Wednesday, August 22, 2012
What do we do when our faith is challenged?
1 Timothy 1:18-19 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.
Faith challenges come to all of us. There is no one exempt from the temptation to suffer shipwreck when we come up against a storm in life. We all encounter battles, are taken through warfare where our faith is challenged and we are presented with the opportunity to give up or stand up and fight. Paul told Timothy to wage the good warfare, according to the prophecies previously made concerning him. God gives us all promises that are personal prophecies for our lives, words that He speaks so clearly to our hearts and it is those promises that cause us to push forward to experience the good things that He has in store for us. But sometimes we run into major roadblocks and our faith is challenged.
A few years ago I experienced a major faith challenge and through it the Lord gave me a message entitled “Don't allow the disappointments of Life to Shipwreck Your Faith.” These two verses in 1 Timothy were the ones that He spoke to my heart about the challenge that I was experiencing. Here is my story:
As a single person my heart's desire was to have a godly mate; one that would walk through life with me as we served the Lord together. It was my desire to have a marriage that would glorify God and be an example to those around me of what marriage should be. So, I began seeking the Lord for His will in this situation and as I studied His word and prayed for His direction it became evident that God's will was for me to experience this marriage, but that I would receive it by faith as I believed Him to provide just the right person as my mate. After several years of believing God for this godly mate He brought a special man into my life. Larry lived 90 miles from me in a large city. We began our courtship which soon blossomed into more than a friendship. It was at that time that I began seeking the Lord more diligently about closing the gap of the miles between us. I discerned His directions in moving to the City where I would live closer to Larry, so I prayed about obtaining a new job in order to move. He quickly provided the job that I needed, so I resigned my position with a tenure of over 10 years and excitedly pursued my new career. A temporary home was located and mine was put on the market for sale. Everything fell into place just as I had heard from the Lord in my prayer times. I had the green light from the Lord and was excited to be entering a new chapter in my life. I moved, started my new job and accepted Larry's proposal for marriage. We were married shortly thereafter. My house sold and all my possessions were put in storage in anticipation of us buying a new home to start our life together. Little did I know the heartache, disappointment and challenge of my faith that awaited me.
Larry and I had been married for only 7 ½ weeks when he suffered a major stroke. He went home to be with the Lord the following day. I was devastated! My life came crashing down around me. My ship was battered and torn; my faith was challenged. How could this have happened, Lord? I followed Your directions; I prayed and sought Your will for my life. Why, Lord, why?
I suddenly found myself alone and lonely, in a large city, on a new job with no job security, in a church of 3,000 versus my little home church of 60; in a rental basement apartment where I had to face every day the thoughts of him having that stroke right there in our home; and with people around me that were new faces, new friends. My whole world had been turned upside down. Where was God in the midst of all this? Why had I prayed and sought His will for my life and then had it turn out like this? Questions and more questions arose in my heart day after day. The darkness closed in around me and I sensed a real battle going on for my soul. I knew that I had to stay focused on the Lord or the devil would take my life. Suicidal thoughts interrupted my sleep. My days were lonely as I waded through life without the one I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I went home to my bed at night and wished I could curl up in a ball with the covers over my head and go to sleep, never to awaken again. I remember standing in front of the casket at Larry's funeral and wishing I could crawl up in it with him and go to that place where He had gone. The trips to his graveside were times of grief where I would cry and tell him I wished he was here.
Through all the devastation, God was right there with me. But the faith challenge was mine. I had to fight for my stand of faith. This was not an easy time, but it was a time of growth. I don't know why it turned out that way. I don't understand all that took place during that time, but I know that my God is faithful to bring us through the faith challenges that we experience. Even though I don't have all the answers I can tell you that God's word is true; that He still heals today and even though my husband wasn't healed in this life, he is healed now. I know that not every faith challenge turns out the same and that if I were presented with the same type scenario today that it possibly would turn out different this time around. And I know that we go through faith challenges to help others as they are challenged and that is why you are reading this blog.
