Substance and Evidence Leads to Action

1 Samuel 30:8-10 (NKJV) 8 So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” 9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor.

This week we have been looking at the role faith in God plays in walking in the supernatural. Faith is the force that bridges the gap between the world of Spirit and the natural world where we live. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that faith is necessary if we are going to please God and Hebrews 11:1 tells us the kind of faith that pleases God. It is faith that gives substance to hope and becomes evidence that what God has promises he will do. Faith comes through the Word of God so the Word becomes the focal point of the substance and evidence of faith.

We have been specifically looking at this in the context of an incidence in the life of David. He was in exile because King Saul was so jealous of his popularity that he threatened to kill him. The Philistines who were sheltering David declared war on Israel. David had to choose what to do. He did not want to fight against Israel but he could not appear disloyal to his hosts. In the end, God moved so that the Philistines sent him home so he did not fight against his people yet still appeared loyal to the Philistine king.

Upon his return to the city where he and his might men were living, they found it had been sacked and their families taken. After his initial dismay, David chose to encourage himself in the Lord by praising God and remember what God had done in his life. This released hope, the possibility that the Lord could do something to help them. He then enquired of the Lord, received a promise from God and faith arose in his heart. The hope that God could do something was given substance by the promise that if he pursued the enemy he would recover all that was lost. That promise became his evidence that God not only could help him but that God indeed had helped him and he would see the manifestation in the natural.

Of course, there was something else he had to do to cause what was true in the spirit to manifest in the natural. He had to obey the promise. He had to pursue the enemy. In our walk of supernatural faith, we must do the same. Sometimes what we must do is clear.

The bible says give and it shall be given unto you. (Luke 6:38) If we give, the promise is evidence that we shall receive. It is already done. However, we must give. If we do not give, the promise is not active. We have hope that God will give back to us, but if we believe that is the evidence of his provision, we must give. There are many times when it is not quite so clear. We may need to ask the Lord what to do. I believe it is important to consult with those who are over us in the Lord. We want to act on the promise in an appropriate way. We do not want to think we are acting on the evidence of the Word and find we are mistaken.

When David chose to act on the evidence of the promise, a number of things happened. First, his faith was tested. He got to the brook called Besor and 1/3 of his force simply could not continue. Remember, they had ridden home from the battle and found there city had been attacked. They had not had any rest. David must decide if he can continue with only 400 men instead of 600 men.

If we receive the promise as the evidence that God is moving for us, the number of men we have does not matter. We are in a supernatural place as opposed to a natural one. God in moving so David is depending on that not on the strength of his army. If no one went but David himself, I believe the result would have been the same.

We must understand that walking in faith is walking in the supernatural. The devil will always try to get us to focus on what we can or cannot do. If we were operating on our own strength this would usually be evidence that we will fail. However, when faith is our evidence it is not the evidence of our ability to cause the promise to happen. It is the evidence that God will do it. Our ability becomes irrelevant. What are relevant are our faith and our obedience

We all know the story of Peter walking on water. He stepped out of the boat on the evidence of the Word of Jesus when he said, “Come to me.” All of the natural evidence said that he could not do what Jesus asked. However, he had other evidence. He had the supernatural evidence of the promise of God. He walked until he let the natural evidence override the supernatural. Then Jesus rescued him and said, “Why did you doubt?” We need to focus on the supernatural evidence not the natural evidence. If we weaken, he is there to help us through.

David decided to go on in spite of the evidence of losing 1/3 of his force. He did not know the strength of the enemy. If 200 of his men were too tired to go on, how many more would be too weak to fight once they overtook the enemy. That did not matter. David had supernatural evidence that if he pursued the enemy, he would overtake them and recover everything.

The next thing that happens in this story is that God provides some supernatural help. They just happened to find an Egyptian in a field who was the servant of the same Amalekites who had attacked Ziklag. He had gotten sick and his master had left him behind. He agreed to take David to the Amalekites as long as David swore not to kill him or turn him over to his former master.

What are the odds of this Egyptian getting sick and being left behind? What are the odds that David would find him in the field? God was already moving at the moment he gave the promise to David. As David acted on the Supernatural evidence, supernatural provision was on the way.

What was the result of David’s action on the faith evidence of the promise?

1 Samuel 30:18-20 (NKJV) 8 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. 19 And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all. 20 Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”

Earlier it says that David attacked the enemy from twilight to the evening of the next day and killed all but 400 young men. I do not know how many men the enemy had, but the number that escaped was the same as the number David had with him. Obviously, he had been greatly outnumber but God gave him victory. We read about that he did indeed recover everything that had been taken from them. In addition, he took all the flocks and herds as spoil.

