Judge Not

I have attached a list of Scriptures below that should be studied together to see what the Lord had instructed concerning the common directive that is so often quoted out of context.  The phrase is “Judge not lest ye be also judged” and is used to silence those who disagree or would condemn an action. 

The verses (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37) were a part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, where Jesus was instructing those who would live righteous in this world.  They were not given as prohibitive and all encompassing laws but rather the prohibition of devaluing others.  The words “judge not” simply means do not pass judgment or condemnation and has to do with a person’s worth.  It does not mean to have no opinion or discernment about an action but rather to not allow that discernment to lessen that person’s value to you or to God. 

A good example of this is iron in its natural state is rust mixed with soil and has no apparent value.  When that Iron is mined and processed, the impurities are removed and heat is added, along with other minerals is specified amounts, it becomes steel that becomes quite strong.  Because we see others in their raw and impure form we should not consider them of no value, but God knows what He has in mind for each of us and that is of great value to Him.

When placing these verses along with the other verses such as I John 4:1 where we are commanded to “try the spirits”, it sounds like a contradiction, but it is not.  Even though we are forbidden to pass judgment on a person’s value, we are commanded to measure the spirit behind the action and to know if that spirit is of God.  These are two completely different responses to two completely different applications for two completely different reasons.  Judging deals with another person’s value in his service for comparison, while discernment addresses the spirit behind the action for the benefit of the fellowship.

Further, discernment is based upon the fruit of the individual which exposes the spirit directing the action.  Mt 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.   Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Jesus went on to say in John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.  It simply cannot be that we are directed to “judge not” in one place and then “Judge righteousness judgment” in another place unless there is a difference of application.  The answer is that we are forbidden to pass judgment based upon appearance (respect of persons) but we are commanded to discern the force behind the actions.  We are commanded to examine the fruit and the witness of the Spirit of God. 

Another point is that we should listen and follow those whom God has placed as our spiritual leaders who have given their lives into His service and have grown into spiritual maturity.  These gifted leaders are chosen by God and given to the church to equip the membership.

In summary then, we are not instructed to disregard sinful or evil activity, but rather, to stand on principles and against evil spirits, not against people.  The person is not the problem but the evil spirit must be confronted.  This is why we should pray for our pastor and church leaders as they stand between evil forces and the church and we are to support them.

Mt 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

 Lu 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

 1Co 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. {judgment: Gr. day}

******************** versus *********************

1Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Mt 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

 Mt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

For Thy Sake

Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Sometimes we read a Scripture that just doesn’t seem to make sense and may even seem contradictory to how we understand life.  One such verse is found in the above verse in Genesis 3:17.  It all seems okay until we get to the highlighted portion of the verse.  We expect God to judge man for his sinful acts of disobedience so the curse of the ground seems right, but the addition of the phrase “for thy sake” just doesn’t seem to fit.  It is because of what we do not know that makes it seem like a displaced phrase.  It would seem that if God wanted to do something for man that He would have made it easier, yet God did just the opposite and made it harder.

In order for the verse to make sense you need to put it in context with God’s plan for man.  Go back to Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  God did not intend that man would be completed by simply forming a body and breathing life into him.  His plan is far more complex and wonderful than that.  The making of man’s body was but a part of the creation of man.  Remaining was the completion of his soul and spirit.  Notice the different words used to describe His work.  First, He “created time and space” (make something out of nothing) and then He made man (fashioned a body out of the dust He had already created.  We know that because the Scriptures uses different words to describe His work (Created and made).  Further, we know that because of the description of the finished product.  Man would be made in the image of God, that in the similitude of God, or in a similar way.  The Bible teaches that God is a Trinity which means that God is known in three persons (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit), yet there is only one God.  The best illustration that I know of a trinity is that we are also a trinity.  I have a body, but that is not all there is to me.  I also have a soul containing my mind and will, yet that does not include all there is to me either.  Thirdly, I have a spirit and yet that is not the whole of me.  It takes all three; body, soul and spirit, to describe the whole of the person I am.  I am body, soul and spirit, yet there is only one of me.  I am made in the image or similitude of God.

Secondly, God said that we were to be made in the likeness of God.  We know that Adam and Eve sinned and that event changed man from a man without sin to a slave of sin.  His will was no longer to serve God but it had been changed to serve himself because the very nature of sin is to reject the authority of God and to make ourselves the authority that governs our lives.   God is great enough to make a way when there was no way to redeem man.  The damage was done and now God had the task of redeeming fallen man and then to complete His image and likeness within man so that his conduct would be in complete agreement with the nature of God. 

