God's promises

Faith is a Heart Surrender

As I read one of my favorite devotionals this morning, ’Streams in the Desert’, authored by Mrs. Charles Cowman, the cited verse she used as the basis of her devotional was Romans 3:3:

                  “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

 Mrs. Cowman also used two quotes in her writing, both of them truly pierced my heart:

“Is it any wonder that when we stagger at any promise of God through unbelief, we do not receive it? Not that faith merits an answer, or in any way earns it, or works it out; but God has made believing a condition of receiving, and the Giver has a sovereign right to choose His own terms of gift.”Rev. Samuel Hart

“Unbelief says, “How can such and such things be?” It is full of “hows”; but faith has one great answer to the ten thousand “hows,” and that answer is – God!” CHM

 Jesus speaks about faith constantly in His Word. As I read God’s Word the expression “great faith” seems directly opposed to Jesus’ analogy of the mustard seed. Faith seems to be something that cannot be measured by its size.  It seems rather to be an intangible perspective that exists within our hearts that cannot be comprehended by our minds. God gives us this perspective through His promises that He has written down for us in His Word. God’s promises never change, but we have the choice to believe Him or not.

The “hows” of our tangible world are penetrated by faith.  God and His Word remain supreme. To my thinking, the “hows” seem to be things of “self”, fueled by the power and strength of our minds. This is where the battle of faith plays out. True faith, however, is of the heart. Faith makes sense out of the senseless. It is not tangible, and will not fit in the realm of human reasoning. It transcends reasoning because it does not come from our mind. Faith comes as a promise to our hearts directly from its Creator. When the promises of God are absorbed into our surrendered hearts…only then is faith possible.

Faith was in the heart of Abraham, which led him to obey God in the ultimate test of surrender. Faith propelled the stone in David’s hand when his heart communicated the power of God against the futile efforts of an enormous obstacle.  Faith says, “I am God.” It says, “My ways are not your ways.”  It says, “Tell the mountain to move and it will move.” Faith continues on infinite in power beyond anything our minds can begin to process…because Faith is not of the mind. Faith is a thing of the heart, which our finite brain cannot comprehend.

When Jesus used the analogy of the mustard seed, He was telling us that faith has nothing to do with size, or reason, or tangibility. Faith is an asset within a surrendered heart. It is the comprehension that Jesus is God, but this is not a comprehension of the mind…it is a heart comprehension, brought about only through Christ’s Spirit within our surrendered hearts. Paul says:

 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

I believe that when we truly surrender our hearts to Christ Jesus, we long for our will to become God’s will for us. And if we surrender our hearts to God’s will, then truly what can stand against God? (Romans 8:31-39) When we finally come to this heart place of total surrender to God’s will, we will find faith there.

Thank you Jesus for the infinite gift of Your Word, Your Truth, and the faithfulness of Your love for us. Help us to daily surrender our hearts to You and to Your will for us, thus ever strengthening our faith in You. Amen.

Written by guest blogger Jeanne East

Christian Elementary Education Teacher

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Expect to see "Good Things!"

In 4 days it will be the 1 year anniversary of my hospitalization and battle with “flesh eating bacteria!”  As I look back on 2013 I have to say, that experience is one of the best I have had.  I know it’s not the common thing that most would say, to some it may sound “extreme” or “crazy,” but let me explain.  I have personally witnessed more change for the good since that one event than any other event with the exception of my salvation experience.  Here are some highlights:

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Above is my arm today, just under 1 year from infection.

1) My miraculous healing has been an encouragement to others with aggressive diseases

2) I have learned to “let go, and let God” fully reign in my life, we are not in control; it’s time to fully surrender! “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  Acts 20:24

3) To be one among many who witnessed the amazing power of prayer and for me personally to know how the prayers of many covered me and brought strength in a way I had never experienced; therefore, my own prayer life was brought to a “new level” of depth and purpose.  ”Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

4) To know what it feels like to be the recipient of the love of the “church” and be taken care of with meals for many weeks from my spiritual family in Christ.

