Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Faithfulness: Proven by Time

This is part III of my "Faithfulness" blogs. So far we've seen that:

  • Being faithful is being consistent--consistently loyal to the Father. 
  • Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and of God Himself.
  • God does not ignore the enemy's accusations, but addresses them.
  • He addresses them by providing evidence--The blood of the lamb and our testimony, which is recorded in a written record.
  • Through the blood of Jesus our sins are blotted out and we are made righteous.
  • Through the testimony of our faithfulness our loyalty to God is evident, proving that our faith in Jesus Christ really has changed our hearts making us righteous.
  • God has both the desire and the means to express His goodness towards us.
  • We are protected by His power and the strength of His kingdom.
  • Faithfulness is remaining true to Him until the end.
  • Through faithfulness we have access into His eternal kingdom and promises.
  • Satan's accusation of Job tested his faithfulness.
  • When our faithfulness is proven, we have gained access to spiritual power to carry out His desires in our lives and in the earth.
  • Being consistent to remain filled with His Spirit, cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, will cause us to be aligned with the Father in our heart, and release His Word with power.

Understanding the above points will help in understanding that faithfulness really is the proof of our faith. I think we've done a disservice to the body of Christ with some of the teaching that has gone on about faith. I did the same thing when I first heard the "faith" message. I was so excited to hear that I could "have what I say" that I ran with it as hard and fast as I could. I drove myself into the ground, ended up bankrupt, divorced, and eventually backslid for a period of time. It wasn't pretty.

If not presented properly, the "faith" message may give the idea that because we are "believing God" for something to happen, He is required to give us what we ask, and while it doesn't happen we begin to accuse Him. Anytime we find ourselves accusing God during our difficulties, we need to realize we are aligning ourselves with His enemy and ours--the accuser himself. Is "faith" wrong? No, of course not, but we may need to adjust our definition of faith a bit. If we realize that faith is expressed in faithfulness then we will clear up a lot of misunderstanding.

We see this more clearly in the following Scriptures.

Faith and Patience
"...so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Hebrews 6:12
Patience requires a period of time. Being patient for five seconds isn't really patience. Someone needs to remain patient for a period of time before you can call them patient. So we will need to remain in faith and patience for a period of time in order to inherit the promises of God. This means that we remain faithful for a period of time. We keep our trust in the Lord for a period of time--until the end. We remain faithful, consistently loyal, to Him. We don't begin to accuse Him, whine, lose courage, lose hope etc.

Just as we can't prove patience without time, we can't prove faith, or faithfulness, without time either. Being faithful for five seconds doesn't prove a person is faithful. Making a profession of faith once with no life change doesn't prove a person's faith either. A period of time is required in order for faith, or faithfulness to be proven. How much time? Until the end. When is the end? Well, that's up to God to decide. So when we say through faith and patience we inherit the promises, we could really say, through faithfulness we inherit the promises of God.

Endurance and Faithfulness
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
Endurance is the ability to hold up under tough times. This is similar to faithfulness. Faithfulness means you hold true in your allegiance to someone consistently and at all times--good or bad. Once again, this involves a time period. The testing of our faith goes on over a period of time and it produces the ability for us to hold true to the Lord during tough times. We remain faithful to the Lord until the end, in good times and bad. We remain loyal Him no matter what. We don't begin to accuse Him or question His judgement. This is a test of our faithfulness, and the outward evidence of our faith.

The Substance of our Faith

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval." Hebrews 11:1-2
You could say that faithfulness is the assurance and conviction that you will continue your trust in the Lord, remaining true to His heart, His Word, and His Spirit, even when what you hope for is not seen. Faithfulness is the part that you see. Not only does it become a character trait inside your heart, it is the substance--the tangible part--of your faith. It is seen as loyalty and courage in the face of whatever might challenge the goodness and power of God. It is as fiercely loyal as Job who said, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." Job 13:15.

Can you see how helpful it is to look at your faith as faithfulness, a character trait, rather than as something you possess like money used to purchase something? It's important to understand this so you don't become discouraged over time, you will endure to the end, and your faith will be proven genuine. Time is necessary to prove the existence of your faith. Faith that endures over a period of time is faithfulness.

Time is a gift from God. He placed us in this realm of time to prove our faithfulness to Him. When we have faith in God, we don't just make an occasional statement that we believe in Him, we prove it by our heart and our choices. We have an opportunity to choose Him and His ways, faithfully, over the course of our lives. Are we perfect? No. But that doesn't mean we don't endeavor to live faithful lives to Him. Our faithfulness to Him proves our faith in Him. Our faithfulness over the days, months, and years of our lives, is evidence of our faith in Him.

Don't give up! He has faith in you. He has faith that the finished work of Jesus was enough to change your heart enabling you to receive His Spirit and live a faithful, overcoming life. Nothing the enemy throws at you can shake your faithfulness to the Lord. Let your faithfulness rise to meet His faith and bring the eternal realm of His glory and power into your life today!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Faithfulness: The Way to God's Strength and Power

Have you ever dreamed of doing something great for God? Have you ever thought, "If I just had the money, I would do such and such and it would be a great blessing to others and to God's kingdom?" Have you ever felt the pressure of not being able to take care of your day to day responsibilities because you didn't have the money to pay the bills? If so, then you've noticed that even though you might have good desires in your heart, you may not have the means to make them happen. Even if your heart is right, you don't always have a way to make those desires happen.

God, on the other hand, not only has good desires in His heart, He has the means to make those things happen. He has the power to back up the desires of His heart. The Lord showed me this one morning as I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life. I didn't realize how much I was letting myself get bogged down with these pressures until He showed me the majesty of heaven and what that meant.

