The Faithful Church

Jesus had nothing but commendation and encouragement for the church at Philadelphia.  The city that was known for its aggressive efforts to Hellenize the known world spawned a church that was committed to evangelize that same world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus told that church that even though their strength (numbers and power) was small, they had kept his word, they refused to deny his name, and they had remained faithful, loyal, constant, and steadfast.

As a result of their faithfulness, Jesus promised the church at Philadelphia they would have an open door or opportunity to spread the gospel that no one could shut, they would see the hearts of their enemies turn toward them, they would be kept from the tribulation to come, they would receive a crown, they would be made stable and permanent, they would have security, they would enjoy heavenly citizenship, and they would ultimately receive and share in the authority and power of his name.

We too can be like the highly regarded church at Philadelphia but we must be mindful of the threats to our faithfulness looming in our world today.  The spirit of carnality seeks to ensnare the believer through the lusts of the flesh, indulgence, amusement, sloth, and entertainment.  The spirit of deception seeks to trick the believer through lying spirits, bad company, and subtle misdirection.  The spirit of offense is a liar and thief that seeks to engender strife so that believers will be separated from their faith community, spiritual leaders, and their destiny. The spirit of weariness seeks to wear the believer down with the cares and responsibilities of life until they faint and give up.  The spirit of oppression seeks to assert cultural, religious, academic, and institutional pressure until the believer craters under the weight of it all.

Every believer can remain faithful in these crazy times by applying the wisdom from Hebrews chapter 12.  First, we can remain faithful by considering the cloud of witnesses that have already made it and are no doubt cheering for us to make it as well. Second, we can remain faithful by considering the weights and sins in our lives and making the conscience decision to remove them.  Third, we can remain faithful by considering and committing to our part of the race or open door of opportunity to spread the gospel.  Finally, we can remain faithful by considering how Jesus made it despite all the spiritual assaults and attacks he experienced.  He made it by looking past the challenges and circumstances to the joy that is to come.  The Scripture says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2).  We can be faithful because he was and is faithful.

Overcoming Persecution

Smyrna in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) was considered to be “the flower of Asia” for its strategic planning, culture, education, science, and medicine.  It was also a place of great persecution for the believer.  Jesus warned the church at Smyrna they would experience persecution, arrest, and even death for the sake of Christ at the hands of people who claimed to be the people of God, but were in reality a “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:8-11).

The persecutors accused the Christians of cannibalism (ignorance of the Lord’s Supper), sexual perversion (mistaking the Christian fellowship meal for an orgy), political rebellion (because they would not declare Caesar as Lord and would not petition Rome for permits to meet), atheism (due to the absence of pagan idols in their homes), and destroying Jewish homes (as they converted to Christianity). The persecution of the believer always involves some type of spurious and injurious accusation, for that is the nature of the devil, the accuser of the brethren. We should not think that we are immune to persecution because anyone desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

To persecute means to pursue, follow after, aggressively seek after as a hunter searches to apprehend, capture, or kill an animal.  To be persecuted is to be viciously and relentlessly hunted because of the gospel.  Although there are a variety of types of persecution, including spiritual (oppression), life (martyrdom), financial (denying employment, advancement or benefit), mental (condemnation or accusation), emotional (fear, anxiety, and despair), relational (rejection and marginalization), and physical (affliction and infirmity) the purpose of the persecution is the same – to press the believers to compromise, to denounce their faith, and to give up.

The keys to overcoming any kind of persecution are revealed also in the Book of Revelation.  Jesus said, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11, KJV).  The first key is to know and understand the covenant that is the basis of your salvation.  The Christian is blood bought and blood washed, and ultimately and eternally safeguarded by the resurrected Jesus.  The sacred and irrevocable covenant means that no matter how bad the persecution or pressure, the Lord will eventually turn things around.

