Faith Roots

After reading a morning devotional I felt compelled to share it along with a few of my comments. First, here is the devotional reading.

Satan’s plan of temptation is always the same. While everything moves prosperously, people think that they have faith. But when suffering, disaster, or disappointment comes, they lose heart. A faith that is dependent on circumstances or surroundings, that lives only when everything goes smoothly, is not a genuine faith.

In his trouble Moses cried to the Lord. This is what the children of Israel, so recently delivered, ought to have done. The Lord heard the cry of His servant, against whom the people had said so many bitter things. He showed Moses a tree, “which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” It was not the virtue of the tree that turned the bitter water to sweet; it was the power of Him who was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, the One who can do all things. . . .

Did the people then appreciate and acknowledge God’s blessings? Were their hearts filled with gratitude and thanksgiving to Him? Did they have a praise service, as when they stood on the banks of the Red Sea? We have no evidence that their faith was strengthened by God’s mercy and grace and love toward them. . . .

When trial comes to prove us, when we cannot see an increase of prosperity and comfort before us, but a probable lessening of these things, when there is a pressure necessitating sacrifice on the part of all, how shall we receive Satan’s insinuations that we are going to have a hard time, that everything is going to pieces, that there is sore trouble ahead of us? . . . We ought to gather up the fragments of heaven’s blessings and tokens for good, saying, Lord, I believe in Thee, in Thy servants, and in Thy work. I will trust in Thee. {CTr 107}

Faith is like a reservoir of water. To remain fresh and life-giving it must have both inflow and outflow. According to the above quotation the inflow needs to be a conscious awareness of the mercy and grace and love that God has toward us. Thus, focusing on terrors of judgment, fear-inducing scenarios of last day events or all such fear-based theology and teachings will not strengthen our faith as many suppose it will. In fact, it has the very opposite effect, it undermines our faith and weakens it so that when disaster comes or severe temptations arise we will cave in quickly like a tree that has rotted out inside unseen to outside observers.

Faith needs to have deep, secure roots buried deep into the earth to hold the tree firm during storms. Faith needs to have those roots tapped into the resources of God's goodness and love in every way possible, not just the surface blessings that might be all around us in the present. When trees near a stream only depend on surface roots that depend on the water easily available, then when the stream dries up or a strong wind comes along the tree is very vulnerable to falling over because it has no deep roots to keep it stable.

We need to be thankful for the immediate blessings and be willing to enjoy them. But at the same time we need to remember to push even deeper than the pleasant circumstances and easy blessings God is giving us to much deeper levels of knowledge about the real truth of God's character. It is vital that we take the effort to develop much deeper and stronger roots that will tap into the hidden, deep places of the earth unseen to others and to anchor our hearts firmly in the Word of God and a daily, intimate connection with His heart that will give us the stability to withstand the inevitable storms that are going to attack us. But the deeper resources that our faith needs to connect to are not the fearful things but the unchangeable truths about who God really is, the truths of His unconditional lovingkindness and love and mercy and grace and His laws. For the laws of God are simply expressions of His own character.

So to finish the first analogy that I started, for a lake to remain fresh and vibrant and life-giving it must not only receive the truthful aspects of what God is like, the fresh water uncontaminated with lies about God, but it must also have healthy outlets to bless others with that same life-giving experience of joy and peace and truth. And again according to the above quotation, the outlets that will keep our faith growing and strong are composed of our willingness to praise and honor and glorify God and His reputation by speaking of His character truthfully, not just the things that He does for us that we enjoy. Gratitude and praise are a vital necessity for having a strong, healthy faith whether it is like a beautiful lake or like a strong tree that can withstand the assaults of lies about God that often bombard us unexpectedly.


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