Faith Comes By Hearing

Faith Comes By Hearing

In my years of owning my own businesses, my role many times becomes that of a salesman. And sometimes I even get to enjoy teaching others on selling. And whenever I get that chance, I always say the best salesmen listen. They don’t just talk and talk to try to sell the client, they must listen and if they listen long enough the client will tell them their needs and then the salesman can show them how his company can solve the clients issues.

On that same note, I teach several Christian classes to men each week. The classes are on Servant Leadership and becoming a servant leader. And, as with selling, when one of the students asks a question or makes a comment, I always listen closely because often times, they teach me with their comments or question. And many times, I learn much more from them they then might be learning from me.

One day, during one of my classes, I was spiritually discouraged with my life. Basically I was feeling sorry for myself and I was wondering why God was not getting me out of a mess that I created. Sound familiar?

And since other people may be struggling with the same issues, I believe that I should share my struggles in my teachings and sermons. So during this period when I was “spiritually discouraged” I went on to say to my class “sometimes I feel like just when I am trying to get up again, God comes with his big foot and STOMPS on me, knocking me down again.”

In hindsight that was not one of my more positive statements to my class but it did create some interesting discussions. But not until the next week did I realize how God was using one of my students to speak to me about this subject and to teach me one of the most powerful truths that I believe I have ever learned.

The following week, one of my students came up to me after class and said that God had given him a word for me.   I had a class right after this one, so I told him I would come early the following week and we could meet. So when we did meet he read me Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

Now I have heard that many, many times. Great scripture. But again I have heard this so what is the word. So I just sort of looked at my student waiting for more. My student continued and said let me read only part of that scripture again. And he only read “So then faith comes by hearing.” And he stopped waiting for me to get it.

He then said, “Do you see that. Faith comes by hearing. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING? I’ll tell you what you are hearing. You are hearing yourself talking about how bad things are, how you regret what you did wrong and how you feel God is punishing you or keeping your down. SO THAT IS WHERE YOUR FAITH IS. Your faith is in what you are saying and what your mind and your spirit are hearing.”

I was just blown away. It felt like I just stood there with my mouth open for a good minute. He smiled and waited for me to say something. And for a moment I could not. It was as if my brain was processing all of this and all I could hear in my brain was WOW! WOW! WOW! And when I was able to saying anything all I could say, yes you guessed it, was WOW!

I had been feeding myself so much negative thoughts about myself, about my life and about what I felt God was doing in my life that I believed in it. Better put, I had very strong faith that God was out to punish me and keep punishing me to teach me His lesson for me. Because as God’s Word promises “Faith comes by hearing…”

But faith in God can only come when you complete the entire scripture “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.   It is only when you hear the Word of God, does the proper, real faith come into your mind, body and soul.

And it is not just with ourselves; it is the same with the people around us. Just fit that same thinking into what your kids, wife or husband or friends are hearing. What they are hearing from you, from music, from television and from all media? If they are not hearing the Word of God, then they are going to have faith in what ever they do hear.   Makes you start to think about all the things you say to your kids, your wife or husband or your friends.

So I stopped the negative talk and thinking and started to hear the Word of God. Here are some scriptures that I started “hearing”:

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And one of my favorite: Isaiah 40:28-31 – Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Look again at the second sentence in Isaiah 40:28-31. It reads, “Have you not heard?” Can God not spell it out any better? Isaiah 40:28 “Have you not heard?” and Romans 10:17 “And Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God”.

If you want to change your faith in God, then you have to stop speaking out and hearing your own self talk and your grumbling. Maybe like me you were speaking out disbelief that God could not bless you. Or He was out to get you. It is spiritually unhealthy.

Start practicing spiritual preventive medicine. Start daily hearing God’s Word and strengthen your faith.

Let’s God’s Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding Guide You

I have been doing a study of Proverbs and what I have learned the most is that unless I have God’s Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, I cannot correctly and effectively walk the path God has for me.

