The answer to this question involves two steps. For the first step, we will go to the book of Romans: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17 NKJV)
That's it, folks. Pretty simple, really! We are each allotted a measure of faith (See Rom. 12:3), that faith must grow in order for God to be able to work among us to His maximum potential (see 2 Cor. 10:15), and the key to growing that faith is by entering into the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
I received a digital camera for Valentine's Day last year. Now, I'm not the most mechanically (or electronically!) Minded person in the world, but if I fiddle with things, I can usually figure out their basic function. Hence, I rarely read owner's manuals. This case was no different. I fiddled with my camera until I could do basic point and shoot functions, and then I promptly lost the manual.
Now, I know that other Kodak owners can do all kinds of neat things with their identical cameras, things that I can't do with mine because I don't know how. My powerful tool is being used in its most basic capacity because I never bothered to read my owner's manual.
God's Word is the "owner's manual" for faith. We all have a basic amount of faith, but if we never "dig in" to the Word, our faith will always be "point and shoot", and we'll miss out on the full potential of how God can work in our lives through faith.
But how do you enter into the Word of God? I'm not talking about casual reading here. I'm talking about digging in. Meditating upon scripture. Reading verses over, repeating them back to yourself, all the while, asking God to minister to you through His Word.
Sometimes God's Word will scream out His intended message to you the first time you read it, but sometimes it won't. But whether the response is immediate or not, you will know when you've been ministered to. You will be overcome with emotion. Sometimes it will be peace. Other times it will be conviction or repentance. Your indecision will fall away and you will, perhaps for the first time with this particular issue, see clearly. Until you've reached this point, you need to continue to dig into the Word of God, to read and reread, to meditate, and to ask God for clarity.
The question often arises, "How can I know if this is something that I need to take a stand of faith on?" The answer is simple: If God tells you to take a stand of faith on something, it will come to be. Meditation on the Word of God is a most powerful tool for hearing His voice, for learning His will, and then for receiving the strength to take that stand of faith.
To summarize then, meditating upon God's Word is the first step in growing your faith. What about the second step?
Let's say that I had taken the time to read about the various functions of my camera, but I never tried to use any of them. I would likely have forgotten at least three quarters of what I read. In order for a camera function to become useful to me, I must do two things: I must do my research by reading my manual, and then I must practice what I have learned. I must try the functions on the camera itself.
It is no different with growing our faith. We have to dig into God's Word, but we must also use what we have learned. We have to practice. And God has the perfect way for us to practice. He allows various trials to come our way so that we have the opportunity to work out the faith that we have learned by reading His Word.
Paul and James both speak of this: "for we also rejoice in tribulation, because tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Rom 5:3,4 NKJV); and "count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." (James 1:2-4 NKJV) What these texts are saying is that we can learn all the right steps and our faith can be strengthened by meditating upon God's Word, but if we never get a chance to practice what we've learned, our faith will never grow to its potential.
Enough to ponder, friends, but do ponder this: In order for our faith to grow, we must meditate upon the Word of God, then we must put to practice what we've learned through the trials that ultimately will come our way!
Join us next week for one last lesson in faith: A personal testimony of how my faith is currently being encouraged to grow.
God bless you!
Lyn Chaffart, Author, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets website, www.scripturalnuggets.org , Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .