OPERATIONS OF FAITH: PATIENCE AND OBEDIENCE
True faith in God is demonstrated in our obedience to Him. Faith has to do with believing His Word and giving Him the honour due Him by esteeming His Word highly. The Bible is full of lessons of faith. Many results of faith are recorded for our example. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 10:8-11). Faith has to do with our hearts and mouths being involved with our believing God and His Word to us. Faith should be the foundation for our prayers. God is pleased when we stay and operate in faith. Obedience to God is possible when we are in faith. Patience has to do with being consistent in our faith life. We call it perseverance. We are encouraged to be followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises and avoid being lazy (Hebrews 6:12 and 10:36). You have need of endurance (Old KJV calls it patience), for after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise. The life of faith is a life of diligence; not for lazy folks. Every contrary inner attitude we have will be dealt with as we apply due diligence to God’s word. When we meditate (Ps. 1:1-3), on God’s Word we allow Him to define our inner world and hence our reality. When we mutter His Word to ourselves, we build a faith consciousness into our hearts. This calls for diligence. We can then hold fast to His Word as we learn to fight the good fight of faith. We hold forth the Word of Life in a perverse generation (Phil. 2:12-16). We honour God when we believe His Word in the face of contrary evidence. He is not a man that He should lie. He is able to make His every word good in our lives. We need the staying-power (which is a product of His grace) of patience as we cooperate with Him to see His Word come to pass.
DEVELOPING A RECEIVING ATTITUDE AND MINDSET
When it is settled in your heart that you are going to experience the fullness of God’s blessings, you need to develop a receiving attitude and mindset. Mark 11:22-26 tells us to ‘believe that we receive’ when we pray, and we shall have whatever we prayed for. Believe you receive and you shall have. The concept of believing you receive is not just an instant or individual occurrence but an attitude and an informed mindset. Receiving implies being positioned with expectation and with a humble submission to God’s ability to make His Word true. The concept is also involved in how we receive God’s Word. In 1 Thess. 2:13, (For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe) the inner attitude of the Thessalonians is the secret behind the effective working of God’s Word in their lives. God’s Word functions better in certain conditions than in others. When there is a heart that is willing to do what the Word demands, God will be willing to release His power through His Word. In Philippians 4:9, Paul was encouraging the Philippians to respond correctly to what they had seen, heard, received and learned. Paul shows us that there are four ways to transmit, and come into contact with, the values and the “power-to-change- lives influence” of the gospel. This means we can hear, see and learn but not receive. Our heart’s attitude is the key to our receiving. There should be a permanent prevailing heart attitude of receiving and learning, if we want to enter His fullness.
WORK IT OUT IN LIFE:
CULTIVATE THE LIFESTLYE OF OBEDIENCE
Some well known preacher of the Word once said “faith is not faith until it becomes part of your daily speech and daily conduct”. Many think that we should separate the events of obedience in our lives. There is a formula I read somewhere that reads like this: repentance + obedience = freedom. It is the lifestyle of obedience that guarantees the perpetual freedom. The reason why there are many who fail to retain their healing, or whatever breakthrough God gives them, is because they think in terms of individual events and not necessarily about a lifestyle of continued obedience. Our continued obedience gives us the opportunity to build the character of Christ into our lives. The consistency in obedience produces in our lives that which gives us a step by step build up of the nature of Christ into our souls.
To bring about real lasting changes in our lives we need to see to it that our every day living comes into focus where God’s Word is concerned. We need to set goals, plan, prepare and schedule time to engage in the things that pertain to God’s Word. There will be days or weeks where all our study, meditation and devotional prayers will be
INTIMACY WITH GOD
It is possible to major on principles and leave out the person, presence and hence the power of God out of many areas of our lives. Without maintaining contact with God, we come short of His fullness in every aspect of our lives. Once again I see fallen man’s love for independence showing up in man’s attempt to distil success principles without a desire to connect with the God who gives all. God starts us all with His promises; they serve as our foundation for walking with God. Then we encounter problems as we live in a fallen world. Our willingness to align ourselves with His ways and plans is what determines whether our problems will serve as stepping stones to greater heights or mark the place of our destruction. We can get either better or bitter. When we fulfil the conditions for His promises they manifest as provisions. To know and fulfil the correct conditions involve hearing from God. To cultivate intimacy with God, we start by understanding the fear of God. The fear of God is the healthy fear that serves to keep us from living in sin without any consideration for God’s displeasure. “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Ps 19:9). We need to know how it pains His heart for people to yield their lives to sin after His son has paid the price for them to be free from it. Sin is destructive and gives Satan a foothold in our lives. On this foundation of the fear of God we can build our love for Him and hence cultivate intimacy with Him. Intimacy is a product of choice and a centred on walking more and more in His love. Other times we may need to work on getting rid of poverty and a sense of lack. All these are spelt ‘TIME IN THE WORD AND FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD’. How will we change the way we speak if we do not set goals, plan and form the habit through repeating words until they become part of our daily speech? A negative habit is usually broken by replacing it with a right one. Our prayer life gets stronger through regular exercise in prayers. What we think, say and do, what attitudes we develop and what we allow to influence our decisions; all these need to be harnessed through our desire to regulate our lives by God’s Word. To enjoy the fullness of His blessings in our lives demands that we go all the way with Him through His Word and being in obedience to His Spirit so we can be led into all He has for us. If you are willing and obedient you will eat the good of the land (Is.1:19). It is what we do daily, weekly and monthly that will determine the eventual outcomes of our lives. Even ‘go and sin no more’ means go and cultivate a new lifestyle and make sure sin is no longer a part of it.
As we cultivate the right lifestyle, let us take note of the operation of Religious Spirits. Religious Spirits are the greatest counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. They are from hell and have come to steal, kill and destroy. They destroy heart relationships with God and man. They use distractions and condemnation. For example, they make people try to externally impose God’s truth upon themselves without an internal connection with the Spirit of Grace. They produce hypocritical, lie telling people who blame God for their predicament. We need to bind these Spirits from destroying our walk with God. The story of the brother of the ‘Prodigal Son’ in Luke 15:11-32 is a case in point – take time to cultivate intimacy with God as you live by faith and not by sight. Receive all that God has made available through Jesus Christ.