Let This Mind Be In You

What kind of mind should we have as Christians? Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) We are to think like Jesus. There are many scripture verses in the Bible that refer to “the mind.” God knows that “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” (This is a title of a great message by Joyce Meyer). Everything we do begins in our mind. A person who commits sin had a thought first before acting it out.

Do we have control over our thoughts, or are we left to a mind that has its own way? The answers to all of our problems lie in the Word of God. If we seek answers, we will find them (Matthew 7:7). So many people struggle in their thought life. I think part of the reason is that they don’t believe they have the power to do anything to change their own thoughts. So, as Christians, they live in the bondage of guilt and shame when all the while Christ Jesus intends for them to live in freedom and peace! Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” You may be thinking, “Yeah, right, don’t I wish I could have perfect peace and that I could keep my mind on Him or even trust Him every day.” Maybe you haven’t found this to be possible. But let me continue: Romans 8:5-7 tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according do the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Clearly, God’s Word tells us that we have power over our thoughts!

So, how is it that we can change our thoughts? Brain researchers have proven scientifically that it is possible to change our way of thinking. From my own personal experience I will admit that it isn’t always easy, it will take work and effort on your part. But if you are determined and seek God’s help, it CAN be done, because HE will help you. Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Start by making choices that God will approve. Turn away from the things of this world that drag you into sin.

First Corinthians 2:12 says, “Now we (followers of Christ) have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” The end of verse 16 adds, “But we have the mind of Christ.” That is, our spirit-man has a mind that is of Christ; that agrees with Christ Jesus and the Word of God. We have to let His Spirit rule and lead us, and we have to get our fleshly “mind” to agree with His mind. Set your mind on the Word and listen to that “inner witness” that longs to obey the Lord and desires to please Him.

Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things that are worth thinking about: Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise. Thinking on these things will contribute to the renewal of our minds.

In my own search for freedom in my mind, I discovered a simple 5-step process that works to change the way we think: “It begins with a thought. If you think it long enough, you come to believe that it is true. Once you believe it’s true, it becomes a reality to you. Once it is a reality, you live it out, and as you live it out, it becomes You.” Here’s the process:

(1) Thought
(2) Belief
(3) Reality
(4) Lived Out
(5) Becomes You

If the original thought is negative, self-destructive, or untrue, it becomes a “stronghold” of the mind that will hold you in its bondage. But if this process is followed with a positive, encouraging, uplifting thought, it becomes a “strong place” in your mind which is healthy and produces good fruit in you. Replace your wrong thinking with right thinking and with God’s help you can and WILL change your mind to glorify Him and live in His freedom!

Let’s pray:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I need help in this area. I am willing to try and I am willing to change. I know that I need Your help to do this. So I thank You that You are with me to help me come in to the freedom You desire for me to have. I thank you for this in Your Precious Holy name,
Amen

The most helpful reference I can recommend on this subject is Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book and DVD series, “Who Switched Off My Brain?” (Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions) www.drleaf.net She presents scientific research from a Christian perspective.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.

There Is More Of God’s Love For You

I was walking during my quiet time with the Lord the other day, praying, and I just sensed the Lord speaking to my heart. He was saying, You’re touched by My love when you realize I am here. You are filled by My love when you reach out for it. I long to do more than touch you with My love. I long to fill you with My love. Will you ask so it will come? Will you lay down the things that hinder you from receiving My love? Unworthiness, fear, doubt, complacency; My love is SO much better than any of these. So why hang on to them? Release them and have My love. Release them and have more of Me. Release the hurts and the offenses, the things that people have done to you. It’s not worth hanging on. Put My love in place of these things and you will rise out of them successfully.

There will always be offenses but you must not take them when they come. There will always be something to fear; but you must choose to not fear it and take MY love. There’s more for the asking! Just ask and I’ll give more.

