Saturday, February 25, 2006

There is Always Enough

WOW! Yesterday was the final day of the 2006 convening of International Apostolic Ministries (the body that ordained Suzanne and me). Heidi Baker, of Iris Ministries, ministered to us, morning and evening.

Heidi and her husband, Rolland Baker, minister to multitudes in Mozambique. They feed, clothe, and house the poor, preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to them. They have seen countless miracles of provision and healing. Heidi's testimony is summed up by the title of her book: Always Enough (available at Amazon).

Heidi's a.m. message to us was on multiplication (as in Jesus feeding the 5,000). The take-away point that impressed itself upon me is that there is ALWAYS enough of everything--that's why Jesus came. If we will go to the Lord every day to eat and drink of Him, there will always be enough to love and take care of all those God has set before us.

Her p.m. message was that God wants us to be His house. If we will surrender everything to Him, He will come and fill us with Himself — the greatest treasure. That is our job: to let Him fill us. The position of ministers (and all His people are called to be His ministers) is this, to quote Heidi: "lower still."

Are you willing to come before your Father in heaven and let Him be your life, your purpose, your provision? That is what biblical faith is all about.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Pleasure of God on Earth

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
This line is, of course, from the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus authorized us to pray. It is in the imperative mood; that is, it is a command: Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Greek word for “will” has a semantic range which includes these meanings: determination, choice, purpose, inclination, decree, pleasure, desire, will.

So we might also pray this way:
  • Determination of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Choice of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Purpose of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Inclination of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Decree of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Pleasure of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Desire of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We are authorized to announce God’s determinations and choices, to articulate His purposes, manifest His inclinations, and declare His decrees. To us is given the joy of calling for His pleasure and desire to be fulfilled on earth as they are in heaven.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Lever of Commitment

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Recently, one of the pastors at our church was preaching the Sunday morning service. At one point in his message, he wanted to say something about “level of commitment.” But his tongue stumbled a bit and out came “lever of commitment.” He quickly recovered and move on with his sermon.

But I was caught by the profundity of his slip of the tongue: lever of commitment.

A lever is a simple machine, a tool that greatly multiplies the effect of your effort. It focuses your energy for greater efficiency and productivity. Leverage is a powerful thing. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I’ll move the world.”

Commitment brings a powerful leverage that can change the world. It is like a tiny seed that grows up to become a mighty tree. It is like a little bit of leaven that leavens the whole lump of dough. It is a patient expectation, a dogged perseverance, an endurance that does not quit until its objective is secured.

God is not looking for men of renown or great talent. He has talents and gifts in great abundance. But He is looking for those who are faithful (full of faith) upon whom He can bestow greatness.

Commitment is faith linked with perseverance — a mighty combination that can change the world. How is your lever of commitment?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Faith is a Conductor

Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”

When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from me.”

Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.

And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; you faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48)
Faith is a conductor for the power of God. Many people must have brushed up against Jesus, as Peter suggested, but only one touched Him in faith. Matthew’s account records of this woman, “For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well’” (Matthew 9:21). This woman had faith and she knew how to release it: She called for what she desired, and believed in her heart that she would receive it. Then when she touched Jesus, she received what she believed.

When this woman released her faith, she received a great release of the power of God. She perceived this power when she realized that she had immediately been healed. Jesus Himself perceived that power had gone out of Him, and clearly said so. That is how He knew that someone had touched Him so distinctly in faith.

The Greek word for power is dunamis. It is the substance that went forth from Jesus’ body, through His garment and into the woman. It was the power of God, resident in the body of Jesus Christ, that healed this woman, but her faith was the conductor that laid hold of this mighty power and conveyed it from the body of Jesus into her own.

Now the power of God was available and more than sufficient for any and every need this woman might have had. It just so happens that, in her case, the great need was for healing. If her need had been different, her faith could have conducted the power of God in the same way to meet it. On a different occasion, Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

When you learn how to activate your faith (see Mark 11:22-25), it will be a strong conductor for releasing the power of God, not only to meet every need in your life, but also to minister it to the lives of others.

Healing Scriptures and Prayers

Healing Scriptures and Prayers
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Focus of Faith: God

So Jesus answered and said to them, “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)
Some people focus on the mountain: so big, so high, so impossible. Some people focus on their faith: so small, so weak, so inadequate.

