According to one count, the Bible records 3, 573 promises of God that cover the major categories of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of mankind. Therefore, it would be correct to believe the thought, “God’s got my back!” This being true, it would be accurate to assume that we should all expect, as the song lyrics go, “sunshine on a cloudy day.” Right?
There was a time…
There was a time in my life that I believed that all I needed to do was learn, declare, and decree the Bible promises that covered the needs that I would experience; at least some of the main ones from each category.
But to be honest…
However, that approach ‘preached good’ but came up short in actual experience. Too much of the time, I was ‘standing’ in a kind of faith that was misplaced. You see, I discovered that the life of the promise was not in my ability to do the work properly. At first, I reasoned that I merely needed patience when in reality my practice was flawed.
The bedrock of faith…
What I’ve discovered is that the very foundation that supports and activates faith is not in knowing and claiming the promises, but instead becoming confident in His Character.
“Confidence In His Character Is The Beginning and End of Faith”
I can be familiar with all 3,573 Bible promises, and shout them at the moon until (as my dad used to say) “the cows come home” and have to resort to the excuse, “I’m standing and believing.”
It’s not that I don’t value patience…
I do know – and do not discount – as Hebrews 6:12 states patience is an essential part of the faith that inherits the promises. Of course, a vital ingredient in faith that receives God’s promises is refusing to falter when circumstances try to discourage and tempt you to abandon your expectation.
But, I’m discovering that…
Faith is the result of trusting His Character first and foremost. Instead of trusting in my ability to get the ‘faith process’ right, I’m learning to rest in the quality of His Character.
Here’s what hindered my confidence and therefore my faith…
I believed that unconditional love was the highest form of love and that it was our goal to demonstrate that to others. However…
I believed that experiencing the promises of His love was based on my correct performance. I would never have admitted it in so many words, but the facts were that I was counting on my ability to perform correctly rather than the quality of character of His heart for me.
Two scripture lessons that brought this home to me…
Galatians 3:5, “So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”
The ‘works of the law’ as applied today would be likened to ‘formulas of self-effort’ to produce the desired results. The promises are always the quality of His heart. They are not tools to twist God’s arm or manipulate Him to do what His heart already desires.
Note: Do you feed your children because of your heart for them, or because they constantly told you that they remembered your promises to take care of them (as if you needed reminding).
Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”
These words of Jesus were not excusing laziness. However, they were making a critical point that points to God’s heart for all of His creation…not to mention His very sons and daughters. Jesus specifically pointed to the Raven. Interestingly, that was the very class of bird that was fowl (pun intended) to the Jews…and the disciples knew it. The Raven had no work ethic, whatsoever. It did nothing to earn God’s favor. Many of the Rabbis considered it blasphemy even to mention, or write the name, Raven. Jesus was employing a form of hyperbole to drive home a point. He was saying, “Don’t count on your performance for your heavenly Father to care for the things you need in life.”
Relax. He’s got your back. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. His love for you is not based on your correct or sufficient performance.
We must start there as our foundation for faith. Otherwise, or attempts at faith are nothing more than self-effort. His heart overflows with gifts you don’t have to earn.
Is your faith practice actually works of a contemporary religious ‘law’? Do you believe you are at least as valuable to God as a Raven?
Know and be absolutely assured of this: 2 Timothy 2:13, “When we are faithless, He remains faithful…” (To the character of His heart)