Simple put in one sentence – Wisdom is from the Lord and it gives us the ability to Understand the Knowledge He gives us.

You can have knowledge. You can know everything about a subject but if you do not understand how to use that knowledge it is useless information. And the wisdom from God is the ONLY way to truly understand the knowledge from the Lord.

So you ask how do we get Wisdom, Understand and Knowledge? We get it through God’s Word and through the Living Word Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 2:6 says it pretty straightforward: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” From His mouth means His Word. John 1:1-2 reads “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

So you may ask how does this all help us in life? How will wisdom, understanding and knowledge help us in our every day life, at our work, in “building for our future”?   There are two great Proverbs that speak to that. Proverbs 24:3-4 explains, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established, through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. And Proverbs 2: 9-11 reads “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair in every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”

Praise God! I just want to shout out those two scriptures.

So you may say, it is that simple? Just have wisdom, understand and knowledge? Then okay I am in. I want wisdom, understand and knowledge. Well that is at least what I said I wanted after my study of Proverbs. So I quickly started reading everything in Proverbs on the subject and realized that maybe I did not have the wisdom of God and if that is so then how do I get God’s wisdom. Let’s read James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  My immediately prayer “God please give me your wisdom, in Jesus Name!”

Then I found Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I must clarify something here. The fear of the Lord is no being afraid of Him or worrying that He is going to punish you. Fear of the Lord is reverence of the Lord, believing and honoring Him as God Almighty, our Lord and Savior, the Beginning and the End.

So now I get it. It is all making more sense to me. Now I understand that I need to seek God and then I will gain the wisdom, the understanding and the knowledge of God.

Walking in God’s wisdom, and understanding the knowledge he shares through His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, will be life changing. Life altering. For me it has been and I pray for all of you.

One of the first truths that God showed me through his Wisdom was that I have been living much of my life with misdirected “zeal” and making quick and hasty decisions that affected my life, my career, and just about every aspect of my life and thus affecting my wife and kid’s life. Proverbs 19:18 ”It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, more to be hasty and miss the way.” Now that I did not like reading!

You see I am a guy who when I go after something, I go. And I go fast. Read all I can and then go with it. I realized that had to change. That perhaps I was too hasty. Simply put, I was not giving time for God’s wisdom to help me assimilate the knowledge and understanding I was receiving from our Lord. I was not using God’s wisdom, and I was not taking the knowledge and understand I was learning from God and putting it to work in life, in my marriage, raising my children, in my business, with work, in managing my investments. IN EVERYTHING!

I had to stop thinking I had all the answers. I was being wise in my own eyes, and I felt I understood what I needed to do. But that is the exact opposite of the wisdom that comes from God.   In fact, here is what God says in Proverbs 3:5-8 about that very subject, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Now to me that was a WOW moment. Do not be wise in your own eyes and do not lean on your own understanding. That just blows me away. The power of that scripture as compared to what I was living.

Also in this portion of Proverbs right after it says not to be wise in our own eyes, it says “fear the Lord.” Now that is very important to remember, so important that I will end on with a scripture of why “fear the Lord” is so important.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Let us pray. Father, dear Lord I thank you that your Living Word has taught me a powerful life lesson. I pray that you speak to all who reads this and you help them to have your wisdom, understanding and knowledge. In Jesus Name, Amen

It is time to live in His Grace


It Is Time To Live In His Grace

I must admit for much of my adult life, I did not live under God’s grace. Instead I chose to live under guilt, regret and condemnation. Constantly re-living my mistakes and sins. Continuing to condemn myself instead of living in God’s grace through Jesus.

Actually guilt, regret, fears and living in condemnation can be an addiction. Making it very difficult to stop living and thinking that way. For some it is nearly impossible to break this cycle if it were not that “nothing is impossible with God”. For me, without allowing Jesus to redo my thinking, I do not believe I would have ever been delivered from this life sucking negative way of thinking.

