Monday, February 28, 2005

Prosperity in All Things

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
John was not merely being cordial in this statement. He was the most contemplative of the Gospel writers, and did not use his words loosely. He meant exactly what he said.

Nor should we assume that John’s words have no bearing on the will of God for his people. For John was writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Everything he wrote in his epistles accurately represents the will of God for His people.

Nor should we assume that this prosperity was intended only for Gaius, the recipient of John’s letter. John did not include this prayer in all his epistles. He opens with it here by the leading of the Holy Spirit, no doubt, and probably because this represented a particular need in Gaius’ life.

God is not respecter of persons. That is, He does not do for one what He is not willing to do for all who come to Him. If God wanted Gaius to prosper in all things, and be in health, just as his soul prospered, then that is what God desires for you and me, as well.

God wants us to prosper in all things. This is because everything is a spiritual issue. There is not one single thing in the universe that does not relate to the spiritual dimension. That is because everything in the world comes forth from the spirit. The heavens and the earth were created by God, who is Spirit, and they were created by the Word of His mouth.

So, prosperity in every area of life is a matter of the spirit. That’s why John said, “That you may prosper and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” If you are not prospering in your soul, the basis for prosperity in every other area of your life has not yet been established within you. First things first. Attend to the matters of the heart, your inner man, you spirit being, and then you will be prepared for prosperity in everything else.

How is your soul? Are you walking in faith, which expresses itself through love? Have you forgiven all those who have wronged you? Forgiveness is a requirement of both love and faith. Are you learning how to hear the voice of the Father and obey Him quickly? Is your heart troubled, or are you trusting God to take care of you in all things? My prayer for you today is that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Spiritual Substance

Substance is the underlying reality of a thing. Without substance, a thing does not exist. The underlying reality of the universe is spiritual in nature. God, who created the heavens and the earth, is spirit. The natural realm comes forth from the spiritual. Without the spiritual, the physical realm would cease to be. Spiritual substance is the underlying reality of everything. Understanding this helps us begin to grasp how Jesus was able to do the things He did:
  • When Jesus turned water into wine, He was dealing with spiritual substance, the underlying reality of both water and wine.
  • When He multiplied the loaves and the fish to feed the five thousand, He was working with the spiritual substance underlying the bread and meat.
  • When He walked on water, He was walking on spiritual substance, the underlying reality of water.
  • When the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was laying hold of the spiritual substance, the underlying reality of her wholeness. It manifest in the natural, for Jesus felt power go out of Him and the woman immediately experienced her healing.
Let’s go a little further. The spiritual substance which forms the foundation for everything is actually the Word of God. The Bible says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Now we can understand more of how Jesus did what He did:
  • When He commanded the waves and the wind, He was speaking the Word of God, which causes things to be.
  • When He commanded the fig tree, He was speaking the Word, dealing with the spiritual substance which was the underlying reality of that tree.
  • When He commanded demons to go, He was exercising the spiritual substance of the Word of God.
  • When He taught the disciples to speak to the mountain, He was instructing them in how to lay hold of the spiritual substance, the underlying reality of the mountain.
We need to change our thinking to realize that everything that exists is spiritual at its foundation — or else it could not exist at all. Food, money, houses, cars, the human body — these may all be physical concerns, but they are also spiritually-based.

Now, we can deal with all these things in the natural, but then we are only approaching them at a superficial level. We may have a little success this way, but it is limited, because we are only dealing with symptoms.

Because these things are all spiritually-based, the most effective way to deal with them, at the foundational level, is with the Word of God, the spiritual reality which lays under everything in the universe.

What does the Word of God say about all these things? That’s the real question we need to ask, and then line ourselves up with that. Listen to the Word of God, which cause faith to come, then proclaim it to the circumstances in your life. That’s getting down to the root of things, where true change can happen. For the facts of the world must line up with the truth of the Word.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Algebra of Casting Out Fear

Evil is the lack of Good.
Fear is the lack of Faith.
Hate is the lack of Love.

Faith works through Love.
Fear works through hate.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of Love (for God is Love).
Fear comes by hearing the word of hate (the lies of the devil).

No wonder, then, that perfected love casts out fear! (1 John 4:18)

Deal with fear by meditating on the Word of Love. Faith will come; fear will go.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hearing the Word of Love

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)

God is Love. (1 John 4:8)
Since God is Love, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God, we may just as well say that faith comes by hearing the Word of Love. No wonder, then, that faith expresses itself through love (Galatians 5:6). Call it The Algebra of Faith. The greater your love, the greater your faith.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Faith Brings Expectation

Expectation is the sign that your faith has been activated. The Bible says that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). The word for “hope” means to have an anticipation, a positive expectation.

Jesus also related faith to expectation. He said, “Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23).

If you get down and pray about something, then get up and have no expectation that it is going to happen, then you have not activated your faith for it. If you pray and then say, “Well, I guess we’ll see what happens,” you don’t have a living expectation, and you have not yet released your faith into the situation.

Faith is the substance, the underlying reality of the things you expect to see come to pass. Expectation is the evidence that your faith has been activated as is powerfully at work to bring it to pass.

Faith is Word-based. It comes by hearing the Word of God, and God’s Word is completely trustworthy. So when we take God at His Word, and release it into our lives by what we say, we can be confident that we will have whatever we say. That expectation is the sign of a lively and active faith at work. If you have no expectation, the answer is simple. Go back to the Word until faith comes, then turn it loose by your words.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Worthless or Faithful?

I will sing of mercy and justice;
  To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
  Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
(Psalm 101:1-2)
Read, mark and inwardly digest, as David declares his intention and his integrity before the LORD. He will sing in praise of God’s mercy and justice. This is the hesed, the lovingkindness, the steadfast love promised by God. Justice is the trustworthy judgment of God that comes and sets things right.

He will behave wisely in a perfect way. He will walk in the wisdom of God and live in integrity and truth. He does not mean that he is without flaw, but that he will be honest in all his dealings. When he messes us, he will make it right. He is transparent — “What you see is what you get.” He will act with integrity, that is, with wholeness — he will be the same in private as he is in public.
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
  I hate the work of those who fall away;
  It shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
  I will not know wickedness.
(Psalm 101:3-4)
He will set nothing wicked before his eyes. The word for “wicked,” belial, can mean that which is evil. Or it can mean that which is destructive. Or it can mean that which is simply worthless, without any redeeming value. David does not merely avoid the evil, or even just the destructive — he will not set any worthless thing before his eyes.

He will show no favor to the works of those who turn aside from rightness, truth and integrity. He will not honor those who do not honor the LORD (Psalm 1:1-4). He will live with a smoothness of heart, so that the works of the worthless will find no place to stick to him.

He will give no place in his life to those of a perverse heart. A perverse heart is one that is deceitful, false. He will not show any honor, or tolerance, to that which is evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
  Him I will destroy;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
  Him I will not endure.
(Psalm 101:5)
He will not tolerate gossip or slander. Those who do will be gone from his life, cut off from fellowship with him. Nor will he allow any room for those with swelled heads and arrogant hearts.
My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land,
  That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a perfect way,
  He shall serve me.
(Psalm 101:6)
He will set his eyes on the faithful — the faith-filled ones — and they shall have a place in his heart. The word for “faithful” is aman. It is the word for faith, and also for believe. In Genesis 15:6, where Abraham “believed” God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, the word “believed” is aman. A man who is truly full of faith will walk with integrity and transparency. He will do what is right because he believes God. Those are the ones David desires to surround himself with in his court.

Now, David did not always keep these resolutions. Far from it! But to the extent that he honored what was full of faith, he did very well. It was when he gave place in his life to worthless things that he experienced crisis in his heart, unnecessary division in his family, and painful failure that could have been avoided.

What you set before your eyes, you will tolerate in your life and eventually honor in your heart. Will you tolerate worthless things? They will lead you to destruction, or at best, mediocrity. Or will you set your eyes on those who are full of faith, who walk with integrity, trusting in the LORD? Surround yourself with them, and honor them in your heart, and they will cause you to rise above the crowd.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Servant God

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
We were made to love and to serve. We were made in the image of God. God is love, and love gives and serves. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The Son came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life for us.

Many people think that it is somehow demeaning to take the role of a servant. But the example of the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that that is not so. He came expressly in the servant role, and even humbled Himself to the point of death on the Cross. This was not the lowest expression of His personhood, but the highest.

Being a servant does not demean us, it enlarges us. It does not bring us down into something, it lifts us up into something.

Jesus instructed His disciples, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43).

By this, Jesus did not mean that we should be become servants so that one day we can be great leaders and no longer need to serve. No, the world thinks that way, and so do many Christians. But that is not what we are called to. Being a servant is not the journey to greatness — it is the destination. Taking on the role of the servant role is greatness itself, because it is in this role that we come to understand the heart of God.

We do not lose anything by being the servant of all. Rather, we come to understand greatness, and we become like our Father God, who is love.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Algebra of Stillness

Be still and know that the LORD is God and God is love.
(Psalm 46:10; 1 John 4:8)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Don’t Let the devil Outsmart You

For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 New King James Version)
Or check out how these other translations have it. Notice that the issue under consideration in these verses is forgiveness.

And when I forgive this man (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes. (New Living Translation)

In order that satan might not outwit us. (New International Version)

We don’t want satan to win any victory here, and well we know his methods! (J. B. Phillips)

After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give satan an opening for yet more mischief — we’re not oblivious to his sly ways! (The Message)

So that satan would not win anything from us. (New Century Version)

To keep satan from getting the better of us. We all know what goes on in his mind. (Contemporary English Version)

That we may not be over-reached by the adversary. (Young’s Literal Translation)
Has the devil taken advantage of you? Outsmarted you? Outwitted you? Won a victory over you? Received an opening to bring more trouble into your life? Won anything over you? Over-reached you? If there is anybody in your life that you are not willing to forgive, then the devil has done all these things to you.

Failure to forgive does us no good. What is worse, when we refuse to forgive, we open ourselves up to great harm — the devil has our number. But it does not have to be that way. Paul says that we have the devil’s number. We know his ways, his thoughts, his intentions. We know what’s going on in his mind. We can turn the tables on him and do something he is not prepared to for us to do. We can learn how to forgive in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. That takes the wind right out of the devil's sails.

Don’t let the devil outsmart you. Outsmart him instead. Get the victory over him. Get the better of him. Outwit him and shut the door to any further mischief from him. It's very simple: If you have anything against anyone — forgive!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Jesus’ Modus Operandi

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:29)
Jesus always did those things that please the Father. That was the modus operandi for His entire life and ministry — everything He did! If it was not pleasing to the Father, Jesus was not doing it. Simple as that.
  • He spoke only those things which He heard the Father speaking (John 8:28).
  • He did only those things which He saw the Father doing (John 5:19).
  • He judged only as He heard the Father judging (John 5:30).
  • He willed only as the Father willed (John 5:30).
Everything Jesus did was totally about the Father, and that pleased God.

When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, and the voice of the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

On the Mount of Transfiguration, when the glory of God overshadowed, Jesus face and clothes shone with the brightest light, and the voice of the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5)

The Gospel of Matthew records a third instance where God expressed pleasure in His Beloved, Jesus. Matthew is quoting from Isaiah 42. “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in who My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles” (Matthew 12:18).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Since everything Jesus did pleased the Father, then everything He did must have been all about faith — taking the Father at His Word.

Pleasing the LORD is simple — it all comes down to faith. It did for Jesus, and it does for us. If the M.O. of Jesus was simply to please the Father, to do what He saw the Father doing, and say what He heard the Father saying, then what ought our M.O. be? If it is impossible to please the Father without faith, then what ought our discipleship to look like?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Pleasure of God

What do you get for the person who has everything? That has always been a stumper. Now take it up to the nth degree — How do you please God?

It’s not hard. The Bible speaks of a number of things that please Him.

1. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him.
He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147:10-11)
To fear the Lord means to love, honor and stand in awe of Him, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to seek His favor above all else, and to avoid His displeasure at all cost. In the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, we see in this passage that those who fear the LORD are the ones who hope in His mercy — that is, they put their trust in Him.

The Hebrew word for “pleasure” is ratsah. To take pleasure in someone means to be satisfied with, to set one’s affection on, to delight in, enjoy, and show favor to them. The LORD is fully satisfied with those who love and trust Him. They are the object of His affection. He delights fully in them and shows them the abundance of His favor.

2. The LORD takes pleasure in His people.
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation. (Psalm 149:4)
God has chosen a people — all those who love and trust in Him—and He beautifies them with salvation. To beautify means to adorn, to glorify. The Hebrew word for “salvation” here is Yeshua, which the name of Jesus. Jesus is the salvation of all who come humbly in faith before God. They are adorned with the Lord Jesus Christ, to share in His glory.

3. The LORD takes pleasure in the prosperity of His people.
Let the LORD be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. (Psalm 35:27)
The word for “pleasure” here is chaphets, which means to desire, delight in, have pleasure in. God delights in, and greatly desires, the prosperity of His people. “Prosperity” is the word shalom, the Hebrew word for peace. It refers to complete wholeness and well-being. God desires this fullness for all His people. The apostle John expressed God’s will when he said, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).

Let the name of the LORD be magnified, exalted and full of glory because of His great goodness toward His people.

4. The LORD is pleased to deliver His people.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me! (Psalm 40:13)
The LORD delights to deliver all those who belong to Him, all who call on His name. He does not leave them in their predicament, but comes to snatch them away.

5. Faith pleases God.
All these things please the LORD, but not without faith.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. But with faith, it is impossible not to please Him, for faith is taking God at His Word, and God rewards that greatly. He is entirely pleased and satisfied when we believe Him, and delighted when we seek after Him.

It is very simple to please God. Just love, honor and trust Him. Take Him at His Word. He will pour out His favor and cause you to prosper. He will deliver you in time of trouble and show you His salvation — Jesus.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Algebra of Love

God is love. Love gives and serves.
(1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Mark 10:45)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Holy and Happy

In Your presence is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
Here is holiness and happiness together. The presence of the LORD is holy — always has been, always will be. When Moses stood apart to behold the burning bush, the Lord called out his name told him to take off his shoes. He was on holy ground — God was present in purpose and power.

God is holy and His presence is holy. That does not at all preclude joy, but is, in truth, the very foundation of joy. To enter into the holiness of God is to enter into pure happiness.

Many Christians fail to understand the relationship between being holy and being happy. Some are willing to do unholy things because, “God wants me to be happy.” Others believe you cannot truly be holy unless you are actually unhappy. Both ways are huge distortions and lead only to destruction.

God is holy, but He is not a crank. To be holy means to be set apart. God is holy because He is set apart from everything else — there is none greater than Him. He is Lord over all. He is totally unique — holy.

God’s people are holy because they have been set apart for God’s special purposes. Holiness is not what we do, it is what we are. It is about identity and relationship, relationship with God. Performing certain acts does not make us holy. But if we enter into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and begin to understand our identity in Him, we will begin to live in ways which are harmonious with God’s holiness.

The first question of the Westminster Catechism, an instructional guide produced for the Church in the 1600s, asks: “What is the chief end of man?” That is, what is the purpose for which we have been made?

Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” John Piper, Baptist pastor and theologian, thinks we should amend that to read: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. If we are not enjoying God well, be we are probably not glorifying Him very well either.

The Bible says that God is love, and that He is a consuming fire. Both are expressions of His holiness. As we get closer to God, His love will burn out everything that does not come from Him, everything that keeps us from fulfilling the destiny and purpose for which we were created, everything that keeps us from experiencing true joy.

Now, joy is not a quiet thing, but a very exuberant thing. Many times the Old Testament exhorts us to “shout for joy.” This is often found even behind the word “rejoice.” In the New Testament, one of the words for “rejoice,” agalliao, literally means to “jump for joy.”

Shouting and jumping—that’s God’s idea of joy!
The LORD your God in your midst,
    The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
    He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)
When are now in the time of which this passage speaks, the days of Jesus the Messiah. God is with us by His Spirit. He has come as a powerful warrior, mighty to save, and He rejoices over us.

The first “rejoice” used here refers to expressions of mirth, gladness, gaiety and pleasure. God not only rejoices over us, but He rejoices with gladness (simcha). The KJV says He “rejoices over you with joy.” It is joy multiplied by joy. But the extent of His pleasure is even greater than that, as God pours out His love over us.

The second rejoice (gul) means to spin with powerful emotion. God whirls and twirls over us with great passion and love. Pure joy!

Holiness and happiness belong together. Be holy, and happiness will follow. If you are holy, but not happy, you’ve gotten the holiness part wrong. Look to Jesus, and give yourself completely to Him. Holiness is not about you and what you have or have not done. As in all things in the Christian life, holiness is about Jesus, and happiness follows.

God invites you to enter into the holiness of His presence, that you may dance with Him in great joy and experience His deep happiness with Him. And that is the most holy thing in all the world.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Straight Glory

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24)
The word “orthodoxy” is from a Greek compound: orthos and doxa. Orthos means “straight” or “upright.” We go to the orthodontist to have our teeth straightened. Orthopedic surgeons straighten out structural deformities of the bone. Doxa means “glory.” It is a word of praise and worship. When we sing or speak a “doxology,” we are speaking a word of praise to God, a word the glorifies Him.

We were made to glorify God. The first principle of the Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

There is an old Latin saying in the Church: Lex orendi, lex credendi, the way we pray is the way we believe. How do you glory in God? How do you pray? What is the content of your worship? These reveal what you truly believe.

The way you glory in God, is it straight, is it upright? Does it correctly portray God? Does it stand up next to what He has established? Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24). Do you worship in Spirit and in Truth?

Our worship must be in Spirit and in Truth. Truth is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the Truth” (John 14:6). So our worship must be according to who Jesus is, the Son of God, the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

Worship is a spiritual activity. That is, it is an activity of the Holy Spirit at work in our spirit. The Bible says, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). So our worship must directed by the Holy Spirit.

The Word and the Spirit will always be in perfect agreement with what God has revealed in the Scriptures.

God is Spirit, so the worship that properly glorifies God is that which is directed by the Holy Spirit and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lending to the LORD

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given. (Proverbs 19:17)
Did you know that you can actually lend to the LORD, and He will pay you back? That’s what this verse is saying. The word for “pity” means to be gracious, to show favor. Literally, it is to bend or to stoop down in kindness. Here again, the word for “poor” means “dangling,” and refers to someone who is very much in need.

The word for “lend” literally means to twine, or to unite. That is what borrowing and lending does, it creates a bond, even an obligation. The man who shows favor to the poor actually lends to the LORD, and that places the LORD in his debt. Oh, how that idea offends the religious spirit, but that is clearly what the Scripture implies. God allows Himself to be in our debt.

Now, the lender/debtor relationship that is implied here is not one of animosity. The lending and repaying are not done in a begrudging way. Rather, it is a delightful partnership that is being depicted. For why is showing favor to the poor understood as lending unto the LORD? Because God identifies His heart with the poor. They are of special concern to Him. The desire of His heart is to lift them up out of the ashes and bring them into His abundance. So, when we show favor to the poor, we are actually identifying with God’s heart, partnering with Him in His good pleasure. We have touched the heart of God, and there is great reward in that.

Our God is a God who repays. In Jeremiah 51:56, He is called Yahweh El Gemulah, the LORD God of Recompenses. Often in the Old Testament, the recompense is negative, i.e., God repaying the wicked for their wickedness. But His recompense also works very positively.

It’s a matter of sowing and reaping, and Yahweh is the Lord of the Harvest. We discover this principle in the New Testament:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7-9)
So it is with our lending to the LORD. It is a seed we sow. And when we sow, we reap. If we sow well, we reap well. If we sow bountifully, we reap bountifully. If we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly.

What we give to God is a seed, what God gives to us is a harvest, and the harvest is always greater than the seed. What we sow is what we reap. Sow favor, and reap favor. Sow thorns, and you will not like your harvest.

God will “pay back.” The word used here means to reciprocate, to make complete. It is a restoration, a fulfillment. The circle is complete. But don’t stop there. Let the circle keep going by reaching out more and more to those who are in need of God’s kindness shown through you. When we show grace, He shows grace back to us. When we prosper the poor, God prospers us. God always repays, and He always repays BIG!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

How to Be Blessed On the Earth

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
  The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,
  And he will be blessed on the earth.
(Psalm 41:1-2)
To be blessed means to have heaven on your side, the favor of God to go before you, and the power and goodness of God at work on your behalf. The Hebrew word for “poor” literally refers to one who is dangling. They may be poor in finances, in health, in relationships, in wisdom — any or all of these—and “hanging by a thread.” They are thin, weak, or in lack in some way, and they need help.

To consider is to think about something in a purposeful way, with intent to act. It means to guide with wisdom and prudence, to prosper. To consider the poor is not just about sympathizing with their situation, but about extending a hand, and even acting on their behalf. When we act on their behalf, we will find that God is likewise acting on ours.

