How is Faith Perfected?

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Photo via iamharmony.org

Hebrews 12:2 tells us Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Our faith begins in and through Him and as we grow in Christ, He will perfect our faith. Therefore, our focus is not how we can increase our faith, but rather it’s how we can grow in Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” –Hebrews 12:1-3.

This scripture reveals 3 keys for growth in Jesus:

  1. Laying aside all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us.
  2. Run with endurance the race set before us. Never giving up, no matter how hard the journey gets.
  3. Fixing our eyes on Jesus. He is our goal, our example, and our leader. He goes before us preparing our path, setting our pace, and fighting all obstacles in our way. All we must do is follow Him, trust Him, and obey Him.

As we grow in Jesus, He will perfect our faith. The word ‘perfecter’ comes from the Greek word ‘teleiōtēs’ which means finisher. Jesus Christ gives us all a measure of faith. Matthew 17:20 compares faith to a seed. So when He plants the seed within us, He will finish the work He started. We yield to Him and He cultivates and prunes and perfects the faith He placed within us.

Do you realize this revelation takes away all pressure? Pressure to perform, pressure to always do the right thing, pressure to always say the right thing – all pressure – is lifted from our shoulders when we grab hold of this truth.

Have you ever felt this pressure? When my Dad was sick, I put myself under so much pressure thinking that if I prayed the right way or studied the word more or attended a particular church service that God would answer my prayers and heal my Dad. So, what I was doing was focusing more on what I could do to perfect my faith and what I could do to heal my Dad rather than what Jesus already did to bring healing to my Dad.

Faith cannot be bought. Faith cannot be earned. We cannot manipulate God into answering our prayers. Jesus paid the price and as we grow in Him we better understand His love and His will towards us which is always good. We trust and obey and rest in Him.

It’s not our perfection that moves mountains, it’s faith which is perfected by Jesus! It’s by faith we’ve been saved, not by works so no one can boast. And if we’re going to boast, let it be about Jesus because it’s in Him we live and move and have our being!

Zooming out from this scripture, we can see Hebrews 11, the chapter before our verses above. This is the faith chapter of the bible. All the great heroes of faith are mentioned here. Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Enoch – Wow! He must have been a man of great faith because he didn’t even taste death. He was just walking with God one day and up to heaven he went. Impressive!
  • Noah – Ah, the only righteous one in a world full of wickedness. But what about the time he got drunk and naked? I would think that’s some questionable behavior, don’t you think?
  • Abraham – The patriarch of faith, right? He was going to sacrifice his own son at the command of God until God faithfully provided a ram. But if I remember correctly, he lied about his wife Sarah saying she was his sister just so he wouldn’t be killed. Hmm…
  • Sarah – The mother of nations all because God healed her barrenness. But didn’t she laugh and mock God when He said her descendants would be as numerous as the stars? Naughty, naughty.
  • Jacob – The great deceiver who stole his brothers birthright and inheritance.
  • Rahab – A harlot.
  • Samson – A wild child.
  • David – Committed adultery and murder.

How did all these people make it into the faith chapter??? These people messed up. Big time. Just like you and me, right? These are real people with real problems, but they are listed in the faith chapter because they let Jesus finish what He started in them.

They took a risk. They dared to believe. They took a leap…
…of faith. And Jesus caught them, carried them, and placed them into their destiny! Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith because He alone is FAITHful!

In conclusion, I want to show you a powerful illustration:

Imperfect faith —> Impossible

Imperfect faith makes things impossible. This happens when I feel like I’m responsible for producing faith. But when we take ourselves out of the equation…

I’mperfect faith —> I’mpossible

and we yield to Jesus, we get…

Perfect faith —> Possible

Jesus perfects our faith and makes ALL things possible! Amen!!!

“If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” –Matthew 17:20

The Un-Walled Church

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Photo via http://www.brownsvilleherald.com

 

The earth is shaking and quaking. The times and events are culminating; the return of Jesus Christ is close. We don’t know when, but we know it’s close. The signs can be seen by those who have eyes to see. The groaning can be heard by those who have ears to hear.

And a holy mandate is being released to  all believers. For such a time as this we are called into this mandate. Know that who He calls, He also equips. No matter who you are, you are qualified to carry this mandate.

