Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fight the Good Fight of Faith (Not Feelings)

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6: 12)

We are forgiven because of the blood of Jesus, yet this sacrifice Jesus cannot do a second time, because He cannot die again.

For this reason, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7)

Let us also not forget that there were many people who saw Jesus resurrected, and they still did not believe:

"16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." (John 28: 16-17)

Also

"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20: 29)

We receive faith through hearing the Word about Jesus:

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10: 17)

The NIV brings out the full import of the verse:

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ."

We do not grow in faith by our feelings, or by praying for it, but rather our faith increase as we read more of the Word of God and see Jesus throughout:

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24: 27)

When Paul exhorted Timothy, and all of us, to  fight or rather, be having fought, the good fight of faith, he was exhorting us to rest in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ that we can and do take God at His Word about our state.

Keep in mind, once again, that knowing where we are going is not enough, and God doing things for us is not enough:

"8If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. 10But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel." (Numbers 14:8-10)

The Lord God had given the Israelites the land, and He had assured them that He would protect them.

But the majority of the Israelites (in fact, the vast majority of them) did not believe the Lord nor the good report from the two faithful spies:

"And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us." (Deuteronomy 1: 27)

In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews records:

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." (Hebrews 4: 2)

Why did they not believe? They were under law at that point, still trusting in their efforts, still looking to Moses rather than trusting in the Word of God:

"30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;" (Romans 9: 30-32)

and

"And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them." (Galatians 3: 12)
So, if I do not accept the Word of God as final, but believe that there is some part which I must play, inevitably or feelings will get into the mix.

God invites us to receive His Word, mixed with faith, and today we can rest assured because we have His faith (Galatians 2: 20-21)

This fight is not an active striving, but rather a peaceful stance of victory:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6: 10-17)

Be strong in the Lord, not yourself. Be strong in His might, no[t yours. Put on the full armor of God, which is one composite whole, Christ Jesus. We stand -- four times, the passage exhorts us to stand.
"We wrestle not" should read "the wrestling is not to  us", i.e the fight is not our fight, but His fight, and He has already won the fight:

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (Romans 8: 37)

Fight the good, the beautiful fight of faith, which in all literal sense is "be having fought" or recognize that the fight has been won in Christ.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Let the Truth of His Word Set You Free

"31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Hebrews 8: 31-32)

Jesus Word is grace and peace because of all that He has done for us at the Cross:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6: 29)

then

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13: 34)

John affirms these new commandments for the New Covenant in his epistle:

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." (1 John 3: 23)

When we believe in Jesus, we accept that He has taken care of all our sins forever:

"12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10: 12-14)

Today, we are no longer trying to make ourselves right with God, but we are invited to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3: 18)

God invites us to renew our minds to the truth of God's Word, the truth who sets us free:

"1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12: 1-2)

Many of us may still feel bad about what we are thinking or feeling. We spend more time trying to fix what we are feeling and thinking, rather than fixing ourselves  on the Word of Truth, which sets us free (John 8: 31-32)

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and for God we are accepted before Him because of His Son (Ephesians 1: 6; 1 John 4: 17).

Therefore, the fight is one of faith, of resting in the truth that we are justified from all things because of Jesus (Acts 13: 38-39)
 
The Word of God does not pass away, and the truth of God's Word does not go away because I feel bad or think bad thoughts. The circumstances I face, or the limits on my understanding of how great Jesus is, does not stop Jesus from speaking the Word of Truth and bringing faith and healing into my or anyone else's situation. We may put limits on His power, but even our limits He pushed past to work in our lives.

He invites us to believe on what He says of us. We take His Word, not ours, for what is the truth about who we are.

He invites us to replace the bad thoughts, the false feelings, with the truth of His Word.

I spent a long time trying to fight against bad thoughts, because I was ashamed of that thinking, convinced that I was losing fellowship with God.

Today, I choose to take God at His Word, that His Son take care of all sin, and His Blood cleanses me from all sin and grants me fellowship with Him and the rest of His Body (1 John 1: 7)

It does not matter what thoughts may come to mind, He has declared His Good News to us, and so let us replace the bad thoughts with the true, the good thoughts of God's goodness for us, all because of His Son.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Be A New Creature (Then Say Something)

Many find great strength in this passage from Mark 11:

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." (Mark 11: 23)

 In order to understand having the faith of God, and not doubting in one's heart, consider what Jesus has made us to be:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

No matter what a man says, if He is not a new creature, a new creation in Christ, then whatever he says can have no power.

Why? We can only come before God the Father in His Name:

"These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." (John 16: 25-28)

We pray in His name, because we have His authority, and we have His authority because we have been made a new creation in Christ Jesus, sons of God:

"1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3: 1-3)

and also

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

We can rest assued that we will have what we say, because we believe on Him, Jesus Christ, and we do not doubt that He has done a perfect work at the Cross:

"5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1: 5-8)

Why are so many Christians double-minded? They do not believe that Jesus has put away all our sins forever, but rather that something more must be done, that we must do.

When we believe and do not doubt in our hearts, then indeed we will have what we say.

This issue of not doubting in our hearts, of having the faith of God, is all about becoming a new creation in Christ:

"20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2: 20-21)

One of the key verses for Hagin was not just Mark 11: 23, but 2 Corinthians 5: 17, for what is the point of speaking over and over, if you doubt in your heart that you are a new creation, and that God hears you:

"And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5: 15)

We are a new creature, a new creation in Christ, and as His Word dwells richly in us, lo and behold -- you will have what you say!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jesus Meets Us Where We Are

"While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." (Matthew 9: 18)

The chief ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, approached Jesus, believing that He could raise his daughter from the dead.

When Jesus came to Jairus' home, He announced that the daughter was not dead, but sleeping:

"He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn." (Matthew 9: 24)

Even though the hired mourners mocked Jesus, he put them out and raised the young girl from the dead.

Returning to the prayer of the chief ruler, we see that Jairus prayed the wrong prayer, in a sense. He believed that his daughter was already dead. He even said so.

Notice that Jesus did not shame or rebuke him for his lack of faith.

Moreover, Jairus asked Jesus to come to his home and lay hands on his daughter, when Jesus could have healed the daughter right then and there.

He had healed the centurion's servant in that manner:

"The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." (Matthew 8: 8)

He also healed another person in the same manner:

"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." (John 4: 46-50)

Despite the weak faith of the chief ruler (he believed that his daughter was dead, and he believed that Jesus had to be physically present to heal her), Jesus meet him where he was and answered his prayer.

Today, beloved, do not come to God trying to be strong, or trying to enhance your faith. Come to Jesus as you are (Matthew 11: 28), believing that He wants to help (1 Peter 5: 6-7), and Jesus will more than meet your need, for He grants us beyond what we can ask or think (Ephesians 3: 20).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Be Fruitful: His Grace

3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1: 3-11)

This passage was a focus of study for me for a long time.

I was focused on all the attributes listed in Second Peter.

"Add to your faith, virtue, etc"

I was focused on the list, when Peter explains how such things do not appear in our lives:

"9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."

I did not believe that I was purged from my past sins.

Why?

Because I was looking at the sin in my flesh, as though it was something that I had to do something about.

I was not informed that everything has been paid for. The blood of Jesus is an eternal consequence, putting away all sins and thus making them all ancient:

"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:) 12)

He has removed our transgressions, our sins from us.

Yet the fight of faith which we must fight today is a struggle of resting in the truth that all our sins have been put away.

That is the fight. Everything in this life wants to send the message that you are not OK with God, that there is still something more that you must do.

The counsel of the ungodly has every interest in keeping people busy in this respect.

If we want to remain fruitful in all the graces listed in Second Peter, God our Father invites us to keep receiving from Him the gift of righteousness today (Romans 5: 17) and forever more (Daniel 9:24).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God Says it, So Believe it. Period!

19God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." (Numbers 23: 19-21)
 
God does not lie.
 
He has blessed us, and He cannot take away these blessings from our lives.
 
We may be unsure about our standing before God, but God is not.
 
When He says that we are forgiven, He was not intent on filling up pages in a book.
 
He intended for us to take Him seriously, because seriously He gave His best: His Son:
 
"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)
 
What is the key which opens our hearts to receiving everything else?
 
The gift of righteousness, which enforces the New Covenant in our lives:
 
"
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)
 
I admit that I did not believe Hebrews 8: 12. I was still latently accepting that God was remembering my sins, that they were not put away.
 
What had taken me a long time to realize, though, was the reason why I was still mindful of the lie that He was mindful of my sins.
 
There is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood, and the blood of Jesus speaks better things, and cleanses us today from all unrighteousness.
 
God's Word says it, I believe it. I take Him at His Word. Period!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eternal Inheritance from an Eternal Mediator

"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9: 15)

Today, we have an advocate at the right hand of God the Father:

"1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1-2)

Jesus is identified as "the righteous", and in Christ we have been made the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

We have an everlasting righteousness because of Jesus Christ, too (Daniel 9: 24), because His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1: 7) and speaks better things than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12: 24)

This righteousness is an eternal inheritance, something which He gives, and that no one can take away:

"He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. (Proverbs 21: 21)

and also

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 16)

Then

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10: 28)

and finally

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

We have the certainty of this eternal heritance because as our mediator, Jesus lives forever on our behalf:

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" (1 Timothy 2: 5)

and

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises." (Hebrews 8: 6)

and also

"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9: 15)

He has endless life, and therefore Jesus is our mediator of an eternal inheritance:

"[Jesus] only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." (1 Timothy 6: 16)

and

"5And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life" (Hebrews 7: 15-16)

Jesus is our mediator, our representative before God the Father, and because He is eternal, and has granted us eternal life in Himself (1 John 5: 12), we can rest assured that we have an eternal inheritance yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13: 8)