Prayer and Relationship

Work at your relationship with God. God can and will answer prayers of the unsaved, just because He loves people and wants to bless. He is sovereign and can bless whoever He wants to, however there is no promise or guarantee that He will. If you want your prayers to be effective, you must be in a relationship with the one who has all the answers. We know that we have to pray according to God’s will and we can never know His will without intimacy with Him.

Acts 19:13-17 (NIV), “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”

This is a great example of how important it is to not just use the name of Jesus, but know Him as a person. These foolish sons of Sceva had heard of Jesus, but didn’t know Him at all.

In the Passion Translation, this was written in the study notes on these verses in Acts,

“True authority comes from relationship with Jesus Christ, not just using formulas or techniques. Evil spirits know about the depth of our relationship with God.”

Evil spirits know who they have to obey! Make sure you are in a right relationship with Jesus, because that is where our authority comes from. These Jews were using the name of Jesus as a technique, lacking all the power and authority.

What Are You Hungry For?

Our Church does a corporate fast every January. A time of pressing in to the Father, praying, and reading our Bibles. This is a spiritual fast, not a diet. Some opt to skip a meal and spend the time in prayer, others do a “Daniel Fast” eating only fruits and vegetables, quite a few do an “African Fast” where they eat only one small evening meal daily, and others choose to drink fresh fruit juice and veggie soup. A few choose to do a water fast where the only thing that passes their mouths is water. We are encouraged to at least do three days of the water fast. I have tried each of the above types of fasting and usually do a couple over the month of January.

I am now on my second day of a three day water fast. The first day, I literally thought I was starving. I even dreamed of food that night as I slept. When you are trying to fast, or even diet for physical reasons, it seems like every commercial is about food, every pin on your Pinterest page is some new wonderful recipe to try. You get hungry…for anything.

When I am not fasting, I may feel hungry, but not be really sure what I am hungry for. You may find me standing in front of the fridge looking at what is available. Or I might think I am hungry for something sweet, only to be looking for something salty right after I eat that cookie. We have all experienced physical hunger. However, there is another type of hunger. It was placed in each one of us. Sometimes we mistake it for a physical hunger, which probably explains standing in front of the fridge looking for some elusive fix.

Matthew 5:6 (ISV), “”How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied!”

This verse makes me ask the question, “Where is my appetite?” Is it for entertainment, for sports, for crafting, for anything to keep me busy, or is an unnatural appetite for food?

Jesus said that His “food” was to do the will of the Father and to finish His work.

What are you hungry for?

His Love Rushes In

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT), “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

God is a mighty savior and His love will calm all your fears. Isn’t that wonderful news?

Here is the American Standard Version of the same promise:

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

He is a victorious warrior. The victory has been already won. Any battle we face, we face from the stance of victory. He lives among us. If we have surrendered our hearts He lives in us. God is love. John tells us this clearly in his writings. So… LOVE is embedded in my heart, He dwells there.

Because of His great love for us, He won’t leave us or forsake us. Whatever situation we face, no matter the struggle, no matter how huge it looks, His love rushes in to save us. His love makes me secure. What can I fear when I know how much He loves me and that He has already fought all my battles for me.

I have to accept His finished work. Walk in His promises. Stand strong on His word. Do what He says to do. Be who He says I am. It isn’t always easy, but He will strengthen us and help us come out stronger and more confident.

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.

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!