I have had the pleasure of growing up with the teaching of God’s Word. Not many people have had that same privilege in life. When I first began writing on doctrine, I was so enamored by the marvelous revelations which God had opened to my eyes in His Word that I began to write in a feverish frenzy.
Reading 1 Corinthians 3:2 helped me to realize that stuffing the blog with such heavy meats as Oneness and Modesty was hard to digest without explaining the core of our beliefs: Faith.
One of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible, Hebrews 11, says in verse 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Today, I have been humming the old song “Walking by Faith.”Although I have known this song all of my life, its real meaning has newly dawned on me. Only by understanding faith can we build our relationship with God. If we try to ascribe or write doctrines and instructions to a checklist instead of a stronghold of faith, all we have is legalism.
Last year, I wrote a post called “Learning to Live with Jesus.” I am still learning. That is the most wonderful and frustrating fact of life. Our relationship with Jesus is a continual process which requires constant attention, love, honor, and obedience on our part. Maybe that might disturb more independent natures, but think about it. He is God. He created us out of dirt, redeemed our wicked souls with His own pure blood, and went to prepare a beautiful mansion for us in heaven. He deserves our devotion.
At times, it is not a question of our devotion to God but of our faith (in Him, His Word, His power, His love, His mercy, His judgment, etc.) Why is it that we seem to have more faith in ourselves rather than in the great Jehovah, which means “The eternal Self-existent One in His Fulness”? For the few who have chosen the straight and narrow path, faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20)! So why are so many of God’s people content to live in the shadow of the valley?
I am not saying that there will never be any mountains or valleys in life. We should, however, be planting seeds of faith in our spiritual lives, so that we may reap a plenteous harvest. When Jesus appeared before His disciples after His resurrection, Thomas, a man who had walked, talked, and supped with Jesus for years, did not even believe Jesus had risen from the dead until he had touched the very places where Jesus had been pierced! With gentle admonition, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
For those people like me who like to go step by step, here is our first step in godly faith: Believe that Jesus, our one God in flesh, has come and given His human life as a sacrifice for our salvation and has conquered death, hell, and the grave (Isaiah 53; 1 Corinthians 15:55, 56, 57). Taking this first step may seem terribly simplistic. Remember, though, that before the most professional athletes run a marathon, one step must first be taken.
Paul, a man filled to overflowing with faith, simplified things even more for us. Thank God! He wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
I must admit that I have always avoided reading Psalm 119 because of its great length. In November, I studied Psalm 119 and mentally kicked myself for not having studied it sooner. Verse 32 says, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.”
Whoever wrote that verse completely embodied what Paul explained for us. When we hear the Word of God and really learn His desires, He will enlarge our hearts, open our understanding, and strengthen our faith. That, my friend, is our second step.
Now, we can plunge into the second part of the title of this post: How Not to Live in Spiritual Darkness. Although I have never been void of God’s presence in my life, I have known the dark oppression which the devil is so fond of afflicting upon humanity, especially upon followers of the Light. As a very young girl, I was afflicted with a spirit of fear–not the godly fear which causes us to repent but the sort of fear that causes the body to literally tremble with nervous anxiety. No, I was not afraid of the dark nor of “monsters” hiding in my closet! I had fears of the future which I allowed to take root in my mind. Fear gnawed at my very spirit-wounding the faith I had nourished as a child. I did not help myself, either. Instead of turning to God, I began to sleep on the floor next to my CD player and starve myself in order to fill the cavity in my heart, where faith had once resided, with hunger.