But Jesus teaches us to focus on God. Before He ever talks about moving mountains, He simply says, “Have faith in God.” Faith apart from God is meaningless. True, biblical faith comes from God. Before we can operate in faith, we must focus on God, and have the kind of faith that comes from Him.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God Romans 10:17). Let that faith fill your heart to overflowing by hearing the Word, speaking the Word, meditating on the Word. Then you will be ready to speak to the mountain and see it move.

If you want to move mountains, here is what to do: Don’t focus on the mountain. Don’t even focus on your faith. Focus on God.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Choosing for Your House

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua made his choice. He made it not only for himself, but for his family and all who were in his house. Such is the authority and power of inheritance. Such is the authority and power of a father. Everything we do, every decision we make, will have great influence upon the direction and destiny of our family.

Adam learned this the hard way. When he chose to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he established the destiny for all his sons and daughters who would come after him. Ever since then, the whole world has experienced both good and evil, agonizing to sort between the two, and suffering the unintended consequences of Adam’s rebellion. Fortunately, God had a plan for redemption, which would come through the family line of Adam and Eve. We read the first mention of this promise in Genesis 3:16. Adam and Eve received this good news by faith, and the possibility for salvation has also been passed down to all their generations.

We read of Noah’s decision:
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrew 11:7)
Noah chose for his household when he decided to believe and obey the LORD, and his family was spared from destruction. Had he chosen differently, you and I would not be here.

God said of Abraham,
And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:17-19)
Abraham believed the promise made to him and his descendants. In fact, he believed even before he had any descendants. God was not choosing Abraham; He was establishing in Abraham a whole new household. When Abraham believed God, he was choosing not just for himself, but for all those who would come after him.

Isaac, son of Abraham, chose to believe the covenant, and he passed it on to his sons.

Jacob, son of Isaac, chose to receive the covenant. At Bethel, he wrestled with God until God blessed him. Then in his old age, Jacob gathered his sons together and passed the blessing on to them (see Genesis 49). From him came the twelve tribes of Israel, and from one of them, Judah, came the promised Messiah.

The Old Testament is full of examples where one person’s decision established the destiny for their household. In the New Testament, also, we read of:
  • Cornelius. He obeyed the vision of God which instructed him to send for Peter. Peter came and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to Cornelius’ entire household. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the Word” (Acts 10:44). Then they were all baptized in the name of the Lord (v. 48).
  • Lydia. “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay’” (Acts 16:14-15).
  • The Philippian Jailer. He cried out, “What must I do to be saved.” Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). They preached to him and all his house and ended up baptizing every one of them. “Now, when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (v. 34). The jailer’s decision brought salvation to all his house. But what if he had gone through with his original plan to kill himself?
  • Stephanas. Paul said, “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas” (1 Corinthians 1:16). Stephanas’ decision to receive Christ opened the door for salvation to come to his whole household.
  • Onesiphorus. Paul wrote, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus” (2 Timothy 4:19). The faith Onesiphorus had permeated his household so much that Paul greets them along with the rest of the church under Timothy’s leadership.
  • Lois and Eunice. Paul said to Timothy, “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” ( 2 Timothy 1:5). The choice Lois made carried through to her daughter, and even influenced the destiny of her grandson, Timothy.
Be encouraged. The choice you make to honor the LORD will greatly influence the destiny of your entire household for the good. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Heaven Now

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
Growing up in church, and even in Bible college, I had the impression that these sayings about heaven were only for when I died. Yes, I was laying up treasure for myself, as Jesus said, but I didn’t expect to see one bit of it before I kicked off of this planet. Yes, I was blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, but that was for later, not for now.

Now, perhaps that is what I was taught, or perhaps that was what I picked out by my own feeble understanding. I won’t blame my teachers and professors, although, looking back, there was an awful lot of that weak tea going around. But I will blame it on the deceptions of the devil.

It was supposed to be an encouragement to me to know that I had all these treasures and blessings waiting for me “in the sweet, by and by.” But other than that, they seemed to have no practical value to me in the mixed-up here and now. There was a saying that used to go around (and probably still does in some circles): “He’s so heavenly-minded that he’s no earthly good.” What we were meant to glean from that aphorism is that you better not be thinking about heaven too much if you want to get anything done on earth.

How utterly ridiculous!

