"Without faith it is impossible to please God"
Have you ever really thought about that? How many times have you and I tried to please God with something other than faith? And yet, that faith only comes to us through a gift of His grace! “For it is by GRACE you are saved, through FAITH, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Wait a minute. If I believe that, (and I most certainly DO!) then that means that I am helpless to even produce that which pleases God the most! It is a gift He must give me! It is in focusing that gift upon HIM that I am able to please Him. A gift given that He intends to be given back to Him for His glory! I think I’m finally on to something!!!
I want to please God! More than anything in my human existence, I want to please Him! The Apostle Paul said that it was his life's ambition to please God, in much the same way slaves were passionate to please their masters. I want pleasing God to be the ambition of my life too! I decided it was time to start digging around in Scripture to find out exactly how to do that! I didn't have to dig much, because it took only one verse to make God's point of view clear.... "For without FAITH it is impossible to please God." Ahhh! FAITH! But how to have faith.... that is another matter all together!
I am like the man who came to Jesus begging for his son, possessed by a spirit, to be healed, after attempts by His disciples had failed to free him. "But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' ALL things are possible to him who believes!" Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief!" The man’s response was so beautifully honest in admitting his fallible faith, mixed as it was with doubt. He pleaded with Jesus to help him to have the greater faith the Lord demanded of him.... "Take what little I have and give me more!"
I understand that man! My heart echoes his words to Jesus... "I believe, Lord! I really WANT to! And I know in my heart of hearts that You are able!" But that’s where my faith hits a snag! "You are able to do whatever I ask…. But WILL you?"
If you finish this beautiful story you discover that Jesus did, indeed, heal that man’s son… And with the healing of his son, surely his faith increased by leaps and bounds! I wish the storyline continued and I could follow that father home. Can you imagine the scene when he returned home to the boy's mother and presented their son to her whole and well? How many times did he tell of the Savior that was able to do the impossible? Can we assume that the father in this story had a bedrock faith that never faltered from that day forward? Probably not. Not if he is anything like me, anyway!
I’ve had more “faith” moments like his than I can count! And yet, some days my memories of God's faithfulness grow dim and I begin to question if the impossible is really possible again. "I KNOW you can, Lord…. But WILL you?"
Like just a few weeks ago, when I exercised more faith than usual that God would speak to my husband’s heart about Abby, the way He had to mine. And He DID! Why then, would I stumble in my faith only a few weeks later? There is a mountain called m-o-n-e-y that stands between me and my new daughter…. I hate that mountain! I’m all too familiar with it… and I’ve yet to call it my friend! How many times will God have to remove such a mountain to convince me that He is willing and sufficiently ABLE to do it? How many times will I struggle to believe that when God calls you to do something (anything) for Him, He supplies everything you need to accomplish it?
“I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief!”
Just last week my family spent time in the home of a precious friend that I came to know when standing in front of a mountain exactly like the one I’m facing now! She was just a stranger then! She saw a photo on a restaurant table as we prayed over it, asking for God’s provision to bring another daughter home from China. God moved in her heart and then in her husband’s heart and within 8 hours that mountain was removed and God had provided every dime we needed to bring our Ellie home! I still can’t remember all the miraculous ways God removed the same mountain for the adoptions of Kate and Rachel. Those mountains weren't removed immediately like Ellie’s had been, but bit by bit and sometimes just in the nick of time… and yet removed by HIS hand, just the same! When I remember those days and the miraculous ways God provided for every single need, my faith is bolstered. I know that I am not strong enough. But He is! How many times will He have to prove Himself until I’m surer than sure??? I stand without excuse in my unbelief.
God knows… He is tender in showing us in our fallible flesh how to stand strong in faith. Through out the Bible, whenever the Lord displayed His incredible faithfulness to His people, He directed them to do the same thing again and again… “Build an alter!” And He told them why! ...This was to remind them in their moments of weakness, that He was always faithful, and to tell the generations to come of His faithfulness when they felt tempted to succumb to those same weaknesses! Build an alter of remembrance…. Ahhh! Faith through remembrance! How many alters could have been built throughout the ages based upon God’s incredible faithfulness? Had I laid a stone on my alter of remembrance for every time God was faithful, it would be taller than any mountain that stands in front of me today!!!
