“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.” (Mk. 16:9-11)
Did you catch that… the disciples didn’t believe that Jesus was alive! Even though Jesus had told them over and over again that He would be crucified and raised again on the third day… they still seemed to stumble over the news from Mary. No question, the disciples had faith in Jesus; they knew He was the Messiah. He was a trusted friend… their Lord, King and Master. To the best of their ability they knew Him as God, but they couldn’t believe He was going to do what He said He would do. It’s just like many Christians today. They have faith in God, but they don’t believe the promises of God… what He tells us in His Word.
Faith vs. Believing:
Is there a difference? In some ways there doesn’t seem to be much difference. We see the words faith and believing used interchangeably. Yet it is important that we see the difference, so that we can grow in our faith by enlarging our capacity to believe.
Faith, as the Bible tells us is the substance of things hoped for and the assurance of things not yet seen (Heb. 11:1). In this way it becomes a force that emerges out of your spirit man, based upon knowledge and hope. The Apostle Paul said faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). It’s a gift from God and a fruit of the Holy Spirit that grows as we learn how to overcome doubts and unbelief. In fact, Timothy was commanded by the Apostle Paul, his mentor; to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12).
Believing on the other hand is an activity of the soul, choosing to believe mentally or to agree with God – is what unleashes the force of faith. You might ask for an example… the best I can think of is Abraham’s faith. The Book of Romans tells of Abraham’s believing, against all the facts and natural limitations; that he and Sarah would have a son. It says that “he did not waver at the Promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20). His believing was activated by his consistent praise and “giving glory to God”… and he grew in his conviction that God was able to do all that He had promised.
Unlocked & Released:
So we can see the difference between faith and believing, in that faith must be unlocked and released by our actions… our words and behavior. These are soul realities and activities of the mind, will and emotion. Believing is what makes faith the force that pleases God (Heb 11:6). If faith is the currency of heaven… then believing is the transaction that moves the heart of the Father. Faith itself may be available, but until it is acted upon, vocalized or passionately demonstrated; it is like wanting a trinket, but never getting the coins out of your pocket. Faith without works is dead (Jms. 2:20)… but Jesus said that if you believe nothing will be impossible (Mk. 9:23).
YOU ARE MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!
“My child I am Jehovah Nissi, The Lord Your Banner and the Sovereign One who conquers!”
When the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord Himself will raise up a standard against him and fight on your behalf (Isa. 59:19). The word ’standard’ in Hebrew means something displayed in order to put to flight or chase away opposition… so that you can escape or be delivered. God will cause the enemy to stop in his tracks and turn tail and run away from you. He will put the brakes on the enemy of your destiny and at the same time accelerate your forward progress.
You are free to go forward and fulfill the very plan of God for your life… for Jehovah has called you out and has something special for you in your future. Your later days shall be greater than your former days, so be encouraged! Your adversary, the devil now has to go all the way back to the starting place, which frees you up to get on with your journey! Press forward to the next level of victory in the Promises of His Will for you. God is faithful to raise up a standard in your behalf, because He is the One who makes a way when there seems to be no way!
“Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coast-lands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:15-19)
“For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 12:25)
“Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (Psalm 73:23-24)
Designed for Flow:
You are designed to be a spiritual man or woman. God wants you to operate in the supernatural everyday! Its why He has given us the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul is writing to the Church… Notice the first thing: God wants you to move in the supernatural! You are designed to be a supernatural being. You are a spirit, living inside a body. With your body you can communicate with the natural or external world… with your spirit you can communicate from the realm of God’s resources, power and authorization. This dimension is the realm of the spirit… often we call it the “spiritual realm”. You and I are designed to flow and access all that God has made available through the personal anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our lives. Its important to understand the simple principle that you don’t have to become a spiritual person – you already are spiritual!
You already have a spirit dimension to you.
Your natural body has five senses: you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Your spirit man also has spiritual senses. With your physical senses you can interact with the physical world. You receive signals in your natural body… and from those senses you can begin to identify certain things. It’s the same in your spirit; but many people haven’t developed their spiritual capacity. You can develop your spiritual senses just as clearly as you can develop your natural senses. It comes by training yourself in the disciplines of use, practice and consistent discernment. Faith is always the key to opening your spiritual senses and persistent use will enlarge your spiritual effectiveness.
- Your ability to see God spiritually and identify the purposes of the Holy Spirit is directly connected to your hunger for revelation and activation… like speaking the Word of God or laying hands upon the oppressed, sick and broken lives around you.
- Your ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit is tied directly to your hearing of the Word of God… the voice of your Shepherd.
- Your ability to taste of the goodness of the Father is connected to your willingness to rest in His Presence and wait upon Him to meet your needs with His love and compassion.
- Your ability to feel or grow in your knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s touch is connected to meditating upon His Person, Promises and Emotions.
- Your ability to experience the sensation of smelling the fragrances of heaven is tied to atmospheres of worship and thanksgiving.
“Now the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for the profit of all!” (1 Cor. 12:7)
The Holy Spirit has expression and communication that benefits everyone who is willing to grow and develop their spiritual senses. Its part of our discipleship goal as God’s Child. Notice the word ‘manifestation’, it means: something that is visible, tangible… that people can see, feel and connect with. He’s saying: God wants to operate through you, in a way that’s tangible, that people can experience Him. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.
I prophesied over someone the other day. I brought a word from God to encourage them and I shared it with them in order to benefit them. It was what I believed God was saying to me… things God showed me, things which were so personal and so connected to that person. When I asked them: how did this affect you… they said: I felt like my whole life was open before God, and He was aware of my situation. Their perception was that God was talking to them personally.
God is Speaking!
The gifts of the spirit are manifestations of a person – the Holy Spirit; so it’s not like you carry some kind of special gift. In fact, you carry a spiritual sensitivity that you are accessing by faith. You have a person living on the inside of you and you work with Him to bring His life forth. It’s all about a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The passage says: “the manifestation of the spirit is given to everyone” – so who is left out of the word ‘everyone’? There’s no one left out – this is for you! Everyone includes you.
God is speaking… and He wants to use your voice to do it!
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (Jn. 16:13)
Its interesting to me to see that the Holy Spirit is described, not only as a person (He): but also as a “gift” (Acts 2:38, 10:45). Notice it says in the Bible (Lk. 11:13) that if we can give good gifts (plural), how much more will God give the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit (singular); to them that ask. The Gift… is the Holy Spirit.
All the gifts of God are by The Holy Spirit… So what does this mean? It means that we have the potential to flow in any gift necessary for the moment, if we have “the gift” of The Holy Spirit. We may move more effectively or feel stronger in some gifts than in others… but the “best” gift is the one needed at that moment (1 Cor. 12:31). The good news is that God is willing to use you… but we must stay fresh and stir up the gift of God within us!
Cultivate the Relationship…
Do not let the dust settle upon your gift!
The Apostle Paul tells young Pastor Timothy to be sure and not neglect the gift of The Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 4:14). He tells him to “stir up” the gift inside of him, which is the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 1:6). We must cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit, just like we do in our marriages or among good friendships. Scripture warns us not to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19). The word quench here means not only to suppress, but also to extinguish. If you don’t stoke a fire, it will burn out. It must be stirred up! You need to stir up your relationship with the Holy Spirit and not let it die out.
Keys in Cultivating the Relationship with the Holy Spirit:
- Praise and worship in the Spirit (Phil. 3:3). If you only praise and worship God on Sunday morning, you’re missing the boat. It should be constant (Ps. 35:27-28).
- Praying in the Spirit, you build yourself up (Jude 20-21)(1 Cor. 14:4).
- Reading The Word of God (Jn. 14:26). The Holy Spirit will shed light on God’s Word and bring it to your remembrance.
Like any relationship… effort has to be put into it. You have to make time. If you don’t have time for God, then your priorities are all messed up. You need to sit down and rewrite your schedule to include time in the Word, praise and prayer. God has so much in store for us. He doesn’t want us to lack in any gift. He sent Jesus to give us not only life, but abundant life (Jn. 10:10). We see clearly that God desires all of His children to flow in the things of the Holy Spirit (Num. 11:25-29)(1 Cor. 14:5). It’s not Him holding us back… often times it’s us saying no or feeling uncomfortable.
We need to say yes… and stir up the gift of the Holy Spirit!
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:4-9)
King Cyrus was not a believer! He did not know God, but God knew him. Cyrus would speak about God by name, calling him ‘the LORD’ (Ezra 1:2-3), but knowing the name or knowing some theology; does not make you a believer.
Yet… We must Trust that God has a Plan!
I too, struggle with fear and anger over the direction of the American Culture… and our World. I hear the news and hate the liberal spin. I am concerned about a presidential process that seems to limit the voice of conservative followers of Christ. I am fed up with government and terrorist threats. I also find myself wrestling with fear over the economic future of my family. I want change… but I hate how we are changing!
Here is the powerful reality I often forget – God is at work in the “Big Picture!”
Listen to what God says about this man 200 years before he was born: “I call you by your name. I name you, though you do not know Me” (Isa. 45:4). God says, “You don’t know Me, Cyrus, but I know you!”
What we see in the Book of Ezra is the stirring of God, pointing out once more; that nothing is beyond His reach! Here is Our Amazing God, proving that He alone is able to fulfill His great purpose in the Earth… and for His people.
- What did Cyrus do? “…he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and put it in writing” (Ezra 1:1).
- Here is what that proclamation said: “The LORD, the God of Heaven… has charged me to build Him a House at Jerusalem… Whoever is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem… and rebuild the House of the LORD” (Ezra 1:2-3).
You might remember: the old Babylonian kings took people by force from the lands they had conquered and forced them to worship their Babylonian gods. That was what we see as we read the book of Daniel. Daniel and three godly young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were deported to Babylon and pressured to worship the Babylonian gods. But they said, “We’d rather go into a fiery furnace than worship your gods. We worship the only true God, the God of the Bible.” And then along comes this new king, Cyrus, who saw that this kind of suppression would never match the power of Jehovah… the God who was bigger than a fiery furnace! It would be better to let these people live in their own lands and worship their own gods. So in his first year, with his heart being stirred by God; he made a proclamation allowing God’s people to return to their own land.
Scriptures says something amazing was going on… “God was stirring the spirit of Cyrus!”
Behind all the events that took place and all the motives that may have been in the king’s heart, God was at work by His Spirit. God works by stirring up hearts, and God can move in the hearts of people who do not even know Him. No heart is beyond the reach of God. Who would have imagined that a great work of God would begin in the heart of an unbelieving king? This is the greatest encouragement for prayer and for witness… ask yourself, “is anything too hard for Your God?”