Faith Lessons From The Bible Part 1

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com  AM630 KSLR

I encourage you to read Matt. 14:22-31 carefully.  This is the famous Biblical story of the morning that Peter – a man just like us – literally walked on water.  This was not a figure of speech, or made-up tale, told in order to communicate some deeper truth.  While there are depths to this story to be grasped, we must understand that this actually, truly happened.  Why would we doubt it?  God speaks, and galaxies are instantly created.  What is so hard to believe about a man walking on water?  With God, all things are possible (Mk 9:23) – or have you forgotten that? 

He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is God, and He changes not (Heb 13:8, Mal 3:6).  He is still the God of miracles.  He is still the God of the impossible.  He can and will still do far exceeding above anything we could even ask or think.  We need only to reach out by faith and touch the hem of The Master’s garment, and virtue will go forth from Him into our lives (Mk 5:27-35).  It’s not a question of God’s willingness – only a question of our faith (Mk 1:40-41, 9:22-23).  God can.  God will.  And in many cases, God already has.  It is us simply reaching out by faith, and receiving what God has already granted by His grace.  It’s as simple as a child reaching out and receiving a gift from his father.  But there is a key factor that can never be ignored or avoided – that is the faith factor.

Of the 247 times the word “faith” is mentioned in the KJV Bible, 245 of those times is in the New Testament.  Do you think something changed after Jesus came?  You bet it did.  Biblical faith is conviction, belief, trust and confidence in God and His Word.  It goes not by what it sees.  Circumstances matter not to it.  It believes – only and simply – because God said it.  The five senses don’t faze it.  Supposed impossibilities doesn’t even budge it.  Faith is the substance, or foundation, of things hoped for and expected; the evidence, or proof, of things not (yet) seen (Heb 11:1).  What does this mean?

Hope is an expectation of something good, but it is always future.  It’s never “now”.  However, faith is “now”.  Faith receives the expectation “now”, just as if you had it in front of you.  You believe you receive it when you pray – not when you see it (Mk 11:24).  The world says seeing is believing, but the Bible says believing is seeing.  If you are only hoping, it will always be a day away; but when you operate in faith, you believe you receive when you pray – not when you get the answer.

Our God calls those things that are not as though they were – and then they become (Rom 4:17).  Jesus taught us the creative power of our words, when He said “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain…” (Mk 11:23).  But it’s not just saying – it is saying and believing with all of your heart and not doubting.  When we do this, nothing shall be impossible to us (Matt. 17:20).  That’s right.  Nothing shall be impossible to us!  Imagine the possibilities of exercising pure faith in God’s Word!  Why, you could walk on water!

Read Matt 8:18, 23-26;  Mark 4:35-40;  Luke 8:22-25.  These verses all refer to the same instance of when Jesus fell asleep on the boat during a storm.  I want us to notice something: He gave a command (Mt – “depart to the other side”, Mk – “Let us pass over to the other side” Lk – “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”).  Then, He gave a rebuke: Mt – “Why are you fearful, oh you of little faith?” Mk – “Why are you so fearful? How is it you have no faith?” Lk – “Where is your faith?”.
Why did Jesus rebuke them? After all, they were in a storm and taking on water.  I’ll tell you why: They didn’t believe. They didn’t obey Jesus’ Word.  He said, “Let us go to the other side of the lake”.  Not maybe or maybe not.  He rebuked them, because His Word should have been sufficient enough for them to cross the lake – despite any circumstances to the contrary.  They were walking by sight, not by faith.  This is exactly what happened to Peter later.  He acted on Jesus’ Word (Matt. 14:29), and he did great for a few moments.  However, when He got his eyes on the circumstances, he started sinking.  Jesus had compassion and saved but him, but He still rebuked him for not believing.

We are to believe God’s Word.  Doubt and unbelief is a sin, and we need to see it for the sin that it is.  It is evil (Heb 3:12-19).  We need to hate it.  Despise it.  Unbelief is the enemy of faith, and must be destroyed.  How?  Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!

