Tag Archives: believe and receive

Space invaders

turquoise-turbulence-bruarfoss-fludir-icelandA smirky non-Christian remarked that praying for money seemed at odds with the gospels. If you’re only greedy, I tend to agree. But when you are desperately trying to make rent for your church building, it’s spot on.

After being chased off by hostile Philistines, Isaac and crew find a place Rehoboth, which means “spacious place.” (Gen. 26:22)

wide_open_2_900If you’re having troubles, keep moving forward because God is going to bring you to a spacious place. After months (or years) of struggling to make ends meet, God promises to bring you to a spaciousness in your monthly budget. Hallelujah! Victory over the bills!

186266134558462105_VS4BPBFJ_cIn Guatemala, we worked 15 hour days during Easter Week hawking food to the crowds in the “processions,” marches which escort Catholic statues through the streets. At the end of ardor, we would count up to $300, just a fraction of our mortgage.

Do your best, and God will provide the rest,  I taught. So we labored. And we prayed. And month after month, God miraculously brought in the mortgage money.

Maybe you can relate to Isaac. Look for your Rehoboth. Long and pray for spaciousness.

Don’t expect the expected

No joke! This is what it’s like.

For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).

I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.

It wasn’t new, and it didn’t come wrapped up like this.

I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.

But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.

From the least expected place. God brought water — out of a rock.

When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.

The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!

Leftovers!

You’ll like these leftovers! They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over — Luke 9:17 NIV.

The most overlooked detail is the leftovers. Five thousand men were fed with only five loaves and two fish. But don’t miss the detail that they wound up with more at the end of the meal than what they started with. In mathematics: 12 baskets > 5 loaves + 2 fish.

That’s God’s provision — more than enough. He gives you for the journey afterward. We marvel at the 5,000 fed; we tend to miss to cache of grub to be stored away in the refrigerator.

When you pray for finances today for your ministry, pray for enough for your needs and then some leftovers for future needs! That’s the kind of God we serve!

Believe a little more

Release your faith!

This is the only human part.

If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us, says the father of a boy tormented by a demon.

‘If you can’? replies Jesus. Everything is possible for him who believes.

To this light rebuke for lack of faith, the father quickly and wisely reacts: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Mark 9:22-24 (NIV and paraphrase).

Pursue faith

The man is teetering on the brink of success or failure, healing or continued sickness. The great challenge for him — his only participation in the arrangement since God is going to do all the rest — is to believe just a little bit more.

We have little to do as Christians. We do nothing but accept Jesus to be saved; we don’t earn it by good works. We do nothing but pray to receive miracles. We don’t earn them.

Just a drop more of faith

Virtually our only effort is to muster faith, to stir ourselves up to belief, to convince ourselves that God’s word is right and our reality is wrong. More faith.

This is the only human part. Because the other part — the actual performing of the miracle — that’s God part. Can I believe just a little bit more today?

… or you can use your machete.

 

You can find an easier way of doing things…

When we moved into the big, colonial building just off Guatemala City‘s main square, we had to remove a 70+ year-old tree with a termite-hollowed trunk. If not, tons of branches would one day fall on the kids in the school.

City workers took down most but left the stump and roots. We didn’t even have a chain saw, so we got to work with machetes, an axe and a pick. It took us church members two months of 12-hour days to chop, dig, pry, whittle, pull and otherwise extract it. The patio now has a nice fountain and garden in its place.

Pastor Ludving hams it up when the biggest piece of stump was removed. Thanks Tino, Mario and Banner for all the hard work!

As a gringo, I may not have the best machete technique, but it seemed like a fun, macho-man thing to do, at least at first. The sweat dripped after only minutes of whacking. Some of the men went through blistered into bloodied hands from the work. I was too much of a wimp to bloody my hands.

Boo-hoo! There has to be an easier, more efficient way!

There was. It’s called power tools. But as I said before, we didn’t have any power tools.

Now, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, you have at your disposal power tools. It’s called prayer. It’s a power tool because it’s God’s power at work for you. But some people like doing all the work themselves, so they don’t pray.

 

 

Estate planner: Give it away

As an estate planner formerly, my pastor would counsel people how to handle their retirement money: Give it all to your children now, before you die, because if you wait, the government is going to get a bunch of it.

As much as people didn’t want Uncle Sam to gobble his unfair share, they would always balk. They want to make sure they have enough in case they get sick. Or whatever. Inevitably, the IRS trundles away with the kids’ inheritance.

There is a lesson for us Christians: don’t hold back on giving to God. Only what you give is credited to your account in Heaven. Don’t wait for another day, a better offer, a wider safety margin. Because the devil is going for his oversized slice of the pie. Give it recklessly (that is, with faith). Throw caution to the wind and your money to the offering plate. God is able to keep you from the rainy day for which you are saving.

Your words = your reality

Biblical authors rightly reasoned, inspired by the Spirit, that if a person’s negative words could convert into reality, a positive confession would also.

The first instance of confession-prophecy was when the Israelites complained to Moses that God had brought them out of Egypt only to die and not inherit the Promise Land. God responded: So be it; your negative confession shall be a prophecy.

As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me — Numbers 14:28-29 NIV.

But the principle works both ways. If negative words could lead to bad, positive words would also be honored by God. So in Jesus’ time, if you confessed faith in Jesus, He healed you. The proverbist said: Death and life are in the power of the tongue — Prov. 18:21 KJV.

When you pray today, make a positive confession.

Miracle-seeking missiles

Testimony time is exciting because it reminds us of God’s great power. The trouble is when these miracles are only in the distant past. Church become boring.

If you’re facing potential devastation right now, you are in line to receive a miracle today! Praise God for your problem, however big it may be, because it is only a prelude to His power.

