Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is a work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Car salespeople know that very few people will buy a car "sight unseen." We human beings usually find it very difficult to visualize what is not there. We want to kick the tires, see the shiny new paint, and smell the new upholstery before weíll sign on the dotted line.
Yet biblical faith asks us to do just that: to see what we cannot see in the physical dimension happening in the spiritual dimension. A good example of this is the sixth chapter of Joshua. The Israelites were overwhelmed by the city of Jericho on their quest for the promised land. But God allowed Joshua to see in the spiritual dimension what his human eyes could not see, "See, I have delivered Jericho unto your hands..." (Joshua 6:2) God won a mighty victory as Godís people responded in obedience to what they could not see.
How true are the inspired words of The Apostle Paul, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." (1 Cor. 2:9-10) There is no doubt that God deeply loves and cares for his children and wants the very best for us. Yet, how is that we can trust God to see what we cannot see with our physical eyes? What are the four laws of living a faithful life?
Horatio Alger, earlier this century, sold a lot of books about the American Dream. They were "rags to riches" and "Cinderella stories" of how Americans worked hard and got ahead. We Americans like those kinds of stories, for the American plot line says, "If you work hard enough, you can have anything or be anything you want to be."
Perhaps we are more individualistic than any other society. We believe that we can do it on our own, that we donít need other people or God. Yet, if you have someone who is meeting your needs, acting as a safety net so to speak, it is hard to look to God as your source of supply. But Godís Word makes it clear that HE is the supply source (Deut. 8:18; Isa. 48:17). He may use other sources, such as our job or other people, but they are simply His instruments; He is still the source. James asks, "What have you that you did not receive from God?" (James 1:17)
It is easy to trust God with the things that are completely out of our hands like our eternal destiny. But it is much harder to trust God with things that we have tricked ourselves into believing we have control over: our children, our careers, our money, and our relationships. But with God as our source, Paul tells us, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength.. . . And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil.4:13, 19).
It is comforting to know that God comes to us at the POINT of our need, in the FORM of that need, to meet that need according to His riches.
John Wesley described his Aldersgate experience as having his heart, "...strangely warmed..." After this experience, John Wesley and his Methodist followers changed the spiritual landscape of both England and America for centuries to come. No doubt Wesley spent the rest of his life with a "burning desire" in his heart!
Why did God give the mantle to Elisha and not to the 500 prophets? Because of Elishaís burning desire. Why did only Peter walk on the water? Because of his burning desire.
It was not wishful thinking which gave them what they wanted, it was a "burning desire." Jesus explained to his disciples, "For I say unto you, whatever you desire, when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:24)
Jesus taught us the correlation between answered prayer and burning desire in the parable of the Friend at Midnight: "I need three loaves," the red-faced man pounded his fists on the door, "You said you would give them. I need them now." The man demonstrated sheer desire and refusal to be denied.
It was Mosesí burning desire for the people of Israel that was able to change Godís mind from destroying the people of Israel to sparing their lives. When was the last time your heart burned so passionately for your loved ones that you could say with Moses, "Take my life instead of theirs." It is in that context that Godís grace, power, and love flows though us.
Even though God allowed Joshua to see in the spiritual dimension what his human eyes could not see, it would have been pointless if Joshua and the people of Israel would not have marched around the city of Jericho blasting their trumpets. James reminds us that faith is not faith without a tangible expression such as action or giving, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?... Faith...if not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:14, 17)
Matthew received salvation when he left all and followed Jesus. Zaccheus also demonstrated his faith by the restitution he made. Faith must be followed by action.
For most of us, the most tangible expression of our faith is our checkbook. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If Jesus canít be Lord over our treasures, then he probably isnít Lord of any part of us.
On the other hand, Jesus explained that giving is like sowing a seed for God: it will multiply and come back to meet your need. Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you ." (Luke 6:38)
"Talk is cheap," the old saying goes. But faith put into tangible expression of Jesusí lordship over all our lives, "puts our money where our mouth is."
In my last pastorate there was an old preacher, Rev. V.W. Anglin who was about a hundred years old. He was active and taught the Senior Adult Sunday School class. One day just before the morning worship service he said to me, "Brother Hicks, how do you know when you have prayed through?"
I knew he had something important to say, so I said, "How do you know?"
He replied, "When your prayer turns to praise like in Philippians 4, but especially verse four, ĎRejoice in the Lord always. I will says it again, Rejoice!í"
When your prayer turns to praise, you have released it to God. You have gone beyond seeing what human eyes cannot see and expressing your confidence in Godís faithfulness in tangible ways, to resting in the assurance and joy that God indeed is on the throne.
This is what the old saints in the church used to mean when they spoke of, "praying through." For me, praying through has always been a conviction in my heart followed by the peace of God; much like the conviction that Paul wrote of in Romans 9:1 "My conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit."
Paul also wrote of the rest that comes after we present our requests to God, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
The laws of faith are interrelated: when we trust God as our source, we have a burning desire for what He wants to accomplish, we express our faith in tangible ways, and our prayers turns into praise and rest that only he can give. The Psalmist, David, sums up the laws of faith: