Monday, August 20, 2012
Everything that you receive from God comes through faith. Jesus told His disciples in John 6:29:
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
This is the work of God, that you believe! That you believe in Jesus; that you believe in what He came to do for us; that you believe what He said; that you believe that the work that He did was ordained by the Father to pay for your sins, and mine, and that through believing we can have all that He died to give us.
Hebrews 11:6 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.
For he who comes to God must BELIEVE......!
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 17:19, 20 that unbelief hindered their ability to minister freedom to a little child that was demonized:
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Jesus could do no mighty works in His own neighborhood of Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people.
Matthew 13:53-58 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? “Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The power to heal was there through Jesus, but healing was hindered through their offense at Him and their unbelief. You must have faith to receive from God.
John the Baptist told his disciples this about Jesus' ministry in John 3:27:
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”
John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
God has a good plan for our lives. It is revealed to us as we exercise our faith to believe that what He has said in His word is true and it is for me, or you, personally. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us and to show us the Father's will through the life that He lived on this earth. It is through faith that we receive the promises of God.
So, how can we have faith to believe when we see things happening around us totally to the opposite of what we are believing for from God?
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Faith comes to us through hearing the WORD of God. How much time are you spending in the Word?
Jesus said in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
John 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.”
God's Word is not just words on the pages of a book. They are spirit and life to us when we partake of them. When we ingest the Word of God into our spirits, the Holy Spirit brings life within us from those words. Faith arises within a person's heart as the Word of God is read, believed and spoken. Then the faith action comes from what that person is believing in their heart. The more you read and meditate on the Word of God the more faith will arise in your heart.
If you don't have faith to believe then when a trial comes or you have a faith challenge you will have fear because fear fills the heart when faith is absent.
Matthew 8:23-26 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
They had fear because of having “little faith”. Those two words “little faith” in the Greek is the word oligopistos and Strong's concordance #3640 says it means “small” “faith” or a faith that lacks confidence or trust too little. Another way to term it is “under-developed” faith.
Faith is like a muscle that grows with use. When you hear the Word of God that builds your faith, then you must act on it for it to be strengthened. It must grow. When Jesus' disciples asked Him to increase their faith in Luke 17:5 this is what Jesus said to them:
Luke 17:6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
Jesus said “you don't need more faith, you just need to use what you have. The size of your faith isn't as important as the action of your faith.” Using your faith will increase it's size. The more you exercise faith to believe God for what you need in the little things, the more faith you will have when you come to a mountain that needs removing from your life.
Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Do you see the correlation here between believing in your heart and speaking that faith out to see the results that you desire? The foundation of your faith is in God; believing that His promises are for you and He will give you those things that He has promised. Then that belief in your heart rises up with faith to speak forth what is needed to happen in your life. You speak to the mountain, not about the mountain. Don't talk about how big your mountain is, speak to it; tell it to go in the name of Jesus! He said that when you believe and don't doubt in your heart you will have whatever you say! So when you pray, believe that you will receive what you have asked of Him, and you will have them. Get to know God's word so you can know how to pray effectively and then stand on your foundation of faith in God and boldly speak to your mountain!
Jesus showed His disciples how to do this in Matthew 21:18, 19: Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.
Matthew 21:18-22 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Jesus showed us how to exercise our faith and see the things that we need come into manifestation. He demonstrated how it was done so we could know that if we pattern our lives after His we will have the same success.
John 14:12-14 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
So, I ask you this morning, “Are you doing the works that Jesus did?” Are you using your faith to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you?
Paul believed it and acted on it! He said in 2 Corinthians 4:11-13:
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak.
Paul lived His life patterned after the life of Jesus. He knew that he would have faith challenges and times of tribulation because the devil always fights a believer in Christ Jesus. But he overcame those things through the spirit of faith that he had. That spirit of faith believes and then speaks!
This morning, I challenge you to do a word study on faith. Look at how many times Jesus tells someone, “your faith has made you whole”, or what other Biblical characters say about faith. Look at the life of Abraham and see how faith took him to receiving what God had promised him. There is so much in God's Word on the subject of faith and how it affects the life of a believer. If you desire to be strong in faith, then get into the Word and find out what it says to you about living a life of faith!
