There is much talk of signs, wonders and miracles in some circles. Many desire to see healing, but see little. At the same time, there are places where these abound. What makes the difference? Here are a couple of explanations, but of course, there are more reasons. Let’s start with a couple of questions: what moves believers to want to see healings? Are they moved with compassion or is it something else? Often, we read that Jesus was moved with compassion before healing the sick and delivering the afflicted. Just as Galatians 5:6 declares: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” If love is not the reason for the desire, faith will not work well for you.
Some want to see the miraculous manifest through themselves out of a lust; not compassion.
They want the praise of man more than they have compassion for the sick and afflicted. They want glory for themselves. Fortunately for those who need a touch from God, they can still receive from Him, in spite of the agent. The gifts the Father gives work regardless of the condition of one’s heart. Moreover, His love and compassion supersedes the heart of the glory hound. Having said that, those who want the glory will wrestle with doubt because their motives are not pure. They know in their head faith works, but their heart is not right. In some instances, people put their faith in their faith, instead of God. If you want to experience the miraculous, one of your goals should be to make Jesus famous; not you.
John 17:22-23The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
Here’s another question: if Jesus gave us His glory, why would someone want glory from people? Isn’t the Lord’s glory good enough? His glory in us is intended to make us one, so the world may know the Father sent His Son, and He loves Him and us. As we read further, we find another major reason for the glory is the revelation of God’s love. John 17:26And I have made Your Name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. That means when we operate by faith, we should be revealing His love. All of which points to His divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:1-4).
Another reason people want to see the miraculous is because they want to see a spectacle.
They are more interested in seeing someone being healed for the sake of healing, versus the result of the healing. That’s not to say they don’t want to see people’s burdens eased, but it’s not really at the forefront of their mind. Of course, all of us have wanted to see the miraculous manifest because it being a novelty, but that novelty needs to turn to compassion. In some cases, they chase after miracles, even though, miracles should be chasing them in order to confirm the Word of God (see Mark 16:20). If people do things out curiosity, they will try to perform miracles and see little fruit. On the other hand, if they cooperate with Holy Spirit out of love, they will see much fruit.
Why do believers strive? Why are they wearing themselves out when they should be in a place of rest? Why are they experiencing anxiety as they seek to fulfill the will of God? One reason comes down to one word: “agenda.” Everyone has one, it’s a question of whose agenda they have that makes all the difference. Agendas can be subtle and deceive the unsuspecting. It loves to feed off the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Indeed, the things of the world create agendas for those who live in it. Even those who pray, “Your Kingdom done, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” can slip off into their own agendas. Of course, some fall prey to that of others. Depending on whose plan you embrace, you will either walk on the path of peace, or the walk of anxiety. One is filled with peace and patience; the other, anger and frustration. Sometimes, your emotions can be an indicator of which you’re following.
Obviously, if a person is dead set on his own agenda, he will easily be frustrated, especially when the Lord has nothing to do with it.
When some are that driven, they will not allow the Spirit to lead them. Yep, the pushy ones are those who care little about anyone else’s plans. Unfortunately, some try to incorporate spirituality in order to manipulate others, and justify their own actions. It’s all about them. They forget they were bought with a price, and they’re not their own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23). They live in the here and now, but forget eternity waits for them. The Bible tells us, “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Some might say, “What about me? I want to fulfill God’s will. I believe I’m following it, yet I often feel frustrated and anxious.”
Here’s the deal: following His will is a through and through endeavor. What does that mean? Part of resting in the Lord is ceasing from your own works (see Hebrews 4:10). While you may actually be seeking to do His will, you may be attempting to accomplish it your way. God does not give you a vision, then expect you to figure it out. Even if you could figure it out on your own, it could be to your own demise. Why? Because of the temptation to take the credit for it. Who gets the glory then? Matthew 7:21-23 serve as a stern warning about such things. If we are going to accomplish our Father’s will, we have to do it His way. He wants to co-labor with us (see 1 Corinthians 3:9). A partnership is based on relationship. Jesus is the Prince of peace; not the Prince of anxiety.
By and large, it comes down to trust.
