Category Archives: Power of Words

Using God’s Keychain

Mark 11:22

Make Your Faith Like God’s Faith

Somebody who knows Greek better than me–which would be knowing it at all if I’m honest–explained that when Jesus said, “Have faith in God,” that could more accurately be translated, “Have a God-like type of faith.”

I have to admit that it struck me as odd to consider God having faith. What would God have faith in? God is supposed to be the object of our faith. Faith in anything else would seem rather pointless. Or maybe not.

This morning, in the two hours I have been awake, I have demonstrated faith–a sort of expectant dependance–in a number of things: my alarm, the water in the sink, the lights, my car, my driving ability, the key in my office lock, this computer.

You’ve probably trusted each of those things in the past as well. How do you know you trusted or had faith in them? You were surprised when they failed. Have you ever put a key in a lock and been confused when it wouldn’t turn?

God doesn’t have those moments of confusion, because God doesn’t pick the  wrong key. He could turn the wrong key into the right one. We don’t have that level of control, but we can exercise God-like faith when we recognize that all of the power of the One who designed and created the universe is at our disposal–all for the price of a tiny speck of faith.

  • Do you trust in the power of God as much as you trust in the power of the physical things in your life?
  • Do you actions and choices suggest that you actually trust things more than God?
  • Pray this week that God will help you develop God-like faith as you strive to follow His will.

The Mountain You’re Stuck On

Mark 11:23-24

Consider Your Favorite Mountains

I suggested yesterday that mountains have their good qualities, lest we go about dropping them into the ocean without thought and thereby raising the sea level to a point that Atlanta is on the coast. But I’d like today to dwell a bit on the negative aspects of mountains.

Mountains can be seductive. Think back to that story about Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter–foot in mouth as usual–got so excited that he wanted to build houses on the mountain to stay there. In Exodus 33, after the débâcle of the Golden Calf, the people of Israel mourned when directed to leave Sinai.

It’s possible that a really great mountain isn’t standing in your way in the sense of blocking your route. Instead, maybe that mountain is standing in your way by keeping you in place. I didn’t think I was going there when I started writing this, but it occurs to me that our current struggle over renaming our church could be such a mountain.

We like this name. We like our identity as “First” or “Baptist.” And indeed this name has served us well for years. But if we linger on a mountain when God wants us to move on, if we cling to particular music or a particular style of teaching or a particular paint color on the walls or anything, then that has the potential to be a mountain that doesn’t block our way but instead prevents us from moving on our way.

Tell it to move. It’ll move. And if it doesn’t move, then maybe it’s a good mountain.

  • What are the mountains in your life that cause you to avoid stepping out on the path God has planned for you?
  • Are there good mountains that we ought to preserve at all costs? Or that we should just preserve for the time being?
  • Pray this week that God will give you the insight to distinguish between the mountains that should move and those that should stay.

A Mountain in the Way

Mark 11:23

Know Your Mountains

This idea of moving mountains is in all four gospels in one manner or another; thus, those who read the New Testament  regularly run across it. How many times have you read about moving mountains out of your way or dropping them into the sea and thought, “Oh yeah, Jesus, you’re really going out on a limb there!”

Mountains, either in our own lives or in the context of the Bible, are marvelous things. Without mountains, the whole world is Kansas. Where do we ski? Where does the Von Trapp go to escape the Nazis? In the Bible, mountains provide terrific places for important things to happen. Would it have been exciting for Moses to receive the law on the plain of Sinai? Would it seem right if Jesus had met with Elijah and Moses anywhere other than the Mount of Transfiguration? And speaking of Elijah, I think his most dramatic action, facing off against the prophets of Baal, would have seemed less impressive had it not been on Mount Carmel.

Mountains are great until you have a mountain in your way. Jesus was not anti-mountain, but He used the idea of a mountain to suggest an obstacle. When we are trying to get where God wants us to go, when we are following in the way that He has designed for us, then the obstacle of a mountain should go. In fact, every mountain and hill should be made low and the crooked parts of the route made straight. Didn’t Isaiah say something like that?

The idea of moving mountains is not a parlor trick, just as the idea of killing a fig tree was not one. I can’t imagine when it would be proper to drop a mountain into the sea, but if that mountain stands between you and God’s will for you, then it will move at your word.

  • What “mountains” or obstacles stand between you and what God wants for you?
  • How many of those mountains are ones you placed in the way yourself? Which ones are barriers established by others?
  • Are you in close enough communication with God to know the mountains that you should move? What can you do to improve that communication today?

The Progress

John 6:63

Tap the power of the words.

Have you ever read the first novel written in the English language? That would be John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Published in 1678, Bunyan’s book isn’t exactly a John Grisham thriller, but it has a great deal more depth and staying power.

The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon once said of John Bunyan, “Cut him and he bleeds scripture.” Read Pilgrim’s Progress and you’ll see why. Bunyan peppers his description and dialogue into the text in a way that makes it clear he knew the Bible as well as he knew his own face. Perhaps better.

In the scripture quoted above, Jesus says that his words are spirit and life. What does that exactly mean? What does it mean at the beginning of John’s gospel when Jesus is introduced as “the Word.” The Word was with God in the beginning and was God. And yet God speaks words. It’s all very confusing.

Let’s be clear that there are no “magic words.” We can neither “name it and claim it” as the Word of Faith proponents would suggest nor utter incantations that put the powers of the universe at our beck and call. And in fact, those two things are really one–just described differently.

There are no magic words, but there are powerful words. And words are a powerful medium by which humans are differentiated from other animals. We cannot outmaneuver God by the use of words, but we can maneuver ourselves closer to Him with them.

Where could we be better positioned?

  • Do you tend to focus on your problems or on God’s promises?
  • How much time do you spend in the Bible and in prayer? Is it the sort of quality time it should be?
  • Pray this week that God will use His words and yourself to align you more closely to Him.

 

Want what enough?

Joel 3:10

Speak well of yourself.

“You can accomplish anything if you just want it badly enough.” Have you heard that before? Is it true? I recall, years ago when I worked for the Boy Scouts, hearing a colleague at a training event declare that he wanted badly to be the Chief Scout Executive, the absolute top dog in the BSA. “If I want it badly enough,” he smiled. “Then I can make it happen.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

So where did this guy go wrong? Did he just not want it badly enough? Did he not want it badly enough for long enough? Did he not speak enough positive affirmations into his mirror each day? Or was there something mistaken in his premise?

This last weekend, the field in the NCAA basketball tournament narrowed from 16 to 4. Did those 12 teams who lost just not want it it enough–or might talent and luck and coaching have come into the mix somehow? I have to believe that every player on every team wanted it. I think they believed they could win. They told themselves in the locker room they could win. But they couldn’t all win.

Words are not magic. Notice that Joel does not say, “Let the peasant say, ‘I am king.'” That’s not the point. The point is not to exalt ourselves through our words but to take advantage of the power that God offers through our words.

How much talent and power do we leave on the table when we do not claim the strength of God among our assets. Let the weak say, I am strong. Not the strongest, but strong. That’s plenty when it’s God’s strength.

  • In what areas of your life do you doubt yourself?
  • What areas of weakness could you strengthen by tapping into and claiming God’s strength?
  • Thank God for revealing His strength in your life, even if you haven’t yet seen it.