Jesus said in Mark 9:23: Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Father, I thank You for the measure of faith that You have placed within each one of us. Father, I pray this morning that You will open our eyes to see how faith affects our lives, both to the positive and the negative, because negative faith is fear that the devil is bigger than You and can hurt us more than you can help us, but positive faith says that God is bigger than anything the devil can throw at me and I believe that what God has said is mine today so I will speak it out and watch it happen! I thank You, Father, for standing behind my faith. You are the foundation for what I believe and I believe that what You have said is true and will work in my life. I pray for my friends this morning that You will make this real to them. Show them how You want them to live and that their faith will work for them also! Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer for I truly do believe that I receive when I pray! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Hebrews 11:2 AMP For by [faith – trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report.
We can look at the lives of the men and women of old and see how they walked by faith and this scripture says that their tests turned into testimonies and they obtained a good report through it all! Wow, how I would love to have it said of me that I had a divine testimony borne out of my walk of faith and obtained a good report through it! I desire to please the Lord so my choice is to be a person of faith! How about you!
We can get an idea how the people of old walked by faith in looking at the ones identified in Hebrews chapter 11. Here's how a few of the verses start in talking about these folks:
Hebrews 11:4 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel.....
Hebrews 11:5 Because of faith Enoch.....
Hebrews 11:7 [Prompted] by faith Noah,.....
Hebrews 11:8 [Urged on] by faith Abraham,....
Hebrews 11:9 [Prompted] by faith he dwelt.....
Hebrews 11:11 Because of faith also Sarah.....
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham,....
Hebrews 11:20 [With eyes of] faith Isaac,....
Hebrews 11:21 [Prompted] by faith Jacob,
Hebrews 11:22 [Actuated] by faith Joseph,....
Hebrews 11:23 [Prompted] by faith Moses,....
Hebrews 11:27 [Motivated by faith he left......
Hebrews 11:28 By faith (simple trust and confidence in God)....
Hebrews 11:29 [Urged on] by faith the people crossed......
Hebrews 11:30 Because of faith the walls......
Hebrews 11:31 [Prompted] by faith Rahab....
Hebrews 11:33 Who by [the help of] faith....
Do you see the correlation here that faith had in relation to their lives? All of them were moved by their faith. Faith is not a passive activity. Faith motivates and moves people to act. Faith is an action!
A couple of years ago at Christmas time when we were going to visit my son and his family that we were one our way to his house when I received a call from him asking me when we were expecting to arrive. It seems as though my little granddaughter had taken her grandma at her word when I said I would be there to see her because she was standing at the window looking out expecting me to arrive at any minute. My son said she had been standing there for quite some time in anticipation of seeing her Grandma! That's faith in action! She believed what her grandma had said and so she placed her trust in me that I would keep my word and then she expectantly watched to see us pull into the driveway! Likewise, these folks of old did not wait to see God's promises, but they received them as if they were already in manifestation.
Hebrews 11:13 These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having receive the tangible fulfillment of [God's] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.
Please notice that they were controlled and sustained by their faith! They didn't receive everything in manifestation that they were believing God for, but we know that they did receive some of those things, because Abraham and Sarah received the promise of Isaac. They didn't stop believing when they didn't receive the promise because they died still believing, still looking at the promise as if it were already in manifestation and confessing that they were just here temporarily, but willing to walk by faith in order to live a life pleasing to God. They didn't allow their temporary citizenship to affect their walk of faith and they didn't look back thinking about how good it was in the “old days” when they were in Egypt under bondage.
Hebrews 11:15 If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant opportunity to return to it.
You know if you constantly think about the way things used to be, you will have every opportunity to go backwards! Faith moves forward! Faith sees the good out ahead and embraces it as if it were already here. Faith doesn't talk about the problem, it talks about the solution. You can't walk a straight line forward if you are constantly looking behind you! Faith says “I'll let the past be the past because God's got a great future ahead for me”!