One may say, “Yes and Amen, Lord” to a vision or direction; however, if he doesn’t trust Him with the plans and results, he’ll try to take control. Instead of trusting in the Lord, and not leaning on his own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6), his own understanding of things will be all he trusts. Those who get involved with his vision, quickly find they’re on the proverbial “short leash.” Everything they do will require approval, while their motives and actions will be scrutinized. It’s very difficult to be Spirit led under such conditions. Such control stifles creativity.
Sure, it’s okay to make plans and have goals in life. God did not create a bunch of mindless robots. Nonetheless, we don’t do the calling; He does. Our Father has purpose for our lives, and the idea is to stay connected with it. We can plan for the future; we simply cannot determine its outcome. Although, much of our future is greatly influenced by our decisions and choices in life. Our Father gives us room to explore and make those decisions. Having said that, it is still vital to filter them through His will. The things that fit within the framework of His design for us will be filled with righteousness and peace. They will also produce the most fruit, which leads to some questions we might ask. One: does this decision, choice or direction line up with the Word of God? Is it producing the peaceable fruit of righteousness? Am I at peace with this? Yes, sometimes or even often, God will ask you to do something well out of your comfort zone; but ultimately, growth and peace are there to meet you.
He is not overly interested in your comfort zones. If you enter His zone, He will comfort you.
Without submission to (the) Father’s will, you will not have peace. Yielding to the Lord, produces peace. Have you ever found that when you resisted God’s will, it eluded you; but once you gave in, peace came? While we may have our agendas, we must allow Him to interrupt them from time to time.
Finally, do keep in mind that you are held accountable to your calling.
We must all face Jesus at His Judgment Seat. That is not to be confused with The Great White Throne Judgment found in Revelation 20:11-15 –that’s another lesson. How will you answer Him in the end, when He asks you to give an account? Romans 14:10-12But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (or “of Christ” -KJV). For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
As previously stated in part one of “Affliction and You,” it is important to view affliction through the correct filter or lens.
The temptation is to view affliction as all negative, which tends to stifle hope. It is important to underscore that God indeed causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
He will use it for our benefit which points to the work He does in each of us. Even Psalm 119:71 gives us one example: It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Think about it, some refused to humble themselves and come to the Cross of Christ until they faced affliction. It took their falling into a pit of miry clay before they would call on Jesus. It was only then; would their feet be placed on the Solid Rock. For whatever reason, some have more of a tendency to draw near to God when they feel burdened or stressed than when everything is good. Hopefully as they mature, they will continue to draw near to Him, minus the need for desperation as some sort of prod. Even disciples of Jesus Christ may have blind spots until affliction forces them to open their eyes. On the other hand, when others see those going through it, and observe the peace that surpasses understanding ruling in their heart, they find themselves drawn to the hope they carry. These are just a few aspects to be considered. If you face some sort of affliction, look for God in the center of it. He is not going to force you to face it alone. Ask Him for wisdom, and the revelation of what He is doing in the mist of it. He may not reveal everything He’s doing, but rest assured He is working behind the scenes, and you will come out unscathed. In fact, as you yield to the Potter’s hands, you will become a greater vessel of honor.
In order to allow peace to rule in your heart, it is important to decide to believe God, and totally ignore the false reports of the enemy.
Sure, we do acknowledge difficulties and turmoil should they come, but it is vital to acknowledge the veracity of what God says. He always makes provision for the promise, which means there’s a provision for whatever adversity you may face. He knew what you would face before you were born, and it did not intimidate Him one bit. Along with His Word, He gave you faith. Faith in Him removes mountains while shielding you from the fiery darts of the enemy. Indeed, it is His faith that removes them.
This leads to another important principle found in Psalm 91:1: He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Going to the secret place, the shelter of the Almighty, is crucial.
You enter in with thanksgiving and praise. God inhabits the praises of His people. His presence vacates turmoil. In His presence is fulness of joy. Guess what. He is always present; so, enter in! If you enjoy turmoil, if you love fear, anger and bitterness, then murmur away. Complaining has the opposite effect. Speaking negatively, especially about God, will make your pit become deeper and wider. It makes it difficult to get out. Remember what David said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a Rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3). This leads to another very important principle.
Philippians 4:4-7Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. The Bible tells us God has caused us to be born again to a living hope. Furthermore, it says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Never underestimate the power of rejoicing. It helps you reconnect to trust. It is something you must decide to do, but when you do, you’ll find faith rising up in your heart.
Joy enters in and refreshes your soul. It not only brings peace to your heart, but it gives you peace of mind. Rejoicing is an act of obedience, and obedience means to believe with the intent to conform to His desire out of love. When you obey, your joy will be full (see John 15:10-11).
Finally, allow yourself to be comforted. Allow peace to rule in your heart. Let others minister to you as well. Some have been taught worry is the responsible thing to do. Perhaps in the world; but, not in the Kingdom. The responsible thing to actually do is to have faith and trust in God. It really is okay to be at peace. It glorifies God. Jesus paid the price for your peace, so it’s already bought and paid for!
Affliction and hopelessness often run together causing mayhem in the lives of those they overrun. Fear and anger tend to cooperate in the operation of these two nemeses. Non-believers don’t stand much of a chance against them. Believers on the other hand, can overcome them; indeed, Scripture reveals that the victory over them is already in hand if they receive it. How do you handle affliction? Does it cause you to lose sight of the goodness of God, which in turn leads you feeling hopeless?
Disciples of Jesus Christ have the unique opportunity to become more Christ-like during times of affliction. Moreover, they are able to walk in perfect peace and have joy overflowing in their heart; even in the very thick of it.
Some of you have already walked in peace and joy during those times. Teach those who struggle with it how to do just that. How do we maintain a place of peace during affliction? Let’s start by defining what is affliction.
To begin with, “affliction” has several different meanings in the Bible. Depending on what particular Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) word is used in a verse, you will find the meaning may differ than one used elsewhere, even though they are rendered as “affliction.” However, they are similar and can be connected to each other. All of them have some sort of pain or suffering involved. For example, one means depression or misery in Old Testament Scripture as found in Psalm 119:50, which we will address a little bit later. Another Old Testament word means to be deficient in strength, debilitated, or exhausted. It also infers trouble, sorrow or labors. Yet another one means distresses, while another means a heavy weight or burden. It also may mean adversity or calamity. Still in the New Testament, “affliction” may refer to ill treatment or vexation. Of course, there’s suffering for the cause of Christ. A word related to the later means to crush, press, compress or squeeze –a pressing pressure. Anything that burdens the spirit. It primarily pertains to distress, tribulation or trouble.
Regardless of the type of affliction, God has solutions for each one. Whether you’ve been wrestling with depression on one side of the spectrum or some sort of calamity on the other. Perhaps, it is some sort of distress, burden or outright persecution, and so on. You don’t have to face it alone. Furthermore, it has a shelf-life, even if it seems protracted.
First, begin with this simple premise: God is good, and He is good all the time. Remember, He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (see Hebrews 13:5). Take heart, it is impossible for God to lie (see Hebrews 6:18).
Obviously, circumstances or even our emotions can try to make a liar out of Him, but that only happens when our perception of things is wrong. Similar to what Jesus said, “Take care how you listen” (Luke 8:18), we should take care in using the correct filters through which we view our circumstances. Part of your victory is dependent on the way you view God. Clearly, if you don’t believe He is good, you’ve already lost the battle before you even began to fight. Worse still, you may actually fight against God because you allowed anger and bitterness to grip your heart. Another dangerous viewpoint is the idea God is angry with you, and looks for opportunities to make your life miserable. If that were the case, you’d already be suffering in the pits of hell. Nonetheless, be warned: beware of self-sabotage. Some people cause their own afflictions, and then blame God for their pain. This is simply due to the fact their behavior reflects their belief system. They go about to prove their theories about God all the time.
Another important element in maintaining peace is the Word of God. Whether it’s in the Bible or something He spoke to your heart, zero in on what He said.
2 Corinthians 1:20For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Consider what the Psalms have to say about the Word in relation to affliction. Psalm 119:49-50Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me. This particular word for affliction means depression or misery. One of the things that kept the writer from being destroyed by depression was his delight in God’s Word (see Psalm 119:92-93). A very practical thing you can do during difficult times is read your Bible or revisit God’s promises to you. There is great comfort found in the scriptures. Romans 15:4For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Meditating on God’s Word obliterates the lies of the enemy. Truth always wins out! Declare what He says, after all, the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17). Pick it up and wield it.