Walk in My love. Let love be your aim. Love never fails; I AM love and what I give you is love and it will never fail. Let this be in you; you have the choice. You choose to love, you choose to hate. You choose to forgive. You choose to hold a grudge. In the releasing of these negative things, there is room for love. There is room for you to change. It is possible for you to change and become the person I have called you to be, I have created you to be, I have purposed for you to be.

Cry out to know Me more. There IS more to know of Me, you know. Cry out! See Me move in your life, in your circumstances and in the impossible situations; yet by My power I will make possible to move and to change. It’s time for you to be refreshed. Be refreshed in My love and in who I am. I AM MORE than you know. So come and know MORE. I am MORE than you’ve seen. So COME and see MORE. I am MORE than what you’ve experienced so COME and experience MORE.

Dare to ask, dare to receive, dare to believe. There is a planting and a harvesting. Plant the seeds of faith into My love and watch them grow.

Scriptures to meditate on:

I John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the word. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
Jeremiah 31:3b “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you.”
I Corinthians 14:1 “Make love your aim.” (RSV)
I Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails.” (KJ)
Romans 8:39 “…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:5 “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” (KJ)
Luke 11:9 “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Scripture references are from New English Version unless stated other wise.

Fear Not

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” Everywhere we turn, that’s the message we hear today, from news reporters, politicians, bankers, stock brokers, auto executives, retailers, employers, even our friends and family members. Fear seems to be overwhelming the world.

As believers in Jesus Christ, are we to submit to this spirit of fear? God’s holy Word teaches us otherwise. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of God and His messengers assuring us with words like, “Do not be afraid,” “Do not fear” and “Have no fear.” I love the way these passages are translated in the King James Version: “FEAR NOT!”

The subject of fear is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. In the 14th chapter of Genesis, Abraham is in the midst of a tense confrontation with the King of Sodom, yet God reassures Abraham: “‘Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” (Genesis 15:1b)

The story of the Exodus contains one of the greatest moments in all of history. The Israelites have been released from slavery and are making their long journey out of Egypt. The land through which they must journey is a wilderness with little food or water. The Israelites are complaining to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness?” The situation becomes urgent when Pharaoh has a change of heart and decides it was a mistake to release the Israelites. He arms his chariots and sets out in pursuit to take them back into captivity. To make matters even worse, the Israelites are backed up against the Red Sea with nowhere to run. If ever a group of people had a right to be hopeless, this was it! Yet Moses says to the Israelites, “. . .Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13-14) We all know the rest of the story. God divided the waters and made a path of dry land right through the middle of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape between the walls of water on either side. Wow! At a moment when all seemed hopeless, God said, “Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to do anything except trust in Me!” Can we really believe that?

The Psalms contain many assurances about fear. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (118:6 KJV) “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (27:1 KJV) And of course, the beloved 23rd Psalm, in which the Psalmist acknowledges that even when we walk through the darkest valley (the Valley of the Shadow of Death), we need fear no evil, for God is with us!

In the Old Testament, several passages are translated, “Do not fear or be dismayed.” Wouldn’t you agree that all of us are feeling a little dismayed these days? Don Moen wrote a wonderful song inspired by passages such as Joshua 1:9:

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the One Who lives within you
Will be strong in you today!
(Be Strong And Take Courage by Don Moen, Integrity Music)

Have we become so content with our earthly comforts that we have forgotten how dependent we are on the Lord? We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are not in control. God is in Control, and He hears our prayers! “Do not fear,” the Lord’s angel said to Daniel, “for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, your words have been heard. . .” (Daniel 10:12) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) What wonderful promises these are! And yet we must never forget our responsibility to humble ourselves, to acknowledge the Lord, and to seek to please Him with our lives.

If we are instructed to not be afraid, what does God offer to replace our fear? He offers the most wonderful thing of all, peace! In the words of our Savior Jesus Christ, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27) Two chapters later, He says it this way: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (serious trouble), but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We’re supposed to be of good cheer even when we’re facing serious trouble?

The apostle Paul faced his share of serious trouble, but he also knew the peace of God. Acts chapter 16 tells of a time when Paul and his friend Silas were wrongly accused for preaching the gospel and casting out a demon. They were beaten with rods, then thrown into prison, where they were bound by foot stocks in the innermost cell (maximum security). Under those circumstances, I’m not sure I would be of good cheer, but Paul and Silas were! About midnight, they were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (probably thinking they must be lunatics!). Suddenly there was a great earthquake so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors of the prison were opened and all the prisoners’ chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he assumed the prisoners had escaped and drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here!” The jailer rushed into the cells and fell on his knees in front of Paul and Silas, amazed that they had remained in the jail when they could have easily escaped. The jailer took them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” By trusting God in the middle of serious trouble, not only were Paul and Silas released from prison, but others were led to believe in Jesus as God’s Son, even the jailer and his family!

Later, Paul would write, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication (asking with humility), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear: “. . .Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? And can you, by worrying, add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the [ungodly people] who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

Beyond doubt, these are troubled times, but God never promised us that we would never have to face trouble. In fact, He promised us we could not escape it. But He has further promised that we can rely on Him completely to walk with us through every trial. He is the Creator of the Universe, and He is bigger than all the problems this world will ever face. No wonder He can say to us, “Fear not!”

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord,

We are worried and fearful and too often weak in our faith. Please forgive us. Please teach us to trust in You completely. Help us not to be caught up in the fears and anxieties of this world, but to lay all of our concerns before You in faith. May we know your peace that passes all understanding. May our faith in You be a shining light that turns the eyes of the nation upon You. As we humble ourselves and pray, as we seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, please hear us from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. May we live each moment in the assurance that we need not fear; we can trust You in every way, for You are in control. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Unless otherwise noted all scripture references are from the New Revised Standard Version.

Are You There, God?

In a time of economic downturn even believers can become fearful, as many struggle financially and some have even lost their jobs.  In 28 years of marriage, Matt and I have received many blessings and victories.  Yet, we’ve also experienced countless trials and tough times.  It is during the tough times, when our faith has been tested, that we have seen God come through in amazing ways so that we could take none of the credit and all the glory belonged to Him.

When we face hard times, there is always a “pressing through” that is painful and discouraging to walk.  In the midst of it, it’s hard to see God at work.  We are so quick to fall into doubt and fear, asking, “Where is God in all of this?”

If you are in a difficult place and need a miracle from God, I want to encourage you to not lose heart.  This is JUST the place where the door is wide open for you to see Him come through for you in a mighty way.  There have been many times when I have said to God, “You sure must think I can handle a lot,” when I was sure it was more than I could bear.  Yet, with His help, I made it through to the other side.

In tough times, we face two choices:  be angry at God, OR, draw closer to God.  Hebrews 7:25 says, “…He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Jesus is the one who makes intercession for us, that is, He acts on our behalf before His Father, the Lord God Almighty.  Jesus acts on our behalf when we draw near to Him.

I like the saying, “You can become bitter or better.”  The choice is always up to us.  Sometimes, halfway through a trial, our frame of mind will change from one state to the other.  It is of course best to work on “becoming better” rather than allowing ourselves to become bitter.  Yet, if you find yourself becoming bitter, there is hope in Christ.  It takes repentance, admitting that we have been wrong, and then choosing to turn in a new direction with God’s help.

James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  Often in times of trial, I have had to take time to repent to God for my bad attitude, or for doubting Him instead of trusting Him.  He is always faithful to forgive us and cleanse us.  It takes recognizing that we are weak and He is all-powerful, but it also takes seeing that He loves us, even when we don’t endure a trial with perfect behavior.  He isn’t trying to punish us.  I have seen for myself that if I will submit my attitude to God, He will turn my outlook around and I will find it easier to endure a trial.  Eventually, with His help, I will begin to see a way out of the struggle.

In Psalm 31:1-4, King David gives us a wonderful example to follow:  “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!  Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!  Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!  For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.”

