Sunday, May 19, 2019

Your First Step to Victory

Hello Everyone,

Have you ever found yourself facing a task or challenge that just seems impossible to conquer?  I know I’ve faced some mountains in the past that really had me stumped.  It’s not that I wasn’t  up to the hard work or effort required to get on top of things. My dedication was never in question. The trouble was I had no idea where to begin, or what to do, to see the circumstances changed.

If you find yourself in the same predicament now or sometime in the future - I pray this letter will be an encouragement, and provide you with that much needed light at the end of the tunnel.

One morning, not too long ago, I asked the Lord to give me a clear word I could build my faith on and use to pray into a rather hopeless looking situation I was facing.  Since I already knew what outcome I wanted, what I really needed was the first step to navigate my way towards it.  

What I mean by that is, if we know our physical healing, or financial freedom, or seeing our loved one saved, or having our business or ministry succeed is the outcome we are believing for; what we need is the first step that will bring us closer to that outcome becoming our reality.  

What does it look like?

That step comes in the form of a Word from the Lord that resonates with our spirits and gives us the confidence and direction we need to move forward.  That’s what I was looking for, and it’s what I want to share with you today because I believe it may just be the Word you need to hear.  I pray it comes alive in your heart and gives you the jump start to walking in the very thing you’re believing for.

This is the word the Lord led me to: Proverbs 16:3 which says, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”

Now, sometimes the task ahead of us seems so overwhelming and complicated that we simply can’t see the wood for the trees.  So what we really need is a different perspective, one where we can see things clearly from God’s point of view.  In Proverbs 16:3, it says the Lord will cause our thoughts to line up with His will, when we commit and trust our works to Him.  Did you notice the Word says that He will cause our thoughts to be the same as His own?   Let me say that again - He will cause our thoughts to be the same as His own.

Can you imagine the advantage we’ll have in any situation when God’s thoughts govern our decisions?  We wouldn’t be bogged down with our own negative, limited ones.

Wouldn’t you agree that having the God, Who knows all and sees all, as our guide through every challenge is an extremely appealing advantage? Nothing takes Him by surprise and every solution to every problem already exists in Him.  

That’s the first step we need! We need our thoughts to be God’s thoughts to get His perspective if we’re going to see the problem solved! 

How does that happen?

Well, the Bible tells us exactly how it happens.  It says we must commit our ways and works to the Lord.  This means we are to submit our motives and agendas to Him before we act.  When we do, His Holy Spirit has the freedom to influence our thoughts to take on His agenda, giving us a clear direction to follow.  

This reminds me of Psalms 97:11 that says, “Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favour and protection].”

The light this scripture speaks of is God’s clear direction and wisdom revealed to us when we commit our ways to Him.  You see, along with the direction comes His supernatural insight and wisdom to carry the vision through.  

Since it’s birthed and empowered by His Spirit, the next part of the promise in Proverbs 16:3 comes into play; where our work will be established and succeed into something that is marked with eternal significance.  This is really remarkable!

How do we do this?  

Well, in order to commit and trust our works to the Lord, prayer is required.  In Ephesians 6:18 it says, “Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty...”

In the original Greek translation of this scripture, the word prayer here is proseuche.  According to Greek scholar Rick Renner’s notes on this word, it conveys the idea of an intimate, face to face relationship with God.  This is where we surrender and consecrate our own thoughts in exchange for His thoughts and perspective.  The moment we do this, we find another exchange automatically takes place - our worry and confusion is replaced by His peace and joy.  Hopelessness is replaced with hope and our faith is stirred up.  

Now, as we draw near to the Lord, in an intimate face to face encounter, we can expect this exchange to take place.  He will give you His point of view, and clear instruction willingly, without finding fault with you.  Do you remember what James 1:5 says? “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”

wrapped up in this word prayer, we find the purposeful attitude of thanksgiving.  Even before we receive His practical wisdom, and clear direction, or even see His hand move on our behalf; we are to thank Him in advance for it.  That means we are to joyfully, expect that this is exactly what He will do when we come to Him in prayer.

