Throughout the Bible the issue of belief is dealt with clearly and underscored from beginning to end.

The Power of Believing Rightly

by Fia Curley
1/9/20 Christian Living

Snow flurries are falling along with the temperature, and a simple errand has turned into a quest. Thirty-Fourth Street is usually packed with people, but on this particular evening the normal stream of people seems frozen to a glacial pace as many stop to lift their smartphones in the air and take numerous photos.

In New York City there always seems to be people documenting something no more than five feet away. Whether it’s walls of graffiti, platters of food, abstract reflections in windows, or influencers contorting their bodies in corners, there’s usually a smartphone recording a moment—and whether spontaneous or crafted can be hard to tell.

But on this particular evening, the photo-induced bottleneck along the sidewalk is caused by the shockingly bright lights adorning the international architecture of a flagship store. There’s only one word, but it’s enough to cause the masses to stop along Thirty-Fourth Street and take notice. In cursive script the lights spell out a message for those passing by who are not absorbed in the normal flow of life. It’s only one word, but it’s packed with meaning. Suspended several stories above ground is one simple message: Believe.

It’s appropriate. Even in a place where many have replaced “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” if they give any greeting at all, the bright lights still pinpoint a fundamental element of Christmas—the key is to believe. Not only is this integral to the holiday that celebrates the birth of the Son of God in a human body—a sign of fulfillment of promises—but it is the starting point of relationship with God.

Throughout the Bible the issue of belief is dealt with clearly and underscored from beginning to end.

Who has believed what he has heard from us? (Isaiah 53:1 ESV)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1 ESV)

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5)

It’s a topic that Jesus dealt with in His interactions with the disciples. In a climatic moment of revelation and truth, Jesus questions His disciples about the prevailing narrative surrounding His ministry.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13)

The disciples go down the list of inaccurate responses. But Jesus hones in on the truth that needs to be understood to those who are closest to Him.

“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15, emphasis added)

During the Christmas season it’s common to reflect on Jesus as a baby, covered in human flesh, weak and dependent on His human parents. This is a story we love, one that prompts gratitude for the selflessness of our God to give a tangible sign of His faithfulness and His plan by offering His Son.

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:28–32 NIV)

But as December winds down and decorations are packed away, the push toward the new year is evident. In the flurry of New Year’s activities, the question remains: “Who do you say that I am?”

What do you believe about I Am? Before a decade of unknowns unfolds before us, we must know the answer.

Yes, Jesus did come to earth as a baby, but He grew into a young man. He lived a sinless life and sacrificed Himself in His 30s, only to be raised to life again and completely dismantle the hold of sin and death on humanity and advance the kingdom of God on the earth. This is our foundation. This is what we believe.

What we believe has the ability to lead us to varying places and decisions that can have permanent and lasting effects. However, the interesting thing about belief, though, is that we respond to what we believe to be true even if our beliefs are inaccurate.

For those of us who live in a post-cross era, the belief that God really is who He’s said He is proves critical to how we respond to Him, His Word, opportunities, and others.

If we see Him as just a baby, we witness His humility but can disassociate Him from His wisdom. If we view Him only as the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of time, we see His forethought and courage but can miss His power. If we see Him as just the King, we can revel in His reign but omit His compassion. And if we see Him as only a friend, we may enjoy His encouragement but neglect His holy correction.

God has given us His Word so that we may know Him and truly fellowship with the I Am that I Am, who encompasses more than we can imagine and yet desires to be so near. To hold our God at a distance is the same flaw that fractured the Israelites’ foundation with the God who chose them. Yes, they complained during the 11-day journey that they turned into a 40-year trek. Yes, they doubted God’s power and His plan. Yes, they desired to seek a god of their own creation and return to a place of bondage. But all this resulted from a fundamental belief about their God, the one they didn’t know.

You complained in your tents, and said, “Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”

Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day. (Deuteronomy 1:27, 29–33)

The Israelites’ perspective stands in stark contrast to what the Lord declared about His nature:

The Lord . . . proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. . . .”

