As I worshiped this morning, the Lord surprised me by speaking through the words of a classic hymn. I was singing William Bradbury's familiar song, "Solid Rock," penned in the 1800's and recently revamped by Hillsongs as "Cornerstone." Here are the words:
One of the enigmas of Christian life seems to be the dichotomy between what we are promised in the Bible and what we actually experience on a daily basis. If you have ever wondered why you haven't been healed (even though you believe the Word says healing is for today), or why you still struggle with problem areas of sin (despite Jesus' promise of abundant life), you're not alone. For many of us, the source of this conflict is a mystery, and we have resigned ourselves to daily living within the "status quo."
Living this way, however, presents a secondary problem: knowing that God has a promised land for us and yet failing to enter it, makes the Word seem - *GASP* - untrue! And we are sure that cannot be! So we work out what we can of our faith, doing good deeds, encouraging others, praying our most faith-filled prayers and hoping for the best. We rarely see the type of breakthroughs we long for, and when they do happen, we're not always sure why!
Faith Is Not Passive
Many people think of faith as a noun: something that we have. True faith, however, acts more like a verb than a noun. Biblical faith holds mountain-moving power on earth when applied. 2 Timothy 3:5 cautions us not to be like those who "hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power." Real faith requires both confession and action, not just a passive acknowledgement of God's guidelines. Faith without works accomplishes nothing (See James 2:17).
Joshua, the Faith Warrior
One of the heroes of "active" faith is Joshua, son of Nun. Since he is the one who actually led Israel into the Promised Land, it makes sense to look at how he achieved his breakthroughs and see what we can learn from his life.
1. Before Joshua ever started warring for the Promised Land, he was assured of victory by the commander of the Lord's army. (Joshua 5:13-6:2). Guaranteed success. Sweet! Like Joshua, we, too, have been given a guarantee of success for our battles by Jesus Christ, who conquered every demonic force and gave us authority over them all (Matthew 28:18; Luke 10:19). We will succeed if we are led by God.
2. Joshua meditated on the Word constantly. While Moses led Israel through the wilderness, Joshua spent hundreds of hours abiding in or near the tabernacle as a servant and spiritual apprentice. (Exodus 33:11). Joshua also continued to seek the Lord once he became a leader. In fact, the one time he didn't seek counsel before a battle, he was deceived by the Gibeonites and suffered a setback. (See Joshua 9 for the story). Like this humble leader, we must saturate our minds, eyes, and ears with the Word of God to protect us from the deception and discouragement of the enemy.
3. Joshua fought for the promise. Battle after battle is recorded in chapters 6-12 of Joshua encamping and then fighting to gain ground in the promised land. This was how he put his faith into action. There are two keys here:
First, in ancient times, encamping around the enemy prior to battle was a necessary strategy. I believe there is a similar need for us to "encamp" around current problems that need defeating in prayer. We often look for a quick deliverance and fast answers to prayer when in reality, there are battles that take some time to be won. Jericho was won not in one day but seven. By the time Joshua's army had marched around that city seven times, they knew every inch of the wall and the land! Be prepared to spend some quality time in prayer until you see breakthrough.
Second, we must be willing to fight. Whether you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or not, you can be assured that the world will continue to deteriorate prior to Christ's return. (Read Matthew 24 for more on this). It will be necessary for you to fight for what you believe, to take hold of the promises you've been given by faith - whether for your family's salvation, your healing, or your provision. We are given spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) for a reason!
4. He persevered. I love the sentence that reads: "Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings!" (Joshua 11:18, NASB). It's almost funny, after reading 6 chapters of warfare, to hear this statement made! It does show me, though, that despite guaranteed success from God, diligent worship on a believer's part, and a willing army of trained men, victory can still take time to manifest. The Aramaic Bible's translation of Luke 21:19 reinforces this concept: "But by your perseverance you shall possess your souls." Patience and perseverance is a fruit of the Spirit. Only as we walk in the Spirit will we have the ability to persevere in prayer until we reach the promises He has given us.
c.Deborah Perkins, 2014
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting people with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com.
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Whatever I tell you in the darkness,
say it in the light;
and whatever you hear with your ears,
preach on the rooftops.
~Matthew 10:27; Aramaic English Bible
Do you ever wonder, what's my rooftop? Where is my place of influence? Think for a moment about where you are heard. Who is your audience? A pastor preaches to his congregation. A worship singer considers the stage her place of influence, proclaiming the gospel through song. A politician's cries for justice resound in the auditorium of Congress. but where do YOU make your voice heard?
The mission of every believer is to proclaim the message of the Gospel. As we get to know Christ better and love Him more, we are naturally compelled to share the good news of His redeeming love for us. Never before have we had such a tremendous opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) by reaching those in "all nations." The question is, how do you carry out your mission?
Ultimately, our mission field is wherever we are at the moment. True, social media is an amazing, world-reaching platform we can use for the Kingdom. But words alone are not always convincing. When people see how we live our lives - how we put actions to our faith - they will take notice of what we say. Character is convicting. And character is best seen up close. As a pastor friend recently said, "Your daily life is the platform your faith is lived on."*
That said, there are times when the Lord wants to amplify our voices. Matthew 10:27 and Matthew 28:19 are mandates to every believer to proclaim the Good News - loudly! So we use the tools at our disposal: social media, books, the marketplace and television to reach as many people as we can. We share our testimony when asked. We leave the results up to God.
So... What Do I Preach?
There is nothing covered that will not be revealed,
nor hidden that will not be known.
What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight,
and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms
will be proclaimed from the roofs.
Luke 12:2-3, NIV
So what is it that we "preach from the rooftops?" We preach, of course, the commands Christ gave us and wanted us to pass on. But it's deeper than that. Our rooftop shouts ultimately come from our quiet listening: the words we hear directly from Him. It is these decidedly personal words, the words we hear in our "inner rooms," that make each of our "rooftop shouts" unique. We preach the things He has told us and the love He has shown us.
I shout about a God who hears us and whom we can hear. I shout about a Savior who delivers us not only from sins, but from financial difficulties, emotional scars, and sicknesses. I shout by putting some of these things in writing. You will shout similar things, but in a different way. This is the beauty of the God we serve. He doesn't tell us HOW to shout, only that we should. He uses each of our individual personalities and creative inclinations to reach His world.
However you shout and whatever your rooftop, I pray that the words He gives you will impact your place of influence and accomplish all that you hope for. (Isaiah 55:11).
*Pastor David Payne, Lifesong Church, Auburn, MA
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping people connect to God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.