If we think God is punishing us, or He has something against us, this false belief will prevent us from turning to Him.  We will be too afraid to draw close to Him.  I find that these false thoughts also stir up confusion.  You wonder, “Is God done being mad?  Is the punishment enough now?  I don’t know what God’s trying to teach me, have I learned what I’m supposed to learn?”  The Psalms and other books of the Bible contain many examples of times when someone experienced such troubled thoughts, and they ring true for those who are going through a time of difficulty.  Psalm 107:6 tells us, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.”  (Read the entire 42nd Psalm)

So often, we try to figure out everything before the trial ends.  Yet typically, it is not until we are past the trial that we are able to see a purpose, or to understand that we have learned something of value. We see so much more clearly afterward.  During a trial, we can see only part of the situation.  Our vision is limited.  God may speak to us during our struggle, but He usually only gives us a part of what we want to see and know.  I believe this is because He wants us to keep looking to Him, trusting in His guidance and not in our own limited abilities.

I want to encourage you to look for the little things, the small morsels of understanding as you walk in the midst of your struggle.  God is actively moving and speaking and revealing Himself all along.  We just have to let our eyes see and our minds understand the little miracles He sends our way.  I encourage you to journal everything, with dates, so you can keep track of the praises along the way.  After the trial, when you read back through your journal, you will see God in every step of your journey.

There have been many times when I have been struggling and not able to see a way out, when a good friend would send me a “word from the Lord” that was just in time and so uplifting for me.  First Corinthians 14:1 teaches us, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”  I have often held on to that special word to carry me through very dark times.  Eventually, I would see God’s word fulfilled, but during the trial, my faith would be increased as I held on to the hope of victory before it came.

Jesus promised us that we WILL have trials and tribulations, but HE has overcome the world (John 16:33).   HE has given us HIS overcoming power!  In NO WAY does God mean for us to be defeated!  Satan and his demons long to steal, kill and destroy, to defeat us every chance they can.  We must recognize that there are forces of darkness fighting against us.  We are in a spiritual battle.  So know this: that God intends for you and me to be victorious overcomers so we can help others to also be victorious.

The Apostle Paul writes, “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Yes, while going through a difficult trial it can seem as though the Lord is far away, that the difficulty has somehow separated us from God.  But His word says nothing can separate us from His love.  He IS love and He is always with us no matter what we may be facing.

Maybe someone close to you who is enduring a time of great difficulty.  This can be a great opportunity for you to stand with that person, to pray with them and see them through the trial.  We are not meant to live the Christian life alone.  We are to walk together, encouraging one another in our faith.  So let’s not encourage doubt and unbelief when someone is struggling.  Let’s not agree with their negativity or bitterness.  Let’s speak words of life and encouragement.  Let’s speak scriptures that will build up their faith to understand and believe that God IS making a way for them because He loves them and is for them, not against them. More than ever, we need to support and encourage one another.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, I thank you that your word is our guide through every path of life and it especially helps me when I am struggling.  Thank you for your great love and mercy that never fail to comfort me, even when I can’t see what’s ahead.  Help me to trust you in everything and to believe that You are for me and that You are making a way of escape for me.  I can take comfort in knowing that You know all about my struggles and my weaknesses and you WILL see me through to victory.

In Jesus’ Holy name I pray, Amen.

Faith And Actions

Actions speak louder than words. Words without action mean nothing. The right action done in My power produces great fruit. Faith is an action word. It is a verb, not a noun. Faith without works IS dead. Faith is not to be dead, but it is to be alive. Believing in something before it is visible is faith. Faith must have truth to stand on. You find truth in My word. Truth has life, MY life in it and when it is believed in and put forth with action, that is when the invisible things become visible. I want My people to belive in My word SO much that they will take truth and move out in faith and see the impossible become possible, the invisible to become visible. There is more to this life than what you ‘see.’

