Faith Built on Substance

By Pastor Jason Paul

Spring is one of my favorite seasons of the year. After a long winter, nature is waking back up and will begin to come back alive once again. One Spring Day, I sat down to take in the warmer temperatures and had a chance to see my Koi fish for the first time in three months. As I peered into the water, I noticed that one of my fish got injured under the ice. He had a swollen cut under his eye and was hanging out by himself in the corner. As a concerned owner, I thought, what can I do to help this poor fish out with its wound. As I pondered my next course of action, thoughts began to fill my head.

This Koi fish was faced with a decision, to stay strong and wait until it healed or to give up and wait to die. The Koi cannot pray for healing, and he can’t seek medical attention independently. He does not know where his next meal will come. But he knows that one person comes to feed them, watch over them, and soon help will come, but when?  

We have all experienced difficulties in this life. These difficulties can come upon you like storms or seasons where you are unsure how you will come out. These storms can come as health issues, finances, or an unexpected repair. Others may have lost their jobs or are unsure how to put food on the table. How are we going to pay increased bills with gas and food? When will relief come?

James 1:2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  

Just as I looked at this Koi fish with concern for its wellbeing, God looks at us with compassion, knowing what we need before we do. God does not want us to be anxious, and he wants us to turn our focus off our circumstances and refocus on him. Viewing our circumstances with a different lens is an opportunity that can lead to great joy.        

Jesus, who is the Son of God, told his disciples in Matthew 6 to view circumstances with a different lens.   

Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:25-34 New Living Translation

Here, Jesus gives us a roadmap on how to view these storms through a different lens. We can refocus on the Lord by knowing that we are far more valuable to God than the animals. We need to have a faith built on substance, not worry, and finally seek God’s kingdom by living righteous lives.

  • You are far more valuable to God than the animals.

 Jesus told his disciples to take their eyes off their circumstances and look at the field’s birds and lilies. God in heaven feeds the birds and provides food for them to find. God cares for the flowers in the field. He watched over their growth from a seed to a full-grown plant. He protects them through the storms of life that could threaten their livelihood and provides for them until their lifespan is over.

God has determined the beginning of life and when our lives will end, and we determine what happens in the middle. God cares more about you and me because God created us in His image, filled us with the breath of life, and gave us this brief time on earth to live for the Kingdom of God. We are very valuable to him.

As I observed my Koi, I was beginning to think of ways that I could help him. I had to think about the conditions that he was in and when the appropriate time where I could intervene. I care enough about my fish to intervene without creating a long-term hardship on him.

Maybe you are going through a time of hardship where God has not intervened yet. We see the present where God sees the future. God may not have intervened yet, because He knows when the appropriate time is to intervene. Until then, continue to pray to the Lord for your situation, and don’t lose faith.  

  • A Faith Built on Substance

In Matthew 6:31-32, Jesus is telling his disciples not to be anxious about tomorrow’s provisions but to have faith in the one who provides. Your response to life’s storms and difficulties determines how much faith you have.

When I was a younger believer, my faith in Jesus was weak. I would go through life worrying about where I would live and how I would support myself. I was strategizing about where my career would go and what relationships I would be in and made some poor choices. These decisions caused emotional storms that God allowed me to go through. My response to these storms was to turn directly to the Lord and seek his help. God would rescue me as time moved forward, and my faith in him became stronger when I saw God work.

My faith in the Lord became the rock that I would stand on. These same storms that I experienced when I was a younger believer will still come into my life, and my response is still the same. This rock of faith that I stand on was once small, and as my faith in the Lord gets more substantial, my rock of faith gets larger. Seeing how the Lord has worked in my life strengthened my faith. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow because of what He has done in the past.  

  • Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and live righteously.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus continues to tell his disciples to seek first the Kingdom of God and to live righteously, and all their needs would be provided. Jesus is telling us today that when we take our focus off our worries and refocus them on furthering the Kingdom of God that the Lord will provide for all our needs.

Seeking first the Kingdom of God can be a struggle in life when our first instinct is to seclude ourselves and attempt to find a solution on our own.

As I continued to observe my Koi, I noticed that my Koi’s first decision was to seclude himself from the other fish. He was seeking a solution to his problem. Seclusion and being left alone to seek answers to our struggles and look for ways to get out of the predicament can lead to worry, anxiety, depression, and can sometimes turn into poor choices. I know, I have been there. What if our response was to listen to the Lord and seek FIRST God’s kingdom instead of our initial reaction?

How, then, do we seek the kingdom of God first?

The first step is to seek after the Lord personally. You need to come before the Lord in prayer and seek His will for you in His Word, the Bible.

The second is to seek out a congregation of believers and become a part of God’s fellowship. Christianity is not a solo sport; our faith must be lived out with others.

As I observed my Koi fish, other Koi decided to swim alongside him and stayed next to him. That is what being in a community is all about. This fish is going through a painful experience and waiting to heal. Being a part of a community is that others will come alongside you during your struggles and difficulties to be with you through them.   

Thirdly, Serve God through the Church. There is a joy from serving the Lord by seeking to serve Him through his church.

Jesus not only told his Disciples to not only seek first the Kingdom of God but also to live righteous lives. The word righteous means to have a right standing before God. As Christians, we are only righteous because we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Maybe you are reading today, and you have not placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you desire to be made right with God. If that is your desire, accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

All you need to say is, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I know that you are the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead. I turn from my sin and seek your forgiveness to follow you as my savior and Lord from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer in Jesus’s name, Amen.

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