All posts by Lois

02. Finding time for daily devotions and Bible study

Set a definite time for daily devotions and Bible study. Whether morning, noon, or night, make a commitment to put God first by keeping this appointment you’ve scheduled with the Lord.

What part of your day would be best to spend with God?

Finding the right time for you

To establish your Quiet Time, determine what part of your day is best to set aside for spending time with Him?

  • Many people find that the best time is early in the morning, before the household is stirring. This starts the day with Him, and gives Him an opportunity to provide reinforcements for the day.
  • Others find the best time to be at night right before bed. This allows opportunity to review the day with God and plan for tomorrow with Him.
  • Some people spend a portion of their lunch hour alone with God.
  • Young mothers often snatch the time while their children are napping.
  • People who commute for long distances to work often use this time to pray and listen to a Scripture CD. The disadvantages of this method are the inability to take notes while driving, and the fact that most people don’t work seven days a week.

The time you choose to spend with Him will be based upon whatever your schedule allows. Ask God to help you find the time that is best for you. The most important thing is that you set aside a definite time. It is too easy for our good intentions to get lost in the shuffle of life is we don’t make a definite commitment here.

Plan to spend some time listening to Him through Bible reading. Plan to spend another portion of this time talking with him through prayer.

If you miss a day, you will find that things seem more complicated, stressful. Don’t despair, just ask Him to forgive you if you missed your time with Him through neglect. Ask Him to help you get back on target the next day.

How to Establish a Daily Quiet Time

00. How to establish a daily quiet time – Introduction
01. What is a quiet time, and why do I need it?
02. Finding time for daily devotions and Bible study
03. Selecting a Bible translation to use for daily study
04. Ideas for daily devotions and Bible reading
05. Online resources for your daily Bible study

Scripture taken from King James Version unless otherwise noted

01. What is a quiet time, and why do I need it?

The seasons of the maple tree teach us our need to meditate on God’s Word and spend time in prayer daily. A powerful analogy of Spiritual supply and demand.

The colder winter, the greater the sap production.

Analogy of the maple tree

The maple tree is prized for its cool summer shade, its beautiful woodgrain, its red fall foliage, and its delightful sap. It has weathered many storms by sending its roots deep. The maple spends its days absorbing nutrients from the earth and the sun, and drinking moisture from God’s bounty.

The cold winter nights are essential for the tree to be able to produce its sweet syrup in the Spring. The colder winter, the greater the sap production. But the cold winter night doesn’t hurt the maple because it has stored God’s nutrients in its trunk.

We could learn a lesson from the maple. We live such shallow lives, indulging our flesh but neglecting our spiritual needs. Then we wonder why our leaves are sparse, our wood grain is blemished, our foliage is faded, and our sap is bittersweet.

God said, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Just as the maple drinks the moisture that God provides, so do we need to drink from God’s fountains of living waters in His Word instead of looking to the world to quench our thirst.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). God has given us His Word in the Scriptures. How different our lives would be if we would take time to feed on the Spiritual nutrients there!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
–Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
–Jeremiah 17:7-8

A daily Quiet Time with God helps us achieve the purpose and serenity we all look for. Just as we need nutrients from food for our physical bodies each day, we need nourishment of God’s Word for our emotional and spiritual needs. We need to send our roots deep into His precepts in order to weather our storms. We need His guidance and wisdom for our cold winter nights.

How to Establish a Daily Quiet Time

00. How to establish a daily quiet time – Introduction
01. What is a quiet time, and why do I need it?
02. Finding time for daily devotions and Bible study
03. Selecting a Bible translation for daily study.
04. Ideas for daily devotions and Bible reading
05. Online resources for your daily Bible study

Scripture taken from King James Version unless otherwise noted

0. Foundations of faith – Contents

Faith lives in God’s promises. It is daring surrender. Faith doubts, but it grows stronger with exercise. Faith frees us from worry. It is a decision to trust.

Discussions of what faith is, how much we need, and how we develop our faith.

Fondations of Faith Bible study

Table of contents

01. Saving faith: believing, trusting, and surrendering

02. Daring to surrender: the best choice I ever made!

03. You have enough faith: Choose to exercise it.

04. A promise for every problem: God’s substance of faith

05. Does faith ever doubt? Finding your mustard seed

06. Does God give words of knowledge? The Bible is full of them!

07. God meets our financial needs when we’re doing his work

Start with the first session here.

