By Dr. Jeffery Chapman (Courtesy of Faith Driven News)
“Jesus answered them, ‘Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.’” (John 16:31-33, The Message)
How would you answer the following question if asked by someone seeking to know the Truth: “If I become saved, will all my problems suddenly disappear?”
According to the verse above, God never promised us a stress-free, problem-free life when we pursue a relationship with Him. Every single person in the Bible that God uses to encourage believers today had to overcome trials. Noah faced ridicule as he built a massive boat in the middle of the desert while Daniel stood head-to-head with ferocious beasts in the lion’s den because of his refusal to bow to anyone other than the Only God. Ruth had to choose whether to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and possibly die from starvation or go back to her people who worshipped pagan gods; and Esther, although assumed safe in her husband’s castle, risked death to help save her people, the Jews, from annihilation. Even Christ Himself faced countless trials and suffered greatly during the 33 years before hanging on the cross to save humankind from eternal separation with His Father.
So, if the examples God gives us from the Bible are filled with trials and stressful living, what is it, then, then draws believers today into a relationship with God? The Bible is filled with hope, peace and joy amidst the suffering; but, the question becomes how did God’s children, starting in Bible times continuing through present day and beyond, tap into that hope?
When put into practice, the three timeless truths below take God’s children’s focus off their problems and shift it onto the solution, Jesus Christ. So what exactly are these truths and can anyone put them into practice?
Each individual is made up of three distinct parts: Body, mind and spirit. When we choose to ask Jesus Christ to be Lord our lives, we are instantly redeemed and receive a reservation with our name on it in Heaven for all eternity. While our spirits are instantly renewed, our bodies and minds are not. Our physical body continues to live here on earth, along with our mind, and that mind needs to go through a process of renewal, to line up with the transformation our spirit has already experienced. We are encouraged in Ephesians 4:23 (NLT) to “… let the Spirit renew (our) thoughts and attitudes.”
You have to allow your mind to be transformed to God’s way of thinking. In other words, you have to make God’s thoughts your thoughts. Our mind has the greatest propensity to either enrich our personal growth or limit it. It has the greatest potential to either advance our lives or destroy them. Our minds are incredibly powerful and must be tamed. We can choose whose voice we are going to listen to – our Heavenly Father’s filled with the truth from His Word or the enemy, Satan, who is waiting to play his favorite game, what if, with us. “What if I fail?” “What if God wants to punish me?” “What if I lose my job?” “What if I can never have children?”
However, just as we see in the examples of Noah, Daniel, Ruth and Esther – there is hope! That hope comes from the fact that Satan can only instigate negative thoughts; he cannot control them. We have the power to transform our mind from believing the lies of the enemy to believing the truth of God’s Word.
Once we have identified the lies of the enemy and learned the corresponding truth from God’s Word, we need to speak in faith the truths God has given to us even before we see the results. The gateway to understanding truth in this way is faith. There is no need for rationalization, it is a simple act of meditating on God’s promises and His decrees, for your life, and then releasing your faith from your head (think it) to your mouth (speak it).
An example of this from the Bible is with the story of the woman with the issue of blood, found in the book of Luke. The Bible describes this woman as having suffered “with issues of blood” for over 12 years; yet, before she noticed any physical difference, she knew, in faith, that if she just touched the garment of Jesus’ cloak, she would be healed. In addition is another story also found in Luke. A Roman centurion, not even a follower of Christ, believed so strongly that Jesus could heal his servant that he didn’t even ask Jesus to come and heal his servant, but instead to “say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Luke 7:7, NIV)
In both of these examples, each individual believed in Jesus’ power before they saw any physical results. The Bible says that even Jesus was amazed at their faith. We are encouraged in Hebrews 11 (the famous chapter about faith) that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) Many times healing took place in the New Testament because of people’s faith. And, the exact opposite is also true. The absence of faith limits Jesus’ power. In Matthew 13:58 (NIV), it states that Jesus “did not do many miracles there (in His hometown) because of their lack of faith.”
“Your words reflect your heart, and the productive, fulfilled and prosperous life you desire.” Declare it so, defeat the enemy with your words, act on your faith regarding the truths God has spoken to you personally, and live out your greatness.
The most powerful weapon we have regarding transforming our mind is through the power of prayer. Jesus continually gave us the example of true communion with His Father during His 33 years on earth. He showed us how to pray without ceasing and encouraged us to follow His example.
You might ask, though, how is one supposed to do that in the 21st century? Interwoven into the days in Jesus’ time were natural periods of rest. They could only walk so many miles per day. When they stopped for meals, they had to sit and wait for the fire to get hot before they could eat, they had to rest their animals and give them water, forcing them to sit and rest also. At night, when it was dark, they had to stop working and rest before starting all over again the next day. They didn’t have smart phones, computers or electricity to multitask or keep themselves entertained.
It would do us good to follow Jesus’ example and make time for communion with our Father. Prayer does many things in our lives. It allows us to rest and relax. It opens up communication with God – both listening to His still small voice as well as offering a chance to pour out our concerns to our Heavenly Father. When we use prayer to focus on God’s greatness, apply His Word to our circumstances, and pray in Jesus’ name, transformation does occur.
Hand in hand with prayer is soaking in God’s Word. He doesn’t ask us to read it for His benefit; no, He wrote it for our benefit. The Bible is an amazing weapon to help with complete transformation. The more we hide God’s Word in our hearts, the more ammunition we have against the enemy when he tries to goad us into the “what if” game described earlier.
One More Nugget
God loves all His children and wants the very best for us. He tells us that countless times in His Word and if it says it in the Bible, then it’s a truth we can depend on. The children who understand these truths and meditate on God’s affirming words and promises see God’s blessings come to pass in their lives. Why is that? Because when we have the courage to think, speak and live God’s truths in our lives, God blesses that faith!
That is the hope that God promises in His Word which is fulfilled daily in the lives of His children who think, speak and live His truth, in faith. That is the peace that comes despite the trials and struggles we humans face, because we know, in faith, that even if life is hard right now, God’s promises are for us and God can use the trials we are facing ultimately for good if we don’t lose faith.
Empowerment pundit Dr. Jeffery Chapman is The Founder and Pastor of Raleigh North Christian Center in Raleigh, NC. You can see more information at www.drjefferychapman.org
By Dr. Jeffery Chapman (Courtesy of Faith Driven News)