Activate Faith

Activate Faith

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

So much for the leisurely stroll around the Scriptures this morning, it is clear that the Lord has something to say to us today. This really should be titled, “The Fast and the Furious.” Most mornings, my time with Jesus is peaceful and quiet. We talk. We walk through the Word. I pick up nuggets here and there to share with others. It is a wonderful way to begin each day and I highly recommend it. Some days, like today, it is a different story. As if something is being poured and I am running to catch it in a small glass, I don’t want to spill a drop. The Windows of Heaven are open today which means our prayers are being heard, mandates given, and the power of God pouring out on His People. Thank you, Lord.

It all began innocently. I was creating a spreadsheet for our pastor of the guests from our recent Grand Opening Celebration. He will be contacting these families. It is important for us to connect with one another. Haphazardly glancing through the pile in sheer exhaustion, I clearly underestimated how many new people and families who joined us that day. The growing list overwhelmed my heart as it raced with excitement. But it didn’t stop there, as I pressed send on the email – we were off. I went straight to the story in 2 Kings about the widow whose husband had died and now was in a desperate situation…until the Lord came for a visit.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

The widow was in a desperate situation. Her husband gone. No source of income. Her sons about to be taken into slavery. She felt like her life was slipping through her fingers. Elisha asked her, “What can I do to help you?” He asked her, “What do you have in your house?” Nothing. She had nothing but a flask of oil. Do you feel like the widow today? When you look around there is only desperation. Examining your life to find a hopeless situation. There is nothing to work with or draw from. What do you do? You turn to the Lord. We all do it. When things are good, we take over control of our life until we run dry, run out, or are used up. Then turning back to the Lord in desperation. He does the miraculous.

Elisha told her to gather as many empty jars as she could from friends and neighbors. NOTE: He did not tell her to go find jars full of any earthly sustenance which is human nature. To grab a handout if you can. He told her to go muster her faith. How big is your faith in God today? Is it possible to trust the Lord beyond your own understanding? Can you plunge into the depths of His Ways and Thinking that is so much higher than our own? Are you willing to wait for Jesus to do more than you can ask or think? Oh it’s coming. He is only waiting on you to activate your faith the moment you are filled with desperation.

I wonder what this woman was thinking at that moment. The beginning of desperation is called despair. This is usually when we are worrying, fretting, stressing, crying, complaining, moaning, groaning and miserable over the situation or circumstance we are in. Desperation comes after that. When we are desperate, we become reckless in our behavior. We have nothing to lose. The urgency of our need or desire take over good common sense. Our hope is dangerously low and the indicator light is on. What is it telling us? A miracle is about to happen. When our despair leads to desperation, it is the moment that our living condition becomes intolerable so something has to change. For those who believe filled with faith will become willing to walk by faith not by sight in that moment, they will risk anything just to be saved.

The outpouring of God in this woman’s life was limited only by her faith. When the vessels were full, the oil stopped pouring. What is the capacity of your willingness to trust the Lord? What is your level of faith? Have you cried out to the Lord and things only went from bad to worse? Good. God provides the impossible so that faith can make all things possible.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Faith allows us to be in right standing with God. By His Grace, we are saved by what? Faith. Faith that is lip service yields nothing but hot air. It is when faith moves from an attitude to an action that it is activated. You will not step out of comfort into faith but you will grab hold of it to pull yourself out of a fiery trial or two. We live in a place of undeserved privilege by faith. We are changed from glory to glory by faith. We must have faith to please God and remain in good standing with Him. (Hebrews 11:6) What produces faith? We run into problems and trials and get a little discouraged. Trotting along the road gets a little longer, so we must be patient and endure. Oh now we get a little disheartened. I hate to wait. God knows my heart so I find myself waiting all the time. I must endure to the end to be saved. This will require patient endurance that God is giving me in those wait times. I get it even though I don’t like it. Gotta keep moving. Endurance develops our character. Why is that so important? Character is important. It is our identity. Who we are? We are to be sons and daughters of God. We should look like it, talk like it and act like it. When our appearance and identity according to the world begins changing into who God created us to be, the fearfully and wonderfully made man or woman designed by God and masterpiece drawn by His Mighty Hand something begins to change in us. See when we cannot save ourselves – we turn to the Lord in complete desperation. The attainment of faith can be a difficult process. It is always worthwhile.

What do we find at the end? Hope that will never ever lead to disappointment. We thought that is exactly where we were headed down letdown lane, but really God was emptying our vessel to fill us up again with something more valuable than what worry, fear and doubt produced. You would have never let go of lesser things if God asked you for them. It would have been a fight to the finish. He just led you to something better that you are more than willing to take hold of and embrace.

