WARNING: This post is not a brainless post, and I will not be offended if no one reads the entire thing. Just don't tell me. I'm mostly just trying to solidify things in my mind.
I've been thinking. And I've been thinking about it for the last 3-4 weeks. And what I've been thinking about is this: exactly what is faith and how do I use it? Especially for the benefit of others and not just myself. So I've been searching the Bible for the answer and, though I don't have all of it I have found a few interesting things that have previously missed.
Behold! The Bible gives a definition! "Now faith is the (assurance, substance, confidence) of things hoped for, the (conviction, evidence, assurance) of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 NASB, NKJV, NLT
I hereby insert dictionary definitions of the words in parenthesis.
Assurance: a positive declaration intended to give confidence; freedom from doubt, certainty
Substance: that of which a thing consists; the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality
Confidence: belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing; full trust; reliance; assurance
Conviction: a fixed or firm belief; the state of being convinced
Evidence: ground for belief; an indication or sign; show clearly; manifest
Anyone slog through all that? Here's more. I've highlighted the parts that really stuck out to me.
Romans 4:18-21 "Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping--believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, "That's how many descendants you will have!" And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead--and so was Sarah's womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises." NLT
Matthew 17:20 Jesus heals a demon possesed man whom His disciples had been unable to heal:
""You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."" NLT
Matthew 21:20-22 "And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, "Be removed and cast into the sea," it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."" NKJV
James 1:5-8 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." NKJV
So, what I get from this is that faith is unwavering belief, and if I ask God for anything, if I don't doubt, He will give it to me. Where I get a little confused is in cases like, say, Joni Ericson Tada. I'm sure someone prayed for her without doubting, and yet she's not healed. Obviously God had a plan for her the way she is, and I know He has used her in incredible ways, but still things like that make it hard to keep from asking for things and yet keeping the door ajar. Not doubting that God can do it, cause I know He can, but wondering if He really will. After all, we are told in Romans 8:28 that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." NIV