When we open our heart towards the poor, the blessing of God comes upon us. It is not that God’s heart was closed toward us before, and now He has opened it because we have considered the poor. No, His heart has always been open toward us, only our heart was not open toward Him. But when we open our heart toward the poor, we are also opening our heart toward God — because His heart is to help the poor — and now His blessing is free to flow into our lives.

Notice that David, who penned this psalm, refers to the covenant name of God — Yahweh. This is indicated by the name “LORD,” rendered all in capital letters. Yahweh is the name by which God revealed Himself in covenant with people. It is extended to us in the name of Jesus, which in the Hebrew is Yeshua, a contraction of the name Yahweh, and yasha, a word signifying “salvation.”

The blood of Jesus is our eternal covenant with God. The essence of the covenant, in the Old and New Testaments, is that we belong to God, and He belongs to us. We act on His behalf, and He acts on ours. Notice how this plays out for the one who considers the poor:

“The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” The word for “deliver” literally means to be smooth. The LORD makes him smooth, to slip away and escape in the time of trouble.

“The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive.” To preserve means to hedge about on all sides, to watch over and protect.

“And he will be blessed on the earth.” The blessing is not for heaven, but from heaven. It is for here and now upon the earth. The blessing is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven, for heaven is all about blessing. Being blessed on the earth is the joining together of heaven and earth.

There’s even more to the blessing, for the psalm continues:
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed. (Psalm 41:2-3)
God will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. Here, the word “deliver” means to hand over. God will not hand him over to his enemies. No, God causes him to escape the enemy in safety. The will of God prevails over the will of the enemy.

“The LORD will strengthen him on his sickbed.” When he is infirm and on a bed of sickness, God will replace weakness with strength. He will sustain him on his sickbed. The word for “sustain” means to turn, overturn, overthrow. The KJV says, “Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” The word “all” means all. This is total restoration and healing. The whole situation will be completely turned around.

Get to know the heart of the Father by spending time with Him in the Word, in worship, and in prayer. Let Him open up your heart toward the poor, to reach your hand toward them in practical ways. You will experience the flow of God’s love working in and through you, and all the favor of heaven will be released into your life. You will be blessed on the earth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

How to Forgive By Faith

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6)
Wait a minute — did I get the right verse for today’s topic? What do mustard seeds and mulberry trees have to do with learning how to forgive? Well, Jesus was talking about offenses and how to deal with them:
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him: and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, “I repent,” you shall forgive him. (Luke17:3-4)
Now, people don’t generally mind rebuking a brother. In fact, it comes quite naturally (at least in our fallen human nature). But when Jesus said to rebuke, it wasn’t a license to act mean and nasty, or to be self-satisfied (which often seems to be what we take “rebuke” to mean). When someone offends us, we want to “tell them off.”

That’s not what Jesus was talking about. Yes, there are times when we must deal seriously with a matter, and we should never back down from that. But we must always be careful to do it in love, seeking the good of the other person involved.

We don’t mind repentance, as long as it is somebody else who is doing it. If someone offends us, and then comes back and apologizes — well, we can often just go ahead and let it go, and it makes us feel, you know, sort of magnanimous. (We have a nasty habit of making everything about us, don’t we? It’s the fallen nature again.)

But seven times in one day? That’s pushing it. I mean, how much of this treatment are we supposed to take? Plus, its one thing when they offend us, and then they repent. What about when they don’t repent? Are we still supposed to forgive?


In another place, Jesus said, “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). No repentance mentioned here, not even a hint. Just forgive.

Okay, that really tests our limits now, doesn’t it? But we’re not in bad company, because it tested the disciples as well. When Jesus told them to forgive the brother seven times, the disciples suddenly became aware of a great inadequacy in themselves, particularly in their faith.

The apostles — that’s what Luke calls them at this point — said to Jesus, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). Yeah, if they were going to have to offer this kind of forgiveness, they were really going to need to reckon with their faith.

You see, like everything else in the Christian life, forgiveness is a matter of faith. For when we forgive, we are giving up something. Will God “make up the difference” for us? It takes faith to trust Him to do that.

So Jesus began talking about mustard seeds and mulberry trees: “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).

Faith is like a mustard seed, and like a mustard seed, it must be planted to do any good. The size of the seed is not important. What you do with it is. But how do you plant the faith “seed?”

Jesus tells us: “Say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.”

Ah, yes. You plant your faith “seed” by what you say. It is the same way with forgiveness. Forgiveness requires faith, and faith is a seed that you plant by what you say.

So the way you forgive is to say, by faith, “I forgive.” You may not feel like you have forgiven. You may even feel anger rising up again because of the offense. But you must cease from being moved by your feelings and stand with your faith: “I forgive.” As often as the offense comes to mind, and as often as feelings of anger rise up, reassert your faith: “I forgive.”

As you take your stand in faith and forgive, you will eventually find that the offense has been uprooted from your life. It is no longer chained to you — you have released it by faith. It is no longer a stumbling block for you — you have removed it by faith. It has been cast into the sea, by faith. Now you are free to move forward in your life.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Faith Partners With Patience

Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)
Faith and patience go together. That is part of the nature of faith. Faith is not about what you can see right now, it is about what you cannot yet see. Remember, “Faith is the substance of things hoped [expected], the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is expecting that which you do not yet see, and so it takes some time between the believing and the seeing.

