Crystal Writes A Blog

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All Aboard the New Year Train


All Aboard--Amtrak Pic from 2018--No Frame

What a ride this life can be sometimes, huh? Four years ago today, I was riding a train headed west to Arizona where I would spend my mother’s last 10 days on this earth. Until this time, I never knew how much the death of a parent could change a life. I don’t think I would’ve understood even if someone tried to explain. It’s one of those “you had to be there” experiences.

Still, I promised after I posted her picture and funeral flier back in 2015 that I would share the miraculous events of those last days. So, I am using this New Year’s Day to keep my old promise.

Mom called me with the news of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis on December 27th, 2014. She said the doctors told her it was an aggressive mass that gave her less than three months to live. I was ready to go into prayer battle, but she told me she was ready to meet Jesus and that she was okay. I accepted her answer and talked with my husband about going out there after my writer‘s meeting on the second Saturday of January. Something inside told me I needed to go sooner, though, and on December 31st, I signed on to Amtrak.com to see what was available. I found a ticket I could purchase with points I’d saved, and it was available the next day at 6:00 AM.

It’s almost a two-day ride from Chicago to Arizona, and in that time, I received phone calls from my mother’s doctors who complained that she was being aggressive since they removed her IV and asking me how I wanted to handle hospice plans. I got the doctor to agree to put her back on fluids so she could be lucid when I arrived. But the stress of broken connections and tasks I’d never performed gave me an upset stomach, A caring attendant did what she could to comfort me in my distress. Finally, I arrived to my old home town of Kingman where I would spend one night with my sister before we headed to Tucson to see our mom.

Fast forward a few days to Mom’s apartment, a hospice team, and helpful members of her church. Mom was still asking for a little food and some crushed ice, so I tried to give her all she desired. On Thursday January 8th, I set up a laptop to allow her to say goodbye to her family members in Kingman and my husband back in Indiana via a Google Hangouts video. By Saturday, she was eating less and sleeping more, and I was sleeping far less but using my time to sing to my mom with all the love I could find inside my heart. It was a battle because of an abusive childhood and trouble in our lives up to that point, but that’s another story for a different post. It’s important for my readers to know there was a PTSD-worthy history involved, though.

On Sunday the 11th, I got a sitter and decided I needed a little break to attend my mom’s church. It’s always awkward for me to figure out where to sit when I visit new churches, but this time, I would soon see how much God was in control. A woman who sat in front of me stood to tell the church of her pain about her husband’s recent death. That was an open door for me to invite her when I invited the rest of the church to walk over to my mother’s house and bid her farewell. Janet, accepted the invitation.

Now, most of the church members had been in to see her, so I brought Janet in to introduce her. While we waited for a few others to pray, Janet grabbed me and said she needed me outside right away. Remember, I had never met this woman before that morning in church. And, it turns out, it was only her second visit to the church, so she had never met my mother. She got me outside and asked if there were spiritual and mental battles between me and my mom. Once I explained, she said she knew why we had the rocky relationship we did. In a nutshell, she informed me she didn’t want to scare me but wanted me to know she saw something demonic hovering around my mother and oppressing her. She immediately gave me a prayer to pray over my mom. We prayed it together and with a neighbor friend, and when we went back inside, there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere.

In the next two days, Janet interceded for my mother and counseled both her and me to take our authority as children of The Almighty God. We stood in prayer against the evil that had likely oppressed her for most of her life, and we received both deliverance and peace. My mother was still dying, but everything was different. She was so comfortable that it amazed even her hospice attendants. They said she should have been more miserable and in far more pain even with the high doses of painkillers they had given her to prepare her for death.

In my times alone with my mom, my singing to her seemed clearer and more melodic than I had ever heard my voice. In addition, some pleasant memories from childhood days returned to my thoughts when before I had only remembered the troublesome times. To me, it was evident God put this woman into that church, and at that specific time, especially for my mother and me. God used her as a blessing in both spiritual and emotional ways. Next, I would see He put her there to be a physical blessing, too.

Soon after meeting her, I found out Janet was a retired RN. She volunteered to drop most everything at her own home to stay and help me care for my mother. That was an answer to my mother’s prayer that her children would never need to bathe her or change her diapers. Janet took care of the “gross” things, like suppositories, and she stayed as my helper right up to my mother’s last breath. And that leads me to my conclusion for this part of the story.