We ought to seek miracles! They manifest God’s glory. They shut up the atheist. They’re undeniable. God wants to do miracles. But we must reinvigorate our faith to seek them — just like heat-seeking missiles.

There’s an advocacy of this: The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me – John 10:25 NIV. The best apologetics don’t compare to a brush with the Supernatural God. Hunger for miracles. Don’t fear problems because God is only setting up a miracle opportunity that will make your ministry grow!

Fury from Heaven

When a tornado touches down on terra, it’s power is microbial compared to the fury from Heaven when you simply pray.

From struggling to stubborn faith

The disciples tried but could not dislodge the demon. The epileptic’s father is unsure if Jesus, who just descended the mount, will be able where others failed. Wavering, he addresses the Lord: “IF you can do anything…”

This struggling faith does not sit particularly well with Jesus, who chides him. The man quickly realizes his mistake and musters faith: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — Mark 9:24 NIV.

Struggling faith always comes up short. Stubborn faith is an unmoved confidence that God will perform His promises. Struggling faith is somewhat convinced that God MAY do something. Stubborn faith “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” — Heb. 11:1 NIV.

Struggling faith almost never gets a miracle. Stubborn faith impresses God so much that He is pleased: “Great is your faith!”

Most of us struggle to have more faith. We need the same sincerity of this man: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Trying is doing, putting effort is achieving. Jesus was pleased with this man’s attempt to shore up his struggling faith.

Centurion of the century

For Jesus, it was faith. But for the Roman centurion, it was simply an understanding of authority. Two different perspectives. Two sides of the equation. One desired result.

For I myself am a man under AUTHORITY, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great FAITH.– Matt. 8:9-10 NIV

Impress Jesus with your prayers today. But don’t worry about an alchemic formula to conjure faith. Just meditate on authority. Imagine yourself in the Army. After all, you ARE in God’s Army. When orders are given, they must be executed. If not, there’s always a sanction, even to the extreme of a court-martial.

When we pray, we are asking God to give the order. He’s the Supreme Commander of the entire universe. Everything must obey his whim. Once he gives the order, it is done. Pray for Him to give the order.

Jesus was impressed. The centurion’s paralyzed servant was healed.

Surprise!

I make plans for God. I pray for Him to do what I want, when I want. Then He does something totally different, and it’s always much better. It’s a miracle that I could not imagine. This pattern is Biblical: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV

Go ahead and pray for the good things you want. But be prepared to wait for His timing. Be prepared for His answer, which may be very different — and inevitably better — than what you hoped for. We are praying to a God who surprises us. He pulls the most amazing things out of His hat.

Surprise me today, God. I bring before you my desperate needs. Don’t give me the answer I want. Give me the surprise You have for me. God´s surprise makes being a Christian a lot of fun! I imagine God our Father being very much like a loving earthly father, who is thrilled to see his son/daughter delighted by a surprise gift.

Battle of Leyte

When the small task force in charge of protecting Gen. MacArthur‘s rearguard found itself surprised by the Japanese Center Force in Leyte Gulf on Oct. 23, 1944, they didn’t expect to win. Twenty-seven Japanese warships — including the largest battleship ever made, the fearsome Yamato – bore down on Taffy 3 U.S. Task Force to blast landed U.S. troop like sitting ducks.

The U.S., who didn’t expect the enemy to appear on the horizon, left land forces protected only by planes with depth charges and destroyers so light they were called “tin cans.”

Gen. MacArthur upon landing in Leyte

First they set up smoke screens to mask the retreat of U.S. aircraft carriers. While these light destroyers were doing this, Capt. Evans of the U.S.S. Johnston, without orders, broke ranks and charged the approaching ships on a torpedo run. Other ships watched incredulous what would surely be a suicide mission.

But the Johnston miraculously wasn’t hit as 27 Japanese ships trained their guns on it. It sailed to within five miles, fired its torpedoes, and scored a hit on enemy forces. Seeing this, other U.S. destroyers became brave to enter the fray. When the battle was over, the vastly superior

A forgotten hero, Capt. Evans

Japanese fleet retreated, American troops were safe, and history was written. The “greatest mismatch of naval history” was won by the underdogs.

Does this describe your church? You’re attacking futilely an enemy so large and fierce. You feel outgunned, outmanned, and outsmarted. You’re out-financed. You have practically no finances. Well, certainly not enough finances. But you have one potent weapon: daring.

You dare to continue serving the Lord. Finances are down to a trickle. Make a prayer run to torpedo the enemy and save the day!

Rubble rousers

Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace! — Neh. 2:17 New Living Translation

Maybe you can relate to Nehemiah. He had the insurmountable challenge of rebuilding Jerusalem´s wall — with no money.

No cranes. No engineers. No bulldozers. No blueprints. No workers. NO RESOURCES.

All he had was a bunch of rocks, stones strewn everywhere, the tragic remains of Nebachadnezzar´s siege nearly 100 years earlier.The graceful wall of defense, once a wonder of ancient architecture, lay broken, a demolition job that embarrassed Jerusalemites.  Not only did it remind them of past failures, it was present day eyesore and heartsore for the once proud inhabitants. Thieves and enemies could penetrate and wreak havoc in the city at will.

All Nehemiah had was will power.

So he prayed. And God did the impossible in response. Jerusalems´s men let their hearts be stirred and their hands set to action. They erected the wall in record time and restored dignity to the city.

The project before you is impossibly big. You yearn to extend the kingdom of God, but “financial realiteis” tell you to scale back your dreams. Instead, ramp up those dreams in prayer. If Nehemiah´s task was daunting, his testimony should encourage you. Let God do the same in your life that He did in Nehemiah´s. Be a rubble raiser!