What Has Your God Done For You Lately?
Accept God's Gift
We Are Rising
The Great Supplier
No Respecter of Persons
He Did It For US
A Time and a Season
How to Live An Effective Christian Life
Faith in Adversity
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Amplified Bible)
If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (NLT)
Faith is a constant theme in scripture. We need faith for everything. Our salvation is based on faith. Our relationship with the Father is based on faith. Our whole existence is based on faith! Faith starts small, but it increases as we mature. Or at least it should. How does our faith grow? I’ve learned that adversity is the key to developing and growing our faith.
Someone may ask “What is adversity?” Here are some definitions: A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune; A calamitous event. Adverse fortune or fate; a condition or state marked by misfortune, calamity, distress, or unhappiness.
Faith can be compared to a muscle. It must be used to produce good results. If a muscle is not used it becomes weak and useless. Faith works the same way. If it is not used it dies. James writes So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17) The intent of faith is to bring forth something good. Faith is an action word. Faith is not passive. It must be worked.
So, how do we work our faith in times of adversity? We work our faith by our actions when we face difficulties, and also what we speak to our trouble. No matter who we are, afflictions will come our way. But working our faith through times of adversity, will produce the good that we desire.
Consider the story of Elijah and the woman who was a widow. Israel had fallen into great iniquity which King Ahab and his wife Jezebel led. Consequently, no rain fell for three and a half years causing a severe famine. Because there was no rain, no crops grew. Everybody suffered - even the prophet Elijah. So, God commanded him to go to where he could find food. But where? He sent him to a woman whose circumstance seemed to be just as bad as his was or even worse.
She was gathering sticks to make a fire for her last meal when they met. He asked her of all things for a bit of water. Surprisingly, she didn’t fret or find this an inconvenience. After all, there was so little water available. She simply complied. But when he asked for a little bread as well, the woman resisted. She told him she had just enough oil and cornmeal left for one last meal for her and her son. Afterward, she was expecting death.
However, the prophet gave her words of comfort. But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” (1 Kings 17:13-14)
My brothers and sisters, this is where faith goes to work. The woman accepted the prophet’s words and did what he instructed. The good that came out of this is that “…. she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah. (1 Kings 17:15-16)
It is in times of adversity that we work our faith to produce good results. Faith doesn’t grow when everything is well. Faith grows through adversity. It makes us strong. Through our adversity, we create a testimony to God’s goodness towards us in the midst of storms.
Don’t give up when things get tough. Strengthen your faith muscles, and get the good that God has waiting for you.
MAKE PRAYER YOUR PRACTICE
However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray. (Luke 5:16)
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. (Luke 6:12)
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So, don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:1-8)
One of the things that I love most about Luke’s account of the gospel is the attention that he gives to Jesus’ prayer life. More than any of the other gospel accounts, Luke depicts the prayer life of Christ most vividly. Throughout his narrative, we are continually reminded that Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father. Luke writes of so many examples of Christ’s prayer life that you just can’t miss it. I believe Luke also lived his life praying. He made prayer his practice as well.
The word practice is both a noun and a verb. When used as a noun it means repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
When used as a verb it means to perform (an activity) or exercise (skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. To carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
As believers, we ought to be doing both as we pray. We need to make praying our practice so that we will acquire or maintain proficiency in our prayer life. We also need to be praying continually so that we develop and maintain a strong and effective prayer life.
Many believers throw out the word pray/prayer so lightly. Some don’t pray at all because they feel there’s a certain skill that’s involved. Thus, they feel their prayers will not be answered. Others pray every now and then. But then there are those who actually make prayer their practice. These believers want to hear from God. They desire to be in God’s presence. They long for God. David describes these believers in the book of Psalms, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2). These believers are not always asking God for something, but are seeking God for who He is. They love on God when they pray. They want to hear from Hi m. They know that God hears and answers their prayers.
How would you evaluate your prayer life? Is prayer an exciting part of your relationship with your Father? Is prayer your practice? Is it your norm? If it isn’t, meditate on the above scriptures as Luke takes us on the journey of how Christ lived. Ask Him like the early disciples to teach you how to pray. I promise you there is nothing compared to loving on our God in prayer.