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.
God revealed Himself to me through this difficult time. He gave me a message to pass on to others. It is that sometimes God uses the bad things in our lives as a springboard to the good that He has waiting for us. God always has a good plan for us. Look at the ones in the Word that experienced great heartache and how He used those times to catapult them into something great.
Mary, and the disciples were devastated when Jesus died on the cross. Their world came crashing down around them. The had just experienced the death of their best friend. They didn't understand, but God had a better plan than what they had known as Jesus had walked among them. You see, if Jesus hadn't died to pay for the sins of mankind, they and all of us would have been doomed to a life separated from God. The heartache that they had experienced was working for them a much greater joy; a much greater plan for a good life. They had to experience the heartache to know that the best was yet to come!
When Mary and the other ladies went to the tomb on that first day of the week to anoint Jesus' body they found that their heartache may have lasted for a night, but joy comes in the morning! They heard the angels say to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:5,6) Their darkness had turned to light as they encountered the message of the Lord! They had hope again! When they were going through the faith challenge they couldn't see the good that was ahead of them. When we are faced with difficult times we can't see the good that God has planned for us until we are through with the challenge. It's during the challenge that we must stand strong in the Lord and continue to believe and trust in Him.
Now, think about the Israelites that had been in bondage for 490 years when God sent a deliverer to bring them out of bondage and lead them into the land of Promise. After leaving Egypt they had to go through the wilderness. They often complained and thought about what they had left behind. And here they were wandering around in the wilderness, not understanding why they weren't experiencing the blessings of God as He had promised. They had to go through the faith challenge to get to the good plan that He had made them. Between the land of bondage and the land of promise was the wilderness; the place of growth. They learned in the faith challenge how to fight for their freedom; how to overcome their enemies and how to depend on God to provide what they needed. They had a faith challenge before they reach their Promised Land!
What about Job? It is recorded in Job 1:1 that he was a righteous man, blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. He was successful; had a wife and ten children. His possessions were many and he was known as the greatest of all the people of the East. He had prestige, power and possessions and in a period of less than a year all of them were taken from him. The devil stole everything that he had except his wife and his life. Job went through a faith challenge! At times he was advised to curse God and die. His friends didn't understand but always had an opinion of why he was going through the heartache and devastation. But Job's strength to fight the faith challenge came from his relationship with his God. And in the end Job grew in his faith and his relationship with God. He said in Job 42:5:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.”
Job came to know God more fully during his faith challenge. And God blessed him when Job walked out of that challenge and prayed for his friends.
Job 42:10 And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
God took Job through the heartache and devastation and revealed Himself to him and then blessed him more abundantly than he was before he entered his faith challenge. He had good planned for Job even before he entered into his faith challenge because God is always good.
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it ore abundantly.”
In 2 Timothy 2:17, 18 we have the story of Hymenaeus and Philetus who are referenced in the 1 Timothy 1:18-19 passage that I quoted earlier. The scripture records in 2 Timothy 2:18 that they “strayed concerning the truth” when they went through their faith challenge.
Roadblocks happen in all of our lives. You see, we can either grow bitter or better when we go through difficulties. We can either give up on God, or continue to believe that God knows all things, has a good plan for our lives and will reveal it to us and bring it into manifestation as we continue to believe and trust Him. We can either continue with what we know that's right, that's faith-filled living or we can “stray” concerning the truth! The choice is ours. The challenge is ours. The outcome is determined by the choice that we make concerning the challenge that is placed before us.
