Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Four Ways God Fortifies Our Faith Part II


"For a little while you have had to suffer great and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7

This week we are talking about faith, making our faith stronger, and four ways God fortifies our faith.

1.    By Providing for our Problems 
Nothing ever happens by accident in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything is Father-filtered.  Nothing comes into your life if you’re a child of God, without God’s permission. It couldn’t happen without God’s approval.

God’s permission brings God’s protection, provision and purpose. Romans 8:28 says And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

God may negotiate my present failure for my future success (or His success). But, the real tests of our faith are sometimes internal (doubt, depression, despair), not circumstantial. 

Sometimes God has to custom-make a problem to grow our faith.
Jonah had a custom made problem.  It just swallowed him up and got his attention.  Sometimes God creates problems that swallow you up.  You say, "There’s nothing else to look at except the Lord."
Whatever is the reason for the problems you are experiencing they shouldn’t discourage you, but rather encourage you because they show that God is not through with you yet and still wants to use you to fulfill His plan and purpose.  It isn’t uncommon for us to go through many kinds of problems or storms in our lives that test your faith.  In fact, much of the book of James was written to teach us this.  “My friends be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested.” 3. James 1:2-3 (CEV)

Testing comes from God to help me to STAND.  Trials come from Satan to cause me to FALL.  If the problem you are experiencing is in order to test your faith, God is able to give you the victory through it. 

The secret is surrender to God’s hand when we are facing problems in our lives.  It is not a matter of trying to work it out on our own.  Instead of fighting against God and the circumstances, we need to turn our problem over to Him and learn to trust in His strength and wisdom.  When you are going through a problem you need to change matters of CARE into matters of PRAYER.  In fact, here is a basic rule to live by.  If it is big enough to WORRY about, it’s big enough to PRAY about.
God uses these kinds of things to test our faith.  If life were easy, then it wouldn’t require any faith. If you could feel God all the time, then you’d just go by your feelings.  Sometimes God removes the feeling of His presence just so you learn to trust Him in the difficulties.  We may learn something about how strong we are in the fire, but what God really desires is for us to learn about Him.

What are you learning from the problems you are experiencing in your life?  One very important lesson that we can all learn from this storm is:  More can be accomplished in one moment in God’s will than hours of intense labor outside of God’s will

Scripture to Claim:
"I have refined you though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
Isaiah 48:10

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Four Ways God Fortifies Our Faith


This week we are talking about faith and making our faith stronger.  For the next four days we will learn four ways God fortifies our faith.

1.    By Testing Our Obedience
God asks us to do things that are seemingly impossible or illogical to our way of thinking.

Examples of Faith-Building Testing:
The Manna Provision for Life - "The people are to go out each day and gather enough manna for that day. In that way I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions.” Exodus 16:4.  Manna, you might remember, was the bread-like substance that fell from the sky; flaky stuff.  They had to go out each morning to gather enough to eat.  God said, “Here’s the command.”  There were all kinds of reasons that command didn’t make sense. "Just enough for today? Why can’t I gather enough for the week? It’d be more convenient that way. It’d be a better use of my time that way.  What if I get sick tomorrow?  What if I trip and hit my head on a rock and a snake bites me?  There are all kinds of reasons I need at least two days’ worth, God."

We find it difficult to be satisfied with enough for today.  We keep asking, “Am I going to be OK?” instead of “Am I OK?”  My question for you is not, “Do you have enough for tomorrow?” but, “Has God taken care of today?” "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

AbrahamPurpose in Life - Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3 

You remember his story. He was seventy-five years old when God said, “I want to take you out somewhere to make a difference in this world. I want you to go somewhere where you’ve never been, you don’t even know where you’re going.”  Abraham said, "Where exactly am I going?" God replied, "I’ll tell you." Abraham asks, "How am I going to get there?" God replies again, “I’ll show you.” Still uncertain, Abraham asks, "How will I know when I get there?" God’s answer was, “When you get there I’ll tell you that you’ve gotten there.”  How would you do with a command like that? We might say, "God, could I Google that first? I’d like to check it out. I’d like to get on MapQuest and get a point by point direction. Then I’’ll be ready to follow Your directions."  So the Bible says in Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham obeyed and went."  We begin to doubt or question when we think God should or should not have done something; we may even question the way He should do it.

Elijah Proof of Faith - The word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there." So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.  I Kings 17:2-7 Elijah's ministry was inaugurated for ONE DAY, then shut down for 3 1/2 years. This is not what Elijah expected, but God knew it to be necessary.  God knew that Elijah's faith was genuine. He wanted Elijah to know that his faith was genuine.  Elijah was sent to a place of loneliness, silence and inactivity, but God promised to sustain him for the duration of that period.  The promise accompanied the command.  Elijah was only required TO ACT on God’s promise with a grateful expectation of the promised supply.  In the end, the brook dried up and God moved him on to the next person He wanted to bless. 

These are just a few examples of many that God has provided for us to demonstrate faith building testing.  It takes great courage to step out on faith as these people did.  We cling to what we’ve got because we are fearful of losing it.  God wants us to let go so He can bless us.  He desires to take us to a new place with a greater blessing!

Scripture to Claim:
…And this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.  2 John 1:6

Monday, July 29, 2013

Building our faith


Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6

The way we come to know God is through the exercise of faith.  The way we develop our spiritual strength and knowledge of God is the same.  The way we began is the way we continue.

For some, after receiving Christ by grace through faith, they begin the futile practice of trying to please God and grow through religion.  God is not pleased with religion in place of faith.  As the verse above says, God wants to see our faith, not just religion.  You can do the right thing and still not please God because you’re not doing it in faith…you are in control and not God.

Paul tells the Corinthians they should not be afraid to test their salvation faith. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?  2 Corinthians 13:5

However, when we test ourselves, we tend to compare ourselves to others. What good does it do to test against a false standard – the standard of religion?  A danger is that I compare myself against that standard and I come out feeling o.k.  I feel good about myself in comparison to others.  It is the test of the Pharisee, “Thank you God that I am not like that other man.”

The real test of faith comes separate from religious duty, service or actions.
A faith test occurs when our concept of God and the reality of our lives conflict and we can’t understand why something isn’t happening.  If we had our way, our faith would never be tested…but God would never have the chance to prove that faith worked.  Our declarations of faith would ring hollow.  We would simply be echoing empty religious clich├ęs learned in church and Sunday School.
No skeptic is ever convinced or won over by that kind of faith.

In Luke 17:5 the apostles said to Jesus, "Lord increase our faith." How do we do that? Here’s the secret: God builds our faith by testing it.

·      Faith is like a muscle; when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops. Our faith develops as it is tested.  We don't develop our faith just sitting on our blessed assurance in church!
·      Job says the same thing speaking from experience in Job 7:17-18 "What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment."

So, here is an eye-opener…God tests us every moment of our lives!  The way we live our lives is under His watchful eye.  Why?  Job says it is because we are so important to Him
The testing of our faith is more about who God is than who we are.

God’s desire is that we know Him and experience His goodness in our lives.  The positive end of a test of faith may not be a change in circumstance, but a greater knowledge of God and His love and power in our lives.

Scripture to Claim:
And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. March 11:22-24

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Precious Than Gold Part II


Psalm 19:7-11
·      Understanding the Bible begins with reading the Bible.
·      We must rid ourselves of the idea that the Bible is a dark and difficult book.
The History of the Bible
The Bible is a collection of 66 books.

·      39 books in the Old Testament

·      27 books in the New Testament are the later ones. 

·      It was written over 1600 years by some 36 authors. The earliest Old Testament writings were set down nearly 3500 years ago.

·      Early manuscripts were written out entirely in longhand by copyists called scribes.

·      The Old Testament manuscripts were originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic without vowels and or punctuation.

·      The New Testament was written in Greek during the last half of the first century A.D.

Bible Reading Helps

I. Use a Modern Translation

II. Read the Bible Regularly

III. Read the Bible Prayerfully

IV. Read the Bible Carefully

V.  Read the Bible Obediently

Psalm 19:7-11
Revelation
Quality
Effect
Law
Perfect
Restoring
Testimony
Sure
Wisdom
Statutes
Right
Rejoicing
Commandments
Pure
Guidance
Fear
Clean
Enduring
Judgments
True & Righteous
Fairness

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