Second, we must continue to speak faith-filled words of our personal testimony and the truths of God’s word no matter how difficult things are in life.  By sticking to the word, we are harnessing the power of life and death that is in the tongue of the believer (Proverbs 18:21), and not in the persecution of the evil one. By sticking to the word, we demonstrate that the most prominent influence in our heart is the truth, rather than the persecution we are facing, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

Finally, we must live as though we were dead, meaning dead to self, dead to self-interests, and dead to our propensity to want to direct our own lives while claiming that Jesus is Lord.  We may or may not face a literal life threat that so many of our brothers and sisters face daily around the world for their faith in Jesus, but we will be tempted to live our lives forgetting the sacrifice of Jesus and the example of service at the expense of self.  Given the condition of the world and the spiritual trajectory of our own nation, it’s never been more important for believers to overcome the persecution, live out their natural lives, and live them out for the purpose and glory of God.

The Dysfunctional Church

People today are looking for connection, and they will cross all kinds of boundaries and lines to find it.  They will hang out with people engaging in destructive behavior, or join groups, gangs, and criminal enterprises just to belong somewhere.  It’s interesting that no matter how dysfunctional the group, people will still join because of the connection they crave.

The Scripture says that, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6, NIV).  According to 1 Corinthians 12:18, KJV, “God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.” To set means to place, establish, arrange, or even ordain.  The Lord has a set and even ordained place and purpose for all of His people.  He determines the location for the believer as well as the function of the believer.  He has a set place and purpose for you too.

Every Christian needs to get and and get quickly the revelation that it is impossible, however, to bring hundreds of dysfunctional people together into the church and expect the church to be automatically highly functional.  We just can’t walk through the church door, and swoosh, instant function.  Why?  Because the curse from sin damaged everything in life, including our ability to relate, communicate, and belong.  But thanks be to God we have been redeemed from the curse so we can become functional in every social structure of our lives, including the church.

The first key to restoring function to the church is to be mindful of our own dysfunction.  People in the church, just like the rest of the world, struggle with a performance mentality, anger, drama, alienation, addiction, sexual looseness, pride, selfishness, trying to fix others, social backwardness, control, strife, jealousy and envy, pessimism, gossip, fear, deception, and many other types of dysfunction.  Our places of worship can never become functional unless we all become aware of our own dysfunctions.

Second, we need to be graceful to the dysfunction of others.  One thing I’ve observed over many years of ministry is that we want grace for our dysfunction and problems, and judgment for the dysfunctions of others.  The Bible says that the merciful are blessed.  The church is filled with people at varying levels of recovery from dysfunction.  Mercy empowers them to change, but condemnation helps to lock them into a pattern of destructive repetition.  We simply can’t reject others for their dysfunction without ignoring our own.

Finally, we must be faithful to the one who can heal the dysfunction.  The Lord longs to restore His people, but we must remain plugged in and under the means of grace or the place He has set us.  What many Christians do not realize, it’s the dysfunction, not the Holy Spirit, pushing you to leave your set place and faith family.  Many believers just do not stay set long enough to get healing from the dysfunction before that very dysfunction drives them from their set place and their restoration.

By being mindful and aware of our own dysfunction, gracious and merciful to the dysfunction of others, and by staying where the Lord puts us, we can expect the Lord to begin to bring healing to our dysfunction while he elevates the degree of function overall in our local church. The church is a hospital and not a showcase for perfection, so there should always be works in progress.  The key is to progress in dysfunction and help others to do the same.

Real Faith for Real Trouble

prison-barsMost Christians have a basic understanding of faith that includes the principle of justification by faith, and that by the grace of God.  A smaller number have learned that faith is a lifestyle and the prescribed way of living for the believer: “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).  It’s possible for a believer in the course of receiving teaching about the lifestyle of faith to come to the erroneous conclusion that if they simply had enough faith, no trouble would ever visit their life.  Unfortunately, the Scripture teaches just the opposite.  Jesus said boldly, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Mark chapter four states emphatically trouble comes because of the Word.  A balanced and accurate rendering of biblical faith must include the understanding that (1) faith attracts trouble into our lives, (2) faith sustains us in that trouble, (3) and faith delivers us from that trouble.  No, you are not a freak or an inferior Christian because you are going through a tough time.

The Bible is filled with stories of faithful servants who experienced trouble not due to a lack of faith, but because they were individuals of great faith demonstrating that faith through consecration to God and faithfulness.  Abel’s faith led to his demise at the hands of his own brother.  Daniel’s faith landed him in the lion’s den.  The three Hebrew boys were tossed into the fiery furnace because of their faith.  Joseph’s faith landed him in the pit.  David’s faith and the success it brought got him into trouble with the spear thrower known as King Saul.  While it’s true that our own behavior has often been the source of our trouble, it is also true that we can get into trouble for simply being faithful to God.

Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner core of prison and chained like violent criminals for bringing deliverance to a fortune-teller and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 16).  Imagine how you would respond if you were apprehended and jailed for doing nothing more than sharing your faith in Jesus Christ (foreign to American Christians but a very present realty around the world).  The amazing reaction and behavior of Paul and Silas in this story illustrate the proper way to handle the trouble that comes from being a person of faith.  When you find yourself in trouble because of your stand of faith, draw from their godly example.

First, make sure you maintain a good attitude in the midst of the situation.  It’s amazing we don’t see Paul and Silas whining, griping, or complaining over their situation.  In America today, Christians get put out if their latte is not made to their liking or if someone snatches their parking place at Wal-Mart.  The attitude is the best indicator of the present health of our faith and spiritual life.  I love the story of the little boy who visited his grandpa one afternoon.  As Grandpa fell asleep on the couch and the little boy thought it would be funny to smear Limburger cheese all over grandpa’s mustache. Later, when grandpa awoke, he couldn’t help but smell the cheese under his nose. Thinking the front room was the source of the smell, he headed into the kitchen to find the smell just as strong there.  Looking for relief from the stench, grandpa headed outside, took a whiff, and exclaimed, “the whole world stinks.”  Ironically, the smell was not coming from the front room, the kitchen, or the world, but from grandpa himself.  Our attitude is just like that – the source of a smelly attitude is never someone else.

Second, make sure you keep your song.  At midnight from deep within the prison walls, Paul and Silas began to pray and sing hymns.  It’s noteworthy that the other prisoners were listening to them because people around us are watching and listening as well to see how we will handle the adversity brought on by our faith.  The powerful praise and worship was followed by a prison shaking earthquake that caused all the prison doors to open.  We have to remember that the doors open after the praise and not before.  Don’t wait for the circumstances to change before you break out into song and praise.  Praise God in the midst of the trouble and watch His deliverance begin to flow.  It’ also noteworthy to mention that the deliverance of others (like the other prisoners) depends on our lifestyle of praise.

Third, regardless of the trouble and the setbacks you are facing, make sure you stay focused on your mission in the midst of the trouble.  Too often believers are oblivious to the needs around them because they are so dialed in to their own trouble.  Paul and Silas, despite their treatment, had the presence of mind to focus on the souls of the jailer and other prisoners.  Instead of killing himself in response to what looked like a jail break, the jailer found Jesus through the ministry of two men sensitive to the Holy Spirit despite the hardship they were experiencing.  How many ministry opportunities pass us by because we are consumed with our trouble, our challenges, and our hardships?  Let’s not teach the enemy he can shut down our ministry simply by stirring up a little trouble in our lives.  Choose to look for chance to bless others right there in the midst of your mess.

The Year of the Comeback

The Scripture says that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and destroy the abundant life that God has for every one of His children. (John 10:9-10). We have all been impacted at one time or another by the enemy’s devices and schemes aimed at compromising our life and destiny in God. If the devil cannot keep us from the new birth, he will do everything he can to stop us from making a significant contribution to the agenda of the Kingdom of God in the earth. In keeping with the enemy’s stated goals, many believers have found themselves wandering through this past year in a maze and fog of confusion, uncertainly, and defeat. This is exactly where the enemy would like to keep God’s precious ones throughout the new year but the Lord has news for the enemy – 2012 is the year of the comeback! This is the year when what has been stolen, killed, or destroyed will come back into our lives – better than ever before.

This is the year when God’s people discover what it means to return to their former rank, place, and position in Christ through the triumph and recovery that comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we need to get excited like never before because the Lord has plans to fulfill Jeremiah 29:11 right in front of our eyes. The bottom line is that things will begin to come back to us in force this year. People will come back from defeat. People will come back from ill-health. People will come back to their senses like the Prodigal. People will come back from financial ruin and hurt. People will come back into our lives. Dreams will come back into our hearts. Ministries will come back better and stronger from spiritual attack. Passion will come back to the hearts of God’s people. People will come back from bondage. People will be quick to come back to the devil with sharp and powerful words from their mouths. People will come back into position in the body Christ and do the things they are assigned and called to do. Finally, people will come back to the primary mandate from God for their lives. That is, they will finally come to terms with the last prominent command left undone in their lives and then fulfill it.

It is important to remember as we head into the new year that this is not about our resolutions, but the resolution of our God to cause comebacks in all of our lives. We can expect three important areas of help from the Lord to make the comeback a reality. First, there is a special call from the Lord for the come back that we need to have ears to perceive, treasure in our hearts, and then expect. Second, there is a special grace from the Lord for the comeback in our lives. This literally means that the Lord is going to make available his power and favor to bring the comeback in our lives to pass. Finally, there is a special incentive from the Lord for the comeback. The Lord will make plain what He will be doing in our lives, providing the power to do it, and giving us a very good reason, the blessing, to press in to see the comeback become a reality in our lives.

You might be saying to yourself that you are too far gone for a comeback – too far down in the pit – too long on the mat down for the count to experience a comeback. The truth, however, is that if you are down and out there is only one direction you can go and that is up! The Holy Spirit is saying in this time that the comebacks will be so outstanding that they will catch the attention of the unbelievers who will want to know if God would do that kind of thing for them. All of us, the comeback kids of 2012, will be there to assure them that if they turn to the Lord He will make a comeback kid out of them too. Make up your mind to experience the power of God’s extreme restoration this year and press in to see a comeback in every area of your life that may have been marginalized or compromised in years gone by. This is your year as a believer to rise above the pain and disappointment of the past and get on with the divine destiny God has for your life. This is a year like no other in your life – the year of the comeback!

You’re Not Alone

I can’t even imagine the pressure the young prophet Jeremiah faced as he stood before the Lord to receive a holy mandate and call to deliver a message the people of God would not want to hear. The Lord told him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:7-8, NIV). Jeremiah must have felt alone and isolated as he contemplated the Word of the Lord and the consequences if the people of God would not repent or if they retaliated against him for the message.

Perhaps you have embarked on a journey that seems intimidating, or you are standing on a promise in God’s Word and it seems like nothing is happening. Be encouraged by the words spoken by the Lord to Jeremiah when he felt alone, isolated, or doubtful: “…for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:12, NIV). It is easy to forget that serving the Lord is an operation of grace and faith and that we do not do what we do by ourselves. We truly are not alone. The Lord is involved in our standing, our serving, and our believing and ultimately it is His Word and integrity on the line and so He is engaged in our lives to bring that Word to pass.

Consider today several ways that the Lord watches over His Word to bring it to pass in our lives:

1.  The Lord monitors the overall progress of the Word in our lives in general – so we should know that we are not out there all by ourselves – He is with us every step of the way.

2.  The Lord establishes a set time for manifestation – so we can be at rest knowing that the Word will ultimately manifest in our lives in due season.

3. The Lord rebukes the enemy protecting and preserving us while we remain faithful and wait on Him – so we can know and trust that the Lord is our rescuer as well.

4.  The Lord moves behind the scenes to put things together for the fulfillment of His Word – so we don’t have to see anything happening to know that God is on the job.

5. The Lord guides and directs us in the direction of the fulfillment of the Word of God – so we can be certain we will arrive at our destination in the end.

6. The Lord brings conviction to our hearts when our thoughts, words, or actions run contrary to what He has declared in His Word – so we can know that our imperfection will not stop His plan.

7. The Lord exposes us to ministry, messages, and revelation to undergird and strengthen our faith and confidence while we wait for the manifestation – so we can expect a word just in time to keep us strong in expectation when we begin to waver.

