It’s God That Never Fails; Not You

Be assured; if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name. –George Mueller

You will fall short of your own expectations.

More stress is caused in your life because you are not living up to what you are expecting of yourself.

Lower your expectations of yourself, and instead, raise your expectations of Jesus who is closer to you than your very breath.

Don’t be a belly-button gazer.  You’ll always find lint.

Don’t be surprised that there is dirt in your own mountain.  There’s gold there, too:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”  2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (ESV)

It’s one thing to quote Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus…”  It is another to keep choosing to do so.  But, it is in that habitual choice that opens the door to the choicest of blessings in life.  It is Jesus, your brother, that has the power of mastery in all things.

Where do you need to allow Jesus to be your salvation today?

You can’t save yourself, but He can.  He wants to.

Gary

 

Understanding Spirit Faith vs. Flesh Faith


Many people struggle with faith.  Instead of the process being a ‘good fight’ (1 Timothy 6:12), it’s become unfruitful labor.

For various reason, the subject of faith has often become quite confusing.  People mean so many different things when they say, “I’m standing in faith.”  It seems to depend on what they have been taught about faith.

What many Christians are calling faith is actually born in the brain rather than birthed in the heart.  Here is another way of looking at that statement:

Intellectually reasoned faith is a product of the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.’  Spirit driven faith is a fruit of the ‘Tree of Life.’

I’ve heard some folks say that activating spiritual faith could also be explained as ‘taking a risk.’  In a sense, I understand that way of illustrating Bible faith.  However, I believe ‘taking a risk’ is misleading when describing God’s faith.

The Genesis ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ offered (and still offers) mankind the opportunity to make independent rational decisions regarding the good and bad of life.  The Tree of Life (or Jesus) illustrates remaining connected to God as the source of wisdom in life.

(Note:  Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a form of Hebraic terminology that meant ‘the full scope of life from beginning to end.’  Another illustration would be where Jesus was called, ‘the Alpha and Omega.’)

The purpose of Satan’s temptation was to encourage God’s children to be independent of the relationship of God’s counsel and think for themselves.  His lie was suggesting that it was not necessary to drink of the waters of life to live abundantly.  However, the independence he offered was a cistern of lies, half-truths, arrogance, self-interest, and self-deception.

The deceit and duplicity were in the forbidden tree having ‘fruit’ that gave an appearance of being wise.  However,  being wise without God is ultimately foolishness.

Another name for the forbidden tree is Flesh.  According to Romans 8:7 (NIV),

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;
it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

When we are considering having faith, a person can attempt to secure it by using the process of natural reasoning.  That is what I refer to as Flesh Faith.   The person reasons that if they have followed the steps they were taught, and repeatedly stated some promise scriptures, then faith will follow and God will act on their behalf.  When the ‘answers’ are delayed, they boldly proclaim that they are ‘standing in faith.’

Before any reader assumes that I’m cynical about faith teaching or personal Word promise affirmations, I am not.  Those things can all be beneficial.
There is a great deal of faith teaching that can point a person toward deepening their relationship with Jesus.   Confessing and affirming the promises can nurture a heart connection with the Lord.  However, I’ve witnessed that many people are using the principles of faith teaching like inducements to get God to respond to their needs.  They are 2 + 2ing it to = 4.  But, God is very clear about the Flesh (natural logic without intimacy with God).  It will not and cannot produce anything that harmonizes with God.

In the process of striving to attain the promises with only the brain’s logic, the emotion of confidence is fleeting.  Rest and assurance are like butterflies that land on one’s shoulder and quickly take flight at the slightest provocation.

On the other hand, authentic faith, which stands firm in confidence, is that which is birthed in the heart.  It is the product of enjoying and eating the fruit produced by the Tree of Life (Jesus).  The God kind of faith develops on a daily basis of intentional communion.  It may be illustrated in any human relationship.  Faith in each other grows through fellowship.

What it boils down to is this:  Faith for anything is based on the amount of confidence one has in God.  Faith is ‘looking unto Jesus’ the Person (who resides in one’s heart) as the Source for the answer rather than looking unto ‘faith techniques and formulas’ to produce the desired manifestation.  Faith is not the creative force.  The Creator is the creative force of what one wishes.

Spirit faith is humble before God and does not demand the answers come by the petitioner’s predesigned expectation.  True faith honors the wisdom of God to paint the details.  One may ‘suggest’ the desired outcome, but also have confidence that ultimately God’s abundant answer will be superior.

Finally, authentic God faith can remain in the realm of mystery.  That is one reason it is called faith. 

I am thankful, beyond measure, for the teachings that took my Christianity from the passive “if it be Thy will” to greater confidence in discovering the heart of His will as revealed by the Word of God.  But, with that, I also acknowledge that I do not have to place my confidence in what I think I understand about the Scriptures.  I am so thankful that I can trust the Lord with my heart and not place any weight on what I think I know about the Scriptures or life circumstances in general.  It is a very firm and restful place to live from.

May the God kind of Spirit faith be yours!

Gary

 

Under Attack Solution

Does it feel like you are under attack?

If that is the case, your solution is to view your circumstances through a different set of eyes.  That is another way of saying that “repentance” is in order.  In other words, you need to begin thinking more accurate thoughts.

What do you mean, Gary?  It is accurate that I am under attack.  So many things are going wrong.  That’s the truth.

Okay, I’m glad you want to talk about truth.

God’s thoughts are the truth.  And He sees things much differently than we often do.  If you are in Christ, God sees the fact that is spoken in Ephesians 2:6,

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”

If current circumstances in our lives seem to contradict that fact, it doesn’t make the circumstances to be the truth.  It may be ‘true’ (accurate information) that the visible things that are surrounding you right now are chaotic.  But truths are facts from a superior vantage point.  It is the realm of superior truth that Paul instructed the Philippians to ponder upon and consider real.

Here’s the truth, regardless of visible circumstances:  You are not under attack.  The attack is under you.  That is the truth to focus on.

Be still, stop striving, and know (come to experience) that He is God…not your visible circumstances.

What ‘seems to be’ has a powerful influence on our natural process of feeling and thinking.  However, the key to change that locks the door to further struggle is focusing on the fact that in Christ trial is under you.

As you fix your attention on that truth, the light of revelation will shine on the path you are walking and become increasingly brighter with the wisdom of God’s light.

Don’t merely glance at your position in heavenly places in Christ.  Soak in it.  Let it soak into the cells and fiber of your heart.

Where you’ve seemed ‘stuck,’ the truth will act like WD 40, and before you know it, you’ll begin experiencing a new level of freedom in thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.

You are not under attack.  Attack is under you!

Gary

 

 

Hope 2018


I believe that this new year (2018) has the potential of being the best year ever.  That is not just “preach speak,” the rose-colored glasses kind of pop psychology, or reliance upon favorable circumstances.  I say it here because I believe the Lord put that thought in my mind as 2017 was drawing to a close.

The current circumstances and world conditions don’t give us much of canvas on which to paint that potentially bright future.  To believe there is a possibility for a “best ever” year would have to rely on a more powerful telescope than is designed by human minds and hands.

We have to realize that we need more than a human version of faith to experience the desire of God for our lives.  It is also essential that we have more than a human version of hope to see what God has designed for us to experience in this life and the one to come.

To describe something like a ‘human version of hope’ begs the question that asks, “What is the difference between a human version of hope and the kind of hope that describes Abraham in Romans 4:18,

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (NIV)

The human version of hope is anything that the power of natural hoping can visualize as possible.  It is limited to the ‘designing power’ of rational thought.

The kind of hope that is described of Abraham is that which Paul describes in Ephesians 3:20,

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (NIV)

The kind of hope that God gives, paints a picture of expectation in our hearts that is beyond what the human mind will put together.

I believe many of us limit ourselves to experiences that are far short of God’s desires and design for our abundance in life. That is because we define and describe what an answered prayer should look like.  We reduce our expectations to fit our own designs.  We restrict the desired outcome to fit the boundaries of our own wisdom’s capacity.

What if there is a better way?  What if we can delight ourselves in the Lord and be tender enough before Him to receive and attach our faith to the dictates of His magnificent wisdom?

This begs the question:  Who is God to you?  How all wise and all caring is He?  How deep, wide, and wise is His love for you?  Would He do that which is above and beyond anything you can ask or imagine for you this year?

Day by day, let’s learn His heart.  Let’s jump into the deep end of His love and discover the joy of drowning in His beyond natural hope goodness.  Let’s go beyond the most and best important doctrine you think you know.  Let’s not limit ourselves to what we can imagine for ourselves.

Let’s live energized by the kind of faith and hope that comes from exposure the the throbbing of His heart as we learn to lay our heads on His breast.

Gary

 

 

 

 

Your 2018 Messiah


Did you know that it is appropriate to wish people, “Merry Christmas,” every day of 2018? 

We have a shared understanding of the phrase, but it is very revealing, enlightening, and powerful to go deeper into the actual meaning behind the words, “Merry Christmas.”

Let’s look at the individual word meanings:

Merry = Full Joy
Christ = Greek: Cristos;  Hebrew:  Messiah
Mass = The word Mass comes from the Latin word Missa.  Missa means ‘a dismissal.’   The purpose is to celebrate a spiritual truth or mystery with the result being to ‘be dismissed and go forth’ in reality of the truth celebrated.

Messiah:  A Messiah was one who led his people to victory over their oppressors.  To end, however, the description at that point gives us an incomplete understanding of the end-goal of a Messiah.  Ultimately, the Messiah’s purpose  was to accomplish the following:

(A) To release from previous obligations of the oppressor.
(B) To re-write a code of conduct that was harmonious with His values.

Therefore, with joy, we celebrate our Messiah delivering us from our oppressor and then writing a new code on our hearts that corresponds to His Kingdom.

This post began with the idea of being able to celebrate the spirit of Merry Christmas on a daily basis in 2018.  Although Jesus, our Messiah, can be celebrated privately, it is vital to recognize our relational connection with a Body of believers as we worship the fullness of Christ’s work on our behalf.

May this new year be one that knows the fullness of joy as we recognize and celebrate (personally and corporately) the release of the old and rewriting of the new on the walls of our hearts.

It is the understanding of a Merry Christmas that motivates and propels us forward into a Happy New Year.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:  Isn’t this a good time to emulate your Messiah by releasing others (and yourself) from the obligation of old expectations, and the re-writing of new expectations that were born from the heart of Jesus?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Gary

2018 Faith


2018 will be a great year to abandon “pretend faith” and live by the kind of trust that works.

Let me explain what I mean by “pretend faith.”  That is the brand of faith that isn’t anything more than a naturally developed level of confidence.  It’s the kind of faith that one talks themselves into by repeating scripture verses.  Although it sounds reasonable to repeat the truth over and over until it sticks, it is a “works” method of attaining faith. In my opinion, based on my own experience, there’s a better way.  A rest filled way.

I believe that the Apostle Paul had a revelation of a more excellent way of the life lived by faith.  He had just had a profound spiritual awakening that he had been crucified with Christ.  He then states in Galatians 2:20,

“I no longer live, but the Messiah[a] lives in me, and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faith of the Son of God,[b] who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The word “of” from ‘faith of the Son of God’ is a significant Greek preposition.  It is ek which indicates something being drawn or taken out of a source to be placed somewhere else.  Paul discovered that the life God gave us through Christ was based on faith that came out of Christ…not from Paul, himself.  He no longer had to rely on “getting his faith right.”  His success did not depend on him being able to work up enough faith.

He made the same point to the Romans in Chapter 7 when he said, “the things I don’t want to do, I do.  And what I want to do, I don’t do.  However, he didn’t stop at that point.  No joy there!  But, he discovered Jesus had settled the issue.

In Hebrews 12 the same revelation arises, “Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of faith.  Jesus initiates the story and continues it to completion.

I believe Paul would say the same thing to many of us as he said to the Galatians in Chapter 3, “Why did you start in the spirit and attempt then to continue it by natural means.”

In my experience, having faith is no more of a struggle than I allow.  I know that’s a big statement, but I believe it’s true.  I look to Jesus expecting Him to write faith in my heart.  When I feel my emotions start to distract me, I give my issue back to Him to bring to completion.  I know I will fail, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, by attempting to do the faith formula just right…until I supposedly I have ‘enough’ faith.  But, that’s a deception.  A person cannot have faith in their own faith.  They have to submit to the fact that without the faith of the Son of God, there is no faith to be found or had.

It’s all about the rest of a relationship.  The relationship is with Jesus; not the scripture verses.  The purpose of the scriptures, as Jesus told the Pharisees, is to point to Me where life resides.  There’s no .life in Bible verses as an object of faith.

Embrace your relationship with Him.  He will write faith in your heart.  You can end having confidence in your ability to believe.  You have none.  He has plenty, and He’s willing to share!  It’s just a matter of relearning who the actual source is.

Gary

P.S.  I am not discounting the importance of Bible promises from God.  You don’t know what they are without the Scriptures.  However, the ‘good fight of faith’ isn’t about your struggling to have faith by struggling to talk yourself into believing the promises.   The struggle is with keeping your eyes on a relationship with Jesus rather than trying to prove to God that you really do believe Him.  He knows your heart better than you do.  Rest.  He is faithful to His care for you; not your ability to ‘believe right.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Faith Stale Bread?


Faith is like a diamond.  It has many facets that give it its brilliance of life.    

Faith is better described than it is defined.  Some of those explanations include phrases like the following:

“Faith believes that God will not lie.”
“Faith is the bridge between heaven and earth”
“Faith has  eyes that see the invisible.”

It is vital to understand that faith does not have any power of its own to manipulate circumstances and conditions in one’s favor.  As a very wise mentor said one time, “Faith that has the ability, within itself, to perform the task at hand is a form of witchcraft.”  By that, he meant that if faith had its own power, a person could (and would likely) use it to manipulate conditions according to his or her own desires.  That is a wholly different thing than functioning with God according to the Word He is currently speaking.

Faith is the connection of confidence that receives power from God.  Faith is the committed conviction in the character of God in the present moment.  Faith relies, not on yesterday’s manna, but on the living bread of the word He is speaking today.  Today’s word will be consistent with yesterdays truth, but, like manna, the shelf life is based on what is being freshly spoken today.  Many people struggle with faith because they are trying to live on stale bread.  It’s still bread but lacks the flavor that produces confidence.

According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  Note that it doesn’t say that He was the author and finisher of our faith.  He says that He is the author and He is the One who continues to work it out, with us, to fulfillment.

The verse starts with the words, “Looking unto Jesus…”  The idea of the phrase indicates that the person’s ‘eyes’ have been distracted, but is looking back unto Jesus.

But, let’s make this even more vibrant.   The Greek word translated unto is also translated into.  The point:  A person could look unto Jesus and only rehearse the things they believe about Him.  Whereas the idea of looking into Jesus indicates a much more intimate gaze…looking into His heart, and with the senses of the Spirit hearing and feeling it beat.

As a person allows the Spirit of God time to open the eyes their heart and see into Jesus, they realize His supernatural pen authoring faith.

Finally, we notice something else in this verse.  It speaks of Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith.  Until recently, I had only seen this to mean that the writer of Hebrews was pointing to the great cloud of witnesses in Chapter 11.

But…then I saw something fresh that strengthened my relationship with the Lord.  I believe, as a spiritual revelation, I knew that the writer was taking the general stories of the Hall of Faith and was making them personal and unique.

I now see that, just as houses have floors, roofs, windows, and doors in common, there are myriads of unique styles in houses that are still correctly known as houses.  There are basic characteristics that make for what we describe as faith.  However, the faith of your neighbor may not be adorned like your faith.  Just as everyone, worldwide has distinct fingerprints, retina structure (and I understand ears), we all have personal and unique relationships with the Lord.

Encourage yourself in the fact that your journey of faith will be the result of a unique relationship with Jesus, and all those around you will be the same.

I close with this:  Several months ago I awoke with a “snapshot” vision.  It was of an upright Bible.  An image of Jesus was walking out of the open pages.

The message to me was that Jesus comes walking out of the pages of Scripture.  As we meditate on the Logos of the Word, Jesus becomes the Rhema (active spoken word)  He becomes a living, present, revelation.

Note:  Although, at times, valuable, meditation in the Scriptures is not the same thing as rehearsing what your favorite teacher says about the topic at hand as you meditate.  Meditation is a very personal, private communication between two covenant friends.  It’s the development of an intimate relationship.

May your faith be as fresh as today’s manna!

Gary