How to Have Strong Faith, Pt. II – Understanding the Levels of Faith

Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew … Luke 13:18

When we were in Tucson, Arizona several months ago, we drove up Mt. Lemmon. Not only is it the tallest peak in the area, it seems a bit like a pylon in the middle of a parking lot. The view from the bottom is very limited –scrub brush and a few houses. However, as we climbed toward the top, the view changed drastically.

At first, we were looking up at shear rock cliffs and Saguaro cactus. Still higher, we could see more of the valley. Miniscule houses and cars far below couldn’t begin to comprehend what we could see. As the mountain road became a series of switchbacks, we zig-zagged our way up the rock face. Cactus disappeared and we were in high desert pine forests with occasional patches of snow!

Near the top is a little settlement with a cookie hut. We stopped for warm chocolate chip cookies the size of dinner plates! The air was fresh and crisp; the sun seemed brighter. The views were stunning.

Faith is like climbing a mountain – the higher you go, the more you can see. As we drove, we saw numerous bikers and runners attempting the challenge of Mt. Lemon’s steep roadway. Some were determined to get to the top; others stopped part way, content with their efforts. Where would you be?

God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. ~ Rom. 12:3

I’ve heard people say, “I just don’t have enough faith.” Whatever challenge they were facing seemed like an un-climbable mountain so they stopped near the bottom, declaring to anyone who would listen that “it’s just too hard. I can’t do it.”

They have forgotten that God instilled in them exactly the same ‘measure’ of faith that He gives to every man, including Jesus. Faith is present; we just need to grow it, like that mustard seed.

No farmer ever got a crop by wishing and hoping. He has to do some work. Nobody ever climbed a mountain without putting one foot in front of the other. Faith is the same way. It requires practice and determination to develop mountain-moving faith. (More on that in Pt. III)

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? ~ Matt. 8:26

The Bible uses the phrase “little faith” five times, so apparently it’s possible to be stuck in small faith. He questioned the disciples why they had forgotten the loaves and fishes. (Matt. 16:8) He rebuked them when the storm arose and they became fearful instead of faith-full (Matt. 8:26).  And He cautioned all of us about not trusting God to take care of our needs (birds of the air, grass of the field) in Matt. 6:30.  And in Matt. 14:31 He asked, “Wherefore did you doubt?”

Doubt and fear oppose faith; they are opposite to strong, successful, mountain-moving faith. You can determine your level of faith by looking at your level of fear, doubt, worry and dread.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full [assurance] of faith … ~ Heb. 10:22

The Bible describes both Barnabas and Stephen as ‘full of faith’.  Full faith produces power – power to change the circumstances in your life … and in others’ lives. If the gas tank in your car is empty, you won’t be going very far, but a full tank will take you a great distance. 

You fill up your faith tank by study and meditation. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

You can’t fill a pitcher if you don’t pour in water. You can’t have a full tank of mountain-moving faith if you don’t pour in The Word. A dribble a day won’t give you a full container. Conversely, a flood can fill your faith to overflowing!

 I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. ~ Luke 7:9

Jesus said these words about the centurion who came, asking for His help. He told Jesus, ‘speak the Word only, and my servant shall be healed’. The centurion didn’t ask for clarification, signs and wonders, or reassurances. He didn’t doubt Jesus’ ability or intent. He didn’t beg and plead. He simply trusted that the Word was powerful enough to overcome the situation.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. ~ James 1:6

The Bible mentions ‘faith’ 336 times so it must be important. James tells us that see-saw faith accomplishes nothing. Did you ever get anywhere by sitting on a fence? Effective faith requires a decision – a quality decision to trust the power, love, faithfulness and mercy of God.

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; ~ Rom. 4:20

Strong faith allows you to become” fully persuaded ” (Rom. 4:21) that God’s Word is true. You just KNOW that He upholds His Word and that you will receive what He promised.

The Bible says that He is faithful to us “unto a thousand generations” (Deut. 7:9). Since we were created to be like Him, we are to “Be ye mindful always of His covenant” (I Chron. 16:15) His promises to us.

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence [faith], for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. ~ Heb. 10:35

Faith grows. And it promises a reward – a harvest of health, prosperity, peace, joy, love and every other good thing. But you must tend the seed; fertilize it with The Word, and water it with meditation and trust (confidence).

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. ~ 2 Cor. 13:5

So, where are you? Are you willing to climb higher? As you do, you’ll find that the problems in your life will look like those tiny little houses down in the valley. They’ll become insignificant compared with the view from the top!

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