When we choose the supernatural evidence over the natural evidence, God does exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20) Is there some evidence that is telling you that you cannot succeed? Is there some evidence that would convince you that God would not move for you this time?

Enquire of the Lord. Let hope rise in your heart. Find a promise and meditate on that promise until you know that it is the Word of the Lord for you. Obey what the Lord reveals to you to do about that promise. The enemy will try the promise. Do not give in. Keep believing the supernatural evidence. Jesus will always be there to make sure you make it through. In the end, you will see the supernatural power of God bring about his will in your life.

You Shall Recover All

1 Samuel 30:7-8 (NKJV) 7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

This week we have been studying the role of Faith in God as it applies to walking as supernatural people here in the natural world. Our base scriptures have been from Hebrews chapter 11 especially verses 1 and 6. We have learned that we must have faith to please God and that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I like to define faith as the thing that bridges the gap between the world of the natural and the world of the spirit.

Yesterday we looked at David and the tragedy at Ziklag. He was hiding amongst the Philistines because Saul was committed to killing him. There was war between Israel and the Philistines, which put David in a difficult position. The Philistine King protected him from Saul. He could not appear disloyal. However, he did not want to fight against his own people. He went to battle and God moved so that the Philistines sent David and his men home. He did not lose the confidence of the Philistine King and he did not have to fight Israel. This was a great faith victory.

When they got home to Ziklag they found that the Amalekites had attacked and carried away their families and possessions. David and all his men were understandably distressed. David’s men blamed him for the disaster and threatened to stone him. David had a choice to make. He could fall into depression and despair or he could encourage himself in the Lord. He chose the latter.

I believe he must have remembered all the times God moved on his behalf. Despite his emotional distress, I am sure he began to praise God for all he had done. This is one of the most important lessons we must learn if we are going to be successful as supernatural people. We will always face things that challenge our emotions. We have a choice we must make. We can give in to the devil or we can “encourage ourselves in the Lord.”

When we are under emotional attack, the last thing we want to do is come to church and praise God. We want to give in to the weight of the emotions. However, doing that will only result in defeat. We need to do what David did. We need to remember that God saved us and that his great love will not fail us. We need to praise and worship him. As we do that, the same thing will happen to us that happened to David. Hope, the possibility that God could do something for us, will rise in our hearts.

As David felt the hope come into him, he called Abiathar, the priest. The bible says here that he “enquired of the Lord.” Hope had begun to work in him but he knew he needed to give substance to the hope. He did not have the written Word in the same way we do today. There was a channel for the Word of the Lord available to him. The high priest wore a type of vest called an “ephod.” The priest that was with David had this ephod.

In the ephod were two stones called the Urim and Thummim. Although this seems strange to us today, when Israel needed to know the answer to a question they would take these stones out of the Ephod and the priest would cast them on the ground. If they came up one way it meant yes, if they came up the other it meant no. God anointed these stones so they always gave the correct answer according to the will of God.

David needed a promise to give substance and evidence to his hope. He hoped to go after their families and get them back. He could not do that in faith without knowing the will of God in the matter. When the stones were cast, they told him it was God’s will to go after them. The Lord also spoke through the priest, Abiathar, and gave him this promise. “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and recover all.”

Now David had a promise. When he encouraged himself in the Lord, hope that it was possible to get his family back had come. The hope had pushed aside the negative emotions. The hope that God could do something to change this terrible circumstance was enough to enable David to overcome the despair that wanted to swallow him. Now hope had substance and evidence.

There was a great deal of physical evidence that said they would never get their families back. They did not know how long they had been gone. They did not know for sure what route the raiders might have taken. They did not know if they would be strong enough to get their families back. They did not know if their families were dead or alive. Hope says that God can help them. Hope told David that if God could help him kill the lion, the bear and the Giant, he could help him in this situation. He also had the recent faith victory that kept him out of a war he could not fight in good conscience. However, now he had more.

When he told his men they were going after the Amalekites, he was not simply saying, “I know it is impossible but we need to try.” Instead, he was coming to them in confidence. The physical evidence had not changed but David had another kind of evidence. He had the evidence of the promise of God. He went to his men and said, “Don’t worry boys; God just gave me a promise. We will overtake them and we will recover everything. If we are going to recover them that means they are still alive.”

