A Holiday of Faith

A holiday of faith
“A Holiday of Faith” is about becoming one of those rare believers whose faith fuels their belief that God can do anything: change us, change our family, change our friends, change our community, and yes, change the world.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” [20] He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:19-20 NRSV

Faith, like the Force in Star Wars, is transformative – with the difference being faith is real. Believing in the realness of faith can be an elusive conviction.

Living in a physical, finite, and secular world makes it difficult to grasp let alone experience the full force of God’s presence and power.

Simply put, it is easier for us to imagine Luke or Rey using the Force than to believe we can assert our faith with the spiritual power of Elijah.

Elijah was a man with human frailties, just like all of us, but he prayed and received supernatural answers. He actually shut the heavens over the land so there would be no rain for three and a half years! [18] Then he prayed again and the skies opened up over the land so that the rain came again and produced the harvest.

James 5:17-18 TPT

This Christmas comes directly before the beginning of not only the new year 2020, but a new decade as well (2020-2029, though some would argue 2021-2030 since there is no year zero in our calendar).

For the purposes of faith, we should begin our new decade now. It offers opportunities to erase the slate for not only the past year but decade as well. Erasing is one thing, creating another. My goal and suggestion is that we not only erase the past, but create a future where we walk with God in such extraordinary ways the world is changed.

The idea of changing the world might seem like some type of motivational mantra, but I really believe it can happen. What has been consistently true of the human condition since creation is few want to dream like this, imagine like this, sacrifice for this, or take the faith risk to become what we need to be, so our most extraordinary possibilities become reality.

The idea of changing the world might seem like some type of motivational mantra, but I really believe it can happen.

A Holiday of Faith

“A Holiday of Faith” is about becoming one of those rare believers whose faith fuels their belief that God can do anything: change us, change our family, change our friends, change our community, and yes, change the world.

This type of Christian is not afraid to dream, imagine, sacrifice, or take risks. Their confidence is in the God of Scripture, whose presence and power flows through those who have chosen to believe.

They believe in the God who has parted seas, stopped the rain, closed the hungry mouths of lions, raised the dead, and continuously shined the bright light of the Good News into a dark world, so that all who desired help and hope could find it in him.

Now is a time for us to pray the prayer of revival, renewal, and rebuilding like the Christians of the New Testament, who most assuredly drew confidence from Habakkuk 3:2 in their efforts to change the world:

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2 NIV

Wherever you are in your faith, my petition to God for us is that we can together choose to believe that he will renew his awesome deeds in our day, and in our time use us to fulfill his purposes and our destiny, both of which I am increasingly confident will produce for each of us a beautiful life.

[28] We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.

[29-30] From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters.

As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.

Romans 8:28-30 Voice

This beautiful life is our destiny, and it is a different destiny, because it is brought to completion through faith in and reliance upon God. How do we get or keep ourselves on course to complete this quest? We must examine our faith by answering the following 5 questions, all of which will help us make this “A Holiday of Faith.”

Download this visual table of contents to help you guide you on your journey of faith.

Where is your faith?

And He said to them, “Where is your faith [your confidence in Me]?” They were afraid and astonished, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey Him?”

Luke 8:25 AMP

Luke 8:22-25 tells a story of fear. The disciples sailed while Jesus slept. A violent storm comes, they wake Jesus and shout “we are about to die!” Jesus gets up as requested, then he rebukes “the wind and the raging, violent waves, and they ceased, and it became calm.”

Once things were calm, Jesus took the opportunity to teach. Like a good parent, he found many teaching moments. He asked a simple question, “Where is your faith?” Before we can make any progress with our faith, we must first understand the current condition of our faith.

Here are four areas to help us examine the condition of our faith. The first two mean we have some reviving or rebuilding to do. The second two are where we want to be, but require constant renewal, because faith never stays the same; it either grows or shrinks.

Lethargy and mediocrity

The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], But the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied.

