Issues of Life Archive 71-80

Issues of Life #71

Faith #4

 

 “So then Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” Rom. 10:17

 

    Faith is something that has been given to us. Paul writes in the book of Romans, “Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” We actually have had imparted to us the faith of God. It is the same quality of faith that God used when He spoke the world into being. “The” measure of faith indicates to me that God has given us all the ‘same’ measure or amount of faith. You have been given as much faith as Billy Graham. Before you reject that line of thinking, stop and think for a moment. God has dealt to every man ‘the’ measure of faith. It’s what you do with the faith that has been imparted to you that really counts. If you use your faith it grows. If you don’t use the faith that has been imparted to you it just remains dormant. But make no mistake, you have faith! The Bible says that you do.

    So, real faith grows and matures by hearing what God is saying to you. We must look closely at the Scripture above to get the Truth of what is really being said. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The Greek word for “Word” here is rhema. It is important that we define that word if we’re to get the Truth of what the Scripture is really saying. Rhema takes on the meaning of something that God is saying ‘now’. It’s a specific thing from the Lord A ‘rhema’ word would be a word or a revelation of what God is speaking to your spirit. The ‘written’ Word’s Greek equivalent is ‘logos’. So if we apply the understanding of the Greek word rhema to the above verse it’s clear. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the rhema of God. When God speaks the rhema word to our spirit, and we in turn are obedient to what He says to us, He is quick to bring His desired results. God intends for our faith to grow. Our greatest opportunity for that to happen is for us to listen to His voice as He speaks to us. Faith is present but we must activate it by an act of our will.

 

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Issues of Life #72

Faith #5

 

            Abraham’s life was a great example of living by faith. The Bible records that “he believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” The story of Abraham’s life begins in Genesis 12. God spoke to Abram (not yet called Abraham), “Get out of your country and from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” The Bible says that Abraham “went out not knowing where he was going.”

            There is a Biblical principle that states, “first the natural, then the spiritual”. For instance in the Old Testament the enemies were people like the Philistines, the Moabites or the Ammonites. But in the New Testament our enemies are not in the natural realm. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers; against the spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places.” Our adversity now is against ‘spiritual’, not natural, foes.

            When God spoke those things to Abram, it was a literal requirement. He actually had to leave his country, his family and his generational influence. Why would God require this of Abram? Well, it’s because God Himself wanted to be the influence over Abram. If God was going to have a family after His own heart then He would have to be the controlling influence of the leader of the movement. You know the rest of the story. Abram did leave his country, his family and his father’s house. He lived his entire life looking down the road for a “city whose builder and maker is God”. Abram passed the testing processes of God and his name was changed to Abraham.

            When Abram left his country he left part of his identity behind. That was God’s perfect intention. We mistakenly derive our identity many times from who other people think we are. Sometimes we settle into an identity based on what we do as a vocation. Wrong again! Our identities are greatly influenced by our parents. We are also influenced by a generational mindset of who we are and what we are supposed to do by our ancestors. But if we’re going to be who He says we are, we must come out from under those other influences and come solely under His influence. We must relate to Him as Father if we’re to really come into our own in the search for our true identity.

 

Continued…..

 

 

 

 

Issues of Life #73

Faith #6

 

“Abraham, get out of your country and from your family, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

            Abraham had to leave his country. How do we make the adjustment in the spiritual to make that relevant to us? Well, it is probably not necessary for you to literally leave your country. But, make no mistake about it, God wants you to come out of the mindset of who other people think you are. If your identity is based on what others think of you, you’re severely limited. If you’re going to arrive at your true identity, you’ve got to do what Abraham did. You’ve got to get out of your country! Not in the literal sense but in the spiritual sense. You must come out from under the influence of others. It is relevant for every single believer. We are who He says that we are. But if we aren’t under His influence through relationship with Him, then we are a product of our environment. And our identity is a false one at best. I’m afraid that most believers live their entire lives without understanding their true identity in Christ. Instead their identity is tied up in what they do, or what other people think of them. We will never be at peace with our own selves until we receive from Him who we really are.

