Devotionals

10 Insights Into the Mystery of Faith

There are two primary definitions assigned to the word faith. First, our faith can be the sum of religious principles on which we base our lives; second, it can be the act of believing in God and trusting His promises.

The word household can mean either a family or all those residing in the same home. As born-again believers, we are part of the same family, dwelling under the same covering of the redemptive love of God. Our privilege is to experience life together with hearts intertwined in covenant relationship. The glue that holds us together is not some denominational affiliation, but our mutual faith in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Strangely the word faith only appears twice in the Old Testament, but over 240 times in the New Testament—so it is definitely an emphasis in this era. There is much to be learned about this spiritual "substance" Paul described as a "mystery" (Heb. 11:1; 1 Tim. 3:9).

The following 10 insights are some of the most important:

1. Faith is a gift from God – Ephesians 2:8 declares, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God." A gift is not something earned; it is given freely as an expression of love. God so loved us that He gave us the capacity to believe. The Scriptures title Jesus "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). He initiates faith within our hearts and then continues growing and developing that faith within us for the remainder of our lives.

2. Faith is allocated by God – Every child of God is granted a "measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). In other words, in His omniscience, God anticipates all that His offspring will be called to do in the kingdom, and all the battles and challenges they will face in life. In advance He assigns enough faith to each one of us that we might succeed in every arena. Because of this, it is "not of works, so that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:9).

3. Faith is awakened by the Word of God: – "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). As we speak the "word of faith," confessing with our lips that Jesus rose from the dead, we are saved (Rom. 10:8).

4. Faith empowers us to receive the Spirit of God – We "receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14). Then, after we are begotten of the Word and born of the Spirit, we move through life speaking "the word of faith," aided by the "Spirit of faith" (a title for the Holy Spirit), thus empowered to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God (2 Cor. 4:13).

5. Faith makes us righteous in the sight of God – Christians are "justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1). To be justified means to be legally acquitted of all guilt, as if we never sinned, and recognized as righteous in the sight of God. Contrary to all other religions, the miracle of Christianity is that "with the heart, one believes unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:10).

6. Faith is a spiritual weapon – Paul exhorted Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim. 6:12). There are so many adversaries on this journey from time to eternity, within and without. We war against literal powers of darkness, as well as dark attitudes and thoughts that churn within our own hearts. One way we fight is by adamantly believing and confessing God's Word. Hebrews 11:33 reveals that "through faith" we obtain "promises."

7. Faith grants ultimate victory – 1 John 5:4 says that "whoever is born of God overcomes the world, and the victory that overcomes the world is our faith." There is nothing that this world will throw at us that faith cannot overpower, even the worst thing—death. If faith can overcome the most grievous adversary, it can certainly empower us to rise above lesser problems. No wonder the Scripture uses the past tense in declaring that, "you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14). It is as good as done.

8. Faith activates resurrection power – At the grave site of Lazarus, Jesus asserted, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). When we believe that the Father raised the Son of God from the dead, our souls are saved (Rom. 10:8–10), but then we go on to believe God will raise us from the grave also to live forever in His presence.

9. Faith will bring us to perfection eternally – Ephesians 4:11–13 reveals that the five-fold ministry (pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles, and prophets) exists to build up the body of Christ "until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." The New King James says, "to a perfect man." So it is faith that will bring the entire body of Christ to perfection, completion and fullness and cause us to finally emerge in the full image of the firstborn Son.

10. Faith without works is dead – James declared that "faith without works is dead," or non-existent (James 2:26). Works will automatically result from real faith, and they indicate its existence. As General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army explained, "Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other."

Declare Who You Are in Christ

"I declare that I am a member of the household of faith! Knowing that faith pleases God, I have determined to respond to the challenges of life with unwavering trust in God's Word. Because I believe in the name of the Lord, His crucifixion and resurrection, I already have overcome the world. I refuse to stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, so that my faith might result in "praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:7)—when the author and the finisher of my faith returns in all His glory. In Jesus's name, amen!