07. God meets our financial needs when we’re doing his work

God knows we can’t fulfill his plan unless our financial needs are met. If we do the work he calls us to, there’s no time to worry. Budget your money, save, serve, and live by faith.

Whatever ministries God has given to you, doing them is a full-time job.

How to make a budget

Making a budget is natural for me. I can do a great job of stretching the income. But I’ve learned that there is a second step in financial management that I ignored much of my life, yet this second step is even more important than budgeting. The second step is living by faith. These two steps should be combined.

It is simple to make a budget. Add together all the income you expect each month. Then you add together all your monthly bills and living expenses. Minimize the first total and maximize the second. For example, if you expect to bring home a total of between $1200 and$1500, go with the $1200 figure. If a utility bill usually runs between $90 and $125 this time of year, go with $125. This way you are prepared for the worst scenario and if the best happens you can rejoice.

Your tithe should be at the top of your budget. Don’t cheat God. Next should be the most important things, such as house payment or rent, car payment, etc. Grocery allowances, clothing expenses, gasoline for car, etc can usually be slimmed down if necessary. Include a small pleasure item or two, but nothing extravagant if your income does not allow it.

Throw your credit cards away if you cannot use them responsibly. That means using them only for things that must be ordered by credit card such as online purchases, purchasing no more than what you have money to cover, and paying the bill each month before interest fees are added. One or two credit card should be sufficient for the above needs. Choose cards that offer reward points that you can use.

How to save money

Savings are easier if they are automatically deducted from your check into a credit union if this is possible at your place of work. Have a special account for emergencies. You may also want to open an account to save for a family vacation, a special project, Christmas, children’s education, etc. If your employer offers a matching retirement savings plan, maximize your deductions into it if you can. Seek investment help from trusted a trusted adviser, especially during times of economic crisis.

Tell yourself that you can only put in, you cannot take out. Make it a challenge to see how much you can save. Even small amounts can add up quickly. $10 plus $2 still equals $12, even with no interest. If your employer is matching $2 as well, it equals $14. Except in emergencies, your savings accounts are off limits except for their intended use. Make removing money for emeregencies a last resort.

How to live by faith

Even with the best management, there is not enough money to cover everything. That is where the second step comes in. Over and over the Scriptures teach that God will take care of his children if they live for him. One of the most important places to apply our faith is in the matter of finances. If we are worried about finances, we will not be free to be all God has called us to be.

God knows that. So he has arranged things so we don’t have to worry. But we are so busy worrying and trying to figure out how we can make more money that we don’t have time to do the work God has called us to do.

The wonderful thing I’ve discovered is that God will always take care of his servants. God has given each of us work to do. That work may include learning to be the best wife we can be, raising our children for him, witnessing of his goodness to our community, teaching a Sunday School class, keeping the nursery at church, doing an excellent job for our employer even if we don’t get recognized for it, or spending hours in intercessory prayer.

How to stop worrying

Whatever ministries God has given to you, doing them is a full-time job. If you do them as God has called you to do them, you will not have time to worry. Worry takes time away from God’s work.

Oh, you may spend 24 hours a day being a wife. But how much time do you spend working toward being the wife God has called you to be, actively with your mind? Or do you put your mind to worrying about how you are going to pay the bills (or fretting over what your husband has/has not done). I’ve learned if I will actively with my mind concentrate on being what God wants me to be, I have no time left over for fretting about anything.

So that leaves me with one alternative when it comes to finances. I must trust God for what I don’t have time to worry about. This does not excuse us from making a budget and sticking to it. We can’t expect God to bless us if we spend our money unwisely. But we are not to fret if we find there is not enough money to cover the budget.

God instructed the priests to carry the ark of the covenant into the water as they marched toward the promised land. He promised to part the water as they stepped into it

“Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD — the Lord of all the earth — set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap'” (Joshua 39-13 NIV).

Here is what happened when the priests started walking into the water (which was at flood stage and flowing swiftly, and could pull them into the current and drown them if they stepped into it.)

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Joshua 315-17 NIV).

God has promised to take care of your needs too. “So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 631-34 NIV).


Step into the water. God is not going to part the water until you do. But as you keep walking into the water that God has called you to enter, he will make a way for you to do what he has called you to do. God knows you cannot accomplish his will unless your financial needs are met.

