Tag Archive | faith

God’s Reigning Power & Our Obedience

As you know, I am still working on my Master’s degree through Regent University’s School of Divinity. I love interacting with the other students on our discussion boards and I thought I would share my comment for this week’s discussion board with you on the interpretive role of the Book of Joshua in a contemporary Christian context in lieu of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Perhaps God will speak to you through it. Feel free to enter into the discussion.

The Book of Joshua is a theological history centered on God’s role with His people. He is at the center of every activity. He commands the Israelites to enter into Canaan. The occupants of Jericho are terrified because they have heard of the power and faithfulness of the Israelites’ God so it is He who terrifies them. It is God who parts the Jordan so that the Israelites may cross its raging waters, and, it is the Lord’s army, His strategies, and, thus, His victories on every account. In the midst of God’s reigning power, we see His faithfulness as we realize that the giving of Jericho is the first fruits of the land promised Abraham to be given to his descendants.

Interpreting the book of Joshua in light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I would suggest that faith in God’s reigning power coupled with His faithfulness to fulfill His promises to His people is the foundation for our training and growth in righteousness because without such, we are weak in our obedience and unable to perform the good works ordained that we should do. If we fail to take the steps we are commanded that lead to the fulfillment of the promise, then we may fail to experience God’s reign and faithfulness in whatever challenge lie before us, whether it is to conquer an addiction or to walk into a particular destiny God has showed us He wants to give us.

The message of the book of Joshua is as relevant for believers today as it was for God’s ancient people. God reigns and He is faithful to fulfill His promises as we step out in faith in obedience to Him.

Advertisements

“Abide in Him?” What Does it Mean? Does It Mean to Pray and Obey More?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Yes, Christ is the vine, and we are the young branches in union with Him who are toldgrapevines to “abide.” However, the mistake we make so often when reading this passage of Scripture is that we immediately begin to try to figure out what we must do in order to abide when the point of the imperative being given here is simply that we are to receive. Thus, we miss altogether the indicative statement being made, and that is that all the nourishment we need to produce fruit comes from the vine (Jesus Christ), and not from ourselves. This must first be acknowledged before we will see the fruit of true obedience, an obedience that flows from the heart and is not just an outward action in an effort to conform.

Let’s consider the new growth on a grapevine. Obviously, the new growth is helpless and unable to do anything to support the vine from which it is attached. The tendril goes on to maturity, by resting there in union with the vine, receiving all that it needs to grow in strength, endurance, and fruitfulness from the vine itself. If it becomes separated, it’s fate will be death.

You see, it is not our ability to bear fruit that is the focus here. The emphasis is to rest in Christ’s ability and His dedication because of His amazing love for us, to transform us and produce the fruit He desires of us. This passage is all about Jesus Christ, and His promise of devotion and affection to produce in and through us, fruit. It is not about what we ourselves need to try to do, separated from Him. Christ clearly tells us, we can do nothing in our own efforts. However, as we know and abide in His love by believing Him concerning His love and what He has done for us, and as we expose ourselves to the Word of God, and rest in His promise  concerning what He is doing in us, we are continually cleansed (John 15:3) and we are guaranteed to bear fruit.

In other words, yes, we are called to obey God. Our love is seen in our obedience to Him. But,  our obedience is not a life of striving. The fruit of obedience doesn’t come before receiving the nutrients from the vine, which are only received if we are abiding. We abide by trusting wholly in Christ, not ourselves. True obedience is a by-product of what God has planted and is tending within us. We must leave our self improvement programs and efforts, and our tendency to trust in ourselves, and instead, trust fully in Jesus Christ. We must trust in His love for us, believing in what He has dJohn 15_9one and is doing in us.

We can believe and rest in our union with Him in order to absorb all we need to produce fruit as His life flows into us to nourish our souls. Jesus said, “I’ve loved you with the same intensity of love that my Father has for me” (John 15:9). Believe that this kind of love is possible and that it is yours.” Rest in this love and He will see to it that you bear the fruit He has intended for you.

Furthermore, notice I said “for you.” Each branch will bear the same kind of fruit, yet perhaps a different amount of fruit, according to the Lord’s desire and plan, so don’t get caught up in comparing your fruit to another, resulting in either condemnation or pride. Remember, to rest in His love and promise, and know it is His ability not yours, to produce fruit in your life. It is all about Him and what He has done and is doing.

I will close with this quote I love from Elyse Fitzpatrick which sums it up well. “We are eternally united to Christ, the true vine, and His fruitfulness is ours. Your obedience will grow because he’s your husbandman. Rest here. Endure here. Remain here. Tarry here. Abide”

 

 

Spiritual Growth:Be Like a Child

Becoming like little children who are creative and counter-intuitive, without self-consciousness –unafraid of what others may think of us – is key for genuine spiritual growth. We can’t truly walk in faith unless we care only what God thinks about us and unless we have a willingness to look foolish and be the unique person God created us to be. In fact, the more we grow up spiritually, the more we resemble a child, the more nonconforming we become, and the more passionate we become, because we are becoming more like Christ who Himself was  extremely passionate and an extreme nonconformist for that day.

Satisfaction – Dissatisfaction: The Choice is Yours

As we pursue God as first priority in our lives, His love satisfies our restless souls. On the other hand, ignoring God results in a loss of awareness of His amazing, unconditional love leaving us empty and dissatisfied. Therefore, you can choose to be satisfied or dissatisfied by choosing to pursue God or to ignore Him. What will it be?

