Powerful Faith: Where It Begins


“When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, there heaven has begun right here on earth.” – A.W. Tozer

Jesus, connects the act of Mary of Bethany (sitting at the feet of Jesus) as essential to the spread of the Gospel world-wide.  Between her quiet devotion, and Martha’s busy activity of service, Jesus said that Mary’s choice was the best.

It’s important to note that Martha was, in fact, a woman of faith.  In the record of John 11:22-23 we read, “Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to You.”

Her faith in Jesus was not the issue.  She had faith.  And she demonstrated her honor for Him by great service of hospitality.

But, her faith and her service was not the part that Jesus connected to the heart of the Good News.

Jesus connected Mary’s passionate love and devotion for Him as that which would remembered where ever the Good News was proclaimed.

She “delighted herself in Him.”

If you (we) desire a transformed and transforming life that produces transforming good news in our sphere of influence, it is essential that we be like Mary, not a perfect woman without flaw, but a woman of singular devotion that delights ourselves in Him.

It is from that essential connection with Jesus that we take on his “favor and aroma.”  It is from that fundamental oneness with Him that our lives are transformed into sons and daughters that truly reflect and re-present Him.

We become effective and powerful on multiple, practical, daily levels of life as we, as the moon reflects the sun, become the kind of clay vessels that reflects the treasure that is within us.

He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond any and everything we could ever ask or even imagine according to the power that works within us that’s been activated by our intimate devotion with Him.

And now abides, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love which is rooted in our love relationship with Him before it becomes acts of love to those around us.  Without the intimacy of relationship where we love Him with everything about ourselves, we stand zero chance of re-presenting His love.

What is required is the choice to separate oneself on a regular basis of intimate devotion until the choice morphs from duty to delight.

 

Hope Changes Everything

Does your walk of faith seem not to be working as well as promised?  Are you even “faith tired”?  It’s possible that you’re missing a vital ingredient in the activation of your faith.

Your missing ingredient may be hope.

Another word for hope is the word anticipation.  The New Testament version of hope includes another word, ‘confident’.  In other words, hope is ‘confident anticipation’.

There is also a natural (or world-view) description.

The view of hope in worldly wisdom has two sides:

  1.  Wishful thinking.  I hope so thinking.
  2.  Negative anticipation.When we have either (or both) of those feelings about hope, then we are not functioning with hope as the Bible puts forth.  It is important that we adjust our thoughts and feelings about hope to harmonize with God’s supernatural description.

    Faith vs. hope.

    When I was first learning about the importance of walking by faith and not by sight, I felt like I had just been born again…again.  The message of faith was so revolutionizing in how I approached my relationship with God.  But, mixed in with the ‘faith message’ was often a negative slant on the idea of hope.  What many of the faith teachers – I listened to – emphasized that faith is not hope.  The idea was that hope looks to the FUTURE, and faith is NOW.

    In a real sense, that is true.  However, as with many spiritual principles that are taught, the thoughts are not inaccurate, but they are, often, incomplete.

    Faith AND Hope.

    The tricky part to get one’s head around is the fact that Western thought likes to separate concepts for individual examination.   Truthfully speaking, that method doesn’t work well with many things spiritual.

    The Bible description of what hope (as we said above) is ‘confident anticipation.’  That sounds a lot like a description of faith, doesn’t it?  We use the word confidence as a way of describing faith.  Anticipation describes hope.  Like bacon and eggs, faith and hope go together.

    When I write, I use the program Grammarly to as a spelling and grammar ninja.  If it ‘decides’ I’m overusing a word, it will point it out.  Case in point, it advised me that I was over-using two words; faith and hope.  It suggested alternatives.  Do you know what they were?  For faith the word hope, and for hope the word faith.  Even a computer program realizes the mixture 🙂

    Faith and hope must be ‘peas in the same pod.’  One without the other effectively cancels out the other.

    A quick word about negative hope (anticipation).

    Anticipating the negative i.e.: ‘something opposed to a promise’ will deep six the ability to receive the promise.

    Somebody who was trying to believe for the healing of a leg condition said to me one time, “When I’m laying down I feel good, but I know when I get up my leg is going to hurt.”  We’ve all been there – and are there – in some area in our lives.  Instead of criticizing ourselves, or someone else, for not being in faith, we would be much further ahead to examine the reason behind the statement.

    A deep-seated habit pattern from negative experiences.

