and the natural. It is upon this bridge of faith that those things from the invisible, eternal kingdom of God are realized with a tangible presence in this natural, earthly realm.

Now a bridge can be very wide and very strong, but unless there is something to pass over this bridge there is very little value in having it. A bridge that connects two totally deserted islands accomplishes nothing. In like manner, faith in God and in the qualities of His nature produces nothing unless we first have a hope in our hearts for it to fulfill. Without hope there is no substance to our faith. Many believers who want to have a stronger faith need to first open their hearts and ask the Lord to put a hope in their hearts that what they desire will come to pass. If God has given you an understanding of what He desires to do in your life and yet the thought of your heart is “I know that with God all things are possible, but I don’t see how He could possibly use me,” then it is not more faith in God that you need, but more hope. Only the Lord can place this hope within you. In order for the Lord to give you a new hope, however, you must be willing to open your heart’s door to Him. You may need to bring to Jesus your hurts, your loss, and your disappointments from the past, which have robbed you of your hope. After allowing Him to heal these wounds, you can again fully open your heart to receive new hope from the Lord.

Foundational Faith
Faith is the evidence or confidence of things as yet unseen. What is this evidence and in what is our confidence? The character of our God is the evidence for our faith. The confidence we have is in Him and His trustworthiness. This is why we must first receive the gospel of peace, for once we get a glimpse of His character — His love, grace, and mercy —
so then we can have faith. The character of God is the foundation of our faith: faith laid on any foundation is not the faith of God.

If faith is based on His character, how can it be increasing? God’s character never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Our faith, however, is limited by our understanding of His character. As we understand His character more completely, our faith in Him also increases.

A tree can grow only as large as its roots will support. If a tree grows very tall but the roots are not able to grow very deep, due to the shallowness or hardness of the soil, this tree will be very unstable. The extent of the roots below the soil must match the extent of the tree above the soil. A tree without this proper foundation is easily blown over by wind and storms. Many believers are like this: trying to have great faith without having any depth to their understanding of God’s character. Their faith, like a shallow-rooted tree, can be easily tossed aside by the storms of life because it is not deeply rooted in the understanding of the character of God. The extent of our faith must not outmatch the extent of our knowing God’s character. It is not faith in faith, but faith in the character of God!

Unseen Things
Let us remember that faith is the evidence of
things not seen. Faith is not just believing a group of proven facts — that is reasoning. Believers who use archeological and scientific facts to try to support faith do not truly understand faith; for it rests alone on the imputable character of God. You cannot prove faith. You can believe it and testify of what it has done, but it cannot be proven to the point of satisfying the human mind. When the man of reasoning comes to the Lord and asks, “How can I know that this is true?” God’s answer is “I AM that I AM!” His character speaks for itself. Faith actually overrules more than just our sight. Faith goes far beyond our reason and logic. It goes beyond all that we can see, hear, feel, taste, or smell. When all five of our senses and our logic come to conclusions contrary to God, faith says “… let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

The natural man walks by either a moral code that he has learned and accepted, or by the desires of his heart. As believers, however, we are to follow the Holy Spirit as we pursue our relationship with God.
“For we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

A few years ago the Lord showed me the importance of this principle. As I was praying for a friend, for what seemed like an enormous difficulty, the Lord showed me a picture. I was standing in front of a huge stone wall. It appeared ominously large, ten stories tall and as wide as the eye could see. Suddenly I heard the Lord say, “Draw out your sword.” As I looked at my side, I was wearing a silver sheath that had a gold handled sword in it. As I drew out this fine, strong sword the Lord said to me “Strike the wall.” So with more wonder than faith, I obediently struck the wall with the sword. I instantly discovered that the wall easily tore open and was made of only paper. This “insurmountable” obstacle was mighty in appearance only and had no strength in substance. I understood that this “wall” was nothing more than a grand illusion built by the great deceiver, and that I must more closely than ever learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

In God We Trust
If we look at the circumstances that surround us and allow them to limit or alter our faith, we are walking by sight and not by faith. When the circumstances of life are dark and stormy, God’s character does not change. When everything seems hopeless and humanly impossible, men and women of faith stand firm and say “In God we trust!” This is not just some trite phrase, but a statement of where our faith is grounded.

Do we have faith because of what God has done or because of whom He is? Faith rests upon the character of God, not His actions. We trust God because His character is trustworthy. Actions speak louder than words, but God’s character eclipses even the great deeds He has done. When the actions of God go against our desires or conflict with our understanding, His character remains unchanged and He is still trustworthy. Let us come to the place of maturity where we can say
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

If we are truly trusting the Lord, we will be abandoned to Him and His calling. When we hear His call or sense His leading the ones who are trusting God answer in abandonment, holding back nothing.

Some of the Spanish explorers were so resolutely abandoned to their cause that they burned their ships after landing in the new world. For them there was no forsaking the call and turning back. Like them, we must forsake ourselves and be totally given over to God. Too many in this day want to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they do not have the foundation of trust in God’s character. When He says to them “Follow Me,” they respond
“Lord, I will follow You, but …” (Luke 9:61). Jesus Christ demands that we trust Him and be resolutely abandoned to Him. Disciples of Christ do not say “Yes, but …”; they simply say “Yes.”

Walking It Out
If we have put our trust in God and are abandoned to Him, then we should be walking out our faith. True faith must be exercised; it must be put into action. The Bible says in James 2:17 that
“… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.” This is not a contradiction to salvation by grace through faith, nor is it a verse that balances grace. This verse brings faith to its conclusion, showing faith in more fullness. It is not faith plus works, but faith producing works.

If we are trusting God and abandoned to Him, the actions, the deeds, and the works that result are merely evidence of the faith we have.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Without any evidence or substance as the result of our faith, we do not have faith — only hope. We must choose to walk out our faith. It is a choice. The question is not are we able to walk out our faith, the question is are we willing to?

Through Love
Some who have a great trust in the character of God and a great hope for what He will do, still find their faith frustrated and floundering. For them, faith does not seem to work like in the Bible. Why? There is one other aspect of faith that must be understood. Although trusting in the character of God is the foundation of our faith, faith accomplishes its work by love. Galatians 5:6 says,
“faith working through love.” Our faith in God cannot be greater than our love of God! It is as if love is the channel through which our faith must flow. If we have little love, the channel will be small, thus limiting what faith can accomplish.

It is interesting that the first two commandments are to love God and then to love our fellow man. Without a love for God we will not be able to sustain our faith in God. Without a love for our fellow man we will not be able to have faith for them. A man of great faith but who is without love is like a great house without a door — he is of little use.

Have you ever purposed to pray for someone who opposed or hurt you? It seems so difficult to pray for them because we have so little love toward them through which our faith can flow. Jesus said, however, “love your enemies … and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). If we will persevere in prayer on their behalf, we will find that our hearts are softened and our love for them is enlarged. Jesus knew that as we prayed for our enemies our love for them would increase, and we would more perfectly reflect His love.

When we have a need in our lives, it is often those who love us the most that have the most faith for us. The care and concern they have for us is like a river of life through which their faith can flow. Their prayers of compassion, founded in love avail much in the kingdom of God.

Love is fundamental to the kingdom of God and the working out of faith. This is so clear that I believe that not only without faith is it impossible to please God, but also without love it is impossible to please God. “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Love will keep our trust and hope alive in spite of the circumstances for, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Once we have been reconciled to God, we get a glimpse of the depths of His character, and so then we can have faith. Our faith is grounded upon trusting the imputable character of God. If we trust God and are resolutely abandoned to Him, then our faith should be yielding the evidence of works — not works for works sake, but simply as a result of our faith. These works from faith are realized in our lives through love. As we walk out our faith, let us never forget that no matter how great our faith, without love we are nothing. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

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