Thought Patrol Part 2: Reframing Your Life Story

Did you know that if you are tired of the story you have been living, you have it within your power to create a new one?  I discussed in the last post of the “Though Patrol” series the first step in the process of change and that is you must recognize authorship of your story and take ownership of it. Without a recognition that you yourself have responsibility for life, you will not be able to successfully assess your thoughts, behavior and the results of your behavior to determine what you can and should change. Today, we will look at the role our assumptions and motivations play in creating our life stories.

In the Bible, God tells us that we can call things that be not as though they are. What is He talking about here? He is saying if you have things in your life that are not in alignment with God’s will for you and you want to change, then begin to use your imagination and envision that change and speak it into being. Do not get me wrong here. This is not a magical formula, but a process involving godly meditation and speaking a godly desire aloud, that must be persevered until the desired result is being experienced in your life. The thing is, as you envision the change and speak it, you will begin to believe it. You are simply going through the process of changing your thoughts to line up with the life God has said He desires for you. As the thoughts you are now meditating on change, so does your behavior begin to change which results in bringing the new belief to pass. Scripture says that what you believe opens or closes possibilities for your life. Your beliefs and assumptions about yourself, others, life and God have a tremendous impact on your behavior, performance and how you achieve your life or business goals. Ultimately, they construct your storylines, opening or closing the possibilities which influence your performance.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Mark 11:24: Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. God is saying whatever you believe you can be, have, or do when you ask Him for it is a possibility for you to experience in your life. Your beliefs and assumptions will manifest themselves in the decisions you make, the things you say and the things you do. On the other hand, whatever you do not believe limits the possibility for that to be a storyline of your life.  In other words, there are empowering beliefs and there are limiting beliefs. Let’s take a look at what an empowering belief might look like.

  1.  I will carry through the decisions that I make.
  2. I have the ability and the perseverance to achieve my goals.
  3. I am a positive person and those around me learn to respond positively to me.

A limiting belief would look like this.

  1. No one ever supports me in what I want to do.
  2. I am not good enough to earn that amount of money.
  3. I am unworthy of good things.

Let’s look at the first example above of a limiting belief. Immediately, we recognize these statements are in contradiction with what scripture says about us or commands us to think. Philippians 4:8 is a good example: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. When you believe no one ever supports you, your behavior will become such that it will cause people to be unsupportive towards you. On the otherhand, looking at the third example above of an empowering belief, your behavior will line up with the belief and you will have people responding to you in a positive way.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by renewing our minds. Whatever beliefs you renew your mind to will become the storylines of your new life story.  Your thoughts will transform your behavior and your behavior will transform your life. We are able to know someone’s beliefs and values by looking at their behavior because behavior is a result of what we believe.

So it is important to acknowledge that you have been constructing and are able to construct what you experience. You are the one responsible for your own choices and those choices have created your storyline. If you continue making the same choices you will continue creating the same storylines. If you begin making different choices, you will begin to write a new life story.

God says in Deuteronomy “I set before you life and death.”  Then He goes on and commands us to “Choose life”. We make the choice as to what we are going to believe, feel and do. When we choose empowering beliefs we are choosing beliefs that lead to successful behavior which will result in a successful life and career.

As a Christian Life Coach, I help my clients to assess their story lines and determine the underlying assumptions and self concepts they were created from. I also help them learn to take their thoughts captive and analyze them as to whether they are thoughts that are empowering or limiting and then discard those that are not going to further the new story they desire to create. It is also important to examine one’s emotions to determine the assumption or thought it is attached to and whether that assumption is relevant to one’s present life.  If not, the assumption can be changed and the feeling can be converted to an intention.

You can take control of your thoughts and feelings and create a new life experience. Join me next week for Part 3 of the series on “Thought Patrol.”

Examples of Scriptures which speak of our belief system – our faith:

Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 21:21-22 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

2 Corinthians 4:13-14 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

We Walk by Faith

2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith and not by sight – “

In this Scripture, Paul is addressing our anxiety concerning death.  Although we may experience some anxiety about what we have not yet experienced, namely heaven, we can have confidence that we will pass from this earth suit into eternal life with Christ. We will continue to live and we will live in a better place. Our hope is not in vain. It inspires us when facing death whether due to the natural progression of our lives from birth to death or due to persecution as experienced by the Apostle Paul.

Although it is not the context in which this Scripture is used, I also believe this verse can be applied to all of our challenging circumstances. We quote this Scripture often and with great confidence as long as things are moving along according to our plans or we at least understand why what is happening is happening. In other words, when we have sight, we have confidence. But when we have sight, faith is not needed.

It is in those times we cannot see purpose that our faith becomes known.  It is in our painful times that make no sense to the natural mind, we must grab hold of God and walk by faith. It is in the times we are clueless to why something is happening that our faith becomes our guide. And how about those times we cannot see what the outcome is going to be concerning a decision we have made? These, too, are times we must walk by faith trusting that God is indeed in control and has us in His hands.

When Jon and I made the decision to move from North Carolina to California, I admit there was some anxiety. Did I say some? Well, perhaps I should say, a lot. After all, we were moving from a place I knew to a place I knew not. I felt like Abraham when God said, “Go to a land I will show you” and Abraham just left the familiar to go somewhere else. He went without having a clue where he was going. Since I had not yet experienced life in the desert of California, I could only guess at what my life would be like there.

Everyone experiences trying times and times of uncertainty. Sometimes our circumstances appear to have no purpose or benefit whatsoever. Yet in these sightless times, we can have confidence that God is with us fulfilling His plan and purpose. We do not need to see what it is all about while in the midst of it. We just need to be able to see our God and know that He is always with us and will never forsake us. We do not need to understand the purpose, we just need to know God and have confidence in who He is and that His character  never changes.