Archive for February 2020

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory." ~ Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Why we need faith in God. 

Gen. 4:9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” 13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

Outside of God's plan, people look like Cain, who disobeyed God and did things his way, “A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”Cain recognized his condition, “I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth.”

Fugitive Hebrew definition: “to quiver, shake, reel, stagger, wander, move, sift, waver, tremble”

Vagabond Hebrew definition: “to move to and fro, wander aimlessly, take flight, run away

What is faith? Faith has two definitions: 

  1. Passive Faith or faith as a brand: our doctrine or beliefs, such as Christian faith, Catholic faith, etc.
  2. Active Faith or faith as a lifestyle in Christ: Acting on God's promise and word. Jesus is the word. 

Matthew 9:2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

Certainly, you must have "faith" in order to "faith." If you don't have a relationship with Christ and a firm foundation in correct Bible doctrine, you can't have active faith. 

To win a football game, you just can't firs focus on catching the long pass for a touchdown. You begin with training, practice, learning all the plays, being in top condition. (Show Patrick Mahomes 3 and 15 play)

People want to God to honor their prayers and faith, but have no foundation with Christ and in the Word. 

 

The prayer of faith is not magic like waving your hand a saying "Abracadabra" or "Simon Says."

When the Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," it is not talking about belonging to a faith, as in a church or religion. The text is not saying "Without being a member of XYZ church it is impossible to please God."

From time to time, we heard statements like "Faith leaders" gathered. That's a reference to Christians, Jews, and Muslims and getting together. Such gathers can serve a purpose.

However, what we need is leaders living by faith, following Christ, and doing the Word.

The second half of the verse explains it, "because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

How Does Faith Come?

Rom. 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

How does (active) faith come and grow?

Passive Listening • Passive means, “not active, but acted upon.” Passive people are generally sluggish and disengaged—believing that “whatever will be, will be.” Passive listeners only “perk up” when something is said that has the promise of easing their burdens or bringing more comfort into their lives.

A passive listener is the kind of person who ignores the importance of changing the oil in his automobile every 3000-5000 miles. Passive listeners tend to take action when trouble arises. Passive listeners tend not to act until they are acted upon. Passive listeners labor under a great number of self-inflicted problems.

Convenient Listening • Convenient is defined as, “Situated within easy reach.” The convenient listener only applies his heart to hear when the information or task is within easy reach. The best things in life are not usually within easy reach. We should not live with a sense of entitlement. We should live with a sense of purpose and responsibility. 

Jesus says something that sounds strange on first hearing, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (John 11:12). He was not talking about physical violence in this text. He was talking about being willing to take action. We call it being “proactive.” Convenient listeners do not embrace this approach to life.

Critical Listening • The word “critical” is defined as, “exhibiting the spirit of one who looks for and points out faults and defects.” Communication often fails because of critical listening that is more concerned about finding faults than in understanding the content and meaning of the message. Critical listeners are not motivated to learn and grow. Critical listeners often develop a self-righteous attitude that seeks to obtain or maintain a superior position. At the same time, such persons are often frustrated with others for not listening to them. Jesus addressed this condition:

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you and why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-3)

Active Listening • Active listening allows us to hear without the limitations of passive, convenient, or critical listening. This should be our goal. “Active” is defined as: “Not waiting to be acted upon. Prepared to apply what is heard and act on it—regardless of the circumstances.”

James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

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Prisoners of Hope
Committed to Seeing the Best

Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’ God Will Save His People 11  “As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12  Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

There is a certain amount of pain that comes with simply living in this world. People become distracted by the pain, noise and clutter of this world. People get caught up in carnal pursuits, which becomes their prison. There are all kinds of prisons. People who commit crimes, and some falsely accused, end up in literal prison. Some are prisoners to their own bad practices, such as lying. Some are prisoners to unforgiveness or bitterness.

Everyone is a prisoner, So you may as well be a Prisoner of Hope.

Paul and Silas understood that they were already prisoners of hope, even before they were put in jail. That’s why that began to sing praises. They were doing what they always did!

Prisoners of hope never stop seeing the best. Prisoners of hope cannot be bound by prisons of this world or captive circumstances created by people.

Acts 16:24-26 (New King James Version)
24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Prisoners of hope are believers in Jesus who recognize the limitation in their circumstances, but refuse to be limited in their expectations and actions. We have faith in a God who can do anything.

Prisoners of hope...

  1. Focus on the promises of God more than focusing on the conditions and circumstances around us.
  2. Understand that the world is full of darkness, but know that they are full of light.
  3. Keep their love warm even in a cold world.
  4. Are not distracted from serving God by the pressures and activities of this world.
  5. Have high expectations of good things to come.
  6. Follow the example of our father of faith, Abraham, who hoped against hope and fulfilled God’s purpose in his life. Like Paul and Silas
  7. Have hope as a refuge and anchor for our souls. We are steady and steadfast in all conditions because Jesus has already entered the presence of God for us.

 

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