The Word is Profitable when Mixed with Faith

People came to Jesus hungry, and they left fed. People came to Jesus sick and deformed and they left healed. People came to Jesus deep in sin and bondage and they left totally set free.

We also know, however, that not everyone who lived in Israel at the time of Jesus was healed. There were sick people. There were still some lame and diseased beggars near the temple. Some people who met Jesus did not get their needs met. Some remained still in the bondage of sin, poverty, and disease.

So, what’s the difference in these people? Why were some healed and set free from the bondage of sin and others were not?

The difference is that some believed, and some didn’t. Without belief, there is no faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Without faith, God’s promises do not apply. It takes faith to move God. He never responds positively to doubt and unbelief.

The Bible tells about two groups of people–both groups of people heard the gospel, but the gospel only profited one group. It was unprofitable to the other group. Hebrews 4:2 says, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” Do you understand what that verse says? It says that faith is required to make the gospel profitable.

You may ask, “How can this be? Isn’t the gospel always profitable?”

In Mark 6, Jesus went to His hometown, and He did the same thing there He did everywhere else. He preached the gospel, the good news. However, something unusual happened in Nazareth. In every other town and village Jesus preached in, He not only taught the good news, but He performed great miracles and all who were sick were healed. But no great miracles happened in Nazareth. Verse 5 says He could do no mighty works there. We see why in verse 6. Jesus marveled at their unbelief.

Without belief there is no faith. According to God’s Word, without faith, the gospel will not profit us.

Hardly a week goes by without someone asking me, “What is faith?” Faith is simply believing that God has done what He said He would do and everything you say and do is based upon that belief. Even more simply, faith is believing, speaking, and acting on God’s Word. Isn’t that simple? Just read God’s Word and believe Him. Believe Him so much that you place all that you are on the line. There is no doubt. God is telling the truth.

When Jesus was in the town of Nazareth, the people did not believe that He was who He said He was. They only knew Him as the Son of Mary. They knew His brothers and sisters. They had watched Him grow up and because of this, they did not believe what He said. Because they did not believe Him, according to the Bible, no great miracles took place there.

So, will the gospel profit you? According to Hebrews 4:2, yes it will, if you mix it with faith.

Devotion 0140

Faith Isn’t Surprised

As the early church was growing in the first century, Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, harassed many of the early church leaders. He killed James, the brother of John. He arrested Peter just because he knew it would please the Jews.

After Peter was arrested, Herod the king put him in prison and had him guarded by sixteen soldiers. Not only that, but he had him bound with two chains between two soldiers and had him placed behind a locked door with guards guarding the door (Acts 12:4,6).

None of this was done secretly. The rest of the Christians in Jerusalem knew what had happened. This was during the time of the Passover and there is no doubt that word traveled quickly that Peter was in prison. Acts 12:5 says that the church was in constant prayer for Peter. They were gathering together in rooms and praying that Peter would get out of prison.

We can only imagine how it was in those prayer meetings, but biblical evidence indicates that they were lamenting in prayer for days, probably praying something like, “Dear God in heaven. Release our dear brother, Peter, from the merciless hand of Herod the king.” Then something unexpected occurred. The day before Herod was going to display his captive Christian to the Jews, an angel of the Lord appeared beside Peter. As Peter was sleeping, still in chains between two guards, light began to shine in the prison and the angel struck Peter on the side to awaken him and get him up. Then the angel said, “Arise quickly!” and chains fell off Peter’s hands (Acts 12:7).

The angel then told Peter to get his clothes and sandals together and get dressed, and to follow him. Peter did as he was instructed, and he and the angel walked past the first and second guard posts to the iron gate. When they reached the gate, it opened by itself, and they went through the gate and down the street. This was so astonishing and unbelievable that the Bible says Peter didn’t really think it was happening (Acts 12:9). He thought it was a vision. But it wasn’t just a vision. It was real.

When Peter came to his senses and realized that it was really happening, he decided to go to Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark. Mary’s house was full of Christians, all praying for Peter’s release. When Peter reached the house, he knocked on the door. A girl named Rhoda went to the door but didn’t open it. She recognized Peter’s voice and, in her excitement, neglected to open the door and let him in. Instead, she ran in where they were praying and announced that Peter was at the door.

They thought she had lost her mind. How could Peter be at the door anyway? After all, he had to be in prison. That’s why they were praying. Well, Peter kept knocking and when someone finally went and opened the door, those in the room were astonished to see Peter standing there.

Nineteen hundred years later, things haven’t changed much. We pray and when our prayers are answered, we too are astonished.

In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” When we pray, we are to pray in faith. What is faith? Faith is simply believing that God has done everything He said He would do and believing it so much that everything we say and do is based on that belief.

Devotion 0023

He is THE God of Glory

Stephen said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran” (Acts 7:2).

