“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” -Philippians 4:6
Linking expectations with faith gives us less-than-fully-matured perspectives of what faith really is. When we equate faith with our expected or desired outcomes, we’re not trusting in God’s greater plan and purpose.
The greater number of expectations we have, the less happy we will be for three reasons:
1. Expectations diminish happiness when our expectations are met (especially if we see the outcomes as our own doing and not as God’s special blessings).
2. Expectations diminish happiness when they are unmet (especially if we question the wisdom of God because he did not do what we asked).
3. Expectations always diminish gratitude.
Everyone has expectations in life. Everybody does. We have lots of them. Nevertheless, trust me – the smaller the amount of expectations we have, the happier each one of us will be.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the only one with a perfect plan for my life. Help me to move forward, always seeking your direction, and at all times grateful for every blessing I encounter along the way. Amen.
Reflection: When has an unfulfilled expectation disappointed or devastated you? When have you, instead, waited on God to meet your need in his own way?
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” -Matthew 12:37
In the Bible, we discover that faith and fear are not experienced primarily as emotions. Faith and fear, instead, are experienced most often through words. Whenever great faith is shown, it’s nearly always revealed through what people say.
For example, the centurion comes to Jesus, asks him to heal his servant, and Jesus says, “I’ll come right away.” The centurion responds saying, “No, Lord. Just say it and he’ll be healed.” “I’ve never seen greater faith than this,” Jesus says. Based solely on what the centurion said with his words, Jesus thereby heals the servant.
The Samaritan woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and Jesus asks, “Do dogs eat from the table of their masters?” Though she could have found his reaction demeaning, she nonetheless answers positively saying, “The dogs eat from the table of their masters.” In response to her words of trust in him, Jesus says, “No greater faith have I ever seen than this.”
The reverse is also true. When Peter says, “Lord, don’t go to the cross,” Jesus is displeased with his disciple’s lack of faith in that instance, and says, “Get behind me Satan.”
In another story, Jesus wants to heal a little girl, but the people gathered nearby doubt and mock him with their words. Jesus tells these people of little faith to leave the room so that he can heal the girl, which he does with only the faithful by his side.
The blessings and cursings in our lives are hinged on what we say about ourselves, what we say to others, and how we respond with our words when God wants to give us good things.
Remember, there’s power in our every word.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I have faith in you. I know my words speak loudly about my faith, so I will speak positively knowing you are in control. Amen.
Reflection: When has your positive attitude of faith helped to change a negative situation into a blessing?
Belief can make the difference for a life in transition. During difficult times when an individual must prioritize their health, a spiritual or religious faith can ease tensions, boost attitude and support overall improved health. Research strongly suggests that individuals with religious and spiritual beliefs cope better during their battle with cancer.
Prayer also leads to optimism, reduces stress and can bolster the immune system, studies say. According to a Women’s Heath Initiative study conducted by the U.SNational Institute of Health, those who regularly attend religious services reduce their risk of death by 20 percent. In the book God Changes Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newburg found that those who pray and meditate have a highly developed parietal lobe, which improves memory and improves wellbeing. An article in Critical Care Clinics states that prayer is the second most common form of pain management, next to oral medicine.
Because of these and other findings, increasingly, the medical community seeks to boost health by understanding and encouraging practices of belief. Tapping into strong spiritual practices and beliefs during a health care threat are the “X factor” in many cases of survival. Therefore, one cannot and must not ignore the profound opportunities that spiritual beliefs bring to the table of hope.
Part of my work with Our Journey of Hope (OJOH) is to encourage the use of faith or religious or spiritual practices to promote wellness and facilitate an infrastructure of clergy and others with strong spiritual beliefs to provide a network to help patients and their families to restore health.
OJOH is a seven-hour training session for pastors and lay members to equip them with the tools and ideology to empower them to address and respond to the needs of individuals who are dealing with cancer. We teach caretakers as well. They are empowered by the belief that they, too, have access to a source greater than themselves to call upon for strength and help.
Our program was created by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) largely because of a suggestion from a patient and her husband. They asked if I would be willing to meet with local clergy persons that they knew for an informal discussion on cancer care and support from a faith perspective.
The importance of OJOH to the treatment centers continues to position the organization as one of the leaders in the health care arena. We truly value and encourage the faith community to marshal the strength of its value system to fight back against cancer.
I have seen the power of faith and communities to change the lives of patients struggling with cancer. Thirteen years ago, Gloria fell into a coma. Family members asked if I would pray for her to regain consciousness. Soon after I prayed over her, Gloria opened her eyes and indeed regained consciousness. She is still living 13 years later.
