Faith That’s Tried

1 Peter 1:7
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of guy. This tendency has no doubt served me in many ways but in some ways, it sets me up for defeat. For example, when I decide to get on a health kick, I go all out—radical changes to my diet, an hour of cardio a day, gym memberships complete with the latest in work-out apparel, etc. Unfortunately, going from couch potato to triathlete in a week is impossible and attempting such a regimen quickly left me burned out time and again.

So this January I took a new approach. I began implementing small changes into my lifestyle. Things such as starting the day with push-ups or cutting fried foods out of my diet. Small things that only took a little discipline. Not only was it easier to stick with, but when I started to gain small victories in my physical life I found it easier to incrementally build on them. No one has the discipline to go from zero to hero overnight, but if you take exercise the discipline you have to accomplish a small goal, it will grow and soon you’ll be amazed by what you’re capable of. Building discipline in this way is a lot like building faith.

Much like physical exercise strengthens our muscular system and provides us with greater confidence in our physical abilities, the testing and trying of our faith in Christ strengthens our spirits and leaves us with a greater confidence and trust in God’s providence over our lives. Faith that is untried and untested may be true faith, but it is certain to be little faith and will remain so without proper trials.

Throughout my Christian walk I’ve found that faith never prospers so well as when all things seem to be against us. It is when all options are removed that we have the opportunity to wholly trust God. Every believer trusts God to some degree, but it is when the flesh has no confidence in the things of this world that our spirit is free to make a truly powerful connection with the Lord. It is faith that makes this connection and it is faith that grows up in the face of adversity.

In Mark 11 Christ told us that we are to place our faith in God and then we could say to a mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it would obey us. What a powerful picture Jesus has painted for us here. The real power is not found in us, but in the object of our faith which is the Christ the Lord. Our faith in God releases the grace of God which delivers the results we are desparate for. Mountain moving faith depends on absolute confidence in the creator. This is the kind of trust that can only be built in trial fires throughout our Christian walk.

Unfortunately there are many incorrect concepts and doctrines being taught on the subject of faith. I’ve seen men take credit for acts of God based on their own faith. I have also seen people condemned because of their lack of faith. Jesus is our eternal example of redeemed humanity, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and having faith in God. Faith simply builds our divine confidence in God and keeps us properly connected to Him.

Remember that the trying of your faith is working to your benefit and not your detriment. Stay focused on the big picture in your time of need and you will realize that your faith has grown, your need was met, and Jesus is Lord of all.

God Bless.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken speaks weekly at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

Perfect Power

The Ignite conference at Spirit Life Church is just days away. What an exciting time to be a believer! I’m believing with the entire Spirit Life Church community that the Holy Spirit will come and ignite something fresh in all of our lives, meeting our inadequacies with His perfect power!

1 John 5:5, NIV:
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

In this passage John reminds us that our victory over the world is our faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In other words, our victory over anything and everything opposed to God is found in our relationship with Jesus because in this context, our imperfect faith is met by His perfect power!

Think about the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 9. Jesus heals Jarius’ daughter after he pleads for help. Then Jesus encounters a woman who had suffered with an issue of blood for twelve years and heals her. Later, He heals two blind men who pleaded for the Son of David to “have mercy” on them.

When I think about the acts of Christ in this passage, I can’t help but focus on the stark contrast between the total inadequacy of these individuals, compared with the complete sufficiency of the Master’s touch—a theme that runs through the entire chapter.

Jarius, a ruler in the synagogue and devout Jew, would have had clear tendencies to be skeptical of Jesus. The religious institution of the day stood in stark opposition to Jesus, declaring His teachings to be heretical and condemning Him as a blasphemer. And Jarius was a leader in this institution! From these facts I can only conclude that Jarius wanted something from Jesus without acknowledging His divinity and status as Messiah. His motives were inadequate. In spite of this, we find that the insufficiency of the seeker was irrelevant as Jesus entered Jarius’ house and raised his daughter from the dead!

If we combine the synoptic accounts where Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood, we learn that this woman had exhausted all of her options—all of her resources and strength were spent trying to find a cure and as a last-ditch resort, she pressed in towards Jesus. Upon seeing her Jesus says, “take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.” Jesus reminds us that it’s not important how we come, so long as we do come—this simple act provokes God to meet our inadequacies with His perfect love and power!

Finally, Jesus encounters two blind men crying out for the Son of David. Interestingly, this is a title that Christ Himself never confirms. He was the Son of God. Put more clearly, the theology of these men was inadequate and their perception of Christ was incorrect. You could even argue that they were merely parroting what they had heard others shout. That they were trying to reach Jesus, without knowing Jesus. Again, despite their inadequacies, Jesus injects His perfect power into their lives and heals them on the spot! As important as doctrine is in the life of a believer, this reminds us that He transcends our inability to have everything right all the time.

These are just examples of God’s perfect power to affect the imperfect human nature. I’m trusting for this same power to show up at our Ignite conference and meet the needs of many next week. Will you believe with me?

In the meantime, be encouraged and don’t get caught up on your inadequacies. He isn’t!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church. You can hear his messages online at the media page of Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to his weekly podcast sermon podcast.

Trust and Obey

Philippians 4:11, NKJV:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.

Human nature leads us to be restless and dissatisfied with the challenges we face in life, but Paul overcame this nature and learned to accept his position whether he abased or abounded. In other words, Paul learned something that is contrary to human nature—contentment. Our journey as believers is filled with learning to embrace attributes and characteristics that are fundamentally contrary to our human nature.

1 John 5:2, KJV:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

As with Paul’s writing in Philippians, neither of John’s statements are a natural part of our human DNA. As a Christian I have gone through seasons of strong discipleship and abundant love. At other times, I can’t seem to get either one working in my life. Part of learning to keep God’s commandments is learning to love Him. This most definitely does not come naturally but must be learned through the leading of the Holy Spirit and through placing your faith and trust in Him.

Peter wrote that we are partakers of the divine nature of Christ. Through His grace and sacrifice, we have the privilege of sharing in His power. So it is with faith. We are partakers of the faith of Christ, which is our victory over the world! That faith must be exercised daily by trusting the Lord. When Jesus commanded Peter to cast out his net, Peter’s response was filled with doubt and unbelief. Peter replied, “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

In other words, Peter wasn’t looking for any results—he was just going through the motions.

But to Peter’s astonishment, out of his obedience came a miracle. This final cast yielded so many fish that his nets began to break! This was part of Peter’s learning curve and part of the process every believer has to go through. We have to learn to trust God when we can’t track God. That’s when real faith arises and our love and obedience toward God grows.

Keeping God’s commandments is not just about refraining from evil—it’s about being led by His spirit into all truth. For God’s power to be realized in our lives, we have to place a demand on our faith in Jesus for all things and trust Him without exception.

John instructed us to know the Spirit of God. If your Christian walk is consumed with trying to abstain from evil, you’re not focused on learning the way of God’s Spirit. However, if you spend each day in search of new encounters with Christ, the things of this world will not seem as important as they once did—you’ll learn to be content with your life and to have faith in Him for your future. He has a plan for your life so never be afraid to challenge your own faith and follow Jesus.

One of my favorite old hymns says to trust and obey. Sounds a lot like John’s message to me—love leads to keeping His commandments. You will learn to truly love Jesus just as you are learning to obey and trust in Him. It’s a process for every believer.

Be encouraged in the power of His might and all things will work to your favor!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can hear his messages online at the media page of Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to his weekly podcast sermon podcast.