Do you ever feel like a teapot, ready to explode because of all the pressure? Perhaps you are looking at insurmountable circumstances that are weighing heavy upon your shoulders. With the tension thats prominent in world affairs and your situation, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Generally people deal with these types of emotions differently. Everyone handles stress distinctly. Pressure reveals ones' character. Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you faint during the day of adversity, your strength is small."
During difficult times, most likely the Holy Spirit is talking to us about 'acts' of faith. Proof of our standing results in our actions taken during trials. If we're believing in faith for finances, the Holy Spirit might move upon us to give. This is an action taken to activate faith to receive financially. A great example in 1 Kings 17, is the widow woman that God called upon to supply Elijah with food during a drought. Elijah had been instructed to leave the brook, and go to Zarephath and find the widow woman. As he arrived, she was gathering firewood to cook the last cake for her and her son, and then die. However, in the midst of 'lack', the prophet instructed her to give to him first, then to themselves. When she did this, the meal and oil remained plentiful as long as she continued to give to the man of God first. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17), and "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). We can hear what the Lord is instructing us to do, yet if we choose to neglect the doing, faith dies. She could have ignored the word from God and just fed herself and her son, then she would have died. But she decided to listen and obey God acting in Faith.
It's wise to assess the problem, but even more so to manage it with Faith. People that say 'this faith stuff doesn't work', are people that didn't make it a lifestyle. The Bible says, "the just live by faith". In other words, it's a manner of living! It's more than just memorizing and quoting scriptures. Faith requires doing something in compliance with the Word. Confession helps to remind us what we should do to activate our faith. If we are living it daily, the Word within us will dictate our response, instead of the event determining how we reply.
Let me clarify, action on the Word, does not force the hand of God in any situation. That's called manipulation, which is doing something with intent. Action doesn't give you faith - "faith comes by hearing... by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Doing something releases our faith and belief in God. He then meets our faith because we believed. Some people like to limit faith to confession, because it's easy. They can stay home from church or keep from giving in the offering, thinking all it takes is saying something! Everyone has been given the measure of faith which has an appropriate action in every circumstance.
Setting in motion your faith, over your situation, could be as simple as giving praise to God before you see the result. How ever the Holy Spirit is leading you to act upon your faith, do it with boldness believing for the promise. Act upon the principles of God's Word which reveals the measure that's within you! Faith is being fully persuaded of things expected and proof of what is not yet seen.
James 1:2-4 (Amp)"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in encounter trials of any sort fall into various temptations. Be assured understand that the trial proving of your faith bring out endurance steadfastness patience. But let endurance steadfastness patience have full play do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."
At this very moment, people we know and even some we don't, are facing serious adversities. Family's have lost loved ones, marriages are under attack, there's financial despair for others, and some are facing job stress. Not only are there personal attacks, but our world is suffering from wars, weather related calamities, and multiple difficult issues, too numerous to list.
I know people that could verbalize Paul's words from 2 Cor. 4. "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way]........ we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out......; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven).......; we are struck down to the ground...;" The only difference is, Paul had a response to the problems, "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped crushed; we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out destroyed;" He realized that the Greater One lived IN him. Paul was assured that the Lord was standing with him and was giving him strength. (2 Tim. 4:17) This gave him the ability to press on through.
In 2 Timothy in chapter 3, Paul said, "But know this, in the last days perilous times will come:" Yes we will face risky, harmful, dangerous periods of time. This is just a fact! So how does one handle these events in their life? What can we do to be victorious overcomers? How can we endure through all the hardships? We need the strength of God to get past the circumstances with which we face. Trying to do it in our own flesh causes fatigue, depressions, oppression, fear, and stress. Here are some spiritual exercises you can do that will strengthen your faith and encourage you to remain steadfast IN faith!
1) James 1:2-3 "My brethren, count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." A great example of counting it all joy, is when Paul and Silas were imprisoned in the deepest darkest dungeon. Although they were chained and in pain from their beating, they expressed joy by singing praises to God! What did they have to be joyful about, you ask? They saw past their situation in the Spirit, knowing they served a big God, who would deliver them. The facts didn't define their attitude, but their attitude established different facts...deliverance! Their praises opened their shackles and set them free. It's time we praised the Lord to loose us from the chains of despair! Put on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.
2) Proverbs 2:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways (course of life) acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." Putting down our feelings about our problem is hard, because emotions are prominent. Taking time in the middle of the adversity to pray and focus on the promise of God's Word, will give direction and peace. In Joshua we read, that keeping the Word of God in our heart, in our mind and upon our lips, assists us in being a doer. Therefore, we will be successful and make wise decisions. Take any fear, worry or doubt cast it down, and be persuaded that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above anything you could ask or imagine!
3) Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat it's fruit." Most of us are guilty of declaring our problems, complaining and stating defeat. We condemn ourselves before God can work in our behalf. On the one hand we send forth faith in a prayer, and negate it by confessing doom and gloom. To experience the presence of His power over our circumstance, we must first believe! Test what you believe by gauging what's coming out of your mouth. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Repent for not submitting to God and resisting the devil. Then, make a conscience effort to practice agreeing with His Word verbally! Your confession will remind you of the action of faith necessary for affirming your faith!
Remember, that no matter the dilemma we're facing, the Word of God and prayer opens the door for God to work, and Praise will keep the door open. Don't measure what you believe by what you're experiencing. Heb. 10:35-36 "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise."
We all know that heat is regulated by the fuel. Adding wood to the fire in the fireplace makes the fire last longer and become stronger. The more you add, the flames become extensive and enduring. And of course, if we fail to add the wood, the fire eventually dies.
Proverbs 26:20-21 GNT "Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarreling stops. Charcoal keeps the embers glowing, wood keeps the fire burning, and troublemakers keep arguments alive."
I came to realize, recently, this same scripture can apply to what we say over our circumstances. Facing a serious illness, extreme need for finances, conflict in major life decisions, or simple daily matters are powered by what we say repeatedly. In essence, we fuel the fire by our mouth and whatever we allow to build the fire the longest becomes the strongest! When we keep reciting the problem, it keeps growing.
Many people don't believe that words are forceful. But the Bible tells us differently. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof". (Pro. 18:21) And "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt. 12:37) This explains how important it is WHAT we say! Think about this, our words determine the outcome of our circumstance. Since it behooved God to create the World by what He spoke, it's also required of us to consider our creation by what we speak. Rom. 4:17b "...God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did."
What we say produces a consequence. Not only for others but for ourselves as well. Faith filled words are powerful and life giving. Fearful words bring failure and defeat. A person that voices the Word over something, then in their second breath is contradictory, is like the double minded man mentioned in James Chapter 1. Their allegiance is divided because of sincerity, conflicted between belief and unbelief, thinking God will help while at the same time giving up all hope. Truth is, they will get nothing! (Read James Chapter 3)
Smith Wigglesworth said, "Voice your position in God and you will be surrounded by all the resources of God in times of trial." Expression where we stand in God, in faith, determines whether or not we will be victorious. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Mat. 12:34) What we say reveals what we truly believe.
Today, evaluate your confession about your circumstance. Are you blaming God or are you praising Him for your deliverance? Are you talking about the report of your health or finances to everyone or confessing His supply to the need! Is your mouth a well spring of blessing or cursing? Your speech is prophetically declaring death or life! Make a decision today to watch the Words of your mouth. Speak what God says about you and your life! Take your God given authority in the Word of God creating His best. Let's fuel the fire of faith by confessing the Word of God! Hope says, I can have it. Faith says, I already have it!
Mother's Day is upon us. A time to reflect, honor and bless the Mother's in our life. We have Grandmothers, Mother In Law's, Aunts who are mother like, and of course our own Mother. Washington Irving said of Mothers, “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
Most women, when they become a Mom, want to know how to be a good one. Whether or not they've had good examples, the desire to be the best is deep within the heart. In their quest their Love speaks volumes. Throughout the Bible there are listed different women that have ideal characteristics for Mothers. Let's look at a few.
1) Mary the Mother of Jesus was a woman of great faith even in her youth. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary he said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28) Mary was very submitted to God, willing to accept His call at any cost. She demonstrated great strength and perseverance during her pregnancy and Christ's death. She followed and supported Him all the days of His life. Mother's today can learn from Mary's example of trusting the Lord with all their heart, and not leaning to their own understanding, but knowing He'll make and guide the path when trusting and obeying. Her faith in God even in sorrowful times proved God always provides.
2) Jochebed, the Mother of Moses was a woman willing to give up her child so his life would be spared. By trusting God, He made a way for her to be a nurse to her own child. She was able to teach him and set a foundation of belief in Almighty God enabling him to become a servant to help deliver Israel. Her example of faith and trust can help us realize God's plan is bigger than what we can think or see. Believing that He'll make a way even when there doesn't seem to be one, makes possible the supernatural.
3) Hannah the Mother of Samuel the prophet, is a woman who, regardless of the taunts of others, remained steadfast in prayer trusting God for a child. Although she was ridiculed and mocked, she pursued God with all her heart to become a mother. God answered her prayer giving her Samuel, which she gave back to the Lord to serve Him. Hannah's example teaches us dedication and commitment in prayer. Her devotion to honor God with her child, opened the windows of heaven and receive a blessing of five more children. Intentional fervent prayer of a righteous man will avail much.