Is that all you want to know is what you can see? “No, Lord! I want what I haven’t seen to be visible. I want to see more than what has been seen.” You will see if you believe and if you step out to see the unknown, then it will be “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Oh My glory has been hindered by the lack of believing and the lack of stepping out.

There are the fruitful lives and the unfruitful lives. Do you think the fruitful lives became fruitful without faith, without taking great steps in adversity? That is where faith is tested the most, in adversity. But if you take the steps of believing for more, even in the broken place, you will NOT be disappointed. Know that you eyes will see more and your life will accomplish more in this walk of faith and in the believing before seeing.

That is how the saints of old got through much adversity. They dared to believe, they dared to trust Me, to believe that I AM the Great I AM. That I am everything My word says I am. These things are not done without warfare. The enemy will fight the challenge of faith. But it is SO worth fighting for.

The full gospel includes faith, intertwined with the method of faith. Never void of faith. If you hold on to your way, you will fail to see Mine. My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways. You must surrender your fallible ideals and run after My ways. Search for them and take hold of them and make them your “life.”

What is going to trigger this change in your life and in your mind? Let it be the calling of My Spirit. For when you come when you are called, it will produce deeper life within. But if you wait for a more desperate time, it will take longer to take root. So come with trusting, come with faith. Come ready to take action and move in My way. THE way, THE truth and THE life.

JAMES 2:24 “YOU SEE THAT A PERSON IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE.”

JAMES 2:26 “FOR AS THE BODY APART FROM THE SPIRIT IS DEAD, SO ALSO FAITH APART FROM WORKS IS DEAD.”

(READ ALSO JAMES 2 VERSES 18-26)

ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION

What About Faith?

What is faith? Do we need faith? Do we have faith?

Let’s see what the word of God has to say about faith:

Question #1: “What is faith?”
We find the definition in Hebrews 11:1 − “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I personally like the King James Version: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Question #2: “Do we need faith?”
We find the answer to this question in Hebrews 11 also, at verse 6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

Wouldn’t you agree that faith is important if it’s impossible to please God without it?

Question #3: “Do we have faith?”
The answer is found in Romans 12:3: “…each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned,” or “according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (KJV) (Man, woman and child)

Hallelujah, this is awesome news. We HAVE BEEN GIVEN “the measure” of faith. God has provided it for us!

You may feel your faith is small or weak but it is possible to increase “the measure” of faith God has given us.

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,” or “hearing by the word of God.” (KJV)

Yes there is some responsibility on our part concerning our faith.

First Thessalonians says, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love…” Habakkuk 2:4b tells us, “. . .the righteous shall live by his faith.”

Jesus had a lot to say about faith. There are many scripture verses about faith in the New Testament. For example, in Matthew 17:20 Jesus told his disciples, “…if you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move, and NOTHING will be impossible for you.”

Wow, that’s a bold statement! Looking at this I believe there is a whole lot more that we could be accomplishing in this life if we believe Jesus’ words. Do you know how tiny a mustard seed is? It is about the size of the head of a straight pin. So, God gave us “the measure” of faith and THEN he tells us it takes only a tiny amount to see great things happen.

Romans 1:17 says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 reads, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

We were even saved by faith!

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus’ Disciples asked Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), and Jesus replied to them, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this Mulberry Tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea; and it would obey you.”

We don’t have to fear the fact that faith is necessary. Faith doesn’t have to seem ‘out of reach’ or impossible to walk in. I have found some people to be offended by the thought of faith being required of them. But if faith can cause mountains to be moved and victory to come to my life, I WANT FAITH!

It is very important to know that faith is not all we need. The apostle James wrote, “What good is it, my brothers (& sisters) if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). In verse 17 he continues, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is DEAD.”

So what kind of “works” is James talking about? What “works” must I produce in order for my faith to work?” Most of our trials and difficulties last awhile, and we don’t see the breakthrough or answer come in just a few days. How do we stand and believe for the answer day after day, week after week, and maybe even month after month?

