Fortifying My Faith In 2016
This past Sunday my Pastor’s sermon was about faith, which was funny because throughout the week my thoughts kept drifting to different passages of faith in the Bible. Her subject actually was fortifying your faith. It was befitting for the season as we await the new year.
Looking back to where I was spiritually when 2015 was fast approaching and where I am spiritually as I prepare to see 2016—Lord’s will—my faith has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve always had faith that my Father would see me through anything life threw at me, He’s got my back. The thing is, I learn to trust Him fully this year, I laid every worry, every stressful situation, every problem at His feet. I told Him he could do whatever was in His will and I left every one of them there. Since that day in back in February my faith begin to change from God has my back to He has not only my back but, my front, left and my right. I know He’s going to go out ahead of me and work out whatever I’m facing. If a door close, I know a window will open. These things I just know, my faith in Him tells me so.
What is faith?
Faith is such a powerful word. I always want to capitalize it when I write or type it, along with hope, grace, mercy and love. I don’t know what the dictionary meaning of faith is but the Word sums it up beautifully in Hebrews 11:1, …faith is the substance of thing hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (KJV). Hope and Faith go together. Let’s look at faith in real life terms; faith is when you hope you have enough money to buy groceries and pay for you son’s football uniform and knowing that you will be able to. I know, it seems a little convoluted doesn’t it, hoping something happens and knowing that it will happen.
Both the words substance and evidence deals with the tangible. You hope for something measurable, but how can unseen things leave evidence? Our minds are funny because we automatically think that if something is not seen it doesn’t exist. But walk with me for a minute I’ll try to show you what this “evidence” is of things unseen.
Romans 5:3-4 says, …trouble leads to patience, patience to experience, experience to hope. My experience had taught me that when I don’t have food in my refrigerator, someone will knock on my door and say I brought to much of this or too much of that and I thought of you and your family. Or, I reach into my pocket and find money that I forgot I had so I am able to pay a bill. Experience is the evidence of the things I cannot see. If He done it before, He’ll do it again and every time.
In our everyday lives, we rely on our experiences with people predict what we expect from them. For instance, you know that your plumber can fix your leaky faucet because he fixed it for you before. Or, you know that your favorite deli will fix your sandwich the way you like it because they always do. It’s through your experiences with them that you can draw your conclusion. My experience with God tells me that He will always take care of me, that’s all the evidence I need.
Fortify means to strengthen so as to secure also, to increase with nutritional value, and it is derived from the Latin term fortis, meaning strong. So how are we to strengthen our faith so it secures God’s benefits, grace and mercy, to increase our spirits’ nutritional value so that we are strong in the Lord? I love how in Matthew 17:20, Jesus equate faith to a mustard seed. He tells his disciplines that it was because of their disbelief that they couldn’t cast out the devil from a child. He tells them that all they need is faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed and they could move mountains. That doesn’t necessarily means physical mountains but, metaphoric mountains that show up in life. With a little faith, anything can happen.
There isn’t anything that exist that is without purpose. The purpose of a mustard seed is to produce the mustard plants. Or, of course, the seeds can be grounded down with water and vinegar and mixed into a paste or pressed into oil, but those are man’s purpose for the mustard seed. What so special about the mustard seed and why God the Son choose to use it this metaphor? Of all the herbs, the mustard seed has the smallest seed but produces the tallest plant, which if left to grow it would grow into a tree where birds could perch (Matthew 13:31-32).
In order to see the mustard seed in all its glory you must plant it, but for those who garden know that you just can’t throw seeds in the dirt, there’s preparation that needs to take place. You have to cultivate the area where you will plant the seed whether it’s a small garden in the backyard or a large field or a ceramic pot in the kitchen. Prepping the area gets it ready for the seed. As with natural life, we must cultivate the land, which is our souls, before we start planting the seeds of faith. We read our Bibles, we study the Word. In scripture, we see God faithfulness, His glory, His everlasting love for us. Through reading the Bible, we experience God through others in the Bible. As we prepare ourselves for the seeds of faith we open the communication with our Father, this builds a personal relationship with Him. When we tell Him our fears and worries this shows him that we trust Him.
Having prepared ourselves, we can now begin to sow the seed of faith. When situations arise in our lives, because of the Word and our trust in the Lord we purchase our mustard seed. It’s small, but it’s it solid, great pressure needs to be applied to break it. We dig a hole and we put the seed in, but we don’t just leave the seed exposed to the elements. We cover the seed. Faith without work is dead (James 2:20), so we work to nurture the seed so that it germinate. We pray and we mediate and we praise and we pray and we do what we can on our end and we read the bible and we pray. Before we know it a seedling sprouts above the dirt.
The small seedling is fragile, it need a lot of care. This is the when the situation starts to change. God has stepped in on your behalf. The situation may still be the same but you feel Him working it out. This is where we the evidence of things unseen come in. Our mind goes back to all the times in the past where He brought us through, we think of the great men and women in scripture that insurmountable odds like the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, or Joseph, or David, or Job, or the woman with the issue of blood, or Peter or Paul or the lame and the blind and the hungry.
Our faith seedling needs TLC. It needs water (Revelations 21:6), we need to aerate the soil, our souls with the Word, with fasting and praying, with communing with like-minded people. We need patience, the hardest part of fortifying faith. Waiting on the Lord is hard because the situation is still there, the bills are still coming in, our health is still failing, our children are still acting up. But our faith is still growing.
That mustard seed is now a mustard plant. It’s growing tall. The wind and the rain comes, but its roots dig deeper into the earth, that’s our hope. Weeds try to choke it and rob it of its nutrients, but we pluck them up by removing negative people and thoughts from our lives. We do the things that are right in the sight of God. We continue to feed the plant with water a fertilizer, reading our Bibles and praying.
We do this day in and day out. Then comes the time for the harvest. The time to reap the benefit of all our faith, which is God’s grace and mercy. All the blood, sweat and tears, all the praying and fasting and studying the Word and communicating with God, has paid off. Our seeds of faith have blossomed and are ripe for the picking. Grace and mercy saw us through to the other side of the situation. We got the victory, we may be battered and bruised but we are standing strong. We glorify His name, Jehovah Nissa, my provider. We magnify Him. We praise Him, we lift Him up. And if we are smart, we add the to our experience with Jesus as our personal savior.
We must continuously strengthen our faith. We must always be in the cycle cultivating our souls for the seeds of faith, sowing the seeds of faith, nurturing our faith and harvesting the benefits of having faith. It’s an ongoing process. Life is full of surprises, stressful situations and times of trouble. Having faith will not eliminate problems we will most definitely encounter, but faith makes it easier to go through these times because we know Jesus is our mediator before the Father and the Father’s grace and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives ( Psalm 23:6 ) as long as we trust His will.
No matter what I go through in 2016, I will fortify my faith in the Lord by studying the Word, praying without ceasing, turning down my plate and communicating with Him. I will trust Him with my whole heart (Proverbs 3:5). I will face every situation hoping that the Lord will see me through and knowing that he will because He is always faithful and His Word will never come back void (Isiah 55:11).
May God be with you until we meet again.