Mothers impart many things into our lives. Her fortitude and tenacity enables us to be a strong and unshakable. As she exemplifies love and a tenderness, it empowers us to look past mistakes and be quick to forgive. Her faithfulness in service to the Lord in prayer, giving, and attending church leads us to be anchored in Christ. When she's obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, it shows us how to trust the Lord and believe His Word. A mother's dedication to nurture, instruct and correct, guides us in the paths of righteousness. These are just a few of the qualities demonstrated in the life of a Mom. Take a few moments to think about your mother and how she influenced you. Then give her honor on this coming special day! She deserves recognition after all, her love speaks volumes!
1 Cor. 13:1-8 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
A uniformed policeman stands at the scene of a traffic accident, redirecting on coming cars. No one will disobey him, because he's the one in authority telling others what to do. In the same way an officer of the law has jurisdiction in the city, we have command over the works of darkness in our life. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, "Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." And in Mark 11:23-24, "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."
So why are there so many that are still confronted and overcome with difficulty, distress, and dilemma? If you are one of these and asking yourself this question, read on.
Most Christians do not know that they can take spiritual authority over situations. I would venture to say ignorance is one of the biggest reasons. Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge..." Because we aren't taught how to stand up against the 'wiles of the devil', how to recognize the attack is FROM the devil, and what to do IN times like this, we do nothing!
Another cause is unbelief! If you were to ask, some would say: "I don't believe in the devil." or, "There's no way we can change circumstances." In Luke 17:6, Jesus 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." But there are many who just don't believe.
Fear is also a source of not taking authority. When faced with demonic activity, a number of people are of the opinion the devil is stronger than God. So rather than DO anything, they back down and 'hide', thinking he will just go away.
Listen Children of God, He has done all He's going to do! Jesus has done all He's going to do! 1) He left us His Word (Heb. 4:12 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...")
2) And His Spirit (Rom. 8:11 "..if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwell in you." )
3) Jesus disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the work of the cross and resurrection! (Col. 2:15)
4) He gave us the keys to the Kingdom (Matt. 16:19 "... and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”)
It is now our responsibility to activate our faith and the power of God concerning the tactics of the devil, using the tools He gave us. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37) Rise up and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might! We've got to put on the armor of God and fight the good fight of faith. We need to stand, in faith believing God's Word, when we've done all we know to do. We can not afford to lose heart, but know we possess the treasure of His power within us! Be like that policeman commanding things to line up with what God says! You're wearing the badge!
1 John 4:4 "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
It's so easy to give up. If you have ever waited for something to happen or change and the delay was lengthy, you probably wanted to stop believing that it would occur. The desire to quit can be quite pressing, if you've longed for something a great while. Getting tired and the expectation waning makes one think there's no hope of a promised conclusion. Regardless for what you are holding on, despair almost always seems to creep in. Still as we look about we can see others that seem to get their victory, although we remain clinging to hope. We begin to question ourself, then doubt and fear enter, and we decide to throw in the towel. That's it, it's impossible, we say!
Remaining steady and intent may be difficult, but not out of the question! 1 Cor. 15:58 says, "Therefore my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Faith is what pleases God. Often to stay in faith we must encourage ourself. After all we are with ourself more than anyone else. The chances for others to stir us up is highly doubtful. They will probably tell us we might as well give up, because we've been waiting "forever", and if it was going to happen, it would have by now. When Paul wrote the Corinthians this letter, he was trying to stimulate their faith to have an unshakable attitude. The perspective that it doesn't matter how prolonged the situation, belief will not falter. It's like taking a glass and super gluing it to a table, so that when the table is shaken, it will not fall over. One could pick the table up and hold it upside down and the glass will not be moved! That's the type of attitude we need when believing God. Convinced to the point that whatever tries to rattle us, mentally or physically, we continue to be anchored to the Word of God and His promise.
Paul again wrote in Philippians, to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) Persistent thankful prayer to God, helps activate faith, by expressing we believe we have already received the request. Therefore bringing God's peace that exceeds anything our heart or mind can produce. Because when we believe we are in possession of faiths end, there is perfect peace.
