Tag Archives: Daniel

No Victory Without Faith – Is Faith Really That Important?

An excerpt from No Victory Without Faith

If there is no victory without faith (see 1 John 5:4), the natural question that arises is this: why are there so many people who seem to be prospering in life despite rejecting God?

The answer is God’s unmerited mercy towards mankind. See, after the fall of man, God pronounced the ground cursed because of man’s disobedience (see Genesis 3:17). As a result, the only things the work of man yielded were thorns and thistles. In other words, nothing that man put his hand to outside of the will of God yielded fruit. All his toil and effort was in vain. One would have thought that this would turn man towards choosing God, but it did not. Man continued to choose wickedness in all his ways and so incurred the wrath of God (see Genesis 6:5). Being a God of justice, God had to punish man for the evil he had committed, so he sent the great flood. The only reason God did not destroy all mankind was because Noah was a righteous man and so found favor in His eyes (see Genesis 6:8).

 
The flood represented a new righteous beginning for mankind since only Noah and family inhabited the earth. This is when God in His mercy decided that, (1) the ground would no longer be cursed for the sake of man regardless of whether man remained evil or not (see Genesis 8:21). Furthermore, He declared that, (2) seedtime and harvest time would continue to exist for as long as the earth remained (Genesis 8:22). These two declarations are huge! They gave man a way to prosper from his hard work and toil irrespective of his heart, regardless of whether man was obedient to God or not! Jesus referenced this mercy of God when He mentioned that God makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and sends the rain on the just and unjust.

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who spitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust – Matthew 5:44-45

To paraphrase the Scripture above, Jesus is saying, “You need both the sun to shine and the rain to fall for the plants that you have sown to grow. Whether you are good or not good, God makes the sun rise and the rain to pour so that harvest time can continue in the world; so that all humanity can prosper. God, in His love and mercy, makes no distinction between those who are good and those who are evil in this respect. Therefore, be like Him and make no distinction between those you love and your enemy.

 
Question: If this is true that we can ‘succeed’ without faith, that God has made a way for us to have faith in our own efforts, then why do we require faith in God?

 

Those of us who accept Jesus not only continue to walk in the extended mercy of God to forgive our sins, we also receive the ability to walk in the favor and power of God through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Only faith can release the favor and power of God in our lives. This means that we no longer have to toil and spin for what we need (Matthew 6:28). We can simply depend on God to provide those things for us as we walk in loving obedience to the prompting and guidance of His Spirit. Hence, we see that it is no longer hard toil and labor (works) that bring blessings. Rather, it is loving obedience that brings blessings. Though we can continue in the way of all creation, Jesus has shown and made a better way available to us – the way of favor and power – the way of faith and love!

 
Second, outside of faith, the extent of our blessing is proportional to the labor of our hands. The way faith operates, the extent to which we are blessed is proportional to the extent of our obedience. A good example of the power of faith (trust and belief) is found in the book of Daniel. Daniel went from being a captive in Babylon to becoming the second in command of the kingdom – which was the greatest in the world at the time– because he had faith in God and walked in obedience to Him. Could Daniel have toiled and worked his way to that position? No way! He was a foreigner and so would not have been given the opportunity. Nothing he could have done by his own strength could have taken him to such heights of power. By this example, we see that faith will always propel us further than what our own strength and works can achieve. Moreover, faith allows God to do it instead of us doing it. Since God can do it much faster, easier, and better than we can, we see that faith involves a modicum of peace and rest.

 
Third, faith comes without the internal struggle and the need to balance and juggle the many things that striving and toiling brings. Rather, it simplifies our life and allows us to hit the mark of the high calling of God. This is why the blessings that come from walking in faith come without sorrow (Proverbs 10:22). Conversely, the blessings that come from our own sheer grit and strength usually come with sorrow. An example of this is a man who works all of his life and becomes wildly rich because of his efforts, but leaves a wound in his children because he was never there.

 

Fourth, faith comes with the release of supernatural power. The power that conquered the grave was deposited within us when we chose to accept Jesus. This power is released as determined by God as we walk in faith. It is this release of power that ensures our victory as we walk in faith.
An example of faith’s ability to achieve the supernatural is found in 1 Kings 13:1-6. When a man of God got to King Jeroboam and proclaimed the Word of God, the king stretched out his hand and asked his officers to arrest him. Immediately, the king’s outstretched arm withered and the altar he stood by broke. When this happened, King Jeroboam changed his mind quickly about the arrest! This story tells us that God’s power will always follow those who walk in faithful obedience to Him, that He is our protector and our shield, and we do not have to be afraid of anything. When we walk by faith, we do not have to worry about the result, for we are backed by the indomitable power of God.

 

Why is faith important? Faith allows us to experience the chain –breaking and life-giving favor and power of God in our lives.

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Why Does God Allow Non-believers to Prosper?

Why is it that God allows those who do not care about Him to prosper?

Right after the fall of man, God told man that the ground was cursed for his sake; that he was going to have to toil, and that all the work of his would bring him thorns and thistles (Gen 3:17). Mankind continued in this vain until after the great flood – which wiped out all humanity except Noah and his family. After this, God made a covenant with all creation. God made a new proclamation with man which made the proclamation of Gen 3:17 null and void. He said that the ground would no longer be cursed for the sake of man even though all that he imagines in his heart is evil (Gen 8:21). He said that there would always be seed time and harvest time for as long as the earth remains (Gen 8:22).

Thus, we see that God gave man a way to prosper from his toil and work irrespective of the state of his heart.

In His mercy, God allows mankind to eat of the fruit of his toil (hard labor) whether we are obedient to Him or not.

Jesus referenced the mercy of God that he pronounced in Gen 8:22 when he mentioned that God makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and sends the rain on the just and unjust (Mat 5:45).

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who spitefully use you, and persecute you;That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust – Matthew 5:44-45

To paraphrase, Jesus is saying: You need both the sun to shine and the rain to fall for the plants that you have sown to grow. Whether you are good or not good, God makes the sun rise and the rain to pour so that harvest time can continue in the world; so that all humanity can prosper. God, in his love and mercy makes no distinction between those who are good and those who are evil in this respect. Therefore be like him and be make no distinction between those you love and your enemy.

Why should we strive to be obedient to him when there are so many who are disobedient and are doing well?

For those of us who accept Jesus, we not only walk in the continued mercy of God, we also receive the favor of God on our life as well as the Holy Spirit of power. We no longer have to toil and spin for what we need (Matt 6:28). We can simply depend on God to provide those things for us as we walk in loving- obedience to His Spirit. Hence we see that it is no longer hard toil and labor (works) that brings blessings. Rather, it is loving obedience that brings blessings. Though we can continue in the way of all creation, Jesus has shown us the better way – the way of favor and power!

In the way of the world, the extent of your blessing is proportional to the labor of your hand. In the way of the Word, the extent of your blessing is proportional to the extent of your obedience.

A good example of this is the man, Daniel (see book of Daniel). He walked in obedience to God and so became the second in command of the greatest kingdom in the world at that time! Nothing he could have done in his own strength (toil) could have made him attain that position, for he was a foreign slave. No way would he have been given that opportunity outside of God. Thus we see that obedience will get us to a higher position than what toil can. We also see that obedience is faster and easier than toil.

Second, obedience releases power! The man of God that went to King Jeroboam (read 1 Kings 13:1-6) was supernaturally protected from being arrested when he obeyed God. Furthermore, God released His power to break the alter for the sake of the man of God. Likewise, God will always release his power on our behalf as we walk in obedience – His power to save, heal, speak boldly and courageously; His power to achieve all that he has called us to achieve!

Faithful obedience releases the favor and power of God to do the miraculous in our lives.

So why choose God? We choose God because we want more than just the mercy of God. In our appreciation of His love for us, we also want to experience His chain-breaking and life giving favor and power in our lives. When we live in the fullness of His grace (mercy, favor, and power) is when the world will take notice and our influence on it will explode. Then we will start to live heaven on earth and more people would be drawn to God and be saved. In other words, love compels us to be obedient! Obedience in turn will release the abundant life in our lives.

