You Just Have to be Normal to Carry the Extraordinary

Luke 1:30-33 (NKJV) 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

I want to continue looking at the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Last week we discussed how important she was and how her willingness to be used of God opened the door to salvation for all of us. I do not believe that Mary was anything more than a normal human woman. I do not believe that she should be venerated in the way some others do. However, I believe we should be grateful for her obedience.

I think it is interesting to note that what Mary brought to the equation required only that she be human and that she be willing. It was the fullness of time as the Father defined it. It was time to put the final phase of the plan to redeem man in motion. The only way that could be possible was for the Father himself to take the form of human flesh. God must become man.

The Father supplied the “God” part of the equation. John 1:1 tells us that the Word of God and God himself are one. Verse 14 tells us that the Word “became flesh.” 1 Peter 1:23 says that we have been born again of an incorruptible seed, the Word of God. If we put these verses together, we understand how Mary became pregnant with the Son of God.

The angel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. The Word of God became a physical seed that fertilized the egg in Mary’s womb. The child conceived was therefore divine. The Word became flesh. However, to be flesh he must also be human. The human component came from Mary.

Her obedience changed the world. What did she actually have to do to change the world? She had to do what multiplied millions of other human women had done. She had to carry a baby, give birth to that child and be a mother to him. She did not have to lead an army, participate in a revolution or be a political leader. She just had to be a normal woman willing to obey God!

This gives me great hope that I can change my world. I do not have to be something more than what I am. I just have to be a normal person willing to obey God. I do not have to be exceptionally gifted or talented. I do not have to travel the world. I do not have to have any special education. God may use any or all of these things. I just have to be willing to allow God to live through my humanity.

To an observer it did not look like anything supernatural or extraordinary was happening to Mary. For 9 months, she was a pregnant woman just like every pregnant woman before her. I believe she probably got morning sickness. I think she was just as uncomfortable at 8 ½ months as my wife was with our six children. Everything on the outside looked completely ordinary. However, the extraordinary was growing in her.

As we approach a new year, I believe we need to realize that the same Word that was in Mary is in us. She carried the Word as a physical mother. We carry the Word as a vessel for the supernatural God to change our world. Our “pregnancy” does not result in a physical baby. Our “pregnancy” can bring forth the power of God in our everyday situations.

Many Christians think they have to be something more than what they are to be used of God. The lesson we should learn from Mary is that God needs what we are. We are human beings. We live in the human world. God wants access to that world. His chosen method of gaining that access is through human vessels. In Mary’s case, he needed someone who would carry his human form and bring it to birth so that he could redeem man. Our job is different.

Redemption has already been accomplished. Jesus carried his blood to the heavenly holy of holies and sat down at the right hand of God. He does not need to be born into the world again. We received the same seed that produced Jesus and were born again in our spirit. He needs those who will take the seed of his Word to those who do not know him so that they can be born again as well.

He needs a people who will carry the word of reconciliation to the world.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Mary had to be a normal human being to fulfill her calling. She had to be willing to allow the Spirit of God to move upon her and she had to be willing to receive the seed of God’s word. She did this at great risk. She could have been stoned for fornication. She could have been forced to live as an outcast. There were all kinds of bad things that could have happened to her because of her obedience. She chose to obey anyway and the world was never the same.

God always has leaders. God gives gifts to all people. Each one of us carries a touch from the supernatural hand of God. We are capable of being a channel for his power to the earth. However, I think it is important that we understand that God needs us to be real human beings. He needs us to be factory workers and teachers. He needs us to work in stores and even in government. He needs us to raise families and live normal lives. He needs us to do these things because it is normal people we must reach.

At the same time, we must remember that although we are normal on the outside the supernatural is growing within us. We are flesh and blood just like our neighbors but we are also vitally joined to the supernatural God. While Mary’s job was to produce a baby, ours is to produce disciples. He gave Mary what she needed to do her job and he gives us what we need to do ours.

Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV) 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mary was called to produce one birth. We are called to produce many births. She just had to be a mother willing to obey God. We just have to be normal people willing to obey God. He took care of the supernatural part in Mary’s pregnancy. He will take care of the supernatural part in ours as well, if we cooperate with him as she did.

Get ready for a wonderful and productive 2017!

The Handmaiden of the Lord

Luke 1:38(NKJV) 38Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

This week we have taken a different look at the Christmas story from the perspective of Mary. Here is a teenage girl confronted with a promise given by the Lord. The promise is not for healing or prosperity. It is not for success in her future life. Instead, she is given the opportunity to carry the Messiah of the whole world in her body. She must risk her future and her life to receive this promise.

The weight of the plan of God to save all of humanity rests upon her shoulders. If she says no, God will find another way to do what he plans to do. However, we see in Isaiah 7:14 that this is her destiny.

Isaiah 7:14(NKJV) 14Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Note in this verse that it does not say “a virgin shall conceive” but it says, “the virgin shall conceive.” It is as if the light of eternity is shining upon Mary as this moment. What will she say?

Of course, we know what she says because we can read it. However, try to think in terms of not knowing her answer. Imagine how she must have felt at this time. She did not understand all the ramifications of what the Lord was asking of her, but she did know that it would not be easy. She knew that the Messiah was coming soon. In addition, she knew that his coming was a pivotal event in the history of her nation. This is a tremendous burden for a simple girl.

In today’s scripture, we read her answer. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen just as you say it should.” Mary says yes, to whatever God needs her to do. She says she will carry the promise of God into a world that, for the most part, did not want that promise. She will risk her reputation and her body to carry salvation for the world.

We know the price that Jesus paid. He allowed himself to be arrested, beaten and crucified so that all humanity could accept his sacrifice and be “born again.” Any who choose to can become a child of God free from sin and with heaven as their eternal home. It is impossible to minimize this sacrifice and it is impossible for any of us to pay it. That is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin and then die for us. However, what of Mary’s sacrifice.

Mary’s sacrifice was not to pay for salvation. Her sacrifice was to carry salvation to the world. If she had not been willing to do what the angel had asked, it would have been impossible for anyone to be born again. We can assume that God would have found another way, but we have no idea what that would have been. It was all upon Mary and her willingness to obey.

As I thought about this aspect of the Christmas story, I realized why the Lord led me to think about Mary. We cannot pay Jesus sacrifice but we can receive the promise the Lord gave to Mary. We cannot die for the sins of the world. We cannot even pay the price for our own sins. We can carry salvation to the world just as Mary carried it for the world.

Mary’s story begins with the angel telling her that she was highly favored by the Lord. She is called blessed more than all women and told that the Lord is with her in a special way. I believe the Lord is saying the same thing to us and our generation. We are favored by God and he is with us is a very special way.

We live in a world that is full of trouble. A great portion of this world has rejected God and religion in general. Many of those who embrace religion and the reality of the existence of God, serve a religious system that does not stand for the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They fight to remove Jesus’ influence from the world and enslave it in a system of religious legalism that threatens to return everyone to the dark ages.

We have been favored to live in this day. We have the answer to every problem the world faces. More important, we have access to the only name by which salvation can come to individuals in this troubled world.

Acts 4:12(NKJV) 12Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We carry the promise of God for salvation to the world. The bible tells us that God is with us in a special way to enable us to carry out this mission.

Mark 16:15-20(NKJV) 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  16He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  17And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  18they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  20And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

These are the words of Jesus to each of us today. The scriptural record tells us that when the first disciples took up this challenge, the Lord did exactly what he said he would do. This is our promise that God is with us to do what he asks us to do.

God will not force you and me to obey any more than he would force Mary. Mary said, “Let it be to me as you say.” It was a choice. She risked everything from ridicule to death in order to carry out the assignment the Lord offered her. She did not have to do it but everything depended upon her obedience. I believe we are in the very same position.

If we choose to spread the gospel to those around us, we may be ridiculed. We may find that our reputations will suffer. There are places where those who preach the gospel lose their jobs, their families and even their lives. In the USA today, that is not the case. Our risk is far less than that; however, the responsibility is no less.

If Mary did not carry the promise of salvation, who would? If you and I do not carry the promise of salvation who will? If Mary had said no in her day of visitation, how would the God of the universe come to occupy the body of a human being? If we will not declare the message of salvation, how will anyone receive their own visitation and their salvation?

I think that we sometimes pray for a visitation of God and an outpouring of his power so that the world will know that we were right all along. This is not the reason to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit. The reason we should pray for God to move is the same reason Mary agreed to carry a supernatural baby into the world. We should pray for God to move because all of humanity needs to receive the promised salvation.

We are in the same position Mary was in on that fateful day. The same spotlight of eternity that was on her then is on us today. The question is will we have the same courage that she had. Will we respond to God’s invitation the way she did? I pray we do. The future of the world and its people depends upon our answer.

“Behold the servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

The Weight of Responsibility

(I am revisiting some things from 2012. Although that year I was writing after the Day, I think that it applies just as much as we approach the holiday. It is wonderful to understand that a normal young woman could be used to bring such powerful change to the world. We do not know what impact our normal life is having on the world around us. Living as a true Christian also involves responsibility. God Has given us the privilege of being part of his plan for the earth. It is hard to imagine the responsibility on Mary’s young shoulders. We also bear a responsibility to carry the Messiah to our world. She carried him as his physical mother. We carry the message of what his life, death, burial and resurrection purchased for man. As we examine her, let us consider our own responsibility as well.)

Luke 1:30-34(NKJV) 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Yesterday we spent some time thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus, as part of our Christmas celebration. We learned that Mary was an ordinary teenage girl who experienced and extraordinary supernatural visitation. God gave her a promise that she would bear a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. This child will be called the son of God and take the throne of his “father” David. The problem is that Mary is engaged but not yet married. Any pregnancy will ruin her marriage, her reputation, any hope at a normal life and endanger her physical life. This is not the kind of promise most of us would want.

Today I want to look at the burden the angel is asking her to carry for all of humanity. The virgin birth, along with the resurrection of Jesus Christ are often viewed as Christian mythology. They are nice stories that could not have actually happened. It is acceptable to live according to the philosophy of Christianity, but we must be realistic and reject such myths. The truth is very different. Without the virgin birth and the resurrection, Christianity as a religion is unworkable.

God created man for a purpose. That purpose was to be his family. God wanted beings that were like him with whom he could fellowship. To accomplish this he created a being that was spirit like him, but placed this being in a limited physical body and a limited physical environment. God is spirit and is unlimited. There could only be one God so man could not be unlimited. This compromise created a being that was made of the same spiritual substance as God, without being an unlimited being.

Because of man’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden, he was separated from God. Sin became a part of man’s nature and God’s pure holiness could not come in contact with that sin without destroying both the sin and the vessel carrying it. It is the same principle as light and darkness. Light always destroys darkness no matter how dim the light or dark the darkness may be.

This means that man cannot fulfill his purpose as the child of God. There cannot be intimate fellowship between them because man is now a child of wrath, or the devil, by nature. (Eph 2:3) Someone must defeat man’s overlord, Satan, and free him from the nature of sin. The problem is twofold. Only God is strong enough to defeat the devil. However, the crime is man’s crime so he must be the one to pay the price. God is absolutely just and will do nothing that is not within the boundaries of justice.

Man can pay the price for sin but the price is death. Once that price is paid, man is eternally separated from God. Since everything produces after its own kind, man will produce the same kind of being that he is. Man’s seed carries the death, so every human who is born of human seed will carry the sin nature that came upon Adam because of his sin in the Garden. (Romans 5) God cannot simply forgive it because of his own nature. Man cannot pay the price because of his nature.

God can simply destroy the creation and start again. However, God is absolute love as well as absolute justice. Justice will not allow him to overlook sin, but love will not allow him to abandon his family. God is left with an impossible situation. Of course, with God all things are possible.

What is the solution? God must become man, pay the price for sin and defeat the devil so man can be free. Then man can choose to receive this sacrifice and be “born again” as a new creature no longer bound by the “nature of wrath” that came upon Adam. The being that can accomplish this must be God but he must be a valid part of Adam’s race. God cannot simply create a new body from the dust of the earth because then the result would not be truly human. He cannot be conceived in the natural way because all creatures produce after their own kind and the result would carry the curse of sin. God could not inhabit such a body without destroying it.

There is only one answer. He must be born just as all other people are born. However, he cannot have a human father. If he is conceived in a real human female without the human seed, he will carry her humanity but not the curse of sin carried by man’s seed. The only kind of being that can do all that is required is one who is conceived in a virgin. The seed that creates him must be the Word of God. He will be human because of his mother. He will be divine because of his real father. He will be both God and man. (1 Peter 1:17-25)

This virgin born man will have the right to pay the price for humanity but the power to defeat the devil. He can choose to take upon himself the sin of man, but since he will have no sin to pay for, the payment will be for all who choose to take it as their own. This is the only way to meet the requirements of both love and justice.

Obviously, this is a short explanation of a long subject, but think about Mary for a moment. Not only is she being asked to do something that could ruin her own life, but she is now the focal point of thousands of years of God’s dealing with man. All God has done to this point, including creating the nation of Israel rests upon the decision of this young girl. The future of humanity rests upon here answer to the angel.

I do not believe God would have forced her to accept this role. God does not work that way. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus praying to his father. His request is simple. “Father, I do not want to do this.” If he had no choice, he would not have prayed the second half of his prayer. “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

I believe Mary has a choice. I believe she could say, “This is too much for a young girl to bear. I have my life to live. You will have to find someone else to carry this promise.” Her answer will determine the future of man. What will she say to this promise?

Think About Mary

(I am revisiting some things from 2012. Although that year I was writing after the Day, I think that it applies just as much as we approach the holiday. It is wonderful to understand that a normal young woman could be used to bring such powerful change to the world. We do not know what impact our normal life is having on the world around us. Living as a true Christian in the modern world is a powerful testimony that will change the world by changing the people around you. Just think about Mary this week.)

Luke 1:26-33(NKJV) 26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary 28And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Greetings again in the name of Jesus. I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas day with friends and family.

As I was praying about what to share with our church last Sunday, which was Christmas Sunday, I was finding it hard to settle on a message. Holiday messages tend to be difficult for me because what people expect is always the same. I have been a pastor for almost 35 years and I have preached every Christmas message I know many times over. As I was praying, I felt the Lord said, “Just think about Mary.”

We usually focus on the birth of Jesus during this season and rightly so. However, he was not the only character in the story. What of his mother? What was her story? In today’s scripture, we see the angelic visitation that announces to Mary the role she must play in this drama. Who was Mary anyway?

She was a young girl, probably between the ages of 13 and 16 years old. She was not from a wealthy or influential family. She was related to the family of King David. I have a distant relative who was a Duke in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France but I am hardly considered royalty. I suspect that Mary’s connection to David was something similar. She was an ordinary girl of her day.

Sometimes when we read the bible, we think the people must have lived from one visitation to another. We read of the angel coming to Mary and think this was probably a common occurrence but it was not. Mary had never seen an angel. She probably never met anyone who had seen an angel. She knew they existed because it was part of her religious tradition, but that does not mean she was not shocked by this supernatural visitation.

Therefore, the stage is set for this powerful drama to begin. There is a teenage girl just like all the other teenage girls of her day. She receives a visitation like no other she has ever heard of or seen. The greeting she receives from the angel is, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” That is quite a greeting for a 14-year-old girl. It must mean that something wonderful is going to happen to her. Perhaps she is going to become Queen just as her ancestor became King. A prophet visited him at a similar age. Maybe she will become rich or famous. Surely, it will be some wonderful promise that God will fulfill in her life. She is right, but not in the way we would probably think of a promise.

The angel tells her that she is going to have a baby. She is engaged, but she is not yet married. It is obvious from the description of the baby that this will be no ordinary child. He will be called the son of God and take the thrown of his father David. Her child is given two fathers; God and David. Neither seems to be a very likely candidate to Mary.

Mary understands that the angel is not talking about a child that will come because of her impending marriage to the carpenter Joseph. She is going to have a baby before she is married. All of this had to be quite a blow to a teenage girl.

On a personal level, this is a burden to bear. She must somehow inform her husband that she had not been unfaithful when it becomes obvious that she is pregnant. We know that the Lord will protect Mary and let Joseph in on the plan himself, but Mary does not know this now. Her marriage is in jeopardy.

In our world, it is no stigma to have a child out of wedlock. In her world, it was a matter of great shame to the whole family. Her reputation would have been ruined. This could have led to very severe consequences including death by stoning. At the very least, she would not have been able to expect a normal life and family after this shameful pregnancy.

Finally consider the fact that death in childbirth was a far more common occurrence in her day than today. Without the aid of friends and family because of the circumstances of her pregnancy and without a husband to care for her it was highly likely that she would not survive this “promised” experience from the Lord. How many of us would simply have told the angel to look elsewhere for someone to be so “favored of God.”

This is what she faces on a personal level. The responsibility she will carry if she accepts this promise is even greater. We will look at that tomorrow.

Applied Faith: Treasure in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I started going over the process and principles of faith because of the experience I had in Kenya this year. I was ministering in a church made up of very poor people. As I was asking God what I could give them that would help, the Lord reminded me of all he had done in my life.

I am not from a rich family. I do not have wealthy connections. I do not have connections with large ministries that can open doors for me. I am very much like the people I was about to minister to in Kenya. If I am going to provide for my family and do anything for God, I need him to move in my life and provide for me. For 38 years, he has done just that.

If God will move in my life, he will move in yours. He is no respecter of persons (Ephesians 6:9.) God is not moved by who we are, where we live or what we have. He is moved by two things. He is moved by salvation because it means we are in covenant relationship with him and he is moved by faith.

I believe that one of the most important things we need to understand about our relationship with God is that every life in him matters. We all have a calling and a destiny in the Lord. It really does not matter if that calling means we preach from a pulpit or simply shine as a light to our neighbors. It does not matter if we are called to travel around the world or never leave the place we were born. It does not matter whether that destiny is to lead or follow. Our destiny in God is to fill a place in the extension of his Kingdom. He needs every one of us to do that.

As important as it is to fulfill our destiny, God is just as concerned about our personal everyday lives. As I stood before these poor tea pickers in Kenya, I knew God wanted them to know that they could live significant lives and do great things for his Kingdom even if they spent the rest of their lives in the tea fields. However, I felt that God wanted me to remind them that He knows they still had to feed and clothe their children. He knew they had bills to pay. Sometimes we think faith to heal the sick is spiritual but faith to feed ourselves and our children is carnal. That is not true. God gives us faith to do both.

As I began to speak to these precious saints God led me to Mathew chapter 6. Most of this chapter deals with the needs of everyday life. In this chapter, he talks about many things including the fact that God is aware of our needs. I believe Jesus reveals some of the principles of faith that we must apply for him to meet those needs. I want to start with the verse above.

This verse sounds very spiritual, and since these are the words of Jesus it is. However, we tend to look at them very differently than Jesus meant them. As we read on in this chapter we will see that Jesus is talking about our physical needs. We tend to think he is telling us that those things do not matter. They do matter. They matter to Jesus and they matter to the Father.

Matthew 6:32 (NKJV) 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

If the needs of life were not important to the Father, Jesus would not have assured us that he knows about them. Do you think Jesus would say, the Father knows you need food and clothing but he is not going to provide them? No father would do that and neither will our Father in Heaven. He is not telling us that we must lay up our treasures in heaven and when we get there we can have them. Food to feed my children here on earth will do me no good in heaven. What is Jesus saying and what does it have to do with faith for everyday life.

When Jesus tells us to lay up our treasures in heaven, he never says he will not provide for our needs here I want to point out two things that I hope will clarify what he is telling us.

What is your treasure? That is the first question we must answer. For many people today, their possessions are their treasure. We judge ourselves and others by the amount of money they have, the kind of car they drive or the kind of house in which they live. If we have nothing, it looks as if those who have great wealth have a peace and freedom we do not.

I ask again, what is your treasure? Treasure can be either a noun or a verb. The noun has a number of definitions but this is the one I think is relevant to us. A treasure is anything or person greatly valued or highly prized. The verb is even more revealing. It means to regard or treat as precious; to cherish.

We can have things and even money, but that cannot be our treasure. Our treasure must be more valuable than that. My treasure begins with my relationship to God. That means more to me than all the money in the world. My treasure is my wife, my children and my family, both physical and spiritual. Wealth is not my treasure. Wealth is what I need to do what my God calls me to do and what I need to take care of my family. It is nothing more than that.

Jesus tells us to lay up our treasure in heaven. My relationship with God and my family are both things that do not only exist here on earth. They transcend the. I will be with Jesus for eternity. I will be with those that I love and who are born again for eternity. However, there are times when I need things here on earth to take care of them. To lay up our treasure in heaven means we are placing the eternal parts as the priority not the temporary. When we do that, nothing can hinder God from providing what we need to take care of what we treasure.

If our focus is on things that we need here, they are subject to rust and decay. The devil can disrupt the channels though which our provision comes. When we center our treasure in heaven, God is in control. God knows what we need. We are laying our treasure up in heaven when we trust in him to meet our needs. The resources are no longer the treasure. As we trust in God to meet the needs of what we really treasure, we take them out of the realm of the devil’s ability to disrupt them.

God knows we have needs. God does not mind if we have resources. I do not believe we must live in poverty and just expect God to give us enough to get by. How can we help others if we have nothing? I believe that we must recognize that the things or resources we have come from God. If they run out here, there is more laid up in heaven and God can and will get it to us when we need it.

I have lived most of my life this way. God has always provided for me. I ask him for what I need. I have days just like you, when I have a bit of a problem believing he will do what he said. Nevertheless, for thirty eight years he has done just that. I do not have a lot of money in the bank. I am not saying there is anything wrong with having some, but I just never have. However, when I have had a need God has always found a way to get me a means to meet it. He has even given me many of the things I desire.

Faith in God comes when we realize that our treasure is far more than anything we can possess. When we see that, it is not such a problem to believe that God will help us take care of our real treasure.

Applied Faith: The Process and the Principles

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

We took a break from our study of applied faith because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I do want to note that giving thanks to God is one of the most important principles we can learn if we want to apply faith in our lives. Paul said that we should pray for everything “with thanksgiving.” We will never be successful in faith if we are not thankful for what God has done as well as what he promised to do.

In our study, we have emphasized certain basic truths about faith. We have looked at the process by which faith works. We have seen from Hebrews 11:1-3 that the process of creation is the same process we use to apply faith for our world. God had an image that he communicated in words. The power released in those words created the visible, physical world we live in now.

Today the process is the same with some key modifications. The image God has in his heart is still what is creative. If we apply that image to the visible, physical world it will respond to the same power that created it. The world will conform to the image of God.

There is a difference in the process from when it was used in creation. Now the image is not communicated by God directly to the world. It is communicated by his children to whom he gave dominion over the. When they speak God’s Words born in their heart, the natural and visible world will respond.

One of the principles we must learn is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17.) When a born-again believer “hears” the Word of God his spirit is designed to respond to it. As the Word takes root it begins to cause a spiritual reaction the imparts the image and power God put into the Word when it was spoken by him to whoever wrote it down.

The action is very much like that of a seed in the ground. The seed and the ground interact and a plant is produced that gives life to the world. The seed of the Word of God interacts with the heart of a born-again person and a plant of what God intended that Word to create is produced in the believers heart. In the same way that Jesus was born of an incorruptible seed in Mary’s womb and the Word became flesh in the earth, the image in the promise, principle or other Word of God become flesh in us.

As the image of God contained in the Word becomes flesh in us, Faith is produced which connects that image to the world. We speak just as God spoke.

Romans 10:6-8 (NKJV) 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ “ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, ” ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ “ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Faith speaks the Word of God. God spoke his Word in creation and the world became. We speak his word born of the implantation of the seed of the Word in our hearts. When God spoke in creation the world was created. As we speak in faith, our world can and will be conformed to the image of God in his Word.

There was a misconception surrounding this truth for many years. It was said that God would respond to the positive confession of a believer. Positive confession is much better than negative confession, however that is not the process of faith we are talking about here. The process involves speaking God’s word which has become flesh in us. Our words carry a certain level of creative power. There is no denying that but it is God’s word that created the physical world and it is God’s word which has become flesh in the heart of a believer that will change it.

Faith is the substance of what we believe is possible (hope.) Faith, and the word that produces it is our evidence that God is doing what he said he would do. I stated this in another post, but I think it is a very important part of the process. We need to use the power of evidence in our faith battles.

There is always a process of time in walking by faith. That is part of how it works. God is doing something in a place and in ways where we cannot see what he is doing. The word “seen” in Hebrews 11:1 can also be interpreted “perceive with the physical senses.” When we chose to trust God and believe his word, much happens in places we cannot perceive them. Look at Jesus’ teaching in Mark 4:26-27.

Mark 4:26-27 (NKJV) 26 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.

A farmer understands that the seed must work out of sight to produce a plant. We must understand that God is working where we cannot see what he is doing. The farmer must believe that the seed will produce. What is his evidence that he will get a crop? It is the seed that he planted. Spiritually our evidence is the same. We planted a seed. There is a difference. The farmer cannot see the see. We can look at our seed any time we want. Every time we do, we reinforce the truth that the seed is working.

When the devil tells a believer that faith is not working, the believer can show him the evidence. When our mind is screaming with doubt and worry, we must focus it on the evidence. Evidence is proof that something is true. Faith in God’s Word is the evidence that what God is doing what he said he will do. More important, it is the evidence that he is doing it in my life. How he does it is none of my business.

I am a reviewer and I am afraid I got a little carried away today since it has been a while since we have talked about this. I believe that it is important to be grounded in the process of faith if we are ever going to understand it. Today’s scripture lays the foundation for the principles that govern the principles that cause faith to work.

First, must come to God. If we do not come to him nothing can happen. Faith is based in relationship. We come because of that relationship and if we do not come we are not walking in relationship. Some believe that faith will be automatic. God will do what he wants no matter what we do. There are certain things that do work solely because God is sovereign. Jesus will come back and nothing we do will change that.

However, if we want God to move in our lives, we are involved in the process. We are his children. When he created Adam he gave him dominion. It would have saved a great deal of trouble if he had not made Adam his “under ruler.” Nevertheless, any father wants his children to grow up and be an active participant in life. God is not different. We must pray. We must study to show ourselves approved to God, we must believe. All of this is part of coming to God.

We must believe that he exists. This seems obvious, but God has had me meditating on this for years. He is! He exists and everything he said is true. His existence changes everything. If he does not exist, then we are on our own. We should “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!” However, he does exist so “all things are possible if we believe.

We must believe that he is a rewarder and not a punisher. It is his predisposition to reward. He does punish but it is not his desire. He wants to reward. He wants to reward you. It is from these ideas that all faith principles flow. Walking in them is the only way to please God.