Posts Tagged faith

Law or Liberty

Psalm 1: 2

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

I want to talk about prayer and study today. I continually encourage you to read your Bible but the question is, is this a matter of law or can we find liberty in it.

We live in a period of grace, Jesus having saved us from the curse of the law and being the very fulfillment of the law in this age. So, is it right or acceptable for ministers to teach and advocate the exercise of legal requirements? I think the answer is no but I think we do it so we must be vigilant to preach liberty to the captives. We tell you to tithe and to give offerings. We tell you to read your Bible and pray daily. Does it begin to sound like law. In other words, is this something you must do in order to please God?

The Bible says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him,” (Hebrews 11: 6). So, anything we do without faith will not please Him. That includes reading your Bible and even praying. That is a big concept, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong. I want you to read your Bible every day. I want you to spend time talking with Dad. It’s just that I want you to do it because you choose to, not because the law requires it of you. Reading the Word, meditating on it, discussing it with the three persons of the trinity are important because in those tasks are key elements to your freedom, success and overall wellness. We are learning that it is good for our brains, good for our bodies and good even for our pocketbooks. The same is true of giving into God’s work. I do not want it to sound like law. I want you doing these things because it is healthy to your life.

Any thing which draws you closer to Jesus is going to make you happier, healthier and more prosperous. Listening to his voice is key to having the abundant life Jesus came to give you. I have pointed out Joshua 1: 8 several times before. This was God’s advice to Joshua when he was required to assume the leadership of Israel after Moses’ death. It reads, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” Even when God spoke this to Joshua He did not give it to him as law. God wanted to encourage Joshua and give him the help he needed. So God told him to camp in the Word. It is for this same reason that I and others continuously encourage you to read and think about what the Bible teaches. If it is the single best piece of advice God could come up with, it must be pretty potent.

Literally, this verse from the book of Joshua means to observe the Word. In other words, we are to engage ourselves with it, looking to see what it says and what it does. And, it’s not as if we don’t have Jesus, Father and the Holy Spirit to ask when we don’t understand it. God promised He would give us wisdom when we ask but it usually comes when we are focused on His Word. Spend an hour in it or three days in it as Kenneth Copeland often does, and you will also observe some things that are not only fascinating but life giving as well.

There are promises which go with focused attention to the Word. I didn’t share verse three with you until now. It promises that the person who does ponder Father’s Word will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Come on!  That’s great news! So, don’t meditate day and night because you are commanded to. Don’t do it because you feel a compunction. Do it as an exercise of your liberty and in faith because you want to. Desire to know what Father has hidden in those pages just for you. It is a veritable gold mine. Really! The Word has power to transform lives, especially yours because you are already open to His heart. You are unique in the body of Christ as you are devout in reading this daily devotional. Let Father impart even more into your life. Be Joshua. Be the believer who is firmly planted by streams of water. Be free to live abundantly.

Understanding

1 Corinthians 1: 19       KJV

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Last week we sang a song at church which spoke to me. I extracted this idea from it, that when we trust Him, we don’t need to understand. We live in an age of intellectualism. We like to process everything through the left side of our brains so that everything makes sense and is understandable. This is the opposite of what Jesus told us to do. He told us to believe by faith. Faith is doing what Jesus says when you don’t understand.

God takes us in directions we would never fathom. If you wait until you understand all His motives and plans, you will never go where he is leading. He rarely lays out His plan before you but rather gives one step at a time. We have to learn to trust Him rather than question Him. He isn’t going to answer you anyway so you might as well learn to trust. Everyone who walks with Jesus has had to learn this. The hardest part, at times, is slowing ourselves down enough to hear Him clearly. Sometimes you need to hear more than once to be sure it is from God. That is the question we should ask, “Lord, if this is you, bid me come.” We only need to know we are in God’s will, then we can step out of the boat with confidence, fully trusting that the Lord has us in his care. The question we don’t need to ask is, “Why,” or “How does this work.”

Some people have the ability to walk in simple faith. They have the ability or have made the decision to accept and believe what they hear from the Lord or read in their Bibles. These are not unintelligent people. They are mentally and spiritually disciplined. They have trained themselves not to ask the Lord unfruitful questions.

