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Working Your Faith, Part One

You are “Justified” – and You Have “Access!”

Romans 5:1-2 (NIV)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

We often talk about “faith” without really understanding what faith does: what it avails us to — and how absolutely crucial it is to have an active, passionate, steadily deepening experience of that faith.

 

But to be a “believer” really means that our entire life – everything we do, our way of looking at our present and our future — is founded in our belief — our faith — in God’s goodness, love for us, and protection, provision, and abundance.

We know that our faith is of utmost importance to God, because we’re told in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith, we can’t please Him. In the Greek translation, in this context, “to please” means “to be fully agreeable.” So, in other words, without faith you cannot fully agree with God! And agreeing with God is definitely something we want to do – simply because we love Him… He is our Lord… He is our everything!

So faith is important if we want to be in agreement with God, and please Him. But there are other life-transforming truths about what faith accomplishes.

Paul concludes in Romans 3:28:
“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Just as Romans 5:1-2 states, we have been “justified” by our faith. To justify is “to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation.” I think of “being justified” as, “just as if it had never happened.” A person cannot be “justified” by works, or “self righteousness.” Only faith is enough to justify us – and specifically, in Christ: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” Romans 3:22.

Now, you might be thinking, “Ok, Paula…we’ve already been justified – judged, and found worthy of salvation, by our faith…how much better can it get than that?”

Well, it actually does get better. According to Romans 5:1, our faith is actually what brings us into peace with God – because peace with God is a work of Jesus!

Definitions of peace include, “state of quiet or tranquility;” “freedom from disturbance or agitation;” “freedom from fear, terror, anger, anxiety quietness of mind; calmness;” “quiet of conscience;” “heavenly rest;” “the happiness of heaven.”

Romans 5:2 says:
“…through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Peace with God brings us into His Presence! Because of Jesus and the finished work of the cross we can come to God. It is faith that gives you access — or entry – to God – and His promises!

Next up: Working Your Faith, Part Two: Persevering through Your Faith

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Working Your Faith, Part Two

How “Trouble” Builds Your Faith “Muscle!”

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

We all know that being a believer doesn’t mean we are not going to see trouble; in fact, we are actually advised not to be surprised or think it “strange” when we experience negative events or situations (see 1 Peter 4:12).

 

Because we live in a fallen world, troubles are going to come. We lost “perfection” when Adam forfeited the right to live in the Garden of Eden, allowing the enemy to lie and steal away his promise. After that, the human race was guaranteed to experience every bad thing that a fallen world would offer.

However, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, our “bad times” now have a “good outcome”…and we will experience a greater manifestation of character, and ultimately, hope — if we persevere through the pain and suffering.

How does this happen? Well, we’ve already established that Romans 5:1 makes it clear that our faith brings us into peace with God…and that peace with God is a work of Jesus. Jesus did us a favor by shedding His blood on the cross…and through our belief in Him, we are given “access by faith into this grace” – permission to enter into the throne room of God…to access to His grace, His promise, His provision, and protection.

In verse 3, Paul goes on to reveal that even as we have moved in this peace with God, we are GOING to eventually face “suffering.”

In John 16:33, Jesus says:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Here Jesus warns that, while we WILL have peace through Him, in this world we are undoubtedly going to have trouble…suffering…tribulation…pressure! But Jesus also tells us to “take heart” – because, through our belief in Him, we are heirs to the victory He attained. Christ overcame everything and anything the world could possible bring in the way of trouble; more than that, He overcame the ultimate condition of suffering – death!

Therefore, we should acknowledge — and accept — that suffering, trouble, and tribulation confirms the peace we have with God. This is why Paul uses the phrase, “I glory in tribulation…” — not because tribulation in and of itself is good…but because we realize it signals our position of favor with God.

We should also go on and “glory in tribulation”…or, acknowledge the greater promise our suffering will produce – because we realize we can come out on the other end of the trial with an even greater ability to persevere (“persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement”). Perseverance is key in attaining God’s promises. I believe perseverance is the number one behavioral characteristic believers must have to see God’s promises come to fruition through the long haul!

Additionally, perseverance will ultimately reveal in us a more “Christ-like” character — and a stronger determination to experience the “glory” of a life of promise on earth, and an eternal life with God after our death.

Therefore, as you are experiencing trouble, you must learn to

“work it out – and wait it out!” Let your faith “work” for you, as you wait for your season of trial to pass. It may not “feel” good”… but if you believe God’s Word, you know there’s a purpose to the pain! (No pain, no gain, right?)

You learn to persevere, and wait out seasons of financial stress…wait out seasons of relationship trouble…wait out physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional attack…wait out seasons of negative rumor and false words being spoken about you. Ultimately, wait out the devil!

The King James version uses the term, “tribulation worketh patience.” In the Greek, “tribulation” means “pressure, trouble;” “worketh” means “to do or work fully; accomplish, finish, fashion;” and “patience” means “cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy, waiting.”

Ultimately, our faith is almost like a muscle: to gain its optimal level and condition, it is taken through “workouts!” “Suffering” becomes like an “exercise routine” in our life — that will undoubtedly cause pain – but will produce excellent results!

So when you are wondering why trouble, trial, pain or suffering seems to be a part of your life…remember that it takes all of these experiences to “work” our faith. Because faith is like a muscle – and you have to” work it” — for it to “work for you!”

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Faith That Sustains

Today I believe God has given me a clear word to share with you – on releasing the miracle-working power of a “faith that sustains!”

Today, it is clear we live in troubled times – unemployment at record levels (over 9%), defaulting mortgages and foreclosures still increasing, political leaders unable to work together to make decisions for our country’s well-being, families torn apart by violence… wherever you turn, the news seems dire. The fact is — we are witnessing a modern “famine in the land”…where there is not only a dire need for the saving Word of God –but there is a literal shortage of provision!

 

The classic biblical illustration of God operating in a time of famine is found in 1 Kings 17 – where God uses the illustration of the widow of Zarephath — whose offering and sacrifice to the Prophet Elijah was rewarded by a double miracle. This woman obeyed the voice of the Prophet Elijah, and in return prospered mightily!

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. -1 Kings 17:15

The widow of Zarephath is an example of how faith and obedience move God to release His miraculous provision in tough economic times! But this was only the first miracle released through her faithful obedience and sacrifice! In verse 17 we read miracle number two: after her son fell sick and died, the woman turned to Elijah in her sorrow. And, Elijah interceded, praying and crying out to God to resurrect the son of this woman, who’d obeyed the Lord’s command to offer up all that she had; and in verse 22, it says: the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

The widow woman’s faith and obedience were the keys that unlocked God’s provision and resurrection power! Even amid a famine in the land — God can resurrect dead things in your life! Your faith is the determining mechanism that activates God’s promises! And when your act of faith is a sacrifice, God sees that your faith is bigger than your problems!


DO YOU NEED A MIRACLE TODAY?

Perhaps you need a miracle in your family, your faith or your body? As you hear the voice of the Lord and sow your offering to sustain the work of God’s Kingdom, it’s your faith that’s moving the heart of God! I encourage you right now to release your faith-filled gift of sustainment as God speaks to you, into the fertile soil of this ministry… Help us continue to:

  • Reach over 150 nations through our television program to give hope, healing, and empowerment in Christ…
  • Touch the hungry and the hurting through our humanitarian efforts like our “Table in the Wilderness Feeding” and “Back to School Bash”…
  • Bring life transformation through Christ, by giving people the tools they need to understand God’s Word, overcome life’s obstacles, and discover their unique destinies and abundant life in Christ!

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