Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Knowing that God is Good.

“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)
True strength and confidence comes from knowing who God really is. As we said yesterday: when you know that God is not the author of tragedies, suffering and pain, it will enable you to trust Him. Knowing that God is not the author or origin of our troubles will deepen our relationship with Him. We can trust Him because He is good.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
Psalm 34:8 NKJV
God doesn’t just do good – He is good. You cannot take good out of God and be left with God. The essence of who God is, is good. In other words, whatever God does is only ever good. Knowing this brings us a confidence and makes us strong! Tasting and seeing are both tangible experiences. It’s not enough to know about a great buffet restaurant: I want to know it for myself, and that means seeing it and tasting the food for myself! God’s goodness isn’t some mystical concept that we can only know intellectually, it is a tangible reality that we can experience.

The Lord is good means that the Lord is equal to good – when you experience God, you will experience good. Every time you encounter God or engage with Him, you will experience good. You can never encounter God and not encounter good. But sadly, because many people see God has harsh, judgmental and angry, they do not have a healthy relationship with him. Their wrong view of God prevents them from experiencing who He really is: good!

Moses asked God if he could see His glory (Exodus 33:18). God responded by saying that He would make all of His goodness pass before Moses and He would proclaim His Name (who He is).

“And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
Exodus 33:19 ESV
Moses asked God if he could see His glory and God responded by saying that He would show him His goodness - part of God’s glory is His goodness.  God proclaimed that when you see or experience Him, you see and experience good. Then God proclaimed who He is: gracious and merciful.

If we know God’s true nature, that He is good and only good, then it will give us a deep sense of security because we know what to expect: good. This makes us strong and will enable us to be confident in our relationship with Him and cause us to both expect good things from Him and do great things with Him. When you have the root of knowing and being confident in His goodness, you will have the fruit of strength, great expectations (faith)  and doing great things with Him.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God is not causing your suffering.

“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)
Doing great exploits comes from being strong, confident and secure, and this is the fruit (or result) of knowing God’s true nature. Many people know about God, and they think that they know Him - but they don’t know Him for who He really is. You can know about someone without knowing their heart. Sadly, many Christians know about God and think that they know God’s heart, but they are misinformed about God’s true nature.

For example, many Christians get angry with God when things don’t turn out the way they hoped or expected them to. If we find that we’re angry with God, it reveals that we don’t know God’s true nature or how He does things. Jesus, who is our example, was never angry with God. We are never justified in being angry with God. Now, God won’t fall off of His throne if you’re angry with Him, and He will only ever deal with you in love and grace, but your anger towards God will negatively affect you and cause negative fruit in your life.

Often people get angry with God because they don’t understand why He didn’t do something they expected Him to do – if God is so good, why does He allow bad things to happen? This is why it is so important that we know who God really is and how He operates. If you believe that God is causing pain and suffering in our lives for some greater purpose, then you can’t be secure is God or expectant of anything specific because you’ll never know what God is going to do because you cannot put God in a box! The truth is that we can put God in a box – we can expect Him to be a certain way and do certain things. The Bible reveals that He is good (Psalm 100:5; 136:1) and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God will never do something out of character. When we know His true character, we can know what to expect.

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
-Jesus (John 10:10 AMP)
This is good, simple theology: if it’s good it’s God, if it’s bad it’s the devil. God isn’t the one causing destruction and suffering in your life. (And if you’re wondering about Job or Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, please request my teachings on those issues – there are answers!)

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
Acts 10:38 KJV
Sickness and oppression is never (ever) from God. It is a work of the devil. God anointed (empowered) Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus never refused to heal anyone and He never put sickness on anyone, because that is not what God does. God heals people, He doesn’t make them sick. Jesus said that He only does what He sees His Father do (John 5:19).
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 KJV
We are to submit to God and we are to resist the devil. If sickness and suffering is sometimes from God and sometimes from the devil, or sometimes from God through the devil, then when do you submit and when do you resist? How do you know when to submit and when to resist? If Jesus is always the same, then you can expect Him never to give you sickness or suffering. The devil and his works are to be resisted (actively fought against). If we submit to the devil and his works, we empower them in our lives.

It’s not God’s fault when things go wrong. The devil is the one seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). God has given us authority over all the power of the devil (Luke 10:19) so that we can resist him and see him flee (run in terror). If we do not resist, he will not flee. If you believe that your pain and suffering is from God, then you are submitting to the problem (the devil) and allowing your problem to stay or get worse. God is not in control of the problem and whether it stays or goes – you have the authority to accept it or resist it.

When we know God and His will, we can be confident in what to expect. When we realize that God is good and is not the author of our suffering, it causes us to be bold in our fight against the devil, and we can be confident in expecting good things from God.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Supernatural Faith

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Many people feel that they cannot come to God boldly and that they cannot expect to receive good things from Him. This is because they are relating to God based on their performance - and they know that their performance isn’t good enough. You will never have boldness to come to God while you are basing His acceptance and His blessing of you on your performance – you’ll never be good enough. If your boldness in approaching God isn’t based on His grace, then your boldness is actually arrogance. If you think that you deserve God’s acceptance and blessing for any reason, think again. You don’t. The only reason we can be bold in our relationship with God and expect to receive good things from Him is because of His grace (undeserved favour) through Jesus and what He did for us.

When we know God for who He really is, we will be bold and confident in our walk with Him. Our relationship with God will only ever be as good as our understanding of His grace. Many people see God as sitting on a throne of judgement (where you receive what you deserve), but He’s actually sitting on a throne of grace (where you get what you don’t deserve). You can enjoy a free-flowing relationship with God knowing that He’s always dealing with you in grace.

Relating to God based on His grace and not our performance releases supernatural faith in our lives. As we focus on Jesus and what He’s done for us, faith rises in us (Hebrews 12:2). It’s difficult to believe God and His Word when you’re focused on your performance, your failings and your efforts. You will always be trying to evaluate yourself and wondering if you are doing well enough. But when you realize that it’s all about His goodness towards you - independent of your performance - it becomes easy to receive from Him.  We cannot receive mercy or grace to help us unless we are relying on His grace and not our performance.
“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)

When we know God, it helps us to be strong and secure. We start to see faith working in our lives, and that enables us to do great things with God.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Key To Endurance And Success

If you want to hit something, you have to aim for it - and to aim at it, you have to focus on it. Seldom will you hit something without having been intentional. Focus is a key ingredient for success. If you’re focused in too many directions, your strength will be defused and you will not be as successful as you could be. This is how it is with the Christian life, too.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) - Emphasis mine
The first thing which I want to mention from this verse is that we run with patience the race that is set before us. You don’t get to choose your race – the direction you’re going in. God created you on purpose and for a purpose, and that purpose is what will bring you most satisfaction and joy.  You’ll never be complete without knowing and walking in that purpose. (Watch my Discover your Destiny series on YouTube! It’s a six-part series – here is part 1)

The next thing which we need to realize is that this race is a marathon, and not a sprint! We’re encouraged to run with patience (some translations say endurance), which means that you won’t finish your race overnight. In our microwave-culture we expect things to happen yesterday. We even get impatient when reheating something in the microwave – a few seconds isn’t quick enough for a lot of us. Time is a true test of faith because it checks to see if you still believe what you said you believe even though you haven’t seen it yet. I like this definition of patience: faith over a prolonged period of time.

I’m thankful that we aren’t just told to run a race but we’re told how to run, too. You run your race looking unto Jesus. Jesus is the origin of your faith (it is born out of relationship with Him) and it is perfected and strengthened in Him. You will never be strong in faith without focusing on Jesus, and you will never fulfil your destiny and calling without strong faith. God set it up so that it would be effortless. You do not need to manufacture the energy and power (faith) necessary to fulfil your purpose – rather it is a natural by-product of relationship with Jesus. It really is that simple. The problem is that many people aren’t focused on who Jesus really is.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 (KJV)
Jesus is the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. He is the glory of God full of grace and truth. Jesus is full of grace (undeserved, unmerited, unearned favour) and truth. Many people seem to think that truth is the Ten Commandments (the law), but that isn’t true. This is clear in the next few verses:

“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 1:16-17 (KJV)
The fullness of Jesus is grace, and from Jesus we receive grace, and more grace. We never receive the burden of the law and the guilt, shame and condemnation that it brings with it.  The law was given by Moses, not Jesus. Grace and truth came by Jesus. This shows us that truth and grace are on the same side, but law is an opposite. This is powerful! You can never know God properly through the law and you will never have the faith you need to run your race as long as you are trying to relate to God according to the law, your efforts and performance.

Focusing on Jesus is about focusing on who He is and what He has done for us; it’s about His unconditional love and grace, and the finished work for us. When we are not focused on Jesus and who He really is, we will not have the strength and wisdom to run correctly and will not finish our course. When we are focused on Jesus, it strengthens us in faith (and brings a confidence in us) and empowers us (makes us strong) to run with patience. The only way to run your race successfully is from relationship with God – a relationship in which you are relating to Him based on what He has done (grace) and not what you do (performance).