I read a quote once that went something like this, “Faith is like film, it is best developed in the dark.” The hard times are meant to make us stronger, and so are the good times. Those who are wise learn from all of life. There is one thing that I know we all have in common; a history of being blessed by God. He has answered prayers, given us wonderful families, provided financial needs, healed sicknesses, changed lives, and so much more. What a waste it is when someone forgets God’s history of provision in a moment of doubt and temptation.
Here’s a passage that illustrates what I’m talking about:
The disciples had forgotten to bring any bread when they crossed the lake. 6 Jesus then warned them, “Watch out! Guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples talked this over and said to each other, “He must be saying this because we didn’t bring along any bread.” Jesus knew what they were thinking and said:
You surely don’t have much faith! Why are you talking about not having any bread? 9 Don’t you understand? Have you forgotten about the five thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from just five loaves of bread? 10 And what about the four thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from only seven loaves of bread?
When Jesus’ disciples began to be worried about not having any food on the boat, Jesus saw the perfect opportunity to teach them about faith. The disciples grew a little hungry and suddenly they don’t remember anything that God has ever done? When Jesus tells them, “watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”, they automatically thought he was talking about food when He was not. This is exactly why God commands us to set our minds on things above. Jesus knew what they were thinking and chides them by reminding them of the wonderful and sure provisions of God. How is it that we so quickly forget God’s providing hand every time a trial comes our way? God wants us to accumulate faith as we walk through life, Satan wants to drain it all away.
Even in my immaturity at 33, and after just 11 years of family and ministry, I can already say, “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” I really believe in God’s strength, because of what He has done, we are prepared to be content with nothing, if we must do it for our Savior. Can I boast in God for a while? Here is our foundation of accumulated faith, built upon the steady, wonderful faithfulness of God.
Growing up, we didn’t have rich homes, but Bethany and I always had everything we needed, and the Lord provided for us homes that were financially and spiritually stable. The seed of faith was implanted in us and from then on the challenges grew bigger, and the provisions of the Lord also increased, thus steadily increasing our faith in Him. In high school, God moved in my heart to go on a summer mission trip. This eventually led to me going on 4 overseas trips for 4 summers straight. Each trip the financial costs grew (beginning around 1,500, to almost 3,000 for the last trip), along with God’s provision, along with my faith.
Then college time came, and God provided once again from family members and parents helping with tuition, to a full scholarship that God brought my way the same time that it looked like I might not be able to afford college at Liberty much longer. Then God provided me a life mate by bringing me Bethany about the same time I received the scholarship. This precious woman shared the exact family values and biblical worldview that I did, and we rejoiced that God wonderfully brought us together. While engaged, we attended a mission trip to Africa where again, God provided every need. He provided for my seminary, he provided for our wedding and honeymoon, he provided us a vehicle as a newlywed couple, and he provided us a wonderful place to live during our first year of marriage.
With each provision, we trust him all the more. In all these circumstances we also learned that sometimes God provides before the need arises, hence the importance of growing a savings (provisions) account; so we did. With each prayer answered, our faith increases. Then, God provided the biggest earthly blessing of them all, a precious child! Bobby 4 arrived safely on May 6th, 2002, and little did we know God had more lined up right behind him! He provided all the costs of birth. God called us back to Charlotte to work at Hickory Grove Baptist Church. With every month, the challenges of life and ministry grew greater, and so did God’s blessing, and so did our faith; are you seeing the pattern? God blessed us with Caleb on Feb. 12th 2004, who was peacefully delivered at home. He arrived safely and we again experienced the wondrous riches of God. All the previous faith building prepared us for ministries first big leap.
God led us away from a great church job and comfortable salary to full-time evangelistic ministry. As miraculous as God providing for the multitudes is the way He has met our every need since this time. Through the blessings of the faithful in His church, some wonderful part-time work, friends and family who love and pray for us constantly, and parents that believe in our new calling, every need down to the free gallons of milk we received each Thursday, wonderfully provided by the Father of every good and perfect gift. It seemed we lived better when we had “nothing” then when we had it all.
Then there were provisions in church planting and friendships, teaching and inspiration, calling and direction, music and song writing, on and on. God gave children 3, 4, and 5, and provisions galore with each precious gift. We’ve never paid to birth a single child, but are refunded by a Christian healthcare sharing organization that we sow into. More provision with vehicles, each year, miracle after miracle, God moment after God moment, increasing our faith, accumulating to a point of free and child like abandon to the wisdom and sovereignty of God. Earthly cares more and more overshadowed by giant splashes of God’s provision and constant faithfulness. He provided tools for work, business opportunity for wages, interim ministry opportunities for community, and family next door for support. He provided all we needed to make our house a home, and still is, and has been faithful again to bless the womb of my wife.
Bobby IV and I responded to the call to Africa again, and God gave $7,500 to get us there and back, and the overflow enabled others to do the same. God has given us a platform for leadership and reform in the church, a burden to preach the Gospel for the glory of God, and every ounce of strength and ability to do anything that brings Him glory. Even as of today, this very day August 2, 2012, we found out a group of loving friends raised over $1,000 for Bethany to pay for her tests and continued education in midwifery. Folks, consider all this and tell me what God can’t do. This is just a slice of what he’s done. We don’t deserve a drop of his mercy, grace, and provision, yet His love for us is never-changing.
Now, this same faith also develops stewardship. Obedience is followed by blessing, and is an important and true principle, we have stayed out of debt and strived to pay cash and live within our means. But our obedience amounts to a hill of beans in comparison with the riches of God’s love and faithfulness towards us. I can’t explain how or why He does it, but I have seen Him do it again and again. I know there are more challenges ahead, but now we see every life challenge will be an opportunity for us to build even more faith and confidence in the promises of the Lord. The spout of heaven is open, and it seems like we are now hanging on to floats because our feet left the ground long ago.
Faith is like a giant gas tank that works the opposite way. As we seek the Lord and work for Him, we should not become weary with each calling, slowly running out of gas (faith) and stalling in our faith. If this is the case, we may be running on our own fuel. But with the faith gas tank, the more we give our lives to God, the more we’ll see His hand provide, and the more full our tank will get everyday. God wants the needles of our tanks to be on “F”, just like Abraham with Isaac, and just like David with Goliath. One great way that both these men became full of faith was by accumulating trust and confidence in God through every responsibility, every challenge, every calling, and every trial they faced. When He does something great in your life, add it to the concrete foundation of your heart; it will build you into something great for Him. When He provides for you or someone you love, log it away, there will be a time you’ll need to remember it just like Jesus helped His disciples remember the provision of His Father. Don’t forget what He’s done in and through you, but let it build your faith in Him, let it accumulate to overflowing, and never run dry. Don’t doubt Him, He’s always faithful, and He loves you. There’s nothing that my God can’t do. To him be all glory and power forever.