So how do we live in His grace? How do we stop the cycle? We simply start by turning around and going the other way, our Lord’s way. How? Baby steps, yes baby steps and through prayer and reading God’s word.   Yes, God’s word needs to be ever present in your heart and mind or instead of going His way you will go your way and will end up back on that same road of despair.

Here are three scriptures that will show you how to begin walking with the Lord:

James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Isaiah 30:21; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You need to trust these scriptures. Here is a little nugget of truth: Don’t try and make grand leaps on this journey. Just keep thinking baby steps. Why? Because I have found, at least in my life experience, that when I tried to make grand leaps in my progress of anything, it did not go as well as expected and I was discouraged. Often that would create a setback or failure to reach a goal. This can easily happen, especially at the beginning and you become so discouraged you give up. Let the scriptures, not your mind, be your guide and your support on this journey.

Going hand and hand with walking in our Lord’s way is to understand what Jesus has already conquered for us, sin, guilt, fear and condemnation. The victory that you walk in now is because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did for us on the cross. So, while we are walking His way we also need to have the right mind set. Here are two scriptures that you need to meditate on day and night while following this new path of freedom under Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:24; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

And Hebrew 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Believing and trusting in these two scriptures is imperative to getting you on the right path of living in His grace.

Just think about if you had to run a 10k race, which is 6.2 miles, and all that time you kept telling yourself;

  • You are not strong enough to walk that far.
  • Your legs are hurting already so you will never make it.
  • You are so out of shape that it is going to be impossible to even walk 1 mile.

Do you think you will reach that goal and walk the 5 miles? It is highly unlikely. It is the same with walking in His grace. If we keep dwelling on our sins, our weaknesses and the past, we will not make the journey of living in His grace.

We must begin with the key truth of Christianity. We must know and believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If you do not believe that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for our sin then that is your real first step. Acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take FULL punishment of your sins. After that you need to understand as it reads in 1 Peter 2:24 in addition to taking on the punishment of our sins, we need to know that, “by his stripes we are healed”. His stripes are speaking about the deep cuts and wounds that were on Jesus from being whipped and beaten.

When we acknowledge these truths and keep them in our hearts and mind, the negative thoughts of guilt, regret and condemnation must leave our mind. There is no room for such negative thoughts.

Now, to the second scripture I gave you above. In Hebrews 8:12, the Word tells us that God remembers our sins no more. Did you hear that? I meant it. This is very important. God remembers our sins no more. This is very powerful. In fact I believe this is the most important scripture when it comes to living in God’s grace and no longer living in guilt, regret and condemnation.

It is so important that it is worth repeating. Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

So, I ask you the same question I ask myself all the time. If God does not remember our sins, why do we? If God does not remember our sins, why do we bring them back up in our minds? If God does not remember our sins, then how can guilt, regret and condemnation of those sins continue to control our mind and our actions? If we really believe these truths of God’s word and act on them then all those negative thoughts can’t control our mind. If negative thoughts still continue in your mind that is not from God but from the devil who wishes to keep your life in this negative frame of thinking. Or it is from you because you want to live that way.

If God, through Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, does not remember our sins, then quit calling God a liar and quit telling our Lord Jesus Christ that his act was worthless. Forget them all and forgive yourself because God already has!

I know accusing you of calling God a liar is a very strong statement. That continuing to dwell on the past and live in guilt and condemnation is saying Jesus dying on the cross was worthless. Does that bother you to read those words, Jesus dying on the cross was worthless? Does it make you very uncomfortable to even think that? Good, that is a great start. Yes, they are very strong words but maybe you need to hear them to shock your thinking into rebuking these negative thoughts and start living in His grace.

If we can truly forget the past, and know in our heart, mind and soul these basic Christian truths: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, by his stripes we are healed and that God remembers our sins NO MORE! Forget your forgiven sins and your journey will take us to living in peace, free of guilt, regret, condemnation, and walking with our Lord at our right side.