Someone might have said to David, “What proof do you have?” David would have answered in bold confidence, “My proof is the promise of God! Let’s go get our families back!” Hope, which is always in the future, was given substance by the promise. It was no longer a future possibility. The Promise made it a present reality in David’s heart. There was no doubt about it. They were going to recover all.

When we face a need of any kind, we must do what David did. We must come against the oppression of our emotions with the truth of praise and worship. We must remember who God is and that all things are possible because we have relationship with him. Then we need to enquire of the Lord. In our case, we do not have to resort to the Urim and Thummim. We can go to the written word of God and find a promise. God tells us they are all “yes and amen” in Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Just as David went to the priest that was with him, we need to go to our High Priest. He name is Jesus! His Holy Spirit dwells within us. He will lead us to the right promise for our situation. As we meditate on that promise, the faith God has injected into the written Word of God will be released in our hearts. The same thing will happen to us that happened to David.

That faith will solidify the hope that God can do something. It will become fact that God will do what he said he would do. Our hope will have a new substance and every time we look at the promise, we will see the evidence that God will give us victory.

Tomorrow we will go with David as he gets his family back. Today, encourage yourself in the Lord. Ask your high priest, Jesus to lead you to just the right promise for your situation. Meditate on that promise until hope gains substance and you can see the evidence of God’s provision before you. This process is not always easy. Remember that Hebrews 11:6 says we must diligently seek him to get the reward. Although it may be require some work, this process always produces results.

1 Samuel 30:8 (NKJV) 8 So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

David Encouraged Himself in the Lord

1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV) 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

This week we are looking at the role of faith in God in relation to our ability to live as supernatural people in the natural world. Faith in God and in his written Word is a major part of our foundation in Christ. If we are going to walk in the supernatural, we need a supernatural foundation.

Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance of things we hope for and the evidence of what we cannot see. Hope is possibility. With God, all things are possible. Hope is also intangible and always future in nature. Faith takes hope and makes it something more tangible. It receives what we hope for in God as true now even though we may not yet see a manifestation in the natural world. Faith is my evidence that what I hope for is real. Romans 10:17 tells me faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Therefore, the Word of God is the substance of my hope and the evidence that God will do what he said he would do.

I want to take a few moments to look at someone who often had to apply this kind of Faith. He eventually became the king of Israel, but in his early life, he had many trials. He had to learn what it meant to receive the promise of God by faith.

In 1 Samuel 30:1-8, we read about a particularly difficult time in David’s life. He is living with the enemies of Israel because King Saul is trying to kill him. There is a war and David is in a very difficult situation. He cannot afford to appear disloyal to the king protecting him. He cannot go to the Israelites because Saul will kill him. He decides to go out to the battle and believe that God will make a way for him to keep his integrity with the king but not have to fight his countrymen.

The other leaders of the enemy army do not trust David and his band. The king sends David away. It would seem everything has worked out just as David hoped until he gets back to his home in a place called Ziklag. While David and his men were away, another army attacked his home. They destroyed everything and carried the families of David and his men away.

They react much as we would. David is devastated. God has just answered his prayer and now the enemy has come against him in another way. I want to remind you that the time after a faith victory is often the time the enemy tries to attack. We have won a victory but that usually means we want to relax. We have had to stand for something by faith and the answer comes. The devil is not an honorable enemy. He will often try to bring something else against us at that very moment.

This is what happens to David. I cannot imagine a more distasteful thing to David than to fight against his own people. If Saul had not had such a sinful attitude toward David he would have been leading the army against the enemy king himself. Because of Saul’s paranoia, David is in exile. What a tremendous victory it must have been to hear the king say, “David, I know you want to fight for us but my commanders don’t want to take the chance. I’m going to have to send you home.”

I can see David expressing regret to the king while in his heart rejoicing at the goodness of God. David’s band returns home rejoicing over the faith victory they have won. When they come in sight of the city, they see smoke. They rush to the city and find that while God was protecting them on one front, the devil had attacked on another. What are they going to do now?

Many of us would feel sorry for ourselves. We would wonder why God would allow such a thing. That is what David’s men did. They needed someone to blame and David was the leader. Never mind that they had all been broken men when they came to David. Never mind that it was David’s care for them and confidence in them that had caused them to be known as mighty men of valor. Their only thought in their grief was, “This is David’s fault. If he hadn’t left to make a show for the king our families would be here and our lives would be intact.”

