Psalm 8:3-6 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—
Just over a year ago, our family adopted a new member. A teacup chihuahua whose name is Izzy. She is four pounds of ferocity. Bold and vivacious bounding through life in a tiny body with mighty heart. Not the cowering timid creature who came to our house looking for love and security. Upon arrival, it was clear our newest addition had issues. She would attack her food bowl not eating but inhaling the contents as if it were her last meal. She would draw back if approached too quickly. Izzy did not trust us. She clearly had not had consistent care. The vet was ecstatic to learn that she had found a new home. It was clear that we had some work to do with her.
Izzy had an accident just before coming to live with us. One of her paws is scarred. The previous owner indicated that it was a burn of some kind. The vet could not tell me the specifics but indicated that she had been attacked. To put her appendages into perspective, her paw is no bigger than the pad of your finger. In an attempt to give her a doggy pedicure aka trim her nails, Izzy bit me. Not hard, she held my hand in her mouth fighting to get all her paws safely under her body. This was the first indication of any aggression in her. We had an immediate come-to-Jesus about the error of her ways. I put away the clippers and for about a week just took every advantage to touch her paws no matter how bad she fought me. To do nothing more than to touch them, hold them and gently rub them. We would continue this for weeks on end until finally I was able to trim her nails even though she was quite reluctant. As I sit her today, Izzy is sleeping in my lap as she does many mornings during this time. As I read and study, I realize that I am touching her outstretched paws without any hesitation from the comatose dog in my lap. Izzy trusts me. It took time. It could not be forced. With simple steps, I was able to lead her to faith in her new owner.
Why this talk about a dog? Human beings do not compare to mere animals. People are created in the Image of God and made just a little lower than Him. It says so in His Word. The thoughts of the Lord are consumed by His People. He desires our love, faith, trust and devotion. However, sin has tainted love and many are lost in the darkness of this world looking for it. It is human nature to trust no one and take care of ourselves. We learn this behavior through unmet expectation and failed relationships along the way. God has crowned us with glory and honor that most people have not yet assumed simply because of doubt, disbelief and distrust. He longs to give us charge over everything but we must know who we are and who He is before authority and dominion can operate in us and through us. How do we get there from here? Moment by moment. Step by step. Little by little.
Matthew 13:31-33 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
Small seeds grow into big trees. A little yeast will permeate every part of the dough. God is looking for big things but relishes small beginnings. Too many times, impatience aborts God’s Growth process in us because we cannot see the forest for the trees. There is a bigger picture and much larger plan underway in your life than the simple daily tasks performed. Each day holds a hidden treasure that is accomplished by faith. The kind of faith that causes a farmer to plant a seed and wait for it to grow. We must constantly be cultivating faith by allow God’s Seed or His Word to be pressed into the fertile soil of a heart turned over to the Lord. As long as the earth remains there will be seedtime and harvest. No matter how bad things seem to get, God is always in control. As long as you are willing to plant, you will harvest because that is what His Word tells us. However, you cannot reap what you have not sown.
Faith is our investment. When we take the things of this world turning our life over to God as residents of His Kingdom, supernatural change takes over that is not always evident in the natural right away. But it makes sense because when a farmer plants a seed, he cannot see what is going on underground as the seed begins to grow. Faith is nothing more than a farmer picking up a handful of seed, believing it will grow so he plants it on his property. No, he doesn’t walk away but tends the tiny plants that surface and cares for them as they grow. When those seeds die, grow and reach full maturity, they will produce the desired fruit. Faith works the very same way. We plant God’s Word in our heart by faith. We wait for it to grow in us until it manifests in fruit coming out of our life.
Proverbs 16:8-9 (NLT) Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
People plan but the Lord determines our steps. We want to take a leap of faith but the Word of God tells us to walk by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7) What’s the difference? Well, if we always leap valuable steps may be missed that are the very details that God promised to work out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We like dramatic and climatic finishes but the Lord warns against despising small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) Our life of faith is to be lived step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The Lord operates in full satisfaction and completion while our very human flesh cries out for immediate gratification, comfort and compromise.
