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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Words of positive faith…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“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?

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Head First – Faith.


Ryan Duncan

What does it mean to take a “leap of faith”? The expression has classically been used to describe a Christian’s belief in God and the confidence in what they cannot see. But is that explanation really good enough? Does it truly capture the fear, the uncertainty, the agonizing conflict of thoughts and emotions a person experiences in their quest to know God? To those on the outside, it would seem even Christians don’t understand the popular term.

For Fr. Stephen Freeman though, understanding a “leap of faith” is quite simple. Freeman recalls the first time he used the diving board while in swim class. He was eight years old, and as he stood on the edge of the high dive, his fear of the leap conflicted greatly with the encouragement of his swim coach. Freeman stated that he was not sure what eventually convinced him to make the jump, but the eons he experienced on that board were no different than his journey to discover Christ. In arecent blog post, Freeman writes,

I have had mid-air collisions with the existence of God, His goodness, His kindness, His caring presence, the Church, Tradition, Scripture, forgiveness, and faith itself (to mention only a few). And with every encounter, though preceded by grace, there is some moment of the leap. The leap itself is, for me, sheer terror. I dread the existence of God at least as much as I dreaded the surface of the water itself. It may sound strange to dread the existence of God, except when you consider that His existence means the possible return to the diving board on a regular basis. Practice has never made it any easier.              

Faith asks a great deal of the believer. Like a diving board, it sometimes leads us to the edge of insanity and asks us to take one more step. It is also why many choose not to pursue God, since they refuse to believe in something they see as absent. To the secular world, faith and ignorance can often go hand in hand. However, blogger Jennifer Maggio asserts that this is not true.

Maggio writes,

The very foundation of Christianity is faith. It takes great faith to believe God, that we’ve never seen, sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us. Our faith is what gives us the assurance that even though we cannot physically see God, he is with us. Our faith gives us the strength to push through the difficult times when it seems that everything on earth is caving down around us.

For my part, I am reminded of an old song I used to listen to when I was in high school. The title of the song was “Dive” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and though it’s fallen out of popularity over the years, the message in the music has stayed timeless. Chapman paints God as a mighty river, and we can either take a risk and dive in or retreat to safety. The song’s chorus pretty much says it all,

I’m diving in
I’m going deep
In over my head I wanna be
Caught in the rush
Lost in the flow
In over my head I wanna go
The River’s deep
The River’s wide
The River’s water is alive
So sink or swim
I’m diving in.

