th (77)The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5

“God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”, quoted my 5 year old granddaughter, Samantha. Her 3 year old brother copied her with his own personal Stephen translation of a couple of other ideas about where light shows up. My son, David points to a picture on his watch and his 4 year old, son, Davis, quotes another entire verse. He has memorized the passage by connecting it with the picture. He has nearly 15 verses memorized. Faith comes by hearing and speaking the word.

In Luke 17, Jesus tells the disciples, if a brother is committing wrongdoing, rebuke him. I imagine all 12 disciples punched each other in the rib and said whimsically, “I got my eye on you. Be ready for some rebuking.” Then Jesus continues, “if he repents, forgive him.” The disciples give a little sigh, “I guess I can do that, if he really is serious about asking forgiveness.”  Jesus drills down even deeper, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The disciples have nowhere to hide. Jesus directed that last comment to each of them. Knowing their frailty, “Lord increase our faith.”

We tend to think of faith as a noun, but this is incorrect. It is not like possessing a book that you have displayed on a shelf. It is better understood as a verb. Faith is believing and trusting in action. The disciples knew how difficult it would be to forgive every time a person asks to be forgiven, especially repeat offenders. Their forgiving actions would need to align with their declarations of faith. They needed Jesus to help increase their actions of faith.

One way that your faith of believing and trusting in action grows is through reading and hearing of the word of God. Let me tell you some places that it does not grow. Your faith does not expand while watching CNN or FOX reporting of daily events, binge watching TV shows or movies, scrolling Facebook posts, engaging in tweets and retweets, listening to talk radio, staying current on NPR, reading the daily news, watching the nightly news, chatting with friends over facetime, talking with friends about current events, accomplishing “to do’s” off your list, vacationing or going to work. These will keep you busy and your mind occupied, but they do not increase your faith in God.

Faith comes by hearing and reading God’s word. Simple to measure. How much time are you taking to read, meditate, memorize, and contemplate God’s word? I want to invite you to a challenge with me for the month of April, while we are social distancing.  Be able to read the Bible at the end of the month for 1 whole hour at one sitting. Can you do it?

Here is a simple plan. You must use your smartphone or another timer. On April 1, read for 3 minutes. That’s it. You can read more, but you will have met your goal for that day. On April 2, add 2 minutes more to your reading, totalling 5 minutes for the day. Add 2 more minutes each day, and by April 29th you will be reading for 1 hour. I strongly encourage you to read the passages aloud. It will be slower reading, but it incorporates more of your 5 senses and helps you stay focused on what you are reading.

The volume of reading is not the key, it is engaging your thoughts with God while you are reading. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. He will use the readings to increase your acting faith.

Don’t think of the challenge as a burden or a weight of expectation that I have placed upon you. God’s words are life and light. We start in 2 days. I will start  in the book of John.

Oh, by the way, if I have offended you, please forgive me.

Blessings Love y’all