Faith is the issue God keeps bringing to my mind the last couple days – faith and obedience.
In a recent Saddleback Church Drivetime Devotion, I heard a description of obedience I hadn’t heard before: obedience is not mindless action; it is love, trust, and response. I remember what it was like obeying out of duty, and it made me miserable, constantly feeling as though I was missing out on something, but total surrender and a life of worship that comes from gratitude for what God has done for me is wholly different. It’s liberating, it’s uplifting, it’s rapturous! Even the acts I don’t want to do become a blessing to me when I lay them down before my Savior. I wouldn’t have discovered this had I not begun with surrendering food choices and following a plan of eating, then practicing these principles in all my affairs.
Faith is not disconnected from obedience, because faith without obedience is merely belief, and that does nothing. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19 NIV). Concerning faith, I was compelled to ask this question: When Peter began to sink in the waves, who failed – Peter or Jesus? Certainly it was Simon Peter. Even Jesus response proves that – “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:27-33) So why, when we do not receive the things for which we ask God, do we blame God? The same One who said, “ask anything in my name and it will be done for you” (John 14:14) said, “according to your faith it will be done” (Matthew 9:29).
This came up because I have a precious friend who is in a great deal of pain, but she lives in doubt and worry. I, with a bottle of oil in my hand, asked if I could pray for her, to which she responded, “I don’t care if you pray for me, but don’t get me oily. I don’t want to be oily.” When I asked her to step over to where my wife was seated about five feet away, so we could join in agreement, my friend seemed put out as if this was some kind of inconvenience. As she planned her medical strategy, she confessed out loud, “I doubt if this medicine will do any good!”
I cautioned her, “If you believe it won’t work then it won’t. The mind is more powerful than any medicine!” That’s when the reality of faith struck me. I have not because I ask not, or because I ask amiss, wrongly, with selfish motives (James 4.2-3) and not from faith. Christ didn’t let Peter down. Peter became distracted by the physical elements around him. The perception of his senses. Those will always be at war against what faith would have us see.
Dear Father, today. I want to see with eyes of faith. Let me not be distracted by the sensual world, but let me live in celebration of the relationship to which You have brought me, the liberty to which You have delivered me, the vitality You have offered me, and the eternal life You have promised me. Nothing tastes, smells, feels, sounds, or looks as good as Your provision, dear Lord. I am grateful!