I’ve been through some awful things in my life, and I remember times when I wanted to give up on God.
I was frustrated for many years because I thought He was ignoring me.
At different times in my life, I’ve been angry at God, indifferent, confused and even scared of Him.
What God has shown me is that faith in Him isn’t a one-time event. We are to live by faith every day.
But until you understand a few simple things about how to do that, your faith will continue to struggle.
Hold on to your faith
Though believing in God is good, it’s important to realize that it’s not enough. If your faith in God stops at believing in Jesus as your savior, the smallest problem will make you feel like giving up.
Even though you know you’ve been saved and God promises not to leave or forsake you, you still have days when you’re ready to quit. And there’s a good reason you feel that way.
Problems of faith and belief are problems of the heart. So when you feel burned out and ready to give up, it’s because your heart isn’t settled.
And if your heart isn’t settled, neither is your faith.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Though you may be at your breaking point, your heart (faith) isn’t in the right place because your focus is on what’s happening to you instead of the One who lives in you.
You’re divided between your experiences and what you believe.
For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Though you try to hold on to your faith, it’s a struggle. And the sad thing is when you need God’s help the most, the condition of your heart (faith) is keeping Him from helping you.
Because God can’t help you without faith.
I know this disagrees completely with the belief that God is always working things out for you no matter what you do. But if you believe the Bible, it says right here in James that the double-minded person won’t get anything from God because of his lack of faith.
This explains why people have the same problems year after year with no improvement.
If you struggle to even believe God is good, you certainly won’t be expecting anything good.
And He can’t do anything until you make the choice to believe in His goodness and expect it. Without the confidence that He can and will help you, your faith will always struggle.
That’s why you can’t look to your circumstances to understand God and His will. God doesn’t show up just because you’re in trouble. He shows up when you believe He will and expect it confidently.
Jesus is looking for faith
Remember when Peter stepped out to walk on the water. Though he took a few steps, his faith wavered when he looked at the wind and the waves. Jesus grabbed his hand and what did He say?
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
“Come,” said Jesus.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out,“Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”
If Peter had just stayed focused on that one word from Jesus, he would have been fine. But he went down the moment He let fear replace his faith.
Notice Jesus didn’t tell Peter that He was holding him up. He put the emphasis on Peter’s lack of faith and asked for an explanation.
If it was God’s will for Peter to fail that day, Jesus would have told him. And He certainly wouldn’t have blamed the failure on Peter’s faith.
We often think that our lack of faith isn’t the problem, even though Jesus said it many times throughout His ministry. It’s prideful to think that you did everything perfectly and it was God that failed. But that’s what many people think.
Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread?
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
So what would Jesus say if He was standing next to you right now? What would He say about your faith?
Would He be amazed like He was with the centurion soldier?
When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
Or would he ask you where your faith is like the disciples in the storm?
“Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Where is your faith?”
Jesus is always looking for faith because that’s the only way He can do anything for us. He even said that when He returns, He will be looking for those that have faith on the earth.
What are you holding on to?
Luke 18 is the parable of the persistent widow. She pestered the crooked judge for justice against her enemies, even though he didn’t fear God or respect people. Eventually, he gave in to her demands so she would leave him alone.
And the Lord said, Listen to the words of the unjust judge. Won’t God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He continue to defer their help? I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
Jesus told this parable to help us understand that God hears us. He hears our cries for help, and He wants to help us. But the last sentence is the most important.
Will He find faith on the earth?
He’s saying that all your crying and praying will do no good unless you do it in faith. This parable isn’t about persistent prayer. It’s about faith.
Notice He didn’t say He’s looking for those that believe in Him. He said He is looking for faith on the earth. That’s faith that is working in your life to overcome the problems you face every day.
Since Jesus is looking for faith, and it’s the only way God will hear and answer us, we have to be sure our faith is solid.
So what does it look like to have the faith of the centurion? What type of faith is Jesus looking for?
It’s faith that is confident.
Faith that expects something.
Faith that believes God will help you.
If you aren’t sure, you aren’t confident. And if your confidence is in anything other than God’s Word, He can’t work in your life.
No confidence = No faith.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
This confidence isn’t in your strength or ability, but confidence that God’s Word cannot fail. It’s when you believe God can’t lie and that His Word won’t return to Him void.
Hold on to the seed
Matthew 13 is the parable of the sower. Jesus is talking to many people who were farmers by trade. He spoke in terms they understood. So when he told this one about the seed, He was speaking their language.
Jesus said the seed is the word of God. The soil is the hearts of them that hear, and the soil was the determining factor in whether that seed produced anything.
I haven’t strayed from our topic. We’re still talking about the heart.
Jesus said that those who hear the Word and understand it will produce a harvest.
That’s another way of saying it will bring results in your life.
But only one person produced a harvest on that Word. If you think about a time when you felt like giving up on your faith, wouldn’t it be accurate to say that it just wasn’t working in your life?
Jesus is telling us exactly how to fix that. It’s up to us how much His word will impact our lives. And it all comes down to whether we receive it.
The first person heard the word, but immediately, the enemy came and stole it. How does the devil steal the word? Well, he can’t take it from you unless you give it up willingly. And remember, he knows the scriptures, too.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, his goal was to steal the word.
So when you hear the Word and you refuse to believe it, the devil has an opportunity to steal it.
The second is the rocky ground. This person is excited when they hear the word, but the moment something happens in their lives that doesn’t agree with it, they stop believing and it dies. This is what James meant when he spoke about the one who wavers. They don’t receive the harvest of the Word in their lives.
The third person also receives the Word, but the distractions of life and the pursuit of making money take priority over God’s Word. They go to church on Sunday, but by Monday morning, they’re back to their “normal” life.
