The man was deeply shaken. A drunk driver had run a red light and hit his 8-year-old son. The little boy now lay in a coma in the intensive care unit of a hospital. The doctors had done the best they could, but with so much internal bleeding and injury, they were doubtful if the child would survive. "Only God can help him now," one of the doctors said. The man was in the depths of despair. He believed that God existed, but doubts and anxieties kept flooding his mind. He felt distant from God — that God was "a long way off." How could he pray to God for help when he had no faith that He would hear? In this illustration, we see a man who, faced with a crisis, didn't have enough faith in God to be able to pray and expect an answer. His inadequacy held him back from seeking the help that only God could give. Have you ever felt a lack of faith when faced with a severe trial? If so, there is a solution to this problem. You can have living faith — every day — to face any difficulty that arises. How? By learning how to use the faith God gives!
Living by faith
To most people "faith" is simply a belief that God exists, that the Bible is His Word or that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Of course, these concepts are right. But they do not capture the complete reality of what faith is. Faith is more than just a dry mental concept. True faith comes from God as a gift (Eph. 2:8) that must be internalized and acted on if it is to bear fruit. In other words, faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:17-26). The true, living faith God imparts is based on an ongoing relationship between you and your Creator — constant, intimate contact with Him. It's a track record of trust — of experiencing God living His life in you. The Bible admonishes Christians to always trust and fear God (Ps. 62:8, Provo 23:17). Living faith involves being God-centered — walking with Him — day by day throughout your life. You must constantly be "building yourselves up on your most holy faith" (Jude 20). Those who walk with God by faith receive powerful answers to prayer. They are in constant contact with Him. When a trial arises, they don't have to "work up" faith — God has already given it to them. They have living, dynamic, ever-present relationships with God, and they know that God will never leave them nor forsake them (Heb. 13:5). You, too, can have this living faith. The following seven principles will show you how.
Keys to powerful faith
1) Be aware of God's presence and renew your covenant with Him daily. God is almighty — omnipotent. His Spirit fills the entire universe — His invisible presence is everywhere (Ps. 139:1-10). He is at this very moment upholding all things by the "word of His power" (Heb. 1:3). God sees and knows your every secret — your life is open to His view (Heb. 4:13). Are you constantly aware of Him and standing in awe of His sovereign power? When one is baptized and receives God's Spirit, he begins a new covenant — a special agreement — with God. If you have done so, you had to count the cost and present yourself a living sacrifice (Luke 14:26-33, Rom. 12:1). Now, each day, you must renew your pledge of surrender and obedience — your commitment to unreserved loyalty and dedication. Keep this fact in the front of your mind and it will sustain the faith God has given you. 2) Be instant in prayer. Put God first, from your waking moments. Place Him at the center of your thinking before personal desires and activities start crowding in. The Bible commands us to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). It is good to start your day with prayer and ask God to guide you throughout the day and keep you from falling into sin. Pray for instant strength and self-control when you encounter destructive attitudes. Always stay in an attitude of prayer and sustain an ongoing relationship with God. Allow nothing to break your contact with Him — become so close to God that He's just a prayer away. 3) Let the Bible live in you. Study the Bible daily and apply its teachings to every decision you must make — to every problem you face. Remember, it's not the hearers but the doers of God's Word who will be justified (Rom. 2:13). Faith comes by hearing and obeying God's instructions (Rom. 10:17). Allow the Bible to so fill your mind that it becomes the basis of all your behavior. The more you experience the Bible, the greater your faith will become. 4) Lay down your life in service and make each day count. Jesus Christ said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). This is one of the most powerful and succinct definitions of love in the Bible. Love is giving your life in service to others. With each person you meet is a new opportunity to express love in some form — kindness, courtesy, encouragement, recognition or appreciation. With each passing day you are a step closer to the Kingdom of God. Therefore, strive to improve over yesterday's performance. Work hard at setting the right example — be a better husband or wife, father or mother, employee and neighbor. Spend your time pursuing positive ventures and striving to be a better servant of God as you prepare yourself for Christ's return. There are literally dozens of opportunities around you to show love each day. Exercise your faith! 5) Respond to God's Holy Spirit. God's Spirit is the power by which He created and sustains all things. It represents His perfect attitude and strength that He imparts to His servants to lead them to do His will. We are warned not to grieve or quench God's Spirit (Eph. 4:30, I Thess. 5:19). We should be responding to it and allowing it to completely convert us until we are perfectly serving God. When God's Spirit leads you to recognize sin or error, respond immediately. Crush out the temptation before it takes root and starts to grow. Be prepared to resist Satan's attacks — be vigilant (I Pet. 5:8-9). Keep yourself in the fear of God so that He may grant you the faith to live triumphantly. 6) Start expecting miracles. Answered prayer and God's protection are miracles. Any direct intervention by God in your life, however small or insignificant it may seem, is a miracle. As you grow closer to God each day, your awareness of these miracles will increase. And you can expect greater miracles to the degree you submit to and rely on God. Don't think of God's miracles solely in terms of great healings, deliverance from horrendous trials or provision of physical needs — food, shelter and clothing. Think of miracles as the power God provides you to overcome Satan, temptation and discouragement — as the strength He gives you to live a clean, holy life. If you are truly walking in faith, you should begin to experience more miracles each day. 7) Hold on to God in your darkest hour. Trials will come in every Christian's life (Ps. 34:19, II Tim. 3:12, Acts 14:22). Some trials are so severe you'll be tempted to give up and quit — a grave illness, a death in the family, the loss of a job, a lawsuit where you stand to lose all your possessions. There are times when the devil will unleash his full fury in an effort to destroy you. During these moments, hold on to God and trust Him to the end. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas. 4:7). God in His infinite wisdom has decreed that we each must stand and give an account before Christ of the way we have chosen to live our lives. We, then, should live each day with this in mind. Remembering God's coming judgment should be one of the greatest incentives to living a righteous and holy life. We, as Christians, as opposed to the rest of the world, are being judged now (I Pet. 4:17).
An ongoing relationship
Read these seven steps again and review them frequently. Make exercising them a part of your everyday life. Unless you resolve to apply them diligently, they will do little more than give you a temporary lift. Living faith is an ongoing relationship with God — a constant, daily trust. As you exercise God's faith, it will grow stronger like a muscle that is developed. You'll discover that looking to God in any circumstance will eventually become your first thought — an instinctive response. Then you'll really be living by faith!