Hebrews 11:16 But the truth is that they were yearning for and aspiring to a better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that reason God is not ashamed to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob], for He has prepared a city for them.
Are you yearning for the promises of God to be manifest in your life? Or are you just halfheartedly believing that God will do the miraculous in you and for you? Do you aspire to a better life or are you satisfied with the way things are? These people didn't take God's word lightly; they believed Him; they trusted Him wholeheartedly and they followed Him to that better land! They lived controlled and sustained by faith!
James 2:17 So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).
Faith by itself, if it doesn't have action of obedience to back it up is dead! Faith and action, or works, go together like a hand inside of a glove.
James 2:21, 22 Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac? You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works.
Abraham had to believe and trust God that He was able to bring Isaac back to life from the dead if he was obedient to offer him as a sacrifice to God. He trusted God and his faith moved him to obedience whereby God was pleased. God didn't intend for him to sacrifice Isaac, but his faith was being tested to see if it was strong and if he would be obedient to what God was asking him to do.
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham,when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was still in progress], had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God's] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead.
Sometimes we won't understand why God wants us to do something a certain way. Just like Abraham didn't understand why God asked him to sacrifice his son. But he knew that God had promised to bring his descendants through Isaac and what God promises to do He fulfills! That faith in God moved Abraham to obey Him! He even saw Isaac already dead; it was that clear to him that God would fulfill His promise even if He had to raise Isaac from the dead. His faith enabled him to obey!
James 1:3 Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
Your faith is strengthened so you can go further with God through the endurance and patience of it's testing. These people all endured trials to the greatest magnitude so their faith would be strengthened to sustain and control them until they could receive the promises of God. Some of them died still believing; still acting as if their promise was already in manifestation. But all of them pleased God with their faith! They all received a divine testimony and a good report!
Father, I thank You for being faithful to fulfill Your promises to Your people. May we be people of faith, believing You and acting on Your promises before we actually see them. Father, I pray for my friends, that You would encourage them and show them the promises that You have for them. Give them a vision, Lord, of what lies ahead of them; the good that You desire for them to have. Show them how to walk by faith, expecting to receive all that You have for them. Father, I pray that they may be strengthened by Your Spirit within so that they can endure the testing when it comes. May their faith be proven strong and steadfast, enduring to the end! Thank You, Father, for what You are doing in each one of us. May we please You by walking by faith each day of our lives! Thank You, Jesus, for lighting our way! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Hebrews 11 – the Hall of Faith, is a favorite chapter of mine. I guess I love it so much because we are told that we “walk by faith, not by sight”. If I am going to walk in a certain way then I need to study that path to see exactly what it entails.
So in looking at the Hebrews 11 chapter I like to read it in the Amplified Bible. It gives a more expanded understanding to what it means to “walk” by faith.
Hebrews 11:1 AMP: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.]
The first thing I noticed in this first verse of Chapter 11 is that faith is in the NOW; it is not a past remembrance of what took place yesterday or wishful thinking of what might happen tomorrow. It is in the NOW; right this very minute faith is to be in operation in my life.
Next, I see that FAITH is an assurance of things that I hope for; it is like a title deed for a piece of property. After working in the mortgage lending industry for years I understand what it means when you have a “title deed” to a piece of property. It means it is yours; it belongs to you and unless someone files a mortgage against it you can take it to the bank as being proof of ownership. If a mortgage is filed against it the mortgage company takes first place and will get their money before you get yours when it is sold. We can't see faith, but we can see the evidence of it operating in our lives. It is as real as if you already had in your hand that which you have hoped for, although, it has not yet been manifested to the senses. Or, it has not already come into physical appearance.
So, let's think about the biblical definition of hope; because faith operates as if what we've “hoped” for is already in existence.
Hope – Greek word elpis – Strong's #1680 – means hope, not in the sense of an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking without any foundation, but in the sense of confident expectation based on solid certainty. Biblical hope rests on God's promises.
