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Tribulation and Faith

Even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest,
but we were afflicted on every side:
conflicts without, fears within.
(2 Cor. 7:5 ESV)


Sometimes Christians get the wrong idea about faith. Knowing that only believers enter the celestial city, we put a great deal of importance on faith, and if it wavers, we become fearful. If we experience doubt, we wonder if our faith is failing - if, after all, we're not Christians at all, or if we are, if we haven't departed from the Lord and ceased to be such. I myself have been there - I won't go into the details, but there was a time in the 80s when I seriously did wonder whether I'd ever been saved in the first place. My faith was under attack, and I grew afraid.

To some extent at least this grows out of a wrong idea of what faith is. Even the most knowledgeable Christians can sometimes make this mistake, believing that Biblical faith has something to do with our emotion state, or that it's something we have to muster up from within ourselves. Let's be sure of what faith is, and then attacks against our faith arise along this line, we'll be better able to resist. There are two related Greek words we need to consider, one a noun and one a verb - pistiz and pisteuw (pistis, pisteuo). The noun means, "reliance upon, trust in, dependence on," and of course the verb means "to rely on, to depend on, to trust." Thus, when we have faith, or when we believe, we have that trust and dependence on Christ, we're trusting Him and depending on Him. And it is important that we have the proper object of our faith. We must trust Jesus, Jesus entirely, and Jesus only. If we trust anyone or anything other than the Lord Christ, our faith is in the wrong object, and we'll never see God. If we trust Jesus partly and something or someone else partly, we're again not believing as the Bible demands, and we'll come short of the heavenly city. Biblical faith has as its object Jesus alone and Jesus to the uttermost.

And it is here that some professing Christians miss the point.

Married to an Unbelieving Spouse: Shine Your Light

Worksheet at bottom of article

Don't Think You Can Change Your Spouse

A popular misnomer in society is people think that after they're married they can change the things they don't like about their spouse. But this is incorrect thinking to begin with. We cannot change anyone other than ourselves, and to try causes numerous problems within the marriage. If you cannot accept who you are going to marry, don't get married!

It is possible though, to influence an unbelieving spouse through your virtuous actions and then they may change on their own free will. But a person needs to accept God on their own time frame.

Don't Get Discouraged

God’s Plan For You This Year

Have you thought about wrapping up the old year? How about plans for the new year?

It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.

One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”

In the introduction to "Relentless Grace" I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.

I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.

Seizing the Gospel of Grace for YourselfPremium Content

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

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Help My UnbeliefPremium Content

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

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You Belong!

The longing to belong is very powerful and foundational to our sense of self. But there is an infinitely greater pull -- Father's. He is constantly seeking us out and calling our heart to his!

"My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26

When we respond to this call it becomes a homecoming. The prodigal came to himself while slopping hogs and experienced a homecoming that he never imagined possible. How about you? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you belong? Don't allow anyone to tell you something else.

Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, "God put me in second-class. I don't really belong." Isaiah 56:2 Msg

There are religious outsiders who will judge you. Their only agenda is dissuading your journey to Father's heart. As a matter of fact they don't even understand the conversation of the heart. Belonging empowers you to embrace and live in Grace. Belonging is the path to love. And belonging is bigger and louder than the voices of rejection.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. (Brennan Manning)

Even the darker parts of our journey become a homecoming. In the state of belonging we can truly rest. Read the following scriptures and settle in to belonging.

What does "Pray Without Ceasing" Mean?

Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 declares that God's will for us is that we

[p]ray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.

To pray unceasingly does not mean spending twenty-four hours daily in prayer. >b>Rather, it means being open continually to God, sharing our thoughts and hopes with Him in mental prayer, and so on. It means, as we face a problem, praying, in a sentence, "Lord, help me with this problem"; or, "Give me patience as I talk with this trying person"; or, "Thank you for seeing me through that mess," and similar prayers.

O. Hallesby years ago wrote, "We cannot breathe in the early morning in such a way that it will be sufficient until noon. Likewise, we cannot pray in the morning so as to suffice until noon."

Continual sentence prayers are simply Christian breathing. They keep us alive and strong.

The Sea in the Ship is All Wrong

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2


There's an old saying: "The ship in the sea is alright. The sea in the ship is all wrong. The Church in the world is alright. The world in the church is all wrong."

Everything you and I believe as Christians flies in the face of our post-modern culture. We believe in a God who has made His existence known to everyone (Romans 1:18-22) despite the strong denials of man. We believe in a God who has communicated to us in clear terms in a book called the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). We believe in absolutes, for we believe in a God who is Truth Himself, and who tells us what is right and what is wrong. We believe in the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16, 17) who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." John 14:6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the way to God and the only way to God, and we deny that He is merely a way, a truth and a life, and one of the ways to God. Understand that we do not say this because we believe our opinion is greater than someone else's, but because Christ Himself said this about Himself, and we believe His claims are valid, trustworthy and true... We believe too that if Christ is not THE way to God, then He is a liar, and not even one of the ways to God. Jesus Christ is either who He claimed to be, or else He is a fraud, or perhaps a lunatic. But what He could never be is merely one of the ways to God. If we take His words with any seriousness at all, then we have to admit that His own claims deny this very possibility.

Is the price Jesus paid for you and me enough?

"It cost God plenty to get you and me out of that dead-end, empty-headed life we grew up in."

Is the price Jesus paid for you and me enough? Do you feel that you need to add your (good intentioned) efforts-kind of like the "Cross of Calvary", plus you? We may need to meditate on the following scriptures to sort out the before questions.

I posted this recently, but have a strong sense from God that someone desperately needs this truth, right at this moment! Please stand with me in intercession for those who truly can't live another day without the revelation of Calvary.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And just barely free either; abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, and everything on planet earth.

Are You "Doing" or Actually Giving Your Heart?Premium Content

God is not looking for you to "DO" more for him. He is simply and passionately looking for more "OF YOU". He is looking for more of your heart.

His constant passionate cry is:

My child, give me your heart. (Proverbs 23:26)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show HIMSELF STRONG on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9a, NKJV)

You are at your best resting in His loving heart and grace, not in some piety or religious service and performance. Even though it may be well intentioned. "Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into (by faith through grace) what God does for you. True freedom develops best in the fierce battle to live loved and to love others by the fruit of grace."

The Christian may be like a ship tossed in a storm. Nobody on board may be aware that the ship is making headway at all. Yet it is sailing on at great speed (but not without resistance). Great winds and storms help fruit-bearing trees. So also do corruptions and temptations help the fruitfulness of grace and holiness...corruptions and temptations develop the fruit of humility, self-abasement and mourning in a deeper search for the grace by which holiness grows strong. But only later will there be visible fruits of increased holiness. (John Owen)

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