Not My Will

Whose will are we really accomplishing?

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John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

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 When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion, He went to the Father three times in three hours, praying the same prayer each time.  We never see Him praying the same prayer three times before.  Why would He do it this time.  It is because He was wrestling with the greatest personal opposition He would ever face – His personal desires.  He knew what was coming, and NOTHING of his senses or personal desire wanted to face the torment that was before.  So three times in as many hours He cried to the Father, “If it is possible, let this come pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.”  Personal desires can be incredibly strong.

Believers as individuals, and the church as local bodies and in its corporate identity, are at a critical time in our history relating to the decisions we make.  While our decisions have always carried eternal importance, in the past we may have had some time to correct and live down bad or ill-directed ones.  But at this hour, that become super critical.  We are closer to the coming of Jesus than ever before.  I am convinced we are surely living in the end-times.  Our decisions have become more critical than ever.  To that end I propose the following question for your thorough consideration.  Whose will are you following?

We all have desires.  Our flesh, our comfort, our personal desires all play a role in our decision-making process.  It did with Jesus, too.  He did not want to go to Calvary, nor did He in any way desire what would immediately precede or follow that date with Father’s will.  But He bowed His desire, His will, to that of Father.  You see, He also knew the greater outcome of the days that would follow.  In this hour, you and I MUST give ourselves to the Word of God in greater measure than we have ever done.  We need to have our focus on the ultimate outcome revealed through Father’s Word, and by that and through faith, we MUST bow our desires, our will, to Father’s.  Jesus has already paid the price for our redemption and victory.  Jesus’ suffering was ours; now ours must be His.  We know His will for our living redemption, but the joy and ease of that living redemption (healed, delivered, prospered, free) can be SO ENJOYED by our senses that our senses begin to captivate our will.  I enjoy healing, deliverance, and prosperity; all my freedoms in Christ.  But am I willing to invest my time, treasure, talent, and testimony to carry out Father’s will toward the world?  That means putting MY OWN words, works, and pleasures to the side and engage fully in Father’s Words, Works, and Pleasures.  It’s not about my will; it’s about His. 

Manna for Today – John 6:22-59; Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; Hebrews 12:1-3; Isaiah 58:6-14

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Believing Is in the Bread

Do you desire mountain-moving faith?  Overcoming faith?  Faith that pleases Father?

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John 6:35 – And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

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Allow me to make some points for discussion.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  God has provided you with victory that overcomes the world, and that victory is your faith.  With these points in mind, consider the following as you take time to read John 6:26-40.  Take in the real message Jesus is speaking to the people.  The people were seeking for Him to perform another miracle and give them natural bread to eat; bread that would only satisfy for a few hours.  But Jesus wanted them to see that there was a bread that could feed them for eternity; a bread that could keep them hunger free, and never lacking for any natural need in life.  Jesus was talking about the Bread of Life.  He was the Word made flesh, and He wanted them to understand their need of the heavenly bread, the Bread of Life that came down from Father like the manna of old.  Jesus wanted them to receive Him, the Words He spoke, and the life the Word brings.  But they could not see it.

How about today’s church?  Are we so caught up in the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things that we have lost sight of the reality that is the Bread of Life?  Yes, the cares of this life are plentiful; wars, rumors of wars, plagues, pestilences, sickness, disease, false prophets, and the like.  Yes, riches are deceitful.  So many today, even Christians, think their joy and happiness is connected to their possessions, not realizing they are so connected to those riches that it is the riches that possess them, and not the other way around.  And yes, the lusts of other things is rampant; fame, fortune, political power, and notoriety clog so many minds today, even Christian minds, that it can be difficult to determine where the church stops and the world begins.

This ought not be so, my friend.  Let us return to these exhortations of our Lord.  Turn again to the Word, the unfailing Truth of God’s Covenant.  Turn again to holiness; a life lighted by, watched over, and governed according to the living Word.  Turn again to that which only faith can produce.  And turn again to the faith that produces it; faith that comes only by the hearing of the Word of God, not by what our natural senses have perceived.  Turn again to that faith that truly pleases Father; faith that declares, “if God said it, that settles it;” faith that will not be put aside for some self-centered means of attaining our heart’s desires; faith that moves our Father in such power ways that heaven and earth come so close together that the church is caught in the kiss of Father’s favor on this world.  It’s time. 

Manna for Today – John 6:22-59; Hebrews 11:1-6; 1 John 5:4; Romans 10:17

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To Work the Work

Just what is it that is required of us to do the works of the Lord?  I’m glad you’ve asked.

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John 6:29 – Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent.

