True Signs and Wonders

REPOSTED FROM JUNE 2008

True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord. True signs and wonders were never intended for entertainment or "an event" that one travels to see.

Mark 16:17-20 explains: “And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. … And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it].”

I will say it again: “True signs and wonders are fruit of walking in the Spirit and doing the work of the Lord.” Jesus knew that His followers would encounter many things in their individual lives and ministries that would have to be dealt with immediately. I have personally encountered a few serious demonic manifestations in others that had to be addressed immediately. I told the demon to shut up and come out! It did! (At the name of Jesus every knee must bow, Phil. 2:10.) There was no fanfare, but the person was set free.

I have prayed for many people who have been healed, and I personally have experienced healings in my own body. People have told me that I have certain spiritual giftings. I want to say, "Maybe, because I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord, but mostly, I have Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit." As Christians, it should not be at all unusual to see disciples moving in true signs and wonders. And as Spirit-filled Christians, we should not be surprised when God moves through us in signs and wonders!


I think many people do not understand that when we have Jesus and are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have all that He has given us to do the works that He did on earth, and greater! John 14:12-14 NIV: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

I have been a Christian for almost 60 years, and I have learned well 2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP): "However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves." Brothers and sisters, we all need a plaque on our walls with this verse, especially if God is using us to minister to others. There is no place for pride when moving in signs and wonders. In ourselves, we are only frail, human vessels of earth, simply earthen vessels through which God can exhibit His grandeur and the exceeding greatness of His power.

When Jesus gave His charge in Matthew 28 to "Go into all the world and make disciples in all the nations" (paraphrased), He prevented any argument by “showing them his badge,” so to speak. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph. 1:21). Parts of the church have been pretty good about telling people they need to be saved, but for the most part, the last part of the Matthew 28 charge has been left out: "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

It is no wonder that we are in the mess we are in. We get people saved so they won’t go to hell and send them out into the world like sheep among wolves before they are trained for service. It is no wonder that people so easily turn to their "natural" inclinations and glorify the flesh.

*Steve Crosby made some good points in his article, "Babies and Bathwater: Lakeland and Beyond": They [deceived and gullible Christians] don’t know the Scriptures. They have no discernment. Their senses have not been trained (through exercise) to discern both good and evil. They receive a revelation and think they are now experts. They lust for supernatural power. They are hungry for celebrity and one-upmanship. They substitute experiences with angels for the worship and presence of God." [I recommend reading the entire article at the link below.]

Why? Because, for the most part, Christians have not been taught and do not practice 2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth" [emphasis mine]. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34)—not chase after signs, wonders, and angels. Nor have they been taught that “He [Jesus] must increase, but I [me] must decrease” (John 3:30).

Hebrews 5:12-14: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

New disciples, and even older ones, can be trained in all of these points above by being holy in all of their conduct (1 Peter 1:15), but it must first start in the pulpit. It has been proven that the social, seeker-friendly gospel works for growing big churches, but it does not work for maturing disciples. Let's return to the biblical pattern, and let's grow up and start making a difference in the church and the world. Jesus still wants His body to move in true signs and wonders, but we must be aligned in right relationship with Him through His Spirit and His Word rightly divided.

It's time for the Church to move on to maturity, or few of us will be ready for the days ahead.

Restore Your Church, Lord!

*
Steve Crosby

Check Your Filters Regularly

AT FIRST GLANCE, you may think this is another do-it-yourself manual—learn to change the oil filter in your car, your air conditioner filter, or the filter on your water purification system. Yes, it is good to do those things, but the filters we will examine here are much more intimate and personal and are in critical need of being checked regularly. These are filters that can be found in the souls of humanity and can control behavior and everything that is thought and felt.

When God created man on the earth, He knew His new creation would be exposed to the chaos that Lucifer and the fallen angels had brought to the earth. The mind of His new man was pure, innocent, and obedient. That purity would shield him from the ugliness and chaos he would encounter on the earth, as long as he was obedient to God.

Adam walked in innocence with God in the Garden of Eden and shared intimate fellowship with Him. Adam could see all things through the eyes of God. He bore fruit. He subdued and took dominion of his surroundings. He was happy and fulfilled. He loved the helpmeet God had given him and lived in unity and oneness with her. He remained pure, as long as he walked in obedience.

God had placed Adam in a garden, a place of order in the midst of the chaotic mess that was on the earth. It was an enclosed environment that he was to “tend and keep.” From his rib, God had given Adam a mate, and he was given the power of God to rule the earth as God’s man. The Tree of Life in the center of the garden preserve was the physical evidence of life under the rule of God’s Spirit. Its fruit was immortality, and Adam was completely free to eat of it.

“... but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Adam was given a choice, a choice with strong consequences. Choose life, or choose death.

There came a day when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate of the forbidden tree. Whether through the deception of the serpent or deliberate intent, by their act of disobedience they chose self-autonomy and self-rule over the promise of eternal life. The death they experienced was spiritual, moral, emotional, and, ultimately, physical. Their pure minds that had enabled them to fellowship intimately with God and to rest in His love and security became polluted and tainted through sin and their own cognitive knowledge of good and evil. They were immediately filled with shame and fear at their nakedness and vulnerability, and they set out to hide and cover themselves.

Titus 1:15 in the Amplified Bible says: “To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted.”

The minds and consciences of Adam and Eve had become defiled and polluted with the corruption of sin. They had died a spiritual death and were left to rely on their unrepentant soulish resources—their unleashed human wills, their guilt-ridden emotions, and their defiled minds that now harbored a veil, a polluted filter called “the knowledge of good and evil,” a veil that separated them from the presence and the holiness of God. The wisdom that Eve had been seeking was not godly wisdom born from dependence on God but human self-rule and the mind of reason.

When God called Adam and Eve to account for their actions in Genesis 3:11, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat,” the proverbial “blame game” was born. Instead of taking responsibility for their sin and falling on their faces in repentance before God, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.

Before asking them if they had eaten from the forbidden tree, God asked them a key question in the first part of Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” This is an important question that we often skim right over. Let’s read all of that verse again: “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ ” These two questions are eternally linked by Almighty God Himself. Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil birthed the voice of self-awareness. It birthed the voice that speaks in agreement with the great tempter, the deceiver and “accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10).

The eyes of Adam and Eve had been opened to their own nakedness and shame. Their focus was taken off of God and placed on themselves. Their minds of purity that had protected them to God now contained a veil of separation from God. That veil was a filter through which all of sinful man’s thoughts, and ultimately his words, would be processed by the knowledge of good and evil. Those thoughts, under the dominion of satan, would be turned inward, where the focus was on self instead of on God. Those filters are still influencing our lives today.

I received an e-mail recently that shows perfectly how filters work. It goes like this:

“The Dirty Wash”

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees the neighbor hang up the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean,” she said, “she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs another laundry soap.” The husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang out the wash, the young woman would make the same comment. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look! She has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.” Her husband said, “I got up early this morning and washed the windows.”

And so it is with life: What we see while watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

Everyone has filters. They are the sum total of our knowledge—our knowledge of both good and evil. We process almost everything through a filter—information, thoughts, feelings, experiences, problems, etc. At birth, they are like blank computer chips ready to be programmed.

