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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

This was supposed to just be a short post on a couple of things God taught me during this week, but as it turns out, is not. 😉

1. Faith:

I finally learned what it means that Jesus is the author and “finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). It’s a term my Dad used a lot in his prayers and sermons, but I don’t think I ever quite understood it too well until this week. I’ve been learning a lot about faith lately, and I clearly understand that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. I also understand that God has made it easy for us to have that faith because He Himself is the “author” of our faith. He Himself puts faith in us when we accept Him into our lives, which itself is a step of faith.

The Bible talks about us having faith as tiny as a mustard seed, and even that little faith being enough to move mountains. So I went with that thought. I imagined a tall transparent glass with just one tiny mustard seed in it – pitifully tiny, insignificant and incapable of anything big in that large glass. That’s how my faith is more often than not. However, this is what I learned… that no matter how small, insignificant or incapable of anything our faith is, God completes it for us, in other words, he is the “finisher” of our faith. It’s as if He fills that tall glass with Himself and thereby makes all things possible. I imagine the glass being filled up with water (symbolic of the Holy Spirit). Try it practically and see what happens… you will see that the mustard seed no longer remains at the bottom of the glass, but rises up bit by bit to the very top and floats there. So it is with our faith… no matter how small, when we realize that Jesus Himself completes it, our faith rises to meet the challenge. We are emboldened with courage just knowing that He completes our faith and we are not in the struggle alone… and suddenly ALL things become possible for us.

2. It’s not about us and our capabilities; it’s about Him and His infinite abilities:

This sort of goes hand in hand with what I learned on faith, and I’ve seen this happening through this last week as I’ve ministered to people with various needs, most of them beyond me and my own understanding. I’ve seen God use me despite my inability in certain situations, and give me the right words at the right time for people that He brought my way in His perfect time. I know that none of those were co-incidences or mistakes, but divine appointments. In one particular situation I didn’t feel very “knowledgeable” regarding the situation, but God gave me His wisdom to deal with it. All it took was for me to say, “Here I am, Lord. I’m available. Use me. If you can use anything, Lord, you can use me!”

I was moved by a dialogue towards the end of the film, Prince Caspian (yes, I am a HUGE Narnia fan, in case you don’t already know that). After the war is won, when Aslan meets with the children, he tells Prince Caspian that the time has come for him to be King and rule over the land. Prince Caspian is overwhelmed and says something like, “But I don’t think I am ready yet”, to which Aslan’s reply is, “It is for that very reason I think you are.”

God is not looking for people who think they have it all together and are content in their self-sufficiency. God is looking for people who know they are not capable in and of themselves, but He is able. We need to always remind ourselves that it is never about us and our capabilities, but about Him and His infinite abilities! And be available for Him to use.

3. Obedience:

1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. Along with faith, knowing that it’s all about God and being available for Him to use, goes obedience. We have often heard people say, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”. So true! I have been learning that too this week. It is better to obey God no matter how crazy it might seem.

Last night I heard God tell me something that sounded like He was out of His mind. I was like, “What??? No, no, no… there’s nothing I can do about it. Thank you for telling me, but I don’t see how I can help with that.” But I couldn’t bring myself to ignore God’s voice and eventually found myself doing the outlandish thing He told me to. Now, this involved another person too, and even if I had done my part in obedience, the buck stopped with her if she thought I was out of my mind. To my surprise, she not only took me seriously, but was also obedient to what she said was the Holy Spirit telling her not to just brush it aside as some nonsense like she would have normally done, but to act on it. What our obedience achieved, I am yet to find out, and I sincerely hope it saved a life. However, the point is not what we achieved, but that we were both obedient to God and his voice. John 10: 27 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” What is God saying to you today? Are you one of His sheep? Are you following Him?

4. Look Inside Yourself!

The fourth thing I learned this week is something very personal, but I want to share it all the same, knowing that many struggle with this question. We often wonder why God doesn’t “show” Himself to us and reveal Himself visibly. Why is it that God shows Himself to some stranger who has never even heard of Him, ever, but won’t show Himself to me??? I remember reading once that God, more often than not, needs to show Himself to those that don’t believe and those who would find it hard to believe if He didn’t. However, for those of us that have a strong faith and believe in Him even without having seen him, it is not necessary for us to see Him. I made myself content for a while thinking, “Oh, I must have great faith that God doesn’t need to show Himself for me. Cool!” And that was cool… but there came a time not too long ago, when I asked the Lord to show Himself to me and He did in a very strange way, so much so that it freaked me out for a bit, wondering what the strange Presence in my room was. His Presence remained in my room several days, and I would see it every night. But after a while I stopped seeing it. Then the other night I asked the Lord to show Himself to me again, and this is what He answered, “Why are you looking here for me? Look inside yourself!” Whoa! That was pretty amazing to me, and a necessary reminder that He is inside of me, working in and through me. When others see me, I sincerely hope they see Jesus inside of me.

Now, I’d like to make it clear that God is very capable of showing Himself to anyone, and in different ways to different people. For me at this point in time, this is what He chose specifically for me. The only reason I am sharing it is because I know many people have the same question on their minds, and I hope to encourage you not to stop seeking after Him, but to wait patiently, spend time in His presence, and in His time, He will reveal Himself in His own way.

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How many times in life do we ask, “Why, Lord, why??? Why me? Why now?” I’ve asked that question more times than I can count, and I’ve learned it’s a good thing to ask, because God always answers. He always shows and teaches me knew things through every dire circumstance I go through.

I was listening to CBN’s Spiritual Gifts Seminar online when Gordon was teaching about Moving in the Power of God, and what he shared really touched me and taught me something I needed to hear regarding a situation I have been struggling with.

(I am adding my notes from Gordon’s teaching in another post for anyone who is interested in reading them. Of course, you can also watch the teaching yourself at:

http://event.cbn.com/spiritualgifts/event/?EventID=114120)

Here are the key passages Gordon spoke from:

 

Luke 22: 

31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

 33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

 34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Peter Disowns Jesus

54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” 

 57But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

 58A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” 
      “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

 59About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

 60Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.

John 21:

Jesus Reinstates Peter

 15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

      “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

      Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

    Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!

 

These passages literally brought tears to my eyes even as I listened to Gordon speak on them and later read them, simply because I could so identify with Peter. Like Peter I had forgotten my past so much so that I thought I was perfect in one particular respect. I thought I could never fall into one sin, or be like the other “sinners” who are blinded and don’t quite realize what they are doing. In the past I had always discerned well when confronted by such situations and was able to deal with them strongly – maybe even overly so. I had even built up a reputation for being against those that gave into it and failed the test – not so much against the persons really, but the issue itself, although I did distance myself from people who gave in for fear of being associated with such behaviour and falling into it myself. Ask any of my close friends and they will testify to this. “Janie doing that? No way!” It was totally unimaginable.

And then, boom! A weak point in life and I rolled headlong right into it, almost before I realized what it was I was getting myself into. Sure I can blame circumstances, people and the enemy himself, but none of that is truly justified because it was a conscious mental decision to just do it followed by some very foolish actions. I can well imagine Jesus looking straight down at me the same way He looked at Peter, while the rooster crowed. “Did you really think you were immune and that you could never fall into this yourself? Well, guess what? You’re wrong!”

However, that was not the end. Thankfully, I do not serve a God who is quick to condemn and does not forgive. I can’t tell you how pathetically miserable I have felt about myself, putting myself through self-condemnation and knowing full well that what I was doing was wrong. One the one hand I wanted to be free of it, but on the other hand I actually enjoyed it because it gave me some kind of false comfort. Perhaps it made me feel good about myself and let me forget the sad reality, or perhaps a million other things, none of them justified in any way. 

The only thing that gave me comfort today was to know that despite Satan having asked for me to “sift me as wheat”, Jesus had been praying for me. He had prayed that whatever I went through, my faith would not falter and that I would return to Him. And not just that, but that after I myself had overcome, I would be able to strengthen others like me. Sure, I would go through this rough patch in life as difficult as it was because I was being sifted as wheat, refined, purified. When I had come through I would be a vessel fit for the Master’s use, and the Master would use me to encourage and help others through my own example. Wow!

I love how Jesus has his talk with Peter after the resurrection, commissions him into his service and basically reinstates and reaffirms His call on Peter’s life. It’s such a weight lifter just to know that God does not give up on us just because we have failed in a test, but that He is willing to forgive and accept us when we repent of it. I am so thankful that His call on my life hasn’t changed just because I screwed up. His plans still remain and I can go to Him with a repentant heart in that faith. 

I can literally hear Jesus say to me, “Janie, Janie, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Janie, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Ah! That brings tears to my eyes just typing it! So here I am, turned back to strengthen my brothers and to comfort others with the comfort I myself have received from above.

I can imagine that anyone reading this might be wondering what this great, big “sin” is that I have been writing about. Well, it’s something I’m not quite comfortable talking about yet, but I will in time. And really, it’s not so much about what sin it is as much as it is sin and struggles itself, because what I have learned is applicable in any trial and testing. So I am thankful to have been sifted as wheat.

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Well, last night was more peaceful for me for the sole reason that I let go my fear of having the lizard running around my house or jumping on my bed, and decided to sleep no matter what. Besides, I was really exhausted after a long day’s work and some shopping in the sultry heat of summer.

However, I felt really low for some reason and found that I had a fever all of a sudden. Couldn’t think why I was having a fever for apparently no reason, and I was worried because I am just recovering from a second bout of hepatitis. I immediately thought of what my good friend Tara told me on Monday. She recently moved to Delhi and when I called her, she asked me if I’m doing ok health-wise and if I’m happy because she had a disturbing dream about me not looking very happy. When she shared it with her friend Christina, Christina told her to pray for me, and so together they had prayed for me. I really appreciated that. I thought it was very wise, discerning and thoughtful of them both.

Many times I myself have had disturbing dreams about someone I know, and I’ve learned that sometimes God gives you such dreams so you can pray for that person and either warn or counsel them.

Anyways, I text messaged Tara immediately telling her that I wasn’t feeling too well and to pray for me, and then I myself decided to pray. I searched my Bible for something on health, and the first thing that I found was the story of the woman who suffered from bleeding (Mark 5: 25 – 34, Matthew 9: 20 -22, Luke 8: 43 – 48).

Luke 8:43-48 (New International Version) www.biblegateway.com:

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

46But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

47Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

I was amazed by that passage. I’ve read the story ever since I was a small child, but for the first time, I realized that sometimes healing doesn’t come because of medicines that doctors prescribe (vs. 43: “but no one could heal her”), and neither does it come by extreme prayer and rebuking of an illness (vs. 45: Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”) – although those are good too. But sometimes, all it takes is just enough faith to touch the edge of Jesus’ cloak, and know that you will be healed. And the powerful words of Jesus are such a comfort, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

It took a lot for me to summon that courage and pray, “Lord, right now I’m reaching forward and touching the edge of your cloak in faith. Let your healing flow through me and heal my body, mind and heart.” And that was it.

I woke up this morning as fit as a fiddle, no fever, no pain, no worry of falling ill again.

This little instance has taught me a powerful prayer of healing. I hope someone who desperately needs healing, be it in their bodies, minds, or hearts, will find the same healing in Jesus that I did just by touching His cloak.

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Well if it’s one thing that I’ve been learning, it’s that God is faithful to His promises. I just went through a depressing phase in my career when everything I was working towards, everything I was called to just seemed to crumble around me. Just when I felt that I was beginning to move forward in the direction of my calling, things caved in. I was angry with the people responsible, I was frustrated at being crushed, I was hurt about everything and I thought to myself, “Why am I even here? Why did God give me so many promises and then allow this to happen? Maybe it’s time for me to move on… find a new job, do something different. There’s nothing left for me here.”And just as I was about to take things into my own hands and do things on my own, I was reminded that apart from God, I can do nothing. If He had called me to do something for Him, who was I to walk away from it just because it didn’t seem to work out well? My only job was to obey Him and continue to do whatever He gave me to do. And I had to keep the faith that no matter what the circumstances, God would fulfill His purposes and promises concerning me.

It was tough… and day by day my spirit dwindled… I just dragged myself through everyday, wishing that I could be somewhere else or do something different… and so it went on, as I struggled to keep that flame of hope alive in me.

And then out of the blue, there came restoration. Not only did God reward me for what I had continued to obediently do during that time of depression, but He gave me back everything I had been working towards and everything I had been called to. I could feel the joy running through my veins… like new life had been breathed into me once more…

God had not let me down, though at times I did feel that way. Instead He led me through a time of testing, all the while protecting me and keeping me on the right track, but giving me just that little bit of freedom to choose to either stick with Him or tread my own path without Him. He allowed discouragement to linger for a while, and yet He surrounded me by His grace that was and is sufficient for me. True to His promise, He did not take me through any situation that was too hard for me to go through… He was with me through it all.

What’s more, God kept His promises… and is still in the business of keeping and fulfilling them – if only I’ll stay faithful to Him, just as He is to me.

“But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground–the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 (The Message)

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