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So, just what is it that is required of us to do the works of the Lord?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the sick healed by the laying on of your hands?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see blind eyes opened?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see deaf ears opened?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see miracles of provision?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see what you currently possess become more than enough to feed the multitudes? BELIEVE!  Do you want to watch as storms dissipate before your eyes?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the “fig trees” of deception dried up from the roots?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see cripples rise and walk?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see those sick of all manners of palsy healed and made free?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the attacks of the enemy, be it lions, fire, mobs, criminals, or even government leaders come to naught, and done so publicly?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see demons cast out?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the church prosper as God says He desires to prosper it?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the dead raised?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see the “greater works” of which Jesus spoke in John 14:12?   BELIEVE!  Do you want to see multitudes saved?  BELIEVE!  Do you want to see multitudes filled with Holy Spirit?  BELIEVE!

There!  I believe I’ve pretty well covered the topic.  To work the works of Him that has sent you, BELIEVE!  You see, if you truly believe something, you’ll speak it, you can’t keep it hidden.  If you truly believe on something, you’ll act on it; you can’t keep it hidden.  If you truly believe on something, you’ll live it in your life; you can’t keep it hidden.  No matter what the subject, if you truly believe it, it will be revealed in and through your life.

Do you BELIEVE that Jesus died for your redemption?  Do you BELIEVE that He was raised from the dead for your justification?  Do youBELIEVE that He ascended to the right hand of Father to become your Intercessor?   Do you BELIEVE He ever lives to make intercession for you according to the will of Father?  Do you BELIEVE in the full authority of covenant benefit that is yours through the New Covenant?  If your answer to these questions is “Yes,” then you are in position to “work the works” of Him that has sent you.  Just as Father sent Jesus, He has sent you.  Now go and do as He commands.  He WILL confirm His Word with signs following for them that BELIEVE. 

Manna for Today – John 6:22-59; Romans 10:6-17; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; John 17:18 & 20:21

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What To Do?

Can you believe that most people would like to be able to do the works of God?

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John 6:28 – Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

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I often ask people if they would like to be able to do the works of God.  Almost invariably, the response is a declarative “Yes!”  I can fully understand their declared interest.  I want to do the same thing.  Let me say at the very beginning that I have yet to master the answer to this question, but at the same time I declare that I have the answer.  God is NOT trying to keep from us some secret that means we are prevented from doing the works of the Lord.  On the contrary, it is the Father’s good will to give us the kingdom.  God is not keeping FROMus the revelation knowledge of how to live powerfully and victoriously in the kingdom.  Rather, He is keeping it FOR us.  If we ask, it will be given us.  If we seek, we shall find.  If we knock, the door shall be opened to us.

Now consider the question of the multitude that followed Jesus because they had seen a miracle.  Many people today still follow men of God because they have seen a miracle.  Many follow after nationally, or internationally acclaimed men/women of God because they have seen some mighty work of the Lord through their ministry.  But that, dear friend, is NOT the reason we should be following a person, even Jesus Himself.  You see, Jesus Himself said it; we should be following Him and His choice servants, NOT because of some might work seen in their ministry, but because of the Word of God they declare, the message of God they deliver, the truth of God they boldly bring.

Thinking like that is not very popular, for it places a greater responsibility for seeing the works of God on the follower; on the hearer.  Consider the ministry of Jesus in His Own hometown.  The Scriptures declare that Jesus could do no mighty works in His Own hometown because of “their unbelief.”  Nothing has changed.  One of the great limiters of the manifest power of God is the unbelief of the hearers.  Is the church so blind, or ignorant, or willfully disobedient that we will not accept our responsibility for believing the truth of God’s Word when it is spoken?  When the Word of God is preached, but those who hear it do not mix it with faith, that Word, that Truth of God, that Word that created all that is, profits the hearer nothing.  And forget not our traditions which can make the Word of God of none effect.  There are two elements we must eliminate from our lives if we will see the mighty works of God done for us, and even more importantly, through us. 

Manna for Today – John 6:22-59; Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 12:37; Mark 11:22-24; Mark 16:15-20;          John 14:12-14; John 15:7; Hebrews 4:2

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When the Bell Rings

When people ask “How?”, it’s time to preach.

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John 6:25 – And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

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Much of my life I have enjoyed sports and athleticism.  I played a little football and baseball as a younger boy/man.  I threw shotput and discus in high school.  I wrestled some in high school and college.  I have enjoyed hunting and fishing.  I have been engaged in physical fitness and martial arts for the vast majority of my life.  In all these endeavors, “timing” is a factor.  Whether we are dealing with hunting/fishing seasons, wrestling periods, game horns, whistles, and buzzers, or a referee’s “sijak (begin)” command, each element involves “timing.”