Our desire is to encourage you to stay super glued to the promise to which you are believing! Don't give up! With all your might grab onto faith and know that you will receive if you do not quit! Resolve to hang on like you've never done before. Like Paul says, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
The Bible says, to not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we don't lose heart. (Gal. 6:9) I know you would probably agree with me, that waiting for something is often difficult. Especially if it takes a long amount of time. For some people two weeks is a long time. Yet, I'm reminded of Abraham, who waited 25 years for the promise of his son, Isaac. 25 Years?! Wow! Most of us would give up long before that. We'd say to ourself, "Well, I must not have heard God. It was probably my imagination." And that would be that! Because faith extended means we must make a demand within ourself. It's casting down fear, pushing aside doubts and pressing in closer to God and His Word. Remaining in faith for something, puts a demand on us spiritually. Generally it brings challenges against our flesh requiring us to discard imaginations and conversations from friends or family. It is essential during the 'wait' that we remain consistent in believing and keeping our confessions in alignment with the Word. (Mark 11:23-24 "Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will [get it].") Being constant in resisting worry and confusion is a must as well. (Rom. 4:19-20, "And not being weak in faith, he (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,")
Straining our faith is pushing ourself to trust God, to believe in Someone we can't visually see or touch. It means we are convinced, without any doubt that He will come through for us, no matter what we see, feel or think, regardless of how long we must wait. Faith of that nature is that place where we conduct ourself as if we already have what we are believing. We are in such peace and joy that nothing can move us to presume otherwise.
That type of faith is:
1) Oblivious to surroundings. (2 Cor. 4:18, "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.")
2) Does not get discouraged. (Heb. 12:1 NIV "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,")
3) Keeps all natural circumstances subject to God's Word. (Heb. 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him."), and
4) Committed no matter what comes against it. (1 Pet. 1:6,7 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.")
Receiving any promises from the Lord, requires that kind of faith! Heb. 6:12 Amp. says, "In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in his power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises." Without patience, faith will quit, and lack of diligence will steal our faith for the promise.
Need does NOT move God, FAITH moves God. Or just knowing and believing what belongs to you won't activate faith. We must read and study our Bible and pray in the Holy Ghost to build our faith. (Rom. 10:17 "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." & Jude 20 "Building yourself up on your most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit") Besides this, we know that faith without works is dead! It's also important to be a doer of the Word we've studied. When we do these things we can't go wrong in our faith. We will see results! Stay steady, Activate your faith, Don't give up!
She was almost four years old. Her desire and prayer to God was for a swing set. Each day she would go to the sliding glass door and gaze into the back yard and say, "See it? It's red, there are two swings, a teeter totter and a slide on 'that' side", as she pointed. She would insist that everyone come to look, although there was nothing there. But it was her prayer, her desire and she saw it. Every night as she was tucked into bed she would begin her prayer, "Thank you for my swing set". One particular night as her dad was putting her to bed, when she prayed, he said, "Honey, daddy can't get you a swing set just yet". But she was quick to respond, "Daddy, I'm not praying to you". Time went on and every day it was the same, she 'saw' by faith that swing set and she declared it! Time came for the family to take a short trip, and when they returned home, as usual, she ran into the house, to the back door and again proclaimed, "See, my swing set". She hastened to get her daddy to show him the swing set. All though he was busy unloading and unpacking, he took a minute to go look. But this time the view had changed, there it was! The swing set was in the back yard! Just as if it had been there all along! Her faith, her belief in God's provision had brought it to pass! (A true story)
Mark 11:22-24 "And Jesus, replying, said to them, Having faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]."
How simple does that seem? Pretty simple to a child. But as an adult we have come to over analyze things. Trying to figure out how we can make it happen, unlike this four year old, who truly believed God would manifest her request! She was taught at home and at her church that faith pleases God and He answers prayer. There was NO doubt, NO concern, or NO unbelief! She was unquestionably convinced she had a swing set. What she saw in the natural, didn't redefine what she knew in her heart or what she saw in the spirit. Then her confession daily, reconfirmed her faith, thus pleasing God and eventually bringing forth her desire.
Being one that has had multiple experiences of answered prayer and miracles, I can testify that my faith increased through attending a faith filled, spirit filled, Bible teaching church. Week after week of instruction helped to instill the foundation of belief in God's ability, provision, and promises. But it didn't just stop there, when I went home, I had to put into action the lessons I was receiving. The need for finances of an unexpected expense, required that I apply my faith, by praying, believing, and confessing, "God supplies all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." ( Phil. 4:19) Now, I know some of you would ask, did it come that day? And I would have to truthfully answer, No, not always. But I did get the need met, because I never laid down my faith in God. Regardless of what my bank balance looked like, or what my unbelieving family said, or any fears that came, the answer remained the same. GOD SUPPLIES! And just like for the little four year old, God did it!
The scriptures tell us to 'renew our mind to the Word'. (Rom. 12:2) You see, a renewed mind knows what God knows. It knows that satan is defeated! (Col. 2:15) It knows that the victory is already present and we overcome! (Rom. 8:27) And in spite of everything going on, it knows the answer is the same, God is able to make all grace abound toward 'me' that 'I', always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8) That's why when we believe we therefore speak. (2 Cor. 4:13), because our heart, head and mouth are in agreement.
It's time we had 'swing set faith'! Mark 11:22-24 "And Jesus, replying, said to them, Having faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]." Believe it, receive it, and say it!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."