This is it:  The body of Christ’s last days mission is to tear down the walls of the church. The days of edifying one another inside the four walls of a church building is over. No more patty-cake Christianity with ‘I love Jesus, yes I do! I love Jesus, how about you!‘ pep rally church services.

Please do not misinterpret here. We should never forego the assembling together with other believers. Church is vital! It’s iron sharpening iron. It’s coming together to learn your strategic assignment against the enemy by knowing who you are in Christ. It’s a place of refuge and healing when we are wounded on the battlefield. Yes, church is crucial for believers.

However, now is the time for the body of Christ to edify the name of Jesus Christ outside of the church building also. Taking Jesus to the streets, the grocery stores, schools, the market place, restaurants, malls. We, as the body of Christ, are called to herald the gospel of Jesus everywhere we go!

God has given each of us a sphere of influence who need us – they NEED us – to step out of our comfort zones and share the hope of glory and love of Jesus with them. It’s time for us to no longer tolerate people in sin, but to love them out of sin!

To equip us to carryout this mandate, God is releasing a Holy Ghost invasion to the un-walled church. As love abounds for the unbeliever, gifts of the Holy Spirit will abound. The body of Christ will begin to operate in words of knowledge, gifts of prophecy and healing, mercy and giving.

As we lift up the name of Jesus, He will draw all men unto Him. Signs, wonders, and miracles will follow him who believes. There will be no doubt that He alone is God and many will come to know Him and be saved.

Will you rise to His holy mandate?

Let’s respond to His word by praying this prayer together…

Father, I pray for boldness that we will rise and carry this holy mandate everywhere we go. May we tear down the walls of Christianity and take Jesus to the streets. I pray for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to know who and what to pray for.

Lord, give us faith to pray for the sick and see them made well – faith to pray for the hurting and see them receive the joy of salvation – faith to pray for those in bondages of addiction and see them set free.

Teach us how to operate the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Show us what these keys give us access to; what it really means to have Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Prepare the hearts of those you would have us minister to. May the seeds we sow bear much fruit and may the name of Jesus be glorified forevermore!

In Jesus name,

Amen!

 

Remembering Your Why in the Midst of Burnout

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Photo via http://www.cnn.com

School is out, Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and our thoughts are quickly turning to pool side relaxation and backyard barbecues. I’m in! Who’s with me?!? But, as the hot sun burns brightly in the sky, so does the temptation of summer burnout drain our zeal and fervor. This year, let’s stop it before it starts!

Burnout. Using the fitness world as an example, how many of us have long forgotten our New Year’s resolutions now that June is knocking on our doors? We give up much too quickly saying, “Well, if I haven’t achieved my goal by now, it’s just not going to happen. Go ahead and add that scoop of ice cream to my cherry pie.” Haha! Am I the only one?

The struggle is real.

So, I’ve thought about it and I’ve concluded there are three syndromes to blame:
1) Short-sighteditis
2) Complacencemia
3) Idontphilia-likit disease

And you know what? All three of these “conditions” have the same root cause. The true culprit is taking our eyes off the goal.

As Christians, we can easily contract these diseases (and believe me, they are contagious, so be careful of the voices you listen to!). We are called to be the light of the world. But what happens when we feel like our light is no brighter than a lightening bug flying about on these soon-to-be muggy evenings?

The struggle is real.

The praises of God are to ever be on our lips, but what happens when discouragement comes and we can barely lift our heads?

The struggle is real.

What is the cure for this all to common ailment? Well, the prescription, of course, is a heaping dose of Jesus! I realize I sound corny, but it’s true. Only He can help us put things back into perspective.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the trees that we miss seeing the forest. Jesus gives us that heavenly perspective that brings purpose back into our lives. He focuses our eyes back on the goal. He reminds us of our why.

The ‘why’ is the reason we do what we do. We love because He first loved us. Even when others are unloveable. We praise Him because He is worthy. Even when it is a sacrifice of praise. We let our lights shine for all to see because Jesus is the hope of glory within us. Even the light of a lightening bug pierces the darkness.

So, if there is an area in your life where you are feeling burnout – an area maybe you’ve been neglecting for sometime, or maybe a dream lost in the yesteryears – remember your why. Reflect upon it. Let it ignite your passion to finish that work which He started within you. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith!