Proverbs 13:4 AMP

This faith condition is the type no one wants to admit, but which everyone experiences. Spiritual laziness produces a lethargy which overcomes spiritual ambition. These folks feel stuck, frustrated, and descend into deep levels of guilt and discouragement.

Religiosity and hypocrisy

[27] “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. [28] In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Matthew 23:27-28 NIV

Religiosity is a preference for focusing on behavior and avoiding issues of the heart. Hypocrisy is the attempt to conceal the truth of our heart behind this thin veneer of conforming whitewash. Religiosity and hypocrisy are representative of superficial or fake faith.

This group is usually in the most challenging position of any other faith conditions, since they are completely unaware of their spiritual state, completely certain they are category 1.3 or 1.4 below.

Energy and optimism

[12] So now, my beloved, obey as you have always done, not only when I am with you, but even more so when I can’t be. Continue to work out your salvation, with great fear and trembling, [13] because God is energizing you so that you will desire and do what always pleases Him.

Philippians 2:12-13 Voice

Your intimate experience of God’s word and prayer produces a faith that fuels the spiritual energy and optimism necessary for us to grow personally, as well as help others grow. These are those who love deeply, serve faithfully, and change lives consistently.

Inspiration and innovation

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 Voice

Those whose faith condition is inspired and innovative are walking with God in a way that goes beyond the dutiful quiet time. Theirs is the abiding of John 15 (NRSV), the spirituality of Galatians 5 (TPT), and the impact on the wider world seen in I Corinthians 9 (NIV).

Review

What did you learn about your faith? How can you change or renew your faith? What obstacles will cause you to resist changing or renewing your faith? Are you ready to do the work?

Do you work at your faith?

[27] Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” [28] Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” [29] Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:27-29 NIV

Jesus taught that faith was not static, it wouldn’t stay the same. Our faith is used throughout the day, because we are living by and off our faith. If we don’t work on our faith it will shrivel and die. Here are 4 weekly steps and checks to make certain your faith is healthy and vibrant.

Unearthing our unbelief

[47] As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. [48] They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

Luke 6:47-48 NIV

The first step of faith work is digging down deep to discover any areas of unbelief. These can usually be found by examining areas of great fear, frustration, or anxiety.

Facing our doubts

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” [19] Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

[20] Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, [21] being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:18-21 NIV

The second step of faith work is finding and facing our doubts. This can be done by examining the areas of unbelief discovered in step 1, then reflecting on them in prayer. Ask yourself, what are the doubts which feed and keep your unbelief alive? Write these doubts down. Stare them in the face and decide to take them on.

Working to believe

[26] A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” [27] Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:26-27 NIV

This third step may feel uncomfortable, because after the inspirational event, conversation, quotation or scripture, it is time to make a decision.

That’s right! Working on our faith means we have to stop entertaining and tolerating the indulgent thought life of doubt. Yes. It’s that simple. Just say no, pray, trust in the promises of Scripture, then repeat.

Increase faith with action

For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), [6] and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness,

[7] and in your godliness, brotherly affection, and in your brotherly affection, [develop Christian] love [that is, learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit].

[8] For as these qualities are yours and are increasing [in you as you grow toward spiritual maturity], they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-8 AMP

The final step in the process of working on our faith involves exercise. We have to start using our faith to grow. This means we can’t stop at the defensive level of faith where we say no, but must begin adding things to our life. We must go on the offensive.

Select an area from II Peter 1:5-8 and devote 30 days to growing in that area, then watch your faith grow as you see God work to help you succeed.

Does your faith work?

Sometimes we are frustrated by God’s failure to answer our prayers or move in our lives. We can stop praying, get resentful, or become so embittered toward God that we turn away from him never to return. When we feel this way, our faith is not working.

When our faith isn’t working, we should consider an approach other than blaming God. The best way to handle a faith that isn’t working is to figure out why it isn’t working. Here are categories for reflection to help you figure out why your faith isn’t working. The first two will likely help you understand the problem, while the third will direct you where you want to go.