God is not just a God, but He is the God. This scripture tells us that He is the God of Glory. If You are the God of Glory, it means that You are the God who has control of the glory. The glory is overseen by, controlled by, possessed by, and owned by the God of Glory.

God is saying in His Word that He is the God of Glory. He is not just another God. There is no other.

Chavod is the Hebrew word for glory. It means weightiness that is substantial, that is heavy; glory and honor; splendor; power; wealth; authority; magnificence; fame; dignity; riches and excellency. These are all part of the Hebrew word that means glory. When we think of God, we need to understand that God is weighted down with these things.

When a king walks into the courtyard and someone says, “Here comes the king in all of his glory,” that means the king is coming with all of his authority, all of his power, with his crowns, with his jewels. He has people walk beside him and behind him carrying his possessions. He is weighted down. He is heavy with riches, substantially heavy. He’s heavy with honor. He’s heavy with splendor. He’s heavy with power.

We must understand that God is the God of power. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” He said that because the power comes from God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God that comes from the glory.

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, there is power — dunamis power — that is present in you. Dunamis is the same root word the word dynamite comes from. The power on the inside of you, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, is not available from any other source. That power is not just some little finger fireworks; we’re talking about power beyond anything you can think or imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church” (Ephesians 3:20,21).

According to Scripture the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you when you are filled with the Holy Spirit.

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

What type of power does it take for God to raise the dead or to create a universe by speaking it into existence? If we could only understand and grasp the power of God, then we would also understand and grasp that the little problems we have are nothing compared to what God can do. Solving our problems does not drain His power. Our problems are nothing to God as far as the energy needed to solve them.

He can solve my problems and your problems at the same time. When I pray and say, “Father, I bring my petition before you,” God doesn’t say to me, “Get in line. I’m already dealing with someone else. The spiritual Internet is busy right now. We’ll get to you when we can.” That’s not the way God works. God is the God of Glory and glory is heaviness with unlimited power, abilities, and riches, and overflowing to those who will receive it.

Devotion 0120

Why Would Anyone Give Up?

Over the years I have noticed that there have been a lot of people I’ve known who started living in the things of God and then at some point in time, they walked away and gave up. During that time I noticed several factors involved that can cause people to lose heart and give up. Let’s look at each of them.

1)  The fear of failure

Because of past hurts, some have allowed fear of failure in life to enter in. They feel that it’s better to have never tried than to try and fail. This reason is a direct result of lack of belief in God’s Word.

2)  The fear of what people will say

There are those who live their lives wondering what others are saying about them. The truth is that if you live your life based upon the words of other people, then it will be difficult for you to live your life based on the Word of God. There will always be some individuals who don’t like you or understand you. So, get over it!

3)  Believing the lies of Satan

In John 8:44, Jesus said that Satan is the father of lies and he will try to enter our thought realm any way he can. Every thought that comes up into the realm of your consciousness must be examined. If it is of God, receive it. If it is of the devil, reject it.

4)  Walking by sight

Second Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we are to walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we do not make our decisions based on what we see, but instead we make our decisions based on what God says.

5) Living outside the camp

When the apostles were released from prison, the Scripture says that they returned to their own company (Acts 4:21,23). You must associate with other believers. Associating with the world will bring discouragement and disillusionment and will cause some to give up.

So when you feel like giving up, examine the source of this feeling and remove it. Remember, God is the God of increase and completion (Psalm 115:14; Philippians 1:6). He never gave up on you, so don’t give up on His call for your life (Romans 8:28).

Devotion 0363

The Greatest Decision

The greatest decision a person will make in their entire life is whether or not to become a Christian. This one decision will determine your destiny for all eternity. If you choose to become a Christian (saved, born again), you will live forever. If you reject Jesus and decide not to become a Christian, you will be separated from the presence of God and doomed to live in hell for all eternity.

In the Bible, God said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). It seems strange that God would have to tell us to choose life, but there are many who, when faced with a choice, choose death.

In the beginning God created man. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. God and Adam fellowshipped together until the day Adam sinned (Genesis 1:26; 3:8). At that point, there became a separation between God and mankind.

The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth and eventually suffer and die for us so we could be reconciled back to God. Jesus is and was the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13) but lived on this earth as the Son of Man (John 12:23). He gave His life and took on the sin of the world. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He made a way for us to have everlasting life and fellowship with Him again.

Jesus was the once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind. By His blood we have cleansing available for all sin. The price has been paid that we could not pay. To receive everlasting life, all we have to do is believe in our heart that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and make our confession align itself with that belief.

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

It may sound simple to become a Christian, but that’s because it is. God has already done the work and He made it so it would be easy for us to move into His kingdom. Remember, He has done the work. Our part is to believe and receive.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Devotion 0422

How Should I Pray?

One question that is common when there is a need for prayer is this: “How should I pray?” That is a good question, but it is also an easy one to answer. When we pray, we should always pray God’s will, which is His Word, and we should pray in the Spirit.

When Jesus was here on the earth, He said something that shows us how to pray. “For I have not spoken on My own authority: but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50). Jesus himself tells us here that He only said what the Father told him to say.

When we pray, we need to pray the Word of God because the Word is the Father’s thoughts, words, and will about everything (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Too many Christians are out there praying for things to happen in their lives that are totally against God’s will for them.

If we want God to hear us when we pray, we must know His will. The only way to know His will is to know His Word. Only then will we know how to pray effectively.

Once a man told me that his son and daughter-in-law were having problems in their marriage. He said that they were both raised in Christian families and claimed to be Christians. They had a child and for a while, seemed to have a happy family.

But then something happened and now it looked like they might get a divorce. Then he asked me this question. “How should I pray? Should I pray that they separate and each find someone that will make them happy, or should I pray that they stay together?”

I told this man to get out his Bible and see what God said about it, then pray the Word. A few days later he told me that he had direction in his prayers now. He knew God’s will was not divorce.

In the same way, when we get sick, we must pray the will of God. I’ve heard well-meaning Christians pray that the sick person wouldn’t be in too much pain if they die. Don’t pray for me that way! Keep those people away from me! Wouldn’t it be better to pray God’s Word?

For instance, James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” Praying God’s will in faith brings life. If you don’t pray the will of God in faith, you’re wasting your time. The Bible talks about praying the will of God and the results in 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

If you want to pray God’s will and can’t find it in the Word, then pray in the Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

So, it’s this way. Pray the Word or pray in the Spirit. Either way, you will be praying the will of God and He will hear you. And when God hears His will being prayed, He acts on His Word.

Devotion 0105

Prayer Should Not Be Your Last Resort

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a very bad situation, and someone said to you, “Well, the only thing left to do is to pray”? How did you react? Did you think, “Oh my goodness, has it come to that”? Or did you ask, “Are things really that bad?”

Unfortunately, that’s how most people in today’s society feel about spiritual things. Many people never turn to God until they have absolutely nowhere else to turn. God is usually their last resort. So many times, Jesus has to wait until the deepest, darkest hour because that’s when people finally turn to Him.

Some people actually believe that God put them in the hospital just so He could talk to them. But the truth of the matter is many people never look up until they are lying flat on their backs! God had the answer for them all the time, but it wasn’t until they were forced to lie still and get quiet that they would listen to the voice of God. God doesn’t knock people down just so He can help them get back up.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow or turning.” God does not send sickness and poverty and misery just to teach us something. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us because He wanted to set us free from the curse of sin!

Some have the wrong idea about God and spiritual things. Too many people don’t understand God, and it’s a natural tendency for people to fear what they don’t understand. What kind of images pop into your mind when someone mentions the spiritual realm to you? What kind of words would you use to describe the spirit realm?

Most people use words like dark, eerie, cold, mysterious, and spooky to describe the spiritual realm. Whenever you mention spiritual things, they automatically get flashbacks of Freddy Krueger, Dracula, and all the other horror movies they’ve seen.

Many associate the spirit realm with death because the only time they think about it is when someone they know dies. This constitutes a great victory for the enemy of our souls. Satan wants to keep our attention fixed on the natural and physical side of life. Only in the most painful moments of grief do most people consider spiritual things. It’s no wonder they have a dark picture of the spirit realm. Just like people associate a doctor with sickness and pain, they associate the spirit realm with death. This causes people to respond to spiritual things with death in the forefront of their minds. But God sent Jesus so that we could have LIFE!

God doesn’t want you to turn to Him as a last resort! He doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”

Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”

He wants to lead you and guide you from the very beginning. He wants you to put Him first! If people would learn to look to God first, then they wouldn’t get themselves into the messes that they do. God is a merciful God, and He will always help you with your problems when you ask Him to. But He never wanted you to go through that problem in the first place. He has a better way!

Devotion 0193

Releasing Your Faith Through Words

Proverbs 6:2 says we are snared by the words of our mouth, and we are taken by the words of our mouth.

In Mark 11:23 Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.”

Here is a spiritual law: God is a faith God, and He releases His faith in words. In the beginning God spoke and the universes were formed. In Genesis 1:3 God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Throughout creation until now God has spoken and whatever He spoke has come to pass.

When Jesus was here on the earth, the Bible tells us that He spoke to the winds and sea, and they obeyed Him. He didn’t act fearful. He didn’t panic. He simply spoke to the wind and sea and said, “Be still!” He believed what He said would come to pass. He knew His authority and He spoke in faith. What He said happened.