I am not asking anybody to understand why a girl who had received the Holy Ghost at the tender age of four would fall into such a snare. I have not written down such a vulnerable part of my life as an example of the devil’s power but as an example of the incredible grace and victory of Jesus Christ! It does not matter what circumstance in which you find yourself or what measure of darkness may be enshrouding your life! “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” (Psalm 46:3, 4)
Two verses which have been powerful in my life and which tie my testimony into my personal walk of faith are in 1 John. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18, 19)
I love God for countless reasons. I can say, like the Psalmist, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
I used to wonder how exactly one sought the Lord. I have learned that seeking God is through the daily reading of His Word and praying. At times, the Bible may seem like it is filled with genealogies and strange visions; prayer may seem like a one-sided conversation. Sometimes, you simply have to run after God until He catches you! As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Living in our faith is knowing that God is in control, and we simply have to follow Him. As we read at the very beginning, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Maybe you are reading this and thinking, “Well, I have been brutally crushed by my very own faith! I have prayed until I exhausted myself with tears, and God did not answer me! God ignored my humble plea for a sign, a miracle, or a simple word of confirmation. What about that, Von de Leigh?”
Let me first say, so have I. I am ashamed to admit that I have been downright angry with God for not giving me the signs for which I ardently begged of Him in the past. There are two occasions which stick in my memory when I was completely alone in the church where my dad was pastoring, and I shouted as loud as I could to God, demanding the King of kings to give me an answer. I was being as selfish as a Christian can be.
In this past year, I feel like God has put me through an extensive training course. Through mentors, teachers, and simply hard situations, God has been sculpting me like a lump of clay on the Potter’s wheel. Faith has been my food for thought during this past month.
Interestingly enough, I have been studying the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew, and I saw something which “pricked my heart,” as the King James Version would say. In Matthew 16:4, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” In other words, sinners and people with a faulty relationship with God seek for miracles, signs, and wonders.
What is the answer, then? Here is the answer for which I have spent a lifetime searching and which you will get in the next ten seconds: God will not give you a miracle if you are seeking a miracle, but He will reward your life if you are truly seeking Him! Let me clarify. Seeking God with the intention of receiving a miracle is the same thing as seeking for a miracle.
Back in Hebrews 11:6, we read, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
How do we seek God, then? We seek God by allowing ourselves to be completely alone with Him, no distractions. Turn off the cell phone, the Hillsong playlist, and begin talking to the Creator of the universe. How do you expect to have a conversation with God when you are mentally singing along with Israel Houghton or Matt Redman? How do you expect God to pay attention to you when you are still texting, updating your Facebook status, or tweeting?
Jesus gave us the perfect outline for prayer in Matthew 6. If anything I am writing here seems too harsh, I can back it all up with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, 7. He said that when we pray, we should pray privately in a small closet or room and that we should not use “vain repetitions,” which basically means not to say things like, “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. I love You, Lord. Hallelujah,” and call that a prayer. When you are talking to a good friend at a small coffee shop, do you say, “You are so amazing. You are so amazing. I love you. You are so amazing?” No! Y’all talk about what is going on in life. You ask each other about your opinions. You talk about what you have been reading and listening to, what stuff you do or do not like.
Have you ever told God about your life? Have you asked His advice? There is an entire book of His opinions, thoughts, and life answers called the Bible. Have you asked God what kind of music, books, and films that He likes or does not like? That is prayer.
Prayer is a direct result of your faith. If you have great faith, you will have powerful prayer. Faith is not believing and receiving, but believing and trusting in God to be in control.
Sometimes what we want is not right for us, and we have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Life is frustrating. Sickness, death, broken trusts, and two-faced people can scrape our hearts with darts from the devil himself. But our faith in God, our joy in salvation, and our belief “that all things work together for the good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28) is what makes taking each breath and fighting each battle easier.
Remember, I am a young woman who has been delivered from the bondage of fear and has shouted at God. If I can learn to walk by faith, so can anybody else! This is the joy and freedom of living for Jesus. If you have an questions of comments, I would love to hear from you! May God enrich your life with joy, peace, and strength!
P.S. The two new albums, “Bridges” and “Reality”, by Apostolic musicians, MaDonna Massey and Bryan Pound, are simply amazing! I have been listening to them, feeling the holy anointing, and loving the messages. Y’all should check them out!