So before you even attempt to take on any task that lies ahead of you, take this first step to victory - go to the Lord in prayer.  Approach Him joyfully, with a thankful attitude, fully expecting an exchange.  Draw near to Him, in an intimate face to face encounter, completely surrendering yourself to Him.  

Thank Him for pouring His wisdom into you, and revealing His perspective to your heart and mind.  As you open your heart to Him, He will give you something to hold onto.  It may be a specific instruction, an idea, a scripture, or an overwhelming sense of peace.  Throughout the day, keep listening and being sensitive to His Spirit, He will direct your thoughts to align with His own.  

It may be sudden, it may also be a process, like gradually fitting pieces of a puzzle together.  As long as you remain attentive and expectant, He will speak to you through so many different ways.  You will begin to hear His wisdom in conversations with people or literature you read, teachings you hear.  And while you take it all in, you will find how He fills you with the inner strength and power you need to take on the task ahead. 

Don’t try navigate through any task alone, remember this first step to commit it to the Lord in prayer, and in the exchange, He will give you all you need to have it established and successful.  And when we take that step of obedience to what He tells us to do, just like Psalm 97:11 says, irrepressible joy will flood our hearts because we are assured of His favour and protection as we follow His lead. 

All my love,

Jenny


Monday, May 13, 2019

Why Doesn’t My Faith Work? Part 6 The Heart of the Matter

Hello everyone,

We’ve come to the final letter discussing different things that would cause our faith to be inoperable.  So far we've come to understand that faith is a spiritual force that has the ability to make every promise from God’s Word a reality in our natural lives.  

We’ve learnt that faith comes in different measures and is increased in our lives as we meditate on the truth of God’s Word.  We discussed how doubt, and un-forgiveness weakens and destroys the faith we have, whereas righteous living and obedience to God’s Word empowers and strengthens it.  Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and get to the heart of things, so to say.

Essentially, in order for our faith to work we must move away from putting our focus on mechanical formulas to placing it on the motives of the heart.

If God’s interests are in the centre of our hearts, there will be no hidden agendas lurking behind what we are believing for.  However, if pleasing ourselves before pleasing Him is truly in our motives James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with asking for more than just our needs to be met, the Bible says the Lord delights in prospering His children, in all things.  1 Timothy 6:17 says we are to put our trust in God Who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Psalms 35:27 says, “Let those who favour my righteous cause and have pleasure in my uprightness shout for joy and be glad and say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, Who takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”  

God really does take pleasure in prospering His children, even more so than an earthly father delights to see his children blessed in all areas of their lives.  The question isn’t whether or not it’s His will and pleasure to see us blessed above and beyond our needs, it’s that those who favour God’s cause and His ways above their own, are the ones who experience His continuous, bountiful provision and blessing.

God is good, and He doesn’t want to see us wanting for any good thing.  Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” . 

When God’s Presence is continuously made welcome in our lives, we will experience pleasures, it’s just a part of His wonderful, generous nature towards us. Look at what Psalms 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

It’s really important we join the dots and see there is a direct link between making the Lord and His ways our primary delight and priority, and living the good, and best life He has for us, right here on earth. 

If we feel our faith is not working, it may be a good time to check our love walk.  

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 

If you remember from the previous letters, according to the Word, loving God actually means putting Him and His interests first place in our lives. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.”  

Now don’t think for a moment that our ability to love God like this is something we can naturally do on our own.  It certainly isn’t, and we can take no credit for it either.  In 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Paul says we are not sufficient in ourselves, nor must we even think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.  

You see, our part is to surrender our will to God’s will, then the Holy Spirit steps in and supernaturally empowers us to live it out, by pouring His all powerful, never failing, unconquerable, supernatural love into our hearts!  Hallelujah!  It’s a supernatural partnership of our surrender and His love.

We can’t love and obey God without the Holy Spirit filling us with God’s own love first.  This is the love that empowers and activates our faith - making it work!  That’s because faith only works by God’s love in us.

1 Corinthians 13 pretty much sums up this truth, it says that unless we are walking in God’s love, not our own - none of His spiritual principles work in our lives as they are intended to work. We can have faith to move mountains, but without God’s love being active in us - that faith can do nothing!

So, let’s round up this series on reasons why our faith doesn’t work.  Even though doubt, and un-forgiveness weakens and destroys faith; and righteous living, and obedience to God’s Word empowers and strengthens it - we could never get this balance right on our own.

It’s our inseparable partnership with the Holy Spirit where we surrender to His love, and allow it to influence and dominate our motives and actions, that causes our faith to work. 

If you are believing God for something His Word has promised you, ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is anything in your life that is preventing your faith from working.  Go back over the letters that cover this topic and set your faith back on course.  

Then, go back to Mark 11:23-24 and meditate on its truth.

“Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].”

The biggest mistake we can make is treating God as a magical gene and His Word as a mechanical formula.  It’s only through an intimate, personal love relationship with the Lord and His Word by the Person of the Holy Spirit that makes our lives fruitful, prosperous and successful, in the midst of the challenges we face.

Until next week, practice surrendering to His love and see your faith soar!

Blessings,


Jenny

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Why Doesn’t My Faith Work? Part 5 - Forgiveness


Hello everyone,

When I started writing about possible reasons for our faith not working, or our prayers not being answered; I really didn’t expect it to take this long.  I was pretty sure we’d cover the reasons in one or two letters.  Yet each week I feel the Holy Spirit prompt me to cover another truth from His Word that shows us how to practically activate our faith for our prayers to become effective.

If anything, I think we’ve come to realise how our faith in God and His Word is not based on a formula, but rather a living, growing, personal love relationship with the Lord.  It’s something  that continuously grows and increases and remains effective as we purposefully engage in fellowship with Him and meditate on His Word.

I want to say there are no short cuts to living in a place of absolute confidence of God’s continuous blessing and provision in every area of our lives.  But that makes it sound like something we have to work really hard at, and at the end of the day take the credit for.  Which isn’t right either is it?

So perhaps the best way I can describe what I believe to be the source of living in this confident, expectation of our faith always working, is by the word relationship.

When we choose to understand the character and ways of God, by spending quality time with Him and in His Word, we are guaranteed to receive rich benefits in return.  When we seek Him as our source, we will certainly find Him to be that and so much more.  The Word says He is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.  

Which makes me think of a slight misconception that has crept into the church concerning using our faith to receive things in this life.  It’s true the Word teaches us that we have the authority to decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for us (Job 22:28).  The truth is, we aren’t told to decide and decree whatever we feel we want or need, we are to decide and decree what is in line with God’s will.  If our confession and prayer is backed by God’s Word - which is His will for our lives - we can confidently be sure it will be established.

But even this type of confidence only comes from a meaningful relationship with the Lord.  If we are content to know Him and walk in His ways only when it’s convenient for us, we limit ourselves to the full benefit of what it is to walk in a continuous, consistent confidence of knowing His provision and blessing in all things - regardless of the circumstances around us.  

Mark 4:24 says, “...The measure[of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure[of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear..”.   That word virtue means a quality of excellence.  Psalms 138:8 says the Lord will perfect that which concerns me.  

In other words, the measure we put in to knowing the Lord, will certainly determine the measure of confidence we have in Him and His ways.  We understand from personal experience that His righteous principles are there for our benefit, and when we follow after them with all our hearts, we will see them keep us in a place of confident expectation!  

One of these righteous principles I want to share with you today is directly related to our faith being activated, and our prayers been answered.   It’s the principle of forgiveness!

Mark 11:25-26 speaks about the danger of harbouring un-forgiveness.  If we are holding onto any disappointment or grudges in our hearts, the Bible makes it extremely clear that our prayers will not be answered.  

As long as we brood on an injustice done, that un-forgiveness forms what the Bible calls a root of bitterness inside us.  

Hebrews 12:15 says, “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favour and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—.”