Hope is not wishful thinking without a basis or foundation, but is a confident expectation of God's promises. So faith looks at God's promises as if they were already in existence; that they are already ours and in reality. If faith sees as reality the promises of God, then we must have a foundation of the promises of God before we can exercise our faith to receive them. If you don't know what God promises you in His word then you can't have biblical faith because you have no basis on which to ground your faith.
Wow, that says a lot! I have to know God's word before I can exercise my faith to receive His promises. Whew, that means the more I know His word the more faith I can have and the easier it becomes to receive His promises!
According to Paul E. Billheimer in “Destined To Overcome” a working definition of faith is the acceptance of a fact which already exists but which has not yet been manifested to the senses.
Now God's word says we have all been given a measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, a God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
So each one of us has a measure of faith. You exercise faith every time to sit in a chair. You look at the chair and place your trust in it's ability to hold you up, so you sit down in it. The foundation that your faith is grounded on is the chair's strength and dependability in holding the weight that you place on it. If the chair looks as if it won't hold you up then, most likely, you will not sit down in it. But for the most part, you exercise your faith by an action; sitting down. You don't say, well, I hope this chair will hold me up; or, I don't think this chair is going to hold my weight, but I'll sit in it anyway. No, you say to yourself, this chair is designed for a person to sit in it and I believe when I sit down it will hold me up, so you sit down in it. Likewise, faith looks at the promise of God and says, I believe that promise is for me so I receive it as if it already is a reality in my life. Faith is an action; not a mental thought or something that we do in the future. Faith does it now!
The Amplified Bible gives this definition of faith in Hebrews 13:7:
….faith (their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness).
This verse of Scripture lists faith as:
the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things;
that He is the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ;
and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.
Here it says that the hope or foundation for faith is God and His provision and faithfulness. They then act on that foundation by leaning their entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. Faith is the vehicle that brings the promises of God into our lives.
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.
God used faith to frame or put in order the world. He brought the world into order through His faith, by speaking it into existence. He looked out into the darkness and said “Let there be light and there was light”. He didn't say, “look how dark it is out there”, or “I wonder if this will work”. No, He spoke to the darkness and called light into existence. Faith speaks the promises of God into existence!
I realize that this is a pretty in-depth subject so I'm going to just include a couple more scriptures in this lesson. We'll address some other features of faith in later blogs.
Hebrews 11:6: AMP: But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Without leaning your entire personality on God and His promises it is impossible to please Him; to be satisfactory to Him. For it is necessary that whoever comes to God must believe or exercise their faith in knowing that God exists; that He is who He says He is and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him.
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through your faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but is the gift of God.
Your faith is what brings the grace of God into your life. This scripture gives us one of the definitions of God's grace—unmerited favor. His unmerited favor made salvation available to you and your faith is what brings it into manifestation in your life. So we are saved by grace through faith! Faith, again, is the vehicle that brings the promise of God into manifestation.
Faith is now!
Faith is the reality of what we have hoped for, or the promises of God.
Faith sees the promises of God as already in existence in our lives.
Faith is given to every person.
Faith believes that God is who He says He is.
Faith believes that God is the rewarder and bestower of salvation.
Faith rests in God's faithfulness to reward those who diligently seek Him.
Faith leans totally on God's power, wisdom and goodness.
Faith is the vehicle that brings God's promises into our lives.
Faith is not just mental assent, but it speaks.
Faith pleases God!
Wow, this is a lot to chew on this morning! I pray that you will do your own search and study on the subject of faith as we explore it a little more in later blogs.
Father, I thank You for the measure of faith that you have placed in each one of us. I pray that we might develop our faith so we can walk a life pleasing to You. Father, I pray for my friends who may be confused about this subject. I pray that You will open the eyes of their understanding that they might see the importance of having faith and exercising their faith in You and Your promises. I ask You, Lord, to give them eyes that see and ears to hear what Your Spirit is saying to them about faith. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer as I believe I receive when I pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
The rain and the floods come to all of us, both the saved and the unsaved. Jesus gives an illustration here of two people, both encountering rain and floods, but one stood and one fell. He is using this illustration to show us the importance of the foundation we have in our lives. One house was built on sand and when the flood came, it fell and great was it's fall! The other house was built on hearing and doing God's word. When the floods came to that house, it stood because it had a firm foundation!