In my case, God brought me through the faith challenge and used it to be a springboard to catapult me into the good plan that he had for my life. It wasn't very long after I experienced the loss of my husband that God brought another special man into my life. His name is Gerald. Again, I had been seeking God's will regarding a godly mate because God's plan for my life was marriage; and that hadn't changed. He once again made it very clear to me that He had that mate for me. I didn't want to go through the heartache and disappointment again and had almost given up hope, but God dealt with me about believing in Him; trusting Him to put this together again. And now I am living out the good plan that God had for my life as Gerald and live and love each other, and serve the Lord together! Gerald is everything that I could have wanted in a husband. He is loving and kind, compassionate and caring. He is the fulfillment of the good plan that God wanted me to have. But it is only as God brought me through the heartache and disappointment that I could experience the good that He had waiting for me with Gerald.
You may feel, as I did, that you have experienced a major setback. But just know, that with every setback God has a comeback planned for you! He will bring you out of that difficult time to bring you into the good plan that He has for your life. You can either choose to allow the difficulty to shipwreck your faith and become bitter towards God or you can choose to continue to stand in faith believing in Him and trusting that He knows how to deliver you from temptation and bring you into your Promised Land.
Father, I thank You for all things, even the difficult times in my life. You have always been there to see me through every heartache and disappointment. Thank You, Father, for bringing me out of the darkness into Your glorious light and the good plan that you have for my life. Father, I pray for my friends this morning who may be experiencing a faith challenge. Only You, Lord, know what they are truly going through. Father, I ask You to reveal Yourself to them through this difficult time and give them a glimpse of the good that You have awaiting them after they come out of their faith challenge. Father, I ask You to give them strength to endure to the end; a vision that is God-given and a determination to defeat the enemy and be the person that You have created and called them to be. Father, give them Your strength, Lord; Your vision and Your presence. Thank You, Father. I ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Mark 5:25-34 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well. Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
This is a beautiful example of a “faith healing”. No one touched this woman; there was no prayer for her to be healed; she simply recognized what she had to do to receive her healing and she reached out to receive it! Jesus said that it was her faith that had made her well.
I love what the Amplified Bible says about this woman in Mark 5:28: For she kept saying, If I only touch His garments, I shall be restored to health.
This woman had tried every doctor around; she had spent all that she had on medicine and yet she only grew worse. Her faith was challenged to the maximum! The Amplified Bible says that the reason she came to Jesus was because she had heard the reports concerning Him. (Mark 5:27) She knew that the Healer was close and she wasn't about to let tradition or negative doctor's reports or lack of money stop her from getting what she knew Jesus would give her. Her faith spoke out that if she could only get to Jesus, touch His garments and receive that healing virtue that would flow from Him, she would be restored to health. Her faith spoke and acted on what she believed in her heart! She kept speaking what she was believing!
The Amplified Bible says that Jesus recognized that the power had gone out of Him and He turned around to see her and then spoke to her about what had just taken place.
Mark 5:34 And He said to her, Daughter, your faith (your trust and confidence in Me, springing from faith in God) has restored you to health. Go in (into) peace and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease.
Faith, trust and confidence in God, restores a person to health. Have you reached out to touch the hem of Jesus' garment and trusted Him to bring healing to your body?
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages).
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried about by different and varied and alien teachings;
What worked in Bible days still works today because Jesus Christ never changes! He is always the same. If faith worked to bring healing into a person's life in Bible times, it will still work today because He never changes!
When Jesus stopped to minister to the woman with the issue of blood He was on His way to the synagogue ruler's house to minister healing to his daughter. While the woman with the issue of blood received her healing, Jairus' daughter died. Sometimes things go from bad to worse! They came to him and Jesus to report of her death and this is what Jesus said to him:
Mark 5:35-36 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
Fear always stands in the way of faith! Jesus reminded Jairus that he needed to stay focused in faith for his daughter to be able to receive her healing. Are you troubled by someone that you love who needs healing but only seems to get worse? Here are two examples of situations where healing was sought after, but the people only got worse.....until Jesus arrived on the scene! Jesus told Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Sometimes we get caught up in how bad things look when we should be looking at how big God is and that His power to heal knows no boundaries; and is not limited to how impossible things look.