A faith or spiritual belief assures cancer patients that it is possible to live through challenging health threats, regardless of the odds of long-term survival, and overcome the challenge. We don’t disavow science. However, those who rely on science alone often wrestle with the limitations of humanity’s knowledge. God has no limits. Faith and a spiritual belief are not rooted in limitation.
The best part of my work is providing a platform for genuine discussion for a topic that typically is ignored. The church and faith community in general lacks health care-related ministries organized in a meaningful way to address the very relevant issues surrounding this community of people. OJOH has equipped thousands to broach the subject of cancer with confidence and fearlessness. We have the opportunity to provide a meaningful relationship with pastors and their members concerning health care.
Ultimately, faith and spiritual beliefs equip individuals with the mental and emotional fortitude to withstand the travails and challenges of treatment and forge ahead in the effort to keep cancer at bay by tapping into a “power source” greater than themselves.
With engaged spirituality and informed clergy, caretakers and family, we can support all patients as they brace themselves to live their lives, overcome obstacles and seek hope in their darkest hours.
Written by Percy McCray
Rev. Percy McCray is a national faith and wellness leader, ordained minister and the director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Ill. He leads a dynamic program called Our Journey of Hope, which trains lay minsters and church members nationwide on how to implement faith and spirituality into care for cancer patients and their families to battle the debilitating effects of the disease.
Great Keeper, I Join my brothers and sisters in one accord, we call upon You to keep us, from drawing conclusions about Your ways, for we confess from the deepest part of our souls that You are infinitely wise and knowing that we could ever understand or imagine, and by Your grace, we will patiently wait to see what You have planned for us, our families, our communities, churches and the world in general, we ask, pray and recieve this prayer in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.
Great Giver, we beseech Thee Most High God, to give us the courage, Father, to walk with You in blind faith, even when we do not understand Your plans and purposes and as long as we continue to see Your presence in every darkness that comes our ways, we will confidently place our trust in You and You Alone for the rest of our days, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.
Great Taker, Holy Spirit, we call upon You to take every of our unbeliefs away and replace them with an unexplainable faith, Great Filler, fill us with trust and faith in You and Great Anchor, anchore us on the rock of Your Word to Your glory, as we ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen, Amen and Amen.
As of Friday morning, there were 1,158 comments on the article. I am not sure I’ve ever seen so many comments on a story on CharismaNews.com. The atheists swarmed all over the article because Hemant Mehta, who refers to himself as “the friendly atheist” made some not-so-friendly remarks about me in his Patheos column, “Christian Publication Warns of ‘Atheist Agenda’: They Want You to Lose Your Faith!” But Mehta was pretty friendly compared to the folks who read his article and commented on mine.
After a long diatribe against me and my article, a CharismaNews.com commenter named “David The Sandman,” concluded his spew by saying, “When your church pews are, like the ones in my country, gathering dust and mostly empty you know who to really blame—intolerant and deceptive fools like yourself who clung on to those privileges and bigotries and needlessly slagged off any who didn’t want to adhere to your own narrow definitions of faith. Lying for Jesus is lying all the same. Shame on you.”
Another commenter, Stephen Leavy, wrote, “Christianity: Because you were so bad you made god kill himself.” And “OhioAtheist” quoted the Bible and told me I had no right to speak, according to 1 Timothy 2:12. Meanwhile, an anonymous commenter suggested, “If you can sit down and tell a four year old that they will go to hell if they don’t follow your religion, you aren’t fit to have children.” And Mario Rodgers opined, “I would laugh if you stupid f***wits weren’t so sad in trotting out the same stupid tired arguments about what’s ‘an abomination’ in the sight of your stupid puny god. I can not get a person to turn his back on his faith.” Another guy who calls himself the “Cranky Humanist” told me I just don’t get it on my Twitter account.
I’ll stop there, but it doesn’t get any friendlier. So why are some atheists so angry? I’m hardly the fist one to ask that question. In a video, our friendly atheist Mehta tackles the question “Why are atheists so angry?,” asking, “Why do we get so worked up about something that we don’t even believe exists?” He admits there are angry atheists and acknowledges that it doesn’t seem to make any sense that atheists would get so worked up about something they don’t believe in. Then the friendly atheist offers the reasoning behind so many “ticked off” atheists:
“But you try living in a country where just about every elected official believes in God and then believes that God and their faith should be the basis of policy making. You would get upset too. Or if you had to say prayers in school or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, saying, ‘We’re a nation under God,’ or you saw religion everywhere you went in city council meetings, in your family, at every event you attended—then, yeah, you might get a little upset that all this delusion that’s all around you. And it’s not just someone’s private beliefs. It’s something they want you to be a part of as well. You might get a little ticked off as well.”
