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Faith Must Grow!

Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise from several degrees of prayer, that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,… quote from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Is our faith growing?

I think the answers to the above questions can be revealed by the following comparison.

When a baby is born it’s expected that growth and development will follow. Let’s say the child starts off healthy and with a nourishing milk diet the expected growth and development ensues. Wonderful, we are off to an encouraging beginning. Yet soon the child needs to transition from milk to solid foods. If the transition isn’t made and the child remains on a milk diet, then healthy growth will be arrested.

That’s exactly the analogy that is made in the following Bible verses:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14

Though, we have been born into God’s family, far too many of us are still on a spiritual milk diet.

Troubles happen and when they do, we find our milk diet insufficient to provide us with the strength and wisdom we need. So we default to whatever source is handy. At which point the enemy enters to begin his deception. As a result our ability to recognizes the enemy’s lies has been seriously compromised.

This is where seeds of deception take root. Our desire to spend time in prayer and God’s word slowly deteriorates. Not being familiar with God’s truth, we filter out thoughts, attitudes, and actions through false assumptions and human reasoning.

Daily spending time in God’s word and prayer is the same as eating a healthy diet for those who desire to be healthy spiritually. But our enemy has convinced us that isn’t required and we can get along just fine without that consistent discipline. Remaining in the milk stage of our growth for too long, we can easily be convinced of such lies (fiery darts, remember).

After we have lived a hit and miss life for so long, we can’t see that there is a better way to live life. Because our growth has been stunted, we are unaware of our desperate condition. We aren’t even aware that a better life exists. A growing faith equals a better life.

Who do we believe?

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Why do we so easily believe the lies of fiery darts? But struggle to believe Truths from God’s Word?

   If the darkness of the world, Satan, and our flesh influences our thinking more than God’s Word, then our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect that darkness.  Thus our focus will be on the darkness, blinding us to the light of God’s truth that lies beyond it. 

  Yet, if we desire to believe God over the lies of the enemy, we must do the following:  

We must seek God.

When God speaks we need to listen.

When God speaks we need to believe.

When God speaks we need to act on His words.

Take to heart the following:

…when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. Is 43:2 ESV

The LORD is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you. Do not be afraid or discourages. Deut. 31:8

Don’t be afraid anymore, only believe. Mark 5:36 NASV

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   Yet sometimes the problems we face threaten to overwhelm us. We believe God,. We believe His Word. We go to it daily.  We talk to God about it a lot, but the hoped for solution evades us! What do we do in situations like that?

We wait!

   As we wait, we continue to pray and search the Scriptures. We focus on verses like the ones above. We become alert to the encouragement God sends us as we go about our day. Through those encouragements and God’s word, we grow in our faith and perspective of the problem.

   We learn to recognize the fiery darts and how to reject them. We learn to replace them with the Truth thoughts from Scripture that God directs us to.

   We may not feel so good about the way things are going, but we must remember that if God says He will never leave us, that He will not fail us, then in spite of how things look, we must take Him at His word. 

Our well being depends on who we believe!

 

Money or Faith? What do we need more of?

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   It’s the end of the month. You hold your breath as you juggle the figures to see if you are going to be able to keep your head above water. For many this scenario plays out on a monthly basis. 

   Thoughts (or fiery darts) such as despair, fear, and panic have the potential to sap us of any hope that things will get any better. We avoid looking into the future. It’s just too scary!

   All this negativity makes us hard to live with. It’s difficult to focus on anything but our dire financial circumstances. We anger easily, and patience with those we love is in short supply. Worry is our constant companion. 

   In our personal attempts to find relief, we too often fall flat on our face. Even if we achieve that financial relief we are desperate for, it can too often be at the expense of relationships that depend upon us. 

   What I’ve just described is how it goes down for those of us who are ruled by fiery dart thinking. This kind of thinking blinds us to what our greatest need is during a financial crises. Which is:

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FAITH!

   It’s life changing (and not natural) to face a financial crises and say to yourself, “What I need here is more faith!” 

   Admitting we need more faith in a financial crises, will direct our thoughts to verses like the following:

Luke 12:24

Matthew 6:31, 34

Philippians 4:19

Psalm 34:10

   These are some examples of the Truth thoughts that should be ruling our thinking during financial difficulty. Every time a fiery dart thought attempts to take root, reject it and replace it with Truth thoughts (p. 93, 3rd edition FD’S)  like the ones mentioned above. 

   The result will be to give us a new focus, a hopeful focus. We won’t be afraid to look into the future.

   Hey, I know it’s easy to read these words. And I also know that its no easy task to deliberately and persistently reject natural thinking fiery darts with Truth thoughts. 

   But if we do, God will begin working out His plans for us and our money problems will find their solutions in Him. It’s hard to believe this but it’s true! Our greatest need in a financial crises is to trust God with it.  

 

 

Faith, Hope, and Love, (God’s plan to defeat fear, hopelessness, and hate)

Fear, Hopelessness, and Hate

   All across our land and beyond, seeds of fear, hopelessness, and hate (just to address only 3) are being sown. You do realize why I would label these as fiery darts, right? Because if the enemy can keep our focus on such negative thinking then he can manipulate us into creating our own destruction. The enemy will stop at nothing to create a climate designed to give rise to the fruits of such fiery darts. His diabolical efforts to maintain this climate are evidenced by the rise of persecution here and abroad.  People everywhere are living lives and making choices that have been poisoned by fear, by hopelessness, by hate!

BUT GOD HAS A PLAN!

 The enemy is counting on his victims being uninformed about who God is and the plan God has set in place to empower us to defeat evil. A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ allows us access to all  we need to counter the attack of fiery darts and defeat our enemy. The Bible tells us what to do in every situation:
The Truth expressed in Ephesians 6:16 (HCSB) “In every situation take the shield of faith and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one,” took on new meaning. FD, p. 33
   Christians who are fervent in spending time with God in prayer and avail themselves to being taught by God as to how to identify fiery darts and how to replace them with Truth Thoughts, will overcome their enemy. And added to that, their witness will lead the way for others to follow in victory.
   In the face of fear, hopelessness, and hate, God offers us the direct opposite–Faith, Hope, and Love. The following are the Truth Thoughts of Faith, Hope, and Love.  Should we choose to use them, they will solidly defeat our enemy. 

FAITH

…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’Proverbs 24:20 

HOPE

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

LOVE

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16