Saturday, May 7, 2016

No Longer Content with a Crippled Life

1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 
2 And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 
3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 
4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!”
5 And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 
6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 
7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 
8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 
10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10
Have you been in a troubling situation for a long time? This man was crippled from his mother's womb. All he knew was to be carried to the temple gate every day so he could beg for money. This had gone on his whole life. He couldn't take care of himself, and had to rely on the generosity of others. He went to a place where people would be compassionate. He went to the people of God, where he could find mercy. They would give money so he could stay alive, and maybe even enjoy some comforts while remaining in his crippled situation. The people of God gave to him, and probably felt good about it, and he benefited as well from their giving. This was his life and he, and everyone else, was used to it.

This man was not expecting to receive anything other than alms to make his life easier. He wasn't even looking at people while he begged. If he said anything at all he may have just spoke generally to everyone who passed by. He didn't expect Peter and John to give him anything special because when they passed by, Peter said, "Look at us!" He hadn't made eye contact with them until Peter said that. Yet even then, when he did look at them, he was still just expecting to receive alms. He didn't see what was coming. He didn't see that they could offer him a way out of his crippled life. He was expecting life to go on as usual, not a miraculous change that would turn his whole life upside down--or right side up.

Peter said he wasn't going to give him silver and gold. He wasn't going to give him something that would just make him more comfortable as a cripple. He was not going to speak anything that would enable him to continue in that mentality, that lifestyle, outside the temple and away from his true purpose in life. He was going to give him something that would pull him up out of his lame life and turn him into a productive person in the community. One who could give to others and contribute to society--not one who felt hopeless, useless and a burden on others. God is in the restoration business!

Peter gave him what he had to give, "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!" He pulled him up by the right hand and immediately he was able to walk. God interrupted his life. He broke the cycle of crippledness in this man's thinking, as well as his body. The man entered the temple with Peter and John walking, leaping and praising God. This caused the people to be filled with wonder and amazement. God was glorified in this man's healing, and that was just the beginning of his new life.

Are you in a situation where you know you need help beyond yourself just to survive? You don't have it within yourself to even get by in life? Have you gone to the people of God looking for help? Maybe they offer prayer, gifts, time or whatever they can give to help you be more comfortable in your current situation. You appreciate that, of course, and that may have become "normal" for you. You go to the people of God for help and prayer and it works for a time. However, God is calling you up to a higher level. He is able to do more than just make you more comfortable in your crippledness. He is able to pull you up out of it so you are crippled no more!

Look up. Look to Him. Look beyond what the people of God can do, and look to what He can do through them. Look expecting. Look with hope. I hear bones popping back into place! Rise up out of your crippledness and walk in the Name of Jesus!
"Father God, come invade our lives. Interrupt our living. We no longer want that which will just sustain us in our crippled situation. We look to You Lord, not expecting to receive that which will just make us better able to tolerate a lame life, but we look to You with expectancy to pull us up out of our crippledness, so we may enter into the fullness of You. So we may walk and leap and praise You, fulfilling our destiny!"

Friday, May 6, 2016

What to do when you have hopeless faith or faithless hope!

Follow this train of thought with me...

If answered prayer requires faith, and faith is the assurance of things hoped for, then we need hope to get answers to prayer. So, how do we get hope?
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
Hope comes by being filled with joy and peace, in believing. Believing what? The promises of God--His words to us. So we can summarize that answered prayer begins with an attitude of joy and peace concerning the promises of God to you.

Let's look at this in more detail... Answered prayer requires faith. When the blind men came to Jesus asking for mercy, He asked them if they believed He was able to do this. They said yes, and when He touched their eyes He said, "It shall be done to you according to your faith" and their eyes were opened. (Matthew 9:27-30). Faith was required on their part in order for them to be healed of their blindness.

