• Jennifer

Getting Stronger | How to Grow in Your Faith

Muscle Building starts with three things: desire, belief, and discipline. You won’t start without desire. You won’t continue without belief. And you won’t see results without discipline. It's the same way with faith, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Three years ago, I started a new journey to get healthy. Having always struggled with my weight, I was well acquainted with workout plans and dieting. But this time was different. Something had switched in my brain. I didn’t want to be skinny for the sake of being skinny. I wanted to be healthy. A long, healthy life was the goal. I wrote about my health journey in my post A Healthier Me: Faith, Dreams, and Starting Small.

When I began, lifting weights was nothing new for me. I’d been exercising since I was a preteen, only now I was a part of a program that was more intentional about muscle gain. Every day I was encouraged to push the weight. With that intentional focus, it wasn’t long before I began to see results. Boy, did I love the results! The thing with building muscle is you have to keep increasing the weight. For years, I had been working out with weights, but I always stayed at the same 5lb weight. The results were minimal. But when I began to steadily increase the weight, pushing my muscles to do more, I started seeing increased definition in my muscles. The heavier the strain on the muscle the more the muscle was built up. It was the resistance that made me strong. It’s the same way with our faith.

How Do You Grow in Your Faith?

I think all of us have struggled with this question to some degree. As new believers, we are told to grow in our relationship with God, but many times no one tells us how that’s done. Often we’re given a checklist: read your Bible, pray, give, love your neighbor, and make sure you go to church. We’re told to check off the list, but don’t be a Pharisee (legalistic). It can be very confusing, even for those of us who have known Jesus for years.

I believe our walks with God are as unique as our personalities. We all start our relationship with Jesus at different places in our lives. I became a Christian in elementary school. I started walking with Him when I could barely read. The journey was slow, but it was a true walk with Jesus all the same. Maybe your story is different. You came to know God as an adult. You’ve not only had to learn Truth, but you’ve had to also unlearn lies. The road is different for all of us, but the purpose is the same- a relationship with Jesus.

And that relationship is grown in various ways:

By Preserving In Trails

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing... Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. - James 1:2-4, 12, ESV Trials (resistance) is not our favorite, but it’s a definite way to grow in our faith. James lays it out clearly. It’s the testing of our faith that produces steadfastness. Our faith grows as it is tested. He says we are to let that work have it’s full effect so that we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (vs. 4).” No, none of us like seasons of testing, but they are the seasons where we grow the most in our relationship with Jesus. Do you know why?

There are a couple of reasons:

1) Because we find Him faithful in those times. Just like in our natural relationships, we are bonded to people who stand by us during difficult times. Have you ever been surprised by someone who chose to care for you when you were walking through a painful season? You were bonded to them because they were there when others weren’t. It is the same way with Jesus. He is near in our pain and we are bonded to Him as we stand in faith. 2) Faith (like muscles) is built under pressure. Three years ago when I started lifting weights I learned the value of incrementally increasing the weight to build muscle. Without increasing weight, there were no results. It was the pressure that defined the muscle. Standing in faith when you feel doubt creeping in makes your faith that much stronger.

By Seeking Jesus First

When we accept God’s invitation to save our souls and to be in a relationship with us, we enter a marriage covenant. Though marriage covenants mean little in our society today, they matter to God. God enters into a relationship with each of us for the long haul. He’s committed to our relationship, and this relationship is personal to us as individuals.

Just as in any relationship, communication is key in our relationship with Jesus. We have to talk with Him. We have to listen to Him. If we’re not communicating, we’re not in a healthy relationship. We can’t be in a relationship with someone we refuse to communicate with.

Now, before you start letting the whispers of guilt and shame speak over you, I have another word to speak over you and that is a word of grace.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39, ESV

Even as Christians, it is in our power to ignore God and to choose others over Him. But as believers in Jesus Christ, nothing can separate from God’s love.

That being said, if we choose to ignore God and choose to chase other things over Him, we miss the greatest relationship of our lives. And when I stand before Jesus at the end of time, I don’t want to be sorry for what I missed with Him while I was on this earth.

I am so utterly desperate for Him. That’s why I pray. That’s why I read the Word. Life is hard, and I bring a lot of mess to the table. But He invites me, “come.” Why would I miss out on that?

The shift happens when we begin to see time with Him, not as a chore, but as a lifeline.

So do the things: read your Bible, pray, be a part of a Christian community, give, and worship. These are the ways you will grow- just keep these things in their proper place.

  • Prayer

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. - Romans 12:12, ESV

  • Bible Reading

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. - James 1:22-25, ESV

  • Community

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:25, ESV

By Believing What You Can’t See

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1, ESV Faith at its core is a belief in what is not seen. Do you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus? Grow in your Faith. For we walk by faith, not by sight. - 2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV As Believers, we have a hope that says what we see is not all there is. Our God is working behind the scenes in ways we can’t understand. He works beyond the struggle in front of us. And he invites us ( commands us) to walk by faith, not by what we see. When we determine to stand on the Truth of God’s word no matter what our circumstances say, God is glorified. Then as He shows Himself strong on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9) our faith grows stronger. This faith walk started when we believed in a Savior we can’t see with our eyes, but who we know is there.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, - 1 Peter 1:8-9, ESV Friends, be encouraged! Walking with Jesus is a journey. You guys may be rocking it or things may be rocky in your relationship with God. My encouragement to you is to keep pursuing. In the end, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without His daily strength.

Where are you in your faith walk? How have you been intentional in growing in your friendship with Jesus?

Verses for Further Study:

2 Peter 3:18, ESV: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. John 8:31-32, ESV: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Hebrews 10:35-36, ESV: Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 1 Peter 1:6-8, ESV: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,