I have plenty of stones to lay! It’s time I get started! But for the sake of space on this simple blog, I'll just lay the really BIG stones tonight! The others are just too many to count. God's faithfulness overflows....
|This is Russ with our precious daughter-in-love, Stephanie
Then the little girl of my dreams was born. God has been so FAITHFUL to give me even the deep desires of my heart when I am so undeserving…
|Sarah is married and lives in Franklin, Tennessee
Then the little boy that I so desperately wanted to be a girl… I’m so grateful that God FAITHFULLY gives us His best in spite of our human desires. Let me tell you... There is not a little girl on this planet I could have loved more than I loved this baby boy of mine! God is so good!!!
|Our home is just not the same since Ryan left for college!
Somewhere in between those years, God gave new life to my marriage. Thank you, my FAITHFUL Lord!...
And then, when I thought I was done, His FAITHFULNESS was on full display in the miracle of my “Dream Flower” - Kate…
Ellie was a gift of JOY to our family. God’s FAITHFUL provision to bring her home was a miracle we will never forget…
Ahhh… a stone with the word HOPE written upon it! Rachel’s unexpected life brings new meaning to the word hope when no one gave her any! Our God FAITHFULLY doing the impossible!...
Doug said we were “done”… But God, through FAITH, spoke to his heart and told him that we were NOT! Now Abby waits in China for her new family (ours!!!) to come take her home…
|Abigail Faith McCary ~ "Abby"
Have you started building your alter yet? If you’re a child of God, you’ve got plenty of stones too, you know! Maybe your husband hasn’t been faithful, or your friends and family… but God HAS! I’m sure of that! You’ve got some work to do!
In remembering and kneeling before the alter of God's faithfulness I've built here, I feel strengthened…. More sure than ever that God will never abandon me or leave me in the cold to fend for myself. He IS able! He WILL provide!
I've always been struck by how much it pleased God when King Solomon asked Him for wisdom. I suppose he needed much of it to lead the Isrealite nation. God, of course, answered by bestowing greater wisdom on Solomon than the world had ever seen or ever would. But can we assume based upon His Words in Hebrews 11:6 that He would be even more pleased when we come to Him and ask for greater FAITH? I think so!
But I’ll be honest – I’m scared to ask for faith sometimes! Because when I do, I can almost bet that it will only come as God stands me before bigger and bigger mountains through which He can show Himself FAITHFUL. Another stone for my alter! Because when FAITH wins, God gets the glory! But without a mountain to remove or a mere mole hill for me to climb over myself, I will likely try to take some of the credit for getting over it! Or I’ll give the credit to someone else, when FAITH says that God can do it ALONE! It saddens me that I must come to the absolute, desperate end of myself, before I cry out for the faith to believe that He alone can do all things….
Surely faith so slow to come is not the most pleasing of all to the Lord. I'm honestly tired of living a life with small faith. If pleasing God really is my ambition, then I simply refuse to allow myself to slip into my old ways of small thinking when a giant alter has been built in my heart to remember His faithfulness over our many years together!
You know the story of the healing of that man's son that I wrote of earlier? It didn't end there! Afterward the disciples gathered around Jesus and riddled Him with questions. They just couldn't understand why they had been unable to cast the demons from the boy, as they had been at other times in their ministries... Christ's explanation for their failure was that their faith was deficient. They obviously didn't lack the confidence, since they seemed surprised that the demon had not been removed. Maybe the problem was in a failure to make God- rather than their own gifts- the object of their confidence. True faith, by Christ's definition, always involves surrender to the will of God!
Jesus told his disciples... "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustad seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." How slow I am to understand! But I'm finally getting it! Jesus was saying that both the source and the object of all genuine FAITH--- even the weakest, mustand-seed faith--- is GOD! And "nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37) When I ask in FAITH for God's will to be done... the impossible is made possible!!!
So I've decided, based upon God's promises to me, that I will speak to the mountain standing before me today, the way Jesus said I could with FAITH… “Be moved!” and then watch with wonder as my FAITHFUL God moves it!!!
How it thrills my heart to know the treasures awaiting me on the other side of this impossibly huge mountain! Her name is Abigail Faith. (Don’t you think her middle name is most appropriate?) God will move mountains to show this precious child His great love for her and at the same time bless me and those I love beyond measure! Then I can lay another beautiful stone on my alter of remembrance and thank God for His incredible FAITHFULNESS once again!
“Oh Lord, I do believe! Help my unbelief!”