Contentment and Aspiration

Godliness with contentment is great gain. However, contentment without aspiration is destructive. Contentment without aspiration yields grandiose mediocrity.  It is the mother of regression and could be the worst enemy of productivity.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
– 1st Timothy 6:6
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
– Proverbs 29:18
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:14
 
I give God praise for where I am today. I am content. I am very content. But see: contentment does not mean I do not have aspirations. Paul said, he forgets the things behind him, and presses forward. That is aspiration! He was content but he was always aspiring.
 
Religion would have us think that contentment and aspiration are mutually exclusive, but the bible shows us that we need both. We need to be content where we are – in our being, but we need to have a vision. Why, without vision, contentment would mean destruction. It would become complacency.
 
If you are in debt, you should aspire to get out of debt. If you are sick, you should see yourself getting out of that wheel chair or just getting better. If you have destructive habits, you should aspire to get out of those bad habits. You need to see yourself strong, well, free and productive.
 
Where there is no aspiration, vision is unheard of and productivity is ridiculed. Where there is no aspiration, the people are simply robbed of dignity and honour. They perish.
 
Friends, I thank God for your career, your family and every good thing in you life. But I want you to know that if you are not doing well right now, you can do well. If you are doing well already, you can do even better. The key is in vision. Let a desire for creativity, productivity and success permeate your thinking. Step out and begin to live those dreams of yours and you will see honour and dignity flowing out from within you and flourishing in your life.
 
I am content, but I raise my head to see ahead. There are more adventures ahead. There is more to be done. There are lives to be touched, things to be invented and businesses to build. Oh, there is the good news to be shared. Wow! The future has never been brighter.

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3 Things Faith Makes Possible

When you were born into this life, you took a breath of oxygen and have continued to do so non-stop since then. In the same manner, the Christian is born again by faith, and must, of a necessity, live his life by faith. This is why it is important for every Christian to understand the role of faith and how to properly apply it in our lives.

In my study of faith, I can articulate 3 distinct things that faith makes possible:

1. By Faith, We Please God

“For without faith, it is impossible to please God…”

(Hebrews 11:6)

Many of the things we desire and pursue in life, may be possible without having faith. Let’s take for example, someone in financial trouble may work hard to make more money, or work smart to make even more money. He may beg for money or steal it! He can do all of those things without having faith. In fact, there is only one thing that you cannot do without faith – and that is, you cannot please God without faith.

In discussing choices about diet options, Paul even says, “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23).

You may ask, “am I supposed to live every facet of my life by faith.” The answer is “yes.” Just as you breathe oxygen everywhere you go, as a believer, you live by faith.

2. Through Faith, We Understand the Works of God

“Through faith we understandthat the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”

(Hebrews 11:3)

God created the heavens and the earth. He made the plan of redemption after sin entered humanity. God made His covenant with Abraham, established the nation of Israel and sent the Messiah through them. Christ lived, preached, healed the sick, worked miracles and raised the dead. Christ then took our place on the cross, died, was buried and rose again on the third day. He ascended to heaven, and sent us the Holy Spirit.

All of those and more, are some of the works of God. We understand them through faith.

“Understand? Through faith?”

I know it sounds incredulous. However, let me emphasize that the things of God are closed off to the natural man, who is not breathing the oxygen of a faith life. The bible says:

“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

(1 Corinthians 2:14)

This is why I am puzzled when churches make it their mandate to speak only in terms that natural men can understand. They are robbing their congregations of an understanding of the works of God at a depth where it can really impact them. Anyone teaching believers the Word of God must “…speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining (or comparing/explaining) spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (2 Cor. 2:13).

3. By Faith, We Operate the Works of God

After experiencing the miracles of Jesus when He fed the five thousand with a young boy’s five loaves of bread and two fish, the crowd of people came looking for Him. One question stood out in the ensuring discussion. The crowd asked Jesus:

“…’what shall we do that we may work (or operate) the works of God.'” (John 6:28).

It is evident that the crowd saw a supernatural act and were inquisitive enough to seek to know how to operate in it for themselves. The answer of Jesus Christ is true then as it is now:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.'” (John 6:29).