And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (Exodus 34:6–7, 10–11)

The prevailing inaccurate belief about God and His character cost the Israelites time and hindered their opportunity to see the miracle the Lord wanted to perform on their behalf. Standing on the precipice of victory, they cowered in fear when comparing their strength to that of the current inhabitants of the land God had promised to Abraham’s descendants.

In the New Testament this same subject is illustrated in a parable about a man who went on a trip and entrusted his servants to invest what he left them to manage.

Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.” (Matthew 25:24–25)

It’s not uncommon for the enemy to tempt us with feelings of fear or uncertainty during life moments of great change. Ever the opportunist, he always seems ready to stoke the flame of uncertainty, ready to lead us into fear so we avoid the God-given opportunities he inaccurately paints as risks to be avoided.

The management job? It’s a lot more than what you’re used to doing and requires more experience than what you have.

Moving now? That’s just unreasonable and irresponsible.

Writing the book or starting the business? Well, that would just take away from your valuable time that you can spend on other things.

Going into full-time ministry? Well, that’s just too risky.

The reasons may sound good, but when our hesitation is linked to a flawed view of God not being with us (although He’s still Emmanuel) or not being enough (although He’s still the all-sufficient One) or not leading us (even though He’s still our Good Shepherd), then more than likely the enemy is at work, trying to hinder us and pervert our view of the Lord.

The enemy is out to steal our destinies, kill our hopes, and destroy our confidence in God. He knows that the Lord was serious about the good plans He has crafted for us. And although many of the details of what’s to come remain a mystery to us, we can trust the words of the One who is leading us. He also faced challenging transitions believing that His Father would prevail.

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

The one who is faithful and true has a variety of ways of causing His good plans to come to pass. With His own life He guaranteed true success for those who would believe and put their faith in Him. As we remember who it is we are in covenant with—in all of His facets—we can confidently move forward into the unknown with great expectations.

We have been granted unlimited access. We walk with the one who is both Savior and Redeemer. He is committed to lead us through every year and every season of life. And He does so, not begrudgingly but with great enjoyment and a constant display of the fruit of the Spirit.

He is the one who leads us beside those still waters. He restores our souls. And when the unexpected moments of life move toward us, He lifts our heads and strengthens us. This One who is gracious steadies the heart and reminds us again that He is, and always will be, good. We want those good things He has for us, but He wants them even more. He desires to see His promises fulfilled in our lives. He desires that our lives bring glory to the Father; that we can be like trees planted beside rivers of water, whose leaves do not wither.

Like He has done with the Israelites, God desires that we know Him and trust Him and step into the things He prepared for us long ago. He has the promised land prepared for us, not as a solo mission that we take in our own strength but as a journey we take with Him guiding and leading us into greater intimacy.

Those things we have prayed for, those secret things that we’ve only been able to share with Him, He desires to perform His good work and manifest the power of His word before a watching world. What He has done before He is ready to do again. He desires to be known by His children.

As we stand on the verge of a new year and a new decade, we can reflect on the places we’ve been, the paths we have traveled, and thank the Lord for how He has led us and shown His kindness and power in the midst of chaos. We can also build ourselves up on our most holy faith, having eyes to see that God’s goodness and mercy are not just a thing of past seasons.

Our God takes us from glory to glory. Even when we’re faced with hills, valleys, or dry areas that feel like long stretches of flat terrain, we can be reminded that our hope is not in the events of the upcoming year or decade but in the God who knows, and is prepared, for the unknown. Our faith is in a Father whose strength is made perfect in our weakness, in our Creator who makes the impossible possible, in our King of kings who lived in our weakness and overcame every obstacle (so that we would be more than overcomers), and in our Helper who has every answer for the every question we have yet to even formulate. He is more than we ever knew we needed. And it is in Him we believe.

Where do you need more faith in God’s goodness?

Celebrate 2020 with Best of Onething, the latest release from Forerunner Music. Featuring 31 songs that touched a generation and helped shape the prayer movement, Best of Onething will have you worshiping for days (and years) to come. Learn more >>

Fia Curley


    Fia Curley served on the NightWatch at IHOPKC for many years, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. Currently attending college in New York, she enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.

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