|English: The apostle James in the Stavelot Bible. Initial to the Epistle of James. Folio 197 verso. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Ivan Panin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Christianity proved itself--over and over and over. Lifestyles I couldn't change by myself changed. My chronic daydreaming disappeared. Cursing died. The strange, incomprehensible stories made sense.
And I became an insatiable devourer of the Word of God. I read the Bible through in various translations--no, not Greek or Hebrew--but in the KJV, NIV, NASB and others. Through it all, my life changed, my faith grew and I forgot most of what Ivan Panin taught. It no longer mattered.
However, the one area I struggled with was the demands to believe when I had no faith. The Scripture quoted above, "That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord" seemed cruel. How could I believe in something I didn't believe?
I won't lie. It's not easy. It can be done. Here're four ways--The PAPS.
- Pray. One time I had no desire to forgive a person who emotionally wounded me. I didn't want to forgive. So my prayer became, "Lord, make me want to forgive. If I don't want to want to, then make me desire to want to desire to change." My "want to want tos" went on a nauseatingly, only God could love it, long time. Guess what? I forgave. I don't even remember the wound. Honestly. It is only through the power of God that faith increases.
- Act. Behave as though you believe. I hated my job as a school teacher. I'd walk into school each morning grousing like the best of them, about how I hated work. It was sin. So, I asked for forgiveness for the lie I was about to utter, and I thanked God for the job I absolutely loved. Guess what? I loved teaching--almost from that moment on. I adore the Book of James because it talks so much about action. Christians often forget that actions over-shout words.
- Persist. If you give up the first time you don't understand something, you will stumble and fall away. I go to the gym on a fairly regular basis. Lifting a twenty pound weight on the machine that works my triceps seems insurmountable. By slowly adding weight to my workout, that goal can be achieved. If I quit? All I will get is what on trainer called "the happy muscle," a waving flap of skin on the bottom of my upper arm.
- Study. Faith comes from hearing. (Rom. 10:17). We can listen to the preacher, and I would never discount that. However, I have heard preachers who got it wrong. Seriously wrong. And even if these humans got it right 100% of the time, they don't always preach about the issues we need. So study. Not only will you grow, but the beautiful, interwoven tales, prophecy and history found in the Word of God will increase your faith.