Faith Lessons from the Bible Part 2

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            I encourage you to read Matt. 14:22-33 carefully.  This is the eyewitness account of when a mere mortal, the Apostle Peter, walked on water.  He did it by faith: obedience to God’s Word, and his eyes fixed on Jesus.  However, he got his eyes off Jesus and disregarded His Word.  And the result? He started to sink.  Too many of us Christians are sinking in the swill of the world around us.  It’s high time we became water walkers.  But how?

            We must count unbelief and doubt what God counts it: Sin.  No less.  Unbelief is evil (Heb 3:12).  It is sin (Rom 14:23).  It does not please God at all (Heb 11:6).  We need to hate it.  We need to refuse to tolerate it in our lives.  If you think of the biggest sins you can, then put unbelief right up there in the number.  Don’t count it a small thing.

            Faith is what pleases God.  Those that simply believe – without having to see –  are blessed (John 20:29).  When you believe simply because God’s Word said it, without needing to see it; then you will see it.  Believing is seeing. 

            God blesses faith  and He rewards it (Heb 11:6, Mt. 9:22, 29, 15:28).  We must believe He rewards us when we seek Him diligently.  We will receive from Him according to our faith – not His willingness or ability.  He is willing and able.  Are we able to believe?  Jesus said, “Let it be done unto us, according to our faith.” 

            God responds to faith, not to need.  Everyone has needs.  God responded to need when Jesus came!  God has given us everything in Christ (Rom 8:32, Eph 1:3) by His grace.  Whatever your need be, it is taken care of in Jesus.  God gave us everything in Jesus!  Every need is met in Christ.  So what is the issue?  Our faith – or lack thereof.

            Christian, never pray for more faith!  You do not need more faith.  A little dab will do you.  So it’s not the quantity of faith that is the issue.  It is the quality of faith.  Is it pure, strong faith (1Tim 1:5, Rom 4:20)?   Or is it weak, doubt-filled, fear-filled, double minded faith? (Jam 1:6-8, Mk 11:23).  Doubt and unbelief are faith killers.  Jesus – God in the flesh – could not do many miracles because of the unbelief of those in His home town.  That’s how powerful unbelief is.  It will hinder what God wants to do in your life.  What goodness the Nazarenes could have received from Jesus, had they only believed!

            This where we win or lose.  Right here.  A tiny speck of pure faith can move mountains, but if there is doubt in the heart, it will remain powerless.  We will not see the thing come to pass. How do we get rid of doubt and unbelief?

            1. Don’t focus on getting rid of doubt and unbelief!  Focus on exercising and purifying faith. Walk in faith (2 Cor 5:7).  Walk by the spirit, not the flesh (Rom 8:1, 4; Gal 5:16).  Focus on being spiritually minded, not carnally minded (Rom 8:6). 

            We can’t “not think” on something.  If you try to not think on doubt, you’re thinking on doubt.  We must take the positive approach.  “Do think” on the promises of God’s Word.  The more you meditate on God’s Word, the more faith arises within you.  It will drive out unbelief.

            Instead of exercising faith muscles, many Christians exercise their doubt, fear and unbelief muscles.  They have chiseled abs of unbelief; ripped pecs of doubt; and bulging biceps of fear.  Yet they are fat, flabby and atrophied in faith.  This must be reversed!  We reverse this by thinking on good things (Philp 4:8).  Things of faith.  Things of God.

            The word “Think on” not only to means to meditate, weigh, and consider; it also means to reckon, pass to one’s account, impute. To build faith muscles, we impute God’s promises to ourselves.  We make them personal. We apply His word to our lives.  We acknowledge every good thing that is in us in Christ Jesus (Philm 6).

            The word “good report” in Philp 4:8, (euphemos) means “good sayings” – uttering words of good omen (omen – an event believed to be a sign of a future occurrence). It means to speak auspiciously (auspicious – promising success, fortune, prosperity).  This is incredible!  The Apostle Paul is saying that we are to impute to ourselves good words (God’s Word)!  Stop letting the swill of the world fill your heart with unbelief!  Praise God, get around some people that will speak good sayings of God’s word into your life, and cause faith to rise up within you!

            Do you think this faith stuff is over the top?  Jesus is never recorded as saying, “Oh ye of too much faith!  Stop believing so much!”  No, but it is often, “Oh ye of little faith!”  I would rather stand before Jesus on judgment day, and be accused of exercising too much faith (if that’s possible), then be accused operating in too little faith.  Why not believe God for the impossible? Isn’t He the God of the impossible?  Yes, He is.  Selah.

Faith Lessons From The Bible Part 3

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So far in our series, we have learned these key elements concerning how to walk in faith and overcome doubt and unbelief: 1. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  2. Know that the spiritual realm is more real than the physical realm, and that God’s Word is spirit and life.  3. Keep the five senses in their proper place.  4. Don’t focus on overcoming doubt and unbelief, but rather focus on exercising and purifying your faith.  5. Read the Word, and read it a lot.  Faith comes by hearing (and reading, and speaking, and writing) the Word of God (Rom 10:17).

            Hearing comes by the Word of God. What kind of hearing? Spiritual hearing. Anyone with natural, functional ears can hear audible sounds. Natural hearing does not come from God’s Word. Spiritual hearing comes from God’s Word. Jesus said several times, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear”. He was speaking of spiritual ears; those who had hearts inclined to God and is Word.  1Cor 2:14 says, “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

            I encourage you to read Matt. 13:9-16.  Verse 12 says, “For whosoever hath (ears to hear – see vs. 9), to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not (ears to hear), from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  The same story in Luke 8:18 clarifies this: “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have. The word seems means “thinks” or “supposes”.  In other words, if a person is not hearing God’s Word with spiritual ears, they may “seem” to have a hold of it, but it is façade.   They may go to church, put a few bucks in the offering, and maybe even read the Bible and pray a little – but their life is not impacted or changed by God’s Word.  They remain the same year after year.  There is no fruit.

            We must listen to God’s Word with spiritual ears.  We must be careful what we hear (Mk 4:23-25), and we must be careful how we hear (Lk 8:18).  What was Jesus saying here?  First, what do you allow in your ears? Do you listen to gossip, slander, doubt, fear, unbelief and the negativity of the world through idle talk, radio, TV, movies, etc. all week long? Do you think an hour on Sunday will offset all of that?  No.  Words influence the heart and mind, for either the good or bad.  We must be careful what we let into our ears, or “What we hear”.

            Second, Jesus said we must be careful how we hear.  Do you incline your spiritual ears attentively when the Word is preached, taught, or read?  Or are you a passive listener?  When you have ears to hear, you seek to receive revelation knowledge of God’s Word, and to be transformed by it when you hear it or read it.  You seek purposefully to grow and be more conformed to the image of Christ.  Your are listening with the intent to be transformed.

            So, back to Rom. 10:17, you could say it like this: “God’s Word is spirit (Jn 6:63), and His Word produces spiritual hearing in those who incline their spiritual ears to hear it (Prv 4:20-22). Then, when God’s Word is heard, it produces faith in the hearer.”   Faith comes by hearing.   As we hear God’s Word, images of truth are burned into our psyche. Psyche comes from the Greek word Psuche, which is usually translated “soul”; sometimes “life”, “heart” or “mind” in the Bible. The term is generally used in two different ways: 1. A soul, as in a living being (breath); a life; a person. Example – “..in which eight souls were saved…” (1Pt 3:20). 2. The seat of feelings, desires, affections; the mind, will, emotions, intellect; the “heart” of a man. Example- “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3John2).

            The soul is where we imagine. It is where we picture things. We think in pictures. Words produce pictures in our mind. This is why we are often disappointed when we go watch a movie based on a book we have read. We “pictured” the characters, scenes and events differently when we read the words of the book.

            The words of God (The Bible) paint pictures on the inside of us. Good pictures. Pictures of salvation, peace, love, joy, kindness, mercy, grace, heaven, provision, protection, power, healing and deliverance. Pictures of Jesus, The Father, The Holy Spirit, overcoming, acceptance, serenity, happiness, eternity, forgiveness, sanctification, redemption, purity, holiness. The more we hear and read God’s Word with spiritual ears, the more these pictures are engraved in our hearts. This produces faith, and faith produces action. We act on God’s Word. We obey it. We see ourselves as God sees us. We picture ourselves as God’s Word paints us to be. We pray with confidence, and receive the thing when we pray. Then we see it come to pass in the natural realm.  We walk by faith, not by sight. We think the impossible – we believe for the impossible; because we are one with the God of the impossible. With God, all things are possible (Mt. 19:26)!  Selah.

Faith Lessons From The Bible Part 4

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com 

            I encourage you to read Mt. 17:14-21.  Verse 19-21 says, “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  Jesus said unto them, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

            Are there certain demons that don’t bow the knee to the Name of Jesus? Certain demons that only respond to prayer and fasting?  No.  It is unbelief that goes when we fast and pray.  The disciples had both faith and unbelief working at the same time, like the father did (Mk 9:24).  The Bible calls this being “double minded” (Jam 1:6-8).  A double minded man cannot receive from God, though God is more than willing to give.

            When unbelief counters faith, it negates it.  Unbelief cancels out faith and renders it ineffective.  They way to get rid of this nagging unbelief is fasting and prayer.  Fasting is going without food in the general Biblical sense, though you could fast other things (tv, Facebook, etc.).  Disciples of Jesus are to deny themselves (Mk 8:34).  The most effective way to do this is fasting.  Our Lord Jesus fasted (Mt. 4:1-2), and He said His disciples would fast (Mk 2:18-20, Mt. 6:16).  Are you a disciple of Jesus?  Then you fast.

            The apostle Paul fasted (2Co 6:4-5, 2Cor 11:27).  Husbands and Wives can periodically abstain from the physical union in order to pray and fast, as long as they both consent to it (1Co 7:5).  Christians should fast and pray for their pastor and church (Act 14:23); and pastors should do the same for their congregations.  When we are busy praying and fasting for each other, we don’t have time for petty and foolish strife and envy.

            How to fast and pray:  Three kinds of fasting are 1. regular – no food, liquid only. 2. partial – only bread and water, only fruit, only one meal a day, etc.  3. absolute – no food or water.  Number one is the most common and is very effective.  Start with one day, then move to three or more.  A three day fast mixed with heart felt prayer in seeking God will yield amazing results in your life.  Don’t tell people you are fasting. Do it as unto the Lord, and He will reward you (Mat 6:16-18). 

            What can fasting and prayer do for you (Isa 58:6-8)? 1. loose the bands of wickedness – get freedom from besetting sin.  2. undo heavy burdens – solve problems.  3. let the oppressed go free – revival, soul winning.  4. break every yoke – get free from mental & emotional bondages.  5. to help the poor, needy, hungry and afflicted – give a heart of compassion. 6. light break forth – receive revelation knowledge.  7. Health spring forth – physical healing.  8. righteousness to go before us – enables to live a holy, separated life.  9. God’s glory shall be our rear guard – divine protection.

            As we can see, there are many advantages and blessings to fasting and prayer.  Remember, it’s fasting AND prayer.  It’s not a diet.  Fast with purpose.  Write down your reason.  Expect answers.  Also remember, fasting is to change you, not God.  God doesn’t need to change!  All His promises are yes and amen in Christ.  He has given us all things (Eph 1:3, Rom 8:32). 

        Fasting puts your flesh under, so that you can be more in tune with the supernatural.  It quiets you down.  It gets you still.  It helps you to hear God’s voice.  It makes you sensitive to God, and hardens you to the lies of the world.  It drives out unbelief.  By fasting and prayer, unbelief goes, as Jesus said.  Fasting helps you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (Act 13:2-3).

            Fasting does wonders for your faith.  As disciples of Christ, we should make fasting a regular part of our life.  I believe it is a missing element in many Christian’s lives.  Fasting is not just for monks or “super saints”.  It is for every disciple of Christ.  Though the flesh resists it vehemently, the spirit rejoices in it!  It won’t kill you.  In fact, you will be amazed at how good you feel after fasting a few days!  This ancient discipline needs to be brought back to a prominent place in our Christianity, for it’s benefits are enormous.  Selah.

Faith Lessons From The Bible Part 5

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com 

I encourage you to read Mark 11:12-14, 19-24.  Verses 23-24 say “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” 

            In vs.12 we see, that though Jesus is the eternal God, yet when He put on flesh and became a man in the incarnation, He subjected Himself to the frailties of human flesh.  He got hungry and thirsty, He felt fatigue and pain.  As we read in Hebrews, this makes Him a merciful and faithful High Priest, who can relate to us in every way. He was tempted in all things like we are, yet without sin. 

            In vs.13 we see, that though it wasn’t the season for figs, yet the fig tree had leaves.  A fig tree in Israel puts forth it’s fruit before it’s leaves, so if it has leaves, it ought to have figs.  In a sense, this tree was deceiving.  It gave the appearance of having fruit, when in actuality it did not.  Some believe this was a type of national Israel, who had the “leaves” of outward piety and religion, but no fruit.  Jesus often called their leaders hypocrites. The church of Laodicea could also be compared to it (Rev 3).  We must take care that we have more than just leaves in our Christian walk.

            In vs. 14, notice that Jesus answered (responded) to the fig tree.  Problems in life will “speak” to you.  You have to speak back!  Talk to the problem about God, not to God about the problem.  The fact is we’re “talking” all the time.  The issue is, what are we saying? Are we complaining? Are we in agreement with the problem? So often we are hung by our own tongue. We need to command our problem!  If you think that is weird, then take it up with Jesus. He is the One who taught us these things.

            Also, notice the disciples heard Jesus.  He spoke to it loud and clear.  Don’t whisper to your problem!  Use your God-given voice as a positive, creative force.  Speak truth. Speak God’s Word if your going to speak (1Pt 4:11). Negative griping, complaining and whining only increase and enforce your problem.

            Vs. 20 – in the same account recorded in Mt 21:19-20, it says, “and presently (immediately) the fig tree withered away” when Jesus spoke. This seems like a contradiction, but it is not.  The inside of the tree was dead immediately, but it didn’t LOOK dead until the next day.  When we pray, things are set in motion, though often we don’t outwardly see it immediately.  That’s why we must stand in faith and hold firm to our confession.  Don’t negate your prayer through negative words when you don’t see immediate results. Things are happening in the spirit realm!  Don’t doubt it!

            In vs. 21, the next day Peter points out the withered fig tree in amazement. Jesus probably didn’t even look at the fig tree. Why? Because Jesus operated in perfect faith.  He didn’t doubt the power of His Word.  He wasn’t shocked. He had confidence. He knew that when He spoke, things would obey.  He is our example.  We are to be Christ like, and have faith in God.

            In vs. 22, Jesus teaches us a powerful lesson. Four simple words.  Have faith in God.  All things are possible to him who believes.  Faith in God is the all important issue.  Jesus continues in vs. 23 – “Verily” – this is the truth.  “Whosoever” – all Christians, not just some special saints.  “Shall say” – 3 times “say” is mentioned here.  We can’t just think it.  We must speak.  Let the redeemed of the Lord “say so” (Ps 107:2).  “Mountain” – obstacle, problem, whatever issue is hindering.  “Be thou removed” – leave! go! get!  “Doubt in his heart” – inner man, the soul & spirit.  “But believe” – and not doubt. Pure faith, nothing wavering (Jam 1:6-8).  “He shall have whatsoever he saith” – you have what you say.  This is talking about an individual need or desire.  This does not necessarily work in intercession, because people have a free will.  They can negate your prayer through unbelief.  You may have to pray often for others.

            Vs 24 – “Therefore” – so then.  “Whatsoever things – that means anything (in line with God’s will, of course – 1Jn 5:14-15).  “Desire” – ask, call for, crave.  “When you pray – at the very moment.  “Believe that you receive them” – presently.  “And ye shall have them” – future.  Pure faith believes it receives the answer from God the second it is asked.  It believes before it sees.           What about importunity (Lk 11:5-13)?  Jesus is making a contrast to God, not a comparison.  God is not like the “friend” or unjust judge who won’t answer.  He will answer speedily (Lk 18:8).  Our importunity needs to be in holding fast our confession (Heb 10:23), and not in our request.  If we have prayed in faith, we will not ask again.  Otherwise, we didn’t believe God heard and answered the first time.  No, when we pray in faith, we ask once, and then continually praise Him and thank Him for the answer!  Why? Because we believed we received “When we prayed”.  Selah.