No matter what is going on right now in your life or what you are facing, remember that as with Jeremiah, the Lord is watching to see that the plans and purposes of the Lord for your life are accomplished. Resist the temptation to believe that you are out there on your own and it’s entirely up to you to make things happen. More often than not we make things worse when we fail to discern the presence and influence of God in our daily lives. Truly, you’re not alone.

Faith for Miracles

It is quite faith building and encouraging to know and understand that there is no heavenly timer on miracles. There is no day that miracles just ceased in the earth because the miraculous power of God is a reflection of His very nature and heart and not just a tool for proving divinity. There is no “day” of miracles, but there is a God of miracles, and He is very much alive and active in the earth today.

Galatians 3:3-5 teaches us that we receive the Spirit and see miracles among us because of faith. Romans 5:2 says plainly that we access the favor of God through faith. Hebrews 11:6 declares that anyone coming to the Lord must believe that He is (that He exists) and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. Further, it is clear from Mark 6:5 and Matthew 13:58 that the presence of or lack of faith is ultimately the determining factor whether the miraculous power of God is released in our midst or not.

In dealing with the spirit of familiarity, contempt, and offense in his hometown, Jesus did not say that he was lacking supernatural power to get the job done. He did not say that the day of miracles was over or that it simply was not God’s will to do miracles. He did say that the thing stopping up the flow of miraculous power was their lack of faith. Because of this plain Biblical truth, we need to learn to stir up our precious and holy faith if we want to see more of God’s power at work among us. Again, this is not about proposing some formula for miracles, but providing a faith-filled and expectant atmosphere where miracles are more likely to happen. Our job is to charge the air with faith and dispel any doubt, fear, and unbelief from the environment. From the story of the paralytic brought to Jesus for spiritual restoration and physical healing in Mark, I want to share about the kind of faith that receives a miracle.

First, the faith that receives a miracle is a UNIFIED faith. The men who carried the paralytic had to be in one mind and one heart to get the job done. To be unified means to become a single unit. The paralytic together with each of these individuals had to be in agreement about what they were doing and why. Psalm 133 powerfully points out the impact of unity among the people of God. When we are in unity the anointing of God (God on flesh doing what flesh can’t do), fruitfulness, the blessing, and life are the results. So, get into agreement with other believers!

Second, the faith that receives a miracle is a TENACIOUS faith. These men faced many obstacles along the way including the journey to get to the house where Jesus was ministering. When they arrived there was no way to get into the house so, undaunted, the men went up to the roof carrying the paralytic, ripped open the roof and lowered the man into the presence of Jesus. A tenacious faith is a persistent, stubborn and obstinate faith that absolutely refuses to be denied and that no set back or challenge can quench. There will always be obstacles to receiving but we must continue busting through every barrier until we reach destination miracle. So, do not give up no matter what you face!

Finally, the faith that receives a miracle is a VISIBLE faith. James 2:18 indicates that faith should be so real and obvious that it is something shown through corresponding actions. To be visible means that it can be seen, that it is perceptible to the eye, apparent, obvious, and conspicuous. When faith is fully released it is observable. That’s why the Bible says in Mark 2 that Jesus literally saw their faith. This is nothing unique to this story. The Bible is filled with examples where the faith of individuals spilled over into visible action. Blind Bartimaeus, filled with faith, threw is cloak aside, went to Jesus, and his sight was restored (Mark 10:50). The man with the withered hand stretched out his hand and was healed (Luke 6:10). The lepers went to show themselves to the priests and were healed along the way (Luke 17:14). The woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was made whole (Mark 5:27-18). So, step out boldly and act on your faith!

Remember that our God is great and He does miracles. Remember also that He responds to the confidence, trust, and faith we place in Him. Make up your mind today to walk in a unified, tenacious, and visible faith and expect the Lord to move in your situation. For our God performs miracles and displays His power among the peoples (Psalm 77:14).

Unfazed

“But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great distress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear] (2 Timothy 3:1, AMP). “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed…There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation” (2 Timothy 3:14, MES).