There is a time and place for understanding. God recognizes that and He will explain what you need to know. There is, however, more occasion for obedience, faith and trust. Those three will always put us in a good position when employed. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and even higher than our intellectual capacity. They are never beyond our ability to believe and act though. That is what the Father requires of us. Simple faith and obedience, a willingness to do as He directs whether or not we understand. There is great freedom in this way of living. Maybe it is something you can talk with Father about.

The point is that God is not relying on our wisdom.  He wants us to rely upon His.  We must invest trust and that is the challenge.  We like having control but Yahweh would have us relinquish it to Him.  Wow, what a difficult thing to do.  Now you know why it takes a disciplined mind and spirit to walk in full faith with Him.  This is our calling though and this is the appointed way.  It is not about our intellect but rather about our ability to trust His.  That is where we must grow and we can, with Jesus’ help.

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23: 4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

This is many people’s favorite psalm. What is it that folks like about it? Is it knowing we have a shepherd who cares for us? Verse 1 from the Passion Translation reads, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” If this is your favorite psalm, do yourself a favor and read it from the Passion Translation. You are really going to love it. If you don’t own a Passion Translation just go to Biblegateway.com.

It wasn’t easy choosing one verse from this psalm but this one seemed louder than the others and thinking about it I realized you and I walk through the valley of the shadow of death almost daily. One of the points which has resonated with me over the years about this passage is that David was walking through the valley. He didn’t set up his tent and camp there. He kept moving forward, out of danger, through the challenge to glory and victory.

We recognize there are times when we must go through a troubling situation. There is no way around it, you just have to go through. We generally encourage one another that Jesus is with us even through those tremulous times. David takes it up a notch though. He says that even though he must walk through this foreboding valley, he shall not fear. David knew God was with him and being a shepherd boy himself, he recognized the devotion and care of the good shepherd. David killed both lions and bears to protect his flock (1 Samuel 17: 36). He knew God to be an even better shepherd than he. He trusted God to proactively deliver him from any evil that threatened him.

David said he was comforted by the Great Shepherd’s rod and staff. Here is where our image of God may depart from David’s. David saw the rod as comfort whereas some teachings cause people to fear God. Yahweh does not wield a rod to beat the sheep into submission. That is the image some people carry of God. We must put in the forefront of our thinking that our God is the good shepherd. He cares for the sheep as did David. If David was willing to face a lion and a bear to protect those in his care, won’t our Father do the same for us? Could David be a better shepherd than the Lord?

The rod and staff were for protecting and guiding the sheep. With the staff the shepherd could gently lead the sheep. When they went the wrong way, he could redirect their path. It could also be used to defend the sheep. David understood this and because of his understanding and his trust in the Lord, he could walk through the valley where death’s shadow looms without harm and without fear.

Fear is a crippling disease. In its grip we don’t walk through the valley. We don’t valiantly and confidently march through. The message of this psalm is that the good shepherd is with us and taking care of us. Therefore, we can lift our heads, throw back our shoulders and march through whatever peril appears on the horizon. There is no occasion for fear because the Lord God is your guide and your guard, and you couldn’t have better. You know that, but fear is an tricky thing. Our challenge is to live our life fearless and we can when we know our Father is with us. When we have true awareness of His presence with us and His guiding hand on us, then we, too, will walk through the valley and have no fear of evil befalling us.

Trusted One

Psalm 22: 4 – 5              God’s Word

Our ancestors trusted you. They trusted, and you rescued them. They cried to you and were saved. They trusted you and were never disappointed.

There are a couple of things you should know about this psalm. First, it is prophetic. Read it in its entirety, read it from several versions. I particularly like the God’s Word translation for seeing the prophetic nature of this passage. David was in the Spirit and though this speaks to his own situation, you will see that it parallels Jesus’. I strongly encourage you to spend some time with this psalm. It shows how someone can be led by the Spirit in their prayers and in their words. David vocalized Jesus’ sentiments and experiences long before Jesus was born.