I have since come to realize that, until I get my head firmly stuck in heaven and my mind solidly established in the spiritual realm, I won’t be able to accomplish anything at all worth keeping. Paul said,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Heaven is precisely where our minds are supposed to be focused. Why? Because that is where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of the Father — and that is exactly where we are, hidden with Christ in God. Paul makes this even more explicit in Ephesians 2:4-6.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Think this through: God the Father is seated in heaven on His throne, where He rules and reigns forever. Jesus Christ the Son is seated there also by His side, where He rules and reigns forever. Not only that, but every believer in Jesus Christ has been made alive, raised up and is now seated together in Jesus in the heavenlies. If we are seated with Jesus (and the Bible says that we are), then we are seated on the throne with Him. And what do you do on the throne? You rule and reign. That is, we rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ — not sometime off in the future when we die or are raptured out of here, but right now. Today. This moment.

That is why we need to get our mind into heaven, to understand our identity in Christ, to understand the authority and power God has given us to make His kingdom known on earth.
  • The treasures we lay up for ourselves in heaven are not for the sake of heaven but for the sake of earth. We won’t need them in heaven, but we do need them here and now, to bring forth the kingdom of heaven on earth.
  • Every spiritual blessing we have been given in the heavenlies is for our use now, to fulfill God’s purpose through His people. The spiritual realm is not divorced from the natural realm, but is actually the source of the natural realm.
  • The prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is for now. If we’re going to call for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we better be able to see what’s going on in heaven.
The kingdom of God is breaking through into this present age. Jesus said,
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matthew 11:12 NIV)
The kingdom of heaven is not static, it is dynamic. It is forcefully advancing upon the earth. That is why we must have our focus firmly fixed on heaven, not because that is where we are going, but because it is breaking forth into our world.

We need to change our perspective. We are not the last team out, waiting for the Big Airlift to extract us from this old, sinful world. No, we are an insertion team, an advance unit heralding the kingdom of God, bringing the power and authority of heaven to bear on the problems of the planet and establishing the rule and reign of God on the earth. It is a “can’t lose” situation, for at the end of the book of Revelation, we see heaven and earth coming together as one. That is where all things are headed, but for the believer in Jesus Christ, heaven is now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Understanding Things Not Seen

But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
There are things that are seen, and things that are not seen. It is important to see with your eyes — thank God for them — but it is even more important to see with your spirit. That is, to see the deep things of God which are revealed to us by His Spirit.

The things which are not seen are eternal.
We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal … For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7)
Everything you see with your physical eyes is only temporary. Only that which cannot be seen will endure. How much better to set your focus on that which will last than on that which will not, to walk by faith, not by sight.

The things which are not seen are evidenced by faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith is the substance, the underlying reality, of things not seen but which we fully expect to see. Though these things are not seen, they are made evident to our spirit by faith.

The things which are not seen frame the visible world.
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)
God is invisible. He is Spirit, and it is by His Words, words of His Spirit, that all things were created. To see only with physical eyes is to deal only with effects. To get down to cause and origin and source, you must learn to see in the spiritual realm, to understand by faith.

The things which are not seen must finally be reckoned with.
By faith, Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household. (Hebrews 11:7)
Had Noah not paid attention to that which is unseen, he would not have prepared an ark, and we would not be here today.

The things which are not seen give us the proper understanding of reality.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
The Old Testament saints had many wonderful promises from God. They did not experience them in the natural, but saw them “afar off” in the spirit. Their hearts were thus properly oriented to the reality that their lives were firmly rooted in things not seen. By their faith, properly focused on things not seen, they brought forth the promised fulfillment which came after them.

The things which are not seen require the perseverance of hope.
We also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:23-25)
In the Bible, hope is a positive anticipation, a joyful expectation that everything God has said will come to pass. It is not seeing with the eyes, but seeing with the heart, seeing in the spirit. Everyone who has received the Lord Jesus Christ is a beneficiary of the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. Though we have not yet seen all that God has promised, the Holy Spirit is the guarantee within us that it will all be fulfilled. It is this eager anticipation that causes us to persevere. For what is not now seen will one day be fully revealed.

The things which are not seen are revealed by faith in Jesus Christ.
Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father … He who has seen Me has seen the Father. (John 6:46; 14:9)

Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

Whom [Jesus Christ] having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
No one has seen the Father except the Son, but if you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. Though we do not now see Jesus Christ in the flesh, we are able to see Him, by faith, in the spirit. And seeing Him by faith, we see the Father.