To complete God’s likeness will require man to undergo a complete overhaul from a rebellious selfish being into a new creation of God (2 Corinthians 56:17).  Man now must be confronted with his sin and see it for what it is.  The truth of sin is horrible for sin is a degenerating, destructive, degrading, deforming, decaying, and deliberate attack on the authority of God. That nature must die in order for new life to begin.  We will not reject sin until we see it for what it is and reject it like a poisonous snake. 

At this point we are now ready to choose for ourselves who and what will reign over us.  Just as in the garden of Eden there are two choices, The Tree of Life (Jesus) or the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Satan).  You will choose one or the other as there is no other choice (Romans 6:16).  To choose Jesus you will follow Him by faith in Him and His Word.  Once this choice is made, God promises to lay all the charges against you on Jesus; you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide you and to teach you; and you receive the promise of New Life through this world and for eternity.

So getting back to the original question of why is the curse for our benefit.  It is because it is the problems of life that God uses to teach us His ways and His truth.  Without them we would have no way of discovering the consequence of sin and turning from it.  I learn more from my mistakes and failures than I do from my successes.  As I build my life on truth, righteousness and knowledge I begin to take on the appearance of my new life.  Without the struggles we would never let go of sin.

Getting to know God – 7

God Is Eternal

De 33:2

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

As we study the character and nature of God, we find that He is described as The Eternal God.  In comprehending what that means we must first define the meaning of the word eternal and then try to grasp the implications, and the applications

In our attempt to grasp the concept of an Eternal God, we must try to understand the meaning of endless or infinite.  That is extremely difficult in a world of time and space where everything is understood by its measurements of distance, dimensions (height, width, breath) and time.  To conceive of anything beyond that would place it outside of time and space.  It would not be subject to the “laws of nature” and its existence would not be the same as it is within time and space.  The dynamic of life outside of time and space is referred to as Eternity.  God therefore is not a being like we are however we are made in the similitude of God.  Therefore we are not the product of creation (evolution) but since we were in the mind of God before creation and creation was made for us. (Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:) We are the product of God’s plan and we were given the capacity to know Him as the Eternal God.

The implications of this truth are simply amazing.  For example; since God is eternal, He is incapable of changing.   If God could somehow become greater than He already is then He would not be eternal.  Likewise, if He could become less than He already is then He would not be eternal.  To be eternal means that God can neither become greater or less than He already is.  Another implication is that since God cannot become less or more than He already is then He must also be immortal, that is He cannot die or be destroyed.  A third implication is that He must possess eternal power.  That is His power cannot be lessened or increased.  It cannot be exhausted or used up nor can it be overpowered, all of which would mean that He is changed and therefore not eternal.  A forth implication is that He cannot be surprised.  He must have all knowledge or He would be evolving and therefore not be eternal.  These and other implications are all tied to this one truth that God is Eternal.

The applications of this truth are equally amazing.  Everything God has ever promised is accompanied by certainty.  It absolutely will come to pass.  That is one of the reasons that the test of a prophet was that he was never wrong.  Prophecy simply means speaking forth God’s Word, therefore a prophet of God could not prophecy anything that was not backed up by God Himself.  Have you noticed that every promise of God is an eternal promise, while every promise of Satan is a temporal (temporary) promise?  Consider that God promises Eternal Life (promised no less than 21 times in the New Testament); Eternal joy; Eternal peace; Eternal Salvation and an Eternal inheritance.  Because He is an Eternal God, He is good for it and you can count on it being so. 

For those who reject God’s promised blessings there is but one other promise and that is Eternal Judgment.  He isn’t just trying to scare you but He is trying to warn you and it is just as certain as all of His promises for good.  There are consequences of both good and bad and the choice of the outcome is up to you.  You really should get to know God.

Getting To Know God – 6

God is Spirit

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The correct translation of Jesus’ words are “God is Spirit” for there is no article in the Greek language.  He is not just another spirit for there is none other like Him nor is His composition of a common spirit.  He is the sum of the Eternal Spiritual realm.  The Eternal Spiritual realm does not have it’s equal in the physical realm of the creation for He is before creation and therefore is not subject to it.  Neither do we have a clear picture of the essence of God for all we know is based on our understanding of the created and from within the creation.

However there are some things that God has revealed about Himself that helps us to comprehend who and what He is.  For example, Jesus said in Luke 24:39 A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having.  He is not composed of matter such as is all of creation for He is before creation and by Him all of creation exists.  He is Spirit which is existence before and beyond time and space.  This raises a question about places in the Scripture that reference God as having body parts, such as hands, feet, eyes and ears.  These Scriptures are what is called anthropomorphic and symbolic representations to help us within the finite to comprehend something of the infinite and to give us a concept of a real and personally involved God.