Faith is a seed. Have you ever heard of a seed that you can plant and immediately see harvest? Of course not. You plant the seed, then go about your business, letting the seed do its work in the soil. It germinates, then it sprouts, then it comes up on stem, then it puts forth its leaf, then it flowers, then it comes into fruit, and then the fruit is ready for the harvest. The rate at which this all happens varies from seed to seed, but every seed goes through this process. That takes time, and so what really we need is patience.

Hebrews 11 is often called the “Hall of Fame of Faith” because of its litany of Old Testament saints who walked by faith and saw it through to the end. But did you know that the context of this great chapter is about patience?

The author of Hebrews was writing to scattered Jewish believers who were suffering persecution because of their faith in Christ. They were severely tempted to give up and go back to their old ways. Hebrews was written to encourage them to continue in their faith. That’s why, in chapter 6, the author called for them to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Directly on either side of Hebrews 11, almost serving as bookends, we discover the theme of patience still at work. We find it under the term “endurance.” The Greek word is hupomone, which is elsewhere translated “perseverance” and “patience.”

Near the end of chapter 10, we find:
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance [hupomone], so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36)
Then immediately after chapter 12, we read:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance [hupomone] the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
Patience is very important to the faith process. When Jesus spoke to the fig tree, in Mark 11, He immediately received what He said. For Jesus said, in that same passage, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (v. 24). Notice that “receive” is in the present tense. The NASB says, “have received.” In any case, the receiving is not future tense.

So Jesus immediately received what He said. But He did not immediately see what He said. Seeing it would come later. So Jesus, knowing that faith requires patience, simply went on about His business, and continuing to believe what He said. It was not until the next day, when He and the disciples were passing by again, that they saw that the fig tree had indeed withered.
  • When did Jesus receive what He spoke it out in faith? Immediately.
  • When did Jesus see it come to pass? Not until the next day.
  • In between there was patience.
If you believe the Word and walk by faith, exercising patience, you will eventually see the fulfillment of what you have believed. But if you walk by sight, letting circumstances and emotions dictate how you are going think and what you are going to expect, then you will probably never see what you believed for come to pass — all for lack of patience.

When you have exercised your faith in the promises of God, keep yourself focused on His Word. Don’t let anything else that you see or hear move you or trouble you in any way. Your circumstances must eventually line up with the Word of God and your faith in it, so be patient, knowing that you will see it happen.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Welcoming the LORD

You will show me that path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)
This morning on Fox News Sunday, the “Power Player” of the week was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat from Texas. The reason for this selection was because she always manages to get a center aisle seat for the president’s annual State of the Union address, where she gets to greet the president and enjoy some face time with him.

Of course, as a Democrat, she often disagrees with President Bush, but that matters little. For her, it is important to build the relationship. Chris Wallace, her interviewer, complimented her on her ability to make that important connection in her effort to get things done. She responded, “I know how to welcome the president.”
Jesus said, ‘He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21, 23)
If only the people of God would learn that secret with the LORD, and learn how to welcome Him! We would not only experience more frequent visitation from the LORD, we would discover how easily visitation becomes habitation. Manifestations of His presence would proliferate and our joy would quickly increase.

Faith Requires Forgiveness

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that you Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)
Notice the word “and” in this verse. It is related to what has gone on before. In this case, it connects to the powerful things Jesus said about mountain-moving faith. But what does forgiveness have to do with faith? Quite a lot, actually.

Remember when Jesus talked about faith as a mustard seed, in Luke 17? The disciples had just asked Him to increase their faith. But what had provoked this sudden desire for more faith? It was what Jesus had just spoken to them about forgiveness.
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, “I repent,” you shall forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4).
The truth about forgiveness is that it is an act of faith. The disciples immediately recognized that this kind of forgiveness would require quite a bit of faith.

You see, when people are offended, they are significantly slowed down, or even stopped from moving forward. The Greek word for “offense” is skandalon, and refers to that which is a snare or a stumbling-block. When you are caught in a snare or trip over a stumbling-block, you have immediately ceased to move forward. You are no longer making progress. The question is, How long are you willing to remain in that hindered state? The choice is yours.

The answer is to forgive, and that takes faith, faith to believe that God is going to take care of the situation and restore whatever you have lost by the offense. This faith-filled forgiveness allows you to get up, get out and move forward once again. That snare is no longer a snare, the stumbling-block is no longer a stumbling-block. They have been removed, like mountains, from before you.

But there is also another aspect of forgiveness which is more to the point: Faith works through love, and it is the nature of love to forgive. When we are unwilling to forgive, we are actually unwilling to love, and unwilling to extend to others that which God has so freely extended to us.

Forgiveness is an opportunity to connect to the magnificent heart of the Father and clear away things that keep us from moving forward in faith. We can forgive, because He forgives, but failure to forgive becomes a major hindrance to our faith.

Faith requires forgiveness, and forgiveness requires faith. Do not let offenses, snares and stumbling-blocks keep you from moving forward in your faith. Instead, let your faith help you forgive. When you encounter the mountain of offenses, cast them into the sea with these words: “I forgive.” Do this as often as the need arises. Then begin again to move forward into the wonderful destiny God has prepared for you.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

How to Move a Mountain

Jesus did not say, “Beg and plead for God to move the mountain for you.” And He did not say, “Sit down and come up with some logical, empirical reasons for why that mountain should move.”