The other thing to know in understanding this psalm is that it begins in anguish and ends in faith. That is classical David form. We’ve discussed David’s relationship with Yahweh and how they evidence a shared trust relationship. We have witnessed David’s emotions and his relationship with the Father. We have seen the trust David evinced in God and even queried how he was brought to that place of radical trust. Once you have experience of God coming through for you, it is easier to trust again. How do you learn to trust that first time, though?

When you read this psalm in total, you will see some of the answers for yourself. The big convincer for David was that he was able to learn from the experiences of others. He had the record which we have in the Bible. He heard and knew the old stories. Most importantly, he apparently believed them. He knew that what God had done for his ancestors, He would do also for him.

David was in serious turmoil. In verse fourteen he describes himself this way, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.” Yet, within a few verses he turns to praise. Nothing changed in his circumstances. He was still empty, beaten up and weary. Yet, his voice turned to praise. How can that be?

I believe this is one of David’s greatest characteristics and ultimately a powerful weapon in his hands. He boasted in the name of God. He declared the faithfulness and greatness of the Lord. Despite all indications of disaster, he boldly proclaimed his trust in the Lord, his God. He stood on the evidence of the past and stated his belief in the faithfulness, the trustworthiness of God.

How many times and in how many ways does God have to prove Himself to us? When will I throw my heart into radical trust? Do you, like me, want to walk on the water? It might be obvious, but we’ve gotta jump out of the boat and that is not just an act of faith. It is an act of trust. I don’t know how much faith Peter had but I do know that he trusted Jesus. He wouldn’t have gotten out of that boat except that he was going to Jesus. The same is so true for us. It is more than a metaphor for a faith walk. This is “the way.” We have the same opportunity to live a “faith full” life. But faith, truly, is born of two things: trust and obedience. We need only go where Jesus is leading. He isn’t asking us to jump out of the boat and walk on the water by ourselves. He is simply saying, “Come to me. I’ve got you.” We can do that – if we believe, if we really trust our Jesus.

Can you stretch with me today? Just lean towards him a bit more than you did yesterday. Remember how he came through for David? Recall that David wasn’t even redeemed by the blood. How much more is our trust in Jesus justified? Can we learn from the many Bible stories, like Gideon’s story, that God is looking after His kids? We will not be disappointed. Trust wins the day.

If you don’t have your own success stories with God yet, borrow Moses’, use David’s. They trusted Him and were never disappointed.

Plea for Mercy

Psalm 6: 2 – 4              (TPT)

Please deal gently with me; show me mercy, for I’m sick and frail. I’m fading away with weakness. Heal me, for I’m falling apart. How long until you take away this pain in my body and in my soul? Lord, I’m trembling in fear! Turn to me and deliver my life because I know you love and desire to have me as your very own.

A friend of mine turned me on to the Passion Translation and I am so glad she did. I really love to read the psalms from it. I think you may be able to see why.

Have you ever felt like this, felt like you were falling apart both body and soul? I have and so I can relate to David’s cry for help. David had something many of us have not fully realized. He knew that God wanted him as His very own. Isn’t that a heartwarming thought? Can you truthfully say the same thing about yourself? I know it is true. God treasures you, but do you know it?

If you know that God loves you and desires to have you as His very own, does that give you greater confidence that He will answer your prayers? David was confident. Verses nine and ten from the God’s Word translation demonstrate this, “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be put to shame and deeply shaken with terror. In a moment they will retreat and be put to shame.” He really did trust that the Lord would meet whatever need presented itself. I can imagine David standing before his enemies saying, “In a moment you will retreat and be put to shame!” I think he believed it that strongly.

What will you say? What will you declare when you look into the mirror this morning? Do you believe the Lord will restore your soul? Is He going to heal your body? Will your enemies turn and flee in terror? Your declaration determines whether these are truths in your life or simply wishes. What is God’s role in your life? Is He a partner or a spectator?

Get excited about the God of your life. Meditate on His love and desire for you. Let that thought fill you. He will hear your plea for mercy and help and rush to your aid. That is the Father, your real father, the one who created you before the beginning of time.

