The Encourager

The Encourager

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Do I Believe I Am Able?

Sunday, May 02, 2021

“Do I Believe I Am Able?”

by Jeff Curtis

 

The size of our faith determines our thinking, and our thinking determines our spiritual growth. A person who believes he can accomplish nothing will not rise far above that belief.

 

We have to remind ourselves that we don’t think as God thinks (Isaiah 55:8). A serious mistake is made when we try to presuppose God’s purposes and expectations. Statements such as “I don’t think God expects this of me” should be avoided. How can we come to see situations in the way God does? First, we are to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Second, since the mind of God is revealed in His Word, we must study the Bible.

 

Three texts reveal how we can increase the size of our faith and learn to think more as God thinks.

 

Believe in Jesus (Matthew 9:27-31). Two blind men followed Jesus and begged for Him to have mercy on them. He asked them if they believed He could restore their sight, and they answered “Yes, Lord” (Matt. 9:28). He then touched their eyes and said, “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (9:29). Immediately, they received their sight.

 

Not every case of healing depended on the faith of the one being healed. Examples are the lame man who was carried to Jesus by four friends, the centurion’s servant, and the demoniacs of Gadara.

 

However, our usefulness to God may be determined by the measure of our faith in Him. We must believe that He is able to accomplish through us whatever He wants us to handle (Matt. 19:26).

 

We are often held back because of some real or imagined disability. Age, illness, and lack of talent can be hinderances; but a person stops being “disabled” when he stops thinking about what he cannot do and starts thinking about what he can do by God’s power. Being “spiritually disabled” is far worse than being physically challenged.

 

Be motivated by God’s assurance of success (Philippians 4:13). Paul presented a three-step plan to achieve what God would have us to do: (1) “I can,” (2) “Do all things,” (3) “Through Him who strengthens me.” Paul believed that God was able to do through him whatever He wanted done.

 

God doesn’t limit our accomplishments in His kingdom. “We do!” “For as he thinks within himself, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). If we are concerned with a lack of usefulness in the kingdom of God, the problem is not God, but with our thinking.

 

Concentrate on God’s power working through us (Eph. 3:20). Let’s examine the text. “Now to Him” refers to God, the Creator and Sustainer of this universe and all that is in it. “Who is able” means “beyond measure, far more than, in excess of expectation.” “All that we ask or think” indicates that we can’t out-think God’s ability to perform. Our only limitations are God’s will and our faith. “According to the power that works within us” indicates that God works through us with power. If we think and plan small, we will be small. Conversely, if we think and plan big, we can accomplish big things. Our growth as individual Christians or as a congregation is hindered or helped by our faith.

 

Finally. If God wants something done through us, it can be done when we are ready and willing to do it. Our faith determines our potential for serving Him.

Procrastination Regarding Obedience

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Procrastination Regarding Obedience

by Jeff Curtis

 

God’s people should be aware of the temptation to procrastinate in obeying Him. When Jacob was fleeing to Haran to escape the anger of Esau, God appeared to him in a dream at Bethel. God promised to be with Jacob and bless him wherever he travelled and then bring him back to the land of his birth. God also repeated to him the covenant promises that He had made to Abraham: the gift of Canaan and many descendants, who be a blessing to all the families of the earth. In response to this vision, Jacob promised to serve God. He set up a pillar at Bethel (“the house of God”) and promised to give God a tenth of all the blessings that he received (Gen. 28:12-22).

 

The text doesn’t tell how many years had passed since the Lord’s manifestation to Jacob at Bethel; but he spent twenty years in Haran, where eleven sons and one daughter were born to his wives and their maidservants. At the end of that time, Jacob reminded Rachel and Leah how their father had lied and cheated him throughout his stay in their homeland. He also revealed to his wives that God had appeared to him and told him to return to the land of his birth (Gen. 31:13), where his father still lived. However, after Laban left them on the east side of the Jordan River, instead of crossing over into Canaan in accordance to God’s command, Jacob and his family evidently settled down and spent a number years in Succoth. Jacob built a house there and booths for his livestock (33:17). When he finally crossed the Jordan and returned to Canaan, he bought a piece of property for his family in Shechem (33:18-20). They lived there for a period of time before incidents transpired in chapter 34.

 

Why was Jacob hesitant to return to Bethel or go home to father near Hebron? (1) He may still have been afraid to live too close to Esau in Edom. (2) Maybe he thought that his father was dead by this time – or was too embarrassed to face him again after all the hurt he has caused him. (3) Since he had given Esau a large portion of his wealth in livestock (33:8-11), he may have wanted to avoid giving another ten percent to God at Bethel (28:22). Whatever Jacob’s reasons were for procrastinating in obeying God, they had sad and hurtful consequences.

 

When people hear the call of the Lord to do His will, it is unwise to procrastinate or to give only partial obedience. The Bible contains many examples of such responses. 1) Samuel rebuked King Saul for rending partial obedience (1Samuel 15: 22,23). 2) A psalmist challenged his contemporaries not to postpone obedience: “Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness…” (Psa. 95:7c-11). 3) The writer of Hebrews quoted this psalm to encourage Jewish Christians not to delay in the obedience to the Lord (Heb. 3:7-4:11). 4) Writing centuries before, Isaiah urged the Israelites who would be freed from Babylonian captivity that it was the “favorable time” (“a day of salvation”) for them to return to Palestine and rebuild the desolate places (Isa. 49:8-10). Most of the exiles from Judah procrastinated, refusing the call of God; and they never returned to the Promised Land. 5) Paul used Isaiah’s words in a different way: He encouraged Christians “not to receive the grace of God in vain” and not to cause offense that might discredit the cause of Christ. He appealed for an immediate response by the Corinthians, saying, “Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2Cor. 6:1-3). 6) Paul made a similar appeal to the Ephesians, who were careless in their “walk” as children of God. He said they were like sleepwalkers and needed to wake up and make the most of their time “because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5”14-16).

 

Christians constantly face the temptation to procrastinate in serving God. May He help us to act promptly and wisely.

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