Children who are raised in a home where there is love, caring, sharing, and appropriate relationship interaction have learned, for the most part, to be pragmatic in their thinking processes. Their knowledge weighs on the side of “good.”

Conversely, children who are raised where there is abuse, dysfunction, disrespect, chaos, instability, or a lack of love and caring will usually develop negative imprints in their mental functioning and may have many filters through which they process thoughts and feelings. Their knowledge weighs on the side of “evil.” For many, even though at some point they may become born again, there is often a life-long struggle with trust.

There are many kinds of destructive filters plaguing humanity. The “seeds” are there as a result of man’s fallen state and the inheritance of the sins of the fathers. They are programmed by many means—through things that are planted in the mind in childhood, through negative and painful significant relationships, through the influence or bad experiences that come from drugs and alcohol, through habitual sin, or even through trauma. Filters are a greatly used tool of the devil to steal, kill, and destroy the purposes and the lives of people.

Many filters are all consuming. Take, for example, a person who has acquired a rejection filter. Everything he or she thinks, hears, feels, and experiences processes through their rejection filter, and it comes out looking just like rejection. Most of us have met people with a rejection filter, and no amount of reassurance will ever be enough to satisfy them.

Over time, human filters collect the debris of life, the same as any other filter. They grow stale and become covered with sticky gunk and grime. Eventually, they become clogged. The person with a rejection filter at that point sees rejection in everything. Their words constantly confess their rejection. We have all heard of people looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Instead of being rose-colored, these filters are rejection-colored. The vision is dirty, ugly, devoid of love, painful, and destructive. Eventually, the filter starts to contaminate the person organically. The rejection is not then just an emotional response to a thought or exterior influence; it is becoming a part of their inner identity. It will eventually cause them to reject themselves and set themselves up to be rejected by others.

Hopelessness and self-hatred set in next and can sometimes end in suicide. It goes deeper into the cells of the body, and the body begins to be rejected at the cellular level. At this point, the disease and dying processes begin.

Think about what dirty oil does to a car engine. You can drain the oil and put in new, clean oil, but if you do not change the filter, the oil is blocked and destroyed as it tries to circulate through the dirty filter. This is what happens to many people, even Christians, who go from counselor to counselor or from church to church and never change. It is a hindrance to the work of the Holy Spirit in that life. They may see some short-term benefits, but eventually, the dirty filter does its work.

This continued cycle will soon wear out an engine. It starts running badly, it has no power, and it spits, sputters, and develops hesitation. Pretty soon, it is going to throw a rod; it is going to blow the engine. Compare that to a heart attack, or cancer, or any number of health maladies. It may even show up as psychosomatic illness long before the real sets in.

Many have said that the battle is in the mind. Filters in the mind prevent us from walking in the Spirit because they speak louder than the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are told in the Word of God to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23), but filters cause our focus to be primarily on self. Filters cause us to demand our rights that we perceive are being withheld. Filters keep us from trusting others, or God. Unless our mind is renewed, filters will cause us to focus more toward the knowledge of evil than the knowledge of good.

The only hope is God’s intervention, by His grace, to bring healing and restoration. Typically, a person is in so much pain by that time that they seek help, or they cry out to God to take away their pain.

We blame a lot of problems on demonic spirits, and rightly so. But many of God’s people are being destroyed from a soul problem. The soul is made up of the Mind, the Emotions, and the Will. A problem begins in the Mind with negative, stinking thinking that has passed through a filter. Then the Emotions get involved and pump up the volume, and the Will jumps on the bandwagon and starts to dance. The Will acts out what the person is thinking and feeling.

One of the most common filters plaguing Americans today is rejection. Other common filters are anger, unforgiveness, and rebellion. These filters many times feed off of each other.

Let me first say that occasionally feeling rejection is a normal part of life, of sharing space on the earth with others. For whatever reasons, people sometimes reject us, whether we know them or not. The problem arises in not recognizing this and then allowing oneself to become offended by what is perceived as a personal affront. This may trigger an anger filter and the thought, “Nobody is going to treat me that way!” They begin to willingly act out their responses to their negative filters in unloving, anti-social, or illegal ways.

A typical scenario is that soon the loved ones they desperately need get tired of the negative behaviors and leave. Then an abandonment filter is activated. Now they have rejection, fear of abandonment, and a great big anger problem that pushes them away from any help that is available, from the people who really care and want to help them, and from God!

So what happens? Rebellion sets in. Now they have rejection, fear of abandonment, anger, and rebellion eating away at their soul. Consciously, they blame everyone else for their problems. I believe it is because they cannot face the unconscious belief that they are defective. They are usually filled with anxiety, fear, and self-hatred. If you listen to the words spoken by people in this state of mind, you will hear them constantly putting themselves down. Self-hatred is at the root of many inflammatory diseases today. It is making their “engine” run hot.

At this point, they may act out in self-destructive ways. I believe this kind of problem is at the root of those who cut themselves, a problem we are hearing more and more about. In some cases, the destruction is aimed at hurting others. Many offenders serving prison sentences are the victims of their own contaminated filters.

Other kinds of filters

Another filter that is rampant in the Church today, especially in America, is the religious filter. The characteristics of a person with a religious filter can range from the very meek and lowly to the person who wants to control everything. They probably have an underlying insecurity or a sense of unworthiness toward having an intimate relationship with the Lord. They usually wear their emotions on their sleeve and are easily offended.

If you see these tendencies in yourself or others, there is almost always a religious filter in operation, and it almost always centers on a church doctrine or tradition. The person with the religious filter will see themselves as great defenders of the faith, willing to do battle to preserve their belief. However, they really bear no fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a telltale sign to the observant.

We stated earlier that filters are a greatly used tool of the devil to steal, kill, and destroy the purposes and the lives of people. Sometimes demonic spirits attach themselves to a person’s filters, especially when the will has opened a door through acting out in willful sin. When there are demonic spirits in control, it might be necessary to seek out a reputable person who moves in deliverance ministry. Please do your homework and check out anyone to whom you plan to submit yourself for deliverance. There are also generational curses that can be dealt with through deliverance ministry.

Is it any wonder that God issued such a stern warning to Adam and Eve about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? He told them that in the day they ate of it, they would surely die. He wasn’t telling them that He would punishment them with death, even spiritual death, but that the knowledge of good and evil would change them on the inside in a way that would lead to death. Their minds would no longer be pure; they would be tainted by evil knowledge and expectation. In God’s mercy, the Tree of Life was guarded from them, so they would not live forever in their fallen state.

Have you checked your filters lately? Have people told you that you were becoming negative, angry, hostile, or mean? Have you become a “doubting Thomas”? Is your agape slipping, or have you started sounding like a resounding gong and a clanging symbol?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NLT).

If these characteristics are not present in your love walk, you may have a filter in your mind. Verse three of that same Scripture says, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” Filters de-value people.

Most people tend to look only at the external acts, but God looks at the heart. If there are filters operating in our minds, they affect our hearts and our love walk because we cannot see past our self-centered filter to be concerned about others. Filters are all consuming.

So how does one stop the cycle?

First, we must really see and admit to ourselves that we have a problem, a problem that is exclusively ours. Nothing can change as long as we are in denial. We must fall on our knees in godly sorrow. Notice I said “godly sorrow.” This is an act of humility before God, realizing that we are in a wretched state and cannot change it ourselves; we need the help that only our Creator can give. Realize and accept that God’s love for us is so great that He gave His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf so that we could be healed and restored to relationship with Him. We are forgiven and accepted by God when we repent and give ourselves to Him.

Next, we exercise our WILL to give our life into the care of God through Jesus Christ. We humbly ask for His help.

Then we resist!! Resist, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, to sweating drops of blood if necessary. Resist the old way of thinking. If rejection feelings come (or whatever the filter is), instead of giving in to the feelings, consciously realize that what stimulated the rejection feeling went through a dirty filter that is lying. It’s almost always not true! Speak the truth out loud to yourself. Speak in agreement with what God says.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If someone says something and you feel bad hearing it, ask in humility what he or she meant. Or tell them you heard it this way, and ask if that is what they really meant? You will find that most people have no ill intent. The enemy is that programmed filter within that is lying to you. Or it is a demon of hell that is harassing you. Speak as Jesus spoke: “Get thee behind me, Satan …” (Luke 4:8).

The armor of God shields us from the fiery darts of the devil. But we are to put on the mind of Christ to shield us from ourselves, from our sin nature, our filters, and our own carnality.

When we are born again, or born from above, our spirit is renewed, but our soul needs a lot of work. Jesus Christ is the Door that opens the Kingdom of God to us, the place where God is in charge. We have to make the decision to walk through into that Kingdom and allow God to direct our lives, to be the Lord and Master of our lives. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

We must come to Him in humility with a broken and contrite heart. We have to daily put the old man, the old sin nature, on the cross. That is the only place it belongs. We do not have the capacity, the will power, to control it. It absolutely must be put on the cross daily. The Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” We must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ. Then we begin to walk in the Spirit, so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and we ask God to clean up the dirty filters.

We have heard that it will not happen overnight any more than we can become champion swimmers overnight. It is a process, and it takes practice. Our sincere commitment is immediate, but it is then lived out in a process, a process of prayer and feeding on God’s Word. If you have made a commitment, you will live it out in a process. The first thing each day, we must renew and reaffirm our commitments and ask God for His help as we surrender our “self” to Him.

There may be many failures on the journey to success and freedom. That is why it is so important to be in fellowship with the body of Christ. We need each other to keep us encouraged. We need the prayers of others. We need truth-speakers to remind us of the truth so we know it is worth our efforts.

As we fill our minds with the Word of God, and as we meditate on it day and night, we come to realize that God is doing what His Word says He will do. He is doing it as we pray. The things we pray for actually start happening inside of us. We are being changed. We are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Our filters are becoming clean. They are being restored to the purity and innocence that God intended. The minds and consciences of man became polluted and defiled when Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus Christ redeemed man from that curse on Calvary’s cross. He made possible the restoration of all things.

Through Christ, our fallen, polluted filters are restored and filled with FAITH—the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We are free indeed! And we are free to show others the way. We are being restored to purity and innocence of mind so that we can unashamedly walk in the presence of God once again.

EPILOGUE

I have often meditated on Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing BY the word of God” [emphasis added]. The tendency is to translate it: “faith comes by hearing the Word of God,” or by hearing the gospel. Knowing that the Word of God refers to jots and tittles being important, I believe the second “by” is not there by accident. Everything God says has meaning and purpose.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” What must be hidden in the heart is the real standard for Truth and faith—the Word of God, the knowledge of God and of His Christ. This shows how critical it is that we always study and plant His Word in our hearts to counter the effects of the fall.

I believe God knew that man would be plagued with filters from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, for those who have ears to hear, He gave a warning to be careful of the sources to which we are listening. Faith comes by hearing, but make sure the source you are hearing is by the word of Christ and not a contaminated filter.

Oh, parents, please hear this message. Imagine the heartaches, confusion, and pain that our children might be spared if we fed them a daily diet of the Word of God, even before they are born. Imprinting those filters with truth and the love of God is the greatest gift we can give them.

The Laws of the Kingdom of God

A few years ago, I was writing an article about the healing provision of the cross of Jesus Christ. As I studied John 10, I saw a vision of a sheep pen that was packed full of sheep. It was so full that none of the sheep could move. They were all staring toward a door. I could see that on the other side of the door there was no pen to restrain the sheep as one might think, but there was also a press of sheep standing on the other side staring at the door. I was sure that, on both sides of the door, underneath that press of sheep, there were some that had been knocked down, trampled, and lay injured and bleeding. None of the other sheep paid any attention to them. Beyond the press of sheep, I saw a vast, wide-open countryside with beautiful rolling hills, trees, lakes and ponds, and a sprinkling of sheep here and there. I was amazed that so many of the sheep were congregating in the door rather than going on into that beautiful countryside where there was such abundant blessing. This is what I wrote:
Jesus said in John 10 that He is the “door” to the sheepfold. John 10:7-11 (NKJV): “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. … If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’”

Those who have believed will come in through the gate and go on in to find pasture. The atonement—the sacrificial death of the sinless Lamb of God on the cross—paid for our sin penalty once for all and, thus, our entry into the sheepfold, but Jesus never intended for us to take up residence in the door. The Good Shepherd leads us into green pastures. That’s abundant life! There lies beyond the door of salvation a kingdom that is filled with promise and provision when we understand and press on into it. Jesus has already paid the price for that, too. It reminds me of my trips to Six Flags and Epcot Center. When we walked up to the ticket counter and paid our money for a ticket, everything inside that gate was open and available for our enjoyment. We were limited only by our own choices.
Now, years later, I look back at that vision with keener spiritual insight and fuller understanding. I believe we have failed miserably in communicating the fullness of the Gospel. The message of the Church has almost exclusively been focused on the afterlife—“Jesus died for your sins once and for all so you can go to heaven when you die and miss the burning hell. Say these few words, and you are in!”—and doing good works. The Gospel is good news. One well-known minister calls it the “nearly too good to be true news.” Now that stirs the imagination and gives cause for doing some digging! Perhaps if people knew there was so much more to being a Christian than what they have been hearing in the average local church or on television, they would hang around long enough to learn some things, some things that will help them with overcoming in this life and waging spiritual warfare.

Has the charge to make disciples expired? If it has, then part of my Bible is missing! "But where do we start?" you might ask. Well, we could start with the elementary principles of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2—
repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgmentand then learn to be skilled in the word of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action) in Hebrews 5:13, and then practice, by reason of use, having the senses trained to discern both good and evil—to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law (AMP).

The Bible says that as born-again believers we are IN the world, but we are not OF the world. We are citizens of another Kingdom, and that Kingdom has different laws. The laws that the citizens of God’s Kingdom live in are not natural laws, they are the supernatural laws, they are higher laws, they are absolute laws. Where do we find these laws? They are written in the Word of God. When we study the Word of God, the laws of the Kingdom of God are written on our hearts (Heb. 10:16), so that we might not sin against God. How do we sin against God when we are trying so hard to please Him? By coming short of the things that bring glory to God, by not living in faith according to the laws of His Kingdom, by not bearing its fruits. Matthew 21:43 says, “I tell you, for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of it.”

We have to stand on the Word of God, no matter how bleak things seem to our natural eyes and ears. When we are brought before a judge because of our faith, we won’t worry about what to say because the laws of the Kingdom will be activated by the Holy Spirit when they are written on our hearts. We must start believing the absolutes of the Kingdom of God and not the relative reports of man. Those relative reports of man that are affected by a fallen world condition or the kingdom of satan can be changed by faith in Absolute Truth (God), His Absolute Word, and what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. Jesus never once considered a natural report, whether it was a lack of wine at a wedding, a huge hungry crowd, a thunderstorm on a lake, the illness of a child and a servant, or the death of a good friend. He addressed each according to the laws of the Kingdom, and the water turned to wine, the people were fed and had food left over, the winds calmed, the child and the servant were healed, and the friend came out of the grave. Jesus was operating within Kingdom Laws!

If we are going to walk in the Spirit, this includes recognizing that we are citizens of another Kingdom. We are not bound by the laws of the natural world when we are walking in the Spirit. This has got to get strong in our spirits and our minds. Let’s truly walk in the Spirit, all the way, in all of the storms of life. Jesus said the works He did, we would do and greater. How many really believe that? Not many, I’m afraid. We need a mind change. We need to stop judging truth by our five senses. We need to put on the mind of Christ and begin to look around us with a Kingdom perspective.

How do we administer the laws of the Kingdom of God? There is no magic formula, no quick-fix. We begin activating Kingdom Laws by being in close relationship with the King. We must be submitted to the King in obedience and humility. I can’t help but remember Joseph who spent 18 years locked in a prison. His only ally was God. As he learned obedience by the things he suffered, he found favor in the eyes of the king. This led to Joseph’s appointment to a position of great authority. Do not think you will gain apostolic power and authority in the Kingdom of God by skipping this process. Only those who are “like Him,” those who have resisted sin and suffered through to obedience, will rule and reign with Him. I suggest a study of James 4.

How did Jesus affect all of the needs that he encountered? He spoke to them, just like God spoke the world into existence. As disciples of Jesus in the Kingdom of God, we activate Kingdom Laws by speaking in agreement with them by faith. We must speak the results we are looking for by “calling things that be not as though they are.” Our right to do so is because we are hidden in Christ in the Kingdom of God. When we speak, God sees Jesus speaking, and all of the laws of His Kingdom will be activated on His behalf. Praise His Name!

In Mark 4, Jesus was in the boat with the disciples when a hurricane force windstorm came and threatened to sink the boat. I think most people miss the fact that the storm came in spite of the fact that Jesus was there; His presence did not prevent the storm. I’m sure everyone on that boat would have gone swimming if somebody had not taken authority over the storm. It was only when Jesus spoke to it in the authority of the laws of the Kingdom that the winds were calmed. Jesus asked the disciples in verse 40 (AMP): Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (even after the miracles they had witnessed on the Mount)? If the disciples had addressed the storm themselves, Jesus could have rested after His long day of teaching.

When will our faith grow to where we can stop being timid and fearful and begin to speak peace, deliverance, and healing to the adverse winds and circumstances around us? Peter even walked on the water as long as he did not doubt. Philip was caught away to another location by the Spirit after baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch. Kingdom laws are absolute. They will not fail. It is our faith that fails us. Many times, because of our timidity and fear, our simple lack of acting allows disasters to happen. I believe we are all given warnings if we will heed them. Sometimes they come in the clarion call of the Word or the prophet, or sometimes in the still, quiet voice of the Spirit. It is vital that we have our senses trained to discern good and evil. For some people, it is easier to believe that the sovereignty of God will take care of everything. From the Scripture above, we can see that the storm happened even though Jesus was aboard the boat. An action was required, a doing of the Word, saying to the mountain.

Two years ago, when I had first moved back to Texas after a decade away, we had a volatile springtime—high winds, flooding in many areas, and tornadoes. I have been in the habit of "speaking to the damaging winds" during storms. One evening, there was an outbreak of tornadoes all around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There were tornadoes in all of the surrounding areas. The weather was so bad that regular TV programming had been preempted in order to give constant updates. They had just reported that two tornadoes were headed in our direction a few miles away. I looked out the window, and my hanging flower baskets were blowing sideways. I began to speak to the damaging winds and rains to cease and be still in the name of Jesus. I thanked God for His awesome power to deliver. Within two minutes, a weather bulletin came on TV saying that ALL TORNADO WARNINGS HAD BEEN CANCELED. My friends, that is the Kingdom of God at work! I must confess that a few days later, we had reports of some approaching storms with 30 mph winds. I thought to myself, "I don't need to pray for winds that are only 30 mph." I learned a good lesson because the next day, we discovered that a section of our back fence had blown down, and our canvas cabana had taken flight and landed in a twisted up pile in neighbor's yard. Brethren, one ought always to pray! (Luke 18:1).

The Kingdom of God is established upon righteousness, as we find in Hebrews 1:8-9 AMP: “the scepter [royal or imperial power or authority] of Your kingdom is a scepter [rule] of absolute righteousness (of justice and straightforwardness). You have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Another translation of righteousness is “being in right relationship with God.” What is right relationship with God? This is yet another law of the Kingdom: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). There is not room for two on the throne; one or the other is going to get bumped off. God gives us free choice. If we want to rule our lives, He will step aside. But when I am in charge, most assuredly I am going to mess it up! As I decrease and become more hidden in Christ, He will increase. When I have truly surrendered to my decrease, I can confess, It is not I who lives, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20); I live and move and having my being in Him (Acts 17:28). To have a blessed life in the Kingdom of God, we must give up our life (our own rule) for His sake. If we try to save our comfortable and secure life here, we will sacrifice abundant spiritual life in His Kingdom.

In Mark 4:30-32 (NLT), Jesus asked, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

The Kingdom of God is a mystery. The mystery is that God gives secret counsel to the citizens of the Kingdom that is hidden from the ungodly who willfully reject the truth. Mark 4:10-12 (NIV) says: When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ”they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!" What does this mean?
Remember Joseph. He learned obedience by the things he suffered. Only those who have resisted sin and suffered through to obedience and are "like Him," will be allowed to rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom. People can exercise faith and do some great things ... for a while. But like the seeds that fell on stony ground, it won't last. And it can even do some damage in the process.

There are many paradoxes in the Kingdom of God. We will list a few.

Matthew 16:25: For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 23:12: For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Acts 20:35: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Matthew 5:38: You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Romans 2:15: The law of God given to Moses was written on tablets of stone, but the law of Christ is written on the fleshy (not fleshly) tablets of the heart as it is made soft and receptive by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 18:3: We do not go to the Kingdom of God as warriors, but as a little child.

Matthew 23:11: The greatest of all is a servant to all.

Matthew 10:39 AMP: In the Kingdom, to go higher, we must go lower. Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life].

Matthew 13:12:
Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Matthew 7:2
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Jesus emphasized this when He told His disciples at the collection box that the poor widow who put in two mites gave the greatest gift because the wealthy gave from their surplus, but she gave everything she had to live on.

There is nothing that God has not prepared for those who love Him. Do we believe it? Do we trust Him? Do we really know the Word and the power of God? I’m afraid if we did, there would be more signs and wonders in our midst.