Making prayer our practice is deeper than asking God to do something for us. It’s time well spent in our spiritual, emotional, and physical development. It draws us closer to God. Prayer allows us to experience God’s blessings and favor throughout our daily activities. Those who make prayer their practice quickly recognize when God is at work. They see things with a spiritual eye, and quickly thank Him. They continue to strengthen their faith by making prayer the norm in their lives.
Today I challenge you that if you are not already making prayer your practice that you begin to participate more in praying, and develop an active prayer life. Once you do this, you will not be able to exist without spending time with your Father. Prayer will be your lifeline to God.
SPEAK THE INVISIBLE!
As I was praying the other day, I began meditating on God (Christ) being the creator of the universe. The scriptures say that God created everything there is. There is nothing that exists that He did not make. (John 1:3) How did God make something when there was nothing visible with which to make it? What was the process that God used to not only create the world but to heal the sick, deliver people from demons, and perform numerous other miracles?
God’s first act of creation was light. The book of Genesis describes the condition of the world before the creative process. When God began creating[a] the heavens and the earth, the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass,* with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors.* (Genesis 1:1-2) (Living Bible) From these verses, we see there was nothing alive or dead. It was just a shapeless mass of water and darkness.
But, in God’s mind, He saw light. He envisioned light. He thought light. He thought it into existence. So, the next thing He did was speak “light”. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And light appeared. And God was pleased with it and divided the light from the darkness. He called the light “daytime,” and the darkness “nighttime.” Together they formed the first day. (Genesis 1:3-5)
Scripture teaches us that faith is the key ingredient to realizing and experiencing what we desire. The author of the book of Hebrews pens these words, “Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.” (Heb. 11:3)
Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree one day. The tree had leaves on it. This indicated there should have been figs. But there were none. Jesus commanded the tree not to bear fruit anymore. Jesus and His disciples walked by that same tree the next morning. To the disciples’ amazement, the tree was withered from the roots on up. But Jesus said “Let the faith of God be in you! Listen to the truth I speak to you: Whoever says to this mountain with great faith and does not doubt, ‘Mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the midst of the sea,’ and believes that what he says will happen, it will be done. (Mark 11:22-23)
The truth is that our words bring forth the reality that we see in the invisible. To see our thoughts become visible, we must speak the words that express those thoughts by faith. Then we will experience what we see. That’s why Christ was never moved or even afraid by the physical condition of the thousands of people He healed. He didn’t see them weak or sick or maimed or deaf or dumb. The demons did not intimidate Him. He saw them in the complete opposite. What He imagined He spoke. What He said became visible. By faith. What’s more, there is no account anywhere that when Jesus performed a miracle, it did not happen. Faith always works.
This is the God faith that Christ was trying to teach His disciples. It is this kind of faith that we need in the Body of Christ today. Let’s start seeing something we want to experience. Speak that thing in faith. And unless the scriptures are not true, we can expect whatever it is to become visible in our lives.
A Time to Run
Genesis 39:6-12 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
I guess there will always be discussions about how difficult it can be to escape the act of yielding to sin. But I’m not focusing on sin in general. Right now, I’m addressing that particular sin that satan throws at you fast and often. Yes, the one particular sin that just won’t leave and tries your patience time after time after time.
There is no need to disown it or hide from it. Every believer has something he or she must remain in prayer and humility about. Every believer deals with something - whether we care to admit it or not. Yes, that challenge keeps us in prayer and on our knees in order to remain steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the Lord’s work.
Such was the case for Joseph in Genesis 39. He was blessed to be in charge of Poptiphar’s estate - everything Potiphar owned and acquired. Joseph had free access to the house and everything in it - except Potophar’s wife. She noticed he was well built and handsome. She kept both lustful eyes on him and then made a command. In verse 7 she exclaimed, “Come to bed with me!” She did not ask him to come to bed with her. She gave a direct command/order.
Joseph refused and verbalized how God had tremendously blessed him and given him favor to oversee and be accountable to everything under his master’s command. Notice he did not give the praise and credit to Potiphar, but the glory went to God. In verse 9 he said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Even after that declaration Potiphar’s wife continued to chase and tempt him. One day she grabbed him by his coat/jacket and once again gave the command “Come to bed with me!” But this time Joseph not only refused - he also ran!
Yes, sometimes we are faced with the avenue of escape called “running.” We must always be prepared for the time to run. We already know we cannot defeat satan using our own power, but we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Victory over sin comes by running from the person or temptation and running to the Rock. Jesus is that Rock!