Kingdom Principle: Convicted by the Spirit=Freedom. Convicted by the Law=Judgment.
Faith does not get you out of hardship; it brings you through unharmed…
|Genesis 12:1-4a||Psalm 121||Romans 4:1-5, 13-17||John 3:1-17|
My kids found the show “Fear Factor” the other day… and the show still has the same draw… do you believe you can do “it” enough to overcome the challenge or – will you simply drop out… for the most part this is a mental game not a physical necessity. This week we are going to look at the challenge that deepening one’s faith offers to believers. While faith is matter of the heart, it does begin with mental decisions. Two weeks ago, I suggested that intentions get you no where, while convictions will be proved by actions… this post will picks up that concept and shows that it requires a deep level of faith to discover your convictions. Some will choose to have just enough faith to merely see the Kingdom of Heaven, while others take up the charge to advance the Kingdom. Learn here what the difference is… Power Per-Mission addresses the concepts of being born again and the reality of seeing the Kingdom of God vs. advancing the Kingdom. Please read that blog before this one, to understand and embrace the necessity of the initiation and work of the Spirit in the process of faith as presented below:
I have said elsewhere – (and not just I, but the Apostle Peter more clearly) that Christians shall not look at suffering with surprise or disdain. (1 Peter 4:12-19) However, are we as followers of Jesus called to take steps to increase our suffering for the sake of the Cross? (This is not a twisted invite or to pick a fight with the enemy) Jesus tells us to carry our cross, (Matt. 16:24) but does that mean that we must carry it any further than Jesus is asking us to carry it? Is it wrong to carry your cross farther than Jesus asked you to carry it? (I hold the conviction that the Holy Spirit will bring deep conviction when we are out of line with the will of God, meaning; you are free to follow your heart, until conviction comes. (John 16:8, 1 Cor. 6:12). This is how God will teach you the purity or impurity of your heart, it depends on if you get your desires or deep conviction (Psalm 20:4, 37:4) Further, we are called by Jesus to go 2 miles if we are told to go 1 by an “oppressor”… (Matt 5:41-42) Yet, when Jesus asks us to go 1 mile, how it is that we feel so satisfied without any compelling need to even go 1.5 miles? In this we have chosen to apply the letter of the law to Jesus, rather than listening to the very Spirit of the Law that is within Jesus. (2 Cor. 3:3-6, 1 Cor. 2:6-16) I believe that when Jesus calls us to go 1 mile – it is a minimum, and the depth of our conviction to listen, learn and love in the Spirit will lead us to know just how far Jesus is opening up the road for us to walk. All too often we stop to celebrate our arrival at 1 mile, missing the even better rewards which were waiting down the road. The convictions below are demonstrated in the lives of those who pushed on and pursued freedom in faith.
When we choose to do more than is being asked of us – we first must ask, WHY I am doing this….? When my goal is to earn any reward or merit, the work is in vain and we might as well not even go the first mile. However, if in going the distance that the Lord has required, we are motivated and filled with conviction of faith to press on, we must trust our hearts. This is the working out of our faith with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12) When we do only what we are told, this is not faith, this is obedience. We must learn to do that which is foolish for the sake of the Kingdom.
- Abraham was clearly foolish to leave what he knew to go somewhere where he was clueless as to where or why he was going.
- Nicodemous was clearly foolish to compromise his great power, influence and stature risking it all by hanging out with a man who many considered a lunatic. How much more crazy for him to believe that other lunatics and liars that associate with this rebel are on par with him, for he was an educated elite.
- Paul was clearly foolish to abandon the worldview and religious security, which has established the wellbeing of his family for generations, to follow a “God” that declares to call things into being that are not even there.
- The Psalmist is clearly foolish to believe that no harm will come to him, regardless of those who pursue him or war against him, believing that not even the heavens can bring harm to his life.
- How has this foolishness of faith, entered your world and did these individuals become who they are to us today, by doing the minimum or by going beyond what they imagined even possible?
*If you have time – read the PostScrpit section below, I moved it from here – because it was too long… or just keep on reading.
Clearly this type of thinking is madness, in fact it is not thinking, it is believing. These are the convictions of faithful which guide the lives of those who trust the Lord. When a farmer plants a seed, he cannot guarantee that the seed will germinate, but that does not prevent the action based on conviction to move him forward in faith. The seed of faith is at the core of the movement of grace. Grace is the gift of life that penetrates the seed and brings the full harvest to all who worked with the hope of more to come.
