He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Friday, September 29, 2006
Faith does not reason, it acts from its own point of view, and leaves the result to God.
This is the sum total of faith. All thought is given to the goodness and mercy and love of God, who in His sovereignty supplies the objects of faith, and governs the heart with a view to those objects. In Hebrews 11:1 we find the only attempted definition of faith given in the Bible. It states what is the nature of true faith, 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...' it is the ground or confidence (basis, foundation, support, reality, substance, existence) which imparts reality to the heart and mind. Faith enables action based on that reality which the heart and mind have acquired as a possession of right by the unfailing faithfulness of belief in God who does not change and who when He can swear by none other swears by His own name. The substance is real, not fained hope, it is founded on the infallible Word of God. The motives and affections which govern faith are given by God, and are given by Him in order to form and govern the heart. Faith gives all the force of reality to that which is believed. Faith has substance.
Faith 'is the evidence' (conviction. proof, proof which convicts) and adds to the previous thought of assurance a suggestion of influences operating to produce conviction which carry the force of demonstration. This means that in the working of God in my life, I see a transformation taking place in my inner life, a more deliberate functioning of my heart, a deepening of self-possession,
a confidence in the immutable God, a trusting in the daily circumstances of life to mold and change my character, and a desire to live more fully in the Spirit. This is the proof or demonstration, from where I was to where I am, with firm persuasion of where God is taking me.
In reality, I cannot answer the question of faith and mountain-moving prayer, even in all this discussion it is unresolved. In Exodus 4:31 it says,' and the people believed.... and He (God) looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped'. God sees, God knows, God understands, God grieves, God loves, God....
Sunday, September 24, 2006
What is faith? It is not some inherent power or quality in certain men, by virtue of which they are able to accomplish special results unrealized by others. It is rather the power of putting self aside that God may work unhindered through the nature. It is the attitude of the heart which, having ascertained the will of God, and being desirous of becoming an organ for it, goes on to expect that God will work out His purposes through me, its medium. It is in brief, that capacity for God which appropriates Him to its uttermost limit, and becomes the channel or vehicle through which He passes forth to bless mankind. The believer is the God-filled, the God-moved, the God-possessed man, and the work which he effects in the world is not his, but God's through him.
These men of faith mentioned in the honour role of faith in Hebrews 11, are men who had a marvelous faculty of faith, which is in reality the capacity of the heart for God, they also had an equal capacity to question and challenge God, to the point of even exhausting God's patience. This explains the life these men led and the circumstances that surrounded their rise to prominence in the history of the children of God. All suffered setbacks and/or failures in God's working to mold them into vessels fit for His use. Strong and self-reliant natures are at odds with a life of faith. God's work can only be done through vessels specially fitted by Him for service. Special service is not natural, and can only come about after a time of deep and searching discipline from the Lord.
Faith is the requirement. and cannot be overstated enough. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the same truth. He never asked what is the specific quality of power, or wisdom, or enthusiasm which was present in His disciples. He did require of them, an assessment of the depth of their faith knowing full well that their success depended on this reality. To a father Jesus said, " There is no if in my power, it is in thy faith, if you will believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23,24)
In the process of God molding my nature to a usable vessel, empowered to withstand the onslaughts of circumstances designed to bring failure, God has placed difficulties to confront me which seem to indicate that I am on the wrong path. I understand that He is testing the sincerity and temper of my soul, and is seeking to bring me forth as gold, pure gold,(Job 23:10, 1 Peter 1:17)) refined in the fires of adversity and trials to bring greater honour and glory to His name. It is through these times that the death of self and the appropriation of the greater mysteries of God will be attained. It is during these times that the promises of God will become more real, and there lies the crux of faith, believing in the promises irregardless of circumstance. Faith rests on promise, understanding that the promise is as good as the gift already given, it is the equivalent of fulfillment.
Faith is only possible when I am in God's will, pursuing His plan, It is then that I can stand on God's promises. It is of no avail for me to pray for increased faith, miracles, or vision, etc., unless I am fulfilling the conditions for that faith. These conditions are:
1] understanding and sensing the helplessness and nothingless of my position;
2] the absolute assurance of being in the will of God in terms of His plan
3] entire consecration, that He may work out His will in my heart and soul
4] daily remembering His promise (provision, etc.,)
5] willing to risk, to act, independant of feeling, on faith which being indifferent to consequence, rests absolutely on the faithfulness of God.
Am I willing to die to my own strength, to submit my will absolutely to God's plan, to seek and do God's will without reservation, to daily rely on God's provision, to develope an attitude of surrender loosed from any limitation or condition, to risk in faith, without emotion, on the faithfulness of God, fully persuaded that He will do what He has promised?
Am I at this point, in such a condition, is my faith of that nature, that God can work through me to the glory and honour of His name?
Truly only God knows for sure, may He reveal that to me and my prayer is He will reveal to you as well. And I am right back to another faith issue.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Faith is a wonderful thing, the ability to trust in a sovereign God and know His care for me is being perfectly worked out is truly one of the greatest of gifts that could be given. However I am finding that faith has it's limits. What is the next step, I sense that all things must move. There must be an increase in faith, in the knowledge of God, in understranding the ways of the Lord, in depth of love and devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and in the deepness of surender and death of self.
Mountain-moving prayer and the belief that comes with that profundity is a hallmark of a life of faith which transcends the frailty of this life and enables the holder to stretch, grow beyond the borders of human understanding and to lay claim to the mysteries of God's healing and miracle-making powers. This faith is spoken of as being like a grain of mustard seed (possibly referring to a thriving increasing faith) which when excercised is capable of trusting to the inclusion of any event or happenning within the will of God to perform. This is miracle faith.
The crux of the issue is summed up in the question This is the big question for myself in determining the whys? and wherefores? of mountain-moving faith that fails to have success. Does something in our hearts say that God will do this, or is there no expectation in us? It seems more often than not prayers are not answered in miraculous ways. This questions the amount or quality of the faith that I possess and further entrenches the fear of failure and the promotion of doubt as to the validity of my faith.
In looking at scripture, specifically Matthew 17:20, Mark 9:23, & 11:23 we would assume that in the healing ministry of Jesus faith was a dominant human factor. It would seem that the faith of the sick or someone elses faith would be a requirement for healing. (see Matthew 8:13, 9:2,22, 29, & 15:28) Having stated that there is also no indication that Jesus ability to heal or that his ability to heal is delayed by personal faith. (see Matthew 13:58 : 17:20 & Mark 6:5-6) I hope you are not surprised that this has created some confusion in the church about the importance of faith in prayer and in healing.
So how do I resolve and deal with the strong element of doubt that pervades my belief (not that God cannot) that God in His sovereignty will not at this time grant my request, even though I have the faith to believe in His ablility to do so. As a writer has stated, rather than say Jesus heals where there is faith and that this is a requirement of healing, I should say that Jesus' healing ministry is an opportunity for the sufferer's to express their desire to be healed. This in part removes the requirement of human faith and the aspect that faith can manipulate healing power. One's faith is to be based on God's fathfulness, goodness, power and mercy. Seems rather placebic when it comes to the actual dealing with the pain and the loss as a result of unanswered prayer. It still leaves me with the question is there not something more I could have done?
To move further in this discussion we find in James 5:14-15 a further indication of faith in healing which for me brings the impetus of mountain-moving faith back onto my shoulders. There is no indication that the sick must have faith only that the elders in believing will see people restored to health. This brings about great risk. The fear of failure, the implications to the life of faith in the person of the elder, and the subsequent questioning of the personal call to that position by the elder. I am not the type of person who is willing to take the easy way out in terms of understanding these issues or in writing off failure as the will of God without accountability for the failure to see healing. It brings my thoughts to Moses who fully understanding that to stand in the gap before God meant his death did so anyway. With full knowledge of the consequences of his actions he choose to place himself in harm's way for the salvatioon of his people. How much greater should my willingness to stand be in order to accomplish in the name of the Lord the healing of the people whom I shepherd. Ken Blue in Authority to Heal points out that those who pray successsfully for healing in whatever tradition have three characteristics in common: (1) the conviction that God is willing to heal (faith); (2) compassion for the sick person (also a characteristic of Jesus); and (3) the wilingness to risk ( faith must be put into action; the prayer of faith must be prayed). the fact remains that those who do not believe that God wants to heal the sick person normally do not see those who they pray for healed, as well, those with even a mustard-seed-belief in their hearts often do.
I cannot understate the risk that is involved, the eyes of public opinion loom largest when they can cast down the efforts of leaders to move people in to greater grace and love and devotion and fear of the Lord and faith and strength and......
In the Psalms it is said by David "for your Name's sake" and in the likelihood of sounding
apologetic all things must be relevant to the advancement of the Glory of God in the lives of His people. May we all have understanding of that advancement even in the face of seeming failure and the possible pain of that failure.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
One of the things that enable me to maintain a vibrant belief in the ability of God to provide for me came in the form of question? A few years ago in studying scripture and trying to understand the dealings of God with me it was posed to me this question,
If I believe God to be Who He says He is? (as revealed in the Bible and in my personal life) then it follows that where I am right now is absolutely the best place for me to be. Notwithstanding (there has to be a notwithstanding clause) that I am living in obedience to His call on my life. It's at this point that a renewed emphasis on grace must be placed, for all obedience is not the working of my own but the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to enable.
It follows that faith is nothing more than following the leading of a God who always has at His heart the best interests of His child, with a desire and an outcome that will insure the maximum amount of growth in grace, faith, ability to serve, promotion of love and glorification of God.
Even as I write these words, the full import of the statement is lost in the infallibility (without fault or weakness) of the words themselves because they fail to portray the reverence and power of the thought that is behind the belief.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Elijah is a pretty interesting person, at least in terms of his life story. Due to the reading i did this summer and the circumstances of my own life he became a personal interest story for me.
