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.

Trust Him… and MOVE!

We’ve all heard the the expression that life is the sum total of our choices. Whether or not you completely buy this relationship is immaterial. What is clear, is that life shouldn’t be left to chance. We need to make the right decisions. For a believer, this isn’t as daunting as it appears because God is on our team!

My father used to say if you don’t know where you’re going, any ole’ road will do. In other words, if we don’t want to wander aimlessly, we must determine a course for our lives—a goal and destination—that orders our steps and strengthens our focus.

Obviously the most important decision anyone can make to start determining this destination is to accept Jesus Christ as savior, thereby beginning the journey of faith that brings us to a personal relationship with our creator! From there, the path of our lives requires a great deal of prayer and consideration regarding things like our career, marriage, parenting, etc. Life is filled with tough decisions. I get it.

I run into people all the time that seem to be living in survival mode. When faced with the uncertainty and difficulty of life, we sometimes become overwhelmed and focus on maintaining our current situation rather than forging ahead toward our destinies. The trials and tribulations of life can often lead to inactivity. Falling into this trap is a terrible mistake that will cost you dearly in the end.

I think the problem is often that we become too paralyzed by fear of the unknown to make the bold decisions that accomplish our goals and progress our plans. We say things like, “I’m just trusting God,” or “I’m believing for a turn-around.” While I urge each and everyone of you to trust your lives to Him, I don’t think we realize the latitude and freedom God gives us to determine our destinations.

Too often we use these statements to mask or rationalize our inaction, which is never the right choice—if you’re not ever learning, moving and growing, you’re falling behind. Life is no doubt filled with tough choices, but for a believer in the context of a relationship with Christ, trusting God means believing that He isn’t going to let you fail!

A good example of what I’m talking about in scripture is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. In this parable, Jesus tells of a business man who goes on a long journey, entrusting his wealth to his servants. When he returns, he finds that two of the servants have worked out business plans and doubled his investment. He rightly commends them saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

In stark contrast the third servant reveals that because he was afraid to disappoint his master, he buried the investment in the ground, reasoning that this would be the safest possible use of the talents entrusted to him. Angrily the master scolds the third servant and sends him away.

While the parable should be very familiar to most of us, I believe we often miss some of its central truths. Most significantly, this is a story of opportunity—the opportunity God gives to all believers to take what He has entrusted us with and get the best from it. When God blesses us with children, a loving spouse or a rewarding career, we must be prepared to work hard, seek God and do what is right. Preparation is key and action is a necessity.

Part of this preparation is putting a proper plan with measurable goals. Next, we can’t be afraid to change up the things in our lives that aren’t working—there is no shame in going back to the drawing board!

We must become comfortable with doing what is necessary to put things into proper order. I urge each and every one of you to strive to become architects of your lives. A person of dedication to the outcome is not always comfortable or even right, but we can move boldly forward knowing that a believer is never alone.

All of us must trust God, but in trusting Him, we have a freedom and mandate to charge ahead, implementing plans and using the talents and abilities God has placed in each of us.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

His Strength is Made in Perfect Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 is an incredible verse of scripture that reveals the anatomy of a believers success in Christ. A fundamental requirement for serving God is understanding your own weakness. When a believer is faced with conflict, if they enter the battle filled only with unmitigated self confidence, they are setting themselves up for a great failure. We cannot trust ourselves for the wisdom and strength for even the smallest task—our victory comes not by might or by power, but by His spirit! The person who desires to truly serve God must understand it’s His way, His strength and that He will never accept their service. The simple fruit of the earth the Lord casts away, He only accepts the seed sown from heaven, watered by grace and grown by His deep love for His people. In the simplest way I know how to express it, God will only bless what He controls.

I am not suggesting that believers are to strive to stay weak and immature and I do not believe this is what Paul was suggesting to the Corinthians either. It simply reveals to us all that we must understand our limitations and depend fully on God for every need. Only He can supply our needs according to His riches in glory! The man that trusts his own armour is foolish. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through Christ and only after He empties us completely can He fill us with what He has.

In the Old Testament we see the theocratic acts of God in people such as Samson, who slew a thousand Philistines armed only with a jaw bone. The secret was in God’s ability in Samson, since no man could accomplish this feat in his own strength. Some attempt to relegate these as stories of antiquity designed to inspire children about God, but I say the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God we serve today! I believe God wants to do miraculous things in and through the lives of believers today, but this is possible only when we are willing to understand our carnal limits and allow God to use us as empty vessels, full of weakness, to bring Him glory.

So many Christians desire to do great things for God, instead of allowing God to do the great things in us. He does not want you to perform a miracle, He wants you to become a miracle! This is the greatest obstacle to becoming more than victorious in life—allowing God to do the work in us.

Take opportunity to introspect and find your greatest weaknesses. Maybe it’s the fear of death, failure or rejection. Whatever the case, allow that weakness to be eradicated by the divine working of Gods power. Only then will you understand how His strength is perfected in weakness.

Live life with passion, love strong and only believe.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

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.