Mary is a perfect example of the power of God knowing no limitations:
Luke 1:26-38 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. “for with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary was told by an angel that she would have a son and His name would be called Jesus! But there was a slight problem here; Mary had never been with a man to be able to conceive a child. But the angel told her to look past her limitations and see the power of God in her life to do what He had said He would do! He also told her to look at what God had done for her cousin, Elizabeth, who had been “called” barren! Elizabeth had a word curse spoken over her; people had called her “barren”. She was pictured as hopeless; no chance of things ever being different for her. Yet, here was a perfect example for Mary to see where God had done something for someone else and, since He is no respecter of persons, that He would do the same for her. She had a choice to make; would she believe and receive, or would she say that it was impossible for God to do something outside of the realm of her understanding? God always gives us a choice; we can either believe and receive or doubt and do without! Notice that Mary's faith in God spoke as an action to bring into existence that which He had promised. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” That needs to be the voice of our faith as God speaks His promises to us. “Lord, let it be to me according to Your word”! It is then that the “nothing is impossible with God” becomes a reality in us.....personally!
Elizabeth later prophesied to Mary about the promise that she had believed would happen to her in Luke 1:45:
“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Believing is seeing it before the manifestation of the promise! Mary had not given birth to Jesus yet; she didn't even have the outward appearance of being “with child”; she didn't look pregnant and hadn't felt the movement of a child within her. All she had to go on was what had been told to her by the Angel of God. The message gave the promise; her part was to believe and receive; God's part was to fulfill the promise. Many times we want to do both parts, and then we are disappointed when the “impossible” part is not realized. Could it be that we have fallen short on our part by not fully believing? God will do His part; we can be assured of that!
We see a perfect example of that is Zacharias in Luke 1:11-20. He also had a visitation from the Angel of the Lord who gave him a promise from God, but Zacharias didn't believe the message because he couldn't see that God was the God of impossibilities and not limited by his human abilities.
Luke 1:20 “But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
God blessed Zacharias with the promise, but Zacharias was not able to speak about it until it was fulfilled. His unbelief limited what God really wanted to do in his life and even though he received the promise his unbelief caused hindrances in the way the promise was fulfilled. When we do not believe God we limit Him from having the freedom to move in our lives as He desires.
It is said of the Israelites in Psalm 78:40-42: How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power; The day when He redeemed them from the enemy.
It is later said in Psalm 78:56, 57 Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God, And did not keep His testimonies. But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers; They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
God was not pleased with them because of their unbelief. The writer of the book of Hebrews instructs us to not be like the Israelites who had an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. They could not enter into the Promised Land, His land of rest for them, because they did not mix faith with the Word that He had given them.
Hebrew 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
It takes faith to receive what God has promised. There are more examples in God's Word of people who were healed by faith; received provision through their faith; did great and might exploits by faith, but unless we spend time in God's word meditating and saturating ourselves with that Word we will not be bold in faith to step out and believe that we are no different from them. God has not changed; He is still the same God as He was in that day and He still does the same miracles that He performed for those people in our own daily lives.
Today I want to challenge you to believe God! Believe Him for what He has promised in His Word and for what He is speaking to you personally! Begin believing for the little things so that when your faith is challenged for something big, you will have the foundation of strength that you need to receive His promise for the bigger things!
Father, I thank You for showing us through Your Word that You are a God who provides for whatever need Your children have. Thank You for showing us that faith believes, speaks and receives whatever it needs as Your grace provides. I thank You for still being the same God as You were in Bible days. You still perform miracles in our lives when we believe You for them. Help us to grow in our faith, Lord! I pray for my friends this morning who may be experiencing a “faith challenge” in their lives. Father, open their eyes to see what You would have them to do in receiving their provision. Make Yourself real to them at their point of need, Father, and reveal Your desire for their wholeness to be manifested through their faith! Thank You, Father. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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.
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