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I Believe

by Kim Harrington 


     Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

Acts 27:25

     How strong is your faith in a real pinch?  How do you do when the chips are really down? It's easy to carry on and on about faith from a position of strength and security, but how much faith can you muster in the middle of a severe trial?

     Perhaps you're like the soldiers and sailors caught in a great tempest at sea with Paul and Luke in Acts chapter twenty-seven.  For nearly two weeks they had been tossed and driven by the storm.  They had lightened the boat by casting off all the cargo, and even the tackle of the ship itself, to no avail.  The wind still blew and the waves still crashed upon them, threatening to break the boat to pieces, and send all the people on it to a watery grave in the Mediterranean Sea. Finally even the seasoned sailors, veterans of a thousand voyages, gave up all hope, and sat down to fast and pray and call upon their gods.  A spirit of depression and despair gripped everyone, from the greatest to the least, and rightfully so, for the situation was as hopeless as any group of men had ever faced.  No one could blame them for their negative attitude--they weren't exaggerating, things really were that bad.

     "But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them and said... I believe God!"  The circumstances for faith weren't perfect, but for the Apostle Paul they didn't have to be. He had a faith that looked deeper than that which could be seen by the human eye, or conceived in the human brain. He believed God! That's all there was to it. He listened to the professionals (in this case, the sailors) respectfully, but he made his decisions on what God said, not on what man said.  They might know their business, but God knows more.  They might be experienced and well-meaning, but God is much more so.  Paul was even bold enough to say, "You should have listened to me in the first place... but nevertheless, we're all going to come out of this thing ... for I believe God!"

     We must likewise learn to believe God, to have sound, positive, Biblical faith.  Enough of this cursed passivism that just rolls with each new kick delivered by the enemy, citing the will of God and the mysteriousness of His ways as the cause of all our trials!  Enough of the immature, emotional hype that is passed off as faith so often today, too.  It is equally carnal and ineffective; it is as easily deflated by a little tribulation as the more down-in-the-mouth variety of unbelief.  We need to learn to walk in practical, realistic faith in God.  The faith of God does not deny that the situation sometimes is rough--it faces it head-on and overcomes it. The faith of God is not a mouthful of positive confessions, it is a heartful of positive attitudes, backed up by all of Heaven.  It is contagious and inspiring; it puts the enemy to flight; it is available to all; and it is what we need more of in the church today.

     Now I don't know that Paul ever sat down and put it in quite this kind of an outline, but I believe his faith in God was based on three very elementary, but important, things:  the Word of God, the Person of God, and the Plan of God. Let's take a brief look at each...


The Word of God

     Paul didn't just say, "I believe God."  He said, "I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." In other words, he didn't stand up on the first day of the storm and declare presumptuously that storms are not of God, that God only wills good to His people, and don't worry because this evil symptom will soon melt away into nothingness if we stand firm. To do so would have been to invite ridicule, and to have been proved wrong as the storm went on unabated for the next two weeks.  But Paul sought the Lord diligently with prayer and fasting right from the start, and he didn't stand up and speak until he was confident that he had heard from God. He had some real basis for his bold assertion.

     We, too, have a "sure word," as Peter puts it in his second epistle. We have the eternal Word of God, the Bible. It's just as good as a vision, a dream, or am angelic visitation. God has promised repeatedly that He will stand behind His Word to perform it, be it good or evil. If He promises something, He delivers it. There is no vacillation or indecision on His part about it--He is as good as His word.   He doesn't try to catch you on the "fine print," or mislead you with unclear phrasing. He says exactly what He means, and He follows through. He can be depended upon.

     Furthermore, He is all-powerful. There is no one in the universe that can stop His hand from accomplishing which He sets out to do. When Paul said, "I believe God," on the basis of His word, he knew he was on solid ground. There were just no two ways about it, it simply could not fail. God had spoken and He would do it!

