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Let's Talk About Your Muscles!

~>You have a faith muscle We have been looking at faith and trust--the difference between them, and how to grow our faith in God so that we will trust him more. The greatest challenge comes in trusting our Lord in the areas of life that are of grave concern to us--the things of which we oft have little control. In the last briefing, we saw Paul's instruction to present yourself to God, (Romans 12.1), and I proposed doing that upon awakening, in a prayer of intention. "Good morning, Lord, I am here, I present myself to you. Before I do anything else, I first want to be with you."1 (And then I included a prayer you could print and adapt and pray.)

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Paul explains in Romans 12.3 that God has dealt to each one of us a measure of faith. Hmmm...hold that thought a moment. As we conclude the beautiful, powerful letter of Ephesians, Paul writes that we are to pray at all times in the spirit--earnestly and with endurance, not giving up--for all believers.2 We pray because we believe in a God who hears and answers, we pray because we have faith in that all-powerful God. In the last briefings, we have seen how that faith moves us to action; in this case, to the most important action this side of heaven: prayer. Again, God has dealt to each one of us a measure of faith, and it is up to us to decide what we will do with that faith. Perhaps for a moment, we might symbolically think of faith like a bicep muscle. Of course, you have a bicep muscle; how big and how strong that muscle grows, depends on if and how much you exercise it. And so it is with prayer and our relationship of faith in our Father. God gave Abraham a measure of faith . . . what he did with that faith, how he exercised it, caused him to be a man of great faith, and the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Let’s go back…way back, like 4,000 years, and see what we can learn from Abraham. [you can pause a moment here and sing Father Abraham...with a right and a left...ha, ha - remember that? I sing it in the car with my little grandchildren] His father had been a moon worshipper, but rather than follow the moon, Abraham heard the voice of God, and he listened to it. He was every bit the renegade that Noah was, but instead of a big boat to show for it, he had a long journey to a far-off country and a barren, elderly wife. He too must have been ridiculed, as he packed up to leave his home, livelihood and people behind. But … “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”3 Indeed, the working out, the exercising of great faith often leads to great works! Abraham wasn’t perfect; he sinned--just like you, just like me. But what set him apart was that he heard the voice of God—understood the leading of God—and he obeyed. Abraham responded in faith, even though God did not ask simple things of him: ‘pick up all you own and move way off yonder; and oh yeah, now that your 99-year-old wife gave birth to a son, tie him on the altar—sacrifice him, Abraham’. Really, God? Are you kidding me right now?? Yet, in both cases, Abraham responded in faith—great faith. It was not because of his great works that we talk of him . . . it was his great faith, which caused him to act. Are you like Abraham? Do you take God at his word, trusting his promises to you? Does your faith direct responsive actions, causing you to exercise your faith muscle? Or would you more likely be labeled ‘nonresponsive’ to the voice of God? "What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks."4 Scripture refers to Abraham as the ‘friend of God’ three different times.5 What a remarkable distinction! It had to have been Abraham’s great faith that led him to be obedient to God. Note: Jesus told his friends, ‘you are my friends if you obey me.’6 George MacDonald was a Scottish poet, preacher, novelist who boiled all of life's truth into a simple two-step process: realizing who God is, then obeying Him. "True faith, true belief, is not possible where there is not a daily doing of the things He says. They are what make faith take root and spring to life... obedience is not perfection, but making an effort."7 Realize who God is, then obey him. Ah, so for you and me, perhaps the first step in exercising our faith muscle is setting our resolve to obey that which we know to do. God called Abraham his friend because of his obedience, which caused him to step out in faith. His act of faith causes us to turn around now, and with the perspective of history, see his faith as great faith. O that God will call you and me his friends because we have obeyed him! Madhava-friend of God, Binoy-friend of God, Wycliffe-friend of God, Tese-friend of God, Glen-friend of God, Judy-friend of God . . . for these children of God obeyed their Father. The more we know of God, the more we trust him. The more we trust him, the greater priority we place on prayer and his words to us -> our faith grows. The more we grow in our relationship with him, we will obey and step into the great purpose he has for us. Amen. Trust and Obey, Big Daddy Weave: To Know Him is to Trust Him, Christine

1 - last Morning Briefing: "How to get from 'here' to 'there' - 2 - Ephesians 6.18 3 - Very noteworthy: this line is used four different times in Scripture: Genesis 15.6; Romans 4.1-22; Galatians 3.6-9; Hebrews 11.8-10. 4 - George MacDonald 5 - Abraham, friend of God: James 2.23; 2 Chronicles 20.7; Isaiah 41.8 6 - John 15.14 7 - Knowing the Heart of God, George MacDonald

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