Romans 5:6 (NLT) When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Are you utterly helpless today? Do you feel wrung out like a dishrag lying on the sink? The dishes are done but so are you! God sees you right where you are and is rejoicing over you today. Great things are about to happen in your life because He has just about got you moved out of the way. Grace is pouring over you. It is feeling every void with the same resurrection power that brought Jesus Christ out of the grave.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The widow woman was discouraged. She felt hopeless. She became desperate. Her miracle came to pass that day. What about you? Is there a miracle in your midst today? I absolutely believe that there is. It is my experience that when our situation is labeled “impossible” or we are told that it is “hopeless” or maybe given the impression that it will be this way “forever”, that this is the moment His Grace becomes enough. This is the only time in the Word of God that Paul refers to the “thorn in his flesh”. He asked the Lord to remove it three time different times. Been there, done that. When our son was diagnosed the third time with cancer, the Lord brought this verse to mind. I read it. I got mad. I felt it was so cliché. God said, “No, really.” I thought “I wish that He would mind His Own Business.” I felt was a callous response to his brokenhearted daughter. Little did I know that my life was far from undone. It was only the beginning.

Each diagnose took a little more and a little more of my faith. I remember the day it ran out. Sitting at my desk in my office at work. All the lights in the building had been turned off except a desk lamp softly glowing. We were out of options. The final denial had come in and if God didn’t do something soon – our son would die. I have never felt so dry and desperate. The Lord has been good to me. God loves me. But I couldn’t understand why He would promise me that our son would live but it didn’t look like anymore. Staring at blank computer monitors, I felt like I was looking at a mirror to my soul. Dark, oh so dark. All I could whisper, “but I trust you God.” Dissolving into tears, I just poured out what was left of me to the Lord. I was weak, but it was in that moment of totally trusting Jesus that I found strength. He became my strength because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done so He could step in and fill every facet of my life with His Power to finish the race of faith and claim the prize.

Matthew 14:28-32 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Jesus is doing exactly what He promised to do, but are we willing to get out of the boat. Not until our comfort zone is compromised, Peter didn’t even consider leaving the safety of the vessel until it was taking on water in danger of sinking in the storm. He was all too ready to jump in the water with Jesus when he became desperate. The moment Peter’s feet hit the water, his faith was evident. The moment his faith ran out was just as clear when he began to go under. Our faith is proportioned to our ability to trust Jesus, keep our eyes on Him and walk with Him. It is clear when it runs out.

The process of life for a believer is to attain faith in Jesus Christ and to trust God. This is the system of exchange that connects us to Heaven, blessings, prosperity and success according to the Word, Will and Way of God. We will not pursue God outside of desperation at the level necessary to secure heavenly things but just enough to remain comfortable. Comfort leads to compromise. Compromise invites complacency to live in us. This is a dream crusher, faith killer, and hope destroyer that the enemy uses every single day to cause Christians to go under. His Grace is enough. You will not know or understand its potential until His Grace is all that you have.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

If faith came in large quantities, it would not be compared to a mustard seed but mighty timber or giant mountain. No it is tiny and small. Hard to come by but with the greatest potential. We are impossible people. No really. In Genesis 11:5-6, God said that united people can do the impossible even apart from Him. Good luck with that huh? We cannot come together to save our souls in many instances so thankfully that is not a requirement but definitely a blessing when we get it right. We have impossible potential in us. Partnered with the Lord this becomes our purpose. It is in our desperation that we cry out to God. (Zechariah 8:6) I am not ashamed to admit that I have never ever cried out to God like I did on behalf of our son. It changed how I pray. It took my relationship with Jesus to a whole new level independent of our son and his situation. I will never be the same because of it. When we cry out to the Lord, He usually asks just one thing of us – to trust Him more. Do you trust the Lord today? The powerless become powerful just because they have the tiniest of faith.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

This father was desperate to see his son released, delivered and set free. Jesus told him that anything is possible if a person believes. Do you believe? The words of your mouth reveal the contents of your heart. Actions speak louder than words. Those who believe are at peace even in the mightiest storm. Though stricken, they do not fall but regain composure thanks to the Hand of God that holds them. They do not lack, complain or die in famine but thrive nevertheless. God has all this instore for us. He is just waiting for us to trust Him a little more. We must turn our “if you can” to “yes you can” today and be willing to wait until God works it all out.

Hebrews 11:6-10 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

It is impossible to please God without faith. He is not asking for much just a willing, empty vessel to fill and refill over and over again. Are you that vessel today? It is easy to proclaim a faith you do not have. People do it every day. But when the entire world comes crashing down around you, will it be enough to keep our hope secure. That really is what it all comes down to – how strong is our anchor of hope? (Hebrews 6:19) God told Noah to build the ark. Noah did it even though he didn’t know what “rain” was. He just did it by faith because he believed God completely. Abraham was told to leave his home for an unknown destination. God knew where Abraham was going and what He would find there. Yet Abraham had to pack up his family and move to find it. Peter would be the rock upon which Jesus built the church. Peter had to get out of the boat first. Our faith must be activated. God uses desperation to facilitate faith in our life. Rather than looking at what you do have, get out there and find opportunities to invest your faith into impossible situations. Over and over again, God will provide the grace that promotes power, the faith that moves mountains, and hope that never leads to disappointment. The next step is up to you!

Psalm 37:3-4 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

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