When you think of the beauty of heaven and new Jerusalem, and consider the grandeur of it all as described in the Bible, notice the display of wealth that is revealed. Huge pearls for gates, foundations made of precious gemstones, streets made from pure, transparent gold, and so on. God's wealth represents His power. When we see His wealth displayed, we also see that He has the ability to do what He wants.

Earthly kings who have a lot of wealth have the ability to have large armies. They can protect their people, or even expand their borders. They can provide good things for those within their kingdom if their heart desires to. However, if they do not have a good heart, they can use their wealth and power to do evil. Thank God He is faithful. He maintains His integrity to the goodness of His own heart and will carry out His promises.

So we see two things here, the goodness of God and the power of God. You could say, His kindness and the means to carry out acts of kindness. We worship Him for both His kindness and His majestic power. We can trust in Him because we know both His love and His power, His ability and His heart. He's not all talk with no power, or all power with no mercy. He is both. He desires good for His people and He has the power to do good. This is very encouraging and makes it easier for us to be faithful to Him.

As the Lord showed this to me that morning, I saw myself standing in His majestic kingdom--barefoot and feeling the gold under my feet--I realized that I am protected by His power. Being under the strength of His kingdom I don't have to rely on my own power or strength. No matter what happens, in the end I am safe in Him. What I need to do now, is to be faithful. It's not just faith, but faithfulness, that brings us into a place where we can receive His promises. Faithfulness is remaining true in faith until the end. Through faith and patience we inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). This is faithfulness--keeping faith consistently through a period of time until the end.

As I began to realize the importance of faithfulness. I asked myself, "Will my faithfulness be able to hold up under the pressure?" To what degree does my faithfulness remain? Do I have a "breaking point" where I can't maintain my worship of the Lord during a tough time? This is what satan's accusation was of Job--that he wouldn't remain faithful if things got bad. It's helpful to realize, that our faithfulness is tested.

My faith(fullness) is being tried, tested, and proven. There will be times I fail because no matter how sincere I am in my heart, and no matter how faithful I am in my choices, I may fail when I try and walk it out, or I may slip up in the attitude of my heart. I am still growing and maturing in this. The testing of my faith is a part of the process of my faithfulness growing stronger, and ultimately my being conformed into His image.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" 1 Peter 1:3-7
The proving of my faith(fullness) to Him is more valuable than earthly wealth or power. When my faithfulness is proven, I have gained access to a spiritual power to carry out His desires in my life and in the earth. Earthly wealth perishes, but heavenly wealth represents God's eternal strength and power--His ability to carry out what He desires. That is the kind of power I want in my life!

So the end result of my faith(fullness) being proven is having something more valuable than earthly means to carry out the desires of God in my life and the lives of those around me. Through faith(fullness) I tap into God's power and strength. When we are sincerely faithful in our hearts towards Him, we open up access to His power. Psalm 84:11 says that He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly.

Through faith(fullness) I give my all to Him. When I give to Him out of a heart of adoration and worship--admiring Him for who He is--I am doing so out of an acknowledgement that He and His ways are right. His ways are the right ways and I am surrendering my strength and my desires to His. When I give to Him financially, I am not just giving Him my wealth, I'm giving Him my power--the means I have to carry out what is in my heart.

So then, once our faith(fullness) is proven to a certain degree, and we have access to His heavenly strength and power, we will need to access this power for it to become a reality in our lives. How do we do that?

To answer that question, look at three things:

  • The heart of God
  • The words which express His heart (Matthew 12:34)
  • The power that backs up His word and heart.

This translates into the fullness of the Godhead:

  • The heart of God is the Father. (John 5:19)
  • The Word of God is Jesus Christ. (John 1:14)
  • The power of God is His Spirit. (Acts 1:8)

Most of us understand that the Father is the heart of the Trinity. This is where love, goodness, truth, righteousness, and so on come from. We also understand that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and He is the communicator and mediator between God and man. He sealed the covenant between us by His own blood--shedding His blood to maintain the integrity between the Heart and Word of God.

The demonstration of God's power is done through His Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:4, Acts 10:38, Hebrews 2:4). Spirit is breath (John 20:22). If you want to see God's power in your life, you'll need to remain filled with His Spirit. Breathe in His Spirit consistently. This isn't something we do once or twice. How many breaths do you take in a day? This is the kind of consistency the Lord desires for us to have.

Every breath, all day long, means we are consistently faithful to fill ourselves with His Spirit. Remember faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Nurturing all of the fruit of the Spirit will nurture the heart of the Father within us. Then, when we speak His Words, they will carry His power--His Heart, His Words, His Power.

Jesus' disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume the people who rejected Jesus. He rebuked them and told them, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of." (Luke 9:55). A wrong spirit will not get the desires of God's heart accomplished. A wrong heart speaks wrong words releasing something that is not of God. Even if they seem like the right words are being spoken, if they are "right" words spoken from a wrong heart then they do not carry the true desires of God, nor do they release what's right. They are dangerous words. Words are powerful. This is why its so important to have His heart and His Spirit, before we speak. If we want His power, we must have His heart.

So the short answer on how to access the power of God to the degree of your faith(fullness) is that you continually align your heart with His heart. You sincerely align yourself with His Word. You maintain the integrity between God's Spirit within you and the words you speak. You pursue being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. You desire God's heart to be the driving force in your life. You admit He is right and submit to Him as the Righteous One. You nurture the fruit of the Spirit in your life. You don't rely on your own strength or power to live your life, but recognize your place in His kingdom and tap into His strength and power. You remain faithful to Him knowing that He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly. You surrender your strength, your desires, and your wealth to Him, because His are better and He is offering them to you!