    In the case of the person in my illustration, they had a childhood filled with anxiety over the actions of a parent who had been mentally disturbed.  During their formative years, they were alway on edge about what the parent was going to do next.  That fear developed a pattern of thinking and feeling that acted as a barrier to positive anticipation.  As a result, hope became more of a “hope so” without confidence.   Although the individual was sincere in their desire for God’s healing, their ingrained default always pointed them to current negative experience (let pain when pressure was applied).

    It sounds rational to think that way.

    The leg hurt whenever weight was applied.  That was real.  That was rational.  But, it is also logical that the negative anticipation would road-block faith to receive something outside of current experience.

    The revelation of hope.

    A person can’t ‘get hopeful’ just by trying hard.  The God kind of hope (being spiritual in nature) takes the work of the Holy Spirit to make it real and receiveable.  Only with the Holy Spirit’s gift of spiritual insight (revelation) will a child of God receive the necessary ‘hope beyond hope’ that it takes to change the way a person thinks.

    One of the first places to start is by meditation on hope scriptures.  Here are just two:

    Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (or a hope-filled future)

    Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

    We receive what we focus upon.  If we set our faces like flint on the area of our need, and take the Gospill “Hope” pills (from His Word) for at least 10 days, then the virus of negative anticipation will weaken until it disippates.  This is, of course, by way of illustration.  There’s now 10 day law here.  However, the principle of focus (as we do in many thing natural) will bear the benefits.

    Hope Changes Everything.  You likely don’t need more faith (cuz you’ve actually got all you need already).  You need the God kind of hope that comes by the working of His Spirit with His Word.

    Finally, as you meditate on hope, do so not as a doctrinal belief, but as a emotional reality that the Holy Spirit’s work begins producing in your heart.

    May the eyes of your heart be flooded with His glorious hope!  Faith will cease being such a struggle!

    Gary

 

How To Know God’s Love For Yourself

In the twilight of waking this morning, this thought settled upon me, “Pursuing God is to pursue loving God first.  All the rest will follow.”

As I began to roll that thought over in my mind, several things occurred to me:

MY FOCUS IS ON THE SOURCE

I Corinthians 14:1 instructs us, “Pursue love…”  More often than not, we assume those words are telling us to make our highest goal to love the people around us.  However, the greatest commandment includes loving one’s neighbor, but it is initiated by loving God with our whole being.

I began to realize that loving my neighbor was a resulting fruit of my love pursuit of God.  Btw…this is a supernatural pursuit.  Therefore, it takes supernatural help.  That’s the job of Holy Spirit.  Always ask for His help.  When we make our highest aim the pursuit of loving God, the “eyes” (perceptions) of our heart begins to love how He loves.

I DISCOVER INNER REST

When I pursue God, a supernatural rest begins to envelop my soul; my thoughts, my emotions, my innermost parts. Supernatural peace begins to overshadow me.

HIS LOVE FOR ME

When I (we) pursue loving God, the knowledge of His deep love for us chases us down; no attempting to convince yourself that God loves you.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

I begin to experience what I thought I knew but had never actually “seen.”  Instead of attempting to believe God for (you name the need), You begin to see your challenge as He sees and feels about it.

Pursue loving God, first.  Instead of trying to convince yourself of His will, His love will convince you of His solution.

Let fresh peace begin!

Gary

How To Have Peace Of Mind

Is it possible that you are very strong in belief, but those things you are believing are from a source that doesn’t know how to give you peace of mind?

This erroneous source thinks it understands where your peace can be found and how to find it.  However, for some reason, the locations it leads you to are like ‘clouds without rain.’  Fluffy images of peace appear, but then disappear without giving you any promised refreshment.

You believe and believe, but where’s the substance?  Where’s the promise of peace fulfilled?

Perhaps it’s because the source of belief you’ve been counting on is your own firm declarations about life, love, and everything in between.

THE SOLUTION:  Don’t believe everything you think.  Exit the highway of ‘Self Opinion and Speculation.’

It’s not that everything we think is wrong.  The problem is in the attitudes with which we hold our opinions and speculations.

The Scriptures reveal the weakness of understanding reality:

1 Corinthians 13:12, “We see as through a glass unclearly.”
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with your heart and not your own understanding (what you think you know)”

It is true that we need to have personal convictions.  We need to have a strong foundation of beliefs that we can stand upon.  But, when all is said and done, what does the Lord require of us?  Isn’t that the bottom line?

