"He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." -Genesis 28:17
God puts people in your life for a lot of different reasons, but I’ve personally noticed it’s usually either to learn more about Him or to teach about Him. I’ve never really known what to say to someone when faith gets brought up and they tell me that they don’t believe in God. I know we are supposed to take that opportunity to make disciples, but I was never sure how to do that without stepping on toes and shoving my religion and beliefs down someone’s throat. I respect everyone’s opinions, beliefs and non-beliefs and I think my non-believer friends know that or else we probably wouldn’t be friends.
I also always pray that if someone does some day want to learn about God and give Him a chance, that they know they can come to me. Even though I pray that often, I always think “wait, if they actually do come to me one day, what will I even say and how do I explain everything to them? What are the most important parts that I should tell them about first?” So many other worries and concerns were in the back of my head about what I would say because yes, I do love to teach about God and His word, but I’m typically talking to people who are already believers. I feel most comfortable talking about my faith to other believers because I know I’m not shoving it down their throat, I know I’m understood and I know they are always open to learning more.
One of my non-believer friends has come to me a few times to tell me that she doesn’t know if she believes or not and we’ve had in depth conversations about God a few different times. As much as she said she understands at the end of our talks, it never really stuck with her for very long. Last night was different even from the start of the conversation. She was sending in applications for her career job in new places and said that she “hopes by odds that one of them calls me back”. Knowing that faith isn’t a touchy subject between us and she knows I respect her and am not trying to force God into her life, I replied with “It’s so different to me that you hope on odds and I pray to God in situations like these. I can’t imagine myself not having something bigger to believe in and rely on to help me through stuff.” What she said next was so simple, yet so eye opening for me. It was able to show me exactly what I needed to say and how I could relate to her. She said “It's not that I don't believe, I just don't know”. I felt the Holy Spirit talk through me at that point and finally enlighten me on how to explain how and what it means to have a relationship with God. She confirmed that something was different about this conversation and she does want to get serious about trying to develop a relationship with God.
The majority of people that I have talked to that don’t believe in God usually say that they “just don’t know”. Chances are, I’ve had those individuals or similar minded people view my page and maybe read my posts. I would assume that my devotions don’t have that much meaning without actually believing in God. After my conversation last night, I decided I wanted to turn it into a three-part devotion dedicated to any non-believer. I understand that I cannot force someone to hear a message that they aren't ready or open to receive, but I'm not going to underestimate the power of planting a seed.
What does it mean to believe in God?
The actual definition of believe is to accept as true, genuine or real, to feel sure of. It literally means to "just not know", but to trust that something is true and real. Acts 16:31 says, BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. It doesn't say that you better JUST KNOW it, but accept Jesus as true, genuine and real. A good example if you believe in ghosts and paranormal activity is that you don't really 100% know that they're real, but you believe it to be true based off of experiences you've been through or heard about. Another example if you're a sports fan or a gambler is that you don't really know that your team is going to win when you are betting on them, but you believe they will and support and follow them all the way along.
Believing in God can mean different things based on how we use the word believe. One instance is when a doctor says "I believe this prescription will help you" after he has looked at the problems and has come up with a solution. This type of belief stands for conviction. A man of faith believes God exists based off of different reasons like a conviction that can be caused from a personal experience, insight or stories from a witness. Another example would be when a hiker says "I believe the mountain guide when he says its two more hours to the top." This form of belief means trusting someone. The hiker trusts the mountain guide's judgement because he clearly knows how to handle his equipment and is knowledgeable about the way ahead. A man of faith trusts that the messages and stories of the apostles and saints are trustworthy because of their commitment and humility. The third lesson is when a soccer player says "I believe in my team" meaning that he can completely rely on his team. How someone believes in his team is the same way someone can believe in God. We can rely on Him completely which is what creates a relationship with Him. These are three different meanings of belief that can be used as the same meaning for belief in God.
