Our Next Step of Faith

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

by Jon Gaus

God grows our faith based on his track record in our life. Each step of faith that the Spirit is calling us, prompting us and leading us to take is based on God’s perfect track record in our life up to that point.  Remember, the Scriptures describe our grow in faith as a spiritual “walk” not a spiritual “long-jump!”  So, the next of faith that Jesus is calling you to take is based upon all the previous steps in which he ALWAYS proved himself totally trustworthy and faithful to you!

Think back to the tense scene back 1 Samuel 17.  The entire Israelite army is frozen in fear on one side of the Valley of Elah because a 9-foot, uncircumcised Philistine, a true champion of war, is daily taunting the armies of God and blaspheming Jehovah himself!  Enter the teenage shepherd boy David, who upon hearing this blasphemer of the living God, announces that he will step out onto the battle field and fight this giant menace.  King Saul is astonished and aghast at David’s declaration as Saul is operating and seeing only in the natural realm.  To assuage the King’s objections, David did not get out his resume or tell Saul how great he was. Instead, David simply recounted God’s perfect track record in his life. He told the King that when a lion came to steal from his father’s flock, the Lord delivered the lion into his hand. Then, when a bear came to steal from his father’s flock the Lord delivered the bear into his hand. So, based on how God had been growing David’s faith one step at a time, David declared that this was the next step of faith God was calling him to take…out onto that battlefield! David’s faith was based on God’s perfect track record in his life up to that point.

How about the impetuous Peter?  In Matthew 14, when he requested that Jesus call him out of the boat to join him on the water, Peter was not being crazy or fool-hearty.  To step out of that boat to get closer to Jesus was the next step in Peter’s faith journey all based on God’s perfect track record in his life up to that point.  Think about it…up to this point in Peter’s life, he had witnessed Jesus supernaturally turn water into wine, miraculously and instantaneously heal the sick and the blind AND he had even witnessed Jesus raise the dead!  Once Peter was satisfied that it was truly Jesus who was out on the water, Peter took his next step of faith based on Jesus’ perfect track record in his life up to that point.

“Lord, Is That You?”

Ben White Photography

As Christians we often use phrases like, “The Lord told me” or “God spoke to me.”  So how can we know if we, as born-again followers of Jesus with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, are hearing from God?  The most certain way we know we are hearing the unmistakable voice of God is by reading the Bible.  I mean, what a gift that God would give us His inerrant, infallible written Word and that’s exactly what the Bible is!  So, the Bible becomes our measuring stick and litmus test for anything that the Holy Spirit may lay on our hearts or bring to our minds.

When the Spirit gives us a prompting, impression or leading we can be certain that it will always be in complete harmony and unity with the truth of Scripture since the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21). When the Holy Spirit gives us a “word of knowledge, word of wisdom or word of prophecy” to edify, exhort or comfort fellow believers, it will always be in unity and harmony with the Bible if it is indeed from the Holy Spirit himself (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14:3).

So, by renewing our minds daily and meditating on the truths of Scripture, we become more and more accurate in discerning the promptings, leadings and gifts of the Spirit.  Spending meaningful, consistent time in prayer and in the Word helps us keep our spiritual radar active and accurate to receive from the Holy Spirit!

Remember, Prayer is Not Natural, it’s SUPERNATURAL!

by Jon Gaus

Renewing our minds with the Word of God is vital to cultivating a dynamic, growing personal prayer life. The Bible repeatedly reminds us of the power of our prayers and that prayer is a supernatural endeavor that engages the spiritual realm. In fact, the Apostle Paul exhorted believers to not only be aware of the spiritual realm but to focus on it as he stated, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)  Several other passages in God’s Word also encourage us to look beyond the natural realm, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) and God’s Word also directs us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

In 2 Kings chapter 6, a servant of the prophet Elisha was given the amazing privilege of being able to see with his own eyes the kind of activity and warfare that goes on in the spiritual realm. The servant and Elisha found themselves surrounded by the horses and chariots of the Syrian army in the city of Dothan. Elisha sensed the servants great fear so he prayed and asked God to allow the servant to see past the natural realm into the spiritual realm so he could be greatly encouraged by God’s mighty army that was present, “And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may se.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17).

In Daniel chapter 9, we are shown a powerful example of how our prayers cause things to happen in the spiritual realm as we see God dispatching the angel Gabriel in response to the prayers of Daniel. As the angel explains to Daniel, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.  At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.” (Daniel 9:22b-23).