A father brought his boy to the disciples to cast a demon out of his son and the disciples couldn't do it. When Jesus got there, He said to the man, "All things are possible to him who believes." The man said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:23-24). Jesus then cast the demon out. When His disciples asked Him why they couldn't do it, He said "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20). Even though Jesus also said, this kind of demon only goes out by prayer and fasting, He specifically states that the reason they couldn't do it was not because of that, but because of their lack of faith. Faith was required for this boy to be delivered from the demon. The disciples didn't have the faith, but Jesus did.

There are other instances where Jesus responded to the faith of people, resulting in miracles.
  • Matthew 8:10, 13: Of the Centurion who came to Jesus seeking healing for his servant, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.....Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." The servant was healed at that very moment.
  • Mark 2:5: Regarding the paralytic let down through the roof by his friends we read, "And Jesus seeing their faith..." Not only did he immediately get healed, but his sins were forgiven as well.
  • Matthew 9:22: To the woman with the hemorrhage for twelve years, He said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." She was made well at once.
  • Matthew 15:28: To the Canaanite woman seeking help for her daughter, He said, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." Her daughter was healed at once.
Most of us probably realize we need faith to get miraculous healings and such in our lives, but we don't often recognize the importance of hope. We might wish, but not with true hope. We fall short by not clearly defining what we are hoping for. Hope is the details of our desire--healing, provision, protection, etc. Hope is the specific word that gives life to our faith.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. 
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
Throughout the 11th chapter of Hebrews we read the stories of those who had great faith. The evidence of their faith is the results they received. Things like Noah building the ark, Abraham leaving his home town and going to the Promised Land, Sarah conceiving a child, and many more--Abel, Enoch, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses etc... The thing that gives substance to faith is what the person is hoping for. There are specific things listed in this chapter that define what exactly their faith produced. The things hoped for are specific things, they are the "things not seen" that we mix our faith with.

James wrote that "faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." (James 2:17). Faith requires something to fill it so it can take shape. Kind of like a balloon--hope is like the air in the balloon and faith is the balloon itself. The air (hope) without the balloon (faith) won't result in anything visible, and the balloon (faith) without the air (hope) won't come to life and take the shape it is supposed to.

If you have a problem going on in your life, you don't just need faith to get your answer, you also need hope. You need hope to see the end result you desire, and your faith works with that hope to bring it to pass. We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), but how do we get hope?

Hope comes from being filled with all joy and peace.

Once again the Bible says, 
"Now may the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
The God of peace fills you with all joy and peace, in believing, so that you may abound in hope! Go to the God of peace and ask Him to fill you with all joy and peace. He has already given you His Word which is full of words of promises--words of hope. If you are filled with His Spirit, you have joy and peace in you as fruit of the Spirit. Cultivate this fruit! Meditate on His Word so that "in believing" you will abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit!

There is a cycle here we need to understand. You could call it a miracle cloud. Being filled with joy and peace causes your hope to abound. Your hope continues to grow as you stay filled with joy and peace. Your hope grows stronger and gives shape to your faith. At this point where your hope unites with faith, there is a shift in reality. There is a shift in the spiritual realm and the quantum field that surrounds you. Like the woman who said, "If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made whole," your hope--regarding a specific promise or word--gives life to faith. (Matthew 9:21). When you inject patience into all of it, then you understand that these things are happening outside the realm of time. God is outside the realm of time. You can remain in joy and peace because your focus is not on "when." Patience is like the knot in the balloon which enables you to stay filled with joy and peace. Your patience maintains the joy and peace, which produces more hope, which gives life to faith, to which you add patience, and the cycle continues. This is a miracle cloud--the place where miracles happen!

We get disappointed when we go looking for hope in all the wrong places. We look to our family, our friends, our pastor, or anyone other than the God of peace. He is the source of the joy and peace that creates hope--true hope--which His Word is full of. Prophetic words spoken to us bring the joy and peace that fills us with hope. The Word of God, written or spoken, gives us promises--gives us hope!

Make this your profession of faith concerning the biggest need you have today:

"The God of hope has given me great promises that fill me with joy and peace. I will keep my mind on His words of promise to stay continually filled with joy and peace. This joy and peace causes me to abound in hope.

This hope grows, inflating my faith, giving substance to it. This faith is the assurance that the unseen things I hope for are a reality.

With patience, I trust the Lord for the proper timing of all things, knowing the reality exists in the eternal realm. I maintain patience and stay filled with joy and peace continually, remembering His words of promise, which strengthens my hope--inflates my faith--and renews my patience, so I can remain filled with joy and peace at all times."

The Canaan Wars

"Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.” Judges 3:1-4
The Lord left these nations in the land of Canaan--the Promised Land--to test Israel, specifically to test "all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan." He had a purpose in doing so. He wanted the next generations of the sons of Israel to be taught war. The Lord wanted each generation to be taught war. In addition, each generation was tested to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord. So we see two things the Lord used these enemies of Israel for:
  • To teach war to the generations who had not experienced it
  • To test the people to see if they would obey the Lord
Apparently the Lord thought knowing how to war was an important skill. It’s important enough to Him that He wants each generation to experience it for themselves. It wasn’t enough for them to hear about it, they had to maintain this skill of fighting for their land--the Promised Land--where they could freely worship God according to how He had commanded them. God wanted Israel to have the freedom to live by the Law of Moses, and to recognize that freedom was worth fighting for.

Today, we in America are in the midst of a Canaan War of our own. This generation needs to learn to war--to fight--for the land the Lord has given us. This generation hasn’t had to fight for the freedoms we’ve enjoyed since our founding. They’ve been taken for granted, and even questioned as to whether they are something to hang on to. As this generation fights their own “Canaan War” they will learn that religious freedom is something worth fighting for. The land the Lord has given us is worth the war.

What land has the Lord given us? The land is religious freedom. America was founded so people would have freedom to worship God as they choose. To be able to pursue what they feel is their God-given call, and not have a government dictate how they are to live. Our founders recognized the need for a government, for things like defense and economy, but realized that the people must be free to worship God and pursue His call without governmental interference. The Constitution of the United States was written in such a way to protect our religious freedom and to explain how it can be kept in place. This is part of the Canaan War this generation is to fight.

As Christians, not only must we be sure to teach our children the Word of God and the ways of the Lord, we also need to teach our children to war for the land, so they will be skilled warriors as adults and be able to win the war against those who try and take our freedom--our land. Our constitution is a weapon we use in this fight.

The Canaan Wars test the people to prove whether or not they will keep the commandments of the Lord. Will they walk in His ways? Will they seek Him in all their paths? Will they choose the Lord even when it’s not easy? Will they fight for the land He has given, believing that He has given us this land? The young people of this country cannot live off the coattails of their parents (or grandparents) faith. They will need to prove that they themselves will seek the Lord and walk in His ways.

Parents, whatever we have done wrong to not nurture our children’s faith, we need to ask the Lord’s forgiveness. However, we must also recognize where we have gone wrong in not teaching our children to war for the land. If you still have young children at home, their faith in the Lord, love of the Lord, and instruction in His ways needs to become a top priority. This is to include warfare for the land. As parents and grandparents, we must get into the War Room ourselves and pray for our children and grand-children. If you don’t have any children of your own, pray for someone else’s. This generation is going through war and tests and we must pray! And we must teach.

Let us learn from our mistake of not remaining sober and alert to the enemy's devices in trying to take our land from us. We can no longer assume that those in authority are watching out for our best interests. In whatever way we personally have neglected to maintain the land the Lord has given us, we need to ask for forgiveness and start on the right path.

In the education of children, whether at home, church, or school, let us seek to impart a desire for them to fight for the land, and teach them how. Let us teach our children the ways of the Lord, to seek Him early--at a young age--and diligently, while He may still be found in this country.