If God is dealing with you about a certain amount he expects you to give as your tithe, and you are holding back because you feel there is not enough money to tithe, you are getting it backward. If you are busy about his work, giving him your time and money from the top instead of from the bottom, he will make sure your needs are met so you are free to do the work!

Sound impossible? It is. But God is master of the impossible. I challenge you to try it by faith. Stop worrying and start serving God.

Questions for thought

  1. How much time do you spend worrying?
  2. How much time do you spend doing the work God has called you to do?

Back to Foundations of Faith Contents page.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

06. Does God give words of knowledge? The Bible is full of them!

If it is a word from God, it will be based on God’s Word. Any promise God gives will generate peace, not turmoil. If you are struggling or fearful that it may not happen, re-evaluate.

Every promise in God’s Word is a word of knowledge.

God’s words of knowledge

People often ask me if I believe God gives personal promises or a word of knowledge to an individual. I believe he has given a Book full of personal promises to us. Every promise in his Word is a word of knowledge for me. But, yes, I do believe he makes those promises personal in a very real way sometimes. God does occasionally give a word of knowledge, but I think we need to be very careful with this.

I have worked with women, for example, whose husbands had left them. They clung to a “word of knowledge” that God had shown them that their marriage would be reunited. However they struggled continuously as they watched their estranged husband drift farther and farther away. They had no peace in their “word of knowledge.”

Greater than a word of knowledge

I have heard all the teaching of claiming certain things in prayer, being specific, having faith they will happen, etc. There are some things we can claim in prayer. God says he will never leave us and will be with us through every circumstance. We can claim that. God says where two or three of us gather in his name he is in our midst. We can claim that. But one thing is greater than a word of knowledge. That is faith that offers the following prayer:

Lord, I am not going to tell you how to answer this. You know I want my marriage restored. You know I want to be healed. You know I need a job. You know the things I need and want. I come to you with these needs. But I do not ask you to meet these needs in any specific way. I simply lay them at the foot of your cross and trust you to work according to your very best plan for me.

Your way is always best. The thing I fear most is being outside your will and your best plan for me. So I ask you to work, not as I would tell you, but according to the way you know is best.

I am relieved of the need to worry about this because I know the outcome will be far greater than I could ever imagine, though at present I cannot comprehend how it is possible that you could bring something better than saving my marriage, or healing, or financial help, or meeting other needs. I can’t see it but I know you, God, and I trust you for whatever answer you bring forth.

That is the prayer that is always answered exactly as it is prayed. That is the prayer that I have learned to pray and I have seen God truly give me more in every way than I could ever have if I dictated to God how to answer my prayer.

Getting our motives right

The prayer that tells God how to answer, no matter how noble our request, even saving our marriages, is (in my humble opinion) still a prayer with wrong motives. You see, we want our marriages saved for us ultimately. Our marriages fulfill a need that we have. Our motive should be serving God and living according to his plan. That is a higher motive even than saving our marriages. Definitely, God is interested saving our marriage. But his greatest concern is restoring the partners in that marriage. Here is what God says about asking with the wrong motive:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

This is heavy stuff, but Job learned this lesson. He said: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance!” (Job 13:15-16).

God’s personal promise brings peace

God can and does sometimes reveal things to us, or give us a word of knowledge. But we must be very careful with assuming we have gotten a word from God if it is not based on a promise he has already given us in his Word. There is only one thing we can be absolutely sure of. That is the Word of God, the Book he has already given to us.

There have been times when I have just known that God was working in a certain way. I had peace and could feel his presence so real. It was not a doubtful, up and down experience, but rather a calm knowing. But even those times came because I have a practice of immersing myself in his Word. When those times have occurred, I have seen the thing I knew come to pass. But those times almost always stemmed, if not from a specific promise, from the knowledge of the principles of God’s Word.

But if your word of knowledge is not coupled with peace — if you are continually struggling to make it happen or fearful that it may not happen — then you need to re-evaluate. Any word from God will generate peace for you, not turmoil. It is easy to want something so badly that we believe that surely it must be his will for it to happen. We assume that since it is his will, it is a word from God. Yet God is not held in a box at the mercy of our own desires and ideas of what is in accordance with his will.

Delight in the Lord, not your desires

I speak from experience here. There have been times that I have trusted that something surely must be God’s will and it did not come to pass. I believe to the utmost in holding onto God’s promises of hope and peace and joy and abundance. I believe we can expect specific results in accordance with specific promises. But are we willing to trust God when it seems he is not accomplishing the things we just knew he would accomplish if we turned to him?