5)   To witness the impact the experience has had on my family

6)   Facing death and having absolutely no fear, but the hope of eternal life through Jesus.  These verses from Paul in Philippians 1:18-21 say it all: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…”

7)   Seeing this verse come to life: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.  I am more mindful than ever that our days are numbered and to live each one with purpose and intention with our eternal destination in mind.

I believed it before but have experienced the following verse in a new way through my illness and recovery.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

So now, what about you?  Are you facing difficultly in your life in some area right now?  Do you expect to see good things from the experience?  God is so amazing! He can use messed up people, poor choices, illnesses, etc. and work it together for good!  Look at Romans 8:28 again, He says “all things” He can work together for good!  Look for the good, expect the good, watch for good, wait on the good, God is faithful, He will do what He promises to do!  He can work all things for good.   No counselor, doctor, advisor, or friend can make this sort of promise.  I’m so grateful that God is the promise maker and the promise keeper!  Do you love Him my friend?  Do you know Him?  If you don’t love Him, maybe you just “like” God, ask Him to help you love Him.  It will change your life in so many positive ways.  I can’t wait to see what God wants to do in and through your life.  Living for Christ is an adventure into the many facets of true love.

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Finding Perfect Peace

We recently purchased a home and had our closing date set for April 22nd.On April 22nd, we were told that we would be closing the following day on Tuesday, April 23rd.  Understandably, I had booked the moving crew to show-up on April 23rd, the day after our original closing date.After nine long hours on Tuesday the movers had successfully packed up our entire house.One problem….we still hadn’t closed!

The next morning we had another crew of men arrive at 9:00 am to begin the messy process of refinishing the wood floors.Upon their arrival we were notified that our cat, dog, and entire family would not be allowed in the main portion of the house in a mere couple of hours because they would be staining the floors.Wow, just like that, we were technically “homeless”! We had to be out of our existing house and we had no home to go to; plus, with an uncertain closing date for our new house we had no real guarantee that we’d have a home to move into.

Each day we would wake up wondering if we would get the call that this indeed would be our “close day”.  The days went by without our hearing anything, and the peace I had in my spirit would wax and wane.The initial closing date of the 22nd was moved to the 23rd, then changed to the 24th, then went to the 25th, and finally occurred on the afternoon of the 26th.

We were blessed to be invited to stay at a neighbor’s home during the interim and while there— with very few of our own belongings and still no certainty of where we would end up— I thought about the verse in Philippians 4:7 that says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I knew God promised peace, but I still felt very stressed.The stress of the situation was very real.Where was this peace that transcends understanding?Isa. 26:3 states, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee,”

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I think Matthew Henry in his commentary says it best, “Thou wilt keep him in peace, peace, in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, under all events; this peace shall he be put into, and kept in the possession of, whose mind is stayed upon God, because it trusts in him.It is the character of every good man that he trusts in God, puts himself under his guidance and government, and depends upon him that it shall be greatly to his advantage to do so. Those that trust in God must have their minds stayed upon him, must trust him at all times, under all events, must firmly and faithfully adhere to him, with an entire satisfaction in him; and such as do so God will keep in perpetual peace, and that peace shall keep them.”

I had to ask myself the question, “Is my entire satisfaction in God and in Who He is?” Or, was I searching for satisfaction in an outcome that was very uncertain?

It is easy to reflect and recognize that my peace waxed and waned depending upon my focus.  When my focus was on God, I was at peace.  When I allowed my focus to shift to my circumstances, I became stressed.

Where is your focus right now?Is your mind unwaveringly “stayed upon” God? Is God aclear and sharply defined person to you whom you are confident you can trust? Are you entirely and completely satisfied in Him, regardless of the circumstances that you face?

Written by Jamie Shaver

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