Shipwrecked faith

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, [19] holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 NIV

Something has happened to shipwreck your faith. This could be any of a number of things. The way to narrow them down is by focusing on those things that have affected your faith and conscience.

A good way to find them is by looking for areas where you are deeply emotional or deeply numb. Either we feel too little or feel too much.

Inadequate faith

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Matthew 13:58 NIV

This is where most of us end up when our faith doesn’t work. We want something, but we are unwilling to increase our faith to get it. We want God to give it to us based on the level of faith we can summon easily.

Here is the bottom line for all of us:

The way God and the spiritual world work is you have to show up with the necessary faith to change things. There are no discounts, so if things aren’t happening, the reason is very simple. We haven’t done the spiritual work to increase our faith so it can move the heavens.

Faith that works

[27] As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” [28] When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied.

[29] Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; [30] and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” [31] But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

Matthew 9:27-31 NIV

There are few more powerful phrases in Scripture than “According to your faith let it be done to you.” This is faith that works. When what we believe happens our faith is working. Faith that works means our quiet times and relationship with God are working.

How to repair or renew a faith that isn’t working

Now that we know whether our faith is working or not, it is time to get to work making it work. There are 6 ways to repair or renew a faith that isn’t working.

Download this handy guide to help you repair your faith.

Faith is a choice

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

[15] But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15 NIV

Faith stops working when we wait for the feeling. We must learn to obey our way into believing instead of waiting for a positive feeling or being limited by negative feelings.

  • Faith over emotions – Believe the Bible instead of our feelings
  • Faith over facts – Don’t let the facts limit what you believe is possible
  • Faith over logic – Don’t let what makes human sense limit your prayers
  • Faith over people – Don’t let human opinion set your expectations
  • Faith over pain – Don’t let difficult life circumstances make you give up
  • Faith over grief – Don’t let the losses in life make you pessimistic

Faith moment

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 NIV

Faith stops working when we get stuck in a moment. People of faith allow God to transform their lives in difficult or challenging moments.

Which moment might you be in, and how can you embrace it to make your faith work?

  • Wrestling with God moment – Jacob finally needs God, Genesis 32
  • Where you go, I go moment – Naomi sticks with Ruth, Ruth 1
  • Burning bush moment – Moses makes a comeback, Exodus 3
  • Red Sea moment – Moses forgets to ask for a miracle, Exodus 14
  • Time to lead moment – Nehemiah overcomes reluctance, Nehemiah 1
  • Golden scepter moment – Esther takes a big risk, Esther 4
  • “Who, me?” moment – Mary becomes the mother of Jesus, Luke 1
  • Destiny-altering moment – Paul admits he is wrong, Acts 9

Faith change

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3 NIV

Once you make your faith choice and embrace your faith moment it is time to let God lead you on a faith change. How does your faith need to change to work so effectively in your life that you see progress, breakthroughs, and even dreams coming true?

Faith vision

These are 3 incredible scriptures about dreaming. Two are about visions. One is about fantasies. We cannot stay alive, vibrant, hopeful, or resilient in the face of life’s difficulties unless we have a spiritual vision for our lives.

We learn from the following scriptures that this vision comes from the Word, from God speaking through Scripture, bolstered by our prayer life, as well as the counsel we receive from spiritual friends.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

1 Samuel 3:1 NIV

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Proverbs 12:11 NIV

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 29:18 KJ21

The emotional challenge of this vision quest comes when we approach it in an unspiritual way, without God, and it becomes the chasing of worldly nonsensical pursuits. Faith works best with vision from God not fantasies born from empty worldliness. Start your vision quest today.

Faith risk

To the Pure and Shining One King David’s melody of love’s celebration I stand silently to listen for the one I love, waiting as long as it takes for the Lord to rescue me. For God alone has become my Savior.

[2] He alone is my safe place; his wrap-around presence always protects me. For he is my champion defender; there’s no risk of failure with God. So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?

Psalm 62:1-2 TPT

Once you have your faith vision in sight it is time to count the cost. This requires a “faith risk prayer,” where you let God know you are “all in” and ready to go for it, fearlessly relying on him to give you the victory.

Faith actions

[21] Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

[23] And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. [24] You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

James 2:21-24 NIV

Up until now we have been rebuilding, reviving, and renewing our faith. Now it is time to move from theory to action. What are the 3-5 actions you must take every day to start making your faith work so that your “faith vision” becomes a reality?

What will you conquer?

May kindness and peace be yours from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Jesus was the first to conquer death, and he is the ruler of all earthly kings. Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins.

Revelation 1:5 CEV

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

1 John 4:4 CSB
[2] This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. [3] For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, [4] because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

1 John 5:2-4 CSB

Something that should concern us all is the air of defeatism in Christian circles. There is more retreating and compromising on standards and expectations than I can remember in my lifetime, more acceptance of defeat, rationalizing of failure, and so very little talk of conquering.

Yet as we can see from the preceding scriptures Jesus was a conqueror, God’s children are conquerors, and those who have faith are conquerors, so why so little talk about or effort to conquer?

We need to reclaim our spiritual right of faith to conquer. This will mean developing a walk with God with the level of love, devotion, intimacy, obedience, and faithfulness to truly count God as our friend. This is essential for manifesting a faith that can conquer.

Conquering life begins with the acknowledgement of the 3 fears, which are always behind the corroding and undermining of our faith.

  1. Fear of man – when we are overawed by people we lose our awe of God, which leads us to look to people for validation and inspiration rather than God (Psalm 49:16 NIV).
  2. Fear of suffering – suffering is a part of life for everyone regardless of their beliefs. The problems for believers begin when we mistakenly believe becoming a Christian should shield us from suffering. Again, suffering is a part of everyone’s life. The difference is Christians know that God will use the inevitable suffering in life to grow their faith, so it is strong enough to help them fulfill their destiny (I Peter 1:5-9 NRSV), and experience the beautiful life he has in mind for them (Romans 8:28 Voice).
  3. Fear of death – mortality or the realization we will not live forever can become an all-consuming preoccupation. We become hopeless and defeated when faced with health problems or the loss of loved ones. Everything becomes about life in this world instead of the promise of immortality. This can lead us to either run around frenetically chasing a feeling we hope to find in worldly pursuits, or to isolation and constant fear. I Corinthians 15:54-55 assures us that death will be defeated. Based on this truth, we must view life as the pursuit of purpose, and death as the completion of our destiny, which is the beginning of life eternal.

We must attack these three fears with the same fervency of faith we read about in Psalm 116:1-9. If we don’t, they will eat us up and spit us out. They will steal our faith, turn us away from God, throw us into confusion and despair, until deceived we jump wholeheartedly into an empty world, only to end up at the end of life realizing we have lived our life for nothing.

I am passionately in love with God because he listens to me. He hears my prayers and answers them. [2] As long as I live I’ll keep praying to him, for he stoops down to listen to my heart’s cry. [3] Death once stared me in the face, and I was close to slipping into its dark shadows. I was terrified and overcome with sorrow.

[4] I cried out to the Lord, “God, come and save me!” [5] He was so kind, so gracious to me. Because of his passion toward me, he made everything right and he restored me. [6] So I’ve learned from my experience that God protects the childlike and humble ones. For I was broken and brought low, but he answered me and came to my rescue!

[7] Now I can say to myself and to all, “Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.” [8] God has rescued my soul from death’s fear and dried my eyes of many tears. He’s kept my feet firmly on his path [9] and strengthened me so that I may please him and live my life before him in his life-giving light.

Psalm 116:1-9 TPT

We can become confident conquerors like the psalmist in chapter 116:1-9 TPT. This means defeating the 3 fears, which requires daily effort. There is a simple though challenging way to make these efforts successful. I call them the “Two Choices, Two Outcomes, and One Decision.”

