I hope you are memorizing each of the weekly Memory Verses in the Workbook, because you need to get some of God's promises stored up in your mind and heart. When you start to doubt, when you start to feel discouraged or depressed, the Holy Spirit can bring these promises to your memory. When you tell God that you want to be used for His purposes, He promises you three things that are all found in Joshua chapter one. In other words, when God asks you to do something, He will give you the power to do it. Where God guides, He provides.
God does not promise to make you successful at whatever you want to do; He promises He will be successful at what He wants you to do. If you want to be a success in life, it's really simple: There are so many more promises for you in the Bible, but you have to discover them. The Bible says, "Always remember what is written in [this book].
What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit? What does the Bible say about the Kingdom of God? What does the Bible say about all these unseen realities? I need to, by faith, I need to actually realise those with the eyes of my heart, I need to perceive those as being in this world. By faith, I need to be praying for more of a perception and a manifestation of those upon my consciousness; so that I might start seeing the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of darkness; so that I might start seeing that Jesus is Lord rather than the principalities and the powers and the rulers in the heavenly places' - do you understand?
This is mind-revolutionising - because we are so pessimistic, and, let's face it: What we need to do is set our minds and our affections on things that are above, that are the real real - so what is the real real for you? Is it what the enemy says is real? Is it what your flesh says is real? Or is it what God's word says is real?
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When we are moving by faith - and I advocate practising the presence of God, and I've been heavily criticised by some for doing this - but I believe God is everywhere, and I believe He is especially with His people, not only with them but in them. So is it wrong for me to start looking for that, and believing that, and start experiencing that?
I think there was a time in my past when I sort of thought of faith like standing in front of the mirror, and saying: But, you know, that is not what faith is: There is a sense in which faith is a gift from God - and we will not look at the gift of the Spirit which is the gift of faith - but all faith is a gift inasmuch as Romans 10 verse 17 says: So encapsulated, pregnant within God's word is faith, taking God at His word is the essence of what faith is, and acting upon what God has said - believing that He is as good as His word.
We said yesterday, as we looked at 'Faith in God', that that is the focus of our faith - that there is nothing virtuous or meritorious in faith on its own, it's who your faith is in or what your faith is in. So our faith is in what God has said, and that means that all the glory goes to God.
So people don't look at anybody and say: We are simply presenting to God what He has already given to us. So here is the rub, OK? So it's not this mystical, mysterious, New Age type thing, where we bring into being things that God doesn't say has to be - but it's having a word from God, and if you don't have a word from God on a matter, then you're not in a position to boldly exercise faith. I'm not saying that you can't pray about a thing if you don't have a word from God, I'm not saying you can't believe that God's hearing you and that God is going to answer in His own way, what I'm talking about is confidence regarding the answer to your prayer.
You can only have confidence regarding the outcome of what you're praying about if He has spoken to you. So there is a sense in which faith is not a blank cheque, faith only stretches as far as the boundaries of what God has said. But, having said that, that's not a copout for you to think: There's enough material in the Bible concerning the promises of God, that I think it covers almost every area of life. So if your faith can only go to the boundaries of what God's word says, you need to know that God's word covers almost everything that you could possibly conceive of in life.
Like the wee chorus says:. The old puritan said: He always returns by way of His promises' - I think that's wonderful. So what I do, or have done over the years, is: I scribble all over my Bible. I have a colour code which is a bit rare, nobody would understand it but me - but everything that is a promise is highlighted in orange, and I will write beside it what the promise is for. I once made a wee directory, a wee book of promises, alphabetical - I'm a bit of a freak - promises for this that and the other in alphabetical order, and listed them all.
Now the promises I have talked about cover the general will of God in Scripture for various areas of our life, but you might be sitting there and saying: What about having faith in an area to do with my destiny, to do with my ministry, to do with my life, being able to pray with confidence and knowing what the will of God is in that area?
Well, let me say this, and people again might disagree with this but I believe it to be true biblically: So God expressed His innermost being, His mind and heart to humanity, through Jesus - isn't that beautiful? If you want to know what God is thinking, if you want to know what God is feeling towards us, if we want to know what God is like: That's 'logos', but there is another word in Greek 'rhema', and it speaks of the spoken utterance of God - what God is saying. Now it's very instructive to distinguish that when we're reading certain scriptures - for instance, I've already quoted Romans It never did say it, by the way.
So we have this concept, particularly in our country - just preach the word, just fling the Bible everywhere, verses left right and centre, stick them up on lampposts and everything. I'm not saying that's wrong, but some of us think that that is enough to get a return, to get a harvest, and I'm going to tell you that it's not - that's why we're not getting one. Because faith just doesn't come from the Bible, faith comes from hearing God - and usually it is through the Bible.
But 'My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me' - we've got to hear what God is saying. This is the spoken word of God, and you've got it in Matthew 4 and verse 4. Jesus in the temptation of the devil in the wilderness for 40 days, Satan says: What does Jesus say? Now what is that saying? Jesus had food that His disciples knew nothing about - I already said yesterday that Jesus, before He started His ministry every day, He went to the Father and He watched for what the Father was doing, He listened for what the Father was saying - isn't that right?
He only did what He saw and heard the Father do - that's why He wasn't run ragged, that's why He didn't have an emotional breakdown, you never see Him in a hurry or a tizzy in the gospels. You see Him very busy at times, very busy, but you never see Him flustered do you? Because He only did what He saw the Father do - but how did that happen? His bread, His daily food was the word of God - not His Bible reading in the morning, He didn't have a Bible, He had synagogue and the scrolls - but He was feeding from Father God every day, He was hearing the voice of Father every day.
I believe He is our model: So the question I'm asking you is not: I'm asking you - whether you read your three chapters or one verse - did you hear from God today, because that's what you will be able to operate on.
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So it's the proceeding word. Here's another one, Isaiah 55 verse 11 - does anybody know that one? Listen to what Isaiah That has been used, in our land in particular, with the inference that you just preach the word, and you hand tracts out left right and centre, and you just saturate the place with Bible.
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He would apply for a job in the Civil Service. Because this is not speaking of Bible, this is speaking of what God is saying, we could say 'a prophetic word', what God is speaking to a present-day generation in their particular circumstances for the now - what is God saying now for us, for you? If God speaks a word, the word of faith into your life, and you hear it from God, that will be birthed, it will not return void but it will produce something - what God has intended. Another verse where 'rhema' is used is Ephesians 6 verse 17 - you remember the armour of God, what is the sword?
The sword is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God - and again the Greek word there is 'rhema', it's not 'logos'. That means that in spiritual warfare, the battle you're in - whether it is personal temptation and trial, or whether it's on the big scale where you're trying to move into where the gates of the enemy are and take territory from him for Jesus - we've got to have words from God to rout the enemy and to thrust him through, that's what it saying.
If you look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 - three temptations, and He gives three words that are specific to the actual temptation, all three of them from the book of Deuteronomy incidentally. That's an armoury - the Bible is not the sword of the Spirit in the context of Ephesians 6, it's the armoury where we take different daggers for different situations. Who is our armour bearer?
Who gives us those? It is the sword of the Spirit - do you see this? So when you face a trial or a temptation or a situation, what do you do? Well, you can be like me and have your wee directory, and flick through and ask the Lord to help you to get to the verse that you picked up over the years, or you can just wait on God and say: Now, how do you get a 'rhema' word from God? We have to believe that God does speak - do we believe that God speaks, do we?
Now I know things that I say tend to be a wee bit controversial at times - that's an understatement - but there is a very strong strain of theology within evangelical circles that teaches that God doesn't speak now. He has spoken once in the Bible, and He doesn't speak again. Usually the people that espouse that are contradictory, because often they have a very heavy view of conversion and the new birth, that it's the greatest miracle that can ever be - and I say 'Amen' to that.
But when they stand up and give their testimony, you will hear them say 'And then God spoke to me'. They're not talking about the Bible, they may be talking about verse or a preaching message from the Bible, but they may well be talking about how they were walking down the road one day and all of a sudden a consciousness of God came to them, or God said something to them and they felt it in their heart. We believe that God speaks to people in conversion, we also believe that God speaks to you when He calls you to your destiny of life, and what you're doing for a Him as your vocation in CEF.
So I could pick two or three of you and say: But for most of this type of Christian, that's where it ends - and some even take a very dogmatic view that God does not speak, it's the word of God and the word of God alone, it's what the Bible teaches and nothing more.
The early church were constantly, if you read the book of Acts, they were constantly waiting on God for direction. They actually waited on God to be directed where to preach, they didn't just go preaching everywhere, did you know that? They sought God - you can look at it in Acts 8 and in Acts 10 - the Holy Spirit spoke to them and told them to go to certain places. He even miraculously whisked Philip away to a certain place, and then whisked him back again.
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They were dependent on the Holy Spirit. Peter went to Cornelius' house, guided by the Holy Spirit. But also the Holy Spirit told them where not to preach, and in Acts 16 we see that they were hindered going into certain areas because God had intentions of them going somewhere first. Not only did they get guidance, as they waited upon the Lord, where to preach and where not to preach, but they were also guided as to who should preach and who should lead - so the Holy Spirit separated certain people apart for certain works, and the Holy Spirit appointed elders in the churches.
So, how do you get this word from God? How do you be led by the Holy Spirit so that you have the word of faith, so that you can boldly come and claim things at the throne of grace in Jesus' name with the confidence to know that God has said it and He is going to do it? Well, this is where the hard stuff comes: You have to walk with God, you have to wait on God, you have to seek God. Like the old prophets, you have to stand before God, you have to listen for God, you have to learn to look for God in circumstances. This is where this perception of faith comes in - and you need to ask Him to speak, and you need to expect Him to speak when you ask Him to speak.
The truth is, many of us aren't listening or looking for God, because we believe it's 'Read your Bible, pray every day if you want to grow, and that's enough'. Even if we don't espouse that theological premise, we live our lives practically as if that's all that is needed - and we're not listening for God. Now there is a whole other series of sermons on how to listen for God, but here's where faith really breaks through: Let me show you this more practically, if you turn to Galatians chapter 3 verse 2.
You know a bit about the Galatian controversy I imagine, the Judaisers coming in and telling them it's not by grace alone, but you've got to add the Jewish law and the rites and rituals. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? That's a very interesting phrase, isn't it - 'the hearing of faith' - why? Because 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'. So they heard God's voice, and they obeyed God's voice, and they repented and believed.
So how were they saved? By the power of the Spirit through the hearing of faith. Go down the chapter to verse 5: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.
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So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—. A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Then Job answered and said: Shall windy words have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: Consider, and then we will speak. Why are we counted as cattle? Why are we stupid in your sight? You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you, or the rock be removed out of its place?