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a_lack_of_faith [2018/07/29 01:22] (current)
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 +=A Lack of Faith=
 +
 +Now Satan is not going to take such great work
 +lying down. We can expect Satan to oppose the work
 +of authentic evangelization vehemently. Today "the
 +whole world is under the power of the evil one," (1 John 5:19), and Satan would certainly want to maintain
 +the status quo. Satan will throw everything he has
 +got against those among God's people who are out
 +to change the world.
 +
 +Satan already has all those evil things he scourges
 +the world with. He has divorce, abortion, genocide,
 +same-sex marriage, global terrorism. But the true
 +people of God readily recognize his diabolical hand in
 +all these. And authentic evangelizers will not easily
 +fall for these evils.
 +
 +And so Satan tries to be a bit more subtle. Indeed
 +there are times when "Satan masquerades as an
 +angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:​14). ​
 +
 +We will need to put on the mind of God to be able
 +to see how Satan is trying to thwart those whom
 +God calls to do His work. We will have to see things
 +as God sees them, and not as the world does. We
 +will have to undergo paradigm shifts, letting go even
 +of the good in order to take hold of the best, going
 +beyond what is humanly possible to unleash the
 +miraculous power of God.
 +
 +Remember that God has already done all that is
 +needed to defeat darkness and evil in the world. His
 +abundant grace and the power of His Spirit are
 +available to those He calls to do His work. So now it
 +is all up to us. We can take hold of what God provides,
 +and move forward in the power of His Spirit. Or we
 +can be the ones to thwart God's intent.
 +
 +None of us would ever want to thwart God s
 +intent, but we might inadvertently or unwittingly do so.
 +
 +==A Lack of Faith==
 +The first obstacle to becoming an authentic
 +evangelizer is a lack of faith.
 +
 +We are not talking here about basic faith, or saving
 +faith, where one accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord
 +and as such is considered a Christian. We are rather
 +talking about expectant faith. This is faith that expects
 +God to do the miraculous. This is faith that moves
 +mountains.
 +
 +==God and faith==
 +Without such faith, even God cannot do much.
 +Shocked by that statement? You are thinking, is there
 +anything that God cannot do? Is anything impossible
 +for God? The answer of course is no, nothing is
 +impossible for God. But according to the mystery of
 +His workings in the life of the world, God has restricted
 +His power based on the amount of faith that His
 +disciples have. 
 +
 +In fact, God has restricted Himself to act in the
 +world through His instruments,​ you and I. God is
 +omnipotent and can do anything. With one wave of
 +His hand, He can banish evil and darkness from the
 +face of the earth. But God has not done so. Rather,
 +He has decided to work in and through human beings.
 +God calls, anoints, empowers and guides His
 +instruments. But the work He is able to accomplish
 +depends entirely on how His instruments respond.
 +When they obey and give fully of themselves, God's
 +work is manifest. When they do not, God's work is
 +thwarted.
 +
 +Unfortunately,​ seeing the sorry condition of the
 +world today it must be concluded that God's chosen
 +instruments have not been responding wholeheartedly.
 +
 +Consider what Jesus did when his heart was
 +moved with pity at the sight of the crowds because
 +they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep
 +without a shepherd. While he ministered to some of
 +them himself, he basically turned to his disciples,
 +saying, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers
 +are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send
 +out laborers for his harvest."​ (Matthew 9:37-38).
 +
 +God has already prepared an abundant harvest,
 +Jesus has already won victory by his death on the
 +cross, but the actual harvesting will be done by Jesus'
 +disciples. Unfortunately,​ there are too few of them.
 +Not because God has not called on many, but
 +because not many have fully responded.
 +
 +Now know this: Jesus himself could not do much
 +because of a lack of faith.
 +
 +When Jesus came to Nazareth, his native place,
 +many were astonished at his teachings. They could
 +not figure him out, since they reasoned out that he
 +was just a carpenter and had come from an ordinary
 +family. So they took offense at him. The result? "So
 +he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
 +apart from curing a few sick people...."​ (Mark 6:5).
 +Now appreciate this situation. Jesus had already done
 +many mighty deeds - curing a demoniac, driving out
 +many demons, cleansing a leper, healing a paralytic,
 +restoring a withered hand, calming a storm at sea,
 +raising the dead. Jesus was after all God. But now
 +he was not able to perform any mighty deed! Why?
 +"He was amazed at their lack of faith."​ (Mark 6:6).
 +Lack of faith had limited the manifestation of the
 +very power of God!
 +
 +This is important for us to realize. We must not
 +be the ones to limit God's power by a lack of faith!