In times of having to “stand firm and believe” (one of the works) I have learned that just because something has been a certain way a long time doesn’t mean it always will be that way. Faith “sees” my circumstance change into something new and then take joy in the process in seeing it come to pass. Faith focuses on the “PROMISE” in the “PROCESS,” the promise being found in God’s word for your situation. The process will never come to the promise without faith.

Unbelief can get in the way of our faith. In Mark 9 we read about a man whose son was demon possessed. The boy’s father brought him to Jesus’ disciples but they were not able to cast out the demon. So the father brought his son to Jesus. (I love the persistence of this father). The words of this father were, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you CAN? All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and it left the boy.

The father recognized that unbelief was blocking the way. He cried to Jesus for help and his request was granted. I believe we can do the same today and Jesus will help us.

We are all at a different place in our faith in God. But ALL of us have the same requirement: FAITH! It is up to us to USE it, WALK in it and then allow it to grow so we can please our heavenly Father by believing. Living a life of faith can be an exciting journey! I believe God has many blessings to reveal to you as you walk in faith with Him.

Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for supplying me with “the measure” of faith. Thank you for making me aware that it’s there and that I am to use it and allow my faith to grow so I can see You work even greater things in my life. Help me to cooperate with Your Holy Spirit as you lead me through the trials of life. Thank You for making a way for me to believe and that you’ll even help me when I doubt. Thank You, Lord, for loving me. I commit to you right now to a walk of faith, in Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Here are some more scriptures on faith for additional study:

Except as noted, all scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version.

Count It All Joy?

The title of this message is taken from James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The first time I read these verses I couldn’t see how doing this could be possible.  As life moved along, I endured many difficult trials, and I’ll admit I wasn’t successful in “counting it ALL joy” as James instructs.  But before you agree whole-heartedly let me say that I believe there is something in “counting it all joy” that is possible for us to walk in.  Let me start by sharing a personal experience:

I was lying on a small cot in the hospital room near the bed where our three-year old son, Mathew, lay sound asleep.  Just two months after turning three, our first-born son began having seizures.  After several of these episodes, a neurologist ordered E.E.G.s, brain scans and medications.  This particular night was spent in the hospital after Mathew had endured numerous tests, all showing a normal brain.

I lay there unable to sleep, my heart racing from fear, my mind cluttered with doubt, confusion and the dreadful “what ifs.”  In the midst of the turmoil, I uttered desperate prayers, crying out to the Lord for help, for mercy, for an answer.  Suddenly, I heard a sound that seemed to envelope my entire head where I lay.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard.  It didn’t frighten me.  There was a settling peace within the sound.  It was like the sound of what I would imagine Angel wings making as they fluttered back and forth.  As I heard this sound, a strong presence of the Lord came over every part of me and I heard a voice speak softly, “Mathew is going to be fine.”  At that point I was in a soft whirl-wind of peace that settled everything in me, and I drifted off to sleep.

But the trial of seizures continued for seven long months, testing our faith, our spiritual strength, and our commitment to following God.  Testing us more than anything we’d ever experienced before or since.  I wondered, “Is there something we’re going to gain from this?  Lord what do you want us to learn?  Can we hurry up and learn it and bring this whole thing to an end?”

Medication after medication was tried with no success.  The seizures increased, and toward the end, Mathew was seizing every few seconds.  At this point, the Neurologist gave us a devastating prognosis:  “I think your son has a rare brain disease and won’t live past the age of five.”  Matt and I had been claiming promises in God’s word, we had been feeding ourselves with the Holy Scriptures, and when the doctor announced his diagnosis, my first thoughts went to these words, “I will not believe the report of man, I will believe the report of the Lord.”  I remembered those soft words spoken to me in the hospital, as well as many scriptures of promise.

A few years before, I had experienced God’s divine healing in my own body, so as Mathew’s condition grew worse, everything in me was clinging to the promise, “God’s going to heal Mathew.”  Even though I had all of this, I still had many opportunities to doubt those words.  We are so moved by what we see and it is difficult to “Speak to that which is not as though it were.”