The second revelation of God is that He is invisible.  The Bible states that He is the invisible God (Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:15, I Timothy 1:17).  The Israelites recorded that they saw “no manner of form” when the Lord appeared before them at Mt Horeb (Mt. Saini).  Further, God told Moses that no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20).  John stated “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  There is the promise that the redeemed will eventually see Him (Psalms 17:15, Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 12:14, Revelation 22:4).

The third revelation that God has given is that He is alive.  The Bible declares Him to be the living God 30 times in Scripture (Some examples:  Joshua 3:10, I Samuel 17:26, Psalms 84:2, Matthew 16:16, I Thessalonians 1:9).  In John 14:6 Jesus declared that He is “the Life”.  When Adam’s body was formed from the dust of the ground, God breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and man became a living soul.  We have our existence out of the very breath of life itself.  He is not only alive but he is the source of all life (John 5:26, Psalms 36:9).  This includes all plants, animals, human, spiritual and eternal life.  Since all life forms originate from God, they do not equate to God, but only aid in our understanding of Him.  Because nothing physical can properly portray the glory and majesty of God, man was forbidden to make an idol of God.  It is noteworthy that all of the idols of man are dead, whereas God is alive.

Finally, we come to the fourth revelation that God has given of himself and that is of individuality.  We speak of God in the singular and quote: Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  God is one and beside Him there is no other.  Some accuse Christians of having three Gods; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Though it may sound like they are three separate Gods, they are all one in the same way that we are individuals.  I have a body but that is not all there is to me; I have a soul and mind, yet that is not all there is to me; and I have a spirit nor is that all there is to me.  The body, soul and spirit are all one person and only describe different dynamics of this complex person that I am.  God is a trinity and he made man a trinity so that he might comprehend something of the dynamic and complexity of God.  God is described as having intellect, sensibility and volition.  He is represented as speaking, seeing, hearing, anger, compassionate, etc.  We speak of God as one being, in three persons.  In answer to the question, How can that be; it is answered in the same way that I am one person, with three dynamics of physical, volitional and spiritual.  I can be at the same time; a father, a husband and a son, depending on the position of consideration, and be without conflict.

In our efforts to know God, our difficulty is not in the teaching of the Scripture, but in our own limitations that we place on God.  He is greater than all that we can comprehend or know.  It is like viewing the mountains for the first time.  At first they seem to be quite small and insignificant but as you draw closer to them they seem to grow bigger and bigger until they seem to each to the sky.  The truth is that they were always that big but your understanding is what has grown.  Getting to know God will change your perception of Him.

Getting To Know God – 5

God is Righteous

When we look at the righteousness of God it is like a cut diamond.  There are so many different facets that the sum of each facet works together to compose the beauty of the whole.  The one word righteous is a description of the character and nature of God, diffused into all areas of life. 

The word “righteous” is defined in the Old Testament as “just, lawful, and equitable”.  It is both stable and consistent in all situations.  It is fair and therefore reasonable.  It is does not excuse the guilty but it does not stand in the way of restoration.  It considers all possibilities for all that is involved to find the most equitable resolution. 

Righteousness requires that the standards of righteousness be met.  Jesus asked, “can two walk together unless they be agreed”.  In order for God and man to be in agreement, they must meet on common ground.  Since God cannot change, then man must meet God on His terms.  This presents a real problem because man is sinful and God is Holy.  Man cannot raise himself to God’s standard because of his sin, and God cannot change to become sinful, we have an impossible situation.  No amount of effort or good works can change the sinful nature of man, therefore God has provided a way for man to be reconciled to God in His meeting the demand for justice in paying the cost for man’s sin (Death) in meeting that requirement Himself on the cross, and there by giving man the choice to be justified for his sin nature.

It is the righteousness of God that made the way for helpless and hopeless man to be justified.  God didn’t look on man’s condition as one of alienation but as one that can be redeemed.  He isn’t against man but He is against sin for sin is a rejection of His very nature. Man must make the choice to either accept God’s nature or choose to keep the old sinful nature that he is born with.  To make that choice is to also choose the consequences that it brings.  Therefore man chooses his outcome and destination.  God doesn’t want anyone to end up in hell as the Bible says, “It is not God’s will that any perish”.  Hell wasn’t made for man but was made for the devil and his angles.  God doesn’t send man to hell but man chooses to go there because he rejects the transforming work of Christ in refusing to follow Him.   