When you feel like giving up on your faith, it’s because you don’t see the point in continuing. You aren’t seeing any results, so you figure there’s no point.
Then there’s the one that receives the Word. He understands it and puts it into action to get results. And when you start seeing results from your faith in the Word of God, you’ll never want to quit.
This same parable is also in Mark 4. Here, Jesus said if we don’t understand this parable, we won’t understand any of them.
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?
That’s significant. He’s saying that all the other parables represent the seed of the Word of God. If you don’t understand how to be the good ground that receives the Word, you won’t know how to apply anything else He shows you.
If you understand this principle, you have what you need to start applying the Bible to your life and start getting results.
So when God plants the seed of the Word in your heart, will it produce anything?
The voice of Satan
Satan is always watching, waiting for the opportunity to come and steal the Word and keep it from producing in your life.
When anyone hears the message of the kingdom but does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
He wants to keep your focus off the Word of God. When trouble comes, your natural reaction is to figure out why.
And when you are a Christian, the devil uses that against you. He’ll give you an endless supply of what-if’s and maybe’s about the Word you hear.
When you use your intellect to try and understand the truth, you will be confused. And that’s when you start to question the Word.
If you catch yourself questioning the Bible, stop immediately. That’s the enemy trying to steal the Word.
This is exactly what he did with Eve in the Garden. He convinced her to question the Word of God, and we lost everything as a result.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The devil will always tell you that God is doing what he’s responsible for. He’ll do anything to keep you from believing the Word you hear. He disguises Himself as something that came from God. And Christians are falling for it every day.
2 Corinthians 11:14
But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Satan quotes the Bible
The devil is the one causing your trouble and the only way to defeat him is to receive the Word of God and act on it in faith. He can’t defend against it.
Notice how subtle the devil was with Jesus in the wilderness.
He used scripture to tempt him. Not only did he know the verses, but he twisted it to mean something else.
The devil quoted the Bible to Jesus, but he didn’t realize the Spirit of the Word was standing right in front of him.
Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”
Jesus understood of Word of God and He knew how to use it. When the devil tempted Him, He knew exactly how to respond.
The devil will do anything to keep you from understanding the Word. One of the biggest ways he does it is by reducing everything in the Bible to a theology. Theology is the intellectual pursuit of spiritual truth. And it’s the enemy of your spiritual growth.
Your mind isn’t capable of understanding spiritual truth. Only your heart can receive the true meaning of scripture, which is where your faith is born.
And when you understand the spiritual meaning of a verse, you will know by the Spirit living in you how to act on it so it will produce the abundant results Jesus promised.
Hold on to your Bible
It’s vital that you pay attention to what you receive as truth. We live in the golden age of social media where you can scroll through endless one-liners and opinions disguised as Bible truth.
It’s very easy to spot these lies. Remember what we said, he’ll always get you to interpret the Word with your mind like he did with Jesus in the wilderness.
Here’s something I recently found on Pinterest.
Sounds pretty good, right?
We all like to think the things that happen to us are a part of God’s plan even if we don’t understand how.
And this is exactly what Christians like to hear. God knows what He’s doing, and even if you don’t understand, you still have to trust Him.
But what did Jesus say about the good soil that produced the abundant harvest?
It’s those that hear the Word and understand it that get results. When you hear garbage like this, alarms should start going off inside of you.
Ready for the shocker?
Psalm 37:5 doesn’t say that.
Here’s the passage:
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
This verse says that God will protect you and lead you to the desires of your heart if you trust in Him and do good. If you commit your ways to Him, He will reward your faith.
God has a reason for allowing things to happen?
We may never understand His wisdom?
This is where you end up when you allow your experiences to speak louder than the Word of God.
The person that wrote this didn’t receive the word with understanding. This is what it looks like when you choke the life out of the Word.
Jesus is good ground
Jesus studied the scripture throughout his childhood. He studied the Jewish Bible from a young age. His entire education was centered around the scriptures.
and the child grew and was strengthened in Spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.
He likely attended a Jewish school, and we know He spent time in the temple with the teachers, listening and asking questions.
Finally, after three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.
What type of ground do you think Jesus was?
It’s obvious He received the Word with understanding and it produced an abundant harvest.
When He told the parable of the sower, He was speaking from experience. It’s our blueprint for doing the works of faith just like Him.
And He is the firstborn of many brothers. God’s will is that we follow in His footsteps and allow the Word to produce the same abundant harvest in our lives.
For God knew His people in advance, destined to become like His Son so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works because I am going to be with the Father.
We can only do that when we receive the Word by faith and apply it in our lives.
As He studied the words of Isaiah, Jesus read about Himself and received the Word with understanding. It was planted in His heart and would grow until He came to the blind man in John 9.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert”
The words of Isaiah were alive within His heart, and it was time for the harvest. He told the blind man to go wash in the pool at Siloam, and he was healed immediately.
He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
This is the picture of Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus acted on His faith in the Word of God and the blind man acted on his faith in Jesus’ Word. Both received the word and understood it, and it produced a harvest in their lives.
Everyone was amazed at what they saw and heard. People who had never spoken could now speak. The lame were healed, the paralyzed could walk, and the blind were able to see. Everyone was praising the God of Israel.
If you believe, you will do the same things He did and even greater things. He is your example.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do because I am going to the Father.
Unless you hear and understand the Word, your faith will fail and you’ll always be one step away from giving up.
When things get hard and need help from God, remember what Jesus said.
I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
God is ready and willing to help you, but He’s looking at your heart to see if you have faith to receive it. Be the good ground that receives the Word with understanding.
Put your faith into action and don’t give up!