     The waves continued to wash over the deck of the ship and the storm went on for days after Paul had spoken his piece. But that didn't bother Paul, he was resting secure in the promise of God. Like Abraham, he staggered not through unbelief, but persevered and acted on God's Word.


The Person of God

     Paul also believed in the person of God. This is very closely related to the last point, but it brings out some aspects that are not covered under faith in the Word alone. Knowing a person strengthens your faith in him (if he's faithful, of course). It is one thing to have someone's word, it is another to know that person well enough to have great confidence in that word, or to not even need a promise, per se. For example, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my wife is faithful to me, not on the basis of our marriage vows, but on the basis of her character and her faithfulness over all the years of our marriage.

     Likewise, I have come to know the person of God. Yes, He has made some very precious promises to me over the years, but even more important is His overall track record with me. Experience with Him shows me that I have received nothing but good treatment at His hands. Though I sometimes feared the worst, I always got the best. Often, as I tremblingly waited for His judgment, I received instead His mercy. I've sometimes wondered if, for my own good, He would allow me to go through some terrible ordeal--but all I've seen are more blessings, more miraculous deliverances, more examples every week of His good intentions toward me.

     Things that once worried me don't trouble me like they used to. I must confess that I still waste time fretting about the outcome of things; but deep inside there is always the confidence that He has never let me down yet, and He won't this time, either. I don't have all the answers, but I do know the consistency of His dealings with me. I don't know why this or that was allowed to happen to someone else--perhaps they know--but I know He has always blessed me beyond anything I could ask or think, and that is sufficient for me. I have come to know the person of God a little, and I can say with Paul, "I believe God."


The Plan of God

     Finally, Paul believed in the plan of God. He knew he was a man of destiny. He wasn't proud; he just knew that the hand of God was on him, and that God had a plan for his life that must needs be fulfilled. From the very beginning of his walk with the Lord, he was told that he would bring God's Word to the Gentiles, and testify before kings, even Caesar himself. I think he often longed to go to Rome to do just that, but he wouldn't rush the timing of God. He had a well-defined belief in the plan of God for him; it kept his confidence up and his vision intact through the hard times.

     It's been said that a sense of destiny is the most powerful weapon in the world. All the great men down through the ages have felt that sense of purpose, of divine calling. It is a prerequisite for greatness.

     Brothers and sisters, we are all people of destiny.  The Bible says in Romans 8:29 that "those He did foreknow, Re also did predestinate." We will be called, justified, glorified, and conformed to the image of His Son. And we will fulfill His calling on our life in the meantime.  None of us are called to simply be saved, and to slip quietly into Heaven someday.  He has given gifts to every man (I Cor. 12:7), and placed leaders in the church to prepare everyone for the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11,12). We all have ministries, callings--destinies if you will--to carry out in this life.

     What a great faith strengthener! I f we are predestined by God for a certain course in life, then we can't die one second before our time. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed unto men once to die"-- we won't be taken before the appointed time. Paul had great confidence regarding this subject. He exhorted others to be "confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it..." (Phil. 1:16). Later in the same epistle, he expresses his desire to fulfill that which he was destined to do (3:12). When his life on earth was nearing its completion, he told Timothy, "the time of my departure is at hand... I have finished my course" (II Tim. 4:6,7). Paul was a firm believer in the destiny of the Christian. He had faith in the plan of God.

     Hallelujah! I can't fail, because God can't fail! He calls me and sends me, He provides for every need, and He causes me to succeed. I have confidence in the promises of His Word.  I have greater confidence because I've come to know Him personally. And, like Paul, I know I'm a man of destiny, and I will finish my course in this life. I believe God.

     I have the same confidence regarding you. You are part of the divine destiny. You cannot possibly fail, if you will just remain faithful to Christ.   And believe in Him!  What the church needs today is a fresh new wave of zealous individuals to stand up amidst the growing despondency of those around them and say, "I believe God!"


Copyright 1998 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.


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