*Ryan Duncan is the culture editor for Crosswalk.com

10 Ways the Word of Faith Movement Went Wrong.


Joseph Mattera
Joseph Mattera
As a product of the Word of Faith movement in the early 1980s, I will forever be indebted to the books and teachings of Kenneth Hagin Sr., Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, T.L. Osborn and the like. These were holy men of integrity who turned the world upside down with their faith and teaching.
I learned how to pray for the sick by reading Osborn’s book Healing the Sick, and I learned how to resist the devil by reading Hagin’s The Believer’s Authority. In reading many biographies of Smith Wigglesworth, I have always been challenged by his utter consecration to Christ and to walk in the light of His Word whether in or out of the pulpit. I shudder to think where I would be right now if not for being influenced by these men and this movement.
That being said, as I continued to grow in the Lord and His Word, I saw several flaws in the teaching and in the movement in general. This article is not meant to dampen anyone’s faith but to bring a more balanced picture of the ways of God—especially since many have been discouraged in this movement because they did not understand the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and did not have a theology that included certain things that challenged their faith.
I have found that whenever we preach or emphasize one truth of God’s Word to the exclusion of the others, it becomes a mixture and produces both good and bad fruit. For example, this has happened with the hypergrace movement, as well as the view of hyperfaith. From an overemphasis on outward holiness, we get legalism. And we come into a form of fatalism when we emphasize God’s sovereignty at the expense of human responsibility.
However, I will go on record saying that I would much rather be with people attempting to walk in faith and victory than be hanging out with depressed saints filled with unbelief and doubt. Also, like most other movements, the Word of Faith movement restored to the body of Christ a biblical truth that was neglected by the church—and in doing so, overemphasized it. But after several years, more balance comes as folks like myself “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Also, I believe that Brother Hagin never approved of some of the excesses that came out of the faith camp—especially regarding the unbalanced teachings on prosperity that came from some of his more radical followers.
The following are some of the flaws of the Word of Faith movement from my perspective (and I realize these are generalizations that don’t fit exactly every person classified as “Word of Faith”):
1. They preach a “rights centered” gospel rather then a “stewardship centered” gospel.
Perhaps influenced by our Jeffersonian heritage of individual rights in America, the way the gospel is applied to individuals in the Word of Faith movement is based on personal rights in Christ. Although this is partially true, the New Testament balances our rights in Christ with our responsibility that goes along with these rights.
For example, in Deuteronomy 8:18, we learn that God gave believers “power to get wealth, that His may establish His covenant.” This passage clearly teaches us the primary purpose of prosperity is for the kingdom—not only for our individual comfort and pleasure. Many in the faith movement used to “claim” houses and cars and attempt to use their faith merely for their own individual needs, which, in and of itself, goes against our call to seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33) as a prerequisite for our individual needs and wants being fulfilled.
2. Their dispensational belief precludes the role and importance of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant age.
I heard Brother Hagin brag several times in his teaching sessions that he did not read the Old Covenant because we have a new and better covenant now in Christ. The challenge with that teaching is that he did not understand the relevance and role of the moral and civic law of God found from Exodus to Deuteronomy—especially the Ten Commandments that were repeated over and over again either exactly or in principle by the New Testament writers. Without the moral law of God, we have no standard for holiness and will lack the conviction of sin the moral law gives as our standard of holiness and ethics.
Furthermore, Hagin and others like him would only quote the Old Testament when convenient—when it comported to his view of faith. For example, he would quote Exodus 23:25, where God told the Jews He would take sickness from them, but he neglected to also teach that in order to walk in health, they had to follow the strict dietary code as found in Leviticus 11. Thus, healing for the Jews included not only claiming a promise of God but also staying away from unclean food. (In my opinion, walking in physical health also involves having a healthy diet and lifestyle—or else we are tempting God by intentionally violating His natural laws and then expecting Him to heal us.)
3. They have a semi-gnostic dualism regarding their view of God.
Word of Faith preachers have a simple view of God: Everything that is good is of God, and everything bad is from the devil.
While I totally agree God is a good God, sometimes He has to bring judgment or allow things to take place that in our natural minds may be interpreted as bad. What do Word of Faith preachers do with passages like Isaiah 45:7, in which God says He not only brings prosperity but also disaster? Or 2 Samuel 24:13, where God told King David to choose one of three calamities He would bring upon the land of Israel as punishment for his sin? Or Amos 3:6, which clearly says God sometimes brings disaster to a city? What about the book of Job, where God allows Satan to afflict Job physically with boils as well as bring disaster to other areas of his life?
I remember Brother Hagin teaching that Job doesn’t count in the New Testament because Job 42:10 says God turned the captivity of Job and that Luke 4:18 says Jesus set the captives free. That would all be fine, except for the fact that the book of James carries the life and story of Job into the New Testament for the church age—specifically, James 5:11 offers a lesson for us regarding God’s ways and dealings. (Also, without the book of Job, we have nothing to say to Christians who unexpectedly lose a loved one or experience great personal challenges and loss. Job is comforting to me as a pastor because it shows me that God is sovereign over all things—in both the good and the bad—even when it is hard to explain and understand in the natural. Furthermore, God never gave Job an explanation for why He allowed disaster to strike.)
Finally, what do Word of Faith teachers say about Revelation 2:22-23, where Jesus says that He will cast people on a bed of sickness and even strike people dead? This does not go along with the simple dualism they teach.
Now, I will be the first to say that God’s general will, as revealed in the Gospels, is for divine health (see also 3 John 2) and that, in general, He always wants us healthy in spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23) and that Jesus came for us to have an abundant life (John 10:10). But those in the Word of Faith movement have such a narrow view of the Word of God that they do not have any explanations for mysterious things that happen to us that challenge our faith. It is not always true that something bad happened to a person because they had sin (John 9:1-3) or that they didn’t get healed or calamity came to them because they lacked faith. Of course, the instance where Jesus brought sickness and death in Revelation 2:22-23 had to do with disobedience, which took people out from under the covering of the Lord (Ps. 91:1).