Nor did He say, “Wait and see if that mountain will move.” Or, “Sit and wish for the mountain to move.” And He most certainly did not say, “Complain that the mountain is not moving.”

But He did say, most emphatically:
Whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:23)
Let’s look for a moment at the word “doubt.” The Greek is diakrino and refers to a divided judgment. A person who speaks to his mountain and believes in his heart that it will move, and also believes in his heart that it will not move, that person is of two minds. The result is that he will not see his mountain move, not one inch.

James said, “He who doubts [diakrino] is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything form the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-7). The man of faith will be full of expectation, but the double-minded man should not expect anything at all.

What to do? Fill your heart with faith until there is no more room for doubt. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so fill your hearing with the Word. Meditate on it and let it become powerful inside you, building you up in faith until you can no longer keep quiet about it. Then, when you are filled with faith, and you have no doubt that the Word of God will be fulfilled — and only then, open up your mouth and start speaking the Word of God to that mountain.

Fully believe the Word of God in your heart. Then speak to your mountain, and you will have whatever you say.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Faith Works Through Love

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Paul was addressing the issue of satisfying the righteousness of God. It is not a matter of being circumcised or being uncircumcised. These accomplish nothing. Only faith, working through love, means anything.

The Greek word for “working” is energeo, which is, of course, where we get our word “energy.” The Amplified Bible has, “faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.” This love is the love of God working in us and through to reveal His righteousness. Only faith working through love is able to bring this about.

Faith without love is meaningless. Paul said, “Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Yes, faith can move mountains, but if we do not have love, then it doesn’t make any difference.

God is love. Love gives and serves, and that is what God is all about. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Since God is love, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God, then faith must be all about expressing the love of God.

Love casts out fear, which is the opposite of faith. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18). Again, it is the love of God that is in view here. When His love has done its work in us, there is no more room for fear in us—it is booted out because fear produces torment. The Greek word “torment” means punishment, or penalty. When we receive the love of God and let it do its perfect work in us, we are no longer tormented by ideas that God will punish or forsake us. We are free to live and act out of His love. It is His love that makes our faith meaningful and effective.

Faith works through love. If your faith is weak, check how your love is doing. Yield yourself to the love of God and let it heal you and set you free from all fear. Let it fill you and change you into a vessel through which God can pour out His love to others. Then your faith will be magnificent.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Faith Opposes Fear

Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? (Mark 4:40)
One day, after Jesus had finished teaching by the Sea of Galilee, He said to the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” So they got into a boat and set out across the sea. Along the way, a great windstorm arose and the waves began crashing in. All the while, Jesus was asleep in the stern. The disciples came to Him and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Jesus arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” The wind ceased, and suddenly there was a great calm. Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith.” (Matthew 8:23 says, “O you of little faith.”)

Faith is the opposite of fear. The disciples were full of fear and had no faith. Jesus was full of faith and had no fear.

We see the faith of Jesus when He spoke it out and said, “Let us cross over to the other side.” He had every expectation that what He said would be fulfilled, and that they would all make it safely to the other side. So even when the boat began to be battered and swamped, Jesus was in the stern sleeping peacefully on a pillow. He was not moved by the storm one bit. He had no fear, only faith, and so He was at peace even in the middle of the tempest.

Not so with the disciples, and Jesus asked them why. “Why are you so full of fear? How is it that you have no faith?”

Fair questions. After all, the disciples had been with Jesus for some time now, listening to Him preach and teach, watching Him heal people and expel demons. In fact, they had just spent that whole day with Him as He taught parable after parable on the dynamics of the Kingdom of God. And when He was finally alone with them, the Bible says, He explained all things to them (Mark 4:34).

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), and the disciples had already had many opportunities to hear the Word as Jesus preached. So how was it that their faith was so small in this moment?

The answer is simple: Fear. The disciples had not dealt with their fear, and fear is the enemy of faith. Faith and fear simply do not mix. Here is why:
  • Faith is believing the Word of God.
  • Fear is listening to the lies of the devil.
The disciples had heard the words of Jesus, but they had not yet learned His heart. So when the danger of the storm arose all around them, they panicked and went to Jesus. “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?”

Where did the idea of perishing come from? And how did the thought arise that Jesus, who showed such marvelous compassion in so many other instances, now had such little regard for the well-being of His own disciples? They did not come from God. They were the whispers of the enemy on the wind and the waves. And fear entered in.

A few days later, Jesus was again by the Sea of Galilee when Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and asked Him to come and heal his daughter. This man had faith, and Jesus started off to the house with him. Along the way, a woman came to touch Jesus for her healing, and this caused a commotion (Mark 5:21-34)

About that time, servants came from Jairus’ house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

Jesus heard their words, and immediately, He turned to Jairus and said, “Do not be afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).

Jairus had a choice: He could listen to the words of his servants, and enter into fear. Or he could continue listening to the words of Jesus, and remain steadfast in his faith. If he had listened to the words of fear, his daughter would have perished. It was not the heart of Jesus for that to happen, for Jesus had already agree to go with Jairus and heal his daughter. He had no intention of going back on His word and forsaking this young girl. In fact, He had every intention of making her well.

So Jairus chose faith. He would not let the words of others contradict the Word of God and get him into fear. He would not poison his heart and weaken his faith with fear.