2. Having a relationship with God
When you want to create a relationship with God, the first thing you have to do is be open by having a conversation and invite Him into your heart. Ask God daily for opportunities, experiences and people to be placed in your life to be exposed to Him and to have the eyes to see those things happening. When you start investing in God every day through your relationship, you will start to see Him in your every day life.
In 2016, I bought a navy blue Chevy Cruze. I spend time in that car basically every day and have gotten to know it inside and out pretty well. Ever since I bought the car, I have noticed probably every Chevy Cruze that has passed me by. It's not that there have been more Cruze's on the street since 2016, but I'm now able to recognize and notice them because I was introduced to that specific car and have gotten to learn it and spend time with it very often. An active relationship with God is very similar. He's always been there showing Himself through people, situations and your experiences, but if you're not continuously learning and spending time with Him every day, it will probably pass you by.
Actively investing in your relationship with God means giving Him your all, all of the time. Matthew 16:24 says, If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and come after me. God doesn't just want you Sunday morning at church. He's not just a leftover or an addition to all our other priories. He should be your top priority. Spend your maximum amount of time with God instead of just where He fits in your schedule and you will find Him when you need Him. He wants your everything and when we trust Him, we are made into new creations. When we seek Him with whole hearts, we will find Him. Read your bible more than once a week and you will have more answers. When you truly know God, you are no longer spending time reading a book. You're spending time with a friend. You can't spend your presence in a loving and living God and not be changed. If you don't believe in the impossible, you're not open for a miracle.
3. Faith vs. reasoning
When you listen to your spirit and not your head, you can see and believe things that don't really make sense. Faith is commonly mistaken as a choice between intelligence and using your head or just believing and having blind hope. Without a solid basis for belief, it's easy to find yourself in a depressive and hopeless state which can eventually possibly lead you to find God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." If you take it seriously that God is actually real and the Bible is the Word of God, then something and anything will and can happen. If you do this and you seek God with all of your heart and don't find Him, you can be certain that He's not there. Or you can be assured that He is. If you read your bible and ask God to just do something and wait silently, you will feel your faith growing and then the Holy Spirit will work through you.
Listen for the Holy Spirit to talk to you and guide you. The most important way to recognize this happening is to be familiar with God's Word. The Holy Spirit doesn't talk to you through audible words, but guides us through our own consciences and other quiet subtle ways. Hebrews 11:16 says, "Now without faith, it is impossible to please God." To get to Him and to have a fair shot at confirming our beliefs, faith is required. But not faith based on a whim. God doesn't give us all the evidence, but He gives us enough. He lets us see the world He created. He gives us knowledge of Himself in our hearts. He gives us testimony of others and then He leaves us with a choice. Will you have the small amount of faith that it takes to seek Him with all of your heart to see if what He says is true or not?
Biblically, faith is having confidence in something you haven't experienced with your senses. Biblical faith is not "blind" or the act of "believing without a reason." It's the opposite. Biblical faith is the act of believing in something unseen that we have a good reason. For example, when we believe that God will keep a promise, this establishes faith because we cannot "see" it and yet we have a good reason for it. God has demonstrated that He keeps His promises.
One of the best ways that you can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary is to learn to do every single thing you do for God and with Christ at the center. Raise your kids for God, let your marriage glorify God, let your attitude show God's love. Let Him into every thing you do. God believes in you. He has a hope and a future for you (Jeremiah 29:11). No matter how many times you messed up, God will give you unlimited chances if you just be serious and active in your relationship with Him.
I know this can all be overwhelming, but I challenge you to take the first step and see what happens. If that works, take another step and see what happens, and if that works take another step. Sooner or later these baby steps will get bigger and bigger and you will be running with God full speed and doing things you cannot even imagine.
I need you and I am humbly calling out to you. I'm exhausted from doing things my way, so please help me start doing things Your way. I invite you into my life to be my Lord and to fill the emptiness in me with The Holy Spirit to make me whole. Lord, help me to trust You, love You and to live for You. Please help me to understand your grace, mercy and peace. Thank you, Lord.
The internet is a great tool and resource that you can use to learn. Here are some resources and references that I used:
Most importantly, God is love, so spread a little love today.