The strength of our faith is a major issue in determining how much and how big our accomplishments in life will be. Jesus said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed that nothing would be impossible for us to accomplish. Wow, that sounds so amazing. I wonder, was that a literal statement or was Jesus just making a hyperbole, making a point with an obvious exaggeration. I don’t think Jesus was into hyperbole as much as I am. Here are a couple of contrasting statements on faith in the Bible.
Romans 4:20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, Abraham did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
Matthew 8:26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
If I want improve the time it takes me to run a 10 K, I know how to do that. If I want to increase the weight I can bench press, I know how to do that. If I want to lose 40 lbs in 4 months, I know how to do that. If I want to get a higher score on the Bible literacy test that I took on line, I know how to do that.
So, I want to grow strong in faith, strong enough in faith that the things that I accomplish with my life are many and really big, really, really big, awesome in fact. How do I do that? The most effective faith building exercise available to us is prayer. When we pray we are talking to a God we can’t see, hear, or touch. So why are we talking to Him if we have no tangible, immediate proof that He even exists or that He is listening to our prayers, or that He cares enough to answer them? Faith, the act of praying is an act of faith. The more I run the sooner I get faster, the more I lift the sooner I get stronger, the longer I study the better my test score. The more I pray the more I will grow my faith, and the really cool thing is that the stronger my faith grows the more I will pray.
I don’t want another boat, I don’t want another gun, I don’t want another fishing rod, I don’t want a bigger house, I don’t want a newer car, I am content with what I have.
But I want, want, want more faith, I want, want really bad, more wisdom, I want in the worst way more self-control, oh what I wouldn’t give for more patience, and joy, and to love my wife more. I wish I could just buy more faith, but I can’t, so I will pray, pray, and pray some more because I want to move mountains, and I haven’t yet and I am 70 and time is running out.
The Bible says that God has put an awareness of Himself inside of every person, but that many deny Him instead of seeking Him. People deny Him because they don’t want to be submissive and obedient to an almighty, all knowing God, they want to run their own lives.
Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
How do you search for Him with all of your heart and all your soul? One way that is very effective is to attend and participate in a corporate prayer event. In Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus says,
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
2 or 3 gathered in my name, and they agree about what they ask. “Asking” and “Gathering” that is a corporate prayer time, and Jesus says that He is at such an event. God is omnipresent, He is everyplace, but He manifests His presence at times and places. As the early church fathers would say, “He makes Himself felt by us” that is we sense His presence in our spirit. Psalms 16:11 says, ” In Your presence is fullness of joy”. I sense His presence by an unexplained heightened sense of joy. It happens to me at corporate prayer times like JBC is having this week from 5 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 10 pm Monday through Friday.
“If you search for me you will find me”, Sitting in the prayer room today has been such a powerful experience of being in the presence of God. I wish so many more would seek Him with me.
I am a dreamer. I love to sit by myself and create amazing situations in my imagination, stories of impossible accomplishments, inventions that nobody has even dreamed of yet. In my imagination I have run the Boston Marathon, in fact I won the Boston marathon, several times!
We assume that Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden of Eden forever if they had not eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but that is a misreading of the text. Long before Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, God told them to fill the earth and subdue it. It was a divine invitation to explore, to adventure, to discover, to dream. Everything east of Eden was uncharted—196,949,970 square miles of virgin territory.
I take that command as one God has given to all of humanity that are in His holy family through faith in Christ. It is a command given to me, conquer the earth, subdue it. A dream is an idea that has been mulled over in my thinking until it became clear, rolled around in my head until it became big, really big, scary big, meditated on until it became accomplishable, thought about from every perspective until I had a clear path and strategy of accomplishment worked out in my thinking. It is a big, scary, impossible dream, but I think about it so much it becomes reality. Those who dream the most do the most. Those who dream the most work the hardest. Those who dream the most, pray the most. Those who dream the most inspire many people to help them accomplish this impossible dream.
I have to admit that dreaming big, scary, impossible to accomplish dreams is much harder at 70 years of age than it was at 30, but it is those big dreams that keep me energized, my dreams are the engine that drives my boat. The cool thing about dreams is they don’t cost any money, they take only a little bit of time to dream, most of the time we don’t share them so if even if they are crazy, who knows we are crazy but us.
In the New Testament book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul says that our struggles in life are not primarily with flesh and blood, meaning not with ourselves or with other people, but with evil forces, meaning the devil and his demons. Also in Ephesians Paul says, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” that is if you get angry at someone, take care of it before the sun goes down, apologize, fix it, work it out, and if you don’t “you give the devil a foothold”. A foothold would be a place to hang on in our life, legal jurisdiction, as it were. Demons work in our life primarily by talking to us and we hear them in our thoughts, and when they are hanging on to us, their influence is strong. There are other sins that we commit that give the same access to these “evil forces” who have as their goal to make us miserable failures in life.
People who raise sheep run them through a tank of sheep dip periodically in order to kill the ticks that collect on the sheep over time and suck the life out of them. I have no idea how many demons are hanging on many Christians, but as I listen to a number of people in our church talk about their problems, thoughts, fears, anxieties, and temptations I am of the opinion that many need to go through a tank of “sheep dip” for demons. Something that works to accomplish the same thing is attending extended times of corporate prayer with your church family. People often tell me that the thought of coming to a corporate prayer time at JBC gives them anxiety, and some describe their experience as being a panic attack. The demons attached to people are afraid of corporate prayer and will work overtime to keep you from coming. They will cause this fear, nervousness, and anxiety, sometimes to the point of panic to keep you out of the prayer room.
Monday morning starts JBC’s “Five Days of Prayer” and we will be praying from 5:00 am to 10:00 am Monday through Friday, and 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm each day as well. We start each hour of prayer at 15 minutes after the hour and stop straight up on the hour so we have a 15 minute break every hour for people to come and go, get a snack, a cup of coffee and to visit for a bit.
These prayer events are very powerful times of meeting with God, experiencing His presence, and being cleansed from the forces of evil who can’t stand being in there. So many people are struggling in life with anxieties, fears doubts, and weakness, and don’t really have to if they would take advantage of the power, grace, and cleansing that God has made available to us through the power of corporate prayer of a church family.
If I were experiencing the fear, depression, sadness, and anxiety that many describe to me that they are going through, you couldn’t keep me out of that prayer room, I would want to be free from that, completely free.