About Faith

Have you ever prayed for something and immediately after you prayed for it, you began to doubt it would ever happen? You aren’t alone. I’ve done it countless times. I was listening to Jerry Savelle preach and I heard something in one of his scripture references that sprung up in me like I’d never heard it before.

Mark 11:24 (KJV) “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

pexels-photo-267559.jpegI don’t know how many times I’ve read this verse but for some reason, the words, “when you pray, believe…” rang in my spirit. God immediately reminded me of one of the ways He taught me to identify a religious spirit. He said, when you notice what the Bible says, notice also what is not said, and what is not said is what a religious spirit says.

So, what doesn’t this verse say? It doesn’t say, “…believe for every second thereafter without wavering.” This is how I had always interpreted it, though.

Jesus warned us that the devil comes immediately to steal the word from our hearts. But if we understand that the Bible also says, “Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (Proverbs 24:15 & 16 KJV)

In other words, God knows the devil is going to attack you, and he may even knock you down a time or two – or seven – but as long as we get back up and stand on the word, we haven’t lost what we prayed for!

Peter may have started to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and concentrated on the wind and waves, but when he turned back to Jesus, He picked Peter up and the BOTH walked on the water together back to the boat.

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. That means He is the inspiration for and the completer of it. He gives us the seed, we plant it, then He helps us water and cultivate it to maturity.

About Willingness

Have you ever been reluctant to do God’s will? Was it because you were limited in your ability, or what He asked seemed unreasonable? I know I’ve felt that way. Opportunities to obey present themselves every day, but what happens when we are unwilling?

I was recently reminded of Elijah and the widow woman in 1 Kings 17. In this passage, we read that Elijah was in such dire straits that God had commanded ravens to bring him food. When the brook he was camping by dried up from the lack of rain, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath because He had told a widow to sustain him. When Elijah showed up, he found her gathering wood for a fire because she planned to prepare the last meal for her and her son instead.

Most people focus on the blessing that followed her obedience, but I want to emphasize something just as important. Her initial reaction was in direct disobedience to what God had commanded her to do. She knew the will of God before Elijah arrived, but she chose to eat the last of her food and die rather than give it to someone else.

Now, it may seem that I am being harsh on her, but I’m not. What she did was a natural reaction, and I don’t blame her in the least. God knows I have acted selfishly on countless occasions, so I don’t begrudge her response at all. Rather, I call attention to it because it gives me hope!

That may seem like an odd thing to say, but I see myself in her misdeeds. And knowing how the story ends, I can’t help but get excited about the possibilities that lay on the other side of my own repentance and obedience. Like the proverbial carrot on a stick, hope is a powerful motivator. Acting on a partial revelation is dangerous, and partial revelation is one without hope.

The word she received from God only told her to care for Elijah, so the blessing beyond her obedience was unknown to her at the time. She had no provision, no promise, and no prospect of change. She had no motive to do God’s will save the knowledge that she would have obeyed. To paraphrase her own words, she had nothing to look forward to but death. Can anyone blame her for responding the way she did? I can’t.

After she told Elijah her plans, he revealed the rest of the word from God and promised that if she obeyed, the meal and oil would not fail as long as the drought continued. Now she had hope! Death was no longer a near certainty. She and her son would survive.

Hope is an integral part of our willingness to act. I have been taught my whole life that I should never do anything expecting to receive something in return, but that attitude isn’t reflected anywhere in the Bible. For the Joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. Paul pressed on toward the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. And for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that mankind would be redeemed to Him.

Mind you, we don’t have the right to expect anything from the recipient of our action or giving, but it is an affront to God’s character to not expect Him to reward us. Jesus said that when you give in secret, God rewards us openly. Give and it shall be given unto you. Sow a seed and you reap a harvest. These are principles that the Kingdom holds inviolate and they are exemplified everywhere in scripture. To deny it is foolish and prideful.

Despite the many times I have acted contrary to what I felt God wanted me to do, my ultimate obedience to Him always paid off in spades! Every time I doubted His word, refused to see things His way, or resisted His call, He always met me with open arms and hope at my slightest relent.

Our doubt, indecision, and stubbornness are no match for His designs. He is a master strategist, so don’t think for one second that your eventual obedience to His direction is a disappointment. He is overjoyed! While a moment in time may have passed, it’s never too late to get involved in His plans.

The devil will do his best to convince us the opposite is true. He can’t see beyond our actions. He doesn’t understand God’s plan, so the second we deviate from what he knows about it, the devil is right there condemning us for it. But if we dwell upon our shortcomings, we are in danger of letting them destroy us. When repentance is as simple as saying we’re sorry and picking up where we left off, why would we let regret fester in our heart?

God works through our willingness, even if it’s reluctant. The next time you feel like He is asking you to do something you don’t want to do, ask yourself if your reticence springs from a hope that is based on your own ability and not God’s. Remember, if God inspired a fatalistic, frightened widow to carry out His will, then there’s a blessed hope for us all, and it springs eternal!

About Hell

When I was about 7 years old, I was taken to heaven. Jesus held my hand as He led me down the streets of gold. I only remember seeing Him from the middle of His chest on down, but I knew it was the Lord. I saw the crystal sea and beautiful mansions. He led me up a path to one of these mansions and knocked on the door. A man I didn’t recognize opened the door and smiled at me so wide, I thought his cheeks would burst. He spread his arms wide and embraced me, and that is where my memory ends. I now believe that man to be my grandfather; the man my father never knew.

My next memory is standing in the shadows of the gates of Hell. I could see thick, dark bars of supernatural strength and I saw the gulf between heaven and hell. I felt so alone and afraid. The only thing more frightening that I have ever experienced in my 47 years the manifest presence of the one True and Holy God.

I saw heaven shining on the other side of the gulf shimmering in glory and adorned with all manner of precious stones, pearls, and metals. Unable to reach it, I felt it was teasing me; taunting me; torturing me. An angel stood outside the gate watching me. I begged him to release me, but he said, “I can’t help you.”

That is where the experience ended. While my encounter isn’t as dramatic as the accounts that some have shared, it was traumatizing a 7-year-old, and God knew I couldn’t handle much more. Years later, as I watched or read about other people’s experiences in hell, I noticed that each story was unique. Until then, I thought that hell was just isolation from God and inescapable fear, so I asked God how bad hell really was. He immediately replied, “Hell is so torturous that if Satan experienced all that awaits him for one second, he would be doing everything he could to make sure you never go there.”

Have you ever seen something so terrible that you said, “I’d never wish that on my worst enemy?” That is how our accuser would be after 1 second of torture.

Hell is NOT the kingdom of Satan. He has never seen hell. Hell was prepared for him AFTER he fell. It isn’t a place where you get to do what you want for all eternity. It isn’t going to be a party. It is an eternity of condemnation, judgment, wrath, isolation, fear, and indescribable sorrow. You were NEVER meant to see it. It wasn’t created for you, but if you do not accept the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus and His sacrifice for you, then it will be your final destination.

Satan would become an evangelist after just 1 second, but Jesus spent 3 days there atoning for mankind’s sin.

Jesus loves you. Please don’t ignore His sacrifice. Repent and live.