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The Mind of Christ – The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer

In ‘Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?’ we established that the mind of Christ (which is the mind of success and victory) consists of the key elements of Humility, Prayer, Seeking the face of God, and Obedience. Knowing that these key elements build one on another, we then looked at the importance of humility and the practical ways to grow it in ‘How can I grow in Humility’. It was important to examine humility first and foremost because without it, the remaining aforementioned elements are highly unlikely to yield any fruit or any victory in our lives.While this statement may be somewhat hard to swallow, we can examine the truth of it by taking a look at the role of humility in getting our prayers answered.

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is paramount if the other keys – prayer, seeking the face of God, and obedience – are ever to produce victory in our lives.

When it comes to prayer, the good news is that God always hears it. We know this for the Word of God says that the ‘hand of the Lord is not heavy that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear’ (see Isaiah 59:1). Hallelujah, there it is! The Lord is always willing to listen to our requests, petitions, and desires – He hears us every time we communicate with Him. Now, the not so good news from our point of view is how He may choose to answer those petitions of ours. While God hears our prayers, He has a choice to either accept them (say Yes) or to reject them (say No). Since this is the case, the question then becomes how do we get God to accept our prayers? The answer is humility (which produces faith for it is steeped in love)

Note: ‘Not now’ and ‘silence’  have not been included in the way God answers our prayers because these are simply ‘delayed yes’ or ‘delayed no’ responses. At times, we receive delayed responses because God is trying to grow us up, point our attention to some unsavory areas of our lives, or simply because a spiritual battle is taking place (see Daniel 10: 13).

With regards to humility and prayer, His Word tells us that He will NOT reject (despise) a broken spirit and a humble (contrite) heart (see Psalms 51:17). Therefore, we know that He will not reject our prayers (our requests, petitions) when we are operating in humility. We see further proof of humility being linked with answered prayer in the book of Daniel where the angel of the Lord says to Daniel:

“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words” – Daniel 10:12

This passage tells us that humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) by God and for Him to move on our behalf – the sending of the angel in Daniels case. This passage also tells of the importance of actually speaking to God. Without speaking to God (praying), the angel would not have come, and Daniel’s request – which was the explanation of his vision – would not have been granted. That just goes to show that we indeed have to ask in order to receive (see Matthew 7:7). It also shows us that we do not have to guess concerning our visions and dreams or anything else in life. We can just go to the Father who will longs to give us what we desire of Him when we abide in Him (see John 15:7)

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) because humility is required in order for us to abide in the Father!

So why is humility so crucial to answered prayer? Simply put, humility is the passport that leads us to a place of surrender and causes us to exchange our desires for His desires. In fact, if we do a study of the Greek word for prayer (proseuchomai), we find that it can be interpreted as interacting with the Lord by replacing our wishes with His wishes as He imparts faith! This then explains what James was talking about when he says that we ask and do not receive, because we ask amiss, that we may spend it on our pleasures (see James 4:3). He is saying that we ask (pray) amiss when we ask in order for our own desires (pleasures) to be fulfilled rather than His desires (plans, purpose and pleasures for us) to be fulfilled. Asking for our desires to be fulfilled rather than His desires comes from a place of pride (thinking we are more than we are and we know best) and not humility (knowing that God knows best). It comes from a lack of the knowledge of His love; that His plans are always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11). While our plans glorify ourselves, His plans glorify the Son in the Father. When in humility, we align ourselves with His plan; we find the following passage to be true:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:13 -14

Furthermore, the scriptures say that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (see James 5:16). As such, for our prayers to be effective, they have to be steeped in humility. The bible also tells us that the promises of God in Christ are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ to the glory of God (see 2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus, if we want our prayers to be answered ‘Yes’, we have to be in Christ for it is then He is glorified, and we have to operate in humility. If we want to here ‘no’ we can continue in pride and self-seeking!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Humility is intrinsically linked with the word ‘to pray’. Therefore, prayers that are not steeped in humility are simply ineffective words that help us tick the box of prayer but yield no fruit.

Food for Thought: We must grow in humility if we want our prayers answered

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