Today we will continue our series entitled “God’s Grace & Our Faith.” For the past two days, we looked at John 1:14&17 and Galatians 5:6. I shared messages about how faith works by love. Let’s continue.
(John 1:14 NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:17 NIV)
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 5:6 KJV)
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things:
1. Don’t disconnect yourself from your emotions to the point where you are trying to walk with God in a cold-hearted way.
For years, many preachers (myself included) have preached against emotions, teaching that we must rule our emotions and never allow our emotions to rule us. While the point of ruling over emotions and not allowing emotions to rule over us is valid, if we are not careful, we may lead people to temper their emotions to the point where they serve God more with their heads than with their hearts. This is why I believe many Christians today, in an attempt to live by faith, stand on God’s Word and declare it over their lives, more as a matter of “stating a fact” (almost like quoting a stat) than as an act of faith that stands in agreement with God.
This kind of cold-hearted, mind-centered faith is void of true power because it is more head-acknowledgment than heart submission. Faith has to be more than mental assent. Speaking words of faith from your head means nothing if it is not coupled with a believing heart. Faith is a matter of the heart (meaning, your spirit). For it to be true faith, not only does it have to involve your heart, but it also involves God’s. Your heart must be connected to God’s heart for it to be faith that will tap into God’s grace.
2. The object of our faith must originate in God’s heart and not our own.
We have been talking about how faith works, more from a matter of function than a matter of “target” or “end result.” Allow me to speak to the object of our faith in this point.
a) Faith is not about you coming up with something (the object of your faith) and then “releasing your faith” for God to bring it to pass. The problem with that is that you came up with it. The “it” was birthed in your heart and not in God’s. This is not faith. This is hoping and wishing. This is you trying to get God to give you something you want. But faith is actually about you learning to want what God already wants for you and performing corresponding actions, led by His Spirit, to bring them to pass.
b) Faith is not about you trying to get God to put a YES on your plans. Faith is about God trying to get you to put a YES on His plans. Faith begins where the will of God is known. Faith has to be connected to something that was birthed in God’s heart and not yours!
c) Faith is about acknowledging the fact that God made plans for you before the world began, seeking to discover what those plans are, and then doing whatever you are supposed to do (even at the risk of looking foolish) in order to see the manifestation of them in your life. In this way, faith is about dying to self, agreeing with, and submitting to God’s will. Not trying to get God to agree with your will.
d) If you can understand all these points, then I will add to them the point that faith works by love. Last night I was in a meeting with Rev. Sam Rodriguez. He preached a powerful message. One of the statements he made was, “The moment it becomes impossible it officially belongs to God.” I know the point, but I had never heard it stated that way. Allow me to make a connection between that point and what I am teaching right now.
God specializes in impossibilities. God’s natural state is so far above the ways or limits of this world that His “normal” is our “impossible.” So when God speaks to us, He speaks to us from a realm that is NOT bound to the limits of this world. Therefore, the things He says to us are things that we could NEVER do without Him. This leaves us with no other recourse BUT to provide faith. If God tells us to do something that we can easily do, then the answer is not faith but compliance and obedience. But when God tells us something that far exceeds human power, ability, and strength, the only answer we have is faith. We must have the faith that believes that God can, and then have the faith that believes big enough and long enough to tap into God’s grace to actually bring it to pass.
e) The object of our faith must originate in God’s heart because 1) if we come up with it, it will be too small for God, 2) when God comes up with it, it will be too big for us (therefore, requiring faith), and 3) if we came up with it, it was never faith in the first place, it was just us hoping and wishing.
f) If you can understand all of what I just taught in this point, then you know why faith has to work by love. God’s promises are SO big that if you don’t root your faith in the fact that God loves you with an unconditional love, you won’t believe BIG enough or LONG enough to see the promise come to pass. The only way to remain in-faith for the long enough is to constantly remind yourself that God wants to do what He wants to do in your life, solely because He loves you!
3. Faith requires dying to your will. I will make it personal.
Living the life of faith means making God your true Lord. Jesus may be your Savior, but not every Born-Again believer lives with Him as Lord. When He is Lord of your life, it means He rules. He is on the throne, and you are on the cross. His decisions reign supreme and you are dying to self daily. I am a witness. I gave my life to Jesus at the age of 23. The life I now live looks nothing like the life I thought I was going to live. Further, even after being Born-Again, there are many things Isabella and I wanted that were good things that we asked God for, but that God revealed to us that were not part of His plan for our lives. These were things that were birthed in our hearts and not in His. We had to learn to accept that.
To truly live by faith, Isabella and I had to learn to accept God’s plans over our own, even when it was painful. This is what dying to self is about. Faith is about submission. Faith is about surrender. Faith is about accepting, believing, and pursuing God’s will for your life. Now don’t get me wrong. Isabella and I are truly blessed. We live an amazing life. I’m not complaining. My point is simply that the life we live now is NOT the life we planned. It is the life God planned for us before the world began. For us to give up our plans and pursue God’s plans ungrudgingly, enthusiastically, and wholeheartedly, we had to be convinced that God loves us. We have to know that God will never lead us the wrong way, that He will never hurt us. That He only has our best interests in His heart. Because we know this, and we are convinced that God loves us, we are willing to do whatever He tells us to do by faith. This is what Paul meant when He said, “Faith works by love.” Our faith is strong, not when we attempt to convince God, but when He convinces us; when we are convinced that God loves us, that He can be trusted, and that His plans are good.
Whenever God leads us to do something that we don’t have all the answers for, and people ask us about it, my standard response is, “I don’t know what God is going to do in this situation. But what I do know is that it is going to be good!” My prayer for you is that you get to the point where you are so convinced that God loves you that you are willing to do whatever He tells you to do, by faith, even when it means giving up something you really wanted. Take it from me. Whatever you give up will become a seed, and the harvest you will receive from it will FAR exceed what you sacrificed. This is #TheGraceLife.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I thank You for teaching me about Your love and grace. I am convinced that You love me. The revelation of Your love for me has changed me from the inside-out. I am Your beloved son/daughter. You love me just like You loved Jesus. You love me with an everlasting love. I did nothing do anything to cause you to start loving me, and nothing I do will ever make you stop. You love me because You are so good, not because I am. You love me because You are Love and Love emanates from every part of Your being. I accept Your Love. I believe Your love. I embrace Your love. I am changed by Your love. I become Your love. And with this type of LOVE in my heart, I can live by faith. I will do whatever You tell me to do and go wherever You tell me to go, even when it means giving up something I wanted, simply because I am convinced that You love me. My faith works by LOVE! Therefore, GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!