Shield of Faith

Psalm 3: 3 – 4

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

In verses one and two David decries the number and aggressiveness of his enemies. This psalm was written when David’s son was chasing him. How forlorn David must have been. His own son had turned against him in a grab for power. Though David spent the first two verses lamenting his dire situation, by verse three his spirit arose to declare the goodness and faithfulness of God.

He recognized Yahweh as a shield which surrounded him, guarding him from the menace of his many enemies. Though he must have gone around for some time with his head hanging low, God embraced him and held his head high. There is no shame because our God is our Father. He causes us to hold up our head when others would be bowed low.

The Passion translation of verse 4 is beautiful, “I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence. You send me a Father’s help. Pause in his presence.” This is a good place to pause and consider. David had real trouble, real enemies. His problems eclipse most of ours. At least most of us don’t have people pursuing us to kill us. Despite his troubles, and in the very depth of them, he recognized the voice and hand of a loving Father. My point is that if David can receive the love of God in the midst of his dangerous circumstances, then we can too.

David triumphed over his enemies time and time again because he recognized that God was his hero. He trusted in God as his shield and that brought him the victory. Though he may have spent a little time mourning his situation, he never remained in that pitiful state. He would always put his mouth to work declaring God’s goodness. In the end, it was his belief in God’s faithfulness that delivered him. It will work for us too.

Tired and Weary

Galatians 6: 9

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

It is easy to get tired; tired of trying, tired of standing in faith, just plain old weary. How long am I supposed to stand anyway? Do you ever feel that way? Sure. We all do, but the Lord tells us not to give up. Don’t lose heart. If we will but stand, God promises that we will reap.

Have you been believing God for something for a long time? Maybe it has even been many years that you have stood on a promise of God without seeing your answer. Well, don’t faint. Don’t lose heart. There is still a harvest awaiting you. All we need to do is figure out how to appropriate that which God has already approved.

Truth be told, we do faint. We get tired of believing, praying and confessing and we give in. We don’t mean to but the next thing you know, we have let that goal or dream slip away a little bit. Believe it or not, that is fainting. We have to learn to be people of stone, rocks to our God. People who cannot be moved, who don’t grow faint. People who are firm and resolute. You might need to write out a one sentence or even one phrase statement of faith that you speak at least once a day. Make a recording on your phone and listen to it while you drive to work. Stir yourself up. Listen to Christian teachers who will inspire you daily.

Become firm, strong, resolute. Determine to stand strong until you receive that which you desire. Be stubborn, tenacious. If you really believe God has made you a promise, then don’t back off of it. The trouble is, we don’t really believe. We play at Christianity rather than live it. We aren’t living and believing it right down to our core. Mentally we understand what the Word promises but in our hearts, we harbor resistance, reluctance and even doubt. What do you truly believe? And what do you honestly think God will do with a devout believer? If you imagine a person who is determined in their faith, what do you think their outcome will be? Do you think God will honor their belief but in your own heart know that you are not that person? Do you doubt your own faith and belief? Sometimes it is worth questioning.

We have something to say in this however. We get to choose who we will be. It is up to us. Shall we become faithful believers? Do we dare commit ourselves to a life of passionate Christian faith? What does that mean and how would it manifest in our lives? Let’s rally ourselves as the chosen people of the Almighty. Let us join our faith together for you are stronger and I am stronger when we join hands. What if we started using this daily devotional as a place to encourage one another.

The Word of the Day is formatted in such a way that you can add your own post to it. Others can add to yours and we can reach around the world, literally, with our faith – hand in hand, faith to faith. If you encourage someone else, perhaps you will be encouraged. Maybe you can keep someone else from growing weary and fainting. We are all trying to stand as individuals and we are failing. That is not the way the Father created us. We need to encourage and support each other. Let us join hands today. Stand up tall, stand up proud. Renew your dreams. Revive your waning beliefs and desires. Put those prayers back on the alter and pour the oil of anointing over them and use the anointing and faith of others to breathe life back into them. Come on believers! Believe with me! Arise mighty church of the living God! Arise and believe and in your believing, receive all the greatness of our God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.