Some of the facets of the righteousness of God include fairness, justice, discernment, purity, Holiness, purity, virtue, and deliverance.  These (and others) are seen in the ways and works of God.  God is often seen as the Judge of all mankind.  While this is true, that alone is an incomplete statement.  He is not just a judge, He is The Righteous Judge.  2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. He sees beyond the simple act to the intent of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 

It is important that we see God as righteous.  While that does include discernment of the truth about ourselves it also includes His love and mercy toward us.  His desire is for us, that is He is ever longing and working for our good and bringing us to Himself and separating us from our sin that would enslave us and ultimately destroy us.

Getting To Know God – 4

God is Faithful

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we consider God within the context of His faithfulness we are sometimes left with the question, “so . . . ?”  There is no immediate revelation or shocking statement that grabs our attention as some of the other attributes of God does.  That is not to say that it is unimportant nor does it say that this is a lesser attribute but we do not see how vital a roll this attribute of God really is.  We have the tendency to simply take it for granted that God’s nature is so beyond us that of course, God is faithful, that is how God is. 

The word, faithful, means to us that God will keep His word and that He will always be there for us.  While that is true, it does not even come close to the fullness of its meaning.  It also cast a picture of God as some genie that provides us with that which we do not have and will be there for us in the event of some overwhelming situation that we cannot handle.  You see the picture; we are living our lives and God is our assistant while we are in control for the most of the time.  We are number one and God is in a supporting role.  Life is measured by my success and accomplishments; this would make us idolaters because God would have been demoted to being under us so that which has been elevated above has become an idol.  I am sure that the vast majority of people would never consciously choose this simplistic picture but the reality is that a number of people choose it because they do not see the importance of the faithfulness of God.

The faithfulness of God is an attribute of God that describes his dependability which is itself dependent up the immutability of God.  For those of you who are not familiar with immutability, it means the essence, attributes and consciousness of God that is unchangeable.  In this world that is struggling to find something solid that will stand and withstand all the forces against us, God is the one thing that will never change.  He is what He always has been and He will remain the same even after heaven and earth is passed away, and on forever.  He cannot change for the better for He is already perfect; neither can He change for the worse for the same reason.  Therefor His word is consistent throughout time and what was true before creation is also true within creation.  His plan for man is the same now as it was prior to man’s sin and Satan’s temptations could never thwart God’s plan for man.  It is both comforting and reassuring to know that God is great enough to bring us all the way home.

The application of this characteristic of God is tremendous.  Anything we have discover about God as to His character and essence is always true.  For example; Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  And I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  In these two verses (and there are many other like verses) we see the eternal God consistently working to deliver us from the grip of sin.  There is no sin that He cannot forgive and He is ever reaching to us to set us free from sin’s grip.  God is faithful in His and purpose and only our own stubborn will prevents us from availing ourselves of this deliverance.

Getting to Know God – Part 3

God is Holy

Ps 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

In getting to know God, we must understand that God is Holy. What that means is that He is not like man.  A huge mistake that we make in considering what God is like is thinking that he is like us.  While it is true that man was made in the image of God, God is not in the image of man.  There are a number of major differences.  First of all, man is a created being but God has no beginning.  He is the creator but He was never created, Himself.  Our understanding comes from things that we know and our perspective is from within time and space and not outside of time and space.  Man was made in the similitude of God so that we could get some idea of what God is like but it is a mistake to equate man to God.  Man is finite while God is omnipotent; man is limited in knowledge but God is omniscient; man is contained within time and space while God is omnipresent; and man is under constant change while God is immutable, or unchangeable.  These differences are a great chasm between God and man.  That chasm was created by sin leaving man estranged from God and God estranged from man.  On the one side is Holy God and on the other is sinful man.  God cannot become less than holy or He ceases to be God.  Once man became sinful, he became incapable of making himself holy, righteous and good.

The second fact about the holiness of God is that we cannot make that crossing on our own.  God alone has the power, knowledge, presence, and will to reach across this chasm to make a way for man to cross to Him.  That way to God is Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  That way was opened when Jesus died on the cross and thereby opening the way to God.  Man must now be changed or transformed by the new birth experience which is also known as being born again.  God joins His Holy Spirit in the same way that the sperm is joined with the egg to make a new life; this new birth completes the transformation of the spirit.  The metamorphous must also happen to the soul in a process that we know as sanctification where our mind and will are transformed to be like the mind of Christ and a heart of love.  It is also where we take on the attributes of God, such as longsuffering, patients, etc.  It takes a lifetime for God to complete this change.  Finally, the body is metamorphosed or changed into a new body that is eternal and is like that of the resurrected Christ.  This is called glorification and happens at the rapture or catching away, where we are fully and finally completed in the image of God.

The third and final thing that we should learn about the holiness of God is that we must approach God in reverence, respect and awe.  This is the Biblical response of all who ever came into the presence of God.  It is not a requirement to be met by some merit and cannot be faked.  It is the natural response just as dry ground absorbs the rain.  It is the result of the discovery of who God really is.  It is the spiritual response of a child that has come home.

The Flaming Sword

Occasionally, I like to address a Scripture that is commonly misunderstood.  Today is one of those days.  The Scripture is found in Genesis 3:22-24 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:  23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

A common understanding is that since man sinned, he was driven out of the garden where the tree of life was located because he couldn’t be trusted any more and the angel with the flaming sword was stationed there to protect the tree of life by preventing man from ever returning. 

There are several things wrong with that interpretation.  First, God was not protecting the tree of life from man but rather He was protecting man from the tree of life.  Had Adam taken from the tree of life, he would have sealed his own doom because that would have sealed his eternity in the fallen state and God had greater thing planned for man.  It would have destroyed God’s plan of man being completed in God’s image, likeness and authority.  Man needed time to be changed into that likeness.

Second, it was not an angel that was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, but a Cherubim, which means spiritual enforcer.  This was not to prevent man from taking from the Tree of Life, but to restrict man until he would come restored to a right relationship. 

Thirdly there are two directives as to man’s exodus.  In verse 23 states that the Lord sent him forth from the garden to till the ground from whence he was taken.  The ground was cursed for man’s sake (v. 17)  He needed to see the effect of sin in order to turn from it and back to God.  Then in verse 24 we see that man was driven out.  Man had willfully gone against God and he needed to understand that thereare consequences for sin.  God will not lower His standards and wink at our sin.  It will take God’s intervention to deal with sin and it was pictured in the slaying of the animal for their new coverings or clothing.

Fourthly,  the flaming sword is described in Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: as the Word of God.  We know it as the Scriptures or The Bible.  It is further described in Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  You cannot fool God and He will know you to the depth of your inner most being.  Entrance is restricted to only one way, the way of the cross.

Finally, the phrase “to keep the way” does not mean to keep the way closed, but just the opposite, to keep the way open.  Though it is kept open it is still restricted to meet God’s standards.  There is hope for man to complete God’s plan for man by entering in the manner that God is pleased with and that is the was of Faith in Jesus.  However, we must come repentant of our self-government and surrender our will to the Lord Jesus for it is His blood the brings our sin into submission.  Without that blood there is no remission.

Having Faith

Yesterday, while my wife and I were shopping for Christmas gifts, I noticed a lady in the store who looked at me as though she knew me and then walked over to me and asked me if there was anything that she could pray for me about.  My immediate reaction was where did this come from?  I don’t know you and this is so out of the ordinary so why do you want to pray for me?  I made no response but knowing that the Lord works in wondrous ways.  I thought about it for a moment and the first thing that came to mind was the Christian Training Center in Japan so I asked her to pray for that.  I specifically asked that she not pray that the Lord would bring it to pass but that we would be sensitive to what the Lord had planned.

I have learned that God is not concerned about the doing of mission projects as He is about our walking by faith in Him.  After all, He is the one doing the work, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.  You see, God’s greatest work is us.  He is completing His image in us so that the world can comprehend what He is like.  He will bring it to pass without our effort if we will “believe in Him”.  Another way to say it is “if we will have faith in Him”.   

In my Bible studies I try to find the exact meaning of the original language in order to accurately understand.  This led me to an amazing discovery and that is that the word we translate as “faith” is pistis, which means to trust, rely on, or follow.  Then I found that the word that we translate as “believe” is also pistis, and has the exact same meaning.  The only difference is that faith is a verb or action, whereas believe is a noun or the act of trusting.  In other words you can substitute one for the other without violating the meaning.  For example, in Mark 9:23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  This is an amazing promise and most people believe that God can do anything. However, if you substitute the word faith, for the word believe it takes on a whole new dimension.  Now it reads “. . .if thou canst faith, all things are possible.”  Do you see the implication?  What is holding God back from doing, is our unbelief or our non-faith in Him.  In other words we are the limiting factor in God working. 

Most of the time, we focus on the doing, instead of the believing.  That is because the carnal mind is trying to earn God’s favor but God has removed effort from the formula of pleasing him and now all that is required is for us to “believe in Him” or “to have faith in Him”.  God’s part is the doing and our part is the believing.  He works through our faith but He doesn’t work because we work.  God’s power is only exercised upon our position of faith in Him.  This is perfectly aligned with James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Our efforts should first be to know the Lord intimately, and then to discover what He is doing and join Him.  He does not join us to fulfill all our plans and dreams but when our plans and dreams are to see Him magnified here on earth we will see Him do amazing things.