 +
 +==Casting out demons==
 +Let us look at the incident where the disciples
 +could not drive out a demon. A man with a possessed
 +son had come to Jesus saying that his disciples could
 +not cure the boy. Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and
 +perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
 +How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me."
 +(Matthew 17:17).
 +
 +Notice what Jesus says. He called the disciples
 +faithless! They lacked faith in the power of God over
 +demons. He called them perverse! The dictionary
 +defines "​perverse"​ as "​contrary to the evidence"​ and
 +"​obstinate in opposing what is reasonable or
 +accepted"​ and "​arising from or indicative of
 +stubbornness or obstinacy."​ The disciples were not
 +acting according to the evidence they had already
 +witnessed of the power of God, were obstinate in
 +not fully accepting their ability to do miraculous acts
 +as reasonable, were stubborn in relying on their own
 +narrow perception of what they could accomplish as
 +God's instruments.
 +
 +Jesus sounds really exasperated. "How long will I
 +be with you?" The time was rapidly approaching when
 +he would leave and his disciples would have to carry
 +on his mission. Why were they still continuing to not fully act on their empowerment?​ "How long will I
 +endure you?" After all the training and successful
 +missions, now they were still hesitating and doubting!
 +
 +To fully appreciate this situation, we need to be
 +reminded that the disciples had already successfully
 +driven out demons. They had been given their
 +mandate: "Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse
 +lepers, drive out demons."​ (Matthew 10:8). Jesus sent
 +out 72 disciples in pairs, and they returned rejoicing,
 +saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us
 +because of your name." (Luke 10:17).
 +
 +There was even a time when the disciples had
 +become cocky with the power they were able to
 +wield. When the people of a Samaritan village would
 +not welcome Jesus, James and John indignantly
 +asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from
 +heaven to consume them?" (Luke 9:54). Such hubris!
 +
 +So why then were they unable to drive out this
 +particular demon? Jesus gave them the reason:
 +"​Because of your little faith."​ (Matthew 17:20a). What had
 +happened to their faith, given their experience of
 +already successfully driving out demons? We can only
 +speculate. Perhaps the manifestation of the presence
 +of the demon in the boy was particularly severe.
 +The boy was suffering severely, falling into fire, falling
 +into water (Matthew 17:15). Perhaps his face was
 +grotesque. Perhaps his head was turning around 360°,
 +just as we have seen in the movie The Exorcist.
 +Perhaps he was assaulting people or spewing vomit
 +on them. We really don't know. But whatever it was,
 +the faith of the disciples had been shaken.
 +
 +And so Jesus had to remind them again: "Amen,
 +I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard
 +seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here
 +to there,'​ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible
 +for you." (Matthew 17:20b).
 +
 +Mountain-moving faith! Nothing will be impossible!
 +
 +We will be able to do what God Himself does!
 +Why? Because it is God actually acting in and through
 +us. We are mere instruments.
 +
 +In fact, Jesus himself says, "Amen, amen, I say
 +to you, whoever believes in me will do the works
 +that I do, and will do greater ones than these" (John 14:12a). The works that Jesus did, we will be able
 +to do! Why does God allow such power through us?
 +Jesus says, "​because I am going to the Father."​ (John 14:12b). In other words, his part of the mission has
 +been done, and now it is our turn. Now we are to
 +carry on his mission. His mission entails working
 +miracles and doing the impossible. If his work is now
 +our work, then we can do what he has done, and do
 +even greater ones than those. We are just
 +instruments.
 +
 +But we need to have faith.
 +
 +==Peter walking on water==
 +There is another instructive incident. This is Peter walking on the water.
 +
 +The disciples were in a boat far out at sea, very
 +early in the morning, when they saw a figure walking
 +on the sea. He meant to pass by them. At first they
 +thought it was a ghost and they were terrified. At
 +once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."​ (Matthew 14:27).
 +
 +The elements of the scene - walking on the sea,
 +passing them by, the words of Jesus - made it clear
 +that it was God speaking. Job knew that God “alone
 +stretches out the heavens and treads upon the
 +crests of the sea." (Job 9:8), and Asaph says,
 +"​Through the sea was your path; your way, through
 +the mighty waters"​ (Psalm 77:20). The glory of God
 +passed by Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 33:22), and
 +the Lord passed by Elijah on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:11-12). "It is I" literally is "I am," which is the revealed name of God (Exodus 3:14).