Back to the wind and the waves. When the disciples came to Jesus, He rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea, “Peace, be still.” Just as He spoke to the fig tree, and it obeyed. Just as He taught the disciples to speak to the mountain, with only faith in their hearts, and see the mountain obey.

You cannot mix faith and fear. You always have a choice. Listen to the Word of God. Let it fill your heart and be your constant meditation. Rebuke the voices of fear, the whispers of the enemy, the lies of the devil. Do not let fear steal your faith and rob you of your miracle. Believe only.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Faith is Released by Words

Jesus answered and said, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-23)
The disciples heard Jesus speak to the fig tree just the day before, and now on their return by that same tree, Peter saw that it was withered. He said, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away” (Mark 11:21).

Imagine speaking to a fig tree. Now imagine that it obeys you. That is what happened here. But how can this be?

Jesus gives the answer: “Have faith in God.” The Greek text literally says “Have faith of God.” Whatever this faith is, it is of God. The Bible says that faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). We receive this gift by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). That is what faith is — believing the Word of God, that is, having an expectation that whatever God says will be fulfilled.

Now, let me ask you a question. When God speaks, does He have an expectation that it will be fulfilled, that His Word will be fully obeyed?

Yes, of course He does, for He said, “So shall my Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). When God speaks, things get done!

Spend time meditating on this, because it is the framework of the whole universe. The Bible says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

We see this in the Creation, in Genesis 1. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was. The pattern is repeated throughout. God said, and it was so. That is how the worlds were made.

So it should come as no surprise that when Jesus, being fully divine as well as fully human, speaks to a fig tree or commands the wind and waves, they obey Him. But now, look how Jesus extends His authority to the disciples. He said, “Have faith of God.” That is, have the same kind of expectation as God does that His Word will be fulfilled. Then Jesus says something so mind-blowing that most Christians back away from its full force.
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”
Wow! Did He really mean that? Can we really have an expectation that when we believe the Word of God in our hearts and speak it with our mouths that mountains will obey us?

Yes, He did. And yes, we can.

Notice how this happens. First, we must be in agreement with the Word of God, because Biblical faith is expecting to see the Word of God fulfilled. Then, we must speak those things with our mouths. You see, our faith is released by what we say. Three times, Jesus refers to what we say — three times in one sentence! In that same sentence, He referred to what we believe only once.

With a ratio of three to one in the same sentence, doesn’t it look like Jesus is telling us something very important about the relationship between what we believe and what we speak. In fact, He is giving us a very powerful key to activating and releasing our faith. Here is the order of how it works:
  • We believe in our heart
  • then we speak it forth
  • then we see it happen
God had an expectation that when He spoke, His Word will be fulfilled. Jesus also had an expectation that when He spoke, His Word would be fulfilled. Then He taught us to have the same expectation about the Word of God, that whenever we speak in agreement with it we should expect to see it fulfilled.

Faith is activated and released by what we say. Therefore, we ought to be very careful about everything we say. Does it line up with the truth of God’s Word? Are we speaking in agreement with His promises? Are our words merely idle (Jesus said we will have to give account for every idle word)? Or worse, are we saying things which are contradictory to what God has said?

Meditate on the Word of God until you have have full expectation that it will be fulfilled. Then open your mouth and speak, letting the promises of God direct everything you say. Then watch for the fulfillment.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Faith is a Seed

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6)
Jesus talked about the responsibility of forgiving those who offend us, even when they repeatedly offend us (Luke 17:1-4). This blew out all the circuits in the minds of His disciples, and they pleaded, “Lord, increase our faith.” (v. 5).

But the answer Jesus gave was that it was not an increase of faith that was needed. No, what they really required was an application of the faith they already had. Even if they had faith only as the size of a mustard seed, it was more than enough.

The thing about a mustard seed is that, though it is very small, the tiniest seed in the garden, it grows up to be a tree. But the size of a seed is irrelevant. You can have the tiniest seed, or the largest, and it will not make one bit of difference. That is, not as long as you hold it in your hand.

You see, the really important thing about a seed is what you do with it. You can hold it, or you can plant it—and which one you choose makes all the difference. Seeds are meant to be planted.

In the same way, the really important thing about faith is not how big it is, but what you do with it. Many people have faith, and it does them absolutely no good. What they really need is to plant their faith, to sow it, release it, activate it. Then it can accomplish anything and everything they need.

So it is not the size of our faith that is important. What really matters is whether or not we have released our faith. When we plant our seed of faith, though it be small, amazing things happen. We can say to the mulberry tree “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,” it will obey us.

Now, that is quite an impossible thing, by human standards. I mean, it is difficult enough to uproot a mulberry tree. But to have it be planted in the sea, where mulberry trees cannot possibly grow in the natural, and see it take root and grow — well, that is a miracle indeed. But that is exactly what Jesus said we can do with our “mustard seed” faith.

In another place Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Here again is faith as a mustard seed, and here again is the planting of that seed. Can you see how it is done? Do you notice how that seed is “planted,” how that faith is activated?

I’m not going to tell you today, but I’m going to let you meditate on it a little bit. Here is another Scripture along the same line to help you understand:
Jesus answered and said, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-2)
[HINT: The key is repeated three times.]

Understand that faith is like a seed. It is not the size that matters, but what you do with it. There is a very important way to activate it, and when you learn how to sow that seed, nothing will be impossible for you.