The one question that first came to mind was When was Elijah closest to God?
Now you have to recount some of Elijah's history to come to any conclusions, at least the ones I came to.
Here we find Elijah on this mountain-top, (a Mountaintop experience) where he is doing this marvelous and miraculous work for God.
This isn't to discount what had already been done by him, he had prophesized the 3 1/2 year drought, had raised the son of the widow from the dead, had prayed and received confirmation that the food would not run out during his stay at the widow's house.
I start my narrative on the mountain-top, challenging the prophets of Baal to a contest. I see here a man devoted to God and obviously taking instructions from Him, however I would hazard to say that in some ways Elijah is just going through the mechanics of his job without the heartfelt knowledge for the work he was doing. It is duly noted that what happened here was of no small consequence to the people of Israel or the promotion and glorification of God as God.
I like to look at this from a little different perspective. his prayer to bring down fire from heaven was very nice, I relate it to many prayers I have said myself, where you really feel you have been at the Throne of Grace and have really touched the heart of God. Those are the special prayers you remember for years after.
But back to elijah, i'm the type of person who is strong on visualization when it comes to reading narratives , and I can picture the clear blue sky and the people gathered around,especially those false prophets, and from out of this sky a column of fire, the sound must have been a phenomenal roar and then the cessation (maybe the snap like when an acetalene torch is turned off, just for effect) and then dead silence. Those who were gathered there to see this event with anticipation and exopectation would have been astounded by the actual event. But what of those false prophets. Can you envision them? The blood having drained from their faces I'm not sure what the slang of the times would have been but insert a deletive expletive at this point. Then there would be the physical maladies, that feeling like you want to have a bowel movement but really you should be running. In a moment after that Elijah calls the people out of their shock to grab the false prophets and they cart them off. Now Elijah spends the rest of the day hewing the heads off of 400 prophets of Baal.
What a day for a prophet of God, but is he at the closest point in his relationship with God?
I'll move ahead to the race to Jerusalem, Elijah outrunning the chariot of Ahab and arriving in Jerusalem first.
The next event is perplexing, we see Elijah after the tremendous show of God's power working through him, he now turns tail at the threat from Jezebel that she will kill him. There was no need, God had proven Himself as a Protector and Provider. A little bit of Elijah dies.
He runs....and runs....and runs. He runs to the point of utter and absolute exhaustion. So exhausted so wishing to die that he attempts to kill himself in flight. Elijah dies just a little more.
Now arrives the mercy of our God, who understanding that man is flesh sends an angel to care for His beloved servant. I have always pictured this happening at the side of a road, the angel awakening Elijah out of his stupior to give him food. Alot like being in a fever and being awakened by your mother to have some soup and then rolling over and going back to sleep. Time and again the angel awakens Elijah and health is restored. Strength is given through nourishment of a type that is able to sustain long beyond that of ordinary food.
Elijah now begins his journey to mount Horeb to meet with God. A real accountability session.
What must have been the thoughts that went through his mind over those forty days and nights.
My thoughts return to an evening when walking home I came around the corner and looked up the street towards my house to see a Policecar parked in front. No doubt it was the same two officers who had been talking with me earlier in the evening, I was in trouble!!! It just felt like the bottom dropped out of my gut, and it seemed that I just couldn't walk slow enough, but even still it was in no time at all that I was stepping up to the door and in a dreamlike animated state I was opening the door and entering my house.
Forty days is a long time to think of what you are going to say to God when you get there. I wonder if it seemed that long to Elijah. And still more of Elijah dies in the journey.
It seems that there is more of Elijah yet to die. God talks to him and tells him to stand outside the cave. Now the display begins, all theatrics aside I would entertain the notion that in the hurricane and the earthquake and the fire there was nothing left on the table by God. I am sure that it was probably the most terrifying thing that Elijah had ever witnessed and I am sure also that Elijah stood on the edge of that cave knowing in no uncertain terms how fragile was his existence. Words cannot express the terror of falling into the hands of the Living God and coming out alive and yet here was Elijah surviving that very event. And a little bit more of Elijah died. Is he now as close to God as he can be? How does this compare to the mountain-top experience with all its hype and theatrics?
And now after all this the still small voice, and Elijah's heart is now completely yielded and submissive to God.
This may not be exegetically correct but I relate the story this way to draw parallels to my own life and the realization that I must die to self and be fully yielded and submitted to God. I am on a journey, God is moving me from not neccessarily a mountain-top, but positionally from a point of origin to a final destination which must have as it's final goal the death of self. I really think Elijah never came to terms with God until he heard the still small voice. I realize that there must be a cross which God will bring into my life by which I then will have the opportunity to understand the still small voice, and yield to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Well, this is an adventure, who knows what will be discovered in an undertaking of this nature.
At this time I will not say much about who I am, as that may be information that is more important at a later date.
Hopefully in exercising some writing I will be able to deal with some issues in my life.