What is it like to live that way? I think one of the best visualizations of this is in Psalms 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

So let’s begin our journey of being set free and living in His grace.

Lost and Lonely People

There are several scriptures that keep reminding me that I need to help more people in need. That I need to be more aware of my surroundings because someone right next to me could be in such emotional pain or need and I just walk by. There is a song by Casting Crowns titled” Does Anyone Hear Her?”

It is powerful. I tear up every time I hear it. I love to sing and I have yet been able to sing this entire song without breaking up. The link I have above is a music video of the song. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it does for me.

So why is lost and lonely people the subject of this week’s lesson? Because God’s word talks alot about lost and lonely people. Also about the sick, the needy and more.

Matthew 25:31-46 covers it all in a very powerful way. As we go through it, I hope that it will convict you as much as it has convicted me to do something. Anything but ignoring it.

I encourage you to read the entire Chapter 25, because in the entire chapter Jesus was talking to his disciples and the crowds of people who came to listen to him. He talks about the kingdom of God and being ready for it. You will learn so much.

Starting on verse 31 is where Jesus is talking about when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him and He will sit on His glorious throne. It goes on to talk about the Son of Man separating the people as a shepherd would separate his sheep from the goats with the sheep on the right and goats on the left.

Let’s pick up what Jesus is saying in verse 34,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

That is important so I am going to repeat that last part. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” I have always wondered what I could do for Jesus because I am always asking him what he can do for me. Then when I read this I have my answer. It’s pure and simple. You now know how to do something for our Lord.

If helping the lost, the lonely, the needy, the stranger, the sick and those in prison is not motivation enough. Then perhaps doing it for our Lord hopefully will get us moving in the right direction.

I do not mean this in a condemning way. Trust me when I say, I am not just talking to all of you but also to myself on this.

I need to ask God to keep me more aware and to hear from His Holy Spirit and see these lost and lonely people. In the song I mentioned above by Casting Crowns, there is a line “Does anybody hear her? Does anybody see? I know I am missing many of them. But if I were perfectly honest, there are one’s I do hear and one’s I do see. And I do nothing. Have you been there also?

Oh I know, we had our reasons why would could not help them at that point in time. Some of the reasons were very valid. We were on the way to work or picking the kids at school. But again if I am being honest with myself, thee were other times where I could have stopped or could have gone to help someone. It was more of just an inconvenience. So I would come up with some reason or excuse.

Why do we do that? Are we embarrassed, afraid of the person? Why? Perhaps if we know the reasons, it might help. We need to be true and honest to ourselves if we ever want to grow in life and in the Lord. We need to examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we can help these people. There is one positive thing we can do. Something that may help us to get involved, to help the lost and lonely, hungry, needy, sick and in prison.

Bring some Christian friends along. I have found that when a group of Christians get together they are more willing to go to places when by themselves they would be uncomfortable or unsure. With a group people, many are more willing to move out of one’s comfort zone. This is scriptural. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”   Now there is the perfect way, you, Christian friends and Jesus helping the least of His brothers and sisters. You just can’t go wrong with that. Praise God.

Thank you Father for this word. I pray that all of us listen to your instructions and help those in need.

You are not alone.

You are not aloneAs I write this lesson someone very dear to me is struggle to find joy. Her struggle and those of many others right now is why I feel God gave me these words to tell all of you going thru some tough trials.

You are not alone. Jesus will never leave you.

Right now are you so down now that you don’t believe that. Are you thinking that is nice but it is just something I am saying? God promises this in His Word, where He tells us, He is always there and will never leave us.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And Isaiah 41: 10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

In addition to our Lord always being there with you, He is holding your right hand. We can see this in these two scriptures, Isaiah 41:13 – “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you” and in Psalm 139: 10–11 – “Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light round me will be night.”

I cannot tell you how many times when going thru trials that I just simply reached down with my right hand and squeezed the hand of my Lord Jesus. To many this may sound silly but to me God’s Word is truth and it bring life to our very soul.