If you will read all of this story in Mark chapter 4, you will see that immediately after the sea calmed down, Jesus spoke to His disciples who were in the boat with Him. What He said was very interesting. He said, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

How much plainer can the Scriptures be? It took faith to calm the sea – not fear, but faith! The disciples were fearful, but when Jesus came on the scene and commanded the wind and sea, faith was present, and the miracle happened.

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to imitate God as children imitate their parents. Jesus is our example. We are to live as He lived. He walked in faith, and we are to walk in faith.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I would think then that what we say is very important, wouldn’t you? According to the Bible, God’s Word, life and death are in the power of the tongue. But what does that mean anyway?

Well, it’s this way. Words, your words, are containers. They can contain faith, or they can contain doubt. What you say today can affect the world for years to come. Your words are important.

A parent has a choice when speaking to their child. They can say, “You are the clumsiest child I have ever seen.” “You will never amount to anything.” “You never do anything right” and so on and so on. Or they can speak faith words. They can say, “You are a good child.” “You will be an achiever.” “You can do all things through Jesus.”

You may be thinking, “But you don’t know my child!” The Bible says that when things don’t look good, we are to not go by what we see anyway, but we are to walk and talk in faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Sometimes when it comes to teenagers, we need to stand on the scripture that says we are to call those things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). In other words, see things as they should be. See things as God sees them. Look through the eyes of faith. Speak to your mountain in faith and it will be moved.

Remember, the world says: “What you see is what you get.” The Word says, “What you say is what you get” (Mark 11:23).

Devotion 0011

Why Do We Talk So Much About Faith?

I am often asked the question, “Why do you talk about faith so much?”

Well, the reason I try to study and talk about faith so much is because Jesus did. And I want to be like Him. Let me explain.

When the winds of the sea were great and the disciples were afraid, Jesus rebuked the winds and there was a great calm. But if you will notice in Matthew 8:26, just before He calmed the sea, He remarked about the size of their faith.

When the four men brought their paralytic friend to Jesus and let him down through the roof, Jesus healed him. But if you’ll notice in Matthew 9:2, Jesus first saw their faith, and then He healed him.

In Matthew 17:19 the disciples of Jesus were confused and wondered why they were not able to cast out a demon and Jesus was able to. Jesus told them it was because of their unbelief and then He began to teach them about faith. And then He told them that with faith all things are possible.

When the woman who had been sick for years touched the hem of Jesus clothing, Jesus turned and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

In Luke 17:5, the apostles saw that faith was important to Jesus and they knew they needed more so they asked Jesus to increase their faith. These men lived with Jesus, and they knew Him well. Obviously, faith was an important item.

Once when Paul was speaking, he saw a man who needed healing in his body. The Bible says in Acts 14:9,10 that “Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet!’ And he leaped and walked.” Did you catch that? Paul observed this man to see if he had the faith to be healed before he spoke to him.

In Mark 11:22, Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” Then He goes on to explain what having faith in God produces. He said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

Jesus and the apostles constantly talked about faith. In Hebrews 4:2 an astonishing statement is made. The Bible here tells about two groups of people. Both groups heard the gospel, the good news. One group profited from hearing the gospel and one group did not. The Bible goes on to say that the second group that heard the gospel did not profit from it as a result of not mixing the gospel with faith. This one statement alone in the Bible should be enough to make any Christian want to be strong in faith.

Some reading this article may be wondering, “What is faith anyway?” Very simply, faith is believing what God said completely and basing all that you say and do on that belief.

Only when we believe that God has done what He said He has done will the gospel become alive in our lives and profit us.

Devotion 0156

Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

Your faith has to kick in for you to receive. Faith says, “Praise God! I have that ability now. I have the ability to make the right decision now because God has given me that wisdom. Praise the Lord!” Then when the situation you were praying about arises, you have an inner peace about going one way or the other, so you make the decision.

When you’ve asked for wisdom to make a decision, many times Satan will immediately step in and try to make it look like you’ve made the wrong decision. Why? Because Satan knows that sometimes we’re gullible and we might be pressured to go by what we see.

That’s why God tells us over and over in His Word to walk by faith, not by sight. If He told you He was going to give you wisdom and you believed that He actually did give you wisdom, and if you subsequently utilized wisdom in the situation and made a decision you felt good about in your spirit, then, at that point, you know you made the right decision. Afterward, if something happens in the natural that makes it look like it was the wrong decision, don’t let yourself wonder if you made the right decision. Don’t step out of faith into doubt. Don’t doubt whether God actu­ally gave you the wisdom or not. Rest in the promise in James 1:5-8 and continue to believe that what God said to you about giving you wisdom is true.

We have no excuse for gossiping, no excuse for losing our self-control, no excuse for worrying. Why? Because God’s ability (grace) takes up the slack where we fall short.

Devotion 0157

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