Mehta also mentions the many abuses in the name of religion and went on to say a few other things that weren’t so friendly toward Christians. He’s right about that part.
The bottom line, and any Christians reading this should feel free to correct me if I am wrong, is this: Christians want atheists to be “part of” our faith because we don’t want them to spend an eternity in hell. It’s called love. And true Christians are sharing their faith for the right reasons. I can’t speak for all Christians, but I don’t think born-again believers are inherently better, nicer or more trustworthy than atheists, as Mehta suggests is the Christian mindset in his video. All humans have the same carnal nature, and I know plenty of Christians who have poor attitudes. I don’t defend poor attitudes or poor character, and I don’t think Christians should shove their beliefs down anyone’s throat. But friendliness alone won’t take you any place you want to go when you die.
Atheism is rooted in an antichrist spirit that has made man his own God. Atheists have separated themselves from God in this life, yet He still blesses them with an opportunity to repent every day. In the next life—eternal life—atheists won’t be so brazen about insisting God doesn’t exist because they will bow their knee to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:10; Rom. 14:11) before spending forever apart from His presence in the lake of fire. Calling Christians nasty names and insulting God isn’t going to change that or stop Christians from sharing their faith.
I would challenge every atheist who is reading this article to truly seek God with an open mind. I guarantee if you open your heart, ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and seek Him sincerely, you will find Him.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. —Romans 5:1-2
There is no way anyone will understand justification by grace appropriated only through faith without looking at it from God’s perspective. When we see the holiness of God on one hand and the depth of mankind’s sin on the other, a lot of things come into a new light. Justification by faith alone makes sense only when you realize that no amount of human effort could bridge that immeasurable gap. No amount of consecration or sanctification could earn the right to the gifts of the Spirit any more than indulgences could gain forgiveness or Simon’s money could purchase God’s power. Gifts of the Spirit are given based on the grace of God, not on the maturity, wisdom, and character of the vessel.
Father, there is a great gulf that stands between Your perfect holiness and the sinful, hopeless condition of mankind. Nothing but a simple faith in You can bridge that gulf and cause Your forgiveness and mercy to flood over my soul.
God’s solution on the cross makes sense
when you realize that the human effort
equation is hopelessly flawed.
When we think of faith, we think of belief. And when we think of the opposite of belief, we naturally think of unbelief. Therefore, we conclude that the opposite of faith is unbelief. And from a dictionary perspective, that is true. But the Bible usually sets something besides unbelief in opposition to faith — and that is fear. From a grammatical point of view, the opposite of believing may be not believing. But from the perspective of life, the opposite of faith is fear.
Jesus demonstrated this clearly when a Jewish man begged Him to come and heal his sick daughter. On their way, friends of the man met them and said it was too late — the little girl had died. But Jesus said to the man, “Do not be afraid ; only believe .” Jesus didn’t tell the man not to doubt — He told him not to fear. Faith and hope are focused on the future. Facing the future without faith and hope is a good reason to be fearful. Going forward, we have two choices: faith or fear.
Whether the future you are focused on is five minutes, five months, or five years away, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
As a believer, the worst thing you can do is not be who you are supposed to be to the world. Jesus is our best model of someone who knew who He was meant to be.
Now, I don’t mean the bland, boring Jesus you’ve seen in the movies. They make Him out to be very somber and very blah. The real Jesus loved righteousness and hated wickedness. The real Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy.
This anointing is available for you and for me—and it is who we are supposed to be. Jesus had a spiritual force that sustained Him, and joy is the spiritual force we need to live a life of faith.
For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured it all. The persecution, the cross—joy carried Him through the pain and suffering.
A life of faith is not always a bed of roses. Tough times might come. Challenges may test you. You must decide now to love righteousness, hate wickedness and be anointed with joy.
Think of Jesus: Every time He drove a demon out … joy! Every time he set a captive free … joy! It wasn’t always easy, but He knew He was doing the Father’s will, and He had joy to carry Him along.
This joy is not a girlfriend giggly kind of thing; that’s not the kind of joy my Savior lived. It’s deeper than that. It’s stronger than that. This is the kind of joy that could carry you into the Garden of Gethsemane sweating drops of blood.
This is so much joy dripping all over you that you could proclaim the will of God into the earth today and know God’s going to back you up with a demonstration that brings people out of their prison, takes blinders off their eyes and heals their broken bodies.