Meditate upon these scriptures below. May the word of God stir the waters of your spirit and rekindle the fires of purpose within you. There are great things in store for you when you keep your focus and keep pressing in! Even when it’s… One. Step. At. A. Time.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another. Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer.” –Romans 12:10-12

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but the one who has insight draws them out.” –Proverbs 20:5

“Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.'” –Habakkuk 2:2-3

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:14

God always has perfect timing. Trust Him. Keep the faith. Keep your eyes on the goal.

Remember your why.

There is a Ripple in the Clouds! Come Catch the Vision of Heaven!

I wish that everyone would catch this vision and experience the ripple of God’s glory pulsating throughout this land. Revival is happening now! This prophetic dream given to me one year ago is coming to pass today! Praise Jesus!

Michelle Halloran

(Photo via Pinterest)

I had the most glorious dream last night! It was so sacred, it took me a while to even share with my husband. But from it, I believe God has given me a message to share with you today. So, here goes! I pray it ministers to you!

The dream began with me gazing into the clouds. It was a beautiful evening. My husband and children were there along with a few other people whom I didn’t recognize, but somehow I knew them in the dream.

Something in the clouds had caught our attention. The clouds had taken on the formation of ripples. There were several of them, and just like a ripple from a drop of water in a pool, each one began with a central focal point surrounded by a ripple effect. It was so captivating and intriguing.

We all desired to go the place directly…

View original post 1,094 more words

Are You a Fan or a Friend?

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Photo via Pinterest

Several weeks ago, my family took a quick weekend trip to the Newport/Cincinnati area. One of the highlights of our trip happened on the purple people bridge, which if you’ve never been there, is a purple bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio for pedestrians only. So as we were walking around Newport, we decided to go ahead and walk from Kentucky to Ohio via this bridge.

It was pretty cool. Walking right over the Ohio River we could see the big city of Cincinnati on the other side, including the Great American Ballpark where my husband’s favorite team resides. Needless to say, the conversation quickly turned to Reds baseball as opening day started the very next day. Then, out of the blue, a man walking a few steps ahead of us, intruded upon our conversation.

He asked if we were going to make it to opening day. Bobby, my husband, replied, “No, we won’t be able to go.” So then this man, whom we didn’t know, pressed and wanted to know why. Bobby continued to explain that we had to get back home that night for the boys to go to school the next day. Then, just out of politeness, Bobby asked him, “Are you going to opening day?”

The man chuckled a bit and said, “Yeah. I’ll be in attendance. I’ll be working,” he said. Well, my curiosity was peaked. Wonder what his job is? But my reservations won out, so I didn’t question him for more information.

Now so far, this whole conversation had taken place with this guy walking a few steps in front and us following behind him. Well, suddenly, he turned around facing us and with a dramatic gesture he announced, “I’m going to go ahead and make a prediction right here. I predict that Jay Bruce guy will go 3-for-3 with 2 home runs, a double and 2 walks. This is going to be the Reds year!”

To that, Bobby quickly replies, “Well, if anybody can do it, he can! I hope they do great this year!” Then the last thing the man said to us before running off was this, “ Yeah, I take it pretty seriously. I’m actually going to church to pray about it right now.”

Well, by now we are in Ohio at the end of the bridge and the guy takes off in a jog as we shout that we’ll be praying too. And then getting some distance ahead, we watch as he stops and pulls out a cigar and continues walking.

At this point, a million things are racing through my mind. Bobby and I look at each other and we both say, “Surely, not!” Well, I immediately pull out my iPhone and start Googling Jay Bruce images. Sure enough! It was him!

We had been talking baseball with Jay Bruce, #32 on the Cincinnati Reds team. As realization began kicking in, we began kicking ourselves because we didn’t say anything and that we didn’t recognize him sooner. How could we have not known!?!

Walking with Jesus

This awesome experience reminds me of a story. A story of two followers of Jesus who were walking on the road to Emmaus. This road stretched 7 miles and connected Jerusalem to Emmaus. So, along their journey, they were conversing with one another about Jesus when all of a sudden a man appeared. Similar to our experience with Jay Bruce, this man, also butted into their conversation. He’s all like, “What are ya’ll talking about?” (Don’t you love it!)

Well, one of the men’s name was Cleopas, and he answered Him saying, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened these last few days?” And so they tried to fill this stranger in on all the events that happened regarding Jesus, that He was a great prophet and He was crucified, but now some women who were at the tomb that morning said His body was gone and He’s alive. (See Luke 24:13-35.)

