Monday, January 31, 2011
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-11
Do you struggle with a lack of faith?
If in fact lack of faith is a barrier that keeps us from receiving all of the best that God has in store for us; then one of our greatest aims should be the continual strengthening, increasing, and deepening of our faith. So how can we deepen our faith?
In a recent post I noted how you can keep a notebook, journal or file on your computer of answered prayers and requests. Then use this as the basis for prayers of thanksgiving to God. Each time we thank God for answering our prayers we are establishing new levels in the depth of our faith. Think about it … a person who can recall a hundred answered prayers will naturally have a deeper belief in the power of prayer than someone whose prayer life has little or no substance.
But you might say to me; “you don’t understand … if you only knew what I’ve been going through; or I have prayed and God hasn’t answered me.” Well I can just say this; you are right, I don’t know what you’ve been through; but God does know. And he has promised to answer and deliver you in your times of trouble. The verses above are a direct answer to this concern also: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” God hears you, and He will deliver you.
But there are some specific instructions God has made clear.
All of these steps will deepen your faith. Do you want your prayer life to become deep and powerful? Here is what you need to do … every day.
Humble yourself to God --- James tells us; “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10. Just the very act of turning our problems and trials over to God in Prayer is in fact humbling ourselves in His sight. The promise is that; “He will lift you up.” Jesus also makes this point; “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” Matthew 23:12. Bow down to the Creator and Savior of the world, He will deliver you. When your old self, for whatever reason refuses to admit your problems are beyond your ability, and you keep them to yourself; that is your prideful man refusing to humbly turn it over to God. You are unconsciously saying ; "I don't need your help God ... I can fix it." It could be sin you are struggling with, or fears, doubts, challenges, a relationship, or a temptation. Turn it over to God in prayer. He will remove your doubts, fears, sins, and problems. These are promises we need to stand upon. When we stand upon His promises and claim them as our truth in our prayers, our faith is strengthened and His power becomes our power, and our prayers become His fulfillment and our victory.
Casting all your anxiety on Him --- Don’t worry. Worry is sin. Worry needs to be like a red flag telling you to stop and pray. When we are able to stop and turn all of our worries over to the Lord, He will give us rest. When we force the results, we are not turning our problems over to God. Jesus is very clear: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mathew 10:28-30. As the song goes: I cast all my cares upon you, I lay all of my burdens down at your feet, and any time, I don’t know … what to do, I just cast all my cares upon you. You can have total and complete release. Just release it all over to Jesus. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.
Be of sober spirit --- This word is defined; to be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect, self controlled, To be dispassionate means we are unaffected by passion, emotion, or bias. Our bias can be any thinking that edges God out. We may just unconsciously go a different way. We stop listening and take a wrong turn. This putting aside of our pre-conceived beliefs, notions, training and bias allows us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, as we study and meditate on God’s truth. When we are of sober spirit we are listening for God’s direction. We are to meditate on His word in our prayer life. Pray and listen. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
Be alert --- “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:36-46. Once again we see that we are told to be alert, and to be watchful. Our natural tendency is to rest in our old ways opening the door to sin. God wants us to stay alert because He knows that when we pray this is a call to God that also causes the enemy to attack. When we are alert, the forces of evil lose their power. Our response can simply be “you have no power over me, in the name of Christ, be gone." When we are alert, the Holy Spirit will guide us in our mind to the scriptures that spell defeat to our enemy.
Resist the devil --- Jesus gives us the example of how to have victory over our enemy. As in Genesis 3:1-6 the deceiver always uses the same three ways of tempting us, and we have two choices: follow the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and our pride; or we can respond with the Truth of the Word, the sword of the Spirit, as Jesus did. Matthew 4:1-11. We can always experience certain victory because we are always promised a way of escape; “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 … and angels will come and minister to us, as they did Jesus. We can have victory ... moment, by moment, day by day; and we can watch God's miraculous ways, as He deepens our faith in Him.
Be Firm in your faith --- We need to know what we believe, not shaking or trembling ... we must be steady and stand firm, speaking with the authority of God's Word. When God's Word is clear to us, we are not likely to change our mind. Our beliefs have become settled and fixed, and they are unalterable, unless He gives deeper clarity. A firm belief will not follow the winds of the day or the shifting ideas and philosophies of modern man. Once again when we are steadfast and unwavering on Biblical principles, we are likely to be called a narrow-minded fundamentalist in a derogatory tone. But never fear, our aim should be to model the early fundamentalists; like Daniel and his friends, and the Bereans who stood firm on God's Holy Word. We only need to take these steps above and then pray; and we will experience Deepening Faith. It is a process. Failure can weaken us until we turn our eyes upon our Lord, and then we can see his miracle working power released in our lives. Deeper Faith is not something we can conger up, but it grows day by day, as we trust and experience the Creator. Question: would your faith be stronger if God did an unquestionable, miraculous, healing right before you eyes? Or What if an angel appeared to you ... as He did to Daniel, and he explained that he had been sent as an answer to your prayers, and that he had been trying to break away from the enemy for three weeks … would this experience make things more clear to you then? Would you experience the strengthening, increasing, and deepening of your faith? Of course you would. So what do you have to lose by claiming that Deepening Faith daily? Pray for the faith of Daniel, Joseph, John, and Paul. I am certain that this is a prayer that the Lord would love to hear.
Know the truth --- How do you know that you know the truth? Only the Holy Spirit and God’s Word can assure you of that. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight; But the LORD weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2. “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it? “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:9-10. We can never trust ourselves apart from Christ. You know the nature of man has not changed, when someone tells you … as a “gay Christian” told me earlier today online: “There really isn’t a whole lot left to say as I will never agree with you and visa versa.” You can see that these verses are just as true today as they were thousands of years ago. “Men’s ways are clean in their own sight.” They have a way of creating their own truth, and nothing you can show them will change it.
Give God Dominion --- To give God dominion in our lives means that: He is sovereign and the supreme authority; He has the power of governing and controlling us; we are no longer our own, He has the right of possession, use, and control of our lives; based upon what he did for all of us at Calvary. When we give God this level of control in our lives, He becomes responsible for the outcome. We now can see Him working in our day to day activities.
The king of Babylon understood the totality of God’s dominion when He experienced God’s miraculous powers and proclaimed; “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. Daniel 4:34. we are each the king of our own Babylon … the question is: “Are we willing to give God sovereign dominion in our personal kingdom?”
I pray that you will grow in your Deepening Faith in all of these areas of your life in the year to come.
God Bless you my friends, Bob