Posts Tagged ‘Mt 4:4’

Into Faith

When we struggle with doubts, we as Christians should crave Scripture as God’s stabilizing force in life. We establish our faith in Christ when we develop a real hunger and thirst for the Words of God and they begin to bubble up within our minds to refute doubt.

At Jesus’ temptation experience He made the most clear identification of a truly sincere follower of God when He said,

“man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4).

All too often when we try to tackle our doubts, we want something tangible that we can see and taste or something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and tell us how everything will be all right. That might make us feel better, but I’m under the opinion that Satan loves that routine, because it makes us trust more in our “feelings” than in God.

Some things are not right and we must avoid deception that causes us to sow to the flesh and reap a harvest of corruption (Gal 6:7-9). Our spiritual discernment grows when we realize that being equipped to overcome doubt isn’t just about feeling better; it’s about getting back “into faith”!

Remember that Christian faith or the “God kind” of faith, only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

There are at least two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at real faith. Once He marveled at a woman’s faith to receive healing for her issue of blood (Mk 5:34). In this story we notice that she took the initiative, because she heard about Him. She was coming to Jesus with an expectation of His authority being more powerful than her sickness. That was what she heard inside of her heart and mind that registered as a hope or expectation. She had endured 12 years of doctor visits which left her poor and in worse shape and she was not going to let this opportunity pass her by. She touches His garment “in faith” and is made well at that very moment, because she pulled upon His authority by believing rather than listening to doubts, fears, reasoning or feelings. Hope had put her into faith… it was Jesus Himself who acknowledged that her faith had made her well.

In another story Jesus marveled at a Gentile soldier’s great faith. A faith that Jesus called “great” because the centurion said,

“…speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority” (Matt. 8:8-9).

The centurion had a faith that was in Jesus’ Word alone. Because he understood “authority” (the power to enforce a word or command)- he understood faith (those actions that follow trust). It was expectation and his ability to recognize authority that gave him great faith. He didn’t need to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant… he was not looking for drama or some big intellectual explanation. He was only after the results, because of a concern for his servant. If Jesus would just give him a word… it was all he needed.

Recognizing this authority places us into faith, because it engages our hope in God’s good will, purpose and plan for our lives. God’s Word is powerful and effective to crush doubt and move our hearts into faith (Heb 4:12).

Vitality of Words

Is there anything “normal” about the spiritual realm?

The Kingdom of God should feel normal to the believing heart! Yet, when measured by human reasoning, its beyond comprehension. One law remains consistent in both the spiritual world and the natural world… All things; material and spiritual, are held together by the Word of God’s power (Heb 1:3). To say it another way; God sustains all things by using words that are released from His world- Heaven, into ours- Earth.

God sustains all things by using words!

For God, words are powerful and essential; like the connective tissue, the glue between two very different worlds. They are creative packages that hold His logic and purposes for life as He would want us to enjoy it… abundant and fruitful. He spoke the worlds into existence (Gen 1:3), He calls those things that are not as though they are (Rom 4:17) and He watches over His word to perform it (Jer 1:12). No matter how we perceive life’s experiences, His goal is for our good and not evil (Jer 29:11). In redemption, He has sent forth His Word to heal, forgive and revive the broken.

”The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and Truth” (Jn 1:14).

Our faith grows out of hearing the words of God, believing, knowing and experiencing the Word of God. Jesus explained, “The Spirit gives life, My words are spirit and they are life” (Jn 6:63). We all must come to the realization that as we live in agreement with God’s Word, all will go well.

God’s words are Spirit and Life!

David said, “Your words are a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105). Solomon encourages us to hear the Father’s voice, “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to My words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and they are health to a man’s whole body” (Prov 4:20-23). What David and Solomon were saying, Jesus makes very clear when He faces the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Abiding in those words offers us the greatest freedom, because His words are Truth (Jn 8:31-32) from God’s perspective.

Healing & Deliverance

…a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at His (Jesus) feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“First let the children eat all they want,” He told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then He told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:25-30)

She was expected her daughter to experience freedom… and she was not walking away without a word!
So many wonderful accounts of faith in action, desperate and unrelenting. Did you catch what Jesus said about freedom from demons? He referred to spiritual freedom as the “children’s bread”. In other words, deliverance is the rightful, normal, expected substance of the Children of God. It’s their inheritance!

Deliverance is our Inheritance:

I have found that many Christians are really not sure if deliverance belongs to them through God’s redemptive plan of salvation. This uncertainty is always an open door for the enemy to sow confusion. Its a breeding ground for fear, doubt and unbelief. As believers, we need to have our feet planted upon solid ground, knowing with certainty all that belongs to us, so that we can apply the Word of God in any given situation and receive the promised benefit.

The Promise is for the Child of God:

Where do you stand? Are you a Child of God? Have you asked Jesus to become Lord of your life? If you answered yes, then the deliverance you need is yours today… right now, in this very moment. Just as it was then, it is still the Children’s bread today.

Biblical Faith:

True Bible faith can only act where the will of God is known. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). That’s why we have the Bible, so we can know His will in written form and act upon it daily for the sustaining Bread of Life. Jesus makes this truth very clear when He stood before Satan and said “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4) Drawing upon what has been written and living by what we know to be the Will of God is the pattern of faith.

Revelation Activates Faith:

This woman had a revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, that He was not only able to deliver, but that He was willing to do so right then. Based on that understanding, she was not going to let Jesus pass her by. She had bold faith that was based upon knowledge and she acted on it. In one sense she was saying – “I know the truth and I will not be denied!” Her desperation was turned into boldness simply because she had a revelation.

Hesitation Exposes:

Most people would have looked at their own inadequacy, their own unrighteousness, their own shortcomings and would have been stopped right there – but not her. She was not stopped by her lack, instead she was moved by His supply. She got her eyes off of herself and onto the Author of Life!

If it matters to us… It matters to God!

There’s no mistaking the fact that it was her faith that stopped Jesus in His tracks. It was her faith that pulled Him into her desperate situation. Faith that knew of God’s will to deliver, would call her to the feet of Jesus. Faith is what makes the heart posture itself against impossible odds and dare to believe in the power of “crumbs”. Faith makes all the difference and moves a person past the obstacles. She may have been a “little dog” in the eyes of the world, but she understood herself to be in line for God’s love to touch her daughter. If it matters to us, it matters to God… Its faith that makes this true!

To The Nations

Scripture: “The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:18-22)

Thought for Today: “Carrying New Wine to the Nations”

A wineskin is designed to carry a resource. In Bible times long journeys would require a person to bring along something to drink through dry and dusty desert travels. Animal skins were flexible and yielded to the movement of wine that was commonly put into it. Jesus tells us, that old skins will not work; because they resist the new wine and burst. We pray and fast to remain sensitive to God and contend for the New Wine of the Holy Spirit being poured out into our hearts and lives. When we develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting, we become an available resource for the nations!

Notice: Jesus said “As long as they have the Bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them and then they will fast in those days.”

Three Truths Jesus Emphasizes:

1st) Fasting is a Disciple’s Key:
Fasting is a key that opens doors of trust, relationship and honor! It keeps the wineskin fresh and flexible, because spiritual revelation is being received and understood. Faith and trust are being used by the person fasting and there is always a reward in the process (Heb 11:6)(Mt 6:18)(1 Cor 2:9-13). On the other side of every Kingdom door is a blessing and the favor of a loving God. Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4).

2nd) Fasting has a Context:
Fasting has a timing element and an appropriate season! There is a time for celebration and a time for fasting. Timing is hinged to our need. Jesus emphasizes this as a unique time of celebration… as in a wedding. Jesus calls Himself the Bridegroom, because He was expecting to be received as the Messiah and loved by His disciples. Yet a time would come when He would be taken from them and then they would fast. They would feel the need to fast to pull their “life” from the unseen, spiritual realm. Fasting is a key to maintain a spiritual relationship, because we cannot see Jesus in the flesh today. Our life is found in the Spirit… the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:12-15)(Rom 5:5)(Rom 8:14).

3rd) Fasting is a Passion Issue:
Fasting is our effective tool against the flesh! We must not miss the context here in Jesus calling Himself the Bridegroom. The greatest thing a fasting discipline will do for us is focus our spiritual passions. By sacrificing what the flesh desires, we awaken our sensitivity in the spirit. When we need God’s grace in our lives, our hunger and thirst is visible through prayer, but there are times when breakthrough can only be experienced by fasting (Joel 2:15-19)(Mk 9:25-29). Prayer can be an aggressive tool, but when accompanied by fasting, it carries greater impact in the spiritual realm. It is the Father’s desire to make Himself vulnerable to those who seek Him with all of their heart, mind and strength (Jer 33:3)(Joel 2:12-14)(Lk 12:31-34).