In summary, it is still generally God’s will to bring us health and prosperity in the context of obedience to His Word.
4. Positive confession sometimes leads to dishonesty and superficial Christianity.
I have been around many believers who are afraid to be honest and admit they are struggling with their faith. This brings people into bondage and even a form of superficial religion. Some believers are like robots—when you ask them how they are doing, they routinely say, “I am blessed and highly favored!” However, I know some of these people, and they are merely trying to keep a positive confession even though their world is falling apart.
Now, I do believe in speaking the Word of God to our challenging circumstances and not giving in to negative talk, but that is different from what James 5:16 tells us when he exhorts believers to confess their faults one to another. Positive confession is good and biblical (Prov. 18:21) as long as it doesn’t stop a person from getting pastoral counsel and being honest with fellow believers when they need prayer.
5. Their view on prosperity is only based on giving.
While it is true that the Bible teaches we reap what we sow and that if we give, it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38), one of the flaws of the Word of Faith movement is that it only teaches people one side of prosperity. I believe the church needs to equip the saints not only to give but also to get, as well as how to manage what they get  while investing and saving for the future.
When we only teach the saints how to give, we limit the amount of creativity and blessing some people can experience—because without combining giving with hard work, education and an understanding of how to manage and create a budget, many folks will continue in cycles of poverty even though they may experience elements of God’s provision based on their giving. God can only bless in proportion to our ability to manage what He gives us!
In poor countries, I have found that when the only solution presented to the people for breaking poverty is “giving to the church,” the only person who becomes prosperous is the preacher. In the kingdom of God, the church is called to have a more empowering and holistic approach in regard to prosperity and breaking cycles of poverty.
6. They have faith in their faith as a principle rather than it emanating out of the person of Christ.
I have found in many instances where this movement presented faith almost as an impersonal force, like the law of gravity. This led to teachings like “having faith in your faith.” When this is taught, it can disconnect faith from intimacy with the Lord. The more I get to know a person, the more I can trust them. Faith is not a force. It is a result of growing in simple trust based on growing in an experiential knowledge of the Lord. Faith is relational. It is not an impersonal force.
7. Some pastors have modeled their church preaching after these “specialists” in the body. 
Brother Hagin, T.L. Osborn, Smith Wigglesworth and the like were not typical pastors called to oversee a flock. Thus, they were able to preach based on their primary assignment, which was faith and healing.
The challenge is, many pastors who don’t understand this began to mimic these great men of God and attempted to build congregations only around those three themes—faith, prosperity and healing. That is OK if you are a traveling teacher or evangelist, but a congregation needs to have a balanced diet of the Word that includes the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). A pastor needs to preach on healing but also holiness; faith but also tests and trials; moving mountains but also marriage; giving financially but also stewardship and hard work. I love preaching on faith and healing, but as a pastor I often had to preach subjects I really did not have a great passion for but knew others needed to hear to fully mature in the Lord.
8. It can put guilt and bondage on believers.
I have heard of many people who walk around in guilt because they are not healed or because they are struggling financially. In some cases, I have even heard of famous faith preachers who checked into a hospital under a different name so word would not get out that they were sick and under a doctor’s care!
We need to have a culture of faith in our churches, but we also have to engender a culture of humility, honesty and brokenness—admitting that we don’t always walk in victory over sin and sickness as well as making allowances for mystery The fact is, we don’t always understand why certain things happen to believers. (See again the book of Job.)
9. It can produce independent, narcissistic believers.
When the Word of Faith movement went from a stewardship-centered gospel to a rights-centered gospel, it also attracted many self-focused people—people who used God as an excuse for their lavish lifestyles and who frowned upon those living in simplicity. Unfortunately, this teaching often appealed to the narcissistic tendencies in all of us, and many large ministries were built more upon the American Dream of having a nice house and a nice car than upon taking up our cross and following Jesus. Jesus said in Luke 14:33 that we have to lose everything in order to be His disciple, but many in this movement only focus on what we gain. Truly, you can’t be resurrected until you first go to the cross!
10. It is not connected to the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28.
Last but not least, the Word of Faith movement did not go far enough. Instead of limiting faith to merely believing for individual healing and health, the Word of God teaches that our faith should also transform whole cities and subdue kingdoms! (See Isaiah 61:4 and Hebrews 11:33.) The gospel is a blueprint to disciple and baptize whole people groups, not just individuals (Matt. 28:19-20). It not only deals with individual sinners but systemic evil. The Word of Faith movement, though, brings faith for individual victory but doesn’t say much about corporate victory. However, regarding the community of believers, faith is also based on the corporate culture and anointing of a congregation. (First Corinthians 11:27-32 and Hebrews 3-4 teach that whole congregations can be negatively affected by a culture of unbelief or disobedience.)
The Word of Faith movement in general separated the gospel from the kingdom and, in doing so, made it more about individual prosperity then societal transformation. When you separate the gospel from the kingdom, you tend to become more self-focused because the Good News gets disconnected from our responsibility to steward the earth. With the gospel of the kingdom, we believe in individual, congregational and societal transformation!
Finally, I believe with all of my heart that there was more good than bad in the Word of Faith movement and that it was God’s intention that  biblical faith for the supernatural be restored back to the church. All of us only know in part and see through a glass darkly—even the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 13:9,12). Consequently, it often takes years for the body of Christ to discern how to have balance when old truths are restored. One of the keys to life is balance—and biblical balance cannot come until we attempt to embrace the whole counsel of God!
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can read more on josephmattera.org or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Fall Favorites: Faith.


O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:9

Recommended Reading
Psalm 8 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%208&version=NKJV )

John Piper wrote, “When I was in seminary, a wise professor told me that besides the Bible I should choose one great theologian and apply myself throughout life to understanding and mastering his thought…. The theologian I have devoted myself to is Jonathan Edwards.”

Watch This Week’s TV Broadcast ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/television.aspx?tid=email_watchedevo )

Piper was particularly influenced by Edwards’ dissertation about the reason God created the world, which was ultimately and exclusively for His glory. Everything is  of  God and  in  God and  to  God. The presence of beauty in this sin-cursed world is a reflection of the glory of God.1

This autumn as you watch the swirls of oranges, reds, and browns; as the birds migrate above you; as the harvest rolls in around you; and as you see the sun set earlier in the sky, take time to reaffirm your faith in God. Trust the Creator with all your heart and say to Him: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.”

In the creatures’ knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; His fullness is received and returned.
Jonathan Edwards

1John Piper in the introduction of  Jonathan Edwards on Beauty  by Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney (Chicago: Moody, 2010), 15-17.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Hosea 1-9

By David Jeremiah.

The Touch Of Faith.


Immediately Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd, and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” – Mark 5:30

How did he know that one touch amid all the press of the crowd? The people were close to Him, pushing up against Him. The disciples even thought it was strange that He would ask the question. The people could not help but touch Him. There was one touch different from all the rest, though! There was a heart’s cry in it. It was not like the press of the crowd, an accidental or a thoughtless touch, the simple touch of nearness; there was a soul in it. Amid all the pressure of the crowd He recognized it.