Folks, the time to win over a storm is not when it comes but before it happens, in the preparation for it! The promises that God gives us in His word are to help us win the battles of life. He has given us the equipment that we need for victory, but many times we are not prepared for the battle when it comes. Hearing and doing the word of God during the good times will strengthen you for the difficult days ahead. If you are not able to trust God for provision for the little things you will not be able to believe that He will give you what you need when the storm comes.
If you want to have the right words come out of your heart when you are squeezed then you must put the right words in your heart in preparation for the times of pressure. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3:
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
How does a soldier prepare for battle? He first makes sure he has the proper dress and equipment. The armor of God gives us the proper dress. We go into battle as we are suited up for it!
Ephesians 6:10, 11 Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Our strength for the battle comes not from our own abilities, but from the Lord. He is the One who enables us to win. But we have a part to play in it. He provides the suit of armor, but we have to put it on. He gives us the weapons to use, but we have to be the ones to use them. His word will equip us to win, but we must be the ones to put it into our heart and act on it.
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
What are you holding fast to? What anchor are you using to anchor yourself in the storms of life? Paul told Timothy to hold fast to a pattern that he had seen and heard in him. Paul preached the full gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing left out, without compromise; the truth in it's fullness. That is a pattern for us to follow. What ministers are you listening to? Are they teaching you the full gospel of Jesus Christ or are they giving only an inspirational message that makes you feel good at the moment? Jesus said the anchor or firm foundation that you would need is hearing and doing His word. That takes a day by day devotion to the word of God, putting it into your heart and obeying what it says. The victory for battle is won before you ever go into battle.
2 Timothy 4:3-5 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul told Timothy that the time is coming when people will hop from one teacher to the next, looking for someone who will tickle their ears, or tell them what they want to hear. But the truth is what counts. Beware that you are not lulled away through fables or simply motivational speakers. Keep your focus on what is right and true and fulfill what God has called you to do. Live your life by the truth regardless of what is going on around you and you will be prepared to win in the stormy times.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Man or woman of God, child of God, you must rely on the word of God! You must use the Word as your anchor! It is able to make you wise, to show you the right way to live, to give you the equipment you need to complete you, to make you ready to win and to give you what you need to pass on to others so they can live a successful life as well. It is as you search out the Scriptures for the truth that you need in your life to give you the victory that you will be strengthened for the battle. Faith will arise in your heart as you learn the word and live it! Jesus prepared for the battle of the cross through prayer, before He went to Calvary.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus was saying here to watch, keep awake, be spiritually alert and pray. Your spirit knows what is needed to win the battle, but your flesh will want to cave in.
The way to prepare for the battle of sickness is before it hits. Proper nourishment, exercise and sleep patterns help keep the physical man prepared to win the battle against sickness and disease. The spirit man needs the nourishment of the word of God regarding healing and physical wholeness.
The way to prepare for marriage issues is to study the word and apply it before you're on the rocky road. Get the word of God into your heart about how He expects a husband and wife to respond to each other and put into practice the unconditional love and acceptance that is required to nurture love and respect. Then when the battle comes your marriage will be solid enough to endure the storm.
When fear comes against you, concentrate on the scriptures that will build faith. Faith counteracts fear. You can't be in faith and fear at the same time. Look at people in the Word that have overcome great obstacles and pattern your life after them. If you have godly leadership in your life, watch them and pattern your lives after theirs. Make sure to remember that they are simply human, like you, and are subject to moral and ethical failures. But as they obey God and walk by faith, allow them to lead you in the way you should go as well.
Hebrews 13:7-9 AMP Remember your leaders and superiors in authority [for it was they] who brought to you the Word of God. Observe attentively and consider their manner of living (the outcome of their well-spent lives) and imitate their faith (their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness). Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages). Do not be carried away by different and varied and alien teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God's favor and spiritual blessing) and not [to be devoted to] foods [rules of diet and ritualistic meals], which bring no [spiritual] benefit or profit to those who observe them.