Now is the Time:

God is pouring out His Spirit in this day and revival fires are being set in the nations. Now is the time and we are a people of destiny, to advance more than just a message. We must become carriers of His Glory. Through prayer and fasting we are making ourselves ready to carry the New Wine of His Presence…

And whether it is across the sea or across the street… the nations are thirsty and waiting!

A Pure Mind

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 2:5)

The greatest area of sin in the believer’s life is not usually in the area of actions, but in the arena of the thoughts. Pride, for example, is a sin of the mind… and so is lust and suspicion and discouragement. These are all sins of the mind. But the good news is that we do not have to think on or dwell on every thought that comes to our minds. We can ignore them, refuse them access to our heart and even crush their influence by speaking the Truth of God’s Word over ourselves.

The Battle Within:

Because we all contend with the devil, we have trouble with undesirable thoughts popping into our heads. These thoughts can be suttle, confusing and sometimes even oppressive and difficult to battle. Most of us would not want our thoughts made public, because it would be embarrassing. But we must be aware that they are not really an accurate barometer of our spiritual condition.

Jesus dealt with the devil’s temptations with the words, “It is written” (Mt. 4:4) and that is exactly what we must do. It is not so much what a person thinks; but what he delights in, that tells more accurately what he is and where he stands spiritually. While we cannot completely get rid of this battle here on earth, we can keep it from controlling us.

Tending the Garden:

The mind is like a garden which can grow beauty or it can grow ugliness. It can produce flowers or it can bring forth weeds. It must be tended with care and diligence. It must be disciplined after the patterns of the Bible (2 Cor. 10:3-6). We must cultivate spiritual thinking and the Scriptures give a list of worthy objects that we ought to be thinking about.

Philippians 4:8

“Whatever things are true” – whatever is based on truth, earned or received by methods that are honest and not by cheating and falsehood. For most of us, it is not the big things that test our honesty. We will likely never embezzle ten thousand dollars from an employer, but we might need to be careful about dimes and quarters at the check-out isle. Every Christian needs to think in terms of the “golden rule”, treating others how they would like to be treated (Mt. 7:12).

“Whatever things are just” - things that are right and impartial. It is right to give a customer full measure when selling merchandise in business. It is right to play fair in all that we do. Parents must diligently to show no partiality with their children. We should never plan in our thoughts to manipulate or deceive.

“Whatever things are pure” – free from anything that is tainted. Purity speaks especially about chastity in the realm sexual relationships. Our society is full of sexual images and tries to overwhelm our minds with all kinds of distorted realities. Unclean thinking is stimulated by these images, obscene jokes and stories. For this reason, the follower of Christ must consider carefully the movies they attend, censors reading material and needs to avoid participating in activities that are not noble and pure.

“Whatever things are lovely” – things that are beautiful, innocent and pleasing. “Lovely things” are the opposite of the ugly and bizarre. The Christian should cultivate the traits of courtesy and pleasantness. We should avoid the sharp answer, harsh reply and sarcastic remarks. It is sad to see a husband who cannot answer his wife in gentle tones. Honor is a powerful character trait that is cultivated by a mind that dwells on things that are “lovely.”

“Whatever things are of good report” – things spoken in a gracious spirit; things spoken with good will toward others; things which are the opposite of gossip and the spreading of rumors. Courtesy to others, respect for parents, loyalty between husband and wife… these are always things “of good report.”

“Any virtue and anything praiseworthy” – meditate on these things!

The word “think” or “meditate” means “to dwell upon” or “to focus attention upon” - So think on things that are virtuous and worthy of praise!

Qualities such as kindness, loyalty and honor; are qualities we should think about and dwell upon daily. Spirit-controlled thinking can lift our thoughts and bless the lives of everyone we come into contact with. Scripture consistently suggests the way to conquer evil thinking is to submit to God, resist the devil and think upon good things (Jms. 4:7-10), because in so doing we will give no place to wickedness. The greatest way to keep evil thoughts at bay is to embrace the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). 

Spiritual thinking is a call to think upon good things and eat the fruit of a bountiful garden… a pure mind.

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