Fighting the Good Fight of Faith – Lesson 1: An Introduction to Faith

 

Faith is the crux of our relationship to God. It is how we come to God. It is how we walk with God. It is by faith, that we will spend eternity with God. Faith is also the least understood and perhaps the most intangible part of being a Christian. Faith is part of the armor of God (Eph 6:16). Faith empowers us to receive miracles. Faith empowers endurance and transforms us into overcomers and conquerors. Faith lived, directs our steps into the destiny and the purpose of God.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11 and yet seems to be very misunderstood. The outcome of faith is simple. We receive all that God intends for us and all that God intends for us is very good. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV84) Those who lived faith did many awesome things. “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32–34, NIV84)

Faith is the tool of prayer and the carrier of healing. “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”” (Matthew 17:20, NIV84) Faith is absolutely essential to the Christian life. We must do all we can to grow and cultivate a lifestyle of faith.

Faith is so essential that without we most certainly will miss out on what God intends for us. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV84)

Faith is very much like a seed that grows. Its measurement is never by the size of the miracle seen or received but by the degree of transformation in the heart of the person with faith. Faith grows. Jesus did his first miracle before anyone knew enough to put faith in him. When those who were with him saw water turned into wine, their faith grew. “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:11, NIV84) There came a time when the Lord taught difficult things about character, and the apostles knew their faith needed to grow. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”” (Luke 17:5, NIV84) Each one of us has a measure of faith (Rom 12:3) and each one of use should exercise that faith in order for faith to grow strong.

If I want to strengthen my muscles and grow strong in my body, I will start with what I have. I will feed my body foods that will nourish my muscles and then I will exercise my muscles and they will progressively grow stronger. If I persevere in the process, I can expect that I will be much stronger than when I started. Faith is the same way.

I have always has an awareness that God is real. However it took a long time before I entered into a relationship with God. Faith that God is real was my seed. That faith allowed me to begin to look for God.

When I was 13 years old, I did not yet have a personal relationship with God. I did however want real spirituality and real faith. I was diagnosed at the age of 13, after dealing with the disease my entire childhood, with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). I was told by a team of doctors at the Children’s hospital that I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 30, I would never have children and my life would always have pain. They told me to stop all the strenuous activity I was doing to “buy time” before the wheelchair.

Emotionally I was stunned and devastated by the diagnosis and the prognosis. There really was no one who could counsel me through this. I whispered a prayer up into the air knowing that God was somewhere and I asked God “why me?” He did not answer that question… ever. He did however place some thoughts into my heart that at the time, I did not realize were from Him.

God’s answer and guidance was simple. “FIGHT!”

I took some of the drugs the doctors offered to try to slow the disease. I decided to forego the handful of drugs each day to mask the pain and chose instead to endure the pain. But I also decided to FIGHT. I was not in a wheelchair yet so until that day came, I would live each day, even if it was filled with pain, actively.

I had always loved long bike rides of 20+ miles. The doctors told me give up bike riding and start swimming to preserve the joints. I hated swimming. I loved bike riding. I chose to continue to do the long bike rides even though when I got off the bike my pain was horrible because the doctors told me in a few years I would not be able to do it. I wanted to ride while I was still able, even if it meant a great need to endure great pain.

I now know that this was faith in action. The faith principle is this. The diagnosis is not the prognosis. If you want a different outcome than everyone else, you will need to fight for it. That fight is the daily choice. We are to fight a “good fight” (1 Tim 6:12)

There was a woman in a crowd who fought with a little faith and pushed her way through the crowd to touch Jesus. Her faith healed her. “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”” (Luke 8:43–48, NIV84) Her faith grew that day.

I fought for years the JRA and each day and each week I kept riding my bike. I endured three orthopedic surgeries by the time I was 17. The JRA got worse, the pain got worse, and the doctor kept telling me to quit riding. I told the doctor that I would ride as long as I can because he was telling me a day would come when I no longer could, and today I still could even if it brought me to tears. I fought.

Four years later, I was still fighting. The pain was worse, but I was still riding long rides. I was 17 years old. I started college and the Lord led me to a Christian who introduced me to the Gospel of Luke.

Soon, my faith grew because I knew personally who to have faith in and that was JESUS. Jesus became my Lord! Jesus was in control of my life. And I kept fighting. Only this time, Jesus was riding his bike by my side.

A few months passed. I was in love with JESUS. I only knew him a little but I loved HIM with all my heart. One day, Jesus came into my room. He brought me close into His presence and the intimacy and the brightness of his holiness brought me to tears.

My faith grew that day because I learned I could experience the presence of God.

I left that encounter of God changed. I had drawn close enough to God that sickness had to flee, much like to woman with the issue of blood.

That day and every day since then, there has been NO trace of the arthritis in me. Every blood test is negative. My faith grew.

What I learned from my childhood and that experience is that we must keep fighting for a different outcome. Fighting may be painful, but quitting is even more painful. Faith is expressed often in the daily battle to keep standing and keep going even in the presence of overwhelming obstacles. Faith endures!

I learned to hold on, to press in and that overcoming is possible. My faith grew.

I now have two wonderful children, no arthritis, and I still love to ride my bike.

“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4, NIV84)

 

Ingrid Hansen has published several books available on Amazon.com.

 More information can be found on the main website ingrid-hansen.info.

 

 

 

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