Keys To Great Faith

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Matthew 8:10 NKJV)

There is only two people in the Bible that Jesus mentions as having great faith. One is the centurion from Capernaum, who Jesus is referring to in the verse above; and the other one is the Canaanite woman whose story can be found in Matthew 15:21-28.

So what is it that makes these two’s faith stand out from the rest? What is it that makes their faith so great? One is a man, the other is a woman. One is a person of authority, the other is a homemaker. One is from Capernaum, the other is from Canaan. There is only two things, similarities, that I can find that distinguish their faith from all the others.

1) They weren’t law focused, but they were Jesus focused.

This point I heard Joseph Prince, Senior Pastor of New Creation Church and founder of Joseph Prince Ministries, mention in an interview he had on the “Praise the Lord” program on TBN, Trinity Broadcast Network. Both of them were Gentiles. They did not know anything about the law, customs, or rituals of the Jews. In other words, they weren’t caught up in what people said, but they were only concerned with what Jesus said. So many times today we’re worried about what other people say, their opinions and ideas. We’re worried about all the do’s and dont’s, all the behavior modification; that we lose focus of Jesus. The author of Hebrews tells us to throw off all of that stuff and to fix our eyes on Jesus (See Hebrews 12:1-2). When we focus on the law, we hinder the abundance of grace which prevents us from reigning in life (See Romans 5:17). So turn your focus on Jesus that your faith may arise, grace may abound to you, and you will begin to reign in life.

2) They didn’t limit Jesus to foolish criteria.

Both times Jesus expected to have to do something in order for them to have faith enough for their miracle. Jesus expected that He would have to go to the centurion’s house in order to heal his servant. But the centurion only needed Jesus to say the word. Jesus expected that He would have to give the whole thing to the Canaanite woman in order to heal her daughter. But she only needed a piece of the power. How many times do we limit God from moving in our lives? God if you just do this, then I’ll believe. If x, y, and z all fall into place, then I’ll put my trust in you. If I see such and such happen in my life, then I’ll have faith. I want to know how many people out there don’t need Jesus to come see about you, but you only need Him to speak a word. How many of you it will only take one touch of God’s power to be set free, healed, and delivered because you know that if you only get a piece of Jesus, you have everything you need. Stop limiting God with foolish criteria, take Him out of the box, and give Him the freedom to move in your life.

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The Principle of Representation

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

There’s this story of a man who is stranded at sea and he prays to God to come save him. A boat comes by and the people offer to help the man out, but he refuses. Then a helicopter comes by and the people offer to help the man out, but again he refuses. Finally a plane comes by and the people offer to help the man out, but he refuses. After all this, the man cries out to God “Why haven’t You come to save me.” God replies to the man “I sent you a boat, a helicopter, and a plane; what else do you need.”

So many times in life we are just like this man. We are praying, fasting, crying out, believing that God will come to save us from the situation or circumstance that we are in. We miss out on God because we don’t recognize Him being represented in other people. Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center, said “When we are looking for God to move, we need to look at people who represent God.” God is represented in the earth by people. Paul tells us that we are ambassadors, representatives, of Christ (See 2 Corinthians 5:20). In the verse above Jesus tells us that if we have done it unto the least of these, we have done it unto Him.

You still don’t believe me about this principle of representation. Here is another example to prove my point. We have all been born into this world sinful because of Adam representing the whole human race back in the Garden of Eden. But through Jesus representing us on the cross, we all can be forgiven of our sins. Through the first Adam we were condemned, but through the last Adam, Jesus, we have been forgiven, set free, and saved. So through the principle of representation we were messed up, but through the principle of representation we are corrected.

So are you missing out on God because you don’t recognize Him? David writes in Psalm 118:26 that blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Start looking for the people that come in God’s name, who are His representatives, and no longer miss out on the miracles God has for you today.

Name Dropping

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:6

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all dropped someone’s name in a conversation and mentioned to someone how we know a certain person, celebrity, idol, or athlete. We all have been guilty or accused of name dropping sometime in our lives. The reason we do this is because using someone else’s name gets us access into places, opens doors, gives us backing that we wouldn’t otherwise have ourselves. We can get into a certain event, concert, the V.I.P. section, the front row, party, meeting, conference, house, or club by impersonating someone else or saying that we know a certain so and so.

Jesus told us that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it (See John 14:13-14). In other words, things that we couldn’t do by dropping our own name will be done if we drop Jesus’ name. Jesus also tells us in Matthew 18:20 that if we gather together in His name, He is there with us. If we use the name of Jesus, we are ushered into His presence where otherwise we would not have gained access. When we use the name of Jesus, anything we do, anything we say; we have Heaven’s backing and we gain access to things and into places we never would have on our own.

There’s only one problem with name dropping. If you impersonate someone else or name drop in order to gain access into an area where otherwise you wouldn’t have permission to enter, when it’s found out that you really aren’t who you say you are or that you don’t know the person whose name you’ve been dropping or using; you get kicked out, escorted off the premises, you lose all credibility, and things don’t go well with or for you. We see an example of this in Acts 19:13-16. The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were going around trying to cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. However, the evil spirit responded “I know Jesus, but who are you?” They were caught in the act and we see in verse 16 that it didn’t really go so well for them. In order to have the backing of Heaven, in order to have the weight, in order to have the power, and in order to gain access into places you otherwise wouldn’t have on your own; you need to have met Jesus, know Him, and have a personal relationship with Him.

So are you guilty of name dropping? Have you met Jesus? Do you know Him? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? If not, don’t name drop without the power, weight, and backing of Heaven anymore. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead so that you can have access into a life you’ve only dreamed of.

Big Picture

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
(Acts 2:41 NIV)

When we read about the early church in Acts, we see the hundreds and thousands of salvations and baptisms. We read about the miracles, signs, and wonders that God did through the Apostles. We read about how God added and multiplied to their numbers daily. We see how mightily the Spirit moved in those days during the beginning of the church. We remember how Jesus said in John 14:12 that greater things we will do than He did.

Then we take a look at the church today and our lives, and wonder, ponder, and ask why don’t we see hundreds and thousands added to our numbers, why we don’t see miracles, signs, and wonders that the early church experienced. Nobody seems to understand why. If the same God, same Jesus, and same Spirit moved so powerfully over 2,000 years ago, why does it seem that God, Jesus, and the Spirit aren’t moving like that today.

There has been many theories thrown out to try to answer this. Some say it’s because the church has lost focus on the main point, Jesus. Others say that it’s because we aren’t open to or walking with the Spirit. While some have said the reason is that we have weak faith and since we have so many other things to put our trust in, we have lost our faith, trust, and hope in God. In other words instead of God being our first response, He’s our last resort.

While those answers might as well be the reason why, I believe it’s because we seem to only look at our own lives, our own church, our own world, and our own picture; and lose sight of the big picture. I believe God is moving today greater than He ever has before. Because now we don’t have just one person filled with the Spirit, one Son of God, Jesus; we have multiple people filled with the Spirit, many sons of God. I believe if we look at the whole picture, God is still adding hundreds, thousands, and even millions to the church today. At Elevation Church there has been over 600 salvations for their Code Orange Christmas services. At NewSpring Church there has been over 200 salvations at their Christmas Party services. A few months ago, both Elevation Church and NewSpring Church had over 2,000 baptisms each on one weekend during their spontaneous baptism services. At NewSpring Church alone there has been over 3,000 salvations this past year.

That’s just two churches that comprise of the whole church. If we take in all the churches in the world today, we in fact see God moving mightily, powerfully, and greater than He did in the days of the early church. So when you start to get discouraged and think that God is not moving, take your eyes off your small picture and take a look at the big picture.

There is no Room

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Since it’s less than three days until Christmas, I heard “While You Were Sleeping” by Casting Crowns on the radio the other day, and a message from Bishop T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor of the Potter’s House; I felt inspired to write a post about this famous verse from Luke that we all read, quote, and preach about this time of year. Now this is not going to be the usual message you’re use to hearing about how there was no room in the inn for Jesus 2,000 years ago and there seems to be no room for Him in our hearts today. No this message is going to be a little different than that. I’m going to use two points from Bishop T.D. Jakes’ message titled “Five Points to My Star.”

1) Man has nothing to do with God’s promises.

So many times in life we think that we need someone to come along and help us fulfill what God has promised or purposed for our lives and if that doesn’t happen or we get resistance, rejection, denial from people; we lose all hope of the promise ever coming to pass. If God is going to do something in your life, He’s going to do it and man won’t be able to stop it (See Acts 5:39). Luke tells us that there was no room in the inn for Mary to give birth to Jesus. Even though there was no room that couldn’t prevent the promise, Jesus, from being born. Some of you feel like everywhere you go there is no room. You’re looking for someone to take you in, for someone to agree with you, for someone to help you along the way. You don’t need to confer with man, you need to confer with God. You don’t need man’s approval, you need God’s approval. People don’t have to embrace you, endorse you, or support you. As a matter a fact, they might even criticize you. Remember Paul tells us that if God be for us who can be against us (See Romans 8:31). So don’t wait around any longer, don’t be discouraged, don’t shrink back; go do what God has purposed for you to do!

2) Great things are often born outside of the system.