It is easy to follow him with the assurance that he will do thus-and-so. But when thus-and-so doesn’t happen over a period of time, we easily become discouraged. I find it much easier to follow him knowing that he is always at work to accomplish the very best with my present circumstances. I trust his judgment, not what I see as the best thing to do.

Some will say that is a cop-out, that it is easy to trust when you don’t have anything specific to trust in. But I have very specific things to trust in. For example I do not trust that God will force any individual to do what is right. But I do trust that God will give them every opportunity as I pray for the person and commit my heart to being what God says to be in the situation.

Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Lots of people have used this to say that we can have whatever we want if we “delight in the Lord.” They are not wrong. But the problem is they misinterpret what it means to delight in the Lord.

Delighting in the Lord means we delight in his will, not ours. We delight in him more than our husbands. Yes, we are to enjoy our husbands. But they are not to be our major fulfillment. God is. As long as we delight in God, we can lose everything else and still have the greatest desire of our heart, for our desire will be the treasures we receive from God – treasures of peace and joy and the knowledge that we have a God who can see us through anything.


Should we give up hope for our marriage, then? No. God can do anything. Pray and trust God. Believe him. Base your life on the promises in God’s Word. We may fail our husbands and they may fail us, but God will never fail!

Financial problems? Faith and finances is next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

05. Does faith ever doubt? Finding your mustard seed

Faith requires doubt in order to be faith. Apply the faith you have, and God will give you more. God doesn’t expect mountain-size faith. A mustard seed will do!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

How can I believe what I cannot see?

“Sure” and “certain” in the above Scripture indicate lack of doubt. “Hope for” and “do not see” indicate doubt. How can these two opposites be compatible in the Biblical definition of “faith”? Can I believe and have unbelief at the same time? Can I be sure of something and hope for it at the same time. Can I be certain of something, having never seen it?

One of the most profound statements in God’s Word is, “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” (Mark 9:24). We tend to think of faith as being 100% sure. But being 100% sure is having it in our hands. Faith requires doubt in order to be faith.

I don’t have faith that I have a computer. I know I do. I’m typing this on it right now. If I do not doubt that I have a computer, I cannot call my knowledge of my computer faith.

However, I do have faith that if the Lord doesn’t come back tonight I will be able to turn on my computer tomorrow. I don’t know with 100% knowledge that my computer will come on tomorrow. I’m 98% sure. But there is a margin of doubt, because I know things can happen to computers

Yet how many times have I told someone, “I’ll email that to you tomorrow”? I live as if my computer is going to come on tomorrow because I believe so strongly that it will.

I have good reason to believe my computer will come on tomorrow. It has come on every day for the past two years since I purchased it. The person I went through to purchase it said it should last me several years and that person is a trusted friend.

Applying this same example to God’s Word: I don’t have faith that I have a Bible. I know I do. I’m looking at it right now as I quote verses from it to you. However I do have faith that God will provide for me everything I need tomorrow. I don’t know with 100% knowledge that God will provide every need. I am 99.9% sure (A bit more sure of God’s provision than that my computer will come on!). But being human I cannot be totally 100% sure of something I have not yet seen. I have not seen tomorrow.

Yet how many times have I told someone, “God will take care of me tomorrow”? I live as if God is going to take care of me tomorrow because I believe so strongly that he will. I have good reason to believe he will take care of me. He has cared for me daily ever since I trusted him as Savior and Lord, and even before. He is the one who taught me I needed him before I ever knew him. His Word says he will never leave me nor forsake me and his Word has become a trusted friend.

Can opposites co-exist? They can if you have a mustard seed!

God does not expect his children to have 100% faith, or even 99.5% or 98% or 75%. He is not measuring how much faith we have.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

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 17:19-20).

Jesus said they had little faith, but only needed as much as a mustard seed. Yet a mustard seed is tiny. What did Jesus mean?

Could it be that the disciples were looking at the impossibility of driving out the demon. It is impossible. Could you drive out a demon? They looked at the impossible and Jesus wanted them to look at the possible.

If they had just a tiny glimmer of hope inside them that they could drive out the demon in the power and authority of Jesus’ name that he had given them, and applied that glimmer of hope; if they trusted with all the little faith they had and surrendered to God, God would act on the little faith they had and drive out the demon.