 +
 +So Peter said, "Lord, if it is you, command me to
 +come to you on the water,"​ and Jesus replied with
 +just one word, "​Come."​ (Matthew 14:28-29). Peter had
 +seen Jesus walking on the water, he knew that
 +nothing was impossible with God, he had faith in
 +Jesus and so he asked Jesus to be able to go to
 +him on the water. A humanly impossible task! But
 +Jesus said "​come,"​ meaning that Peter'​s request is
 +granted, that he can actually do the impossible by
 +himself walking on water.
 +
 +And so Peter got out of the boat and began to
 +walk on the water toward Jesus! He was
 +accomplishing something impossible!
 +
 +But then Peter began to notice how strong the
 +wind was, how the waves were choppy, how it was
 +dark and cold. He probably looked down and saw
 +that he was walking on water! He had been at sea
 +as a fisherman all his life and this was something a
 +human being could not do! So he became frightened,
 +and began to sink. Jesus had to stretch out his hand
 +and caught him. Jesus said to him, "O you of little
 +faith, why did you doubt?"​ (Matthew 14:31).
 +
 +Again, faith or the lack of it determined the
 +working or thwarting of a miracle.
 +
 +==The power of faith==
 +But faith in God is very powerful indeed. The
 +people of God throughout the centuries "by faith
 +conquered kingdoms,​.....closed the mouths of lions,
 +put out raging fires,​.....Women received back their
 +dead through resurrection."​ (Hebrews 11:33-35). God
 +assures His people of what He is capable of doing: "I
 +will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains
 +in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a
 +marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water.
 +I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle,
 +and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
 +together with the plane tree and the pine" (Isaiah 41:18-19).
 +
 +In today'​s modern world, we no longer believe in
 +miracles. Certain religious scholars have attempted
 +to dilute what had always been considered as miracles
 +done by Jesus and try to give a human explanation.
 +
 +For example, there is the miracle of the
 +multiplication of the loaves and fishes, where on two
 +occasions Jesus fed the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21) and the four thousand (Matthew 15:32-38). Some people now say that what happened was not that
 +Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, but that the
 +people began to share what they had brought all
 +along. They say that the miracle was in the sharing.
 +Baloney! ​
 +
 +If this was so, could the disciples not see their
 +carried provisions, such that they asked Jesus to
 +dismiss the crowds so that they could go to the
 +villages to buy food? Could Jesus have been so blind
 +as to say that the people had nothing to eat, such
 +that his heart was moved with pity for them?
 +
 +The reality is simply that the people had no food,
 +and Jesus provided for them by multiplying the loaves
 +and fishes. It was indeed a miracle of God.
 +
 +==Miracles still happen==
 +Today we must believe that miracles still happen.
 +Why? For the simple reason that God is about
 +renewing the face of the earth, and for God nothing
 +is impossible. For the simple reason that if it is God
 +at work, then anything short of miracles is not
 +reflective of God as God.
 +
 +We must have faith that today God still calls
 +people to become His human instruments. And we
 +must have faith that if God calls and chooses, then
 +He will likewise anoint and empower. It is after all His
 +work. And it is He after all to whom the glory belongs.
 +
 +==Responding in faith==
 +So if today we are shown a vision by God of
 +what He wants to accomplish in the world, and it is a
 +seemingly impossible task, we must not doubt, we
 +must not show lack of faith. We may ask God to tell
 +us how He intends to accomplish His will, but we
 +must ask in faith, already holding on to the truth
 +that indeed God can accomplish the impossible.
 +
 +Let me illustrate the difference between asking in
 +doubt and asking in faith. This is in connection with
 +the pronouncement of angels and the impossible
 +conception of two cousins.
 +
 +The angel told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth
 +would give birth to a son. But since Elizabeth was
 +barren and both of them were advanced in years
 +(Luke 1:7), Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I
 +know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is
 +advanced in years."​ (Luke 1:18). He doubted. He did
 +not believe what the angel had told him. For that he
 +was rendered unable to talk by the angel, "​because
 +you did not believe my words" (Luke 1:20).
 +
 +On the other hand, an angel told Mary that she
 +would conceive and bear a son. But since she was
 +unmarried, Mary said to the angel, "How can this be,
 +since I have no relations with a man?" (Luke 1:34).
 +She asked but not in doubt. Rather, she believed
 +what the angel told her and just wanted to know
 +how it would happen. She knew it would happen but
 +jut did not understand how. She was asking in faith.
 +
 +For us today, we are to ask how, but just as a
 +way of seeking guidance, and not doubting that what
 +God reveals will happen.
 +
 +If we have faith the size of a mustard seed we
 +can accomplish the impossible, for we are mere
 +Instruments of God, and for God nothing is impossible.
 +
 +
 +
 +[[Category:​Society]] | [[Category:​Religion]] | [[Category:​Christianity]]
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