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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

I could speak of the place that the Lord first found me

& of the great saints who have gone before

*

I could tell of the mighty battles that have been fought

& of the miraculous deeds that have been done

*

I could sing a hymn of God’s great holiness

& of the wonders of His ways

*

I could paint a portrait of the splendor of the heavenly city

& of the angelic host that await us there

*

But in truth

it is only the

faith

& hope

& love

that I carry within my heart today

that has the potential to change anything

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When I was a child, I was very sensitive and emotional; which kind of sounds funny since I don’t suppose that I’ve ever stopped being those things.  But somewhere along the way I figured out that wearing my heart on my sleeve and allowing everything to penetrate my soul, was not the most expedient way to live.  The first step was suppressing the urge to express every thought that came into my head and eventually I began to develop my mind as a way of heading off those powerful emotions.  I learned to anticipate situations and to think my way through them as a defense against getting overwhelmed by circumstances.

 

It is interesting how dramatically that changed the face of who I was.  As a child I was driven by the winds of my feelings, while as an adult I have largely been driven by pragmatism and my own sense of what is “reasonable”.  Though I doubt many men would express it this way, I would guess that most have gone through some sort of similar process.  If you’re ever around little boys, you’ll find that most start out as emotional, expressive and affectionate; while grown men generally exhibit limited evidence that this was ever the case.

 

At the point I became serious about living for the Lord, I immediately found Him pushing me back towards this sensitivity.  I felt as though He said that this was part of how He designed me; that my gifts were wrapped up in that sensitivity and that a childlike heart was the only way I’d experience His kingdom.  While I understand that He doesn’t want me to be driven by my emotions, I have found that He is equally dissatisfied with idea that I would be guided by my rational thoughts.

 

God and His kingdom far exceed the bounds of my natural mind’s ability to understand them and to rely on my thoughts as a guide greatly diminishes the influence He means to have in my life.  To that end, He has graciously given us His Holy Spirit, that we might have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father.

 

As I ponder all of this, I am reminded of some things my mother taught us as children.  At a very early age she began to play card games with us.  She used this as a way to help us with our number recognition, counting and learning simple arithmetic.  It was very effective.  She started with simple games like “War”, in which we learned that an eight was greater than a seven and that a king beat a jack.  We went on to “Go Fish”, where we learned how to match pairs together.  As she taught us more complex games, we eventually came to the place where we needed to learn the concept of “trump”.  Many card games include the use of a trump suit, which is when one suit usurps the power of all the others (e.g. Spades).

 

At first it seemed a strange concept; after all, we’d just come to understand that a king was greater than a ten, and now we had to grasp that if that ten was a trump card, it nullified the king’s power.   I believe that as we mature as Believers there is a similar adjustment that God means to make in our thinking.

 

As the simple games of our childhood taught us the patterns of counting and arithmetic, so our life experiences give us a sense of the world and how it works.  Unconsciously, we’ve learned these patterns and they’ve formed boundaries within our thought processes as to what is sane, rational, reasonable or even possible.  Maybe we’ve consciously studied things like science, psychology or philosophy, to come to some greater understanding of what the boundaries for man and mankind are, but I’d submit that whatever we might have learned has given us only a small view of a picture that is greater than we can comprehend.

 

As we come into relationship with God, we find that despite all the patterns that life has taught us, He has given us some trump cards, which have the ability to usurp the power of whatever hand we’ve been dealt.  As I prayed I sensed that the three trump cards He’s given us are faith, hope and love, and that the application of any one of these into our situation has the potential to overcome what our mind has concluded to be the natural order of things.

 

As we study the scriptures, we find the power of faith, hope and love, both implicitly and explicitly expressed.  Repeatedly God reminds us of the limitations of our natural mind and exhorts us towards faith as the pathway to cross these borders.  He tells us not to lean on our own understanding; that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours; and that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever imagine or hope for.

 

He warns us that knowledge puffs a man up; and He offers both a peace that surpasses understanding and a love that surpasses knowledge.  He tells us that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.  Yet, despite these exhortations, it seems that much of Western Christianity is often more rooted in psychology than in the word of God.  Psychology can only study the pattern of human behavior as it has been, but it cannot hope to reach the possibilities of what we were created to be.  Only the Creator can show us that.

 

Much of the well-intentioned, self-help mentality within the church keeps us bound to finite worldly thinking and at the mercy of the world’s system.  Paul warned us against this when he said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ”.  Jesus told us that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, that we’d be able to overcome the things that we consider to be the “laws of nature”.

 

Peter further states that love has the power to overcome a multitude of sins and Paul adds that we can possess every spiritual gift, but that if we have not love, we have and are “nothing”.  We must understand that the love they’re speaking of is God’s love and not the self-seeking human strain, which is of little value to the kingdom.  God’s love “always protectsalways trustsalways hopes and always perseveres”.

 

As we look at the apostles, we see how these forces came to bear in their lives.  When Herod imprisoned Peter, he was guarded by four squads of four soldiers; with a soldier constantly chained to each side of him.  Our natural minds would say that there was no hope for Peter, but the scripture tells us “the church was earnestly praying to God for him”.  This seems a marked contrast to how the modern western church might handle such a scenario.  We’d likely call a lawyer from the Center for Law and Justice, to defend Peter in court; circulate petitions via the internet, demanding Peter’s release; and maybe even set up a picket at Herod’s palace.

 

We seem to have forgotten that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal in nature.  The early church asserted their faith and appealed to the power that was higher than any natural law and as Peter slept, an angel came, woke him up and walked Him out of the prison.  Our natural minds cannot comprehend this, but the nature of a miracle is that it cannot be explained and is beyond what we believe to be reasonable.

 

We must understand that God’s reality is much higher than ours.  As the church prayed, they invited God and all His resources into the situation; which changed everything.  How often have we failed to invite God into our situation because we felt bound to the world system, and that the outcome was somehow inevitable?  The Lord said that we have not because we ask not.

 

We see examples of this intervention in Paul’s life as well; like the time he and Silas were praising the Lord in prison.  In so doing, they asserted their hope and faith into the situation and the Lord literally shook the earth to free them.  He is no respecter of persons, so it holds true that He will do the same for us.

 

I am certainly not advocating an empty headed walk with the Lord, but we must realize that there is a huge chasm between worldly knowledge and the knowledge of God.  Inherent in the knowledge of God is relationship with Him.  The Pharisees had devoted their life to the study of scripture, but were still unable to recognize the manifestation of truth when it stood before them.  They knew about Him, but they didn’t know Him.

 

God did not leave us to our own resources in this; He gave us His Holy Spirit to be the “Counselor”, the “Comforter” and to “teach us all things”.  He placed at our disposal all the resources of heaven, but in the church today those resources remain largely untapped.  When our natural minds come against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, they tend to default to fear and discouragement; but God wants the hearts of His children to default to faith, hope and love.

 

When we don’t have the answers for people, He wants us to default to loving them where they’re at.  When situations look negative and hopeless, He wants us to default to placing our hope in Him and to assert our faith in prayer, by inviting Him into the situation.  He is a God who delights in making a way where there seems to be no way.

 

Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your minds in Christ Jesus”.  He also said that one day “fire will test the quality of each man’s work” and I believe when that test is done, all that will remain are those things done out of faith, hope and love.

 

While those without Christ are left only to play “War” with the world, hoping that the cards will fall their way; every child of God possesses these trump cards, which are able to overpower any cards that the world may deal.

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On the other side of every dark night is the hope that accompanies each new day

On the other side of every roiling sea is a shore with waters that You’ve stilled just for me

On the other side of my anxious thoughts is a peace that surpasses what I can understand

On the other side of every deception is a truth that is meant to set me free

On the other side of my fear is a faith that is able to overcome any obstacle

On the other side of every struggle is a testimony of Your sovereignty

On the other side of my failures is a grace that never lets go

On the other side of who I’ve been is the person You created me to be

On the other side of my plans are Your plans, which exceed what I can imagine

On the other side of the wisdom of men is a revelation that renders it foolishness

On the other side of what I think I know is that which only You could teach me

On the other side of death is a life that will never end

On the other side of myself I find You

Lord take me to the other side

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