Faith is not, yet faith is

  • Faith is not something we call up by positive self-talk.
  • Faith is not wishing for something badly enough we convince ourselves it will happen.
  • Faith is not saying with our intellect God will do something for us just because it is something we want him to do.
  • Faith is learned from God’s Word. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
  • Faith is knowing from God’s Word and from his working in our lives in the past that he has always been faithful to us and promises he always will be. It is placing our hopes in him that he will be true in the future to what we have experienced of him in the past, and what his Word promises will come to pass.
  • Faith is a process of growth. God does not expect us to be “there.” He only expects us to be on the way.

“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).


Whatever amount of faith you have is enough. If you apply that faith, God will respond to it and he will give you more faith in the process. How do you apply faith? It is simple. You determine to keep your mind off of the problem and on the promises. You determine to keep your mind off of the past failures and off of the future worries, and on the present.

Is God sufficient for you just now? Are you fulfilling his will for you this minute? Does he have something to say to you in his Word this minute? Can you survive the present circumstances for just this moment? Can you trust God to be with you in the next moment as he is now? Great! That is faith.

Study questions

Read Mark 9:14-35 and Matthew 17:19-20 to answer these questions for extra study or discussion:

1) What were the teachers of the law were arguing about? (verse 14-16, 33).
2) Why do you think the father of the demon-possessed boy was so quick to answer?
3) Why did none of the teachers answer Jesus?
4) Why were the disciples unable to deliver the boy from the evil spirit?
5) What was Jesus’ attitude toward the disciples unbelief?
6) What do you think was Jesus’ attitude toward the father’s unbelief?
7) Was there a difference in Jesus’ attitude toward the unbelief in the disciples and the unbelief in the boy’s father?

Does God ever give a ‘word of knowledge’? That’s next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. A promise for every problem: God’s substance of faith

God’s promises are the substance of faith. Rather than trust God to meet needs our resources are insufficient to manage, we blame God for not providing more resources.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for….” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV).

“Just trust God?” How easy is that?

“Just trust God and it will be alright!” Has anyone ever given you this empty advice?

Empty? Yes, that statement is empty. It gives you no reason to trust God. There is nothing in that statement to base trust upon. For Christians who have learned faith by walking hand in hand with God through many trials, that gentle reminder may be appropriate. But for the Christian whose faith has not yet been developed, the encouragement to “just trust God” is unreasonable.

God never requires blind faith. God went out of his way in the Scriptures to prove himself. He provided miracle after miracle throughout the Old and New Testaments, and he recorded them as evidence of his trustworthiness. For those who are willing to take the time to learn to trust him, God will develop a foundation of faith that will outlast any storm. Trust is something we learn.

Competitors to faith: job security, financial stability, medical insurance…

We have the faith to believe that God can meet our needs. But do we have the faith to trust him to do it? There are many things that compete for our trust. Job security, financial stability, disaster preparedness, medical insurance, and retirement planning are some of the major competitors to our faith. Each of us could add other competitors as well, such as people we depend on, etc.

“Are you saying it is wrong to seek a secure job and stable finances, and to prepare for the future?” you ask. No, not at all. But it is wrong to trust in these things.

“Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:18-21 NIV)

When things go awry, what do you think of first? Most of us do a quick assessment of our resources. For the Christian, God sees to it that our resources are never enough, for he wants to be our loving supplier. But we forget that. When we see our failing resources, we panic. Instead of trusting God to meet the needs our resources are insufficient to meet, we blame God for not providing us more resources!

We proceed to tell God how to supply our needs: “Lord, send me a job that will provide enough money to pay the rent.” God doesn’t need jobs and he doesn’t need money, though he often uses both to meet our needs. But he can work through any means at any time to be there for us. Don’t limit him!

God’s promises make our faith tangible

How do we get beyond the empty admonition to “just trust God” and apply it into a dynamic living part of our life? We can only “get there” by taking the time to allow God to develop this faith in us.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV).

The promises have always been my favorite part of the Word of God. I’ve learned that for every problem we encounter, there is a promise. If we will take the time to find the promise God wants to give us in his Word for the current problem we encounter, we will discover a faith for this current need that we can never attain by an empty “just trust God.”

“For the word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). God’s Word is what makes our faith tangible.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). “Substance” is something I can reach out and touch. I can grab it and hold it in my hands and keep it for my own. The only part of the Word of God that we can touch and make our own are the promises.

