Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Growing Faith

“Faith is like radar that sees through the

fog -- the reality of things at a distance that

the human eye cannot see.”

Corrie ten Boom

 

How Does Faith Increase?

Last week I asked a question I did not answer:  What makes a belief drop from the head to the heart? Then, having dropped from the head to the heart, how do we increase our faith? Over the past two weeks, we have seen that faith is a heart-belief, or a heart-persuasion, that results in some form of outworking. Faith is faith; the Bible does not talk about different kinds of faith, but you can have faith in various things - yourself, other people, a concept, or various religious beliefs, etc. It just depends on the basis of your heart- belief or persuasion - who or what are you trusting? However, the faith that pleases God, is a heart-persuasion that He is all He says He is, that He has done all He says He has done, and that He will still do all He says He will still do. The outworking of this persuasion is complete surrender to His influence in every area of your life. Intellect vs Heart Jesus told a parable about a Sower, that speaks into the dynamic of true faith as a heart-persuasion. However, while meditating on this parable during the week, I noticed that Jesus spoke of the soil as representing the heart. There is no mention of the intellect. To understand Jesus’ teaching, we need to keep in mind that He was Jewish and His thinking was from an Hebraic frame. There is a teaching that effectivley says that if there is no Hebrew word for a concept, that concept is considered as not being important. The Hebrew language is an action-focused language and a relationship-focused language. If a concept, such as head-knowledge, has absolutely no effect on what you do or how you relate (particularly to God), then that concept is of little consequence to the Hebrew mind. There is no Hebrew word for mere intellectual knowledge… There is also no Hebrew word for the intellect per se, either. The mind and the intellect are all tied up in the Hebrew word for the heart. We tend to separate the heart and the mind, but in the Hebraic way of thought, there is no distinction. Lois Tverberg states, “In Hebrew, the heart (lev or levav) is the center of human thought and spiritual life.” (Emphasis added) The following article, written by a Rabbi, gives great insight into the Jewish concept of faith. The article begins with the Webster Dictionary’s definition of ‘faith’ as being “Belief without proof,” and ‘knowledge’ as being “An acquaintance with truth, facts or principles through study or investigation. With those definitions in mind, the article goes on to say, “Judaism unequivocally comes down on the side of knowledge, not faith. In Deuteronomy 4:39, the Torah says: ‘You shall know this day, and understand it well in your heart, that the Almighty is God; in the heaven above and the earth below, there is none other.’  A conviction based on desire or feelings alone has no place in Judaism. The Hebrew word ‘emunah,’ which is often translated as faith, does not describe a conviction based on feelings or desire. It describes a conviction that is based on evidence. Once this knowledge is internalized, it affects how a person lives. A person with this knowledge could transform every breathing moment into a mitzvah [a good work for God], for he would do everything for the sake of the heaven.” (Aish.com "Faith vs Knowledge" ) Lois Tverberg also shares insight as she speaks of the ‘knowledge of God’ (da’at elohim): “A Westerner opens the Bible and wants to prove God’s existence and develop a theology about God’s nature, and would call that ‘knowledge of God.’ But the Hebraic view is that ‘knowledge of God’ is having a life in relationship with him. … We can see this thinking when we compare Christian Bibles to a Jewish translation. In the NIV we read, The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2) but in the Jewish Tanakh it reads, The spirit of the LORD shall alight upon him: a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valor, a spirit of devotion and reverence for the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2) In this verse, ‘da’at’ is translated as devotion. They see knowledge of God as intimacy with God, knowing him as a son does his father, and a wife her husband.” (sic) The Parable of the Sower As Jesus explained His parable, He said that the seed was the word. He is speaking of the Logos word, the spoken or written word. John tells us that Jesus Himself, is the Logos word (See John 1:1) . So one can effectively say that the ‘seed’ in this parable, is the message and teaching of Jesus. Jesus goes on to say that the soil represents the heart. So what we know as an intellectual knowledge of Jesus and His teaching, could be compared to seed falling on the hardened ground beside a road, not so? It does not even enter the heart. In Jesus’ interpretation of His parable, He says the seed that falls beside the road, represents the hearing of the word without understanding. The Greek word for ‘understanding’, speaks of a joining together of information in the mind, kind of like ‘joining the dots’ and seeing the picture. But keeping in mind that Jesus was Jewish and not Greek, let’s look at the Hebrew word for ‘understanding’. Spiros Zodhiates translates this word as follows: “The primary meaning is ‘understanding' or 'insight'. Discernment is a closely related idea. ... The word does not refer to the mere accumulation of data, but superior knowledge. One must know how to use the information wisely.” (Spiros Zodhiates “The Hebrew-Greek Study Bible) Whenever I think of the concept of understanding, my mind goes to Solomon's definition in Prov 9:10 : “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." The Hebrew word used for knowledge in this verse, is da’at, and as we saw above, the Hebraic view sees this as living a life in relationship with Him. We also saw that in Isaiah 11:22, da’at (knowledge)  is translated as devotion. So the degree of fruitfulness in our lives then, depends upon the degree of insight which flows from our devotion to God, does it not? To the Hebrew thinking, knowledge of God deepens relationship with God and increases devotion. Devotion takes the focus off of yourself, right? If not, then it's not devotion, but a self-centred using of a person for your own pleasure, not so? So we can say that the degree of our fruitfulness depends on the degree to which everything in our lives is coloured with, and interpreted by, our devotion to God, not so? Every circumstance in our life gets interpreted according to His nature of deep love, grace, dependability, and unrivalled power and authority steeped in purity, truth, stability, justice, and mercy. In complete devotion to Him, we set aside our personal agendas, desires, and purposes, and we choose instead, to desire what He desires, to purpose according to His Kingdom purposes, and become one with Him so that we may show the world the depth of His goodness and love. One of my favourite songs, is the song ‘Ben’. It is a song about a friendship, sung by a very young Michael Jackson. The words of the chorus express so simply, what I am trying to say: “I used to say  ‘I’ and ‘me,’ Now it‘s ‘us,’ Now it’s ‘we.’” So when the cares of the world press in, or the deceitfulness of riches or comfort calls, it’s no longer ‘I’ and ‘me’, but ‘us' and 'we', for I walk with One who can still the storm in an instant. But I also know that His ways are higher than my finite thinking, and I surrender into the depths of His lovingkindness, knowing that if He does not still this storm, He has a greater purpose in taking me through it. Though, at times, the storm may be terrifyingly dark, I can cling to His promise that He will never leave me, nor ever forsake me. Taking my eyes off the wind and frighteningly high waves, I search for glimpses of His presence. Though at first I see nothing besides the storm, I can hold to His promise that those who continue to search for Him, will find Him. Then suddenly, just as I am about to give up, I see Him in a brilliance in which I have never seen Him before! I am awestruck! As I gaze on His beauty, my roots sink even deeper into the rich soil of understanding and devoted love.
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Growing Faith

