There is something wonderful about genuine faith in God. Something really refreshing. In the first place, true faith is not rooted in self-righteousness. This was the problem of the Pharisees and it is easy enough for us to fall into the kind of trap they were in if we go for religious zeal without a genuine love for people.
True faith in God begins when God reaches down to us with His word. Its the word that gets through to our hearts that counts. Usually we are most receptive when we realise that we are not good enough, and we really need help.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So the person who comes to God with the attitude that they have earned God's favor by their religiosity will probably miss out. This is all to easy to do!
While God does require repentance, the change that God requires first and foremost is the one in which we adopt the attitude of dependent people who need God. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
We need the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to take away our sins. We need the divine exchange that took place at the cross in which our filthiness is exchanged for the robes of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can offer us. That is where everything starts with God.
The first thing to do then is to CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD for help. Whoever does this in faith is going to be saved and delivered by God. See Romans 10.
Hunger for and Meditate on God's Word
The next thing we need is a healthy hunger for God's message. We need to be listening. We need to be hearing. We need to do what it takes to place ourselves in situations where we are likely to hear a true Word from God which can strengthen our souls.
That is one reason why it is important to go to a church where someone actually preaches the message of the Bible. At the same time, you really should find a church where the pastor and/or preachers experience answers to prayer themselves! If its not working for them, your faith is not likely to grow much in the longterm while you look to them as examples and models.
As well as attending a local church, find messages online from people who have demonstrated the kind of faith that gets results. Your faith is more likely to develop when you listen to people who have proven the power of living faith in their own lives.
When you hear a Scripture or a thought that God really uses to impact your heart, take time to meditate on it. By this I mean, fix your attention on that thought or verse, say it to yourself often, and let it work deeply in you. Do this until your emotions are involved. Felt truth is truth that transforms.
If you believe in God, you will believe in prayer. God command us to pray, so it makes sense to do it if we believe in God. We really need to believe that there is someone there who is hearing us when we pray to Him! The Bible says that if we know that we ask according to His will, we can be assured that He hears us and that we have what we asked for – even if the answer is on its way and we can't see the manifestation of it yet.
In the early days of our Christian walk God our Father will often encourage us with marvellous answers to prayer just so we can be assured of His love and reality. Try it out and see.
Sanctification and Holiness
As time goes on, we come to understand more and more what Jesus requires from us individually. A lot of changes are required as our minds are renewed and we come to understand the purposes of God universally and also for our own lives.
At some stage, the sooner the better, dedicate your whole life to God through Jesus Christ. The Bible says to offer your body as a living sacrifice to God – see Romans 12:1. As long as we do this with the attitude that we are going to let God work in us by His Spirit, our faith will grow.
Resist the Devil
Sometimes I wish the Christian life was as easy as developing a few good habits, but the reality is we have an enemy who is out there to mess with us and will do so to the extent he is able. We are going to be tempted to go back into the very things that Jesus saved us from. We must resist this, because if we are overcome by sin, and enslaved in it, our salvation is questionable. I base this statement on Hebrews 10:26ff, 2 Peter 2 and numerous other passages. It is not as though resisting the devil and temptation earns us a place in heaven. Only the blood of Jesus can get us in. But we can forfeit many rewards and even our place in the Kingdom if we never learn to demonstrate loyalty to Jesus Christ under pressure.
One of the real keys to moving in faith is to love others. By which I mean, help others – be it through prayer or through deeds. We should love with our words but that is not enough. Actions demonstrate true love. Jesus took action in showing love to the world. It taxed him and it will tax us – even if it IS the power of the Holy Spirit that we are ministering. Even ministering the things of the Spirit takes a certain investment of time and human energy – things we have in limited supply. As we give of ourselves to others with a motivation of love, it is easier to believe the promises of God. This is because the Bible says that "faith works by love".
Follow the Promptings of the Spirit
More important than anything in this life of faith is our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Somehow we come to know after a while when it is He who is prompting us to take certain actions. Learn to do those things you feel prompted to do as long as they don't go against the Word of God contained in the Scriptures. Of course, major steps with risk involved should be taken only after some serious reflection and ideally some confirmation from the circumstances or others, unless of course we have really advanced to a high level of faith where we KNOW THAT WE KNOW God's voice based on a PROVEN track record.
With that caveat aside, its important to step out with things we believe God is showing us to do. If its not something that could easily hurt anyone, give it a go, and see what happens as you step out on what you believe the Holy Spirit is showing you. It is sometimes only by giving things a go in faith that we learn to know God personally for ourselves.
I hope this has helped you. Please write to me and connect with me via this site for more information or for encouragement in your walk with God.
For more teaching on faith please also check out my teaching on Faith in God.