So these two men, followers of Jesus mind you, walked nearly 7 miles with Jesus Himself, talking about Jesus to Jesus, and did not recognize Him. Reading this scripture, do you notice how they did not recognize Jesus until the breaking of the bread? There’s is such significance in this! Do you see it???

What is our bread? Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The word of God becomes our bread. It’s our daily bread. Jesus says also in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Jesus is the bread. And John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word.

Tying all these scriptures together we see that The Bread is the Word. Jesus is the Bread. Jesus is the Word. All scripture, even the Old Testament, reveals Jesus. This is how we get to know Him more. We seek and we find. We knock and the door is opened.

Jesus says in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me.” And in verse 27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

How does the sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice? They spend time with Him. Knowing Jesus and recognizing His voice requires intimacy. We must spend time with Him in prayer, searching out the scriptures, and in fellowship with other believers.

Fan or Friend?

Back to our purple people bridge experience. Do you see how that experience proves that we don’t really know Jay Bruce? Sure, we know of him. We watch him on TV. We know what position he plays. Bobby even knows some of his background and some of his stats. But we don’t really know him. If we had known Jay Bruce, we would have recognized him on that bridge. Sad to say, we are not best friends with Jay Bruce, we are just fans.

How many times do you think Jesus is walking with us and we don’t see Him. Or talking to us and we don’t recognize His voice? Or fighting for us and we don’t claim the victory He gives us?

There’s an eternity of difference in knowing Jesus in your head
and knowing Jesus in your heart.

Do you have a head knowledge of Jesus or do you have a heart knowledge of Jesus? Would you be able to recognize Him?

Are you a fan of Jesus or are you a friend of Jesus? 

Fans buy tickets. Friends get invitations. Fans are spectators. Friends are partakers. Fans are fickle. True friends are forever.

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” –Hosea 6:3

The Suffering Servant – He Took My Place

As I was pondering the majesty of Jesus and the miracle of His life, death, and resurrection, a little poem came to mind. I jotted it down to share with you. I pray it gives you a renewed revelation of what Jesus did for you and who you are because of the cross! …Based upon Isaiah 53

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The Suffering Servant – He Took My Place©

Jesus, born innocent. From heaven to earth He came.
I, born guilty. With hands and feet blood-stained.

Jesus, without sin. Talked and pointed to God.
I, a sinner. Mocked and ran from God.

Jesus, full of love. Bore my sin for me.
I, needing love. Finally came to Him on bended knee.

Jesus became a man of sorrows. Taking up the cross.
I received the joy of salvation. No longer am I lost.

Jesus paid my ransom. The price of my captivity.
I gained my freedom. His blood became my liberty.

Jesus was pierced, crushed, and chastised.
I became restored, healed, and baptized…

By His Love.

Jesus poured out, so I can be filled up.

Jesus sweat blood, so my tears can be wiped away.

Jesus wore a crown of thorns, so I can inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus cried, “It is finished!”, so I can find peace and rest.

Jesus died, so I can live!

Jesus rose, so I can have the victory!

By:  Michelle Halloran

 


 

Isaiah 53

53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Second Chances and Double Portions

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Why do bad things happen to good people?

Ah… the age old question to which we’ll probably never fully grasp the answer this side of heaven. However, all throughout scripture, God unveils His nature which reflects His intent for our lives. And here’s the bottom line: His will towards us is ALWAYS good!

Let’s consider Job.

Job was a very prosperous, respected man who feared God and shunned evil. But then Satan comes along and strips Job of his wealth, his health, and his family. Note, these are the tactics of the enemy. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy and he used every weapon in his arsenal to try to bring Job down and cause him to curse God.

Did it work? No, it didn’t. Job 2:10 says, “Job did not sin with his lips.” You see, Job recognized the enemy at work. Even though Job cried out in despair and cursed the day he was born, he did not curse God. Instead, Job’s submission to God’s sovereignty allowed him to be found faithful throughout the test. And later in scriptures, James 5:11, Job is praised for his patience and endurance.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. –James 1:2-3

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” — James 5:11

There are times when we need the refiner’s fire. Sure it hurts, but it’s the fire that burns away the chaff of our iniquities. How else can we be found faithful but through testing? The trials in life reveal our need of a Savior. They bring us to the place where Jesus is our only source; where He becomes our all in all.

Even though there is suffering, testing, and persecutions, God’s will towards us is always good. Jack Hayford puts it beautifully saying, “Some things about human suffering God cannot possibly explain to us at the time without destroying the very purpose they were designed to fulfill.”

Therefore, what the enemy means for evil, God purposes for good. Job’s afflictions brought him to the end of his own self-righteousness, self-vindication, and self-wisdom. Not only that, but God also restored the fortunes of Job and He increased all that Job had twofold! [Job 42:10] God gave him double for his trouble!

That’s our God! He brings redemption and restoration to us through the blood of Jesus Christ! Not only does He restore everything back that was lost or stolen, but His restoration brings unmerited increase! Hallelujah!!!

Take note here… Jesus brings freedom and restoration to both the prisoners and the captives. [Isaiah 61:1] A prisoner is bound because of something they did wrong, but a captive is bound because of something evil done to them. Yet, God’s grace doesn’t distinguish between the two. You may have put yourself in bondage or brought the yoke of suffering upon yourself (i.e., a bad business deal, abusing drugs, unforgiveness). He doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter how you got into bondage. The blood of Jesus frees and restores both the prisoner and the captive!!!

“As for you also, because of the blood of MY covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; this very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.” –Zechariah 9:11-12

“Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, the Lord, love justice… And I will faithfully give them their recompense.” –Isaiah 61:7

The word ‘recompense’ means reward and it’s where we get the terminology ‘worker’s compensation’. God tells us that as a child of God, if we get hurt on the job, He will faithfully give us our recompense. Our reward from Him is exceedingly great and everlasting!

In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” Not only does Jesus sustain us through our sufferings and afflictions, but He redeems, rebuilds, restores, repairs, recompenses, and revives!!! He is a God of SECOND CHANCES and DOUBLE PORTIONS! All we must do is submit to His sovereignty and endure until the end.

Hang on… hold tight… He’s got you and He will never let you go! And when you find your footing again, you will find yourself in a new level of glory! From glory to glory! Unmerited increase!

***

Thank you for reading Psalms of Mine. It was nearly one year ago that God told me to start blogging and He would give me a sphere of influence to speak life into. Since then my posts have reached people and countries unimaginable. If you have been blessed by this blog, please share with your own sphere of influence. It is my prayer that people will discover the depths of Jesus’ love for them and find freedom in the truths of His Word! Be blessed!

 

 

He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not…

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He loves me… He loves me not…,” says the wishful little girl dreaming of Prince Charming as she plucks petals aimlessly from a quickly withering flower. (Photo via Flickr Hive Mind)

Sounds sappy, right!?! But how many of us, at one time or another, could attest to doing something similar? HaHa! Go ahead and admit it. You’re such a hopeless romantic!

Well, all cuteness aside, how many of us have done something similar with God? Rather than plucking petals from a flower, we pluck moments from our lives and analyze them. “Oh, I read my bible today! He loves me!” Or, “Oh no, I just lost it in a fit of anger. He loves me not.”

I don’t know about you, but I used to live like this. Ups and downs. Circles and cycles. All based upon my behavior. I viewed God through the lenses of my actions. For years I tried to be a good girl so I could earn God’s love and favor and blessings. The problem was I could never be good enough. I didn’t understand who I was in Christ Jesus and who God the Father was to me.

So, if you’ve ever thought like this, let’s cancel out that lie from the enemy right now! Let’s view God, not through the lenses of our actions, but through the lenses  of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us. God is the author and source of love.

GOD IS LOVE! AND WE ARE THE SUBJECT OF HIS LOVE! WE ARE HIS BELOVED!

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” –1 John 4:9-10

We can see here that it’s not even because we love God or we’ve done something special to earn God’s love. But when we truly realize who God is, then we can know who we are. God demonstrated to us ‘no greater love’ through Jesus Christ. Jesus left the Father and the paradise of heaven to come to the earth to die, in order that we might live. There’s no greater love than this, so look no further.

Look to Jesus! He is our advocate! He intercedes on our behalf! He fights for us! And He’s coming back for His bride, His glorious church! There’s your prince! The Prince of Peace, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

1 John 4 in verse 12 goes on to say, “His love is perfected in us.” The word perfected here means ‘made complete‘. I’m here to tell you that Jerry McGuire stole his famous line straight from the bible. You know the one… “You complete me.” And all our hearts melted and tears came to our eyes when Renee Zellweger replied with, “You had me at hello.”