Another powerful picture of how our prayers engage the spiritual realm can be found in Revelation chapter 5. The Apostle John is given a glimpse of the throne room of God and one of the things he reports seeing before the throne is our prayers, “Now when He (the Lamb) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8). Think about it! Our prayers are so precious to God that He keeps them in golden bowls in heaven and they are like a fragrant offering to Him. Be greatly encouraged saints, praying is a supernatural endeavor and as God’s Word shows our prayers are not natural, they are supernatural and they engage and cause things to happen in the spiritual realm. Yes, renewing our minds with God’s Word is vital for us to continue cultivating a dynamic, growing personal prayer life

Our Role in Our Sanctification

by Jon Gaus

God’s Word is clear that the God/man Jesus, through His perfect life, death and resurrection did all of the work to provide for and secure our salvation (Ephesians 2:9,10; 2 Timothy 1:9). Theologians refer to this amazing work of God’s grace on our behalf as “monergism” from the Greek “mono” meaning one and “erg” meaning work.  Now, even though we have no part of providing for our securing our salvation, we do have a role in our ongoing, daily progressive sanctification. Sanctification is the work that the Holy Spirit begins in us at the point of salvation as He sets us apart for holy purposes and continuously shapes us more and more into the likeness of Christ from the inside out.

Now even though our salvation is monergistic, our daily, progressive sanctification is synergistic, meaning there are two parties involved that work together!  The first party is the Holy Spirit of God who indwells us and who does all of the heavy lifting.  The Holy Spirit initiates our sanctification and empowers our sanctification. But, we also have a role in our progressive sanctification. Our role is to daily cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in our life and to daily surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.  This is a choice of the will that we can daily choose to make through the power of the Holy Spirit in us! 

God’s Word gives followers of Christ action commands that He is calling us to do as our part of our daily sanctification. Now, let’s first remember, “where God guides He provides” and when He calls us to obey a command He always provides the power for us to do it. Colossians 3:5 commands us to “put to death therefore whatever is earthly in you.”  1 Timothy 6:11 commands us to “flee (unrighteous) things.”  1 Peter 2:1 commands us to “put away all malice and all deceit…”  These are action commands that God is calling each believer to perform…by the power of the Holy Spirit in them. These are daily willful choices whether we are going to present the members of our body to God or are we going to choose to present the members of our body to sin.  Yes, we are not passive in our sanctification, we must choose daily to surrender to and cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives. And let’s not forget the precious promise of Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Prayer that Avails Much! by Jon Gaus

There are over a thousand references and verses in God’s Word concerning the beautiful gift of prayer the Lord has given to us.  One verse that is often quoted and memorized concerning prayer is James 5:16b, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  One of the reasons this verse on prayer is so cherished by so many is because it refers to prayers that that cause things to happen.  This promise about prayer from God’s Word gives us some description and instruction on the kinds of prayers that avail much.

One of the first things we notice about this promise about prayer is that the person praying is said to be “righteous.”  This verse is referring to those individuals who have received Christ’s imputed righteousness thus having a perfect and righteousness standing before the Father.  According to God’s Word, this describes any person who has repented and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” Philippians 3:9.  This promise from the book of James is emphasizing to us that as we seek daily to walk in obedience to God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit in us and choose to put on the righteousness of Christ in our actions rather than putting on sin (Romans 13:14), our prayers will be effective and avail much.

In this verse, James also describes effective prayer as “fervent” prayer. In the original Greek language, this word first communicates the idea of having been heavily burdened in our soul.  This happens when the Holy Spirit places on our heart an unusual burden for a specific situation or person that He is calling us to intercede on behalf of.  This heavy burden that the Spirit has shared with us causes us to pray with a very sincere and heart-felt fervency.  In addition, the word fervent also carries the idea of persevering in prayer for this burden until the Lord provides his answer for the situation or until the time that the Spirit releases us from carrying this burden in prayer.

Bible scholar and commentator Matthew Henry describes the working out of this promise on prayer from James 5:15b with this exhortation for us;

“And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much.” 

Be greatly encouraged, make yourself available to the Spirit as an intercessor and He will begin deeply burdening you with specific situations and people that will require fervent prayer and be assured, that kind of prayer will avail much!

Worship as a Lifestyle

photo by co.uk

shared by Jon Gaus

“Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms and manner that He accepts and makes possible (through Jesus).  It involves honoring, serving and respecting him and abandoning any loyalty, devotion or action that hinders our priority of relationship with him.

Worship can be expressed through singing and music, but it is also expressed through a lifestyle of obedience, adoration and recognizing God’s presence all through the week in every part of life.” “Engaging with God” by David Peterson

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.   Romans 6:13-14

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”                                                                                                               Colossians 3:17

Experiencing Jesus in Everything

Jon Gaus shares “The Best of Oswald Chambers”

July 11 

The Spiritual Saint

By Oswald Chambers

That I may know Him. — Philippians 3:10

The initiative of the saint is not towards self-realisation, but towards knowing Jesus Christ. The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard, or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ. There is a reckless abandonment about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we shall realize Jesus Christ in every domain of life, and He will bring us back to the same point again and again until we do. Self-realisation leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realised His relationship to the Father even in the most menial work. “Jesus knowing…that He was come from God, and went to God;…took a towel,…and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

The aim of the spiritual saint is “that I may know Him.” Do I know Him where I am to-day? If not, I am failing Him. I am here not to realise myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realisation that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realisation of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in.