Bitterness is an extremely dangerous condition that can only be rooted out through repentance for not forgiving those who have either directly or indirectly wronged us.  What do I mean by directly or indirectly?  

If someone has wronged you, we call it a direct offence. An example of this is when someone says something hurtful to you, to harm you personally.  However, if you have taken offence on behalf of someone else been wronged, then it’s an indirect offence.  This is when someone hurt or wronged someone you know, and you are holding on to that anger towards them for doing it.  Which is just as wrong and dangerous as a direct offence.

The Bible doesn’t tell us to be uncaring or unaffected by injustice, or wrong done.  Of course we can be angry, it’s what we do with that anger that is crucial to our well being, and the well being of those around us.

Proverbs 19:18 warns us that indulging our angry resentments will result in ruin.  Matthew 5:22 gives a strong warning against everyone who continues to be angry or harbours malice (enmity of heart) against another person. It speaks of how that escalated anger results in a heart filled with hatred that will not escape hell.   Ruin, a hateful heart, and the fires of hell are reason enough to get rid of offence aren’t they? 

What are we supposed to do with that anger and disappointment?  We are to give it over to the Lord.  We are to cast the burden of that care at His feet, giving Him the chance to heal our wounded souls and deal with the entire situation with justice and mercy.  

There are 2 more reasons why we have to deal deliberately and swiftly with our anger or un-forgiveness towards others, releasing it to Jesus in exchange for His supernatural peace.

Firstly, a harboured offence results in bitterness of heart which poisons our physical bodies.  Now I’m going to get a little technical here by quoting what actually happens inside our bodies when we have allowed bitterness in. I’m quoting portions of my explanation from Dr. Michelle Strydom’s book The Bible From A Medical Perspective Medicine From A Biblical Perspective.

There is an area of the brain that is responsible for converting everything that goes on in your thought life into a physical reaction. It’s called the hypothalamus. It has been medically proven that when we dwell on negative, bitter thoughts, the hypothalamus responds by producing an excess, or too much of a particular hormone called the CRF hormone. 

Now in its normal state, this hormone is good and helps our bodies to deal with stressful situations.  However, since it’s now released in large quantities, it’s chemical structure changes and it shifts from being a good hormone into a poisonous one -  known as the chemical of dread.  It’s this harmful chemical that is released into the bloodstream, and begins a toxic chain of events, all triggered through our refusal to let go of an offence and forgive.

Bitterness is a poisonous mindset that eats away at your soul like battery acid. It not only poisons the mind, it poisons the body with disease too.  

The second reason we must get rid of un-forgiveness, is that it cuts ourselves off from receiving God’s grace and forgiveness (Matthew 6:15). 

A heart that is contaminated by the poison of un-forgiveness becomes bitter and repels the Presence and power of God instead of embracing it.  There is such danger for the child of God who refuses to submit to God’s Word and forgive.  Please believe me when I say there is no wrong done to us, or anyone else that is worth our rejecting the love of God and losing our salvation.

So let’s quickly go over what we’ve learnt from this week’s letter.  We learnt that the measure we put into growing our relationship with the Lord and His Word, is proportional to the measure of confidence we have in Him and His ways.

We also saw how forgiveness is a command for every believer -  for the well being of our minds, bodies, and spiritual lives.  Without it being an active principal in our lives, our faith is inoperable and our prayers cannot be answered.

Next week we’ll look at another key principle that will keep our faith engaged and prayers affective.  Until then, push into your relationship with the Lord, delight yourself in Him and His ways, you’ll see the benefits far surpass your expectations! 

All my love,


Jenny

Monday, April 29, 2019

Why Doesn’t My Faith Work? Part 4 Live Righteously

Hello everyone,

We’ve been answering the question, “Why Doesn’t my faith work?”  We’re investigations why  it sometimes feels like our prayers are not being answered, and we’re not living in the blessing or promises of God in certain areas of our lives.