Matt and I had many godly people around us praying for us and Mathew, believing for God to heal Mathew.  We are so grateful for such tremendous support.  At the end of the seventh month, there was breakthrough, and Mathew was healed.  Leading up to Mathew’s healing, we had begun seeing another Doctor.  He not only confirmed the healing, but still says to this day, “God healed your son.”

Throughout this very difficult trial, we turned to God’s Word and to worship.  While Matt was at work and I was home dealing with the situation, in order to avoid giving in to fear, I had to focus on God’s Word and lift up praises with worship and singing.  Before putting Mathew to bed at night, I would read the Bible to him and then he and I would worship the Lord together.  Many times we would be engulfed in God’s presence as we lifted up our “sacrifices of praise.”  Mathew’s small hands would be lifted up as he worshiped in-between seizures.  Isaiah 61 begins, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”  These words were quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:18-19.

The ultimate test for us came before Mathew was healed.  Matt and I had to come to the commitment that even if God doesn’t heal Mathew, we would still serve Him.  It was just days after we made this commitment that everything turned in another direction toward Mathew’s healing.  Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”  We couldn’t rejoice in our son’s suffering, but we could rejoice in God and who He is in our situation.  This was powerful for us to grasp.  Matt and I received great encouragement from many of the Psalms.  I love the words in Psalm 44:1-2, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge. . . .”  We felt the battle of the enemy of our souls.  Satan wanted us to give up and give in and lose hope.

What I love about King David is he was so real and honest about his emotions and struggles.  I could relate to his words in these verses:  “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!  Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy. . .My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me.  Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.  And I say, Oh that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest; I would hurry and find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.  But I call to God, and the Lord will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, he hears my voice.  He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.”  (Ps.55) “Oh God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.  O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.  He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.  I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.  For he has delivered me from every trouble and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”  (Ps. 54)

What I appreciate about David is that he was honest about how he felt and what he was thinking, but he always came back to praising God and remembering His goodness to him.

It’s true that this life can dish out tough times where we are left with a desperation for God to send the breakthrough, our victory.  Matt and I had many victories within our own hearts before Mathew was healed physically.  We had spiritual surgery within us in the trial and testing.  And we can “Count it ALL joy,” knowing that God will work good things out of every situation and He is ever working within us to make us more like Him.

Let’s pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, you are so wise, all knowing, you know everything about us and you know what needs to be rooted out and what needs to be formed in us.  Please help us in these times of trial and testing of our faith that steadfastness will be produced in us and we will be complete, lacking nothing in YOU.  Help us to never go back to who we were so we can become all that you want us to become.  Thank you that we are never alone, that you are with us helping us through every hardship.  Help us to stand on your Word and promises and to know that You are faithful and You will see us through.
We ask this all in the blessed name of Jesus,
Amen.

*All scripture references are from the English Standard Version

Upon The Wind

The Eagle soars upon the wind,
High with so much ease.
If I could learn the spirit’s wind
I could fly like He.
A river flows with current set,
Over rocks and sand.
If I could learn the Spirit’s flow,
Through anything, I’d stand.
The stars at night, all held in place,
By powers we cannot see,
And every morning the sun will rise,
Ever faithfully!
If I could put my trust in God
As much as earth and sky,
I would never fail to see
His Spirit soaring high!
His hand of grace, His heart of love,
His ever present care,
I would live each moment through,
Knowing that He’s there.
But I failed today and yesterday,
And the day before.
I failed to trust Him with my all,
The doubt has come once more!
When my life’s in the Father’s hand
Why would doubt prevail?
The enemy of heart and soul,
There to make me fail!
But I turn my eyes once again
To see and to believe,
That God is really big enough
And my heart CAN receive…
His grace, His love, His present care
That He has here for me.
Could it be that I must choose
To trust when I can’t see?
And place my hand upon faith’s door,
And live a life that’s free!