Notice that there are some things that you are to look for in leaders before you follow them:
They bring you the Word of God; not a watered down version, but the Word that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
They are men and women of integrity, living their lives as well-spent, productive in their Christian walk.
They are people of faith, living out their belief in God and leaning their whole personality on him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.
They teach the truth, not a flaky, legalistic rules-based teaching, but one that is based on the Word of God that teaches grace and relationship with the Lord, instead of simply rule keeping, which doesn't profit you spiritually, but only puts you into bondage to a performance based lifestyle.
All of these different approaches to life will place you on a solid foundation and prepare you to weather the storms of life with strength. Depend on the Lord to lead you and guide you in the way you should go, not relying on your own understanding but always acknowledging Him in all that you do. He will direct you and enable you to win! Put the word into your heart and then when the time comes that you need it the Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance so you can act on it!
The one thing that Jesus told Peter about the storm that was about to come into his life in Luke 22:31, 32 was that even though Satan had asked to sift Peter as wheat through the storm, that Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would not fail. And then he told him that after he had endured the storm and come back to Him, that he should strengthen his brethren. The storm is designed to get you to give up your faith; to suffer defeat and to pull you away from the Lord. But after every test comes a testimony! Through every mess comes a message. You, after you have stood firm through the storm, will have something to share with others! God does not waste your sorrows and trials.
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Through the difficulties that I have endured in life has come the ability to comfort those who are suffering those same things. God comforts us so we can comfort and help others. He brings us out of bondage to the storms of life so we can encourage those who might be going through a storm.
This song has meant so much to me because it speaks of how God prepares us to help those around us who may be suffering as we have suffered. He takes our pain and turns it into something of meaning, of purpose, so we do not feel as if we suffered for nothing.
Father, I pray for those who may be going through the storm right now. I ask You, Lord, to give them the scriptures that they need to pray and to stand firmly upon until they come out of the storm victorious. For those who may be experiencing peaceful times right now, I pray that You would impress upon them the need to prepare for the storms that may come. Help us all to stand on Your word, to put it deeply into our hearts so it will take root and grow and prepare within us that firm foundation that we need to build our lives upon. Help us to not just be hearers of the word but doers also, that we might exhibit the strength that comes through a foundation built on You, on Your word and by Your Spirit. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer offered up in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Matthew 15:17-20 “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. “There are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Orthodox Judaism had many rules and regulations that people were to follow to be acceptable according to the Law. One of these was ritual hand washing. It dated back to Exodus 30:17-21 where God instructed Moses to put a laver in the Tabernacle of meeting for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle or when they would come near the altar to minister. When the Temple was destroyed, the table in a home came to represent the Temple alter. The bread placed on it symbolized the offerings that were once brought to the Priests. The Sages, who believed that the Temple and the Priesthood would be restored, did not want the practice of washing hands before handling an offering or performing a ritual to be forgotten, and so washing the hands before a meal was strictly enforced. At mealtime there were two ritual washings that were done; one before the meal known as “first waters” and one after the meal known as “last waters”. The scribes and Pharisees expected all Jews to adhere to the Law. When Jesus' disciples didn't wash their hands they questioned Jesus as to why. Jesus' response to the Pharisees and scribes was that it wasn't what entered the mouth that defiled a person, but it was what was in their hearts that came out that defiled them. The Pharisees and scribes placed more importance on the performance of the ritual of God's Laws than the heart relationship to God. They were always trying to force people into ritualistic ways of keeping the Law so they could appear to be religious. This was just another way to try to prove that Jesus wasn't who He said He was, the Son of God because He didn't adhere to the Law.
What Jesus was saying to them was that the attitudes of the heart when acted upon reveal where a person is spiritually. What is in abundance in the heart will come out through the actions of the person and when it is something bad that is what identifies where the person is; whether spiritual or carnal.