Some of you can’t endure anything. You fall apart if you get a flat tire. I’m telling you, if you’re going to live a life of faith, you’ve got to decide now to receive the anointing of joy. Grab hold of this special anointing, and let it become who you are this year!
A prayer of faith: God, I decide right now who I’m going to be to the world. I love righteousness and hate wickedness. I receive the anointing of joy—and I ask You to change my heart, change my mind and change my behavior patterns to respond to every situation with faith and joy. In Jesus name, amen!
“No man should light a lamp and put it under a bushel so that it cannot be seen but should place it on a stand that all can see.” -Luke 11:33
There are many ways to be a witness for Christ without standing on a soapbox or in a pulpit. You do not need to have the spiritual gift of evangelism to share your faith either. Simple words like “Thank you” and “The Lord be with you” or “God bless you for what you are doing” are openers, ticklers, seeds.
All you have to do is recognize the openings and drop in the seeds. Maybe you will be the one to water a previously planted seed, help someone remove weeds or stones preventing growth, or maybe you will witness the Holy Spirit bringing someone to the fullness of Christ. Whatever the opportunity, be prepared.
One of the great ways to be prepared to turn a conversation to faith is by recognizing a need in another’s life and then letting them know you will pray about it. You will be surprised how easily this will transition you into a conversation about their faith and God‘s abiding love.
Prayer: Father, thank you for another day of opportunity to serve you. I pray that I will recognize the opportunities of my personal witness for you and meet those opportunities with courage. Amen.
Reflection: How have you witnessed Christ to others through acts of care and kindness?
Many Christians today believe in the doctrine of healing by faith in God. But some wonder: How can a person who fully believes in this doctrine actually receive the blessing and appropriate healing?
I suggest seven steps.
First, be fully persuaded of the Word of God in this matter. The Word is the only sure foundation of rational and scriptural faith. Your faith must rest on the great principles and promises of the Bible, or it can never stand the testings that are sure to come. You must be so sure that this is part of the gospel and the redemption of Christ that all the reasonings of the best men and women cannot shake you.
Most of the practical failures of faith in this matter result from defective or doubtful convictions concerning the divine Word. A woman who had fully embraced this truth and accepted Christ as her Healer was immediately strengthened very much both in spirit and body. Her overflowing heart was only too glad to tell the good news to all her friends. Among others, she met her pastor and told him of her faith and blessing.
To her surprise, he immediately objected to any such views. He warned her against this new fanaticism and told her that these promises on which she was resting were not for us but were only for the apostles and the apostolic age. She listened, questioned, yielded and abandoned her confidence. In less than one month, when I saw her again, she had sunk to such depression that she scarcely knew whether she even believed the Bible.
If those promises were for the apostles, she argued, why might not all the other promises of the Bible also be for them only? I invited her to spend time examining the teaching of the Word of God.
We carefully compared the promises of healing from Exodus to James. Every question we calmly weighed until the truth became so manifest and its evidence so overwhelming that she could only say, “I know it is here, and I know it is true, even if all the world should deny it!”
Then she knelt and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for her weakness and unbelief. She renewed her solemn profession of faith and consecration and claimed again the promise of healing and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
From that day she has been restored and blessed with all spiritual blessings. The very pastor who caused her to stumble has been forced to own that this is the finger of God. But the starting point of all her blessing was the moment when she fully accepted and rested in the living Word.
Second, be fully assured of the will of God to heal you. Most persons are ready enough to admit the power of Christ to heal. But true faith implies equal confidence in the willingness of God to answer the prayer of faith. Any doubt on this point will surely paralyze your prayer for definite healing. If there is any question of God’s will to heal you, there can be no certainty in your expectation.
A mere vague trust in the possible acceptance of your prayer is not faith definite enough to grapple with the forces of disease and death. The prayer for healing, “if it be Thy will,” carries with it no claim for which Satan will quit his hold. This is a matter about which you ought to know His will before you ask, and then you must will and claim it because it is His will.
Has God given you any means by which you may know His will? Most assuredly. If the Lord Jesus has purchased healing for you in His redemption, it must be God’s will for you to have it, for Christ’s whole redeeming work was simply the executing of the Father’s will. If Jesus has promised it to you, it must be His will that you receive it, for how can you know His will but by His Word?
The Word of God is forever the standard of His will, and that Word has declared immutably that it is God’s greatest desire and unalterable principle of action to give to every person according as he or she will believe. Especially has He promised to save all who will receive Christ by faith and to heal all who will receive healing by similar faith.
No one thinks of asking for forgiveness “if it be Thy will.” Nor should you throw any stronger doubt on His promise of physical redemption. Both are freely offered to every trusting person who will accept them.
Third, be careful that you are right with God. If your sickness has come to you on account of any sinful cause, be sure that you thoroughly repent of and confess your sins and make all restitution as far as it is in your power. If sickness has been a discipline designed to separate you from some evil, at once present yourself to God in frank self-judgment and consecration and claim from Him the grace to sanctify you and keep you holy.
An impure heart is a constant fountain of disease. A sanctified spirit is in itself as wholesome as it is holy. At the same time, do not let Satan paralyze your faith by throwing you back on your unworthiness, telling you that you are not good enough to claim healing.
You never can deserve any of God’s mercies. The only plea is the name, the merits and the righteousness of Christ.
But you can renounce known sin and you can walk so as to please God. You can judge yourself and put away all that God shows you to be wrong. The moment you do this you are forgiven.
Do not wait to feel forgiveness or joy, but let your will be wholly turned to God, and believe at once that you are accepted. Then “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having [your heart] sprinkled from an evil conscience and [your body] washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).
It is quite vain for you to try to exercise faith for yourself or others in the face of willful transgression and in defiance of the chastening God has meant you should respect and yield to. But when you receive His correction and turn to Him with a humble and obedient heart, He may then graciously remove the pain and make the touch of healing the token of His forgiving love.
“The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:15-16).
Fourth, commit your body to God and claim by simple faith His promise of healing in the name of Jesus. Having become fully persuaded of the Word of God, the will of God and your own personal acceptance with God, now appropriate your healing. Do not merely ask for it, but humbly and firmly claim healing as His covenant pledge, as your inheritance, as a purchased redemption right. Claim it as something already fully offered you in the gospel and waiting only your acceptance to make good your possession.
There is a great difference between asking and taking, between expecting and accepting. You must take Christ as your Healer–not as an experiment, not as a future benefit, but as a present reality. You must believe that He does now, according to His promise, touch your life with His almighty hand and quicken the fountains of your being with His strength.
Do not merely believe that He will do so, but claim and believe that He does now touch you and begins the work of healing in your body. And go forth counting it done, acknowledging and praising Him for it.
From that moment, doubt should be regarded as absolutely out of the question and even the thought of retreating to old “means” inadmissible. God has become the Physician, and He will not give His glory to another. God has healed, and all human attempts at helping would imply a doubt of the reality of the healing.
Fifth, act your faith. To the paralyzed man, Jesus commanded, “‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’” (Mark 2:11). Not to show your faith or display your courage but because of your faith begin to act as one who is healed.
Treat Christ as if you trusted Him by attempting in His name and strength what would be impossible in your own. He will not fail you if you really trust Him and continue to act your faith consistently and courageously. But it is most important that you not do this on human faith or word.
Do not rise from your bed or walk on your lame foot because somebody tells you to do so. That is not faith but impression. God will surely tell you to, but it must be at His Word.
If you are walking with Him and trusting Him, you will know His voice. Your prayer, like Peter’s, must be, “Lord … bid me come unto Thee on the water,” and He will surely bid you if He is to heal you.
Sixth, be prepared for trials of faith. Do not look necessarily for the immediate removal of the symptoms. Do not think of them. Simply ignore them and press forward, claiming the reality back of all symptoms.
Remember the health you have claimed is not your own natural strength, but the life of Jesus manifested in your mortal flesh. Therefore, the old natural life may still be encompassed with many infirmities, but back of it and over against it is the all-sufficient life of Christ to sustain your body. “You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).
But Christ is your life (v. 4), and “the life which [you] now live in the flesh [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave Himself for [you]” (Gal. 2:20). Do not, then, wonder if nature fails you. The Lord’s healing is not nature. It is grace. It is by the power of the risen Lord.
It is Christ who is your life. Christ’s body is for your body as His Spirit was for your spirit. Therefore, do not wonder if there should be trials. They come to show you your need of Christ and to throw you back upon Him.
To know this and so to put on His strength in your weakness and live in it moment by moment is the way of perfect healing. Then, again, trials always test and strengthen faith in proportion as it is real. Faith must be shown to be genuine so that God can vindicate His reward of it before the whole universe.
Seventh, use your new strength and health for God, and be careful to obey the will of the Master. This Christ-given strength is a very sacred thing. It is the resurrection life of Christ in you. And it must be spent as He Himself would spend it.