Members of my mom’s church stopped by to visit my mom and let me rest for a few hours here and there. Janet took the last shift on Monday night. She told me she would wake me if my mother needed me. I dreaded the thought of seeing her struggle for her last breath, but Janet did not know that. Still, she woke me right after her final moment on this earth, and I did not have to witness that battle. Her death rattle was silenced, but my mother was still warm, so I knew Janet woke me just in time. And because of all the changes in my spirit, I received the blessing of grieving my mother and our good times instead of beating myself up over so many past days taunting me with the fact I could never change them. When put into the hands of The Almighty, even the old can change and be made new.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Leadeth Me…To The End


With Sukkot beginning this coming Wednesday (evening of October 8th, 2014), I knew we were nearing the end of Torah, but I didn’t expect it this quickly. As it turns out, I actually started this week’s portion prematurely. The last two books of Deuteronomy are supposed to be coupled with the beginning of Genesis when Torah readings begin anew during Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah). However, since I didn’t start with the end of Deuteronomy last year, I need to finish it here to be complete.

Sunset tonight is actually the beginning of the high holy day, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It is a day of fasting and introspection as believers prepare themselves for the upcoming year. In the days of the wilderness tabernacle, it was the day when God would forgive all sin for the year. Because of Yeshua, we now have atonement anytime someone steps under His cleansing blood through repentance. Because repentance is brought forth by self-examination, I think it is a good idea for Christians to take advantage of Yom Kippur to silence some of life’s noise and spend a day seeking God’s Holy Spirit. I plan to write tomorrow night about any discoveries God brings me through my introspection.

So, in today’s reading from Deuteronomy 34:1 through Deuteronomy 34:12 (the whole chapter), we close out the book of Deuteronomy, the books of the Torah, and another week. Shabbat Shalom. Because this Yom Kippur is also falling on a Shabbat (Sabbath) , it is considered a Shabbat of Shabbats and is very special. Please read the chapter yourself, and consider reading the first chapter of the book of Joshua to watch the baton pass from Moses to Joshua the son of Nun.

Moses’ blessing is now complete, the Torah is done, and Moses life is ready to end. Studying straight through like this has given me a more realistic picture of Moses, so my heart actually grieves his passing. I can see why reading through the Torah every year can be a life-changing experience.

The chapter begins with Moses going to Mount Nebo, at the summit of Pisgah which is opposite Jericho. As he stands on the summit, he’s 120 years old but still with youthful strength and perfect eyesight. God shows Moses all the land He promised as an inheritance to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells Moses that he may look on all of it with his eyes, but he may not cross the Jordan to enter it. So Moses dies in the land of Moab, and though they were unsure of his actual gravesite, they know God buried him in the valley near Beth-Peor. All Israel mourned and wept over their great leader for thirty days.

When the days of mourning Moses were ended, Joshua the son of Nun stepped up. He had wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him, so the Israelites listened to him and did as the Lord commanded Moses. The last three verses of the chapter are powerful, and I want you to see them for yourselves, so here they are from The Complete Jewish Bible

Since that time there has not arisen in Isra’el a prophet like Moshe, whom Adonai knew face to face. What signs and wonders Adonai sent him to perform in the land of Egypt upon Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land! What might was in his hand! What great terror he evoked before the eyes of all Isra’el!

We know, of course, that Yeshua showed up on the scene many years later, and He made the holy presence of God available to all mankind. When the temple vail tore in half from the top to the bottom, God’s throne became a place where we could come and speak to God face to face as a man speaks to a friend. The blood cleanses us, so we won’t die in God’s presence. But remember that “as a friend” part because it makes an important distinction. We don’t have the invitation to God’s throne to command Him to do things our way, we have it to ask Him in person how we can do things His way.

Moses is one of the patriarchs in what we often call “The Faith Chapter,” the 11th chapter of Hebrews. I looked through some different translations, and I like the wording from the Easy to Read Version (ERV). Here is Hebrews 11:24-28

Moses grew up and became a man. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin that last such a short time. Instead, he chose to suffer with God’s people. He did this because he had faith. He thought it was better to suffer for the Messiah than to have all the treasures of Egypt. He was waiting for the reward that God would give him.

Moses left Egypt because he had faith. He was not afraid of the king’s anger. He continued strong as if he could see the God no one can see. Moses prepared the Passover and spread the blood on the doorways of the people of Israel, so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. Moses did this because he had faith.