Think of it. Every Bible story would be meaningless to us personally without the promises. They would ring with the empty, “Just trust God.” Even the most meaningful Bible story of all, the story of how Jesus came to earth to die for our sins and offer forgiveness, would be worthless if God didn’t promise me that when I depend upon what Jesus has done for me I can have eternal life too! Our very salvation is based upon a promise:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

Ask God to give you a promise for your present need. Don’t turn lose of it. God wants you to hold him to his Word. He delights when you come to him and say, “Lord, I will not accept anything less than what you have promised me here!”

Take time to find the promise God has for you in his Word today!

How to find your promise in the Bible

  1. Browse through our Bible Promises topic category.
  2. Look in the concordance of your Bible for a keyword of a need you have: marriage, fear, disease, children, mother, etc. Check out all the references. Not every word will be listed, and you may need to find alternative words.
  3. Look for a promise online. Bible Gateway’s searchable online Bible is my favorite. It is available in over 50 versions and 35 languages. Just type in your keyword, or use the Topical Index.
  4. Purchase an inexpensive Bible promise book and check the topical index to find promises for your needs. My favorite Bible promise book is God’s Promises for Your Every Need
  5. Ask God to lead you to the promise he has for you as you begin to read his Word. There are promises on every page, and he has often led me to a promise for my current need as I have picked up his Word searching for answers to my need.
  6. Find a Scripture reference you can remember that is related in some way to your need and check out the cross-references to other similar Scriptures.
  7. Large Print Thompson Chain Reference Bible-NIV is my favorite study Bible. It is available in several versions, including KJV and NIV, and smaller pint as well. I recently ordered the large print version linked here to accommodate my failing vision. (Some reviewers report poor quality in some Thompson’s versions available now. The one I’ve linked above appears to be of excellent quality. To see more regarding this, click here.)
  8. Sometimes God will give us a Scripture promise through a sermon, a poster, or just sharing among friends.
  9. Topical List of Bible Promises from InTouch Ministries is a wonderful link that provides Bible promises on many topics:

Look now for a promise in God’s Word for your present need!

Ever wonder about doubt? We’ll discuss that next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

03. You have enough faith: Choose to exercise it.

You’ve chosen to believe, trust, and surrender. Now, choose to keep the territory you’ve gained by exercising your faith. Keep your mind on God’s provision. He will take care of you.

Choose to keep your mind on God’s sufficiency rather than the perils of the desert.

Lessons in the Desert

The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt. They watched God provide safety for them and sent devastation on the Egyptians in a series of plagues. The plagues were designed to convince the Pharaoh of Egypt to “let my people go.” But they were also designed to teach God’s people that they could place their faith in God.

Finally Pharaoh sent the Israelites out of Egypt. As the Israelites left Egypt, they were surrounded by warring nations. They had been slaves, and had never gone to war. They did not know how to fight a battle. They must depend on God for safety in their journey.

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:17 NIV)

God could have easily and safely protected the people through the warring land of the Philistines. Many years later he would use a little boy named David with a sling shot to defeat the Philistine giant Goliath. What stopped God from leading the Israelites through the Philistine country during the Exodus from Egypt? Was it God’s inability to deliver them? No.

We can’t say it was the Israelites’ lack of faith either. They had learned faith through God’s faithfulness over a lifetime of slavery and through their deliverance in the plagues. They had faith, else they would not have marched into the desert under the leadership of Moses.

Yet their faith wavered greatly at times. For example: “They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'” (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV)

So did they have enough faith? How much faith is enough?

The faith they had was enough to start the journey, else God would never have called them into this journey of faith. But they wavered back and forth between following God and following the ways that seemed right to them. They had problems with surrender. As their mind considered the danger they faced, they began to fear rather than trust God. They wondered if God really could or would deliver them. Deep in their hearts they knew that God had proved himself to them. But they often kept their minds on the problem and not on the God who is bigger than the problem.

You can exercise your faith

You have enough faith for today. Does it look like tomorrow you may die in this desert? Everyone of the Israelites who asked that question did just that. None of the original group that left Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb who proved their faith, were allowed to go into the promised land.

We’ll plan to study the story of Joshua and Caleb in another session. The important thing today is that we put our faith into action by choosing to believe God, to trust him, and to surrender our minds to him. Our minds are where we live. Choose to keep your mind on his sufficiency rather than the perils of the desert. In one way or another, almost everything about the Christian walk is a choice. Faith is no exception.

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB).