David himself was in great distress over the loss of his family. He was discouraged because the people blamed him for the tragedy. I am a leader, I know how it feels when you have poured out your life for people, and then they turn on you. David was deeply distressed. What he does next is a key to walking by faith and walking in the supernatural. This verse says he encouraged himself in the Lord.

I believe we should encourage one another. I believe walking by faith and in the supernatural requires that we be in relationship with other believers primarily in a local church. However, there are times when there is no one to encourage us. There are times when no one but God will understand how you feel. At those times it is critical that we learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord. We cannot wait for anyone else to do it for us.

How did he encourage himself? I believe he began to praise God. As he did, hope began to arise in his heart. We know this because he asks God if he should pursue the enemy. The tendency in such a satiation would be to assume they were too far away. Emotionally a person facing what David was would be immobilized. However, David has begun to hope in God. He is remembering all the times God had given him victory. He remembers the lion and the bear he killed in his days as a shepherd. He remembers when he killed the giant, Goliath.

As he rehearses al the times God had delivered him, hope begins to arise in his heart. He stops feeling sorry for himself. He shuts out the criticism of his men. He turns to the high priest and enquires of the Lord. What is he looking for? He does not have the written Word as we do but he is looking for the Word of God to give substance and evidence to his hope.

When we face difficult situations, our emotions will want to run wild. It will feel natural to want to sit down and grieve. We may be immobilized. We may look for someone to blame for our circumstances. None of these things will help. David had to resist his natural tendencies and do something that is as difficult as it is powerful. He had to encourage himself in the Lord.

If you are facing a challenge that is what you must do. God has done something good in your life. If you cannot think of anything else, remember that you are not going to hell. That may not seem very important right now, but it is the most important truth of your life. It is the one thing that will matter eternally.

Begin to encourage yourself that God loves you. In Romans 8, we read about Paul. He lists all the trials that came against him. At the same time he declares, “I am more than a conqueror through Jesus. Even though I face all these difficult things, I know that nothing can separate me from his love.”

Do you think Paul’s emotions always agreed with that point of view. Read his letters and you will find they did not. However, Paul knew what he believed just as David did. When they were under pressure they knew that without hope they could not have faith. They encouraged themselves in the Lord by rehearsing what God had done in their lives and hope arose.

This is a day of trial for many. However, God has done great things for you in the past. Begin to praise him. If you cannot think of anything to praise him for praise him because of whom he is. Worship him. Thank him for saving you. Thank him for giving you the privilege of being in covenant with him. Hope will rise. Then you can “enquire of the Lord” in his Word. Then you will find a promise to give substance to your faith.

Faith is My Ticket

Hebrews 11:1 (AMP) 1 NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

As we begin our journey through 2014, we have been looking at the idea of becoming supernatural people living in the natural world. The question is how we do that.

We will look many different things in answer to that question but right now, we are examining our foundation. Jesus also said that we must build upon the rock of hearing and doing the Word of God if we are going to be examples of stability in the world. I believe a major key to living as supernatural people is to have a supernatural foundation. This begins with the integrity of the written Word of God.

It is interesting to note the words of Jesus as he battled the devil during the temptation at the beginning of his ministry. He was tempted three specific times by the devil in three specific areas. He response to each one was the same, “It is written.”

The written word of God is supernatural in nature. (Hebrews 4:12) The written Word of God never changes. It says the same thing whether I am up or down. It says the same thing in good times and bad. When faced with the temptations and trials of life we need to use the same foundational weapon that Jesus used. We need to say to the devil, the circumstances and our own flesh, “It is written.” As we stand on the written Word of God by faith, our circumstances and even our emotions will change to reflect the truth of what is written.

For the last two weeks, I have been talking about the foundational truth of Faith in God in our Sunday morning services. Much of what I have been preaching I wrote about in this space two weeks ago. To review a bit and put what I want to share this week in perspective, we need to look again at the great faith chapter in the bible, Hebrews 11. We want to mesh the idea of the integrity of the Written Word of God and the definition of faith in this chapter.

In verse six we learned that we must have faith to please God. We must believe that he exists and that he is alive and active in our lives. We must also believe that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Religion wants to convince us that God is a punisher. It would like us to think that we must fulfill religious obligations so that he will not punish us. God is not a punisher by nature. He is a rewarder by nature. He is not looking for a way to punish you, he is looking for any way that he can to reward you.

What kind of faith does it take to please God and release his reward? Verse one tells us. We need a faith that takes hope, the fact that anything is possible with God and makes hope real by receiving faith as the substance of that for which we hope. The Amplified bible calls that substance the title or deed for hope. In thinking about it this week, I thought of another way to look at what faith does for hope. It is our ticket to what we hope to see.

I remember the first few times I flew overseas. It was very exciting. That was in the days of paper tickets. I remember receiving that ticket in the mail. I would take it out and look at it. It was the absolute assurance that I was going to fly on that plane. At that point in my life, I had never seen a Boeing 747 in person. I knew they existed but I had never been on one. However, I had a ticket. I was going to get on that huge airplane and fly across the ocean. If anyone expressed doubt about that, I would show them the ticket.

That was the substance of my hoped for trip. Once I had that ticket, no one could stop me from getting on that plane. I had not seen the plane. I was going to India and I had never seen India. To some degree it was all unreal. However, when I looked at that ticket, I knew that I was going. Faith is our ticket to receive what we hope for.

Verse 1 also says that faith is the evidence of things we cannot see. I had never seen India or the airplane. What evidence did I have that I would actually go on this trip? I had a ticket. That was the evidence. It said where was flying from. It showed the destination of the flight. It told me when I was coming home and how. My ticket was the evidence that I was going. Every time I looked at it I knew that the day would come when I was going to India.

Once again, the Amplified Bible puts things in an even clearer light. In the end of verse, one it says, “Faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. I could not see, hear, smell, taste or touch my trip. I had never been to India and I had never flown over the ocean. Part of what makes our walk of faith so difficult is that faith implies we are believing for something we have not yet seen. There were days when my trip did not seem real but when I looked at the ticket, I knew that it was a real fact that I was going.

Romans 10:17 makes a statement that I believe is principle.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith comes from the Word of God. Faith is the substance (ticket) for what I hope to see. It is the evidence (the proof of real fact) of what I cannot yet see or perceive with my senses. It follows then, that the Word is my ticket and the evidence that my hope in God is real and will manifest in the natural world.

Faith is the connection between the supernatural world of the Spirit of God and the natural world in which we live. No one who actually believes that God exists thinks he is not all-powerful. That is what it means to be God. The problem is not God’s ability. The problem is our ability to bring his ability to bear in the natural world. Faith does just that. Hebrews 11:1 gives us a clear picture of how.

The Written Word of God which never changes It says the same thing no matter what circumstances and emotions say. We receive the written Word of God as our substance that makes the possibility real for me. We look at the bible and we see the evidence that proves we will eventually have the promise in the natural. Just as I looked at that airplane ticket and saw the substance and evidence of the reality of my trip.

God has given you a book full of possibilities. We also call them promises. Take one of those possibilities, receive it as the answer to your current situation and treat it like my airline ticket. Look at it. See it as the substance of that possibility. When the devil or your flesh tells you it will never happen, tell the devil and the flesh that you have ample evidence that it will. You have the written ticket right in your hand.

Something supernatural happens as you focus on the ticket. The trip gets more real every day. Before you know it you wake up one day and it is there. The spiritual possibility has become a physical reality. Hope has been given substance by faith and the thing for which you have believed is real.

Form Without Power

2 Timothy 3: 5 (NKJV) 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

This week I have been sharing some observations about the need for the church to walk as supernatural people. I pointed out the hunger that man has always had for the supernatural. I am convinced the explanation for this hunger is that a supernatural God created us to be supernatural people. We were separated from God by sin but never lost the innate understanding that there was something more to our existence than the natural world. The bible supports this point of view in both the Old and New Testaments.

Yesterday we looked at Galatians 3 where Paul asks the question, “Do you think that you can finish in the flesh what was begun in the spirit.” The spirit is the part of man that is vitally joined to God. It is the part that is born again when we receive Jesus as savior and Lord. Particularly in the Charismatic movement, there were people that went to false extremes in their attempts to be spiritual. They created confusion in the body of Christ.

In our attempts to bring balance, we sometimes allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. There was a tendency to avoid appearing out of balance. We began to be more acceptable and left the expectation of supernatural help. We learned to market, to study trends and use technology. All of this is good and valuable but we cannot think we will do a job with solely physical tools that was meant to be done primarily in the spirit. We need to get back to depending on the spirit and using natural tools as supplements to what we have that no one else can match.

Of course, I do not mean to say that the whole church has left the way of the spirit for the ways of the flesh. I believe that there are varying degrees of this tendency in most of us. Some have bought into a lie that the “modern” way of preaching the gospel does not require “spooky” spiritual people. Others have compromised in some areas while not in others. I think most of us know that we need to depend on the spirit but we have been disappointed in the past or we just do not know how. Whatever the degree of compromise we may be suffering, we need to get back to depending on the spirit to make the difference. Nothing else will change the hearts of people.

In today’s scripture, we see part of the cause for our lack of supernatural power. We live in the kind of times Paul describes more than any time in history. He lists some conditions that lead to his final condemnation of the church. They have a form of Godliness but they deny the power of Godliness. To me, this describes clearly the tendency of most of us in the western world. We have the forms but we do not have the power.

Church history tells us that when the power of God is not operating in any church circle or denomination, there will eventually be an attempt to explain why. There are many who say the gifts of the spirit have passed away. Someone tried to point out to me recently that tongues was a sign that was no longer given by God. I have heard teachings that say healing and the miraculous had passed away. Others teach that Apostles or prophets have passed away.

All of these “passed away” teachings are because they no longer see these gifts operating in their lives and ministries. Since they do not see them, they must have passed away. Those in the body of Christ who do believe in such things and claim to have seen them are dismissed as “simple” or worse.

I always wonder just when they passed away. What was the date? Was there a funeral? Did God change his nature? Why did Jesus seem to need supernatural power? What chapter and verse tells us we no longer need supernatural manifestations? I have heard teachings that say 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that the gifts are no longer necessary because “that which is perfect has come” referring to the completed Bible.

I do not want to take the time to explain why 1 Corinthians 13 says just the opposite but let me pose a question. It seems that Paul is being very inefficient when 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 give detailed instructions about the “manifestations of the Holy Spirit” when such manifestations were going pass away according to the chapter 13 which falls directly between the two. Why would he have needed to tell anyone about the nature of these manifestations and how to operate correctly in them if they were only going to be gone within a generation?

Nothing God has given has passed away. God has not changed and neither has the bible that tells us “signs will follow those who believe.” If we are not seeing the signs promised in the bible, we must find another reason. Let me propose that the conditions in today’s scripture are part of the problem. They describe our day and they rob us of the power of godliness that should be behind the form.

Let us take a moment and look at these conditions.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NKJV) 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

This is a very disturbing list, but look again. We certainly live in these perilous times. I do not believe most Christians are all of the things in this list. I do think the list represents the spirit of our times. I do think that we are affected by them. Their influence leads to verse five. We have the forms but the more the more these things influence us, the less we will have the power. In the end we will deny the power is real. We will stop expecting to be supernatural people and we will settled for something less. That is not the Church Jesus sent into the world

What should we do? I think it would not hurt us to look at this list and take stock. I am not suggesting we become condemned, but conviction is not a bad thing. If we are objective, I think we will find that we have allowed some of these things to get into our lives. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we have been affected by the spirit of our times. We need to rise up against that spirit both publicly and privately. We need to declare war on all of these attitudes and aggressively root them out of our lives and our ministries.

To admit that we have been influenced by what is on this list is not to admit weakness. The Lord knows who we are and he made provision in his word.

1 John 1:8-10 (NKJV) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

To say that the things on Paul’s list could not possibly influence us is foolishness. They have influenced us. We need to find out how, repent before the Lord and let him cleanse us of their unrighteous affects. If we do that, I believe we will be in a position to see the power of Godliness restored. We will once again begin to walk as the supernatural church Jesus sent into the earth in John 17.

Childlike Faith in the Supernatural

Galatians 3:1-3 (NKJV) 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Yesterday I shared my views on why man seems so fascinated with the supernatural. The view of many in the intellectual world would be that people have always needed mythology to find meaning beyond what is true. They would say that physical life is all there is and what cannot be proved by empirical scientific evidence is not real. Religion is man’s way of dealing with death and loss. It is a way for him to find meaning where no meaning exists. I beg to differ.

I think man is captivated by the supernatural because he is a supernatural being. He was created by a God who is not part of this world and he did not originate with this world. Man is a spirit just as God is a spirit. He lives in a physical body but the physical is not the source of his life. The bible supports this point of view. We quoted many scriptures yesterday that point to the bible’s clear revelation that there is another world, another reality, that exists above this one and that we are part of that reality as much as we are part of this one. Let me quote Jesus’ words in his last prayer for his disciples once more.

John 17:14-16 (NKJV) 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

We are not of this world just as Jesus was not of this world. What do you think he meant? I think he meant we are of another world. It seems rather clear to me. What is the other world of which we are a part? It is the world of the spirit where God the Father lives. It is the world of the eternal. It is the world that created this world. It is a source of supernatural power that we can access by faith in order to bring the life of God into this world.

About 25 years ago God brought me into relationship with some wonderful people that were part of a different ministry circle than the one I was in fellowship with. These people were very important to me and to my ministry life. I came from a stream of ministry that tended toward a type of spirituality that could be a little extreme at times. They believed in being supernatural people, but their interpretation of a supernatural life often tended towards an otherworldly life.

Many of the people in this circle tended to be “spooky spiritual.” They always seemed to “know what was going on in the spirit.” Nothing was ever just a feeling. People were never just having a bad day, there was always something “wrong in the spirit.” Usually that something was a problem with another person. The never seemed to be the source of the wrong spirit. The result was people who saw demons behind every situation and had spiritual “insights” that were usually just wrong.

A typical characteristic of this kind of other worldly spirituality was that God seemed to say something new every day. As a pastor of a local church, I used to hate to hear someone say, “God told me I’m supposed to be part of this church!” I knew that God was probably going to tell them to be part of another church in a week or so. This kind of thing produced tremendous instability and confusion.

When I was exposed to the group I mentioned earlier, they were more balanced. They were from a more Pentecostal background than Charismatic. As such, they had been involved in the spirit-filled life longer than we were. They had worked through some of the extremes. I remember making jokes about those “spooky spiritual” people who were so ignorant and caused us such problems.

As is often the case, I believe we let the pendulum swing too far the other way. Although I maintain that the “spectacular” and the supernatural are not always the same, I believe many of us began to discount the supernatural altogether. Where we used to expect supernatural insight and wisdom, we began to lean to natural insight and wisdom. We still believed in and even taught about the nine gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12-14, but we did not see them in operation nor did we expect to see them. In our efforts to avoid the stigma of being “spooky,” we stopped being spiritual at all.

The farther we drifted from a dependence on the supernatural aspect of Christianity, the more we had to rely on natural things to build our churches and ministries. Providing the right services to meet people’s natural needs became very important in church growth. We used the term “meeting felt needs” to describe what we were supposed to provide for people. We improved our marketing, our music and our facilities. We looked at demographics to tell us what would work in our areas. We studied the generations we were trying to reach so we would understand how best to reach them.

None of this is wrong except for one thing. We often left behind the thing we have that no one else has. We left behind the supernatural. We left behind the ability to hear and see things that others could not. We left behind the gifts of the spirit in favor of education in psychology and sociology. We left giving by faith in favor of good business sense. We slid to a “form of Godliness” that denied the supernatural power behind Godliness. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

I do not mean any of this as criticism of anyone. I am talking about my own experience. However, I think that the question Paul asks the disciples in today’s verse is relevant for all of us. Do we really think that we can begin in the power and reality of the supernatural spirit of God and finish the race relying on the flesh? I have been in the ministry for more than 35 years. I remember the early days and how we were so childlike about things. Now we are mature adults and we have left some of our childlike faith in the supernatural behind. I think we need to get it back!

We should not be childish. That is something else entirely. To be childish is to be selfish, immature and ignorant of important things. It is to view life with self in the center and a lack of understanding of what life really is about. To be childlike is to trust in something greater than our own knowledge or maturity. It knows that what I am is not the end of potential but the channel for a potential beyond my natural ability.

I would encourage you to examine your life and ministry. Was there a time you “foolishly” believed that there was a supernatural God who was working in your circumstances. Was there a day when you prayed about everything instead of studying everything? Was there a time when you depended on God to speak to you about what you should do in every situation? Was there a time when you depended on God to make the difference and not whatever natural resources or knowledge may be available?

I know many of us never really left our faith in the supernatural but I think many of us, me included, have drifted from our dependence on it. I have grown older and much more experienced. With age and experience come disappointments and changes in expectation. Unfortunately, this often leads to a degree of cynicism. We stop being childish but we also lose the ability to be childlike. I am working on getting back to a childlike dependence on the Lord without letting childish selfishness into the equation.

The Reality of the Supernatural

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places..

This month we I have been looking at the idea behind our theme for 2014 here at Living Word Christian Center in Greene, NY. Our goal is to fulfill the prayer of Jesus in John 17 where he reminds us and the Father that those who believe on Jesus for salvation are not of this world just as he was not of this world. He goes on to ask the Father to protect his people from the evil one, but not to take them out of the world. Our theme is that we be a supernatural people living in the natural world.

