Monday, February 28, 2011

FAITH is Gazing at the Heart of God (part 2): Five Practical Steps to Faith

According to Tozer (see part 1 - Faith is Gazing at the Heart of God) faith is gazing upon God.  Faith is directing one’s attention to Jesus, faith is our heart continually hearing “behold the lamb” so that our attention will be drawn to Jesus.

Heb. 12:1-2 begins with “therefore”, pointing back to the great chapter on faith then simply says, "look to Jesus".  Within Hebrews 11 lies person after person that exhibited a life that pleased God by their faith.  Rahab, Enoch, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses and so many more.  All these believed the words that God had spoken to them.  Practically speaking, how do we do that day in and day out?

Here are five very practical steps to exercise those faith muscles:
  1. Read the word daily (faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God - Rom. 10:17)
    The Word of God is just that, God speaking to you.  Just like Moses on the mountaintop speaking to God, the completed canon is God personally speaking to you.  The bible provides instruction for life, for godliness, for maturity until we meet Him face to face.  How can you cling to the promises of God if you don’t read them?  How can God speak with you if you don’t spend time with him every day?  Read the Word daily, even 7 minutes a day is a great start.  Spend 30 seconds in prayer asking for God to reveal Himself in the Word, read for 5 minutes and then pray for 90 seconds that God will apply what you have just read.  Everyone has 7 minutes a day they can give to God.  (The Navigators have a bible reading plan that requires only 5 minutes a day and you can complete the New Testament in a year - ).  

    2.  Daily keep your focus on Jesus.
      Let’s face facts, we have distractions from the second we wake up to the moment we finally drift off to sleep.  In fact, I would venture to say that since the beginning of time, there has never been a time when the average person has more distractions as we do now.  To name just a few: TV, radio, magazine, video games, cell phones, iPods, books, e-books, internet, computers, texting, emails, youtube, etc.  In the last 50 years our world has changed dramatically, even the last 5 years has given us new technology that allows us to entertain ourselves anywhere at anytime.  It is much easier to flip on the TV or surf the web than it is to shut everything off, open a Bible and read.  Here’s a suggestion that I have found useful:

•    Have your quiet time first thing in the morning before you check your blackberry, turn on your computer, read the newspaper, check the morning traffic.  Start your day with God, it is amazing how it will impact your entire day and keep your focus on the Lamb.
•    Put reminders in places where you tend to lose focus.  On your bathroom mirror, on the rear-view mirror of your car, in your cubicle or office at work, on the edge of your computer screen, or on your toolbox.  The reminders should focus your thoughts on Jesus.
     •    Change out these reminders weekly.  Reminders become familiar very quickly to the point you don’t even see them after a week or so.
     •    Consider using a verse from your quiet time as your daily/weekly reminder.
•    Memorize Scripture.  If this has been a tough for you in the past, start slow, but start.  What about a goal of 1 verse per week.  You can work on it every day and by the end of the week you should have it done.  Did you know the average Christian could not quote 50 verses with their reference?  After only 1 year you would have more verses memorized than most.  Imagine after 10 years!  Try writing out the verses on a small card (i.e. business card size), punch a hole in one end and put them on a binder ring.  You can take this with you anywhere (grocery store, treadmill, walking, work, lunch, etc.).  Put the verse on one side and the scripture reference on the other.  You can flip through these verses anywhere and you will soon be a “tree firmly planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3). 

     3.  Journal

     Keep a record of the things God has done and is doing.  A prayer journal is a great way to start.  It is amazing to see God answering your prayers, confirmation that God is hearing you and responding to your heart felt needs. 

     4.  Find time to be still (Ps. 46:10).

     For most of us, forcing a “time-out” in our busy schedules is not easy.  Our world is equally demanding when we come home from work making it nearly impossible to steal away a few minutes of silence.  God says, “be still and know that I am God”.  I challenge you to make the time daily.  If you are married, give your spouse a short "time-out" and then they can return the favor to you.  Susanna Wesley used to pull her apron over her head as a sign to her family that she was having a time-out with God.

     5. Start and end your day in prayer. 

     Before your feet hit the floor, commit your day to God.  It is amazing the difference this has made in my life.  My days are much more focused on Christ when I start my day in a short prayer of dedication.  When I was in a summer camp with the Navigators, my group leader challenged me to make “His words the last words.”  He challenged me to not talk about things that will distract or worry just before I go to bed.  Rather end my day, my final words, my final thoughts saying (or thinking) His words (again that Scripture memory will come in very handy here).  If you are married, try praying together, then drift off praying for your spouse and family, quoting Scripture or reflecting on your quiet time from earlier in the day.

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