It’s no secret that challenging times are upon us socially, politically, economically, and spiritually. During seasons like these it’s tempting to try to discover some new secret for getting through tough times. But the Apostle Paul warned his spiritual son Timothy that the key to overcoming the distress that would come in the last days is what he had already received from the Lord. He told him to continue in the things that he had learned. That was good advice then and it’s good advice now.

Jesus shared this powerful and life changing truth with some unsuspecting Jews (John 8). As a result of his preaching and teaching, the Bible says that “many put their faith in him” (v. 30). But Jesus made it clear very quickly that believing was not enough to experience the freedom that is available in the Lord. He taught them that they needed to go beyond belief to actually holding to or continuing in his teachings. This would be the key to being a disciple and the disciple is the one given revelation of the Word and that revelation is the key to our freedom. “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (v. 32). They quite naturally bristled at the assertion that descendants of Abraham were ever in bondage to anyone (even though one could probably hear the Roman occupation forces not too far away). Jesus told them that sin made them slaves but, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (v. 36). Jesus was and is offering the opportunity for those that believe, continue in the Word, walk as a disciple, receive revelation and act on it to be just as free as he is free!

The key, therefore, to not being fazed in this tumultuous day is to continue in the things we have learned. 2 Timothy 3:1 from the Message says, “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed.” Just like the world, many believers will be unnecessarily fazed meaning “to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted,” not because the times are impossible to bear, but because they allow the circumstances and challenges to push them off the valuable Word they have learned, known, and walked in before the storm came. 2 Timothy 3:1 from the Amplified says that the times are “hard to deal with and hard to bear” but not impossible to deal with or bear.

In the midst of the hard times we can choose to be fazed or we can choose to continue in the things we have learned and that which has brought us this far. Jerry Savelle, one of the most balanced and clearest communicators of the lifestyle of faith I know, shared several principles for continuing unfazed in the midst of tough times. I hope they encourage your heart today.

  1. Stay focused on what God says. During challenging times its easy to start paying more attention to the problem and the many voices of compromise. The difference between success and failure at a time like this is what you pay attention to the most. This is a time to zero in on the Word of God like never before.
  2. Stay in faith. We need to continue actively applying our faith to the situation. Often and sometimes with little notice, we tend to back off from an active and aggressive stand on the Word as it pertains to our situation. We become passive believers and kind of just sit back to see what happens. Keep your faith fresh and your believing active by expecting God’s promise to manifest today.
  3. Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is willing to guide us even in the small details of our lives if we will listen. During tough times it becomes even more important that we are not pushed around by our emotions are pushed off the Word of God because of fear, disappointment, or frustration, but directed by the calming voice of the Spirit of God.
  4. Stay aggressive in your sowing. We need to remember that the blessing is on the tither and the key to our harvest in our life is our giving. One of the first things to go when we are under the gun emotionally or financially is our giving, but we need to remember that when we stop giving we cut ourselves off from God’s supernatural power (Malachi 3) at a time when we need that power the most.
  5. Stay consistent in your confession. There’s just something in all of us that compels us to just want to tell others how bad  things are going. We need to keep our mouths on the Word of God especially in adversity. We do well for a while and then another wave of setbacks or hardship comes our way and we stop talking the Word and start speaking the problem. Consistency is the key to victory in every spiritual battle. Make up your mind that you are going to speak the Word over your situation no matter what you feel, see, or hear.


How Big Is Your Want To?

“I can do everything through Christ (the anointed one and his anointing) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT). “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23, NIV).

The Bible is very plain when it comes to stating the potential of the believer for victory and to accomplish great things in life. The Apostle Paul boldly stated that all things or everything can be accomplished through the anointing made available to the believer through the grace of the anointed one, Jesus Christ. The message of Jesus in Mark 9 is emphatic – everything is within the realm of possibility for the one who truly believes. The word “possible” means that something is capable of happening, existing, or being true. The Greek indicates the concept of being strong, mighty, powerful, and able to do. This means that we can do it in Jesus’ name.

