Building Your Faith

Romans 12:3 (KJB), “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

We have all been given the measure of faith. I always felt like somehow I was lacking in faith, yet repeatedly guest speakers, prophets, and my own pastors would tell me that I was “full of faith” or “faithful.” Then I would feel kind of proud of myself, like I did something. Then the next trial would come, it would pull the rug out from under my feet and I would pray for more faith. I knew that “Faith came by hearing the word of God,” so I read my Bible sometimes even out loud, but I still had faith issues. Yes, I needed to hear God speaking to me through His word; I needed to find out what He had to say about me, life, and how to live it. However, I also needed to grow or build my faith by doing what that word said.

That is what God was trying to tell me through those pastors and prophets. Not that I had done something right, just that God had already given me the measure of faith. I owned it. I wasn’t lacking faith, I just wasn’t walking by faith. What had been given to me wasn’t being used right, or enough to make it grow.

While praying about faith, God showed me a can of hairspray. When we purchase it, the can is full of hairspray. We know it is there so we can push the nozzle and we know the sticky stuff will come out. We are that can. When we surrender to the Lord, He fills us up with everything we will need to walk with Him. We need to have to believe that when we push that nozzle of faith, that what is inside of us will come up. Think of the nozzle as God’s word. What does He say? Then walk out in faith in that word and the God that backs His word.

So we don’t need more faith, we just have to build up what we have already been given. If you need stronger arms, you don’t pray for another bicep, you work the one you have until it gets stronger. Our faith never gets stronger until we step out. For example, when we first hear a tithing message that explains why we tithe and what the blessings are, we step out and write that check, believing that what God said is true and that we will reap what we sow. Then, when He proves His word true and we have more money at the end of the month, our faith in His word grows. The same is when we receive a healing, no matter what the symptoms are, how we feel physically, we rise up and walk. We get out of bed and do what we don’t feel like doing. This is standing on His word, walking in faith, and how we strengthen our faith.

When God promises that we lack no good thing, this includes faith. We aren’t lacking! He gave faith to us as a gift. We just have to build up our faith muscles.

“Regardless of circumstances, regardless of influences about us, let us turn every problem into His care.Your worst enemy is yourself. It has come through Sense Knowledge that would limit you to your own ability.The language of the Senses is:”I can’t, I haven’t the ability, I haven’t the strength, I don’ have the opportunity, I have no education, I have been limited.”The language of faith says, “I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me.””~E.W. Kenyon

I Get Him

Luke 7: 1-10 (Berean Study Bible), “When Jesus had concluded His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. There a highly valued servant of a centurion was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask Him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and pleaded with Him earnestly, “This man is worthy to have You grant this, for he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. But when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends with the message: “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to You. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell one to go, and he goes; and another to come, and he comes. I tell my servant to do something, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the centurion. Turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith!” And when the messengers returned to the house, they found the servant in good health.

Jesus found this non-Jewish man’s faith to be something to comment on. He wanted to make sure that we all remembered this centurion’s words. “Just say the word.” He believed in the authority of Jesus and His word. This was before Jesus’ death and resurrection, before the Holy Spirit, yet this man had the faith that his servant would be healed simple because Jesus said he would.

What about us? We who know the price Jesus paid for our sin and our sickness, we who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have access to His word, bible teachers, preachers, and direct access to the throne room of God, shouldn’t we have such faith.

If God said it then it is so. If He promised, He will do it. It is already settled in Heaven. Jesus shed His blood to take away our sin. He allowed His body to be broken and bruised to take away our sickness. God hates both sin and sickness, they aren’t allowed in Heaven. We need the kind of faith that says “at your word, Lord, so be it!” If we have anything less, we aren’t pleasing Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (Berean Literal Bible), “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.”

Paul knew about this kind of faith. That’s why he could say to those manning a floundering ship that had been driven by a storm for two weeks: “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Acts 27:25 (NIV) That’s why he could shake off that poisonous serpent.

The very best thing about this kind of faith, in this time of grace, is that it gets us more of Him. It isn’t that my faith gets me money, or health, or a great husband, and the perfect job. It gets us Him! The more we learn about who He is, who we are to Him, His promises and plans for us, what He has already done, His finished work, the closer our relationship with Him. This builds our faith, and our trust, and our love for Him.

What more do we need? When we get Him, we get it all.

Growing Not Coping

Our Senior Pastor is fond of saying, “Every living thing is a growing thing.” Usually he goes on to talk about how if something isn’t growing it is dead, or if water isn’t flowing it gets stagnant. There has to be growth and a flow to our lives. Yet, there have been times in my life, sometimes while under an attack, others just because I got lazy and apathetic, that I found myself just coping with life. During some real tough times I even felt like I wasn’t even coping very well. It was God’s grace alone that brought me through and allowed me to grow within the process.

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV), “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We don’t have to just cope with our problems. In fact many of them will just be stepping stones to something better. Some of the things we feel like are such a big deal, such as health issues or finances, can be dealt with by standing on God’s promises and rebuking our enemy. No matter how tough things look, don’t allow yourself to just get by, to grit your teeth and just get through one more day, or hour, or minute. Press in and grow in the midst. Let God’s love and peace keep you, and the Holy Spirit produce fruit.

Kicking and Screaming

Matthew 21:28-31 (Borean Study Bible), “But what do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the second son and told him the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he said. But he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

We’ve all been there. Someone asks us to do something and we do not want to do it. However, later we feel guilty or convicted and do what we were asked to. According to Jesus that’s ok. It’s when we say we will, but never do, that we become disobedient sons (and daughters).

What has God asked you to do? Sometimes we think, “Not much lately.” Yet in reality, there are literally tons of things He asks or requires of us. The Bible is full of things, that as His children, we should be doing. Here is a few: fellowshipping with like believers (not just at church), loving our neighbors, praying for those who use and abuse us, praying for each other, our leaders, our enemies, paying tithe, giving our time and money as offerings, healing the sick, casting out devils, serving others, doing good works of any and all kinds, forgiving, reading His word, reaching the lost, giving our testimony, witnessing to others…need I say more?

It can be overwhelming at times. But rest assured, if He asked us to do it, He gives us the strength and the ability to get it done.

Then there are specific things He may ask us, such as moving 2,000 miles away from friends and family, change jobs, give your car away, give your house away, help someone who has hurt you, all of these things are hard to even think about, much less do. And sometimes, let’s be honest, we do it, but kicking and screaming the whole way. Like a petulant child who has to clean up his own mess and stomps around as he picks up his toys.

When we do what God asks us to do we never miss out, even if we have to do it kicking and screaming. Now I am not saying this should be our general attitude about our obedience, but face it sometimes we will have to do some hard things that we really don’t want to and according to our passage in Matthew, when we do what He asks, even when we don’t have the best attitude, we are still accomplishing His will.

Disaster Relief

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV), “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (Emphasis mine)

At the time of this writing disaster relief is on the mind of many people here in the U.S. Hurricane Harvey has wrecked havoc, especially in Texas. This is a time where the Church can shine. This is a time when the Love of God can flow through us and reach out to those affected by the storms.

However, we were never called to just bring relief in times of a natural disaster, trauma, or trouble. Jesus, in His great commission simple said to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not an option, not for a specific time, but as we “go” about our lives, wherever the Holy Spirit leads, to relate to those around us in such a way as to show the love of God in their lives. To “live” by example the way that Jesus did.

Years ago God gave me this vision: The church I attend is right on a set of railway tracks. We hear this cargo train on a daily basis. In all the years that I attended and also worked at the church, I never saw a passenger train go by. However, in this vision there was a long train on the tracks pulling many passenger cars full of people. We were in the middle of an evening service when we heard the sound of a train wreck. As a well organized group we went out and began helping. We pulled some from burning cars, brought others into our building, caring for them and praying for them. Everyone did their part. Each passenger was attended to, each one rescued and saved.

I felt good about what happened in this vision. Thinking it was a vision of teamwork, or perhaps about each joint supplying, I was shocked to hear God say, “There are people perishing out there every day. Their lives are a train wreck, go out and save them just like these were saved.”

Well, I cried. As much as I loved the Lord, other than after a few inspirational messages, I honestly did not have much of a heart for the lost. But once God showed me this vision and I repented for my apathy, I began to see the harvest. It was then I realized we aren’t called just for disaster relief. Yes, we better come through in those very visible times of need, but we are called when it seems like it is life as normal, when we go to the grocery store, our kid’s soccer games, and at work. Even when they don’t realize that their lives are a disaster, we are called to make disciples. The good news is that Jesus is right there with us, His promise to never leave us, regardless of the circumstance, still stands.

Crazy Faith

Ephesians 3 (Borean Study Bible), “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles… Surely you have heard about the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace, given me through the working of His power. Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to illuminate for everyone the stewardship of this mystery, which for ages past was hidden in God, who created all things. His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. So I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory…For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul understood the supernatural. He witnessed it first on the road to Damascus. God used him to raise the dead, heal the sick, and to perform many other miracles, including those in his own body. He was stoned, drug out of town and left for dead, yet got up and walked away, and then left to minister the very next day.

God sometimes asks us to do some hard stuff, like give our businesses, homes, or cars away. Some are asked to sell everything and to devote their lives to serving overseas. Others are asked to quit lucrative jobs and serve in soup kitchens. Some are asked to start new businesses and they don’t have a clue what they are doing. God asks more of us than we can do on our own. That’s why it is “super” natural. If we could do it in the natural, it would just be our works, which amount to wood, hay, and stubble. However, because we need Him and His grace to do it, He gets the glory, the work is for eternity, and it proves He is at work in and through us.

One of our pastors said during a message recently, “The supernatural often looks “crazy” in the natural.” (Pastor Paul Hohman)

If I had a dollar for every time a well meaning Christian told a brother or sister in the faith that their vision was “crazy”, I could pay off our mortgage! Read the books of the prophets, or read about Peter’s dream, follow the story of Joseph and his dreams, it’s all pretty crazy stuff! Even better, read the book of Acts what they did took extra-ordinary, not plain ordinary faith!

Do as Paul prayed for us, be rooted and grounded in His love, comprehend the length, width, height, and depth of His love. This fills us with His fullness and makes us do some crazy stuff for the kingdom!

How is Your Heart?

Proverbs 28:14 (Jubilee Bible 2000), “Blessed is the man that fears God always, but he that hardens his heart shall fall into evil.”

A hard heart is a very dangerous thing. A heart that is hard does not hear the voice of God, it is not teachable or humble and quite frequently it is full of pride. We harden our hearts or allow them to get hard for all different reasons. The most common one is that we are afraid of getting hurt. It’s a self protection mechanism, part of our fallen human nature.

The only problem is that we are only harming ourselves not helping. What we foolishly see as protection actually keeps the One away who wants to protect us. In fact the Comforter can’t even comfort us and heal those past hurts. A hard heart becomes like a stainless steel container that houses bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and all kinds of ugly junk. If you let it stay hard long enough, it becomes incapable of love.

Have you ever seen the experiment where someone dips a soft petaled rose into liquid nitrogen? They then dash it onto a table top and what happens? It shatters into a million little rose colored shards.

“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It was an epiphany I had today and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!” – C. JoyBell

Ok, so maybe you realize your heart is hard, or on its way to diamond plated, what do you do?

First repent. Ask God to forgive you for the sin of self preservation, for putting yourself first, for doubting that He could or would heal you and protect you.

Next, soak it in the word. Look up scriptures about how much He loves you and how important it is for our hearts to be soft, teachable, pliable, and humble. Memorize them if you have to. Tell someone about it so that they can encourage you and hold you accountable.

Years ago a friend of mine and I agreed, after a conversation about the condition (hardness) of our hearts, to occasionally ask each other, “How is your heart?” I can’t tell you how much that helped me. We actually ended up not asking very often, but the thought that she might kept me searching my heart and asking God to help me keep it soft. The outcome was that for a while, some things really hurt! But the good news was that it only proved that my heart was tender again. So when I loved, I really loved!

How is your heart today, my friend?