Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Authentic Faith

I have been pondering the whole idea of “authentic faith” lately.
I looked the definition of “authentic” up in the dictionary and this is what it said… real, true, original, actual, pure, genuine, valid, faithful, and undisputed.

Hmmm… real, true, pure, genuine belief in God…. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want.  It’s being real with God!

Having “Authentic Faith” is making a life long commitment to living for God…

We make wedding vows for life, right?
Imagine with me back to my wedding day.  I said something like this…

"I, Julie , take you, Al , to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; I pledge myself to you."

Vows that we make to our spouses are pretty serious and the commitment we made on that day is intended to be for a lifetime.  Shouldn’t we be just as serious about our commitment to God?  Isn’t it supposed to be a life-long commitment too?

How can we strive to keep this commitment we made to God? 
I have a few ideas for you…

Stay Connected to God

Just like we need to work to stay connected to our spouses to keep our marriages strong, we need to do the same with God.  How do we connect with God?  Through prayer, spending time in the Bible, going to church, and connecting with other believers who love God too.  When we disconnect from these things, we will begin to disconnect from God.

 James 4:8 says…
Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You sinners, clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.” (NCV)

How can we strive to keep this commitment we made to God? 

Remain faithful to God

Give God your complete attention.  Don’t allow the distractions of this world to turn your head away from your “first love”… God.  He wants all of your attention.  He is madly in love with you.  Be faithful to Him.

 Avoid anything that would distract you from giving God your focus:  worldly or negative influences, toxic people, temptations, or old habits.   These things can creep into our lives slowly and before we know it they have consumed our time, energy, and have helped shape us into the person we never wanted to be.  Instead surround yourself with people that will help you grow.  Find people that will inspire you, encourage you, keep you accountable, and help you on your journey to become stronger in God.  You also need to get plugged into a church that will feed you spiritually and help you grow more in God.

Revelation 3:2-3 says… 
Wake up! Strengthen what you have left before it dies completely. I have found that what you are doing is less than what my God wants.  So do not forget what you have received and heard. Obey it, and change your hearts and lives…” (NCV)
If you have become distracted and have walked away from your relationship with God, it’s never too late to come back.  “Do the things you did at first” to revive your love relationship with Him.

How can we keep this commitment we made to God?
Weather ALL seasons with God

Choose to stick with God in good times and bad.  When we face difficulties with our spouses we aren’t supposed to just walk away and give up on the relationship.  We need to stick together and work it out.  If our relationship and commitment to God is just as important, why do some of us walk away from this relationship when times get hard?

No matter how hard things get, we need to trust God with the details. Give your circumstances to God.  Allow the difficulties of this life to draw you closer to God instead of further from Him.  It is in your darkest moments that God will become your greatest source of strength.

Matt 6:33-34 says…
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”   “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. “(NLT)

Weathering spiritual storms allows your spiritual roots to grow deeper in God.  It is at these times that we learn to trust Him no matter what.  When we choose to move closer to God during our dark times we gain in return a deeper, more intimate understanding of Him.  Our relationship with God changes and becomes even more personal and real to us.

James 1:2-4 says…
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

Make a fresh commitment to God today.  Say this out loud….

 "I,___________    , take you, God, to be my heavenly father, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to your holy ordinance; I pledge myself to you."

Choose to have “Authentic Faith”… be real with God and commit for the long-haul in your relationship with Him just like you would in a marriage.  Your life will never be the same!

Living to leave a legacy,