From Pastor Jim Mann's Catalyst e-mail:
We can be correct, theologically speaking—minding our biblical Ps and Qs—and still be faithless. We can know the story …
… of Peter walking on water – and never get out of the boat,
… of David defeating Goliath – and never go into battle ourselves,
… of Jesus feeding the 5,000 – and never trust God with our loaves and fish.

Let's not be hearers only but doers of the Word, moving in power.


Have Faith in God - Mark 11:22


There are many supernatural, heavenly resources available to those who have partaken of the abundant grace, love, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the key that releases those heavenly resources into our situations.

In Mark 11:22, Jesus instructs His disciples to “… Have faith in God.” The Amplified version adds the word “constantly.” That is an important statement if Jesus really means that His disciples should constantly be in a state of having faith in God.

Is it hope, or is it faith?

The Collins English Dictionary defines “faith” as “strong or unshakeable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence. (In Christianity it is) trust in God and in His actions and promises.”

God’s Word says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

It is so easy for us to express our hope for something we want or need, either for ourselves or someone else. We say it with great conviction and sincerity. Hope, however, is for something that “will” happen. It is almost always future tense. If we stay in the hope realm, we may never realize what we are “hoping” for. Faith “real-izes” our hope. Faith completes our hope and makes it real. Faith believes it has already happened and translates our hope into substance that God can work with. Faith is for NOW!

There are probably very few Christians who haven’t heard that statement or memorized Hebrews 11:1. But perhaps there are many who, like me, have asked, “How? How do I change my hope to faith? How do I know I’m moving in faith and not mental assent? If faith is substance, should there be tangible evidence I can lay hold of.”

These are questions that sent me on a quest to learn more about faith. The Bible says if we seek, we will find when we seek with all our hearts.

In Matthew 17:20 (AMP), Jesus spoke to His disciples when they questioned Him about their inability to drive out a demon from a young epileptic, “Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith that is living like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

Many of us struggle at times with wanting desperately to believe but wondering if our faith is strong enough to meet the challenges. When we are believing in faith for something, we know our faith must be foundationally based on God. But what does it really mean to “have faith in God” and to have it constantly? You may think I’m pretty dense, but I needed that charge, "Have faith in God," to be broken down in order to fully understand what Jesus was saying.

The problem some people encounter, especially the young or immature Christian, is that their concept of God may be tainted by life experiences. If one has grown up with a father figure who was abusive, indifferent, or even absent, it’s very difficult to have faith in a loving, caring Heavenly Father. It is much easier for the person who has suffered such childhood pain and disappointments to grow up having “faith” for the negative. How can he (or she) put his faith in someone he doesn’t know or trust?

I believe that’s why it is important to examine the dynamic of having faith in God because there is often the temptation to stubbornly have faith in one’s own strength and ability, or even to have faith in our faith, as if to say, “If I exercise faith hard enough, God will surely approve of me and answer.” I can picture my little grandson sitting with his eyes and his fists tightly clenched, saying, “I will believe! I will believe! I will believe!” It is a childish picture, but we must always examine ourselves to see if this subtle, self-righteous pride is working in us. Any self-righteousness is bordering on idolatry, if it hasn’t already crossed the line. We must die to “self” daily.

What, then, does it mean to “have faith in God”? Are we to blindly, passively trust that God will work things out on our behalf? He is the Almighty God, the Sovereign of the universe. We may know intellectually that He is trustworthy, and most assuredly, there will probably be times when we must blindly trust Him. But that kind of blind “faith” is passive, like an infant resting in his mother’s arms. Faith is a very active word. Perhaps that’s why it is called exercising faith.

Think of a soldier on a battlefield. Does he blindly have faith that he will prevail over his enemy in the middle of battle? Does he blindly charge a hill toward the enemy and expect God to preserve him? As Jesus told the devil in Matthew 4:7, “It is written, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ”

No, the good soldier is trained to follow orders and planned strategy. His training has taught him how to protect himself while obeying his commander’s orders. Through his training, he can instantly lay his hand on his weapon, his bayonet, his grenade, his ammunition, or any other thing he is carrying. He can react with lightning speed. He has an objective; he knows what to look for, when and how to move, the range, the trajectory, and the rules of engagement. He has a job to do, and he is committed. He knows his life and the lives of others are on the line.

I had an instructor in Bible college who would always pray on exam day, “Lord, help them to the level of their preparedness.” Because I always came prepared, I had faith that God would help me and bring to my remembrance what I had learned. My exam papers were always returned marked “A.” Second Timothy 2:15 became real to me, especially the part about not being ashamed!

As I sought to understand what it means to have faith in God, I learned that there are three basic elements involved.

God’s character and attributes

First, faith in God involves knowing God personally—His character, His attributes, His nature, His heart, His will. These are absolute, and they are absolutely trustworthy.

It is refreshing to remember that there are absolutes in our world to which we can cleave. Amid all of its political correctness, our society, driven by the agenda of the god of this world, has tried to whitewash many absolutes into an anemic relativity. “Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth!”

Well, there is one absolute truth that we can stake our lives on: God IS! He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. His name YHWH, translated “Jehovah” or “Lord,” comes from the Hebrew verb which means “to be” (God is) and emphasizes God’s absolute being.

He is the Source of all being, all reality, and all existence. Everything else derives its being from Him. He is utterly transcendent, beyond all His creation. He is without beginning and without end because He always is. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-true, all-loving, all-faithful, all-merciful, and all-righteous. God is wisdom, glory, faithfulness, goodness, beauty, and patience.

He is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Shalom, our Peace. He is the Lamb of God, our Redeemer, our Savior. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Abba Father. He is Love. He is Truth. God is perfectly holy and perfectly just. He is Jehovah-M'kaddesh, the Lord who makes us holy (Lev. 20:8 NIV).

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) offers us so much hope and comfort: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This scripture says to us that God is good, He loves us, and we can trust Him. He doesn’t change.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that He is pleased only when we have faith in Him and that He is a Rewarder when we diligently seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV).

As we get to know God intimately and learn about His character—that He is faithful, true, and loving—our love and trust grow. As the child who so freely propels himself into his daddy’s arms, we learn that it is quite safe and comforting to rest, in faith, in Abba’s loving arms, constantly.

The Word of God—The Bible

Second, having faith in God involves knowing what God says. Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Having faith in God involves the Word of Truth, the Bible rightly divided. Second Timothy 2:15 (KJV) says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing God’s Word has nothing to do with segmenting it. It means to rightly discern its truth by capturing the spirit of the Word.
We must not lean to our own understanding in studying God’s Word but, rather, depend on the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to receive the Word in truth according to the intent of the Holy Spirit.

First Corinthians 2:13-14 (NIV) explains: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

The Word of God tells us that in order to have faith in God constantly, we must constantly walk in the Spirit so that we are able to hear what God is saying to us.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God judges us, in that it exposes to us our own sin and unrighteousness, much as a mirror will do. A two-edged sword cuts on both sides. It separates the good from the bad coming in and going out. It divides the unredeemed soul—the mind, the human will, and the emotions—from the born-again spirit of man so there is no doubt who’s doing the ruling in our life. It will show us if we are walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh—the natural man, usually the mind of reason. It’s impossible to have faith in God if you are walking in the flesh.

The Word of God not only reveals the sinfulness of the human heart in order to bring conviction and repentance, it reveals the Person, character, works, and the will of God. It makes known His eternal purposes in creation and His divine will for man. It records the history of man—his successes and failures, past, present, and future. It is our guidebook and our compass in the life that now is, and in things eternal.

Ephesians 6:17 says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. That’s weaponry! It is to be used both defensively and offensively.

The Amplified Bible says the Word of God is the sword “that the Spirit wields.” When we speak or stand on the Word of God, in faith, in full armor, the Holy Spirit wields the sword for us.
The Collins English Dictionary (HarperCollins Publishers) says “wields” means: 1) to handle or use (a weapon, tool, etc.); 2) to exert or maintain (power or authority); 3) (obsolete) to rule.

The Holy Spirit handles the sword, bringing to our remembrance the Scriptures we need when we need them (if we have planted them in our hearts). He exerts the power and maintains the authority of the Word. In other words, He rules! (This idea has become rather obsolete in our politically correct society!) I don’t know about you, but I want to be on His side!

As I meditated on this concept of the Holy Spirit reserving the right to wield the sword of the Word of God, I could see the wisdom of God, because there are times when we, with the sword in our hand, might use it wrongly to harm, to literally cut people. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for protecting us from ourselves!

This is another example of how the Lord uses His Word to teach us to trust Him. Studying, learning, and knowing God's Word is vital to Christian growth and to having faith in God.

The Cross

Third, understanding how to have faith in God involves understanding what Jesus accomplished when He gave His life on the cross.

Many Christians have not studied and meditated on the scriptures enough to begin to understand what all Jesus did for us on the cross. They have not learned, and sadly, most have not even been taught, the wealth of the gifts and the rights that Jesus provided for us on the cross when we believe on His name, accept His marvelous gift of atonement, give ourselves to Him to be our Savior and Lord, and receive His indwelling Spirit. And the devil—the enemy of our souls—loves keeping us in our disadvantaged, ignorant state.

Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of humanity, and hanging on Calvary’s cross, He gave His life to pay the penalty for them all—past, present, and future—when we repent and accept Him as our Savior. But what God accomplished through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death doesn’t stop there.

God provided the sacrificial Lamb, just as He had done when Abraham obediently bound his son, Isaac, on the altar, except this Spotless Lamb of God satisfied the righteous requirements of God's Law and justice once for all and rent the veil that separated God and man, as a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden, and gave all believers access to God’s covenant promises (see Romans 3).

In Christ's suffering and death, He accomplished much more than atonement for the sins of man. Christ suffered in His body a suffering that was not necessary in providing atonement. He suffered in order to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows. He suffered for our peace and for our healing. He suffered for our abundant life.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV) says, “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (For a more comprehensive teaching on the subject of healing, see my article called “The Healing Provision.”)

I believe we have only just begun to tap the surface of the many benefits and resources Jesus bought for us on the cross of Calvary and in the resurrection. As a good and loving earthly father plans good things for his children, how much more our Heavenly Father has planned for us.

Ephesians 1 has become one of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible. It is full of promises to the believer in the Beloved. In the Amplified Bible, we see such words and phrases as “blessing,” “favor and mercy,” “deliverance and salvation,” “the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor which He lavished upon us,” “we obtained an inheritance,” “the guarantee of our inheritance.”

The more I meditate on verses 17 through 21, the more I am blessed by it. If this doesn’t thrill your soul, maybe you should check your pulse: “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.”

When the revelation, the rhema, of Scriptures like these settle into our hearts and minds, our eyes are opened to the love God has for us, and our faith in Him and our love for Him will grow in leaps and bounds. He wants us to know and understand the hope to which He has called us—that we are joint heirs with Jesus, that the things He did we will do and greater, that we can speak to the mountains in our lives, and they will be cast into the sea.

In Summary

As my heart and mind were being opened to the understanding of how to “have faith in God, constantly,” He began showing me that my faith had often been based on my view of my own righteousness, or where I felt I stood with God at the moment. Had I done everything I should have done? Had I been "good"? Had I failed in some part of my life? Was God mad at me about anything? Would He even hear my prayers?

Brothers and sisters, I believe many of us struggle with that kind of questioning, especially when we long to please our Lord. However, it must become deeply ingrained in us that our righteousness is always as filthy rags before the Lord. We will never measure up in our own flesh because no individual can rise above his nature. We are accepted by God only through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jeremiah wrote that
the coming King would be called, "The Lord our Righteousness." Notice that he did not say that Christ would make us righteous. Instead, the usage is in the abstract: Righteousness. We become the righteousness of God. How is this possible? Christ becomes our righteousness by personal substitution. When Christ becomes our Lord, we live an exchanged life—our life for His. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Now, I can have great faith in God, constantly, when it is based on the Person of God, on what God says in the Bible when it is rightly divided, and on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our sin penalty was PAID IN FULL on the cross, and
we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus when we believe, in faith, and accept Him as our Savior.

What does this mean for the believer? It means that no weapon (no matter what it is) that is formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). It means that when you encounter sickness, whether your own or in others, you can stand in faith and speak to the mountain of sickness to be removed and cast into the sea. It means that you have the authority and the power to speak to all of the circumstances in your life to come under the authority of the name of Jesus. And you have the power and the authority to pray for others.

I must give a caveat. I am writing about the true disciple of Jesus who understands that his or her salvation came through a costly grace. As a natural father understands that the amount of power and liberty his child is given depends on the maturity and the behavior of the child, so our Heavenly Father will deal with us. "For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God]" (Hebrews 10:26-27 AMP). I would also like to mention as a reminder that 2 Corinthians 4:7 states: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from god and not from us."

We have sung about “standing on the promises.” Isn’t it about time we do start standing on them and actually become doers of the Word instead of hearers only because we have faith in God constantly? I say, "Yes!"

Have Faith in God - The Healing Provision


The floor was open for questions or comments at the end of the Sunday morning service. Our pastor had been teaching from Mark 11. In that passage, the disciples of Jesus had been astonished that the fig tree Jesus had spoken to earlier had dried up. When Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away,” Jesus took the opportunity to teach them.

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:22-24).
I had to ask: “What does this mean? How do I know if I am ‘having faith in God’? Is this something we muster up from within ourselves? Is it something that is supposed to be resident within us 24-7? How can I have faith that Infinite God will be there for puny, finite me when I speak to a mountain?”

I had been longing for a more intimate and victorious walk with the Lord and desired a deeper understanding of faith. I had listened to preachers on television and radio and read the writings of other ministers of the gospel. I had studied the Scriptures and asked questions. I had prayed, asking the Father for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know Him better (Ephesians 1:17).

Through the answer that my pastor gave that Sunday morning, God quickened my heart in what may be the most profound revelation that I have ever experienced. I can sincerely say that it changed my life. My understanding was opened instantly. The walls of ignorant doubt came tumbling down, doubt that had hindered my faith for victory in my own life, as well as for my ability to intercede in faith-filled prayers for others.