God does great things in strange places, don’t wait around for the system to let you in. Jesus was born in a manger. That’s not where a king is to be born. Some seasons in your life might not have the ideal circumstances, but they can still have the ideal promises. The circumstances in your life don’t diminish the greatness of the concept. Just because the situations and circumstances aren’t how you envisioned them or drew them up to be; it doesn’t change who you are forever in Christ, it doesn’t change your purpose, and it doesn’t change the promises. If you do what God called you to do, you can let the systems of the world catch up with you later.  I use to get so discouraged, depressed, and lose all hope when people rejected me and the system wouldn’t let me in. But I remembered that Peter wrote about how Jesus was the stone that the builders rejected but God made Him the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7). Now I thank the people who rejected, denied, and abandoned me because if they helped me, they could say they made me who I am; but because they shut the door, God has made me what I am.

So don’t worry that there is no room for you and start thanking and praising God that He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Move the Chains

If you are familiar with football or a fanatic, you know what it means when I say “move the chains.” For those of you who don’t know. The “chains” in football are the yard markers that keep track of the line of scrimmage and the 10 yard distance the ball has to be moved to get a first down. Everytime a team gets a first down the guys who carry the chains, the chain gang, move the chains.

So many times in life we write about, sing about, preach about that nothing is going to happen unless God or Jesus shows up or moves. This is probably going to ruffle a couple of feathers, hit a nerve, sound like hypocrisy, and be a very challenging message, but I’m going to write it. God has already made His move (See John 3:16). No matter how much we write, sing, preach, or talk about it; God is done moving. Jesus has already completed the work He came to accomplish. He even said it himself (See John 19:30). Jesus is sitting down on the throne at the right hand of God and no matter what we do, He’s not moving.

When does God move in the earth? When you do. When does God speak in the earth? When you do. When does God enter a room? When you do. The only way God moves in the earth today is through us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 6:19). We carry God around everywhere we go. God goes wherever you go. If you don’t move, God won’t move.

Paul tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ (See 2 Corinthians 5:20). The definition of ambassador is an authorized messenger or representative. You have been sent by God from heaven as a governor, ambassador, diplomat to represent Jesus in order to produce a Kingdom culture in the earth. In other words, God has taken you off the bench, put you into the game, so that you can carry the ball in order to move the chains. God has paid the price, Jesus, to place you on His team (See 1 Corinthians 7:23), He has giving you a coach, the Holy Spirit to call the plays (See 2 Corinthians 1:22), and He has given us the playbook, the Bible, in order that we might study and know the plays (See 2 Timothy 3:16).

So don’t wait any longer for God to move. Don’t sing about it. Don’t write about it. Don’t speak about it. Take the ball. Move the chains!

It is Finished

I heard a great message this past week from Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, called Behold, Beyond, and Nevertheless. He mentioned how Jesus said in the garden “Nevertheless not my will but your will be done.” And how we should have that same attitude. I got to thinking that the last words Jesus said in the garden “Nevertheless” were followed by the last words He said on the cross “It is Finished.” God clearly spoke to me and said a “Nevertheless” attitude is always followed by an “It is Finished” mindset. In other words, you won’t be able to get to the “It is Finished” parts of your life until you can get to the “Nevertheless” attitude that says whatever you tell me to do God I’m going to do it.

The thing that gets me all the time is when Jesus said “It is Finished,” He said it in the darkest moment, during a storm, and before the work was done. We seem to worry about stuff in life, questioned God when we are going through a particular storm or season in our lives, lose all hope; as if God doesn’t have a plan for what we are facing in life or what we may be going through. God might have started something good in our lives and we begin to doubt if He’s ever going to finish it because of certain circumstances or situations that may arise. Paul tells us that we need to be confident that when God starts something, He’s going to complete it (See Philippians 1:6). In other words, God doesn’t start something He doesn’t plan on finishing, is going to finish, or has already finished. So be confident. Have the same faith that Abraham had and know that God is able to do what He said He will do (See Romans 4:19-21).

Isaiah writes that God knows the beginning from the end (See Isaiah 46:9-10). When Hollywood goes to start a movie, they always film the ending first and then start piecing together all the other scenes to fit into that ending. God is the same way with your life. He has already finished the end to the storm you’re going through, the trial you are in the middle of, the pain that you’re experiencing, the dark moment in your life, and whatever else you might be dealing with. John writes in Revelation that God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (See Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13). We can be confident in whatever it is because God is the beginning and God is the end. After everything is said and done, God was there in the beginning and God will be there in the end.

I believe that if we could have this “It is Finished” mindset in our lives whatever it is that may arise in our lives we would attack it head on. I may be in debt now but “Nevertheless” God you said “It is Finished.” My relationships seem like they’re falling apart but “Nevertheless” God you said “It is Finished.” I might be sick in my body but “Nevertheless” God you said “It is Finished.” Fill in the blank, whatever it is “Nevertheless” God you said “It is Finished.”