The Greek word for “thoughts” in that verse means inward reasonings, consideration and deliberation, turning thoughts over in the mind. You see, the things that defile a person such as murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies all start with the thoughts. It is as those thoughts are mulled over in the mind, reasoned out as the thing to do, considered and deliberated on that they then become actions. People usually don't just get up one morning and decide to go out and commit a murder, or some sexual act, or theft, or a false witness against someone, or a blasphemy against the Lord. They usually fantasize about them, justifying them in their minds before they actually commit them. It is as they grow in the mind, or the heart, that they eventually carry out what they've been thinking about.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 that it is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” As things get bigger in the heart the mouth will speak them out and then the body follows with the action.
If the action of what is in abundance in the heart and spoken out the mouth can be viewed in the negative, it also can have a positive effect.
Yesterday we talked about abiding in the word and knowing the truth and being set free by that truth. If we put the word of God into our hearts in abundance then that is what will come out our mouths. It is as the word is developed in the heart and spoken out the mouth that the physical man will follow through in acting. The word of God brings freedom when mulled over in the mind, spoken of and acted on.
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
God told Joshua to not let the word of God depart from his mouth. In other words, Joshua, don't stop talking about God's word. Meditate on it day and night and do what it says. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Meditate – Hebrew word hagah – Strong's #1897 – means to reflect; to moan, to mutter; to ponder; to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English “meditation,” which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.
So, when we think of meditating on something, we are thinking about it, pondering over it and using our mind only in reflecting on it. But the Hebrew thought for meditation includes all of that plus speaking it out and repeating it over and over. Seeing, thinking and speaking the word would be the Hebrew thought for meditation. It is as you meditate on God's word, thinking of it, reflecting on it's meaning, and repeating it over and over that faith arises within your heart to believe what God has said in that particular portion of Scripture. This is the positive side of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 15:17-20. The evil thoughts in the person's heart when meditated upon brought out the actions that defiled the person, but when the good thoughts of God's word are meditated upon and acted upon the good that is within that Word becomes a reality for the positive in that person's life.
James says this about the word in James 1:21, 22:
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
When you put away from you the filthiness and wickedness that defiles you and instead take into your hearts the word of God, it will bring salvation to your souls. The negative is then turned into a positive in your life and you become a doer of what you have heard instead of just a hearer. James encourages us to act on the word of God that we have heard. It strengthens your inner man!
Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
When our focus is on the word of God and we take the time to deposit it into our hearts, that word becomes life and health to our flesh.
The Hebrew word for “health” there is “marpe” and it means restoration of health, remedy, cure, medicine, tranquility, deliverance, and refreshing. The Word of God when meditated upon, spoken out of the mouth and acted upon brings health to your physical man. You want to get well from sickness and disease that has attacked your body? Then start taking the Word of God just like you would a prescription medication. Deposit into your heart the scriptures that speak of healing and wholeness, speak them out your mouth and then walk out your healing. Begin to see yourself well, speak the solution instead of the problem and act like a healed person. As you meditate on the scriptures you will find faith rising up within you and the word of God will become more real to you. When it becomes real in your heart you will begin to speak what the word says instead of what your symptoms are or what your doctor's report says. I'm not saying that you deny the illness; but the diagnosis takes a back seat to what the word of God says. I'm not advising you to quit taking your medication, but instead begin to pray over it declaring that it will do what it is designed to do in making you well and that God's word says you are the healed of the Lord. Your focus changes from seeing how big the problem is to seeing how big your God is.
This same principle applies to whatever need you have. If it is financial lack you begin to deposit within your heart the scriptures on God's provision for your finances. Dwell or meditate on them, speak them, and then act on them, making good financial decisions and watch your finances change. God is for you, not against you. He brings healing and wholeness into people's finances all the time. Word with Him to bring healing to the area of your life where it is needed.
God's word will work for you if you will work with it! There are scriptures to meet every need that you will ever have.
Father, I thank You for Your word! I pray today that You will show my friends the word of God that they need to meet the need in their lives. Father, You have equipped us for success through Your word. May we take it like a prescription medication so it will have the effect of healing in our lives. Thank You, for revealing Your word to us so we can be set free. May we abide in it until it becomes the life that we need right now to meet our needs. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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