            Abraham was also told to leave his family. What is the spiritual application for you and I? Our natural family has great influence over our lives. In fact God intends for that to be the case. If we respond to their influence correctly it can be a very positive thing for us. But there comes a time that we are to come out from under the controlling influence of our parents. “Then shall a man leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh.” We are to leave the controlling influence of our parents and come under the controlling influence of the Most High God. As parents we should be aware of this milestone in the lives of our children. We should do our best to influence our children in a Godly way while they are under our roof and while they are under our watch care. But when they begin to build their own lives we need to back off. We can still have influence but only as the desire and allow it. We must cease from any attempt to control their lives by our influence. It’s, at that point, God’s job!

 

Continued…..

 

 

 

Issues of Life #74

Faith #7

 

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

 

    There is much to be learned about faith by reading Hebrews, chapter 11. One of the interesting things is how Abraham responded to the testing of God. The Bible states that, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness”. Abraham actually demonstrated God’s plan for faith four hundred and thirty years before the law was instituted. As we have discussed in previous letters Abraham had to do some extreme things to be obedient to God’s plan for him. He was asked by God to leave his country, his family and his father’s house (his generational influence). That would be an incredible test for anyone! But he wavered not. And the Word records yet another amazing thing that Abraham did that defies logic and conventional thinking. The Bible says that, “he went out not knowing where he was going.” Was it not enough for the Lord to require Abraham to leave virtually everything familiar and important to him behind? Couldn’t God at least tell Abraham where they were going? Apparently not!

    Why would God be so vague and secretive to a person as obedient and devoted to Him as Abraham was? Well, the Lord knows the beginning from the end. He’s the author and finisher of our faith. God, in His wisdom, knows the frailties and weakness of human flesh. He knows that if He reveals to us the destination, or destiny, of our lives that we’ll try to find that destination by our own devices and get hopelessly lost doing so. It’s the way of the flesh. We are always trying to figure things out with our own minds.

    If God had told Abraham the specifics of what his life would hold or if He had told Him where the ‘two of them’ were going Abraham would be like us. He’d try, by his own devices to get there. When we look at it that way it is obvious why God would not reveal where they were going. God had a plan. His plan was to have a family that would be the object of His blessing and His love. Abraham was to be the ‘father’ of that family. Since Abraham didn’t know the exact destination (destiny) He would have to totally depend on God for directions and that’s just the way God wants it….for Abraham and for you and I.

 

Continued…..

 

 

Issues of Life #75

Faith #8

 

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

 

    Abraham is an amazing example in the study of faith. His life is detailed in both the Old and New Testament. God called Abraham to ‘go out’ but He did not tell him where they were going. And Abraham did something that is, to this day, a tremendous inspiration to me. The Bible says that, “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Think about it. He left everything familiar, everything important behind at the request of God. And he did all this, the Bible says, not knowing where he was going! He placed his total trust in the Lord and not in his own understanding. That’s a great example for us. You know, God wants us to go, to move out with Him. He desires for our lives to bring glory and honor to Him. It can’t be accomplished under our own steam. It’s what faith is for….to believe God! And it can only be activated by an act of our will.

    We’re not at all unlike Abraham in the sense that God wants us to go out to the place of our inheritance (our destiny). He will reveal to us the next step but He won’t tell us all the details and the conquests of our life immediately. Those are the things that we receive from Him in the journey of our life. The secrets and the mysteries of all that our lives hold are given to us by the Lord Himself as we go along in obedience. We’re on a ‘need to know’ basis with the Lord. Every single thing that we need to know in this lifetime….He’ll tell us! Oh, He’ll let us try to do it by ourselves if we’re determined to do so. But the quicker we fail in that endeavor, the better. The quicker we learn that only He can lead us into our destiny the better off we are indeed. We must resign ourselves to the fact that we are not going to get all the details of our life at once. If He gave us the whole picture we’d mess it up! So we must, like Abraham, go out….not knowing where we’re going!

 

Continued….

 

 

Issues of Life #76

Faith #9

 

“By faith Abraham dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Heb 11:9-10

 

    Abraham began his journey with the Lord by leaving everything behind. His country, his family and his ancestors were some of the things that he walked away from in his obedience to the Lord. The Bible says that Abraham “went out not knowing where he was going”. He was obedient by faith to go with the Lord….. without knowing the direction or the destination that God had in mind. Abraham lived his whole life by faith. It was an example of how you and I should live our lives.

    Abraham arrived in the ‘land of promise’ but he knew that this was not his home! He knew that God had something else in mind. So he dwelt in the Promised Land as in a foreign country with Isaac and Jacob. There was a spirit in Abraham that caused him to be a sojourner. A settler he was not! And even though there were times and seasons of remaining stationary, his spirit and the leading of the Lord always took him to a higher place. It was a place of longing for an even greater country. He waited for another city, “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. Abraham died not receiving the full manifestation of that city. He lived his entire life looking for it!

    Abraham’s life provides us with many lessons of faith. One of those lessons here speaks volumes to us about how we are to walk this walk of faith. As churches, even as believers the tendency for us is to reach a plateau and then relax and settle in. When we settle in, mediocrity begins to creep in. It creeps in slowly and in most cases, it is undetected. Many individual believers and many churches have arrived at this point and don’t even realize that the ‘journey’ has stalled out.

    Every remnant of God in every generation has been a sojourning people, a people that won’t conform to church tradition. It is a people that are moving, changing, evolving, a people that are, in many cases, going against the grain of modern religion. It’s a people who refuse to stop because of adversity, a people who refuse to ‘settle in’. It is a people who are looking for a “city whose builder and maker is God!”

 

Continued…..

 

 

Issues of Life #77

Faith #10

 

“Without faith it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6

 

    The verse simply means what it says! The writer of Hebrews, writing under the anointing of God, expresses the heart of God. Some would say that it seems unreasonable that God would require us to walk and live our lives by faith. Some would also argue that other people have more faith than they have. In Romans 12 Paul reasons with the believers in Rome, “Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” It seems to me that the Word is clear. We have all been given ‘the’ measure of faith. Since God is no respecter of persons it would also be correct to surmise that He has given to each one of us ‘the same’ measure of faith. You and I have been given the same measure of faith as the next person. We have been given adequate faith to completely carry out the plan of God for our life. Incidentally, His plan for our life includes a consistent release of the supernatural power of God. The Bible says that, “The works are prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” There is a glorious plan for each of our lives. Faith is the key! And the reason that the Word says that it is impossible to please God without faith is the fact that the faith has already been given to us. It isn’t something that we have to earn or work for….it’s already ours! What we do with that measure of faith that He’s given us is the real issue. It’s like the bicep muscle in your arm. If you exercise it, it will grow. If you don’t exercise it, it develops atrophy. It’s still there, just dormant, ineffective and unproductive.

    The best time to start the exercise program for you faith is now. There are things in your life right now that require faith. God is also a great Father. He’ll allow you to exercise faith in the ‘little things’ if you’ll cooperate. Then when the big things show up in your life you’ll know exactly what to do. Through the little things in our life we learn to trust God and that’s how we do it with the bigger things. Without faith it is impossible to please God….But with faith it is absolutely possible to be pleasing to Him.

 

 

Issues of Life #78

 “Living Sacrifice” #1

 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God , that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Romans 12:1

 

    In his anointed and unique way, Paul reasons with the believers in Rome and urges them to ‘give’ themselves, as a sacrifice, to the Lord. One must look at the Biblical concept of ‘sacrifice’ to get the true meaning. In the Old Testament “sacrifices” were brought unto the Lord as an act of obedience and worship. Old Covenant sacrifices included such things as offerings from the fruit of the ground or animals chosen from the flocks. With the same thought in mind Paul uses his apostolic authority to speak in extremely ‘straight’ terms with the Roman Christians.

