ASPIRE: How do we grow strong in our faith? How do I strengthen my capacity to trust the Lord?
1. We grow strong in faith as we know what “is written” (v.17). One must know well God’s promises before you can trust them. You must know someone well before you have a greater capacity to trust them fully.
2. We grow strong in faith as we praise and worship God. Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” What does it look like to give glory to God? Well, one thing for sure is that we get our eyes off of ourselves and the greatness of our problems and put them on the greatness of our God and His promises.
3. We grow strong in faith as we refuse to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotional state and feelings. Appearances can most often be deceiving and misleading. They were with Abraham and Sarai. They were at the cross of Jesus, and they will be in your life as well.
This passage sets forth two options for us. One is wavering in faith. Another is growing strong in faith. There is no other option for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. One is the pathway of walking by sight. The other is the pathway of walking by faith. Both types of people are aware of the same promises of God. It appears that Abraham had plenty of opportunity to either grow weak (v.19) in his faith or to grow strong (v.20). When he lied about Sarah, he was wavering in unbelief. When he heeded Sarai’s counsel about going into Hagar, he was wavering in unbelief. When he offered Isaac, he was strong in faith. This see-saw story of the “friend of God” is our story, my story, your story.
In a meeting with a small group of missionaries in China, Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) reminded them that there were three ways to do God’s work:
“One is to make the best plans we can and carry them out to the best of our ability.
Two, carefully lay out our plans and determine to carry them through, we may even ask God to help us and to prosper us in connection with them.
Three, another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.”
— Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Biography of James Hudson Taylor (London: China Inland Mission, 1965), p. 271.