What does it take to be supernatural? What does Jesus mean when he says we are not of this world? That sounds a little like something that might be part of a science fiction story. However, we are not talking about “ancient aliens” or visitors from outer space. We do need to realize that there are two worlds functioning around us and that we are a part of both. Much of western civilization is devoted to convincing people that this is not true. Yet with all the attempts to educate this thought out of us it remains a main theme of fiction, existential speculation and faith.

Why would we persist in talking about parallel universes and supernatural phenomenon? The more rational thinking tries to convince us that what we see is all there is the more we seem to long to see more. It is interesting how many “reality TV” shows focus on supernatural and unexplained things. We have people hunting ghosts, seeking scientific proofs for life after death and more. Again, I would ask the question, “With so much education to the contrary, why do we still seem so desperate to find another reality?”

One point of view is that man simply cannot accept that life is what it is. Technology, philosophy, art and all the other accomplishments of humanity are just a result of the right gathering of simple proteins in the primordial ooze millions of years ago. Since man cannot accept that death is simply the end of a biological coincidence, we must give life greater significance by inventing another reality. This eternal reality gives meaning to what is essentially a meaningless existence.

I would like to submit another point of view for our consideration. Man cannot get away from the idea that there is another world or reality because there is one. The God of that other world created him. Man is not an accident of nature but a desired child of a supernatural world. We were placed here to be the children of God. We have a connection to the unseen world we came from. This may sound a little bit out there, but the bible supports the idea.

We have already quoted John 17 but there are many other scriptures that also support the truth of the realm of the spirit. Look at today’s verse. Paul tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood and then lists a number of things with which we do wrestle. Where are these things? What are these things? Paul lists them without hesitation or explanation. There is nothing surrounding this verse to suggest that Paul is speaking metaphorically. Paul believes that these “enemies behind our enemies” really exist. The implication is that if we do not understand that these enemies are not of this world, we cannot combat them successfully.

What about prayer? There are those who think of prayer as a meditative exercise that helps us quiet our minds and bring a natural kind of peace into our lives. Jesus does not seem to agree.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Jesus tells us that if we agree on things that we ask for, those things will be done for us. Who are we to ask? He says we ask his Father in heaven. Then he makes an even more extreme statement. He says that if two or three are gathered together in his name, he is actually there with them! He was not talking about when he was on the earth only. He was talking about today.

For the most part, we do not see Jesus in our church gatherings. Did Jesus lie? Was he a simple-minded person who could not grasp the complexities of life and philosophy and used this “myth” to explain things he could not understand? Worse yet, was he a fraud who used mythological stories of an invisible “Father” to mislead people? If you are a Christian, you cannot possibly accept anything like that.

Jesus knew exactly what he was saying. Just as Paul meant that there was an evil spiritual presence in the earth, Jesus knew that the Father was also here and that he would be here. His world and the world we can see exist simultaneously. His is the parent world. The world we can see came from the world we cannot see. The world we can see is subject to the world we cannot see. Listen to Paul on the subject.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NKJV) 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We live in two worlds. One is a world that we can see and one is a world that we cannot see with our natural eyes. The one we can see is perishing. Everything in it dies. The one that we cannot see is eternal. The one that we cannot see is the world of the spirit. The one that we can see is the natural world of the flesh. This is the truth. This is why we keep looking for something more. We look because we innately know it is true.

Why do I feel it is so important to pound away at this idea? I believe as Paul believed. We do not fight the natural things we can see. We are involved in a war against things we cannot see. This could be frightening to us unless we understand another truth. We are part of the unseen world. We are not just flesh and blood. We have an eternal component and it is by accessing that eternal component that we will win ultimate victory in life.

If you are a Christian, you are not just a natural person trying to understand eternal truths. You are, by nature, supernatural. Your source of life is not this world. That is what Jesus was trying to tell us in John 17. Because we are connected to the invisible world, we have access to invisible things. We have access to the power of God. Every time we gather together there is a supernatural, invisible presence that is there with us. That connection is to the power that created the world that we can see. Accessing that connection changes everything in life.

To accept any interpretation of Christianity that does not acknowledge that we are not of this world is something less than what Jesus prayed for at the hour of his sacrifice. Take a few moments today and ask the Lord to make the invisible supernatural world real to you. I believe we can learn to feel it and walk in its power. However, even when we do not feel it, it is still there. Believe in that today and begin to access the power of the invisible world. It is the only way to win the war in which we are currently engaged. It is the way we find the life that Jesus intended us to have.