    Many of the Old Testament sacrifices were not ‘living’ sacrifices. They consisted mostly of animals which had already been slain and were laid on the altar. But Paul here asks them to present their bodies as a ‘living’ sacrifice unto the Lord. What does ‘presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice’ mean for the believers of our generation? When a sacrifice was brought unto the Lord it was a ‘freewill’ offering. That is to say that the person or family was not coerced into bringing the offering but rather they brought the offering because they chose to do so as an act of devotion to the Most High God. So, if we’re to follow the Biblical pattern we must give ourselves as a freewill offering to the Lord. I’m talking about something that is subsequent to salvation. Of course we need to willingly give our lives to the Lord in that respect but presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is the act of saying to Him again, “I am making the decision to give myself totally to You.” It should be an act of our will; we should choose to give ourselves totally to Him. That’s how we are able to get the most out of this life. My own personal opinion is that we need to make this offering to the Father at least daily! It’s much too easy for us to get back in the old familiar mode of living our lives without the counsel of God. It’s much too easy to ‘hold back’ part of our life because we think we can best run that part of our life.

    When we present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord we must do it with “no strings attached”. Our offering of ourselves to Him gives Him the right to use us in any way that He wants to. It is how we are profoundly changed…and it is how the World is profoundly changed!

 

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Issues of Life #79

 “Living Sacrifice” #2

 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God , that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Romans 12:1

            Paul says that it is our reasonable service to present ourselves as a living sacrifice unto the Lord. I mean, it’s the very least that we can do for all that the Father has done for us. Paul had discovered one of the most incredible ‘secrets’ of life; that to really get the most out of life we must yield ourselves totally unto the Lord. It is a proportional thing. Many of the things that we experience in this life are ‘proportional’ things. It’s God’s way. The Bible speaks numerous times along these lines. “Give and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over….for with the same measure that you give it will be measured back unto you.” And then there is, “Judge not lest you be judged, for with the same judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” There are other Scriptures that reveal the same truth. These things are clearly proportional!  And Paul’s encouragement to the Roman believers is a real ‘heart’ thing. Notice his language. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God…..” It’s his genuine and sincere way to encourage, even persuade, those that he loves in Rome to get the most out of life.

            When we present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, we do it as a freewill offering. It is ‘the gift of ourselves’ unto Him…..by our own free choice! It’s a wise thing to do. It makes absolutely no sense to the natural mind…but in spiritual terms it is the only thing that actually does make sense. And for us to fully comply with what I believe Paul is saying…we are giving our ‘whole’ being to the Father, not holding anything back. Any part of our lives that we hold back is a part that is not under the headship of the Father. And those are the very areas that the enemy seeks to exploit.

            God has an incredible plan for our lives. His desire is to bless us in every way imaginable. We get the most out of our lives by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice unto Him!

 

…..Continued.

 

 

Issues of Life #80

 “Living Sacrifice” #3

 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God , that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Romans 12:1

           

    We’re to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord. Paul’s next words are sometimes overlooked but never unimportant. He says that we are should do that in a spirit of holiness. Now, holiness has a myriad of meanings to different people. To some it takes on the meaning of perfection. And that’s not an incorrect definition. But, what does holiness really mean? In modern religion morality has been confused with holiness and it is simply not the same thing. For instance, a person may have great moral conduct and character but that’s no example of biblical holiness. So, holiness is not just right conduct even though it definitely produces righteousness. You can have impeccable morals and still not be holy…but you can’t be holy and not have character and morals. It just works that way.

Holiness is Holy Spirit produced righteousness. True holiness is a genuine kind of righteousness and not something that has originated in the flesh.

    True holiness also takes on the meaning of just being ‘real’. Being real is a by-product of relating to God as Father. When we learn to relate to Him as Father we evolve into our true identity. We become at peace with who we really are. That, in part, is possible because God loves us with a perfect, unconditional love. He loves us just like we are. People steeped in religion will argue with that concept but it is true. He’s a Father and He loves us because He wants to…..He can’t help it! And even though He loves us just as we are…He has no intention to leave us like we are. His plan is to conform us into the image of His Son. What a project He has signed on for! It’ll last the rest of our lives and He’s in for the long haul.

    What the modern church calls holiness has driven the sinner away. We work hard try to keep our religious rules. The keeping of religious rules makes one look good from a distance. But the closer you get it is obvious that something just isn’t right. Religious morality is not holiness. The keeping of rules does not make one holy. Keeping rules looks good but there is one vital element missing. JOY! That’s right, JOY. The Pharisees were great ‘rule keepers’ but they were mean, miserable and joy-less! Holiness is much more than keeping a set of rules!

 

…..Continued.

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