Below are 4 expressions of conviction which grow our out of faith rooted in the freedom of the Spirit. This is not an issue of salvation, for that is an act of grace, this is an expression to the degree that faith is developing deeper convictions – which lead to actions that unsettle your life and cause dis-comfort when comfort can be chosen. This is not a call to actually “request” suffering in your life – this is a confession that in your intimation of the King – you are embracing an increase in suffering to follow. (Romans 5:1-5) We have seen that suffering is a reality of life, this embrace moves us from being a victim of intrusion or succumbing to the vice of invitation, to now in our suffering being a victor for Christ thru imitation. (Eph. 5:1-2, Phil 2:6-8)
Conviction 1 – “God gives life to the dead and calls things into being though they are not.” (Romans 4:17) This means I do not need to attack or move offensively to claim or take that which is before me. God can and will call into being that which is not yet a reality. I do not need to earn enough money to cover my expenses; I do not need to ensure my future, for it is secure only in him. This is an act of stewardship of the Father’s resources, rather than an accumulation of my own resources.
Conviction 2 – “God gives me freedom to move as the wind moves, not knowing where I am going or where I have come from.” (John 3:8) This means I do not need to defend my decisions; rather I live from my convictions allowing God to defend me and be my advocate when others misunderstand my actions. This is not a freedom to do harm to others, this is a freedom to love ruthlessly and express ecstasy in the Kingdom.
Conviction 3 – “God will bless those who bless me and curse those who curse me; all the people of the world will be blessed through me.” (Gen. 12:3) This conviction took years for Abraham to understand and accept. Along the journey Abraham took matters into his own hands numerous times failing to uphold convictions 1 or 2… but the reality of his life demonstrates that God does not withholding his promise until we prove our worthiness, rather he counts us worthy and then calls up to trust him. In this process as we believe the promise is true and we will grow into its reality. This conviction is difficult to embrace, for it is the true embrace of forgiveness and the release of my “enemies” unto the hand of God. In this it becomes not only possible but a conviction to pray for our enemies, for to be under the curse of God is more than they could have ever inflicted upon you.
Conviction 4 – “The LORD will keep you from all harm; he will watch over your life.” (Psalm 121:7) This is truly a conviction of deep understanding and perspective. Harm is redefined to no longer be understood as the world understands hardship. In fact as Paul says well, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) This conviction is the ultimate freedom to stand and face one’s death in perfect peace. (Acts 7:51-61)
Post Script Section:
When you cut a flower you are removing it from the stem or roots. This cutting is a pruning (John 15:2-4) which represents the freedom to embrace suffering/choice of pain. The seed was planted with the purpose of giving, living and bringing love into the world. If one chooses to retain the flower rather than for it to be given, the flower will fade and die without an increased opportunity of joy. (John 15:11) This is not to overlook the fact that an uncut flower can bring joy, for the call of the seed is to sprout, and it is a step beyond the call of the seed to actually be given in love. So the choice of those who have faith deep enough to believe that more is to come, are willing to give their lives, even to be up-rooted and transplanted to an unknown soil, trusting in the gardener (John 15:1) to care for its needs.
The seed is planted near the surface of the soil, but its roots must run deep for the fruit of faith (seed) to be harvested. This week the Scriptures present a picture of the deeper levels of conviction to which faith can and will attain as it matures. Advent of Year C (December 2012) created a picture of the seed of faith, anchored in the hope of God’s promises (soil), which produces a growth of righteousness (Joy) yielding the fruit is Peace (and when it is given away) it becomes an act of love.
- Hope is an anchor –
- Faith is an action –
- Joy is an assessment –
- Peace is an association –
- Love is an acceptance –
- You can not produce love…
- God is Spirit and the Fruit of the Sprit is Love.
- Love is a by-product of God in you.
- God’s love breaks through to you –then it transforms you as it is expressed back out.
This seed of faith is the very seed of the Father (Romans 4:17) taking root in you – this is to be born from “above” or “again”. (John 3:3-5) The seed is planted in the soil (our hearts – Matt.13:18-19) from above…. Further acts from above are poured out on the seed– water, sunlight and oxygen – to give it life. To see the spout of the seed is to know that Grace has happened. An act outside of the seed has produced life from the seed. There is no act in and of ourselves that can lead to salvation. It is always an act of grace through a means of faith.
Christians today bear little resemblance to those of the first century.
We twentieth-century Christians have become soft.
We have become absorbed with the world,
until it is now difficult to tell the difference between the Christian and the worldling.
The Bible teaches that every Christian is to live a life of self-discipline.
We Christians need to tighten our belts
and harden ourselves for the trials that lie ahead.