My pastor stated that faith in God is based on three things:
1) Who God is—His personal character,
2) What God says—the Holy Bible, and
3) What Jesus did on the cross.
It was so simple and so profound! Mountain-moving faith rests solidly on the foundational tenets of Christianity: God’s immutability (eternal changelessness), the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection. Those things are true, they don’t waver, they are trustworthy, and I can stand in great faith on them no matter how I feel. (See Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17.)


REVELATION BRINGS CORRECTION

Suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, God revealed to me that my faith had more often than not been based on where I thought I stood with God at any given moment. On a subconscious level, I expected the strength of my faith and the power of my prayers to be governed by my current state of perceived righteousness—my right standing with God. If I had spent enough time in His Word or prayed enough, i.e., if I had been “good,” God would move on my behalf. If I had failed somewhere, God probably would not even listen to me.

What a revelation God had given me of myself! I repented in sorrowful tears as we were served the elements of communion and reaffirmed that my righteousness is as filthy rags before God and that I stand wholly in the righteousness of Christ.

Many people who love God with all of their hearts are unaware that they are trying to earn God’s favor, and even their salvation, through their good works and by “being good.” Human flesh will always come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That is the very reason we need a Savior.

Let me offer a cautionary caveat. Even though we stand in the righteousness of Christ, we are not standing in a cheap grace; Jesus gave His life to pay our sin penalty. In no way are we ever given license to practice willful sin. As with a child, our maturity and behavior determine how much power and authority we can be trusted with. I believe as the Church grows in obedience and holiness, we will see great signs and wonders following her.


THE SPIRIT OF FAITH

The revelation God gave me that day in church opened my understanding about many things. I learned about the three foundations upon which our faith in God can rest securely without wavering. I began to comprehend the fullness of the supernatural life in Christ that is promised to believers through faith. The Word of God came alive.

For months after that, I knew that something had happened that had changed me, but I didn't know how to explain it to others until some time later when I heard another minister teach on the “spirit of faith” from 2 Corinthians 4:13. The spirit of faith causes one to say, “I believe; therefore I speak.” Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s the same way we are born again.

Think about Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV): “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The spirit of faith is about believing with your heart and confessing with your mouth—the very same way we received salvation!

Faith works by believing with the heart and confessing with the mouth. Do you need to be saved (born again)? Do you need a healing? Do you believe in your heart what God says about it? Remember, He is trustworthy, and His Word is true. If you believe it, then speak it; confess your belief, and thank God for it.

Speaking your faith aloud is like drawing a line in the sand; when you step over it, you are committed. The natural mind is fearful of making that kind of commitment to faith. I know the mind dialog well: “What if it doesn’t happen; you will look like a fool sticking your neck out like that.” I wonder if that’s what the Bible calls being “stiff-necked.” You cannot hold the neck rigid and stick it out in faith at the same time. (I hope you are laughing.)

At those times when you fear drawing that line of faith and stepping over it, test yourself to see if you have fear of embarrassment, or doubt that God means what He says. The caveat here is that we must know the Word of God and whether what we are believing for is in the will of God. An example of this is healing. We know that healing is God’s will because His Word says that by the stripes of Jesus, you were healed. Be careful about trying to exercise faith for things such as stopping rain because you are having a cookout; there may be farmers praying for the rains to come to water their crops so that you will have corn on the cob at your next cookout. You can, however, stand in faith against adverse winds. Use wisdom. Additionally, sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us a check to hold off, wait, or sometimes to go in a different direction. The best Scripture directive is Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”


THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST

Jesus accomplished many things on the cross. We will examine only a couple here.

The Atonement Provision

Jesus took upon Himself the judgment for the sins of humanity. He shed His blood and gave His life to pay the penalty for them all—past, present, and future—when we repent and accept Him as our Savior. On that cross hangs a sign, “Paid In Full!” The law was satisfied.

At the moment of His death, the thick veil that hung in the temple and separated the people from the presence of God was rent from top to bottom. The rending from the top down showed that the hand of man was not involved. God Himself opened the way of access to His holiness and His presence through Christ. Prior to this, only once per year and under the strictest conditions was the high priest permitted to enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of atonement. Jesus paid the penalty once for all. Man could be redeemed to God.

What God accomplished through Jesus’ sacrificial death does not stop there. In Christ's suffering and death, He accomplished much more than atonement for the sins of man.

Jesus said in John 10 that He is the “door” to the sheepfold. Only through Jesus, the Door, will those who have believed come in to the sheepfold and go on in to find pasture.

“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’ ” John 10:7-11.

The atonement—the sacrificial death of the sinless Lamb of God on the cross—paid for our sin penalty once for all and, thus, our entry into the sheepfold, but Jesus never intended for us to take up residence in the gate. Have you ever seen a herd of sheep? They will all congregate right in front of the gate, not going on in themselves and preventing others from going in. No wonder God likens us to sheep.

The Good Shepherd leads us into green pastures. That’s abundant life! There lies beyond the door of salvation a kingdom that is filled with promise and provision when we understand and press on into it.

Matthew 11:12 (AMP) tells of this pressing in. And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize--a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].

I am convinced that most of the violent struggle is simply getting past the doubt and unbelief of the teachers and the sheep who have congregated at the gate. Luke 11:52 (AMP) addresses this: “Woe to you experts in the [Mosaic] law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Jesus has already paid for our entrance into His abundant Kingdom. I am reminded of my trips to Six Flags and Epcot Center. When we walked up to the ticket counter and got our ticket, everything inside that gate was open and available for our enjoyment. We were limited only by our own choices.

The Suffering Provision

Christ suffered in His body a suffering that was not necessary in providing atonement. He suffered in order to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows. He suffered for our peace and for our healing. He suffered for our abundance.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (AMP) says, “Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”

First Peter 2:24 (AMP) says, “By His wounds you have been healed.” Notice that this Scripture is past tense. The work is complete. It is finished!

The Hebrew words for “griefs” and “sorrows” specifically mean physical affliction (or sicknesses and pains). “He was wounded for our transgressions” means He was pierced for our rebellion and trespasses. “He was bruised for our (guilt and) iniquities” means He was crushed for our “evil nature” and crooked behavior. “We are healed by His stripes” means the blows from the whips that cut into His flesh bought our healing and made us whole.

Man’s greatest need was atonement for sin in order to escape from judgment and to have reconciliation with God, and God provided that by Jesus’ death. Jesus did not need to suffer to provide the sin atonement.

By His suffering, God provided for abundant life, beginning today (John 10:10). That means healing, and more. Neither work of the cross is automatically appropriated. Each—a soul’s eternal salvation or a person’s physical healing, peace, and well-being—must be received by faith. Christ’s work on the cross makes each possible. Simple faith receives each as we choose. God has already done His part. The Way has been bought, paid in full, and presented to “whosoever will.” It is now up to each individual to receive it by faith, including appropriating healing.


APPROPRIATING GOD’S PROVISIONS

People get mad at God when their loved ones get sick or tragic accidents happen. They get even madder at Him when He seemingly doesn’t answer their pleading prayers that He intervene and heal. But the fault does not lie in God. Satan is the destroyer, and our lack of knowledge makes us impotent against him. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The knowledge that is needed here is that God has already done everything that is needed. It is now ours to receive it by faith. The ball is in our court.