The things which are not seen with our natural eyes are revealed to us in the spirit. Faith is the evidence.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Activating Your Faith

Whoever says to this mountain … (Mark 11:23)
The only one who can activate your faith is you. Faith comes from God, by hearing the Word of God, the Holy Spirit making it come alive inside you (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 2:11-14). But it is activated by you, more particularly, by what you say. Jesus said,
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 that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:23)
Notice that faith is expressed by what you say. This means that what you say must be in agreement with what you believe. That is how Jesus Himself activated faith. Notice that even in His statement, He is very aware of the act of saying: “Assuredly, I say to you.” The word “assuredly” means that He is speaking with utmost conviction. He is very consciously releasing His faith to the disciples.

The only one who can stop or hinder your faith is you. Many Christians, if they do manage to speak in accordance with the Word of God, often slip back into unbelief by speaking words of worry, doubt or fear. The devil has no power over you, but if he can get you to give voice to the lies he whispers in your ears, he can neutralize your faith. The answer, however, is to do what Jesus did when satan tempted Him in the wilderness — answer with the Word of God. The devil has no defense against that. Though he might try to twist the Scriptures on you, if you regular meditate on the Word and learn to discern your Father’s voice, you will not be fooled, just as Jesus wasn’t (see Matthew 4).

Once you activate your faith for something, it will work until it is fulfilled — unless you stop it. Remember the story of Jairus. He had great faith that Jesus could come to his house and heal his daughter. Jesus began to accompany him, but was stopped along the way by the faith of the woman with the issue of blood. Jairus might have let this become an offense, a stumbling-block to his faith, but he did not. However, when servants came from his house to inform him that his daughter was dead, his faith was in crisis, tested to the limit. When Jesus heard this, he immediately turned to Jairus and said, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36).

Jairus had earlier activated his faith by declaring to Jesus, “Come and lay You hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live” (Mark 5:23). But now he had a choice to make: to continue to believe, or to let the report of his servants create fear and negate his faith. The decision he made is seen in the very next thing he said: nothing. He did not give voice to the doubt that was trying to grip his heart; he did not release words of anxiety; he did not short-circuit his faith with fear. He held firmly to his original activation of faith, “she will live,” and his daughter was restored to life.

What you do with your faith is up to you. It comes by hearing the Word of God; it is activated by the words of your mouth. Always speak in agreement with the Word and do not let fear attach to your words.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Everybody Gets What They Bargain For

Everybody gets what they bargain for, but not everyone will like what they get. Adam bargained for the knowledge of good and evil when he chose to eat of the forbidden tree. And he got exactly what he bargained for — ever since then, the world has known good and evil, and the whole place has been a wreck.

A choice that is truly free must have real consequences, or else the will only appears to be free. Many people proudly tout their free will but then try to deny the consequences. Or else they portray God as having somehow been unfair or cruel to them by delivering the corresponding judgment. But the judgment of God simply restores the equilibrium of righteousness. It sets things right, and that means consequences. The natural consequences for choosing the good are good; the consequences for choosing evil are evil (which is nothing more than the lack of good).

Everybody gets what they bargain for, but not everyone likes what they get. Here’s how Paul put it:
For the wrath of God is revealed form heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
Paul has more to say about this matter in verses 26 and following. But my point here is that when people choose against the incorruptible glory of God, the only thing left is corruption. Having thus chosen corruption, God gives them over to that which they have chosen: corruption, which equals death, separation from the life God prepared for everyone to enjoy with Him. Though they freely choose the corruption, they rail against the natural results.

C. S. Lewis said that, in the end, there are only two kinds of people:
  • Those who say to God, “Thy will be done.” And they enjoy the splendor of heaven.
  • Those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.” And they experience the torment of hell.
Repentance is the opportunity to choose again and receive the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation God extends to us in Jesus Christ. You will not regret the consequence you receive from that decision.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Table of Hope

“Fill me with hope, LORD,” I said.

“Come to My table,” He answered.

The Table of the Lord is the place where hope is renewed.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Moving Mountains By Faith Working Through Love

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)

Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
The effectiveness of your faith will never rise above the level of your love. You might have faith enough to move mountains, but without love, it won’t matter one bit — you will probably be moving the wrong mountains.

Notice that both faith and love come from God:
Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:23)
They come to us in Jesus Christ:
And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:14)
Love comes from God, for God is love (1 John 4:8). Trying to do things by faith without love is like trying to do things by faith without God.

Perhaps faith without love might get some things done, but it will not make any lasting contribution or bring positive change that endures. But when love gets involved, God gets involved — and that makes a world of difference.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Diligence and Blessing

He shall be like a tree
Plant by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in is season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
(Psalm 1:3)
This, of course, is speaking of the one who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of the mocker, but who delights in the instruction of the LORD and continually meditates on it. Whatever he does shall prosper.

In Deuteronomy 28, describing the blessings of keeping covenant with Yahweh, God puts it this way:
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today … The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 8)
This is a wonderful promise of prosperity. It belongs to Christians under the New Covenant as much as it belonged to Israel under the Old, for the New Covenant is called a better covenant, based upon better promises (Hebrews 8:6). It will not grant less than the Old Covenant, but more.

But these wonderful covenant promises are not all necessarily automatic, they must be appropriated. All Christians have these promises from God, but not all have laid claim to them and experienced the manifestation in their lives.

How do we lay hold of these promises? The answer, of course, is by faith. Faith is believing the promises of God. But it is not enough simply to believe, we must also speak and act in accordance with that faith and those promises. For it is the nature of faith to act. That is why James says that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). Paul said that faith works, or expresses itself through love.

Those who walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners and sit in the seat of the scornful are not the crowd who are going to be diligent in the things that bring true prosperity. They may connive and cheat and see some short-term gains, but these will quickly evaporate. And they certainly do not exercise faith working through love.

So the promise of God is that there is prosperity for everyone who delights in His Word and obeys His commands. He will command the blessing on all to which you set your hand. But notice, in the following verses, that diligence is part of His instruction to us.
He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)

The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the lazy man will be put to forced labor. (Proverbs 12:24)

The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting,
But diligence is man’s precious possession. (Proverbs 12:27)

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. (Proverbs 13:4)

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men. (Proverbs 22:29)

Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations. (Proverbs 27:23-24)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
The Hebrew word translated as “diligent” generally means to be incisive or sharp. We might say “on the ball.” It is active, it is timely, it is decisive. It is quick to act, but not without due consideration, to take care of the things that ought to be taken care of. Another word means to be skillful, to excel. Such excellence requires that one be ready and steady in their effort. The word for “diligent” in Proverbs 27:23 is actually the word for “know” used twice, reflecting a Hebrew idiom for emphatic action. The idea in this verse is to do all you can to keep up with what’s going on in your affairs, or your prosperity can easily slip away.

The promise of God does not mean that we can let diligence go by the wayside. On the other hand, we should not put our trust in diligence. Rather, the promise of God is the assurance that, if we will be diligent we will be successful and prosperous in whatever we do. So have faith in the promise and in faith bring forth diligence.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Established in Heaven and Earth

Forever, O LORD,
Your Word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
(Psalm 119:89-90)
Whatever God settles in heaven is established on the earth. Everything — everything — is established by the Word of God. Whatever God says endures, it abides forever. It is what His faithfulness is about. God means everything He says; He believes it and fully expects it to be completely fulfilled.
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)
The worlds were framed by the Word of God. The word for “world” literally means “ages,” but by implication refers to everything that exists. The word for “framed” means to be perfectly joined together, thoroughly completed and brought into order. In other words, everything that exists was perfectly joined together, thoroughly completed and brought into order by the Word of God.

God’s Word embodies His thoughts and His ways.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways my ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain comes down,
And the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater;
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 55:8-11)
Whatever God says in heaven shall be accomplished, completely fulfilled on the earth.

Everyone who has received the Lord Jesus Christ and become His disciple has the authority to speak the Word of God on earth and expect to see it come to pass.
Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18-20)
In the Greek text, the grammatical sense of “will be bound” and “will be loosed” is that whatever we bind or loose on earth will have already been bound or loosed in heaven. This is about the Word of God, for nothing can be established in heaven contrary to the will of God, and the will of God is expressed by the Word of God.

We bind and loose things on earth by speaking the truth of the Word of God. When we agree together on earth, we must be in agreement with the Word of God, and then it will be done for us by our Father in heaven. Our authority is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the perfect expression of the will and Word of God. When we gather in His name — that is, for His purposes, to act as He would act and ask as He would ask — we have His authority to bring earth into line with heaven.

Remember also that Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Our Father … Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Whatever the Word of God has established in heaven, we can call for it to be established on the earth.

As you read and feed on the Word of God, pay close attention to how it expresses His will in heaven. For as a believer in Jesus Christ, you have every right to call for and expect to see His will done on earth in the same way. Let the Word fill your hearing and your heart (that is how faith comes, Romans 10:17), then begin to pray as Jesus taught. Don’t be afraid to get specific, but target every need you see with what God has said about it in His Word. For His Word, even in your mouth, will fully accomplish His will.