In every church service all are near to Christ, but not all are blessed. All press up against Christ, but some go away as they came, carrying with them wounds unhealed, brokenness unmended, and heart-hunger unfulfilled. Others, sitting close by, receive help. The first, even though they are near near, reach out no hand of faith, while the others touch the hem of Christ’s clothes.

The services of the Church may be compared to telephone wires through which messages are always passing. You may climb up and put your ear to the wire, or hold it in your hand; but you will not hear a word of all the important messages that are flashing through it. But if someone comes with a phone and attaches it he or she hears every word. Similarly in the services we touch the invisible wires that bind heaven and earth together. Along these wires messages are flying up from earth to heaven, prayers, praises, heart cries, faith filled desires; down from heaven to earth answers of comfort, cheer, joy, and help, along with blessings of pardon, healing, life, peace. Sadly many know nothing of all this. For them there are no flash of healing, no new life. No joy, or help comes to them. They are close, but have no true connection. The others touch by prayer and faith.

By Vine.


Bible In A Year: July 1st…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
Psalm 136-140 2 Kings 3-4-37 Acts 21:1-26 Psalm 78:56-72

Slippery Faith.


He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith-.-.-.-and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. —Romans 4:20-21

The word translated “stagger” from the Greek means to “doubt or hesitate.” Abraham did not slide back and forth between faith and fear—two mutually exclusive expectations. You cannot have faith and fear in the same heart. One drives out the other. You do not have to rebuke fear or overcome fear. Have faith in God and fear not.

Abraham was fully persuaded. Some Christians are not fully persuaded about anything—that their spouse is the right one, that their church is the right one, or their choice for lunch is the right one.

Stop wading in the shallow flatlands of weak spiritual experience and launch out into the deep. Be fully persuaded that the God you serve is able to perform what He has promised!

Lord, I am persuaded that You are able to save
my lost loved ones. Lord, I am persuaded
that Your plans for me are good and
not evil. Lord, I am persuaded that
You will protect me from all harm.
Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

One Word Not in God’s Dictionary.


What sort of faith does God reward?

We all know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). When does that mean in practical terms? A friend wrote me this week with some good insight:

“I have come to realize that God prizes and rewards and seeks outrageous, ridiculous, absurd faith. Praying and asking God for anything is an exercise of such faith. Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Job, the 11 Disciples, had faith that was outrageous. They followed orders that were insane, humanly speaking. They prayed and trusted God for help in situations which were hopeless, humanly speaking.

“Think about it: raising your staff over the Red Sea to make it part so that the Israelites can pass thru on dry land. Or Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho. It’s crazy.

“As I was thinking of it, that is exactly the kind of faith we are called upon to exercise in forgiving those who have hurt us. Logically, it shouldn’t work. Praying and asking God to bless those who have hurt us is, from a human perspective, absurd. Praying and asking God to help us forgive someone who has hurt us is outrageous, humanly speaking. From a human perspective, it is crazy to trust someone you have never met/seen in person and who’s voice you have never heard in an audible way, to deal with those who hurt you. Forgiveness is crazy. It is the outworking of outrageous, ridiculous, absurd, insane faith. (That is one of the reasons why many people do not take forgiveness seriously, even within the church.) And yet, that is EXACTLY the kind of faith that God prizes and rewards: ridiculous, outrageous, absurd, insane, unrealistic faith.

“We as people have the word “realistic” in our dictionary; God does not.”

I especially like that last sentence. We are “realistic” and God is not. Don’t pray today for a “realistic” faith. Pray for a ridiculous, outrageous, absurd, insane, unrealistic faith. In other words, pray for faith like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and Daniel.

Would you like to stand out from the crowd today? Cut the word “realistic” out of your dictionary.

You never know what God will do when you stop limiting him to what you think he can do.

By Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

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