Peter’s first step of faith is found in Matthew 14 when he stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus on the sea. It lasted a few steps and down he went. Throughout the account of his life, Peter had many mishaps on his way to fulfillment. One might even call them failures. He just kept walking it out. When Peter decided to return to his old life, he was tired and weary. Jesus was gone or so he thought. In his final moments, Peter failed the Lord and Jesus knew it. His love for the Lord hidden inside a broken man. When Jesus arrived on the beach, Peter no longer needed an invitation to come to the Lord – no the man jumped in the water swimming all the way to shore. (John 21) This is cultivated faith in action. Every step of his walk conditioned Peter to fulfill his calling of the rock on which the church would be built.
Luke 16:10-12 (NLT) “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
Faith is a practical application of God’s Word to our life as a daily exercise. We must track our steps of faith just as one might use a Fitbit to count their natural footsteps each day. Consciousness of God comes with knowledge of God. Mark 4:24-26 tells us that the more we listen the more we will hear. In I Kings 18:43-45, Elijah sends his servant to look for the rain cloud more than seven times. Would the rain have come anyway? Yes. Obedience allowed the man of God’s servant to be part of a miracle. By what? Faith. Just before that in I Kings 17, Elijah asks the woman preparing her final meal for her and her son for bread to eat. He knew her intentions and that she was set in her way. But he asked her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first.” The Lord knows us. He sees our heart. He meets us right where we are waiting for us to come to Him. What did God do? In her faithfulness, He provided an abundant supply of the very thing she lacked. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The giving of our life and faith to the Lord are met with His Abundance.
Revelation 3:8-12 (NLT) “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.”
In the message to the church in Philadelphia, it says “you have little strength, but you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” In our weakness, He becomes our strength. This is faith. This is trust. This is God’s Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire for our life. In that moment when our strength fails, bodies grow weak, and human thoughts overwhelmed, this is the precise moment that Jesus becomes all that we want and need. One must be emptied to be filled with His Grace which is the one thing that allows faith to be active in our life. The power of perseverance is to be positioned in the Kingdom of God. A place of residency that allows us to reclaim Christ’s Power and Authority binding things on the earth and releasing Heaven in the form of God’s Will and Way. The Lord tells these people that He knows what they are doing and it has opened a door that no one can close. He will do the same for you. He will do the same for me. This is not a one-time acquisition or perseverance would not be indicated. This is a lifelong pursuit without beginning or end. It’s funny that these are the words spoken over the Church of Philadelphia known as brotherly love.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
In the movie a few good men, Tom Cruise cross examines Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson says, “You want answers?” Then Tom Cruise says, “I think I am entitled to them!” Nicholson says again, “You want answers?” to which Cruise replies, “I want the truth!” Then comes the famous movie line, “You can’t handle the truth!” I believe this applies to the Goodness of God’s Grace in our life. If He poured out His Love on us in one quick toss, I am afraid that it would be so overwhelming that it might consume us entirely. If the Truth was revealed about our life and God’s Love, it would be very difficult to move from our current position. We would not want to go through those things that allow weakness so we can obtain His Strength. Avoiding the process and thereby aborting the process of growth, development and maturity that is the Work of God in us and how we cultivate His Word. So the Lord works in us little by little.
God is good. He is consumed with love and compassion for His Children. He cannot lie or change His Mind. All great qualities. His Love for us is made complete and unconditional in Jesus Christ who meets our need and becomes our strength in all things. Our faith invested in the Kingdom of God is complete surrender of our way, our will and our wants to His Will, His Way and His Plan. The Plan of God for me incorporates a series of steps from here to Eternity. I navigate them with faith because they are not always visible and clear. The important thing is that I remain committed and continue to obediently follow Jesus. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little until my life, my body, my mind, my spirit, and my soul are fully invested in His Kingdom alone.
Psalm 37:16-19 (NLT) It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly. Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.