We need to know the Bible! The Holy Bible—the inspired Word of God—is our life manual. It is the only source of wisdom and knowledge about spiritual truths. 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing God’s Word comes through diligent study and refusing to suit its words to one’s own convenience or ideology. Rightly dividing the Word of truth mean to rightly discern its truth by capturing the spirit of the Word. The Word of God was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and must be understood by the Holy Spirit. Personally, I study many different translations until I feel comfortable that I understand what the Spirit is communicating.

Jesus says in Luke 14:27 and 33: “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Discipleship means renunciation of all selfish interest for the sake of Jesus. Most people do not want that level of commitment, but then they wonder why they are powerless when tragedy strikes.

We know that God desired for all to come to repentance and faith in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross (John 3:16). But the choice of salvation is left to the free will of each individual. In the same way, we know it is God’s will to heal everyone who calls on His name because Jesus suffered for it. We appropriate God’s provision by faith. Faith gives substance to things we hope for; faith gives evidence to things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). God has given us the measure of faith, which is enough. As we grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s promises in His Word, our faith grows, line upon line, precept upon precept.

This is what I personally have learned that has changed my life, and it can change yours as well. I am fully persuaded that God is faithful and true and cannot lie and that His Word is inerrant truth. I am fully persuaded that God loves me (and you) and that He wants and has made provision for His children to have abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. I am fully persuaded that God provided the atonement for my sins once for all and that I am forgiven of all past, present, and future sins when I come to Christ in godly sorrow and repentance. I am fully persuaded that God provided for my health and healing by suffering from the stripes He bore on His back on the cross. I am fully persuaded that I receive all of it by simple faith in God—faith in His righteous character, faith in His Word, and faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. But we can’t stop there. We must put feet on our faith.

We all are saved, or born from above, by believing and confessing with our mouth. Romans 10:9-10 says, ...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That Scripture sets the pattern for appropriating God’s promises and provisions. The principle is established at the very beginning of our life in Christ. Just as salvation is appropriated by heart belief and spoken confession, so His continuing work in our lives is advanced by the same means.

In Mark 11:20-21, the disciples were surprised to see the fig tree had withered that Jesus had previously cursed. Jesus responded with a simple command in verse 22, “Have faith in God.”

Then in verses 23-24, in calling them to “speak to mountains,” He led them to prepare for situations in which they would find it necessary to take direct authority in the spiritual realm to impact things in the natural realm. “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

A mountain is symbolic of an obstacle, hindrance, or insurmountable problem. Someone said that a mountain is anything that is bigger than you are. Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” To have faith in God is to believe.

The next thing He said is, “I say to you, whoever says to this mountain …” That’s spoken confession. And then He says, “Don't doubt in your heart!” The doubt Jesus was talking about may be a lack of faith in God to do what He says, which is insulting to God’s character, but it could also be doubt in one’s own worthiness to ask. Well, we all are unworthy. That is why we need a Savior Who IS worthy! Jesus died for our unworthiness so that we could live in His. When we command that mountain to be removed and to be cast into the sea, God sees only the worthiness of Jesus. A. W. Tozer once wrote: “Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Having fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it's because God is good. From His goodness, His lovingkindness, His good-natured benevolence, God does it! That's the source of everything.”


ABOUT AUTHORITY

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV). We are not to fight in the natural, physical world because that is satan’s territory. Our warfare is fought in the spiritual realm, using spiritual weapons, such as believing God (faith) and speaking in agreement with His will and His Word. That is why it is so important to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must know God’s Word thoroughly. Not knowing the Word of God is like going to war not knowing how to use our weapon. Our enemy can take that same weapon and do great damage with his lies. A good portion of our lives should be given to studying God’s “instruction manual.”

Jesus reminded His disciples in Mark 11:23-24 of the principles of believing and confessing—believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth. He was preparing them for situations when it would be necessary to take authority in the spiritual realm in order to impact things in the natural realm. This is so important for us to learn.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. Authority is defined as, “the power or right to rule, control, judge, or prohibit the actions of others.” Just as an Ambassador is sent out with the authority of his country behind him (as well as the provisions needed, which is another sermon), we as Christ’s ambassadors on the earth are sent out in the name of Jesus (who has all authority) with all of the rights and privileges of a diplomatic minister or an authorized representative or messenger. We call it The Great Commission. We need to understand that it is not presumptuous to move in spiritual authority in the name of Jesus. It is not only our right, but it is our responsibility. God’s first command to man was to “fill the earth and subdue it.” We cannot subdue a thing without using authority.

Matthew 28:16-20 (AMP): "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed and made appointment with them ... Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, 'All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.' "

God wants us to take direct authority in the spiritual realm in order to impact, or change, things in the natural realm. Jesus gave us the right to believe what God says (His Word) and to speak that Word into our circumstances.

When sickness is attacking our bodies, as believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the right to speak truth from our spirit (the spiritual realm) and to command our body (the natural realm) to come into line with the Word. We have the right to command (in the spiritual realm) our body (in the natural realm) to resist sickness and disease or any other mountain that would try to attack it. Sickness and disease are interlopers on the body of any born-again Christian. Unless a door has been opened to them, they have no spiritual right to be there. Under the authority of the name of Jesus, you have the right to speak to the mountain of sickness and to command it to be cast into the sea.

You may say, “But I have been guilty of abusing my body and, therefore, opening the door to sickness.” Remember that Jesus died for our sins—past, present and future. He died even for that sin. In Christ, we are forgiven. When we confess our sin and repent (turn from it), we have the right to have healing. Sometimes, the door to sickness and disease has been opened through a curse. Curses can come in two primary ways—a malevolent charge against a person, such as in witchcraft, and the speaking of negative words, either from oneself, a parent, clergy, or others who have influence over us. In the case of curses, deliverance may be needed before healing can be fully manifested.

Sometimes there may be a need to fast in order to subdue the flesh, to starve doubt, to humble self, to promote faith-filled prayer, and/or to repent for losing faith. Let each one judge himself.

Although there have been times when God has used people's sicknesses to bring glory to Himself when they were healed, I believe without a doubt that it is not God’s will for anyone to be sick, and it is especially not God’s will for His children to die prematurely. That’s the devil’s agenda and his attack. As believers, we have the right and the power, in the name of Jesus, to stop the attack.

I have given you the Word in a capsule. Also consider this: One can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we come together with another faith-filled believer in agreement with God’s Word and will, no devil on earth can stand.

Be careful of your words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. We must we aware of every idle word we speak and ask ourselves whether we are agreeing with God, the flesh, or the devil. Are our words producing life or death? We must try to always guard our words so that satan does not get a foothold anywhere.

We also need to stay in a right attitude of humility as the creature and not the Creator. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV reminds us: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” These rights are given to us by God’s grace and mercy. God is not our online shopping network. We need to be careful not to become prideful in our faith. That’s why it is so important for us to stay in a posture of worship; it reminds us who we are and Who we are not. Denying the flesh through fasting helps to bring us into humility.

It is vital also to remember that God gives to us from His abundance so that we might generously give to others, both from our resources and our hope. We can never give back to God what He has given to us, but out of love, we are to go and reach others.

God bless you is my prayer, and may the spirit of faith inhabit your heart continually!