Notice it says,”…better to suffer for the Messiah.” Other versions say “for Christ.” Moses could have sang the song in the video above just like we can today. “By His own blood, He leadeth me.” May all of you, my regular and visiting readers, enjoy the song He Leadeth Me as performed by Candi Pearson, and may you all be able to sing along. May we walk with faith like Moses as we trust God to lead us every moment, every day, from the beginning to the end. HalleluYah and Amen!

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Dream the Possible Dream


Neon Starburst Dream Mandala by Crystal A Murray

Neon Starburst Dream Mandala by Crystal A Murray
This image is manipulated from an image from inside an actual oil-based kaleidoscope. After running the image through a variety of photo editors and adding the text in the middle, it represents something similar to a woven dream catcher.

As we begin a new week, we also begin a new portion. Believe it or not, we’re already up to Parashah 10, Mikketz which means “at the end.” Being at Portion 10 also means I’ve been at this for 9 weeks now. For me, that’s a record as far as dedication to a writing task goes, so I’m happy with my efforts even though some days I felt like I wrote a bit shallow due to difficulty in either the subject matter or my available time. At the same time, this is the first time I have attempted to do NaNoWriMo and participated without winning. That makes me feel kinda down, but I am happy that given the choice between sharing fiction and sharing my heart, I stayed faithful to sharing my heart by keeping up this blog even when I couldn’t work on my novel. Thank you to those who come to visit me faithfully and who understand the struggles of writing in spite of all else that life requires.

So, that brings us to today’s part of the portion. We’re reading Genesis 41:1 through Genesis 41:14 where the dreamer this time is Pharaoh. It’s about two years after the last part of Joseph’s story where he correctly interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. Pharoah falls asleep and sees the Nile River and cows are coming up out of it. A total of seven cows come out of the river, and they are all fat and healthy. They walk out and begin to eat the grass on the shore. But then, another seven cows come up out of the river, and they are sickly and thin. They devour the seven healthy cows, and then Pharaoh wakes up. When Pharaoh falls back to sleep, he dreams again. This time, he sees seven full and ripe ears of corn grow from one stalk. After they grow, seven thin ears that look like they’ve been devastated by a storm grow from the same stalk and devour the seven good ears.

When Pharaoh wakes up fully from his sleep, his dreams have him feeling totally out of sorts. I’ve had those kinds of dreams and restless nights, and it makes you sort of feel like you go through your day with your head disconnected from your body. It’s an awful feeling for me, and I’m sure it was an awful feeling for Pharoah. Even with all that power, he couldn’t control that. What he could control was that he had dream-interpreters to consult, so he called every magician in the kingdom trying to get an understanding of his crazy dreams. But no one could help him.

Now the cupbearer realizes what he has forgotten and feels bad about it. He goes to Pharaoh and tells him about this young man in the prison who was able to correctly interpret the dreams of him and his bunk mate. Pharoah requests the man be brought to him to see if he can interpret his dreams. Scripture says that they brought Joseph quickly from the dungeon, and Joseph changes his clothes and shaved to prepare himself. This portion ends with them bringing Joseph before Pharaoh.

What amazes me in this story is God’s timing and Joseph’s faith. God knew exactly when to give the dreams to Pharaoh, and Joseph trusted this was something from God because he prepared himself to life outside the dungeon by changing into clean clothes and shaving. Joseph was still blessed in the midst of a dungeon, and he never gave up on God’s deliverance. So many of us would feel rejected and forgotten by God if we were in the same situation, and many of our Christian friends might even accuse us of sin or of lacking in faith because of what they see us going through. But all of that would be basing things on our timing and our own human understanding. But God’s thoughts and ways are above our own, and we are told that with Him, ALL things are possible. It doesn’t say that all things will LOOK possible, but that they ARE possible. That means they are possible when they look impossible. If only we could all look at the future instead of whatever dungeon life has us going through now. That should give us strength to make it through until God’s will leads us in a new direction in God’s time.

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well, Since God Said So


Yellow Rose in Green Frame by Crystal A Murray (with the help of Fractalius)

FAITH–Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Photo of yellow rose in green frame by Crystal A Murray
(Edits with Irfanview and Fractalius)

Yesterday, we read about God giving Abraham’s servant a sign that he was moving in the right direction, and through it, the servant found Rebekah as a future wife for Isaac. Today, we read in Genesis 24:27 through Genesis 24:52, and the story is almost exactly the same except that it is being retold by the servant to Rebekah’s relatives.

In verses 47 & 48, the servant begins to share his personal reaction to being shown a positive sign about Rebekah. He tells the family how he put the gifts of jewelry on her, and then he describes bowing before Adonai and worshiping Him for bringing him to the right place. In verse 49, he gives his audience the chance to make a decision about whether or not they will believe and adhere to the direction that has been shown to the servant and confirmed by the sign, and I love their response.

In verses 51 & 52, the two men respond by saying (my paraphrase), “Well, since this is obviously from God, we can’t say anything good or bad. Since Rebekah is here before you, take her and go, and let her become your master’s son’s wife…since God said so.” And at that point, the servant again bowed on his face to worship Yahveh Almighty.

If only we could all respond as calmly and without argument, right? I know I have thought for sure that God said things, but then I waited for a person to confirm what I knew in my heart. When I didn’t get the human support I felt I needed, I backed down only to find later that I should have listened to that still, small voice in my spirit. If only I would always understand that His ways and thoughts are above my ways and thoughts and, with or without human support or understanding, move forward in obedience just because God said so. There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end leads to destruction. And then… there is God’s way.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Faith


THE POWER OF FAITH – Revision One

By Crystal A. Murray 05-16-12

 (This is a revision of the line-numbered article as linked to in my first post. The revisions are extensive, so please consider reading it even if you have already perused the first post or the article as I wrote it for my Scribd documents. Thanks.)


This study on the power of faith is a result of studies I conducted while walking through my personal valley of decision some years ago. I began to study after seeking God’s wisdom about the current “movements” in the churches about things considered as being in the realm of God’s Spirit. What many called “revivals” were cropping up all over, and they were lauded by all kinds of Christian media. It seemed to be real and to have proven results, so I sought God as to whether I needed to visit one of these “faith healers” about a desperate physical need in my life.

I had always wondered about the depth and value of my faith, and whether it was truly enough to “move mountains” in my life. I battled with episodes of guilt for not having enough faith, such as when I did not receive a miracle healing to conceive children. At other times, it seemed my faith was huge—especially when I prayed for others, and people would come to me requesting me to pray for them because they thought my faith was so much better than their own. I sought God to ask that my faith would always be within His perfect will for my life.

For many years, voices have echoed inspirations to “act in faith,” or to “believe to receive,” or “name it to claim it.” They told me to come boldly before the throne of God and to remind Him of His promises in Scripture, and to proclaim as my own whatever I am asking for in faith. I’ve been told that I would only receive what I believed and even reminded to “fake it until you make it” to encourage myself in faith. As part of the revival movement that started all this, I was even advised that a way to strengthen faith is to exercise it. The suggested exercise as being taught by many at the time was to command one of my own fingers to grow, return to its original size, grow again, return again, etc. People were getting results with this, but I had to wonder if the results were actually from God.

After being introduced to these kinds of powers, and to other teachings I felt might border too closely to mysticism, I felt it necessary to seek God and His wisdom from the depths of my heart. I asked Him to show me, by causing my finger to grow, if this was of Him. No fingers grew, though I knew I had faith since I had experienced this exact phenomenon when I watched my leg grow nearly two inches.

An important factor in the leg growth situation is that the growth came after God specifically directed me to believe in Him for a miraculous healing in my back that day. The growth has since been medically verified, so I had no reason not to believe God could do this type of thing, but only needed to know if He would and if it was His will.

When my finger did not grow, I had to believe it was God’s way of showing me that “practicing” faith was not something He was directing me to do. Still, people who were seeing results from this practice warned me that if I didn’t have enough faith when I asked for healing, I would end up getting worse instead of better. This did not sound like the God I knew from Scripture or the God I knew from my personal testimony of His love toward me. I knew He had plenty of power to share, but I never wanted to think of Him like some kind of “genie in a lamp” type of god.

The more I sought to understand these things, the more I continued to hear about the wave of miracles that was spreading wildly through the churches. The biggest of these “shows” was coming out of Lakeland, Florida, with a man named Todd Bentley. I had no desire to find fault with these events, especially since it would have been in my best interest physically to find them as true and to seek healing through the miraculous rather than through surgical means. However, God was about to open my eyes to things I never expected to find. I won’t cover it all in this article, but I will cover the main points of Scriptures I found about faith as God walked me through them.

My first answer came with just one section of Scripture. From two verses, I understood how people like Todd Bentley, (and other last days’ seducers and apostates as warned of in Scripture), could perform the miraculous, even if it was not of God. However, even knowing this wisdom came from God, I felt it necessary to continue studying to make certain I had more than one Scripture on which to base my understanding. The following Scriptures and commentary are a result of that study.

