Saturday, March 19, 2011

Have Strong Faith

Heavenly Father I come to you today in the name of Jesus, for you are the God who I belong to and whom I serve. I thank you Lord for all that you are. I honor you, I glorify you and I praise you with thanksgiving.  Father, I speak that your anointing destroys every yoke in our lives that is keeping us from you.  I speak that our soul, spirit and body are renewed and function according to your will. Father, I ask that you overthrow the plans of troublemakers, scorners, mockers, persecutors and character assassins. Expose those sent by the devil and grant us divine strategies and tactics to identify, resist and overcome plots and plans that are created for our demise. Lord I know that you are our protector, our guide, our leader. I pray that this message will be read and absorbed, and that we will be able to use it in our daily living. Father use us to be a light to those that are still in darkness, and to help those that know the light but are still struggling.  And Father, please forgive us for anything we have done, that was not pleasing to you.  Father all these things we pray in your Son Jesus Name. Amen
                                                                                        Prayer by:  Judith Notice

As a child of God, I have come across many individuals where I had to minister to them by giving a word of encouragement, a word of calm, a word of chastisement, and a word of love.  In all of these conversations I had, if their faith was rocky, if their faith was not firm, if their faith was just simply weak, all that I have said they would not retain.  With the different talks I’ve described, I now have to give them a word to increase their faith.  Unfortunately, I came to a realization that many people will not get this.  Many people will not be saved; simply because they are allowing too many things around them to take precedence, and not allowing God to work it out for them, hence my direction verse, “But 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.”(Heb 11:6)
What comes to mind when referring to those whose faith seems to waver I think of two stories.  The first one involves Elijah.  To include all of the verses would drown out the message.  It can be read here in case you want to refer back to it.  Here is a brief summary.  Ahab is a Hebrew king in ancient Israel, his wife Jezebel, was a Phoenician (Canaan) princess.  Ahab married her and she became of course Queen Jezebel.  She turns Ahab away from worshipping God toward the worship of a Phoenician god, Baal.  They let temples of Baal operate in Israel, and this pagan religion is well pleased in their eyes.  Then Jezebel uses her control over Ahab to lead the Hebrews into idolatry, sexual immorality and subjects them to tyranny. She seen the prophets of God as a threat and have them slaughtered.  The prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a test (1 Kings 18), exposes their god as powerless, has them slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40), and invokes Jezebel's furious enmity.
In setting up the test, Elijah went to seek Ahab’s audience.  He was not afraid even when he was considered an enemy to Jezebel for she worships another god.  He was not afraid to move forward in the test.  He was not afraid when he slaughtered the prophets of Baal.  He was not afraid because He was a prophet of the most High God.  He was not afraid because he was going up against the enemy of the Most High God.  He had FAITH!!!!!!!!!!!  Then the most confusing thing happened.  Jezebel heard of his actions.  She sent messengers to speak with Elijah.  She stated to him (1 Kings 19:2) “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  The very next verse states Elijah ran for his life.  Not only that, he prayed to be killed!  WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAITH?!!!!!!!!!!!  Hold that thought.
          Do you remember when I shared above that there were two stories that came to mind that speaks to wavering faith?  Elijah was one.  Peter is another.  Many people speak about this particular story in a positive light.  I am not sure.  Of course it is open to interpretation, but see if you can follow.  Consider Mt 14:25-31 “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."  So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
          Here is why I do not see this story in a positive light like how it is preached sometimes.  The disciples were afraid when they saw a silhouette of Jesus on the water.  He assured them that he was not a ghost, but their loving teacher.  He stated, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  The writer of Matthew did not indicate that the disciples were not convinced.  The only one who appeared to have doubt was Peter.  He was not satisfied with his Master’s voice so he said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." If it is you?  If it is you?  I thought “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Heb 11:1)  Why did Peter need proof?  So Peter already had doubt in his heart, nevertheless Peter did step out on Jesus’ word, but as soon as he was distracted, as soon as His eyes were fixated on the wind, he began to sink, hence Jesus saying “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt me?”  I could imagine Jesus saying “Why would I bring you out on the water unless I am going to protect you.” 
Family, both stories speak to what I call a Contingency Faith.  With Elijah, his faith was strong when he seen God work in dealing with the prophets of Baal, but to see a woman showing no signs of fearing God or His wrath, and even threaten him (Elijah), his faith diminished.  Peter already defeated himself, for first doubting it was Jesus, so when he did step out on faith, it was not strong, because the wind caused his faith to diminish.  In other words family, your faith should not be dependent on when things are only going good.  Your faith should be strong no matter what the conditions, no matter what the circumstance, because you have a God who is faithful, who said in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb 13:5)  You have a God that promises that there is nothing unique about what you are facing, and that He is faithful, and will not allow you to face anything that you are not able to bear, and will provide an escape from it. (1 Cor 10:13)  Finally you have a God that promises that His thoughts toward you are of peace so that you can have a future of hope. (Jer 29:11)  With a God that declares so many things for us to have faith in, let’s try to believe it whole heartedly, without any wavering.  Amen.

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