Moving a Faith of Condition to a Faith That Breathes


Have you heard of the phrase, “putting the cart before the horse”? To do things out-of-order seems pretty ludicrous to us. I mean think about it, would you put your tennis shoe on then your sock? Or would you eat off the dirty dish then wash it? Seems so silly, yet we do this all the time. No, we don’t eat off dirty dishes and we don’t put on shoes before our socks. And I doubt any of us are riding horse and buggy these days; but we do put the cart before the horse at times.

Jesus is talking to His disciples and teaching them to, “not worry about their life, what they will eat or drink, or about their body, what they will wear” (Matthew 6:25). He encourages them to look at the birds of the air that they do not sow or reap or store away in barns…and why is that? They trust our Heavenly Father to feed them. Jesus goes on to say that the most important thing we can do is “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to us as well” (Matthew 6:33).

But if we are honest, we often worry first and then try to trust God second. We can let our fears, our worries, our hurts, our anger, bitterness, and trials overtake us; hence we put the cart before the horse. What results are oppression, depression and even regression in our faith. We create a monster of trials all because we put our trust in God behind us and the trouble before us. We lead our lives with pain instead of leading our lives with power.

Jesus encourages us to be consumed by God’s love. “Be still and know that I am God”, our Heavenly Father tells us. God’s power is enough for whatever we face. His grace is more than we can imagine. His provision is exactly what we need. His forgiveness is for whoever wants it. Seeking His Presence and only His Presence should be our aim. When we trust the Lord of Life and the King of Kings and allow ourselves to be immersed in His truth and His indescribable power, we win. God will either right the wrong in our life or give us the courage and peace to walk through our troubles to the other side.

I’m learning a great deal these days about my faith. But even more about how much of the Holy Spirit God wants to give me. I just need to ask, and need to trust. You see, faith is not a condition it’s a movement. Faith makes things happen. It gets the attention of our Father in Heaven. It moves great obstacles out of our way. Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt….you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21-22). Those are some strong and promising words we hear from our Savior! This kind of faith breathes, moves, and influences miracles in our life.

Let us stop the cycle of putting” this cart” of today’s problems before “the horse,” the power of our God. Let us abandon ourselves to total faith in Jesus, God’s Son, who CAN do all things if we just believe Him.

 

Five Assurances We Have in the Face of Offense


It seems that our culture is steeped in offense. So many people are offended by the simplest things, especially when their opinion or belief is challenged. It’s as if people are looking for a reason to be angry or for a fight. My Christian friend, this horrible state is a hindrance to experiencing all that Jesus has for our lives. Our offenses can stifle our own ability to encounter the living God. Yes, I understand that we are offended by culture. But offense is really a reflection of fear. It’s a move toward doubting what God can do in our life. So we fight in hopes to remove our fear. This only causes more fear. There is a better way. Jesus was not moved by offense. He was moved by five assurances: His identity, His power, His mission, His victory and His hope.  We can have these same assurances; they will keep offense from having power over us.

1.) Assurance of His Identity. Jesus knew full well who He was. He also rested in the love of His Father. God said of His Son, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight.” (Matthew 12:18). God says to you and me, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3). Unfailing is our key word. God does not fail at love. We can be assured of His love for us. His love was demonstrated in death and power; from the cross to the grave to the resurrection. There is no reason to doubt or fear. Our children are an example of this. If they know that their mom and dad love them, they can walk out the door and conquer the world, because they are assured of their parent’s love. Assurance in this love is confidence in the face of trial.

2.) Assurance of His Power. Jesus was confident in the power of the Holy Spirit. God put His Spirit on Jesus so that He could proclaim justice to the nations. (Matthew 12:18). Jesus was not taken aback by the evil He came into contact with. His power was above it. If you call yourself a believer in Christ, then that power is yours too. You are not left ill equipped for this life. You are empowered by Power on High. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that can keep you from falling in a pit of sin, defeat and offense. It is the same power that can make victory a reality. Assurance of Holy Spirit power is forceful living in the face of evil.

3.) Assurance of His mission. Because Jesus was focused on one mission and one purpose, nothing deterred Him. Not even ridicule, accusations or roadblocks. He pressed through and went about His Father’s business. Jesus didn’t quarrel or make a fuss (Matthew 12:19). He simply moved with the Spirit of God. He looked for the person of peace and healed the ones with great faith. While offensive people didn’t bother him, what did were people who lacked faith in Him. For example, Jesus visited his home town; He taught with authority and great wisdom. His own people were amazed, but they were not people of faith. They took offense to Jesus because they were not disciples of the kingdom of heaven. They could not bring out the new treasures, they only knew the old. They saw Jesus in the natural not the spiritual. They saw him as an equal not Lord. Therefore they were not able to embrace and experience the miracles of Jesus in their life. Jesus chose not to do miracles for them because of their lack of faith. They defeated their own spiritual growth. Sadly, it was their offense, the chip on their shoulder that unlocked the door to disbelief. When we walk in disbelief, we walk a mediocre life. Our mission is compromised. We don’t even experience thirty fold fruit. We produce no fruit. To lack faith is to lose our mission. On the other hand, assurance of our mission give us faith in the outcome. 

4.) Assurance of the Victory. Jesus was not a man of doubt. He was assured that justice would come through Him. He brought the victory. He was the victory. He knew that His mission would conquer sin, death and the prince of this air. He did not allow the evil tactics of people get his feathers in a ruffle. He maintained control and focus and fortitude. We need to adopt the same mindset as Christ.  Don’t let any ruling of the land, or quarreling of the culture get you off track. While we are not finished on this earth, Jesus still plans to finish His mission; once and for all He plans to remove the weeds from the wheat. For a season, the wicked and the righteous will grow together, but only until the harvest. At that time Jesus will tell the harvesters (the angels) to tie the weeds (the wicked) in bundles to be burned; then He will tell the harvesters to gather the wheat (the righteous) and bring them into His barn, His glory, His eternal salvation. (Matthew 13:30). Victory belongs to those who live with certainty. When we live in the Victory (Jesus Christ), we carry out great things for God. Our mission produces fruit beyond what we imagine or expect. Assurance in the perspective of Heaven gives us power over the darkness on the earth.

5.) Assurance of Hope. Jesus brought hope to the helpless, help to the weak, healing to the nations. He is full of expectation, promise and faithfulness. We can feel His hope in His words. That’s why when we read His words in the gospels we are touched by powers of hope. Jesus knew without a shred of doubt that His victory would not only demolish evil, it would move people to hope in Him and eternal hope in salvation. Jesus ate with the sinners; He did not compromise with their sinful ways. No, He brought His Presence to the table. Because His Presence is filled with hope, the broken, the destitute and the sinful found new life. Mary was freed from seven demons; Zacchaeus was moved to give back what he stole four times over; a centurion demonstrates great faith; and out of ten lepers who Jesus healed, one returns to thank Him. There are many stories like this in scripture but there are even more in our day. Assurance of hope gives us the power to change.

There is no need to live with a chip on our shoulder. Don’t let the evil and the rulings of this land deter you from the mission God has you on. There is no need to shout from the streets, or quarrel with culture, there is only a need for faith in the One Who called you. Trust His truth, His timing, and stay the course. Love your enemies, bring forth the truth and seek the person of peace who will receive God’s hope. Know this, there is always breakthrough for every trial we face. We must learn to live in the same assurances of Christ. We have identity in God’s love, we possess God’s power, we have a clear mission, we have victory on our side, and we have hope that does not disappoint.

Related readings: Matthew 12:18-21; 13:24-30; 36-43; 13:53-58