(All Scriptures used are KJV. Scriptures are bolded with Jesus’ words in red.)

First, the Scripture that tells how people can work miracles and yet not be of God:

(Matthew 7:22-23)

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

But wait, didn’t they just say they prophesied, and cast out devils, and did wonderful works of God? Furthermore, didn’t they say they did all these things in Jesus’ Name? So how can He then say to them that He never knew them? The answer is in the word “knew” which is translated from the same referral to intimate knowledge as when Adam “knew” Eve and she bore him a son. Jesus was saying that He never planted His seed within them. They were worshiping the miracles rather than the Giver of the miracles; the creation more than the Creator; the power more than the All Powerful. Because they had faith, and because—as I will show later—faith works, those referred to in this Scripture (people we will likely see in the “last days”) were able to do good works in the right name, but their hearts were wrapped up in the works of the Lord rather than in the Lord of the work, so their righteousness became as filthy rags. The remedy to this is found in the next verse, a command from Jesus to His disciples.

(Mark 11:22)
And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Have faith in God.”

Have faith in God and not in ourselves or a man. This is the beginning of an admonition to the disciples after they asked Jesus about the power He had over the fig tree. He is making sure they understand that it’s not just about power or faith in general, because (or verily)…

(Mark 11:23)
For verily I say unto you, “That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Understand that faith in and of itself is so powerful that even if a man asks for an impossible thing like moving a mountain into the sea, faith will cause it to happen. God created faith with infinite possibilities–even the possibility to go against His perfect will if believers do not connect their will and their faith directly to Him. In reality, I don’t imagine God would want men running around changing nature and the ecosystem as He has created it, but because of the power of faith, they most certainly could do so.

(Mark 11:24)
Therefore I say unto you, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Therefore, or because of how great the power is that is found in faith, when you have a desire, make sure you pray and THEN believe. Notice Jesus did not say, “if you pray” but rather “when you pray” because it was important for the disciples not to use the power of faith incorrectly. Those things desired should be asked in prayer to God, not just spoken like a man talking to a mountain. This goes back to Jesus’ very first statement, “Have faith in God.” He was giving them a command and then informing them of how to act on it. First, make sure the faith is in God, and then check your desires against that faith by taking it to God in prayer, and then you can have confident belief in it because you know it is His true will for you.

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Here’s another look at the same scenario by a different writer:

(Luke 17:5-6)
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

The mustard seed here is used as an answer to the disciples’ request for Jesus to “increase their faith.” He says, basically, that the amount of their faith had nothing to do with the works they could do. He used something small to drive home that even if it was a tiny bit of faith, they could do great things with it. It wasn’t about the size of the faith but the source of the faith. Jesus was telling them they didn’t need to ask for an increase in faith but rather a change in the use and purpose of their faith. The purpose was to use it in obedience to His command to have all their faith in God. The next part follows this reminder with a story that would seem to be unconnected.

(Luke 17:7-10)
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, ‘Go and sit down to meat?’ And will not rather say unto him, ‘Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?’ Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.’ “

So why would Jesus follow the admonition about faith with the story about the servant doing what was commanded of him? Because, He was reminding them that having faith was a command. It was not something He was praising them for having, and it was not something they should praise themselves for having. They needed to be obedient and humble so that even when they operated in a power great enough to move a mountain they would say, “No big deal. We just did our duty.”

And let me add here that I am extremely uncomfortable with hearing someone say, “He’s a great man of faith” or “She’s a mighty woman of faith.” I believe this goes exactly against what Jesus was saying here about our obedience not making us anything more than unprofitable servants. When we use faith in Jesus, we are simply doing what He has commanded us to do. We are even reminded in Philippians 2:13 that God is the one who gives us the desire to serve Him, so we can’t even brag if we have a desire for faith, let alone if we carry it out. If He wants to see us more highly, that’s fine, but we should see ourselves as nothing more than obedient servants…

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And here is a longer example from Matthew:

(Matthew 17:14-21)
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, “Why could not we cast him out?”

And Jesus said unto them, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

In this example, we can see Jesus again telling the disciples that faith is so powerful, even a little bit can cause a mountain to be cast into the sea. And yet, He reminds them that demons only respond to that which is in the power of God. He goes on to say that He understands they may not be able to have that true and focused type of faith in God required to fight the enemy unless they subdue their flesh through prayer and fasting. This drives home that it’s more than just practicing faith over body parts, or proclaiming what we want to believe. It must be wholly wrapped up in God and His perfect will to be the kind of faith that pleases Him and yields the right results.