But possibility in life is tempered by a very significant variable, the variable of desire. Wrong desires lead us off the path of God and hinder the possibilities in our lives (James 1:13-14). Right desires lead us down the path of God and empower us to stay focused long enough to see the possibility become a reality. The Scriptures teaches us, “…what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye have them and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24, KJV). Desire is an intense longing or craving for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment. The word “desire” in Mark 11:24 is accurately translated to mean to pray with earnest desire, craving, and longing rather than the dead fish mumbling prayer so often heard in Christian circles. The fact is that as believers we fail to receive God’s best not because it is not God’s will or because some things are not possible, but because we lack the sustained, intense biblical desire to obtain the promise or the breakthrough.

I heard a story once about a man who was the town drunk. Each night he would leave his loving wife at home and head to the local tavern to get drunk. Each night at closing time he would walk home taking a short cut through the cemetery. One night as he was cutting through the graveyard, he fell headlong into an open grave recently dug for a funeral the next day. When he came to his senses he hollered, screamed, and cried for help into the darkness but there was no one around to help. He clawed, scratched, and climbed up the dirt walls of the grave only to slip back down over and over again. Exhausted from the experience sat down in the corner of the grave and resigned himself to the fact that he was not going to get out of his predicament, at least not until the next day. Then from the dark recesses of the grave he heard an eery voice cry out, “you’ll never get out of here.” Well…he did. Suddenly his failure was replaced by an amazing desire or “want to” and he got out of the pit.

The question today is how big is our want to? How badly do we want off drugs, or to make a difference, or to reach our potential, or to get that job, or to live right, or to be healed, or to lose weight (moving right along), or to finish that degree, or to have a great marriage, or get out of debt, or to change our life? If we want to make a change we can make a change but we must learn to develop a serious want to. The level of our desire or want to ultimately determines our outcome in life. If we have no desire we will see no results. A low desire will produce a few results. A medium desire will yield some results. A great or high level of desire will produce many results. It’s all a matter of our want to.

In today’s blog I want to encourage you to live with a big want to in your life. The Scripture says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, NIV). This means that the Lord will deposit right desires in your life as well as bring those desires to pass. Here are five principles for living with a big want to:

  1. Immerse yourself in the Word (Proverbs 3:15). The more time you spend in the Word of God the more your desire will grow and the more you will think you can do it. As human beings we begin to attract the things we give our attention to in life. The more time you spend in the Word the more you will desire and attract the things of God into your life.
  2. Hang around successful people (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). I remember hearing about a millionaire entrepreneur and writer asking another successful businessman how he managed to earn billions. The individual simply told the man, “you hang around with millionaires but I started to hang around billionaires.” The truth is we become like the people we hang around the most.
  3. Quit the habit of quitting (James 5:10, MES). I love the way the Message renders this verse. It says, “They [the prophets] put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.” The habit of quitting indicates a very small want to so if you’re going to quit something this week, quit the habit of quitting.
  4. Put God’s desires and will first (Psalm 40:18, NIV). It’s amazing how big your want to grows when you have the confidence that you are pursuing the perfect will of God for your life. Faith begins where the will of God is known and great desire always follows the heart that is confident of the Lord’s will and direction.
  5. Ignore the voice of negativity (Numbers 13:32, CSB). There will always be people hanging around that delight in discouraging dreamers from pursuing the desires of their hearts. It is vital that you learn to tune out the naysayer and focus instead on the promise of God and voices that are edifying and encouraging. It’s amazing how just one negative comment can cancel out a boat load of encouragement. Learn to identify when the enemy is trying to use negativity to squash your desire and reject it.

To become a Green Beret in the United States Army Special Forces a soldier must stand out as exemplary and then be selected to attend the brutal two week (now three week) assessment school. At the end of the process the sleep-deprived soldiers are required to complete a twenty mile march in the middle of the night carrying their weapons and their sixty-five pound packs strapped to their backs. Completing the trek is no guarantee of acceptance into the training phase of the program but most certainly disqualifies any solder failing to complete it. Soldiers who have gone on to be selected, trained, and bestowed the coveted status and head gear say it all comes down to desire. I wonder what would happen if we wanted what God wants for us with that level of desire?

So…how big is your want to?