Faith Without Works is Dead

James 2:26(NKJV) 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

This week we are studying Mark 11:24. In this verse, Jesus tells us that if words spoken by faith to the natural world are powerful enough to move mountains, than words spoken with the same faith in prayer to the Father are even more powerful. He goes on to say that when we pray we must believe that we have our request. If we do, we will have what we ask God to do. If we wait to believe our request is granted until we see it in the natural, we will never get it.

We know this principle because we use it all the time in the natural. We order things online and tell people what we bought. We do not say, I hope I get a new computer. If we ordered from a good company, we say we bought a new computer. We do not yet have the computer, but when we ordered it, we believed it was ours. We need to treat God with the same respect. He is far more reliable than any online vendor. When we pray we need to believe we receive the answer and thank God for it until we see it in the natural.

The next thing we do if we believe our online order is on the way is to act in accordance with what we believe. Today’s verse tells us that faith operates in the same manner. This verse says faith without works is dead. According to Thayer’s Bible Definitions, this word can mean an act. Faith without an act or action that corresponds to what we believe is dead.

James uses the comparison to the body without the spirit to explain what he means. A body without a spirit has all the parts necessary for life. It has a heart but the heart does not beat or pump blood. It has lungs but they do not take in oxygen. It has eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. It has all the parts needed for life but no life. It cannot do anything. It cannot accomplish anything. We may have the Word of God in our heart. We may have our confession in place. We may know what we want to believe, but faith without some kind of action is ineffective.

What kind of action is James talking about? Let us look at what he says earlier in the chapter.

James 2:14-17(NKJV) 14What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

In verse 17, James makes the same statement concerning faith and works he does in verse 26. However, he ties it to some other statements. He tells us that if we say to a brother or sister, “be warm and filled” but give them no food or warm clothing, what good does that do. At first glance, we might conclude that the kind of works or actions James is speaking of are charitable works. I believe that is part of what he means and we will discuss this later. If we look more closely at verse 17 and verses 18-25, I believe it will become clear that he is talking about more than that.

Verse 17 uses a phrase that is important. He says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” I use many illustrations when I teach or preach. An illustration is a parallel statement of truth. I might use my relationship with my children to illustrate God’s relationship with us. I do this because it is easy for most of us to relate to natural parents and children. We have all been the one and most of us have been both. I might say something like, “Just as I loved my children in this way, God loves us in the same way.” This is exactly what James is doing in verse 17.

It is easy to understand that willingness to help a person who needs food or clothes does no good if we do not give the food or clothes. James says faith has the same relationship to corresponding actions. If we say we believe something but put no action behind what we believe, our faith is ineffective in doing what we need it to do.

In verses 18 to 25, Paul uses two examples. The first is that of Abraham and Isaac. In this story we learn that God told Abraham to take Isaac up to Mount Mariah, build and alter, kill Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham did this by faith because he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if necessary. Abraham had a promise and his action was based on that promise.

The promise was that one of his descendent would bless all nations and that the number of his descendents would be as the sands on the seashore. Isaac was his only son. If the promise was going to be fulfilled, it had to be through Isaac. However, God was the one that gave the promise so Abraham acted in faith according to the promise knowing that God would do the impossible if necessary. James tells us that this “work” was accounted to him as righteousness.

There is no way that this action by Abraham can be seen as “good works.” It is an action taken because Abraham believed that God would fulfill his promise. If Abraham had not taken this corresponding action, everything that happened next would have been affected. God was Abraham’s blood covenant partner. Whatever Abraham gave God must give. Abraham gave his only son believing God would raise him from the dead. The devil was the God of this world because of Adam’s rebellion. Once God’s human covenant partner gave his son, the devil could not stop God from giving his “only begotten son.”

The next example is Rahab. She protected the spies Israel sent to gather intelligence on Jericho. She believed that the God of Israel was more powerful than the gods of Canaan. She acted according to her faith by choosing to hide the spies instead of giving them to the king of Jericho. Her faith action aided Israel in gaining victory over Jericho as well as protecting her life and that of her family when everyone else in Jericho died.

In these examples, it is clear that James is not just speaking about good works or charitable deeds when he says faith without works is dead. He is talking about actions that we take because we believe the promise of God is true.

Every faith endeavor requires a point of action. Acting on our faith always involves some risk. Abraham risked losing the promise altogether. Rahab risked losing her life to the king if he found out she had betrayed him. Neither had any natural reason to think their action would not result in bad things happening. All they had was the promise of God.

Before we go any farther in this teaching I want to bring a word of caution. I believe everything we do by faith will require an action. We must know that the action we take is a result of what we already believe and not an attempt to believe. If we act to get faith, we will fail. Many have misunderstood this and acted thinking the action itself was faith. If we do not have faith, we cannot act. How do we know the difference?

I believe it is important that every believer be in relationship with someone who is accountable for them and who is older and wiser in the things of God than he is. That is why I believe we need to be in a local church under local leaders who know us. We need to get counsel before we act. If those over us say what we are planning is not the Lord, we need to submit. Real corresponding actions will release the power of God. Actions to try to believe will release disaster.

The bible teaches that there is safety in Godly counsel. We must find that balance between acting in faith and acting in foolishness. If we do not, either our faith will be “dead” or our actions will produce problems. We can find that balance if we do it in relationship.

When You Pray…..Believe

Mark 11:24(NKJV) 24Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Last week we listened to the words of Jesus in Mark 11 as he told the disciples how powerful faith filled words could be. We saw that verse 24 begins with the word “therefore” which connects it to verse 23. The conclusion is that if words spoken to a natural mountain could actually move that mountain, what could words spoken with the same kind of faith in prayer to the Father do? The answer is anything that might be needed.

This week I want to look more closely at verse 24. The wording here is very interesting. Jesus tells them that they must believe that they have the answer to their prayer when they pray. This goes against the natural way of thinking for most of us. We tend to believe God actually answered the prayer when we see the result. Part of the problem is that we have been taught things like, “God moves in strange and mysterious ways his wonders to perform.” Although God often does things in ways we could not imagine, they are not strange and mysterious; they are according to the principles in his Word.

When I find a promise in the word of God and I bring that promise back to God in prayer, I need to believe when I pray that God is working on that request and it is mine now. This is not really so difficult to understand if we relate it to the modern way we do much of our business.

Christmas is just over the horizon and we will soon begin shopping for our 6 children and 13 grandchildren. When our children were small, this was a time when my wife and I could get away for lunch without the kids and not feel guilty. We were Christmas shopping! Of course the kids could not go! We would go to many different stores over a period of weeks looking for the things the children wanted at the best price. At the same time, we got to spend time together. It was a win, win situation.

Now things have changed. Our children are grown and we can go to lunch together any time we want. We still have two at home but they are in their 20’s so we often find ourselves eating all three meals alone together. For 25 years, we were never alone in the house.

We still have gifts to buy, but something else has changed as well. We no longer go from store to store in the cold and snow. We simply sit down at the computer and go from site to site in the comfort of our home. Not quite as romantic I know, but much warmer.

My wife does most of the shopping now. She will come to me and say “I got this for (and name a child or grandchild.)” She may describe the item or show me a picture. I will ask, “How much was it?” She will tell me the price, which is usually a good bargain. Now if I ask to see it she will say, “It’s not here yet, but it will be here before Christmas.” We have one son who lives out of state. Sometimes we have his and his children’s gifts wrapped and sent to them directly. We never do see those gifts. How do we know they will get them? How do we know the gifts we ordered will get to us by Christmas? We know because we trust the company with which we are doing business.

It is interesting what we say when we order something online. We say, “I bought a new computer.” We do not say, “I asked for a new computer but I don’t know if I will get it.” We tell people how excited we are that we got this new thing. We will describe it to people. We will think about what it can do. We imagine ourselves with the new thing. Why would we do that? We do not actually have the thing in our hands. We trust the company from which we bought it.

For most people today, online shopping is part of daily life. We know the system and we know that it works. I buy coffee online. I will order the coffee and in a few days, it comes to my doorstep. How do I know it will get there? How do I know it will be what I want? I know because the company is reputable and I have done this may times before. The coffee, or whatever I order, has gotten to my door many times and it is almost always what I ordered. I know and trust the vendor and the system.

When we pray, somehow we think the one we are praying to and the system he set up is less trustworthy than Amazon.com. We pray and wonder if almighty God will do what he said. We pray and the devil tells us that we are somehow not worthy to receive what we ask for. When I order something online, I make sure my accounts are in order and my payment method is valid. If it is, I know I will receive what I ask for. If you are born again and you base your request on the Word of God, your account is in order and your request is pre-paid!

In Mark 11:24, Jesus is using wording that is right out of modern life. When we ask God for something according to the Word, we need to believe at that moment that the request is ours. Sometimes online orders take a little longer to get to us than we think they should. If we trust the company, we just keep looking for the delivery. It is the same with the Lord. Sometimes things need to be worked out in us before we see the result. Sometimes circumstances or people need to be dealt with before we see the answer. The important thing is that God is good for his word and he will get the answer to us exactly when we need it.

When we pray, we should not be afraid to tell people what God is in the process of doing for us.

“How are things doing financially?”

“Well, there have been some challenges, but God is moving to meet my need.”

“How do you know that?”

“Philippians 4:19 says he will and I asked him to. I believe I receive my needs met.”

“How do you know it’s going to happen?”

“I asked the Father for it according to his word. How can it not happen?”

“Well what do you do now?”

“I thank God for meeting my need, listen for instructions from him on what I have to do to ‘pick it up’ and trust the Lord to be good for his word!”

To the natural mind, this seems extreme if we are talking about God, but completely reasonable if we are talking about the internet. Does that seem a little off to you?

One more thing we will do once we place our order is prepare for the product to come. I have purchased a number of computers this way. While I wait, I will prepare to transfer my information from one machine to the other. I may copy my files to some kind of removable media so I can easily copy them to the new machine. If it is a desktop model, I may clean up the space where it will go. I will prepare to move the old one out and bring the new one in. What am I doing? I am acting according to my order. Since I know the new one is coming, I prepare to receive it.

This week we want to look at the nature of corresponding actions. That is, the actions we take because we believe God will do what he said. In the mean time, think about what you need from God and consider the words of Jesus. When you pray, believe that God will do what he said. He is far more reliable than any online vendor is.

Pray for All in Authority

1 Timothy 2:1-4(NKJV) 1Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I am going to depart from my theme somewhat today. We will return to our study of Mark 11 and acting on the promises of God next week. Today I want to encourage all who read this blog to pray for those in authority. This is a very important time in the history of the world, and the bible is clear on the role the church should play in whatever nation we live.

2 Chronicles 7:14(NKJV) 14if 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.

This is a very familiar scripture, but I wonder if we accept the ramifications it implies. There is no mention in this verse of the ungodly. There is no mention in this verse of politicians. There is not mention in this verse of the news media. Unless there is something I am missing here, this scripture puts the responsibility for the healing of our land upon those called by His name. We are Christians, little Christs by interpretation. We are those called by the name of the Lord.

Today’s scripture found in 1 Timothy is the New Testament equivalent to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Here Paul tells Timothy that the church needs to pray for kings and all who are in authority. In Paul’s day, the primary “king” was the Emperor of Rome. This man was not godly. He was certainly not Christian. He was the ruler of the time and Paul says to pray for him.

In 2 Chronicles the writer tells us that the repentance and prayers of those who are called by the name of the Lord can heal the land. What is our most important responsibility when it comes to our nation? I believe it is to pray. If we do not pray, we cannot complain about the conditions under which we live. If we pray, God can move in our nation. It does not matter where we live. The promise is the promise. God will heal our land.

This promise does not mean everything will be the way we want it. This promise does not mean life will always be comfortable for us. The promise is that God will heal our land. What that means to us personally is not the issue. The issue is set forth in 1 Timothy. Paul said we should pray for kings and all those in authority so that we can live quiet and peaceable lives, which will enable us to preach the gospel. Verse 4 tells us what God’s real goal is for the healing of our nation. It is God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

When this year began, the Lord led me to make some changes in our church schedule. One of those changes was for us to take our regular Friday night meeting and use it to focus on prayer for our nation in 2012. It is certainly necessary that we always pray for the nation and those in authority, but we are facing an historic election this year. As I have already stated, we are in a very important time in the history of our nation and in the history of the world. At home, we face some of the most difficult financial times since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In the world, we see increasing unrest, economic chaos and political uncertainty.

As I was praying about the focus of our prayer meetings, God gave me something very specific to pray. He said, “Pray for the whole will of God to be done in the United States of America in 2012.” He did not say to pray for a particular candidate to win. He did not say to pray for the economy or an agenda. During the course of the year, we have prayed for some of those things, but the focus has been and will continue to be “the full will of God do be done in 2012.

In America, we are approaching the election of our president as well as many members of our legislature. The outcome will determine the course of our nation for decades. There are many things to consider as we vote. We must consider our economy because God cares about the needs of people. We must consider the leadership of the USA in the world. Whether we or others in the world like it or not, what happens in the USA impacts the whole world. We need to consider the future of our society and moral considerations when we go to the poles. All these things are important, but I wonder if we understand what is important to God.

The single most important thing we must consider as we vote is which candidate will better enable us to “live peaceable lives and facilitate the communication of the Gospel to all men. That is what is on God’s heart for the nation. That is what those who are called by his name should be praying for. Who will create an environment that will allow the gospel to be preached to the nation and to the world?

It is very easy to criticize those in government. In truth, many of those in public office deserve criticism. We need to hold them accountable for what they do and what they say. However, if you are a Christian, the bible gives us the mandate to pray above all else. If we pray, the bible guarantees that God will move. If we pray for those in authority, we release the power of God into our nation and it is possible for us to have an atmosphere that will promote the gospel.

Prayer cannot work if it is offered in selfishness. This does not mean that we should not pray for God’s blessing in our personal lives. The bible is full of promises for us as individuals that we can believe for no matter where we live. God promises to meet our needs, to heal our bodies and to give us joy and peace of mind regardless of what nation we live in. However, when we pray for the nation, we cannot simply pray for what we want. We must believe God for our nation to fulfill its place in the plan of God for the world.

I believe we are living in the latter part of the church age. I do not pretend to know when Jesus will return, but the bible is clear that that day will come. When it does, I want to know that I have contributed with my prayer life to preparing the way for Jesus’ return. For that to happen, I must be willing to pray for the will of the Lord to be done in my nation.

2 Chronicles 7:14 gives us a good “voter’s guided.” We should humble ourselves, seek the Lord’s face, turn from our wicked ways and pray. When we do, God will hear from heaven and he will heal our land. He will see to it that it is on course to fulfill its place in his plan for the world.

1 Timothy 2 tells us the most important issue we must consider on election day. Who will create the best atmosphere for the preaching of the Gospel? That should be the most important thing to consider as we vote.

No matter what nation you may live in, the most important thing you must do is pray for those in authority. This can be hard when those in authority seem to be evil, but it is what the bible says. We need to pray for their blessing. We need to pray for them to walk in Godly wisdom. We need to pray for their protection. We need to pray for God’s full will to be accomplished in the nation. When we pray that way, God is free to do whatever is necessary to “heal our land” and provide the proper atmosphere for the preaching of the gospel.

Words Of Faith in Prayer

Mark 11:23-24(NKJV) 23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

We have been looking at Mark 11:22-24 and the power of words in our Christian walk. Jesus, in response to Peter’s surprise that a fig tree had obeyed his words, tells his disciples to have faith in God. He goes on to say that this faith, when released in words, could even cause the mountain they are in front of to be plucked up and cast into the sea. The condition they must meet for this to happen is that they not doubt in their heart.

This statement is very extreme. It is highly unlikely that anyone would ever need to cast a mountain into the sea, but Jesus wants them to understand how powerful faith filled words can be. Although I know of no time in the bible or otherwise that a mountain has been thrown into the sea, there is the story of Joshua stopping the sun and the moon so that he could complete a battle against Israel’s enemies. In effect, Joshua stopped time. That seems at least as extreme as moving a mountain. Joshua 10:12-14 tells us that this happened because Joshua spoke to the sun and moon.

We ended yesterday by pointing out that the first word in Mark 11:24 is “therefore.” This word connects verse 24 with verse 23. Verse 24 is about prayer. Verse 23 is about the power of our words when we release them in faith. How do these things relate?

As I was reading this recently I realized that Jesus was pointing out something very powerful. The natural creation will respond to words spoken by faith. The fig tree obeyed Jesus. Jesus said the mountain would obey the disciples. The sun and moon, or time itself, obeyed Joshua. These are natural things obeying spiritual words. That is a powerful truth. I can and should speak the word of God over my natural life.

I speak to my finances. I speak to my car. Like David, who said, “bless the Lord oh my soul” I sometimes have to speak to my emotions and tell them to get in line with the Word. I have even spoken to weather when necessary and I have seen all these things obey the word of God spoken by faith. Not only have I seen them obey scripture as it is quoted, but I have seen them obey my words, based on scriptural truth, when I have spoken them by faith.

Mark 11:23 is highlighting this truth to the disciples. Then Jesus says “therefore” and speaks of prayer. In other words he says, “If the words you speak to fig trees and mountains by faith can produce such results, imagine what this same principle applied to prayer can produce.”

What is prayer? Prayer is communication with God. There are a number of different types of prayer with different functions. One type of prayer is the prayer of fellowship with the Lord. In this type of praying, we may spend time with the Lord and unburden our heart to him. There is a time for this. David prayed this way often. He would tell the Lord how he felt when the enemies were pressing against him. He would share his heart with the Lord when he felt overwhelmed. It is valid to do this. Most of us need to do this kind of praying at times. However, this is not the kind of praying Jesus is speaking of in this verse.

If you read the psalms, you will usually find that David not only expresses his feelings but also will, at some point in the psalm, express how he knows that God is with him and will deliver him. The kind of praying Jesus is teaching about in Mark 11:24 is this latter type. It is the prayer of requesting by faith. Paul speaks of it in Philippians.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Notice the similarity of language here. Jesus says, “When you pray, believe you receive.” Paul says, “Let your requests be made know to God with thanksgiving.” If you give thanks for the request, you believe that the one that you have asked will do what you ask. If, at the moment you pray, you choose to believe that you have already received the request, you will give thanks. Both of these scriptures are saying the same thing.

If we speak words of faith to the natural creation, it will obey us. If we use the same principle in prayer, the release of power is even greater because we are not just speaking to the natural. We are speaking by faith to the creator of the universe. We cannot only change the natural but the spiritual as well. All of the power of God comes into play when we speak words of faith in prayer to God. When we do not doubt these words in our heart, there is even more assurance that we will have what we say.

Most people think of prayer in terms of the first aspect we spoke of in psalms. When we pray we share our problems with God. This is fine to a point, but there comes a time when all we are doing is complaining to God. When we tell him our problems over and over again and never release any faith that he can do something about those problems, we may feel better but we are not giving the Lord anything to work with. He will comfort us. Comfort means that we will feel better. That is a good thing, but we will end up right back needing more comfort the next day if we do not find solutions.

God is a faith God and it is faith that moves him. He needs our faith in order to have something to work with so he can solve the problem. When we choose to speak words of faith to God we get more than comfort. We get results. Andrew Murray said, “Most people pray as a spiritual exercise, but Jesus prayed to get results.” We often pray to feel better, but the prayer of faith is the prayer that actually changes things. Of course, the first thing that it will change is you. That is not always easy, but do you want to feel better for a day or two or do you want results?

In Isaiah 55:8-11 the Lord tells us that his word will not return to him void but it will accomplish what he sent it to do. How does his word return to him? I would like to submit to you that one way it returns to him is through the prayers of faith that come from the saints. When we find a promise in the Word of God, we need to return that promise to God by faith. “I thank you that your word says you will meet my needs. I trust you to be good for your word. I thank you that you are moving now to provide what I need. I do not doubt this promise in my heart but I am persuaded that you will do what you said you would do.”

When you return the Word of God to him by faith, the promise Jesus gives us is that we will have what we ask. In verse 23 he says we can have what we say. In verse 24 he tells us that if we apply this same principle to the words we speak in prayer, we will have what we ask for. With both of these principles working in your life, you will have victory over anything that seeks to defeat you in your walk with the Lord.

What You Believe in Your Heart

Mark 11:22-26(NKJV) 22So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

This week we are expanding on our study of Mark 11:23 to include verses 24-26. To do so we must put this whole passage in context, so we must look at verses 22 and 23 briefly. Yesterday we focused on the shortest verse of this whole section, verse 22. Jesus says we must have faith in God. This seems obvious. If we did not have faith in God, we would not be born again. However, I believe he is speaking of focusing that faith on what we need specifically at the moment.

There is a very important question we must ask when we face difficulties. That question is, “What do I really believe.” I find it is important to remind myself of the basic truths of my faith in the context of the challenge. No matter what area of life the challenge may be in, I remind myself that God is really there and involved with my life. I remind myself that God has met my needs many times before. He said he would never leave me nor forsake me. These are basic, but I need to see the current challenge through these eternal truths.

Once I have focused on the basics of my faith, I am free to look at the promises that apply to the challenge and do the same thing with them. I really believe that God is good for his word. Like Abraham, I am “fully convinced” that what God has promised he is well able to do. (Romans 4:21)

Let us take one more look at verse 23. What Jesus says here seems almost like something from a fantasy story. If we speak to the mountain and do not doubt in our heart, the mountain will obey our words. I remind you that he had spoken to a real physical fig tree and it had become what he told it to become. It had obeyed him. The mountain he is speaking of is a real mountain. He points to a mountain they could see and says, “If you say unto this mountain…..” Therefore, his statement is not figurative. It is not allegorical. He means every word of what he said to his disciples.

I know we have already spent quite a bit of space on this statement, but bear with me. Jesus is talking about spiritual, faith filled words, spoken to the natural world. In our study, we have determined that this is how the dominion God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden must have worked. Since Jesus is called the last Adam, he had the same dominion. We see it in how the fig tree responded to him. We see it when he spoke to the storm, the wind stopped blowing, and the rain stopped raining.

We see it in other ways. He spoke to people and they were healed. He spoke to demons and they came out. He manipulated water and it became wine. Although we may not always see words used specifically, the principle is there. In verse 23, Jesus tells us the basis of how this dominion works. “If you say to this mountain be removed and cast into the sea and do not doubt in your heart but believe that your words will come to pass, you can have whatever you say.” That is the principle and the process. These are not my words; they are the words of Jesus.

This statement is, of course, ridiculous. “Surely Jesus, you cannot really be saying that we could cause a mountain to take wings and fly to the sea!” Just because this statement is extreme does not make it untrue. I have never seen anything like this. I have spoken to rain and seen it reverse direction. I have spoken to bodies and seen them healed. I have spoken to finances and seen provision where there could be none. I have never spoken to a mountain and seen it move. I have never heard of that happening even to Jesus. Why?

The answer is in the rest of his statement. If we do not doubt in our heart that the words we say will come to pass, we will have what we say. For the life of me, I cannot see a mountain getting up and flying away. One factor that determines what we really believe is what we really need. I have no doubt that if Jesus, for some reason, needed a physical mountain to move it would move. He never needed a mountain to fly away and neither have I. Therefore, I doubt in my heart that those words will come to pass. Does this mean that such an extreme thing cannot happen? No, it does not.

There is an Old Testament story that shows us the extent of the dominion of man and the power of faith words to affect the natural.

Joshua 10:12-14(NKJV) 12Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

Verse 12 says that Joshua spoke to the Lord, but he also spoke to the creation. His command was to the sun and moon. He told them to stand still until they were done killing the enemy. I have had some good days I did not want to see end, but Joshua actually needed this day to continue and he believed in his heart that his words would happen. Verse 14 says that God “heeded the voice of a man.” The creation obeyed the words Joshua spoke. That day lasted more than 24 hours. Joshua affected the natural world with his words and in an extreme way.

This story tells us that what Jesus spoke is really possible. God does nothing just to “show off” or make a point. The most common type of miracle in the Bible is the physical healing of a person. Why is this the case? God does this kind of miracle more than any other because it is a manifestation of his love. God cares about people. The fact that healings and miracles open the door for the preaching of the Gospel is a welcome effect of the process, but it is the love of God that releases miraculous faith. (Galatians 5:6)

Why am I spending so much time going over ground we have already covered? There are two reasons. First, because we need to hear truth until we understand it, receive it and ultimately walk in it. Then we need to hear it again. Second, because all of this leads us to verse 24.

Verse 24 begins with a very important word. The word is “therefore.” “Therefore” is a connecting word. When we see that word, it is telling us to look at what came before, because the next statement is contingent upon the last statement. So let us look at the transition once again.

Mark 11:23-24(NKJV) 23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Jesus connects prayer to the principle he revealed to his disciples in verse 23. That is the truth we want to grasp this week. We will begin to connect the dots tomorrow.

Have Faith in God

22So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26£But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I want to backtrack for just a few moments today, in order to reestablish why we are looking at words right now. The Lord spoke to me a while ago from 2 Peter 1 concerning the exceedingly great and precious promises God has provided us in the Word. I am struck every time I read this section of scripture with the idea that it is by these promises we become partakers of God’s own nature. What in the ebb and flow of life cannot be changed and put right by God’s own divine nature? I would say nothing at all.

The next step in my thinking was that we must begin to look at the promises in the bible as promises. They are not just general statements to everyone of what God would do for us. A promise is personal. A promise comes from someone I can trust to me. If I do not trust and know the giver of a promise, I discount it as a promise. I take an “I’ll believe it when I see it” stance toward that promise. We cannot approach the promises of God that way. God is our Father. We know him through salvation in Jesus Christ. Every promise in the bible is to me personally. There may be conditions I must meet in order to receive them. The most important condition is that I have to receive the promise by faith for it to become mine.

The next thing the Lord showed me was that when we receive a promise from someone we trust we will speak that promise back to them and to anyone who will listen. The spoken word becomes a large part of the process of receiving promises. It is from this premise that I have been looking at the biblical perspective of the words we speak.

In today’s scripture, I want to take this thought one step further. We have looked at verses 22 and 23, but verses 24-26 are part of the same thought. Those who sit in my church understand that I am a teacher and have a pathological need to review, so in order to understand 24 through 26 I am going to have to touch on 22 through 23 briefly. (The reason I like to review so much is that there is a test on this material. It is called life!)

Verse 22 is the simplest verse in this passage, but possibly the most profound. Jesus has spoken to a fig tree telling it that it will never produce fruit again. Twenty-four hours later, Peter sees that the tree has withered and died. The conditioned described by Jesus has come to pass just as he said. The natural world obeyed the words of Jesus. The fig tree conformed to the words spoken by faith.

Peter is astonished and comments to Jesus that the fig tree has withered and died. Jesus simply says, “Have faith in God!” We read such things and say, “Yes, Amen. Hallelujah.” with deep spiritual significance resonating in our voices yet I am not sure we fully understand the implications of this thought. Jesus said, “HAVE FAITH IN GOD.” His words are big and bold. If we really have faith in God, anything is possible. He really is God!

I know that this is so obvious and such a part of our Christian make up that it would seem unnecessary to say, but it was Jesus who thought it necessary. We take faith in God for granted. We have faith in God or we would not be born again.

Ephesians 2:8(NKJV) 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

In this verse, the “gift” is faith. Grace is a gift by definition so it would not be necessary to call it a gift. However, Faith is not a gift by definition so it is, by default, the gift Paul is speaking of here. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing the word of God. The preached word that came to me to gave me a gift of faith to receive the grace of God. If I had no faith, I would not be saved.

In the context of Mark 11:22 this verse is not speaking about the general faith that brings us to salvation. He is speaking of the specific faith it takes to receive something from God. Here, it involves a command spoken to the natural world. It also applies to specifically receiving any promise that God gives us in the Bible. Jesus is really saying, “If you believe God is here right now and you believe that he is really involved with your life and circumstances, the kind of thing you have seen here will be commonplace.”

What do you really believe? In speaking to you about the kind of words you should listen to, I mentioned that there is a place in your heart where what you really believe resides. Many voices tell us what cannot happen or why God will not move for us in a particular circumstance. In the midst of this there is a “still, small voice” that will tell you what you really believe. That is what Jesus is saying to his disciples. “What do you really believe? You need to believe that God is here right now and more than able to do this thing.”

When you are faced with a difficulty in life, what do you really believe? Your first reaction may not be faith. Do not get condemned by that. We can grow to a place where our reactions are more in tune with our faith, but few of us are perfect in that respect. Do not rely on that first reaction. Step back and look inside. What do you really believe? When I say this, most people begin to overanalyze. I am not talking about doctrine. I am not necessarily talking about a specific promise. I believe you have to be even more basic than that. Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe that God can do something about this? Do you believe that God is here right now?

These are very basic to our Christianity however, if we do not settle them first, we cannot receive the promise we may need to meet the need we face. Once we establish that specifically we can progress to what we really believe about a situation. Since so many face financial pressure today, let us look at Phil 4:19.

Philippians 4:19(NKJV) 19And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When I am faced with financial pressure, I do not always react perfectly. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the lack I face compared to the need. I have to “take a step back” from the pressure. I have to ask myself that very important question. What do I believe? Do I have faith in God right now and in this circumstance? I remind myself that this is not all a fantasy. God really does exist. He really is here and he loves me. He will not leave me comfortless. He never has before and he will not now. This is basic, I know. Yet even after all these years I sometimes have to remind myself of these simple facts before I move on.

Once I have centered my heart on these basic truths, I ask the next question. What do I really believe about God helping me with this financial challenge? The answer is the above verse or one like it. This is a specific promise. God will meet my needs. I really believe God is here. I really believe he is good for his word and I really believe that this promise is to me. Hallelujah, God will see to it that his riches in Glory meet my needs! Armed with this truth I can look again at the specific circumstances “having faith in God.”

What do you face today? I encourage you to follow this simple formula. If faith in God can wither a fig tree it can change your circumstances. It can also sustain you while God deals with you and ultimately the situation. Listen one more to the words of Jesus. “Have faith in God!”

Give Me This Mountain

Joshua 14:10-12(NKJV) 10And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

This week we have been looking at how our perspective affects our words. Since death and life are in the power of the tongue, it is important that we speak words that are full of faith and the Word of God. (Prov 18:21) We have seen how Elisha saw through the eyes of his spirit while his servant saw through the eyes of the flesh. The servant spoke his hopelessness for the flesh had no answers to their problem. Elisha spoke according to the reality of the spirit. He saw the help that the Lord provided them in their situation and declared, “There are more with us than against us.”

Next, we looked at the 12 spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land. Ten of the spies saw through the eyes of their inability to overcome the obstacles before them. They declared, “The promise is true. The land is everything God said it would be, but we cannot take it because the people and their cities are too strong.”

Joshua and Caleb, the two remaining spies, saw through the eyes of the promise of God. They believed that if the promise were true, then God would provide the power to take them into the promise. They said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Both groups spoke what they saw. Their perspective dominated their words and each group received exactly what they said. The 10 who spoke out of the flesh died in the wilderness. The two who spoke out of the promise went into Canaan and possessed the land God had promised them.

I want to close out this week with a final look at Caleb. In Joshua 14, we find these two great men of faith speaking together again. Caleb reminds Joshua that Moses had promised that the Land he had walked on when he, Joshua and the ten others had spied out the land would someday be his. Caleb was 40 years old when they had spied out the land 45 years before. He is now 85 years old. He wants Joshua to know that the time had come for him to take his mountain.

There some interesting things we should know about that mountain. It was not the easiest of places to possess. It was high ground, so the enemy would be difficult to drive out. We see in today’s scripture that the cities in this region were great and fortified. Finally we read that the Anakim were there. This was a clan of people who were considered giants. All of these factors made the land Caleb was petitioning Joshua to give him some of the hardest territory in all of Canaan. Yet this eighty-five year old man demands Joshua to it give to him to conquer.

How many of us would be ready for a vigorous military campaign at eighty-five? That is the time of life when we are happy if we can do anything at all let alone take a mountain. Yet Caleb is not only willing to take the mountain but eager and confident. He tells Joshua that he is just as strong and capable of waging war as he was forty-five years before. This is remarkable! What is the secret of Caleb’s youthful vigor? I believe I know the answer.

Look at the last thing Caleb says to Joshua. “It may be that the Lord will bewith me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” Now look at what Joshua and Caleb said when they returned from spying out the land forty-five years earlier.

Numbers 14:8(NKJV) 8If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’

Do you see the consistency of Caleb’s words? Forty-five years before they declared that if God delighted in them he would give them the land. When Caleb comes to Joshua forty-five years later he says, “If God is with me I will be able to drive out the enemy and take my mountain.” His words have stayed the same. This tells us his perspective was the same. He was looking at God’s ability and not his inability.

I believe that Caleb’s confession kept him young and capable. Sometimes we read the bible and have some strange ideas. Not every eighty-five year old man in Israel was like Caleb. In truth, there were no other eighty-five year old men in Israel. They had all died in the wilderness. Caleb was the only one who had survived. For most of us, to still be alive at eighty-five would be a great accomplishment. However, Caleb was not just alive. He was healthy and strong. He was ready to go to war. Why is this so? I believe it is because he spent forty-five years speaking life and not death.

I can see Caleb as he fights with the rest of Israel speaking with his people about the mountain. “Moses promised me this mountain and no matter how long it takes we are going to possess it!” As the years went on, he talked about his mountain and the promise of God. I am sure there were those who told him, “Caleb you are getting too old for war. There are places you can settle in the lower lands that have already been conquered.” Caleb would hear none of it. “I am getting stronger not weaker. God said I could have that mountain and I will take it myself.”

There were probably younger men who came to him and said, “We will do the warfare. We will take the mountain and then bring you to it.” Caleb must have responded, “Do I look like I need you to take it for me? I am just as capable as I was forty-five years ago and I have much more experience than you do. I will take my mountain and you can join me.”

What can we learn from Caleb? I do not know that we all will be healthy enough at eighty-five to go to war, but I know Caleb was. I believe part of what kept him strong were the words of life he spoke. When we speak words of life, Proverbs 18 tells us we are making friends with life. When we speak words filled with fear and death, we make friends with fear and death.

It will do you no good to choose to fill your words with disappointment, anger or fear. We all know people who have grown old and bitter. We hear the bitterness in their words. They did not become bitter in a day or week. They let words of bitterness flow from their mouths for years until that becomes their reality.

We also know those who have grown old in peace and joy. Often those who are sweet in their old age are ones who have endured hardship. We hear life in their words. People want to be around them. They may be old but they are full of faith and encouragement. I have been blessed to be around such senior people in my life. Some have gone home to the Lord. Their words of encouragement blessed me to the end.

If we choose to fill our mouths with words of faith, we will continue to be strong until we go home to be with the Lord. We will continue to encourage those around us. We will continue to be useful and fruitful until the end of our days. Our perspective will continue to be focused on the spirit and what God can do instead of the flesh and what we cannot do. Who knows, maybe some of us will even take a mountain for God!

Faith’s Perspective

Numbers 13:27-30(NKJV) 27Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” 30Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Our focus this week has been on how what we see affects what we say. The word “perspective” is very important. Our perspective is the angle from which and the filters through which we see life. Our perspective is made up of many factors. As Christians, the Word of God and the reality of the realm of the spirit must dominate our perspective.

We looked at how perspective affected the words of Elisha and his servant when a hostile army surrounded them. The servant saw through the eyes of the natural and came to the only conclusion possible. He said to Elisha, “What are we going to do.” There was no hope in the natural and his words reflected that perspective.

Elisha said something quite different. He declared to the servant, “There are more with us than against us.” How could he say that when they were only two and the enemy had an army? He could say it because the Spirit not the natural dominated his perspective. When he prayed for his servants eyes to be opened, his servant saw the angelic army. We need to pray that Lord will open the eyes of our spirits so we can see what is available to us not just what is arrayed against us

Today I want to look at another instance of how perspective affected words. It is a very familiar story. The children of Israel have come to the edge of the promised land. Moses is still their leader and the generation that saw God’s mighty deliverance from Egypt is still alive. Moses sends twelve spies into the promised land. They both come back after seeing the same evidence but their words are very different.

The first ten tell Moses, “The land is just as good as God said it was.” They start out well. Their words confirm the truth of the Promise of God. If they had stopped there, everything would have been all right. However, like many of us, they could not contain their perspective. It eventually came out in their words. “The land is good but the obstacles are too great for us to overcome. We cannot take the land God promised.”

I believe we can see ourselves reflected in these ten spies. We often quote the word of God and acknowledge that it is true. Then we add that fateful word, “but.” “I know the bible says that God will meet my need, but…..” “I know that the bible says that I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, but…..” “I know the bible says that Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me, but…..” Our perspective is revealed by our “buts.”

Why did the ten spies give what the bible calls and evil report? It is because they were focused on what they could not do instead of what God said. It is often difficult for us to speak words of faith when all we can see is how inadequate our abilities are compared to the situation. When we focus on our lack, we will always speak accordingly. This kind of speaking enforces that lack. We find ourselves powerless and we give up.

Twelve spies went into the promised land. They all saw the very same land. They all saw the walled cities. They all saw the Giants. Joshua and Caleb agreed with the assessment that the Land was just what God said it would be. However, their perspective caused them to say something different when it came to Israel’s ability to posses what God had promised.

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Just as the ten could not contain their perspective, the two could not contain their perspective either. When Caleb heard what the first ten said about the opposition, he could hardly believe his ears. How could they come to such a conclusion? God had proven that his promise was real. God would surely give them the land.

Joshua and Caleb’s conclusion was not based on how strong Israel’s army was. It was not based on their overwhelming numbers. Joshua and Caleb did not believe that they had a technological advantage that would enable them to prevail. The giants looked just as big to them as they had to the ten. The city walls looked just as high and the people of Canaan looked just as numerous as they did to the ten. However, none of that was relevant because they were not looking through their ability.

One thing alone dominated Joshua and Caleb’s perspective. They saw the land through God’s promise. This caused them to see through God’s ability and not their own. If God’s promise was true, so was his willingness to fulfill it. Their word flowed from that perspective.

What perspective do you see through? You only have to listen to your words to find out. If what you say is dominated by what you can or cannot do, your perspective is limited to your ability. If your words are full of what God says and what he promises to do for you, then your perspective is dominated by God’s ability not yours. How did Joshua and Caleb develop this perspective?

We can tell by what they say.

Numbers 14:6-9(NKJV) 6But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 9Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”

Joshua and Caleb quoted the promise of God. I believe that before they ever got to the promised land they had rehearsed the promise of God. I believe that they went into the land believing in the promise. I think they probably talked to each other as they were spying the land saying, “Look at this. Everything God said is true. If the promise is true, there is no way that these people can stand against the power of God.”

Perspective is not something we are stuck with. Perspective can change if we change our “viewing angle” or if we change the lens we view through. If you are looking at your circumstances and all you can see is lack, change your viewing angle. Get into the Word of God and view the problem from the promise. It will begin to look different. Change the lens you are using. The bible says to “magnify the Lord.” Stop looking at the problem in the magnifying glass. That just makes the problem look bigger. Instead, look at the Lord through the magnifying glass and the problem without it. You will begin to see the Lord as much greater than the problem.

As we change our perspective, we will change our words. We will be like Joshua and Caleb. Others may say, “How do you think you’re going to make it?” You will respond, “What are you talking about? If God is for me, how could I fail to make it.” As your words change, your circumstances will follow.

More With us Than Against us

2 Kings 6:14-17(NKJV) 14Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

This week we are looking at the connection between what we see and what we say. We all see life through particular perspectives. Our perspective can be determined by everything from gender to nationality. Our perspective determines our reactions, our decisions and is a main factor in determining the words that come out of our mouths. As Christians, the Word of God and the reality of spiritual things should dominate our perspective. If it is dominated by the natural, we will be limited in or view and our words will reflect those limits.

Today I want to look at a story from the bible that illustrates this truth. The story behind today’s scripture is very interesting. Syria and Israel were at war. The King of Israel had a tremendous advantage. Today, we are very familiar with the need for intelligence on the battlefield. Often victory is determined by who has the best intelligence. This was no different in bible days. Israel had the best source of intelligence that anyone could have. Israel had a prophet of God.

Whenever the king of Syria made a battle plan, the prophet Elisha would tell the King of Israel where, when and how the attack was coming. The Israelite troops would lie in ambush and defeat the Syrians in every battle. The King of Syria thought there was an informant in his court, but his advisers told him the problem was not in his court. They told him that Israel had a prophet who had such intimate knowledge of his plans that it was as if the prophet was in his bedchamber. The king wanted to know who this prophet was. They told him, “His name is Elisha.” In addition, they told him where he was.

It is at this point that we pick up the story. The king of Syria has sent an army to the place where Elisha is with one purpose. They were to kill Elisha and stop the leak of intelligence. One morning Elisha’s servant comes out to see to his morning chores and the scene that confronts him fills his heart with terror. Poised on the hillside surrounding their lodgings is an army of Syrians ready to attack!

The servant runs into the house and says, “What are we going to do!” I think we can all understand his reaction. What do we say when confronted with the unexpected bill or the bad medical report? How do we respond if we get bad news about family or friends? The reaction of this man was totally justified. His words reflected how he saw the situation. He was confronted with a problem that he had no idea how to handle.

The prophet came out and surveyed the same situation. The army confronting him was just as large as the one confronting his servant. Not only that, but also this army was sent there expressly to kill Elisha. The servant might have been able to escape or even negotiate with the Syrians, but Elisha could not. However, his response was very different from his servant. Elisha makes a statement that would seem to be delusional. “There are more here who are for us than are against us.”

What caused Elisha’s words to be so different from those of his servant? The difference was perspective. The servant’s perspective was the natural reality. Elisha’s perspective was the reality of the spirit. Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant be opened and immediately he saw a very different sight. The hillside was full of fiery troops and chariots. This angelic army was there to protect Elisha and his servant. Elisha saw through the eyes of the spirit and spoke accordingly. The servant saw through the eyes of the flesh and his words reflected his perspective.

It is reasonable to assume from the telling of this story that Elisha physically saw the angelic army. When he prayed for his servant, it is evident that he saw them. It does not explicitly say that Elisha saw them in the natural. I tend to think he did not. Elisha’s perspective did not depend on what he saw in the natural. Elisha saw through the eyes of the spirit. His perspective was dominated by what he knew of God and his relationship to God.

I am not sure what made Elisha different. Even his father in the faith, Elijah, did not have the strength of perspective that Elisha did. When Jezebel challenged Elijah, he went into a cave to hide. He saw the wicked queen as able to carry out her threat even though he had just won a tremendous victory. We do not see this form Elisha. He always seems to see things from the spiritual perspective and he speaks accordingly.

One aspect of Elisha’s confidence may have been his understanding of covenant. Israel had a covenant with God. The Prophet was the spiritual representative of that covenant to the nation. The covenant said that if one partner was attacked the other must come to their aid. Israel was attacked and God must come to their aid. Elisha was God’s representative and it was reasonable to assume that there would be more power there to protect him than the enemy could bring against him. The covenant guaranteed it.

If we want to speak words of power, we must allow our perspective to be dominated by the reality of the spirit. What is that reality? It is the same reality that Elisha had. We have a covenant with God. Not only do we have a covenant but we have a better covenant based on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6(NKJV) 6But now He (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Sometimes it feels like there is an army of opposition against us. If we look at that army through the eyes of the natural alone, we will feel overwhelmed. Our words will reflect what we see and it will be difficult for us to change them with any degree of faith or consistency. It is only when we choose to see the army arrayed against us through the perspective of our covenant with God that we begin to see that there is far more power at work for us than against us.

How can we change our perspective? One thing we need to do is just what Elisha did for his servant. We need to pray that our eyes would be opened. In Ephesians 1, Paul prays for the church that our “eyes would be opened” so we would know that great power at work for us who believe. If you are having a perspective problem, go to that verse and begin to pray it for yourself. If you know someone else who is having a hard time believing that there is more at work for them than against them, pray this prayer over their life.

Second, we need to go to our covenant and find out what God says he will do in our circumstance. There are exceedingly great and precious promises that will help us change how we see our situation. When we begin to meditate on what God says he will do for us, our perspective will change. God is not a man that he should lie. He will do what he said he would do.

Look again at the army that is against you. I am praying for you as Elisha prayed for his servant. Lord, open their eyes that they may see that greater are the forces at work for them than any army the enemy could array against them.

Perspective

2 Corinthians 5:6-8(NKJV) 6So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

We have been studying the power of words in the life of the believer. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. In the New Testament, we have learned that the tongue sets the course of our lives and that we will be judged for the idle words that we speak. We have learned that God created the physical universe using words of faith and that he placed the same power and authority in the hands of man.

From Marks gospel, we have seen Jesus use the power and authority of Adam when he spoke to a fig tree and it obeyed him. We watched as Jesus spoke to a storm and saw the winds stop blowing and rain stop falling because Jesus commanded them to do so. In Mark 11:23 we hear Jesus say, “You can do the same thing if you have faith in God. If you do not doubt in your heart you can have whatever you say.” These are not my words, although I have paraphrased them. If you read this verse, you will see that this is exactly what Jesus said.

In order to speak powerful words, Mark 4 tells us we need to “take heed” or be careful of what we hear. We will say what we continually hear. Jesus is telling us not to let all things into our ears. We need to make an effort to hear more of the words of life than we hear the words of death. We need to turn some things off around us. This is not law it is cause and effect.

Finally, we need to be careful what we choose to listen to as we go through our day. There are many things that will come to our ears, but we can choose what we give attention to when they come. If we choose to give attention to the words of life, we will have faith to overcome. If we choose to give attention to the words that come from fear, doubt or unbelief, we will be defeated.

This week I want to look at another one of our senses. In the natural, all of our senses work together. We use our ability to speak in conjunction with our ability to hear and to see. We can get along without one of these senses, but it is much easier if we have them all working together. That is the way God created us. Communication is a product of all of our senses working together in harmony. The same is true in the spirit.

Just as we will speak what we hear, we will also speak what we see. There is a word that is very important in life. It is the word perspective. Perspective means a particular evaluation of something or a measured assessment of a situation. (Encarta Dictionary) When we think of perspective in terms of what we see, we might say that perspective is the point of view from which you see something or the filter through which you view something.

As I was preaching this in my church, I was standing in the front of the church. Behind me was the platform with the instruments, podium, projected image and all the rest that make up the front of the church. All the people were facing me. I was facing the back of the church. We happened to be set up for our monthly fellowship dinner. There were tables and chairs set up with yellow tablecloths and flower baskets on each table.

If each of us described our church building from our perspective, we would have very different descriptions. I would have said the church had tables with yellow tablecloths and flowers on the tables. They would have said the church had many instruments and a podium. If someone in the church was wearing pink sunglasses and described the color of the tablecloths, they might not have said they were yellow because their perspective would have filtered the colors. I know this is unrealistic, but you get the point.

We all have a particular perspective from which and through which we see life. These perspectives can be determined by many factors. Gender is a major determiner of perspective. One of the greatest challenges of marriage is the difference in the male and female perspective. Neither is wrong, but we must understand that they are different or we will have major difficulties in marriage. If we learn to accept the difference in perspective, it will become a strength.

Financial and social status affects perspective. I like baseball. The base salary of a major league baseball player is nearly $500.000.00. If you make $50,000.00, your perspective is very different from the major league ballplayer making the minimum. His $100.00 bill is the same as your $10.00 bill. I have to think about spending $100.00 but not so much about spending $10.00. If I get a bill for one thousand dollars, it might cause me stress. If the minimum salaried major league ballplayer gets a bill for one thousand dollars, he might not like it but it probably will not cause him stress. Perspective is the difference.

Nationality, education and religious experience also contribute to the perspective through which we see life. Our perspective will determine our reactions, our expectations and our choices. Our current life is, to a great degree, a product of our perspective. This is not always bad. We need different perspectives in order to have a more complete view of life and the truth. Even in ministry, God gives five gifts with very different perspectives so that we can have the complete ministry of Jesus functioning in the church. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

There are certain perspectives that overlay all others in our lives. I have already mentioned one. If we are male, we see through that perspective before we see through others. We cannot help that. Another is nationality. I am an American. I see the world through an America perspective. I can try to change that, but if I was born and raised in the USA, I will never fully change that perspective. I know many people who have lived a long time on the mission field. Some have lived 30 years in other countries. They do not have quite the same perspective as I do, but when I talk to them, they are still Americans with American perspectives.

Your words cannot go beyond your perspective. You may discipline yourself to speak “faith words”, but you cannot consistently speak beyond your perspective. We say what we see. We cannot help that. We see through our particular perspective and that will come through. If we are Christians, we need to have another overlay perspective in place. It must be over our gender or national perspective. It must be the most important perspective from which we operate. It will take time to develop it, but if we want to speak powerful words, we must develop this perspective. That perspective is the perspective of the spirit.

The more we learn to see things according to the spirit of God the more we will develop a perspective that will allow us to speak powerful words. The more we allow the Word of God to dominate our thinking the more our perspective will reflect the spiritual truth instead of the natural truth.

In today’s verse Paul is speaking from this perspective. In this case, he is talking about the reality of our eternal life with the Lord. This might be the most important perspective we can cultivate. Heaven is a real place and we will be there far longer than we are here. Paul was so controlled by this perspective that he would rather be absent from the body so that he could be with the Lord. He says this confidence is built upon the fact that we are to walk by faith and not by sight.

Faith is a perspective. It is a way of seeing life through the power and ability of God. If you are a Christian this perspective can be developed. If you want to speak powerful words that will change your natural circumstances, it must be developed. Let me say that it is possible for you develop this perspective and for it to rise to dominance in your life. You are a Christian. That is what you were “born again” to do.