In life, there are not always bells, buzzers, starting guns, or referee’s whistles, but there are indicators for us when we should be ready to step forward and carry out our role as a child of God.  Take the time to read John 6 passage from our Manna for Today.  As you read it, look for the indicators that Jesus Himself used to bring forth revelation to the people.  Examine the scenario.  Jesus had sent His disciples to the other side.  The people were aware that He was NOT with them when they departed.  Yet after a stormy night at sea, when others arrived via their own ships to where the disciples went, they found Jesus present.  This had to be a shocking development in their thinking.  ONLYthe disciples had seen Jesus walking on the water.  All the people had not.  So they had questions.  How did Jesus get to the other side of the sea of Galilee with His disciples?  He had not departed with them, yet here He was.  They knew something amazing had happened, were not aware of what it was, and were filled with curiosity about it.  So they began to inquire, “Master, how did you get here, and when?”  I suspect, had I been there, I would have asked the same question.  I would want to know.

But you and I have the advantage of hind-sight via the Scriptures.  We know the story.  Still, we need to learn the lesson Jesus demonstrated.  When the people opened the door through their curiosity about one thing, Jesus used the occasion to teach them a truth they were completely missing.  He spoke to them about WHY they were there.  He did not tell them about walking on the water.  Rather He addressed their motives.  He took their curiosity about one thing as an opportunity to reveal their own hearts to them.  He told them they were seeking Him for the miracle of provision He had performed.  It was about bread and fish.  But the true reason they SHOULD be seeking Him is for the Bread of Life; His Word.   That truth remains completely valid for us today.  Child of God, don’t seek God because He can perform miracles.  Seek Him for His Word, for by His Word comes faith; faith that will please Him and provide in your life ALL you need. ALL of what you need is in His Word, NOT in His miracles.  Be thankful for all He does, but seek what He has said. 

Manna for Today – John 6:22-40

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Arrive in Style

Jesus on the inside can produce rapid change.

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John 6:21 – Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

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Change!  A word that frightens some, excites others, discouraged some, engages other, focuses some, scatters others, and makes almost everyone uncomfortable.  Take a moment and reread our Text for Today.  The disciples, under instruction from the Lord, had attempted to take their ship across the sea of Galilee, encountered storm winds and waves, found themselves laboring, even struggling in their own power and ability to carry out His command, but were making NO headway.  But when Jesus came on board, things changed.

There is an adage in golf that says, “It’s not how you drive, but how you arrive.”  In other words, you may not have made the best drive, but if your second, third, or even fourth shot is superb, you can still score “PAR” on the hole (And as an occasional amateur golfer, PAR is fine with me).  Well, the drive of the apostles wasn’t good enough to take them to the intended destination.  Yet when Jesus came aboard, things changed, and that right quickly.

Where is it the Lord has directed you to go?  What is it the Lord has directed you to do?  First, are you being obedient to His instructions?  If so, that is wonderful.  If not, change your action/direction immediately, repent, and begin anew.  At any rate, be sure you are endeavoring with all that is in you to follow His instruction as an obedient child of God.  Is it possible you’re in a storm?  Don’t think that strange.  Storms will come.  It will rain.  The enemy will attempt to stop you from following through with the Lord’s plan.  And if, at this moment, you find yourself struggling with all that is in you to obediently follow the will of Father, and you are struggling, you can be assured that Jesus is near.  He will come to you in your labor of obedience.

And what happened when Jesus got into the ship?  “IMMEDIATELY” they were on land where their intent was to go.  Don’t give up if you’re in a struggle.  Jesus is near; He WILL come to you.  Don’t keep Him out of your situation.  Open the way for Him to come in.  He wants you to completely fulfill the task He has given, to succeed in the ministry in which He has placed you, to be a significant part of the role you are to fill in the body of Christ.  And when you find yourself in desperate struggle, know that having Jesus on board guarantees you arrival at His intended destination.  Don’t fear the storm; have faith in God.  Don’t accept the circumstances; receive the presence of the Lord.  Don’t stay where you are; prepare for docking.  He will keep you, and you will arrive in style. 

Manna for Today – John 6:16-21; Mark 4; Matthew 7:24-27; James 1:1-9

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Jesus and Fear Don’t Mix

Just as oil and water do not mix, neither is Jesus mixed with fear.

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John 6:20 – But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

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You can pour gas and water into the same container, you can shake them vigorously, but when the shaking stops, there will come an immediate separation.  They don’t mix.  You can buy a salad dressing  with oil in it, but to get the full flavor at use, you need to shake the bottle vigorously before using.  And when you use it later, if only a few minutes, you must shake it again.  They water and oil doesn’t mix.  You can pour faith and fear into the same person, but they don’t mix.  It may seem to be alright when things are shaken up, but the truth is, faith and fear don’t mix.

Take hold of that fact today, my dear friend.  When Jesus began His journey by walking on the water to go to His disciples, He was in faith, but His disciples were struggling in the flesh, and by doing so, were putting themselves in a place to be dominated by fear.  By the time Jesus came close enough to His disciples that they could see Him, they were fearful, believing Him to be a ghost.  Now look at our Text for Today.  Each word, even those introducing His Words, is important.  “But” indicates that something needs to change.  “He saith” indicates He was releasing the power to change things.  “Unto them” indicates they were His specifically targeted audience.  “It is I” indicates He was clearly identifying Himself to them.  When He is on the scene, He never leaves a question as to His identity.  “Be not afraid” indicates that the ability to remove fear and replace it with faith was in their hands.  Once He had given His Word on the matter, acting on His Word was up to them.

When faith arises on the scene where fear has dominated, fear no longer holds the upper hand.  Fear KNOWS it must bow to FAITH, but sadly, many believers do not.  And the truth is that fear will NOT bow willingly before faith.  This is an issue that MUST ALWAYS be forced.  Perhaps you have not previously viewed this conflict in the manner I put forth, but the simple fact is that fear resists faith, and if possible, will resist with such fury that the man through whom the faith should be working surrenders to fear and its thinking.  This should not be.  Never,NEVER allow yourself to back down from fear.  It is in total resistance and rebellion to faith.  Faith pleases God, and as such has the full backing of heaven when it is invoked.  Speak God’s Word, having done all to stand, stand, and hold fast your profession of faith without wavering.  Your faith WILL win out over fear.  Faith and fear don’t mix.  Fill yourself so full of faith that fear has no place.  

Manna for Today – John 6:16-21; Galatians 5:6; 1 John 4:18; Hebrews 11:1-6; Romans 10:17

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Mercy Came Walking

Psalm 103 commands us that we should “forget not all His benefits.”  Here is one to remember.

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John 6:19 – So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

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First, I encourage you to read John 6:16-21.  Allow me to make some observations.  Jesus had gone into the mountain to pray.  It is obvious that Jesus had sent His disciples to the other side, for I am sure they would not have left Him there alone without being told to do so.  Jesus was in deep communion with Father, for in His prayer time, He saw His disciples toiling in the storm in the middle of the sea of Galilee.  He had to see this by Holy Spirit, for He was miles from them in the darkness of night.  It was between 3 and 6 AM when this happened, that being the fourth watch.  It is obvious that they disciples were in trouble with the storm, making no headway at all.  It is likewise obvious they were not using their faith against the storm in order to comply with Jesus’ instructions to go to the other side.  Since we know that without faith, it is impossible to please Father, how is it that Jesus came to them?  Let’s consider that.

I am convinced we are looking at a wonderful demonstration of the mercy of God.  Jesus had sent them before Him to the other side.  There were doing their best to obey His command and go there.  Jesus was aware of their problem by Holy Spirit.  That awareness provoked Him to exercise His mercy that endures to all generations, and to go to them walking on the sea.  We know the story, of course, and realize that as He was coming, when they first saw Him, they thought He was a ghost and were frightened.  But in all those issues; (1) battling a storm in the flesh, and (2) their fearful response to His coming to them, He did not turn from them.  When He was challenged as to His identity (Peter said, “If it is you, Lord, bid me come to You”), He responded with one word.  He said to Peter, “Come!”

I offer you the following take-away from today’s Second Miler.  There may indeed be times when you feel your faith is not working up to its finest potential.  You may find yourself in storms that appear to be completely unconquerable.  You may be surrounded by issues too deep for your abilities.  Contrary winds may be blowing ferociously.  But if you’re walking in the integrity of your heart, doing all you can to carry out the will of Father, always remember, Mercy came walking before, and He will come again.  He has not changed.  He will come to you, and He will call you to greater than you have known.  The time is here. 

Manna for Today – John 6:16-21; Matthew 14:22-33; Hebrews 11:1-6; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8

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Down to the Storms

You can expect storms after feasting with the Master.  When you get the Word, Satan comes to steal it.

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John 6:16 – And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,

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Jesus is the Master of every arena of the five-fold ministry.  He is the APOSTLE and high priest of our profession.  He ministered as a PROPHET under the Old Covenant.  He was the perfect example of the EVANGELIST, walking in a consistent flow of gifts of healings and working of miracles.  He was the PASTOR of pastors, known to us as THE GOOD SHEPHERD.  He was called Rabbi, a term that to us means TEACHER.  Jesus was the ONLY man that I know who walked in all five arenas of the five-fold ministry at the same time, and did so perfectly.  He not only SPOKE ONLY the Word of God, He WAS the Word made flesh.  His ministry of the Word was perfect and without flaw in its content and purpose.  He said, when the Word is sown, Satan comes immediately to steal the Word, and then described the various means by which Satan attacks the Word.

While Satan’s doings should never be used as a measuring device for our walk with the Lord (yet many people do so daily), we should never think that being saved, filled with Holy Spirit, and walking in the Word makes us immune from his attacks.  Jesus taught plainly that IT IS GOING TO RAIN.  Take time to read our Manna for Today.  The rain to which I refer in this writing is NOT the rain of Holy Spirit in the form of the early or latter rain.  I write of the rain that descends to bring floods against your life and ministry, and the winds of the storms that accompany those rains.  My friend, they ARE coming.

What I am endeavoring to do is to encourage you to be ready for the rains, floods, and winds.  Make sure that you are not merely a HEARER of the Word, but a DOER as well.  It was the wise man’s house that weathered the storm, and wise man was the one who HEARD the Word, AND also was a DOER of the Word.  When Jesus’ disciples entered the ship to go to the other side, they should have remembered the Word of Jesus that “Satan comes to steal the Word,” and that he comes “immediately.”  Still, they did not seem to be prepared for the storm.  This was certainly NOT Jesus’ fault.  Yet in their battle in the storm, Jesus came walking to them on the sea.  This is Father’s heart in the matter.  Jesus knew that; He had seen it.  So He went forth to carry out the will of Father.  Father hasn’t changed.  It is still His will to do such for His children.  But don’t allow this knowledge to become your excuse for laziness.  Stay diligent.  STORMS ARE COMING, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE OVERCOME BY THEM 

Manna for Today – John 6:16-21; Mark 4:10-20; Matthew 7:24-27; John 5:19 & 30

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Hearing is the Key

Are you looking for something to believe?  Try hearing instead.  Faith comes by hearing, NOT seeing.

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John 6:14 – Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

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Take a moment to re-read our Text for Today.  What was it that provoked the people to believe that Jesus was the prophet of which the Scriptures had foretold?  The answer is evident.  We read that “they had seen the miracle that Jesus did.”  In the days in which Jesus was upon the earth, people were no different than people of today in this regard.  In general, people are moved far more quickly and respond much more strongly to what they see.  Sight is, without a doubt, the most influential of our five senses.

But stop for a moment and consider that I say.  While sight is indeed a very powerful influence on our personal belief systems, it is NOT Father’s chosen means of bringing faith into our heart, feeding that faith, and strengthening that faith for the fights we encounter in our earthly journey.  That method, set in order by the Lord is HEARING.  Yet when we look around, we still see multitudes of people whose lives are caught up on seeing.  Consider, for a moment, Jesus in His dealing with the Syrophoenician woman.  At her first attempt, Jesus ignored her.  She came for Him to heal her daughter, and her approach was purely in the flesh.  Jesus ignored her.  At that point she moved into the weighty emotional realm.  She wept at His feet, worshipping Him.  At that point Jesus called her and her daughter dogs.  That stirred her to move into the faith arena, and I’m not sure if she even realized it.  Her words belied anger; “the dogs get the crumbs.”  I’m sure she was both shocked that this man of mercy would call her a dog, and angered at the reference.  Still, Jesus’ response to her was simple.  He told her that her faith was great, and that because of her words, her daughter was whole.  He provoked her to a “good” work, to a “work of faith.”  Her flesh approach received no response at all.  Her emotional response received chastisement.  Her faith response received what she desired.  Father has not changed.  He is still the same.

Moving Father is still the work of faith, not feelings.  Faith still comes by hearing, not seeing.  Seeing provokes the flesh and the mind.  Hearing is the pathway to the human spirit.  Go to the word, dear friend.  Read it aloud; confess your faith, and that boldly so.  Speak to yourself in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”  Hear the voice of men of God who preach the truth in love.  Let faith rise in your hearts, and bring it forth in the words you speak.  Remember, hearing is the key. 

Manna for Today – John 6:1-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Romans 10:6-17; Hebrews 11:1-6;       Matthew 15:21-28

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