Furthermore, to have any kind of power in the spirit realm, we need even more to be sure we are working with God’s power and not our own “faith” which may not be motivated by obedience or love toward God. In Acts 19:13-16, the seven sons of Sceva had faith enough to get the attention of demons, (they were vagabond Jews so they knew the difference in God and the enemy,) but because they had no true relationship with God, and because they were not directed by God to cast out demons, they were overcome and wounded.

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And here’s one more example after the disciples watched Jesus curse the fig tree…

(Mat 21:20-22)
And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, “How soon is the fig tree withered away!” Jesus answered and said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Again, Jesus tells them if they have pure faith, they will not only be able to have power over the fruit of a tree but even greater things. And again, He follows it with the reminder that belief is not enough and that all things should be asked in prayer.

Important note here: Prayer is not the time to speak our beliefs, it is the time to make certain our beliefs are in God’s perfect will for us. Once we have that answer, we can go on to confident belief, which is the meat or evidence of things not seen until they come to pass. Jesus is giving the disciples an exact diagram here of how to have faith. And it works the same for us. Pray first and pray always. Or, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray without ceasing.

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And this one does well in wrapping it all up for me.

(Rom 12:2-3)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

I believe it is first saying we should make sure our motives are correct, so we will do God’s will and not our own. We do not want to be like the world in trying to feel better about ourselves by judging someone else—especially not concerning something like faith that is a gift God gives to all of us. This thing we do where we pat people on the back because they appear to have “great faith” or condemn people because they don’t have enough faith is too much like the servants of flesh that unwisely compare themselves among themselves.

My idea of how Jesus might tell a parable that would explain the power of faith:

“There once was a man who wanted to see a demonstration of the power of God, so he prayed about it and asked God to use him. God handed him a cup of water and sent him to the desert with the command to splash it on a man he would find there. When he splashed it on the man, what do you suppose happened? ”

The disciples correctly answered, “The man got wet and it cooled him off.”

“Right,” said Jesus. “The water had the power to get the man wet and cool him off at the same time. If you have faith in God, you too can take a cup of water and splash it on any person or object and it will get that person or object wet. Even a little water will still cause whatever it touches to get wet. But always pray before you splash so you won’t be tempted to revel in it when a hot and dry man praises you for cooling him off.”

My commentary: 

Since faith has power even apart from God, in the same sense that water gets someone wet even if God is not the one splashing it on, we must remember to think clearly about our use of it. In other words, if God gave us a cup of water, and we used it to get someone wet, would we brag about how they got wet because we were the ones that splashed it?  If he gave me a smaller cup of water and you a larger cup of water, should you brag that you were able to get more people wet than I was? Would that change the properties of the water having the ability to wet things, or would it change who gave the water these properties?

We should never think, just because we obey God’s command and use what God has given us to perform something, that we are more highly valued than anyone else, or even that we have any greater power in God. Unlike what was done to Todd Bentley, our actions in faith do not deserve a special robe and ring, and a declaration from other “mighty men of the faith” that we have some special anointing. That is simply pride that goes before destruction, like the embarrassing truth that came out about Mr. Bentley cheating on his wife with one of the members of the ministry team.

The fact is, just like God made water with the properties to get things wet, He made faith and made it to yield power. The power of faith, like the wetness of water, will work whether or not it is God’s perfect will for us to “splash” it around. We are not special because we are able to use the gift of God’s faith, but by God’s grace we are able (and even commanded) to operate in His gifts–even in this mortal flesh. We should praise God for His grace to trust us with such power, but even when we rejoice in that, we must remember Jesus words to the disciples in the 20th verse of Luke 10: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

Final Notes: The remaining verses in Romans 12 list many gifts in the body of Christ and remind us that we are to use them as a duty, just as Jesus reminded the men when He talked about the servant. By having an obedient and humble spirit, we can remain joined as a body, yielding to our callings, preferring others above ourselves, instant in prayer, not influenced by “high” things, and compassionate. These things culminate with not being overcome by evil, (or subdued by empty worthlessness), but rather taking victory over worthless things by sticking to the right, the good, and the beneficial things. Have faith in God, not because of the power of faith but because of the power of God.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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