Deuteronomy 16:20 says, “Follow what is altogether just (uncompromisingly righteous), that you may live and inherit the land which your God gives you.”.  In other words, in today’s context, when we live righteous lives, our prayers will be answered and we will walk in the manifest promises of God.  This is only one of the 87 scriptures that speaks about the benefits and blessing for the uncompromisingly righteous - those who choose to follow wholeheartedly after the Lord and His ways.  

So, living righteously obviously has much to do with us not just getting God’s ear, but moving His hand in our lives too.  Interestingly enough, all 87 scriptures are found in the Old Testament.  When we cross over into the New Testament, these promises remain just as true, except, now they have an added value - they become appropriate and accessible to every born-again child of God - through faith!  

Does that mean we don’t have to focus on living righteous lives in order to receive God’s promises?  Um...No - that’s not what it means at all.  According to the New Covenant we have in Jesus, He has made us righteous through His redeeming blood and given us a new nature by His Own Holy Spirit.  

This means because we have been made righteous, instead of trying to live righteously in our own strength, we are now empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit Who lives inside us.  If you remember, in my previous letter, I spent some time teaching this truth.  Now today, I want to show you how faith in God and His Word is the mark of an uncompromisingly righteous child of God.  Which is wonderful, because we are promised that it’s the uncompromisingly righteous who walk in God’s blessing and favour!

Now do you remember why it’s so important for us to have strong faith?  It’s because the Bible teaches us faith is the way we inherit God’s promises.  So faith and righteous living go hand in hand when it comes to seeing our prayers answered.  

Don’t get confused by the scripture that says our good works are as filthy rags to the Lord (Isaiah 64:6), thinking it means living righteously doesn’t have anything to do with our prayers been answered.  When we read that scripture in context, it has to do with us receiving salvation.  Nothing we ever do will earn us eternal life.  That is a gift that’s received through faith alone.  We are speaking about living righteous lives once we have received the gift of salvation.

Once again, we must remember that for the born-again child of God, faith and righteous living go hand in hand when it comes to seeing our prayers answered.

Let’s take a look at the patriarch of faith, Abraham, for a moment.  Do you remember how God credited Abraham’s unwavering, rock solid faith as righteous?  Take a look at what Romans 4:3 says, “Abraham believed in (trusted in) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living and right standing with God).”  

I particularly love what verse 23 of Romans 4 says, “But [the words], It was credited to him, were written not for his sake alone, But [they were written] for our sakes too. [Righteousness, standing acceptable to God] will be granted and credited to us also who believe in (trust in, adhere to, and rely on) God, Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,...”. 

There it is again, Abraham’s unwavering faith in God was credited to him as righteousness - this speaks of his position in God.  In our new covenant through Christ, we have been made righteous - this is our position in God.

The Bible says that it’s this position we have in God that empowers us to live righteous lives before Him.  It says it’s credited to those who, “trust in, adhere to, and rely on God”.  

Do those words sound like someone who doesn’t love to walk righteously and in obedience to God’s Word?  Of course not!  In fact, here’s a little side note I feel to mention: When people try to convince you that righteous living is not necessary for a born-again believer because there is no consequence to sin anymore, tell them to go read their Bible in context.  

When people are constantly looking for a “loop whole” to condone living in disobedience to God’s Word they are more than likely trying to find an excuse to accommodate sin in their lives they are not willing to give up, and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  If anything, this kind of teaching should sound off very loud alarm bells in your spirit!

If we truly know the character of God, and love Him with all our hearts, there is simply no way of separating our joyful willingness to be obedient to His ways from having faith in Him.  If you love Him, you’ll enjoy being obedient to His ways.  (John 14:21).

Psalms 45:7 echos this very sentiment, “You love righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with God and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.”  

So, to recap what we’ve covered in today’s letter, we’ve continued to lay the foundational truth that loving and having faith in God is the mark of someone who is joyfully obedient to His ways.    What does that have to do with are prayers being answered - there are more than enough scriptures supporting the fact that faith and righteous living cause us to walk in an open heaven where God’s promises become our reality.  

Next week, I want to speak about a key principle of righteous living, found in God’s Word, that will keep our faith activated making our prayers effective.  

All my love,

Jenny