Lets look at it another way. You are down, depressed, and weary. You see no relief from your troubles. At that time spiritually, and definitely mentally, you’re at that proverbial “fork in the road” and you have two ways you can go. If you go further down the road of depression and despair, God only knows what might happen to you.

And that is the point!

God does know what you’re going to do. Psalms 139:1-4 says “O Lord, your have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

So if God knows and if God is “I Am”. WOW, what power in those two words. “I AM”.

If God, who told Moses his name is “I Am”, is right now, through our Lord Jesus Christ, standing right next to you holding your right hand, don’t you think you should trust him and grab tight and let him lead you? Let him take you down the path he knows is best for you. Trust God at His word when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My loving wife is always sending me scriptures especially when she thinks I need encouragement. We all need it at some time in our lives. She sends them because she knows that God’s Word will grow within me and strengthen me. And I have learned that some times, I need to literally speak out the scriptures because my mind is filled with so many thoughts that just reading it does not get through to me. But when I speak it out, and my ears hear the Word, my mind stops thinking and hears the Word of our Lord speaking to me.

The other day my wife sent me a verse out of Psalm 23. I know you all know that one. Everybody knows that one.  You hear it at many funerals but I thought, yes I know it, but perhaps I should read it again.

Here is a little nugget of truth. One of the best tricks of the devil is to get you so familiar with certain scriptures that you no longer hear the message. You just say in your mind, oh I know that one, it is about walking through the valley of death and you go on to thinking about other things. So lets stop and lets look at the message of hope and strength that God gives us in Psalm 23.

Verse 1 – “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall now want.” A Shepard is responsible for his sheep. It is his job, to make sure we are protected and have all we need to be safe, sound and nourished. It tells us in Isaiah 40:11 that our Lord is the Great Shepard. It reads “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Verse 2-3 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He refreshes my soul.” Have you ever had the chance to lie down in a lush green field by a nice quiet brook? It is so relaxing, and yes refreshing. Such is the place our Lord will bring you to in the times you need it. A place so peaceful and quiet, a place that you can trust you will have the time to lie down and your soul will be refreshed.

Verse 3- 4– “He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your are with me.” Our Lord will actually lead us on the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Literally this means he will guide you on a path that brings glory to His name. Pretty cool! Your life and what you do will bring glory to His name.

The second part of this again talks about God holding us with His right hand and leading us on the right path. In verse 4, our Lord is assuring us that when we are in those dark valleys, when fear, stress, worry and depression are getting us down, and for some, to the point of thinking death would be better, that He is telling us to not be afraid, He will get us through the valley and He will always be with us.

Verse 4 cont’d – “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Shepherds carry a rod and a staff. The rod is normally use to protect the Shepard and the sheep and for gentle correction. The staff is used to care and manage the sheep. It had been used to help pull a sheep out of trouble. Think of how wonderful our Lord is that even his correction will comfort us and His staff will helps out of trouble.

Verse 5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” In biblical times, and still the custom in many countries, after a peace treaty or covenant was made with one’s enemy, they would sit down and have a meal together to signify the peace between them. In this verse, God is telling us, He will make peace with our enemies for us even if the biggest enemy is ourselves.

Verse 5 cont’d – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” In the Bible, the custom of anointing the head of someone with oil was reserved for honored guests. And a cup overflowing means you will have more than you will ever need and your can share your blessings with others. So God is saying that He treats us as an honored guest and will give us overflowing blessing so that we can also be a blessing to others.

Verse 6 – Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Simply put God’s blessing and love will follow us. We cannot out walk or out run God. Like it says in Psalms 139, he really does know where we are at all times. This verse also reminds me of a wonderful Christian song that I love to hear Kari Jobe sing.

The refrain or chorus is so powerful, I sing it out loud to feed my mind, soul and spirit. I recommend you do the same. Let me end this lesson with the words in the chorus.

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me.

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