Listen. God is standing at your heart’s door right now saying to you…

My love is perfected in you. You are My Beloved. As you abide in My love, you abide in Me and I abide in you. Don’t worry about your dirty rags. My love covers a multitude of sins and I will transform your rags into a garment as white as snow. Receive and rest in My love right now as I shower it upon you, cleansing you from the inside out. My love is made complete in you.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world… We love, because He first loved us.” –1 John 15-19

Can you Build Faith Like You Build Muscle?

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Photo via faithandfitness.net

God has allotted to each a measure of faith. –Romans 12:3

The Lord impressed upon me recently an powerful analogy of faith. He showed me faith is like a muscle in both function and development. As I began researching the muscular system and studying God’s Word about faith, I was amazed at the similarities.

God has given each of us a measure of faith. It’s up to us on what we will do with it. The same way we build guns of steel, we can build mountain-moving faith!

Do you want to know how? If so, keep on reading!!! We are going to uncover three functions of faith and discover two keys on how we can build more faith.

FUNCTION

Action

The primary function of all muscles is movement. Likewise, faith causes us to move. 

I recently heard a message preached by Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, and he said prayer is removing the obstacle. Faith is going in and taking possession.  You may have heard the old saying, prayer is asking for rain, but faith is carrying the umbrella. This picture shows us faith is always accompanied by action.

Muscle without movement is dead. In the same manner, faith without action is dead!

“Faith, by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead… Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” –James 2:17, 21-22

Position

The secondary function of our muscular system is the maintenance of posture and body position. Did you know that the muscles responsible for our body’s posture have the greatest endurance of all muscles in the body? Those muscles hold us upright all day and they seldom tire or weaken.

Similarly, it is our faith that holds us steadfast at all times. Our faith grounds us like a deeply rooted tree which will not be shaken when the winds blow. Paul illustrates this perfectly in the verses below.

“Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. ” –Ephesians 4:13-14

Did you notice the call to the body of Christ to be unified in faith and that our stature belongs to the fulness of Jesus Christ? When Jesus fills our stature, nothing can shake us!!! Faith is literally our back bone!

“But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let now that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” –James 1:6-7

Perspiration

The final function of our muscles is the generation of body heat. When we exert ourselves more than normal, the extra muscle contractions increase our body temperature. As a result, with strenuous exercise, we sweat. We perspire in an effort to cool us down.

By the same token, our faith in the name of Jesus stirs a fire within us. It should burn in our hearts just like the prophet Jeremiah spoke of in the scripture below. Our faith should cause us to declare His name everywhere we go. To pour out the living water of Jesus that is within us.

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” –Jeremiah 20:9

GROWTH

Resistance

Skeletal muscle is the most adaptable tissue in the human body. Muscles grow as a result to trauma to the muscle fibers due to intense exercise or resistance training. As part of the repair process, new muscle protein strands are formed causing growth of the muscle.

Resistance is one of the two main keys to building our faith, as well. Matthew Henry, a renown bible commentator,  states, “Afflictions are God’s threshing-instruments, designed to loosen us from the world, to separate between us and our chaff, and to prepare us for use.” Resistance and afflictions teach us to trust God as a good Father. It teaches us to lean on Him and not on our own understanding.

But even though resistance will come, God promises to never give us more than we can bear. Like any good personal trainer, God always proportions the resistance to our strength. It may not feel good in the moment, but our faith pushes us through and we come out much stronger than before.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance.” –James 1:2-3

Repetition

Muscle growth occurs when the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. A single bout of exercise stimulates protein synthesis within 2-4 hours after the workout and may remain elevated for up to 24 hours. However, it takes weeks to months for the muscle growth to physically manifest.

Just like you can’t build guns of steel overnight, you can’t build mountain-moving faith overnight either. Building muscle requires much repetition and building faith requires much repetition. There are many scriptures throughout the Bible that support this, and I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” –Romans 10:17

“And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” –Isaiah 28:13

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” –2 Corinthians 3:18

Do you see all these repetitions? Faith grows by getting God’s Word deep within your soul. Faith grows by searching Jesus out through the scriptures and communicating with Him  daily. Any serious body builder knows it takes commitment, dedication, and an established training routine to be successful. So, if you want to build mountain-moving faith, you must have a similar passion to daily seek the Lord with your whole heart.

When you seek Him with your whole heart, there you will find Him. And there He will begin building precept upon precept, truth upon truth. You see… He has to open your eyes to see and your ears to hear first. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Then He will begin opening blind eyes and deaf ears through you. 

With Jesus All Things are Possible!!!
I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!!!

I don’t know about you, but I am pressing in to Jesus with everything I’ve got! And if you want mountain-moving, miracle-working faith then I encourage you to press in to Jesus with everything you have too! How awful to hear the words, “O ye of little faith.” Let us be a people known for our GREAT faith! 

Luke 17:6 says, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” A mustard seed is tiny, tiny, tiny. Almost the size of the tip of a sharpened pencil. But did you know that the mustard seed, when planted and cultivated, grows into a big tree and ‘that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches‘? (Matthew 13:31-32) God has given us all the seed. It’s up to us on what we will do with it. Now that’s something to think about!

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Photo via http://www.faithasamustardseed.com

Be Blessed!

 

References:

Uncover Your Motivation for Giving

gift-giving
Image via she knows.com

Have you got your shopping done yet?

How many of you have asked or been asked this question in the past week? I’m sure we all have! I think this is the biggest feat we face at Christmas time in today’s society.

Think about it. Gift giving probably consumes more time and energy (and definitely more money) than anything else associated with Christmas. We spend hours searching for parking spaces at the malls, we shop till we drop, then we spend hours wrapping the gifts. But don’t think Walmart, TJ Maxx, or JC Penney invented the gift giving concept. No, they’ve just jumped on the bandwagon and ran it amuck!

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” We love because God first loved us and we give because God first gave. It is God who gave us breath in our nostrils. It is God who gave us eyes to see. Now, with those eyes, look around you. Every good thing as far as the eyes can see came from Him!

But the greatest gift God has ever given us was His Son, Jesus Christ – the Messiah. John 3:16, perhaps the most quoted bible verse of all time, says it beautifully:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Because He gave, we can live! This is what Christmas is all about! 

God is a Giver! He made us in His image and we have His very nature within us; therefore, as Christians, we also are givers! Jesus calls us to pour out what He has poured into us. We are simply vessels delivering the very essence of God into those around us. The more we give, the more He will pour in us! We can never out give God!

But what is the difference between the Christian who is called to give and the Philanthropist who also gives? The answer lies in motivation.

Think for a moment about all the areas where you currently give. Many of us give to the church through our tithes and offerings. Many give to our loved ones. Many drop money in the Salvation Army buckets. Many give to various charities of which we feel passionate about. Now ponder the following questions for a moment and reflect about your own motivation when it comes to giving…

  • Are there conditions associated with your giving?
  • Are there feelings of superiority associated with your giving?
  • Are you giving to bolster your self worth?
  • Are you giving to draw attention to you and the gift you gave?
  • Are you giving because you feel pressured to give?
  • Are you giving to get something in return?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may need to reevaluate your motivation for giving.

Timothy Keller in his book, “Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism,” says, “Christians’ motivation for the alleviation of poverty, inequality, and suffering is agape, the extension of the radical love we have received from God and offer to others… Christian agape motivates benevolence through humbling us, showing us that we are loved sinners, so that spending ourselves for others is not to be based on a sense of superiority but on having been shown our own lack.”

Paul also spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 13:3. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor… but do not have love, I am nothing.”

It is important to note, our giving is not limited to material things. I love the story from Acts 3 where Peter and John healed the lame beggar on their way up to the temple to pray. The man who had been lame from birth sat at the temple gate everyday begging for alms. When he asked Peter and John for money, they replied, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth – walk!” Wow! That’s something money can’t buy! That’s priceless!

Whatever we give, God wants us to give willingly as his heart moves him (Exodus 25:2). Essentially, if your heart isn’t in it, your giving for the wrong reasons. 2 Corinthians 9:7 reiterates this same model of giving. “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

So as you are giving your gifts and contributions this Christmas season and always, be sure your heart is in it! Be sure you are giving cheerfully! Be sure your giving is motivated by love! When we give rightly, we are laying up treasures in heaven!

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” –Matthew 6:19-21