You’ve chosen to believe. You’ve chosen to trust. You’ve even chosen to surrender. Now, choose to keep the territory you’ve gained by keeping your mind on the assurance that God will take care of you. Read these Scriptures every time you start to doubt or waver, and thank God for the victory he has already given you.

How much faith is enough? God has given you all the faith you need for your present circumstance. You just have to choose to exercise it.

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.'” (Luke 17:5-6 NIV)

You have mustard seed faith. But that mustard seed will not germinate unless it is planted in the proper environment. Plant your mind in the Word of God. Water it daily with his promises. Let the sunshine of his sufficiency dwell in your mind.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Questions for thought and discussion

  1. What stopped God from leading the Israelites through the Philistine country during the exodus from Egypt? Why would God send the Israelites into a cruel desert amidst warring nations. Could not God have transported them to safety through the Philistine country quickly and easily, sparing them the 40 years they spent wandering in the desert?
  2. Did the Israelites have enough faith as they started off for the promised land? What was their problem?
  3. Review the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. What was different about David’s faith and the faith of those who complained in the desert?
  4. Where exactly do we make the surrender? Is it a one time thing? How can we tell when we are not surrendered?
  5. Do you have enough faith? How much faith do you need? How can you get more?

We’ll talk about faith for our problems next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

02. Daring to surrender: the best choice I ever made!

What if I surrendered my life to Christ, and he didn’t manage it the way I wanted him to? I was a stubborn 9-year-old girl when I pondered that question. I’m glad I chose to turn loose!

Part of me said, “No, don’t do it!” But the other part said, “I can’t afford not to!”

Three elements of faith

Faith is composed of three elements — believe, trust, surrender — in varying degrees. Yet alone, none of them seems adequate to completely describe it.

Immature faith is mostly belief with a small measure of trust and a daring decision to surrender. It is a sort of “taking a chance” on God, though not in a sense that we plan to see if God comes through and if not we won’t stay with him. No, “joining up” with God is an all or none proposition from the beginning. That is why it is so daring. God wants us to mean business.

There came a time when I began to comprehend what God was trying to tell me. I was lost, and needed to be saved. Saved from what and to what? Saved from eternal punishment in hell, yes, but much more than that. Saved from futility in this life. From nothingness and hopelessness. From loneliness and fear. From insecurity and defeat. Saved to what? To peace and hope. To fulfillment and joy. To victory and excitement. To a future secure, to a love unending, to an eternal home forever with the one who made me then loved me enough to buy me back from my inheritance of sin.

Daring to surrender

I didn’t comprehend all of this in one sitting. I understood just enough to know I needed Jesus but that my sins and failures kept me from him. I understood just enough to know that he had given his life to make a way for me to be saved from the punishment of sin and live forever with him. I understood enough, though, to realize that just believing these things was not enough. I understood enough to know that trusting that he could do them and would do them if I asked him to was not enough. I understood that he was waiting for me to surrender my life to him, not just for salvation, but for Lordship.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV).

That was what stopped me. How could I know that if I surrendered to him as Lord he would manage my life the way I knew it needed to be managed? Lots of audacity for a 9 year old girl to ponder that question, huh? But I had struggled with surrender since I first began comprehending the call of Jesus Christ upon my life at age 6. I just couldn’t let go. What if God messed my life up?

One day I was standing in the hallway of my home. It was like suddenly the light shone in. “If Jesus loved me enough to leave heaven and go to the cross to pay the price I owed for my sins, surely he must love me enough that he will do what is best with my life.”

I was faced again with the question of surrender. But this time, I saw the picture more fully. Part of me said, “No, don’t do it!” But the other part of me said, “I have to do it! I cannot take a chance on not doing it. I will take my chances on God!”

I am so thankful for that day. I determined that I would wait till I was in bed. I wanted to be totally alone and undisturbed by any interruptions. That night I would tell Jesus that I was accepting his offer of salvation on his terms, surrender. Such a wonderful peace flooded over me. All afternoon, and all evening, my heart was light. I could hardly wait till bedtime.

That night I went to bed and prayed for a long time. I thanked Jesus for dying for my sins, and I told him I knew I did not deserve it and had nothing he should want, but that I was giving him all of me for whatever he chose to do with my life. I told him that this did not seem like enough and if ever there were anything else I needed to do in order to be saved to let me know. In all the 44 years since, he has never shown me anything else I should do. What he did was enough!