Micah 6:8 – He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

So, why am I saying, “Don’t believe everything you think”?

Because our thoughts are strongly influenced by a great many factors that are ultimately as firm as sinking sand.  Those elements have been established by the questionable wisdom of the world we live in (and have lived in).  They are padded with biases, prejudices, and deep emotional investments.

Our emotions play a very strong role in what we think on.  The more we are emotionally attached to the issues we rehearse in our minds the further from the truth we potentially slide.  In psychological terms, it’s called ‘confirmation bias.’

Truthfully, confirmation bias can be our ally if our emotions are deeply rooted in truth on the issue.

THE KEY:  Developing an ever-increasing intimacy with the Living Word (Jesus) within your heart.  Let that relationship convert the written word of Scripture beyond academic principle to active spiritual reality.  That transformation will contain a deep emotional attachment that is God-driven rather than the fleshly demands of personal opinion.

HERE’S HOW YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMOTION THAT IS GOD DRIVEN AND FLESH DRIVEN:

God-driven:  Feels like joy, peace, patience, love, etc.
Flesh-driven:  Anger, frustration, stress, jealousy, etc.

Believe what you think if it has the character and nature of Jesus on it.
Don’t believe everything you think if it contains the character and nature of the flesh:  Anger, pride, stress, pride, etc.

Thinking like Jesus brings peace of mind.  If your life is littered with fear, anxiety, stress, confusion, etc., you’re on the wrong road.  Take the next exit to a more connected relationship with the Prince of Peace.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Deeper Peace

What has you the most concerned, today?

The ‘Master Key’ to finding a more profound sense of peace in life is found in discovering the supernatural solution.

God’s word is the entrance to the supernatural.  Anytime we enter His world through the doorway of a text; we cross over the threshold from mere natural existence into an extraordinary land of promise.  God’s realm is accessible to any of His sons and daughters that commit their way unto Him.

Ambrose, one of the most influential bishops of 4th Century Milan is quoted,
Meditation is the eye wherewith we see God and prayer is the wing wherewith the soul flies to heaven.  Let your door stand open to receive Him, unlock your soul to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see…the treasures of peace, and the joy of grace.

Proverbs 16:3 counsels us, “Commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established.”

Let’s unpack that verse a bit with the language that initially framed the thought:

Commit = roll away as a heavy stone.
Works = business, pursuit, undertaking, labor, activity.
Thoughts = ideas, considerations, plans, imaginations.
Established = fixed, fashioned, made firm & steady.

We all have pursuits in life of one kind or another.  Along with those daily activities come ever rolling thoughts that are both encouraging as well as worrisome.

By God’s design, mankind’s thought language is the imagination.  Therefore, our inner theater is our strongest support or heaviest weight.

Our picture thoughts are powerful pillars of support when they are fashioned and anchored by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.  The same inner projector, when powered by the flesh, casts images that produce anxiety and fear.

The difference in results is found in which source we allow and encourage to function.  The choices are being made by each person on a moment by moment basis.  The one given the most attention grows in strength and dominates our lives.

Godly imagination is built by fueling it with meditation in God’s truths.  Asking for the Holy Spirit’s help and allowing one’s self to see on the mind’s screen the pictures that His word paints.

Vain imagination of natural reason and speculation is built the same way; gazing at the worrisome pictures painted by the flesh.

Godly imagination is initiated by “What Is” (according to God’s counsel).
Vain imagination is intiated by “What If” (based on negative speculations).

Developing the habit of intentially meditating in the Scriptures, and praying them back to God, as they apply to personal circumstances, increasingly releases the aroma of supernatural peace in one’s soul.

Abandoning one’s self to God, in this way, takes practice.  The average person has such a habit of worry (negative speculation) that it takes time to re-train oneself.
The average Christian is so used to living by the standards adopted from the world that it takes effort and diligence to adopt thinking like the New Creation they are.  But, the result is Kingdom of God rest.

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”  Hebrews 4:11 (NIV)

The alternative to God’s rest (Deep Peace) is troubled lives of stress and worry (perishing).

Peace that is beyond natural comprehention is already bought and paid for posted to our account.  Whether or not one spends it is their choice(s).

What are you worried about, today?  What kind of scenes are you picturing and feeling in your mind?  Are you living with peace or stress and fear?

Choose peace.

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