“Faith is like radar that sees through

the fog -- the reality of things at a

distance that the human eye cannot

see.”

Corrie ten Boom

 

How Does Faith Increase?

Last week I asked a question I did not answer:  What makes a belief drop from the head to the heart? Then, having dropped from the head to the heart, how do we increase our faith? Over the past two weeks, we have seen that faith is a heart-belief, or a heart-persuasion, that results in some form of outworking. Faith is faith; the Bible does not talk about different kinds of faith, but you can have faith in various things - yourself, other people, a concept, or various religious beliefs, etc. It just depends on the basis of your heart-belief or persuasion - who or what are you trusting? However, the faith that pleases God, is a heart- persuasion that He is all He says He is, that He has done all He says He has done, and that He will still do all He says He will still do. The outworking of this persuasion is complete surrender to His influence in every area of your life. Intellect vs Heart Jesus told a parable about a Sower, that speaks into the dynamic of true faith as a heart-persuasion. However, while meditating on this parable during the week, I noticed that Jesus spoke of the soil as representing the heart. There is no mention of the intellect. To understand Jesus’ teaching, we need to keep in mind that He was Jewish and His thinking was from an Hebraic frame. There is a teaching that effectivley says that if there is no Hebrew word for a concept, that concept is considered as not being important. The Hebrew language is an action-focused language and a relationship-focused language. If a concept, such as head-knowledge, has absolutely no effect on what you do or how you relate (particularly to God), then that concept is of little consequence to the Hebrew mind. There is no Hebrew word for mere intellectual knowledge… There is also no Hebrew word for the intellect per se, either. The mind and the intellect are all tied up in the Hebrew word for the heart. We tend to separate the heart and the mind, but in the Hebraic way of thought, there is no distinction. Lois Tverberg states, “In Hebrew, the heart (lev or levav) is the center of human thought and spiritual life.” (Emphasis added) The following article, written by a Rabbi, gives great insight into the Jewish concept of faith. The article begins with the Webster Dictionary’s definition of ‘faith’ as being “Belief without proof, and ‘knowledge’ as being “An acquaintance with truth, facts or principles through study or investigation. With those definitions in mind, the article goes on to say, “Judaism unequivocally comes down on the side of knowledge, not faith. In Deuteronomy 4:39, the Torah says: ‘You shall know this day, and understand it well in your heart, that the Almighty is God; in the heaven above and the earth below, there is none other.’  A conviction based on desire or feelings alone has no place in Judaism. The Hebrew word ‘emunah,’ which is often translated as faith, does not describe a conviction based on feelings or desire. It describes a conviction that is based on evidence. Once this knowledge is internalized, it affects how a person lives. A person with this knowledge could transform every breathing moment into a mitzvah [a good work for God], for he would do everything for the sake of the heaven.” (Aish.com "Faith vs Knowledge" ) Lois Tverberg also shares insight as she speaks of the ‘knowledge of God’ (da’at elohim): “A Westerner opens the Bible and wants to prove God’s existence and develop a theology about God’s nature, and would call that ‘knowledge of God.’ But the Hebraic view is that ‘knowledge of God’ is having a life in relationship with him. … We can see this thinking when we compare Christian Bibles to a Jewish translation. In the NIV we read, The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2) but in the Jewish Tanakh it reads, The spirit of the LORD shall alight upon him: a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valor, a spirit of devotion and reverence for the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2) In this verse, ‘da’at’ is translated as devotion. They see knowledge of God as intimacy with God, knowing him as a son does his father, and a wife her husband.” (sic) The Parable of the Sower As Jesus explained His parable, He said that the seed was the word. He is speaking of the Logos word, the spoken or written word. John tells us that Jesus Himself, is the Logos word (See John 1:1) . So one can effectively say that the ‘seed’ in this parable, is the message and teaching of Jesus. Jesus goes on to say that the soil represents the heart. So what we know as an intellectual knowledge of Jesus and His teaching, could be compared to seed falling on the hardened ground beside a road, not so? It does not even enter the heart. In Jesus’ interpretation of His parable, He says the seed that falls beside the road, represents the hearing of the word without understanding. The Greek word for ‘understanding’, speaks of a joining together of information in the mind, kind of like ‘joining the dots’ and seeing the picture. But keeping in mind that Jesus was Jewish and not Greek, let’s look at the Hebrew word for understanding’. Spiros Zodhiates translates this word as follows: “The primary meaning is ‘understanding' or 'insight'. Discernment is a closely related idea. ... The word does not refer to the mere accumulation of data, but superior knowledge. One must know how to use the information wisely.” (Spiros Zodhiates “The Hebrew-Greek Study Bible) Whenever I think of the concept of understanding, my mind goes to Solomon's definition in Prov 9:10 : “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  The Hebrew word used for knowledge in this verse, is da’at, and as we saw above, the Hebraic view sees this as living a life in relationship with Him. We also saw that in Isaiah 11:22, da’at (knowledge) is translated as devotion. So the degree of fruitfulness in our lives then, depends upon the degree of insight which flows from our devotion to God, does it not? To the Hebrew thinking, knowledge of God deepens relationship with God and increases devotion. Devotion takes the focus off of yourself, right? If not, then it's not devotion, but a self-centred using of a person for your own pleasure, not so? So we can say that the degree of our fruitfulness depends on the degree to which everything in our lives is coloured with, and interpreted by, our devotion to God, not so? Every circumstance in our life gets interpreted according to His nature of deep love, grace, dependability, and unrivalled power and authority steeped in purity, truth, stability, justice, and mercy. In complete devotion to Him, we set aside our personal agendas, desires, and purposes, and we choose instead, to desire what He desires, to purpose according to His Kingdom purposes, and become one with Him so that we may show the world the depth of His goodness and love. One of my favourite songs, is the song ‘Ben’. It is a song about a friendship, sung by a very young Michael Jackson. The words of the chorus express so simply, what I am trying to say: “I used to say  ‘I’ and ‘me,’ Now it‘s ‘us,’ Now it’s ‘we.’” So when the cares of the world press in, or the deceitfulness of riches or comfort calls, it’s no longer ‘I’ and ‘me’, but ‘us' and 'we', for I walk with One who can still the storm in an instant. But I also know that His ways are higher than my finite thinking, and I surrender into the depths of His lovingkindness, knowing that if He does not still this storm, He has a greater purpose in taking me through it. Though, at times, the storm may be terrifyingly dark, I can cling to His promise that He will never leave me, nor ever forsake me. Taking my eyes off the wind and frighteningly high waves, I search for glimpses of His presence. Though at first I see nothing besides the storm, I can hold to His promise that those who continue to search for Him, will find Him. Then suddenly, just as I am about to give up, I see Him in a brilliance in which I have never seen Him before! I am awestruck! As I gaze on His beauty, my roots sink even deeper into the rich soil of understanding and devoted love.
Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Prev Next