Excerpted from Mike Shreve's book, Who Am I?: Dynamic Delcarations of Who You Are in Christ (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase the book by clicking here. {eoa)

Mike Shreve was saved in 1970 during the Jesus movement era. He was a teacher of yoga at four Florida universities until an encounter with Jesus changed everything. His conversion story is featured in several books: In Search of the True Light (a comparison of over twenty religions), Truth Seekers (co-written with Sid Roth), and a mini-book called The Highest Adventure: Encountering God (offered as a free download on his websites). Shortly after receiving salvation, Shreve began traveling evangelistically, preaching in hundreds of churches and conducting large open air crusades in various nations, such as India, Costa Rica, Liberia and Nigeria. He and his wife, Elizabeth, presently pastor an interdenominational church in Cleveland, Tennessee, called The Sanctuary.

Devotionals

Lessons You Can Learn From an Ancient Street Preacher

Do you read your Bible every day? Are you in the joyful and strengthening habit of opening the Word of God and reverently allowing the precious and eternal words to restore your soul?!

There is nothing quite like it ... just taking 10 or 15 or 30 minutes out of a busy day ... laying everything else aside ... and then opening the sacred and life-changing book called the Holy Bible.

It is God's missive to His children. It is heaven's love letter to those who are stationed in an outpost far, far away. The Bible is a how-to manual, a blueprint for life, and an extraordinary and miraculous peek into the heart of God.

Who wouldn't want to read their Bible?

I have been completely undone recently by the book of Ezekiel. First of all, who reads Ezekiel for insight and wisdom? Surely, the Proverbs or the Psalms of David would be a more likely source of hope and joy. However, I am discovering that the Holy Spirit is well able to use the words of a street preacher who lived nearly 3,000 years ago to speak life into my weary ministry and discouraged heart.

The message of Ezekiel echoes through the centuries and finds a welcome home in the heart of this woman whose chief desires in life are to obey God and to proclaim the Word of God. I have found that Ezekiel and I have much in common.

God asked Ezekiel to do some pretty crazy things! Ezekiel positioned himself on his side for 390 days and during that time ate only one meal a day that was cooked over manure! You've got to be kidding me, God! This prophet by the name of Ezekiel shaved his head and his beard in a prophetic demonstration and also refused to prolong his grief over the death of his beloved wife. Ezekiel heard intimately and in detail the instructions of the Lord and then faithfully obeyed.

I can do no less.

I am committed, like Ezekiel, to fearlessly preach the Word of God and to obey God, whatever He asks of me.

When God asks me to go to India ... I will go.

When God asks me to write a book ... I will do it.

When God asks me to share my faith with the agnostic sitting next to me on the plane ... I will willingly do it.

When God asks me to encourage the young mom in line at the grocery store ... I will do it.

When God asks me to pay for the elderly person's lunch at a restaurant ... I will do it.

When God asks me to take get out of my safe boat ... I will do it.

When God asks me to write a letter to someone who needs encouragement ... I will do it.

When God asks me to produce a daily radio show ... I will do it.

When God asks me to walk by faith and not by sight ... I will do it.

When God asks me to pray for healing for a person I encounter at the drug store ... I will do it.

God told Ezekiel that when he obeyed the voice of the Lord that Ezekiel would then know that God was truly the Lord. I am learning from Ezekiel that obedience clarifies our vision of who God is capable of being in one ordinary person's life.

Obedience to God's voice also sets into motion the timing of God's plans for an individual's life. When I choose to obey the personal message God has spoken to me, God will move heaven and Earth to set His plan into action!

As I read my Bible this morning, the message of the Lord to Ezekiel was the message of the Lord to me, "None of my words will be prolonged anymore, but the word I have spoken shall be done, says the Lord God" (Ezek. 12:28, MEV).

My heart cries out, "Yes! Amen!" to the words that God spoke to Ezekiel almost 3 millennia ago. I deeply desire for the plans and purposes of God to hit the assigned mark in my life. I am done with delays and disappointments. The time is now for God's promises to come to pass in this ordinary girl's life! The word that God has spoken to me will be performed! The appointed time is now! {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.

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