Have that “It is Finished” mindset today!

Generation Unleashed

I have had the privilege to work with the youth of the next generation for the past several years. I believe my calling in life is to be a leader, a voice, and an example for the next generation to follow. When people find this out about me, they always ask me “So what do you think about this next generation.” The following is my reply.

The first thing I tell them is that this next generation is hungry and thirsty for answers. They want to find the answer to their questions, but everyone has given up on them. Everywhere they look they see lies. They look on TV they see lies. They look in magazines they see lies. They look in movies they see lies. They look to their friends they see lies. They look in their school they see lies. Everywhere they turn the world has put in front of them lies. They have legitimate needs but they are going to illegitimate sources to try to satisfy themselves. They are hungry for someone to show them and tell them the truth. Once they see and hear the truth, they run to it by the masses.

 

The second thing is I believe that the enemy knows how much of an impact for Jesus this next generation can have, so he keeps them trapped in his web of lies. He knows what the Bible says in John 8:32 that once they get a hold of the truth, the truth will set them free. So he keeps putting lies all around them and prevents the people who know the truth from being bold, standing up, and telling them about it. He knows that if the next generation ever gets unleashed that they will turn this world upside down and advance the Kingdom of God in ways we’ve never seen before. But I got news for the enemy. God is raising up leaders that are letting this next generation know the truth. God is stirring up voices that are speaking into the lives of this next generation. And they’re about to get unleashed.

The last thing I tell them who ask me about the next generation is that there is still hope. There is a line that I quote to them from Hillsong United’s song “Hosanna” that says “I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith.” With all that I’ve seen thus far, I see a generation rising up, I see a generation taking their place, and I see a generation being unleashed. The NewSpring Church Fuse Pastor, Brad Cooper, gave an example that puts what I have seen and believe about this next generation into perspective. He said that whenever you go to a college football game there is two types of people. There is the people who sit down to watch the game and there is the people who stand up to watch the game. If you look around the stadium, you will notice that the group that is sitting down is usually the older crowd while the group that is standing up is the younger crowd. Whenever the wave or a cheer gets going at the football game, it is always started by the student section, the next generation. Once the student section starts the wave, starts a cheer, or stands up; everyone else in the stadium starts to do the wave, starts to cheer, and stands up. I want to let you know that the wave has been started. The cheer is getting louder. And more people are starting to stand up. Brace yourself now because what you are about to hear, see, and experience is going to change this world. I’m ready. I’m part of the wave. I’m starting to cheer. Are you?

Church Pew or Bar Stool

Jason Aldean has a song called “Church Pew or Bar Stool” on his most recent album called “My Kind of Party.” The song is about this small town where everyone either goes to church or to the bar, there’s no in between.

There’s a line in the song that says “There’s only two means of salvation around here that seem to work. Whiskey or the Bible. A shot glass or revival.” While this line is very catchy and makes for a great tune, there’s one big problem with it. Running to the bar or going to church won’t save you. There’s only one means of salvation and His name is Jesus (See Acts 4:10-12). So many times we are like the woman at the well. We’re trying to satisfy an eternal need with a temporary source. We medicate our problem rather than fixing it. When we are in pain, we choose to take a pill to temporarily relieve the pain rather than finding the source of the pain and getting permanent healing.

We have a legitimate need but we keep going to a temporary well with holes in the bucket we’re using to draw with. It’s like the saying “If I catch a fish for someone, I feed them for a day; but if I teach them to fish, I feed them for a lifetime.” Many times we are satisfied and comfortable with someone catching the fish for us rather than learning how to catch the fish ourselves. Having someone else do it for me or medicating the problem might make it go away temporarily but it doesn’t fix it.

I have a friend who is a mechanic. He was telling me the story of how someone brought their car to him to be fixed. Now before they brought the car to him, they brought it to someone else because the check engine light was on. The way they tried to fix the problem was by disconnecting the wire that made the check engine light go on. Although this prevented the check engine light from coming on, it never fixed the problem with the car. We’re just like that. The check engine light has come on in our life and we run to the bar, the club, another job, another relationship, or even the church; and though these wells might prevent the check engine light from coming on for a while, they don’t fix the problem.

Third Day has a song called “Cry Out to Jesus.” The chorus of the song says “There is hope for the hopeless. Rest for the weary. Love for the broken heart. There is grace and forgiveness. Mercy and healing. That will meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus.” Jesus tells the woman at the well that she doesn’t have to wait any longer or look any further because He is the one that can meet all her needs and fix all her problems (See John 4:26).

Whatever it is that you’re going through. Whether it’s pain, sickness, hurt, hopelessness, despair, depression, abandonment, loss. Cry out to Jesus! Run to Jesus! He is the only means of salvation that works.

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