The two choices

Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word.

1 Kings 18:21 NRSV

Fear believes small. Faith believes big. Believe big and you will conquer the 3 fears.

The two outcomes

[30] He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, [31] proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:30-31 NRSV

Believe small and you will be timid and fearful. Believe big and you will be bold and courageous.

The one decision

[18] Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. [19] The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

2 Kings 13:18-19 NIV
[25] And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

[27] But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” [28] Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” [29] He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.

Matthew 14:25-29 NRSV

These two passages of Scripture describe two men on two different paths. Joash in II Kings 13:18-19 had a faith that settled. Playing it safe, he lost the opportunity to conquer. Peter in Matthew 14:25-29 possessed a faith that pioneered. He jumped out of the boat, leaving his comfortable boat mates behind, then walked to Jesus on the water.

Though he began to sink, this experience changed his faith forever, such that he led the early Christians to conquer the world (Read the Book of Acts to learn the whole story).

Do you settle or pioneer? What one thing could you change to free you from the slavery of the 3 fears, so you could become a conqueror, leaving your days of settling behind to become a spiritual pioneer?

What will be your blueprint for action?

Changing our faith can be an elusive goal. This is why this section provides “25 Ways to Revive, Renew, and Rebuild our Faith.” Find some “faith friends,” then work together to develop “Faith Blueprints for Action.”

These “faith blueprints” can help you make this “A Holiday of Faith,” and make 2020 a turning point.

Download this handy graphic to reference as you tackle these actions.

Change the way we talk about faith

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— [12] that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

Romans 1:11-12 NIV

Stop making your conversations about problems. Start focusing on increasing each other’s faith in God.

Change the way we think about God

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

[9] “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? [11] If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:7-11 NIV

Stop believing God is mean and wants to punish you. Start believing God is loving and wants to bless you.

Change the way we think about Scripture

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Romans 10:17 NIV

Stop seeing the Bible as a duty to read. Start believing the more you read the more you will believe.

Change the way we think about prayer

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. [23] “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. [24] Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [25] And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Mark 11:22-25 NIV

Stop seeing God as the problem. Start seeing doubt as the problem.

Change the way we think about people

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. [17] This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

[18] There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. [19] We love because he first loved us.

[20] Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. [21] And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 4:16-21 NIV

Stop thinking you can build a deep relationship with God without building a deep relationship with people. These two are inextricably connected. Start believing intimacy with God produces intimacy with people.

Change the way we think about love

Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, [8] so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

[9] Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. [10] You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

[11] For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, [12] encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 NIV

Stop seeing people as stressors. Start seeing them as friends. Make the change by learning to care. Remember this, dutiful relationships are stressful. Caring relationships are enjoyable.

Change the way we think about leadership

Now a dispute also arose among them as to which of them was regarded to be the greatest. [25] Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles have absolute power and lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’

[26] But it is not to be this way with you; on the contrary, the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest [and least privileged], and the [one who is the] leader, like the servant.

[27] For who is the greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

Luke 22:24-27 AMP

Stop seeing leadership as power or burden. Start seeing leadership as the Christlike opportunity to serve.

Change the way we think about family

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. [5] (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

1 Timothy 3:4-5 NIV

Stop avoiding the spiritual and emotional needs of your family. Start realizing that meeting spiritual and emotional needs is what building a family is all about.

Change the way we think about marriage

The LORD God said, “It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him.”

Genesis 2:18 CEV

Stop having power struggles. Start understanding God created us to have a complementary partnership.

Change the way we think about money

Learn some lessons from this crooked but clever asset manager. Realize that the purpose of money is to strengthen friendships, to provide opportunities for being generous and kind. Eventually money will be useless to you—but if you use it generously to serve others, you will be welcomed joyfully into your eternal destination.

Luke 16:9 Voice

Stop relying on it for security and pleasure. Start understanding God gives us money for a purpose, and that this purpose is always relational and unselfish.

Change the way we think about forgiveness

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Matthew 18:35 NIV

Stop superficially forgiving resulting in residual bitterness. Start forgiving from the heart so there is no memory residue and you can move on.

Change the way we think about learning

Without a doubt, the more important person blesses the less important one. [8] In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die. But in the other case, it is collected by the one who is said to be living. [9] Levi collects the tenth. But we might say that Levi paid the tenth through Abraham.

[10] That’s because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in Abraham’s body. [11] The law that was given to the people called for the priestly system. That system began with Levi.

Suppose the priestly system could have made people perfect. Then why was there still a need for another priest to come? And why did he need to be like Melchizedek? Why wasn’t he from Aaron’s family line?

Hebrews 7:7-11 NIrV

Stop being angry or defensive about input for your life. Start celebrating input and feedback as opportunities to learn and grow.

Change the way we think about change

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

[2] Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NLT

Stop trying to impress people. Start trying to impress God.

Change the way we think about the past

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

[13] Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

Stop being a prisoner of the past. Start being a creator and builder of the future.

Change the way we think about happiness

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, [25] for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? [26] To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 NIV

Stop thinking you have to create your own happiness. Start letting God make you happy by giving him the time to bless you. Don’t take it. Let God give it.

Change the way we think about effort

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. [3] We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV

Stop thinking effort comes from human willpower. Start realizing faith is what inspires us to do the work of building our lives and loving people.

Change the way we think about motives

We justify our actions by appearances; GOD examines our motives.

Proverbs 21:2 MSG

Stop thinking your private motives are unseen. Start understanding our motives are what God cares about the most.

Change the way we think about God’s presence

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’

[13] If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” [14] The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

[15] Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. [16] How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

Exodus 33:12-16 NIV

Stop living with the doubt and unbelief that God might not be there. Start pursuing the faith awareness that he is always present.

Change the way we think about God’s power

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.

Luke 5:17 NIV

Stop thinking everything depends on human effort. Start believing God makes things happen by exerting his power through our lives.

Change the way we think about God’s purpose

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. [24] Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

[25] Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

[27] “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. [28] Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

John 12:23-28 NIV

Stop confusing the world’s purpose of pursuing comfort with God’s purposes. Start believing God’s purpose for our lives is to love and serve people, which requires personal sacrifice, because it involves changing and saving lives.

Change the way we think about sin

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, [2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Stop thinking of sin as the measure of your worthiness or performance in God’s eyes. Start seeing sin as the obstacle and entanglement that interferes with you building an intimate relationship with God.

Change the way we think about you

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV

Stop being disappointed in or hating yourself. Start believing God made you, loves you, and has a beautiful plan for your life.

Change the way we think about ambition

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:20 NIV

Stop pursuing ambition that is only about you. Start pursuing godly ambition which is motivated by a desire to please God and love people.

Change the way we think about conviction

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

[38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39 NIV

Stop being satisfied with superficial faith you can’t feel and that doesn’t motivate you. Start pursuing a faith that touches your heart, soul, mind and even stirs your body to action.

Change the way we think about heaven

…for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. [20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

[21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

[25] Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, [26] so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Philippians 1:19-26 NIV

Stop being afraid of and depressed by death or grief. Start focusing on helping people get to heaven and living your best bold and purposeful life.

Conclusion

The purpose of this reflection has been to inspire both myself and you, the reader, to believe in the power of faith. This means believing when we place our faith in God, the mountains in our lives will move. We will walk in this world believing and knowing that “nothing is impossible.”

This Christmas is the perfect time to ask ourselves some questions. How is it that God’s power is miraculous in the Old and New Testament, but when we look at our 21st century lives, we make more excuses than miracles? We intellectualize the Bible using biblical reasoning to explain away the possibility of God acting in our day the way he acted in their day – if not exactly the same way, with exactly the same power.

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