This is the work of God: that you believe! That you believe on Jesus.

Jesus gave them the answer. The supernatural works of God – as we see it in the ministry of Jesus Christ – is accessible by exercising faith in the gift of God, Jesus Christ Himself.

Paul, in his rebuke of the Galatian Christians, chided them for embracing the law, abandoning faith and grace. He asked them a number of rhetoric questions, including this: “So then, does He who… works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:5). This fact was obvious to the Galatians, and should be to you too: miracles are worked when faith is preached and heard.

Peter and John in Acts 3 said the man who was crippled from birth healed at the beautiful gate of the temple was healed through faith in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16).

Many Christians ask, “why we don’t see miracles today like in the Acts of the Apostles?” Here is my answer: we see as much miracles today as we have demonstrated faith for. Read the New TestamentIf you and I would see more works of God, then we must exercise faith. However, it is important to remember:

“faith comes by hearing and hearing by  the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17).


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The Primary Role of Faith

It is possible to live a long, prosperous and healthy life without having faith. It is possible to have a wonderful marriage and award-winning, well-adjusted children without having faith. It is possible to be sick and recover without having faith. It is possible to be poor and then become rich without having faith. People have done all of these things without ever having faith. However, the scripture is clear the one thing that is impossible without faith.

“For without faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6

There you have it: it is impossible. Without faith, we CANNOT please God.

I was under the impression that every believer has this understanding as the number one driver of motives and actions. I thought so until I was rudely awakened when I saw fellow Christians quit believing God because of something bad that happened: their spouse left them, they lost a job, a loved one died, they got sick or whatever else. It appears to me that their motivation for faith was lacking an understanding of the primary role of faith, which is to please God.

We are designed to please God and in fact, we find our fulfillment in doing what we are designed to do. However, you cannot really please Him apart from faith. The Hebrews 11 passage in context reads:

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

– Hebrews 11:5-6

Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God. That is what our life is designed to be – to please God. Again, it is in doing what we are designed to do that we find fulfillment.
 
This makes understanding faith, its role in the life of a believer and how it works, of paramount importance if you would execute a victorious and successful Christian life.
 
Every teaching we, and other teachers of faith, have taught on the subject of faith and how to believe God for stuff, is predicated on the expectation that every believer starts out, and is founded, on this truth as a bedrock principle to live by.
 
To live a life that is worthy of the divine declaration, “this is My well beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” is a work of grace receivable by faith.
 
For a believer in Christ to pursue life apart from a desire, an orientation, and a daily walk to please God is to make a shipwreck of one’s faith.
 

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Exalt the Word

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any o you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”
 – Hebrews 4:1,2
 
Friend, I am glad to tell you that God’s Word is sent to you for your profit.  That’s right.  What I mean is that the ministration of the Word being preached to you is to bring you into the fullness of God.
 
That’s the good news, but do you know that as good and as powerful as the Word of God is, it can become unfruitful in people.  How can that be?  How does it happen?  The bible says it is because it is not mixed with faith in the hearers of the Word. 
 
The problem doesn’t just start in one day.  No, it’s very subtle.  Take the children of Israel for example.  Their history is fully illustrated with acts and visitations of God.  They are God’s covenant people.  Testimonies of God’s greatness abounded from Abraham to the Red Sea, in the wilderness, from the walls of Jericho to David and on and on.
 
But somehow, the Word of God had become common place with the people.  They heard it in their ears, but they didn’t hear it in their hearts.  Soon after that – and no one seemed to have realized – they began to detest the Word.  They call it a “burden”.  “What is the burden of the Lord?” they would ask the prophets.  The Word sent couldn’t profit them.
 
But Moses, that’s the Old Testament, we know better now.” But, do we?
 
In the above verse, we are admonished to watch lest we fall into the same predicament.  How exactly do we do that?
 
The first thing is to give reverence to the Word of God.  The Word is more real than anything in the natural.  It’s more real than your career, education or what have you.  That Word is more real than your bank account.  Give the Word of God first place in your life.  Above all else, exalt the Word.
 
A heart that exalts the Word is a heart that will mix it with faith.  Let’s do just that.
 

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