I believed. I trusted. Finally I surrendered. Many years later it dawned on me that I did not receive Christ into my life that night as I prayed. I received Christ into my life in the hallway as I surrendered!

Surrender is like this

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The door is locked from the inside. Jesus can’t get in unless I unlock the door. I can believe it is Jesus knocking at the door. I can trust him that he will come in. I can even say, “Come into my heart Lord Jesus.” But until I unlock the door and surrender the barriers to him, he cannot come in. I unlocked the door to my heart without saying a word, by a choice to surrender. The words of my prayer later that night were a confirmation and a wonderful time of fellowship with the One who had become my Lord and Savior earlier that day.

Living faith

It is important for us to get the saving part down right because the Bible says the living part is patterned after the saving part. If you would like help with this important step, please visit our Seekers page.

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB).

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV).

We will talk about the living part next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Saving faith: believing, trusting, and surrendering

Faith is believing, trusting, and surrendering. Until I surrender my own will to his, he cannot save me from wrong ways, for I will still be committed to them.

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB)

Three categories of faith

Colossians 2:6, as paraphrased above in The Living Bible, is one of the best approaches to living the Christian life that I’ve ever seen. The Living Bible is an out-of-print paraphrased version of the Bible. Here is a literal translation::

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

There are three categories of faith represented in Colossians 2:6 as paraphrased in TLB. We could call them:

  1. Saving faith: “just as you trusted Christ to save you”
  2. Daily faith: “for each day’s problems”
  3. Committed faith: “vital union with him”

What is faith?

The Bible often uses the word “believe” to describe faith. For example:

“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.'” (Acts 16:31 NIV)

Paul and Silas had been in jail for preaching the Gospel. God sent an earthquake to free them as they sang praises to God. The jailer realized that the God of Paul and Silas was real, and asked “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas responded with Acts 16:31.

To publicly acknowledge Christ meant severe punishment, maybe even death, for the jailer. After all, Paul and Silas had been in prison with stocks and chains and heavily guarded because of their faith. Yet the Scripture says: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole family.” (Acts 16:32-34 NIV)

Did he just believe with the intellect? No, intellect could never be sufficient to cause the jailer to dare to be baptized publicly, bring escaped prisoners to his home and feed them, and lead his family to do this too. Even if he were willing to risk his own life, could he risk subjecting his family to the Gospel message and their subsequent public commitment unless he had more than intellectual knowledge?

Verse 32 says “they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” Paul and Silas explained that the one who had been born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, ministering in all Judea, and recently crucified between two sinners was truly the Son of God. No doubt they told the jailer that just as faith in Jesus had set Paul and Silas free from the bondage of prison, so could faith in Jesus set men free from the bondage of sin. Faith in the one who died and is alive again could give the jailer hope and peace in this life, and an eternal resurrection with the Lord.

The jailer did more than just believe. He trusted in Jesus Christ. He trusted that Jesus would do for him just what he said he would do:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NIV)

The jailer trusted enough that he was willing to surrender to baptism and public commitment. He was willing to surrender to whatever God asked him to do even if it cost him his life. He dared to believe that as he followed God’s plan for his life, God would take care of him and his family in this life and the next. He surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.

Faith is these three

Faith is these three: believing, trusting, surrendering. It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus is God’s son and that he arose from the dead if I don’t trust him to apply that forgiveness to my life. Until I surrender my own will to his, he cannot save me from wrong ways, for I will still be committed to them.

Questions for thought and discussion

  1. Are we Christians just because we believe facts about Jesus or trust that he can save us from things we have done? Why is the third step of surrender an important step?
  2. If you had to describe faith using one word only, what word would you choose and why?
  3. If you could use one sentence only to define faith, how would you define it?
  4. “And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB). Later in this study, we will get to the “each day’s problems” and “union with him” part. But for now, consider: Why do we need to be saved? What are we trusting him to save us from? to save us to?
  5. To think about: Have you just “always believed” in Jesus. Or can you remember a time when you made a commitment to him and trusted him to the point that you were willing to surrender control of your life to him?

It will be great to get into discussions of growing in faith as Christians. But the first step is saving faith. Before we can grow, we must be saved from our wrong way. If you are struggling and trying to live the Christian life yet are not getting anywhere with it, perhaps you’ve been depending on intellectual believing. Perhaps you’ve been trying to trust Jesus, but you’ve not given your life to him so he can change your life.

I’ll share my own story of surrender to God next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted