Effective Faith

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For faith to take root and our life transformed we must be completely surrendered.
Anything we hold onto in the process of discipleship will keep us from being fully transformed. Therefore surrender is a daily activity.

The word “follow” is used 126 times in the New Testament. There was a common expression with Rabbi’s regarding disciples which said, “May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.”

The image is that you would so closely follow your teacher to hear every word and observe every mannerism, that the dust of his steps would cover you completely.

The term “Christian” is found only three times in the New Testament. Being a Christian is following Jesus, to learn from Him. We learn about Him, not just for information but transformation. Without transformation you’re just religious.

When Jesus called His first disciples He didn’t ask, “Do you believe in Me,” instead He invited them to follow Him.

In Matthew 4 Jesus calls Peter and Andrew (27AD) by saying, “Follow me.” There was no mention of Peter’s spiritual and theological positions. It’s not until Matthew 16 (29AD), where Peter makes a full confession of faith. Two years later!

Jesus isn’t looking for believers; He is seeking followers. Followers translate into believers, but not every believer becomes a follower. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
Following is the process of discipleship, which produces transformation.

Proverbs 3:1-8 gives us five characteristics that will aid our surrender so that we may be daily transformed into God’s likeness.

#1 “let your heart keep my commandments.”

The Hebrew use of the word heart in a poetic sense represents the totality of a person. The Hebrew word translated as “keep” means to guard or preserve. We guard God’s commandments against the will of the flesh to lead us in disobedience to the truth.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63

Our flesh is no help at all to our spiritual development. But it is the Spirit who gives life. Jesus’ words are spirit, and they give life.

Sleep does not guarantee rest. Sleep can do little to overcome anxious thoughts or fear. But God’s Word can calm the storms in your life and give peace amid anxiousness and fear.

#2 Steadfast love and faithfulness.

These two characteristics exemplify the nature of God. 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” Love isn’t acceptance of, nor the ignorance to the flaws or sin of others, but loves them despite them, just as God loves us despite our brokenness.

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
2 Timothy 2:13

God cannot deny Himself; He is eternally faithful. His faithfulness is not contingent on any external circumstance or reciprocation.

#3 Trust in God.

Trust significantly influences our willingness to surrender to God. To trust means that we rely on, depend on, and have confidence in God. There will be times when your understanding may be at odds with what His word says, but don’t lean on your understanding, trust Him.

#4 Acknowledge God in all your ways.

When you wake up, invite God to be apart of your day. When things are going bad, acknowledge/welcome God into that moment. When things are going well, invite God into that moment.

Don’t fall into the habit of acknowledging God only when things are good, or things are bad, but develop the practice of inviting God to be a part of your day no matter what is happening, He will make our paths straight.

Straight paths mean He will remove the obstacles in our way. Straight paths also means we will gain clarity about our situation, see things as they are, with godly discernment.

#5 A healthy fear of God.

To have the fear of the LORD is to understand that He sees everything and knows everything. There is nothing hidden from His sight, no word, action or motive. Understanding this reality will cause a shift in us to live righteously because there is no gain to be had from deceitfulness.

When we abide by these five characteristics in our pursuit of God, we ward off illnesses and diseases sometimes caused by a lifestyle that leans on our understanding, Proverbs 3:8. A disciple walks close to the one he follows that he may become like Him in every way.

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