My dad has been struggling with a now fairly long term 'discomfort' which, as an old doctor, he thought would only plague him for the weekend after his last surgery. When he and I spoke last night he was talking about his unbelief being the reason he wasn't healed. Thing is, I've been believing for it, seeing it and everything, so my struggle has been with ... well, I guess it IS the same thing...HIS unbelief. Though I would have called it 'the things he is allowing to get in his way.'
Anyhoo, this is what I wrote to my dad today. I generally, as the child, don't get to say these sorts of things to him. His mother used to maybe, but no one compares to his mother, and besides, as I just said, "I'm the child," so what do I know, what right, maybe even, do I have to say any such things to him? Though last night on the phone I did get to say a few things about "If we know that he hears us, we know we have the thing we've asked" and such. So maybe that emboldened me to write this to him today. Anyway, thought I'd share my 'wisdom' with you!
As a Man Thinketh
All that is began in the mind of God.
All that can be begins in the mind also. Our mind.
Everything begins as an idea.
If you don’t believe it’s possible—it never will be!
All that you can ever be or do must first be a possibility in the mind!
As a man thinketh, so is he.
It’s all about our inner talk.
What do we tell ourselves when we aren’t completely aware?
What core belief system truly rules our thinking?
What if we believed what Isaiah said about us soaring on wings of eagles?
What if our whole life we have been walking around, pecking at chicken feed when all the while we were capable of flight?
If an eagle came along and told you you weren’t a chicken, but you, too, were an eagle, would you believe him? Would you test your wings, toss aside the chicken coop, lift your head, flap your wings and take a running leap into the sky? Or would you take the opportunity to run and merely run back into that chicken coop and tell the ‘other’ chickens you outsmarted that eagle? What do you believe about yourself?
In fact, what do you believe about your Creator? Do you make him a liar when you run for the safety of the coop? Or do you test him, as he says to do, and put your trust in the words that say, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope”—“No good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly”?
Oh, but wait. Maybe that ‘uprightly’ throws you off. What do you believe about Your Self? And yet, if he has redeemed you, are you not upright in his eyes? Does he not tell you this is so? So, indeed, it is still disbelief of your Creator, isn’t it? It always boils back down to that.
“All things work together for good,” or so you used to say to me. That entire segment says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who Love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Do you love God? Do you believe you are called according to his purpose?
Years ago I memorized the entire 8th chapter of Romans (before going on to memorize all of Ephesians and other things). The next couple verses then lead to this conclusion: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” It then goes on to say in the end of the next verse, “…how shall he not…also freely give us all things?” Then again, later, it says, “Who shall separate us from the love of God?” Gramma used to say the only one who can is us. And even then we aren’t truly separate because his love goes on – it’s kind of the … “If you feel far from God, guess who moved.” How far will you go to separate yourself from the love of God, from all he has for you if you will but open your hand and receive all he has for you?
So, if we have come to the place where we can honestly say we believe that God has our best in mind—AND we don’t believe that can only happen through our suffering! (That is a negative belief about the Love of God. After all, is that the ONLY way you can learn? Is that the way YOU would teach a child when they are learning? Positive reinforcement is proven to work much more effectively than negative consequences, after all.)—THEN we can openly begin to speak the Truth to ourselves.
What is that truth? “I am loved.” “I am chosen.” “I believe in a Divine plan. I am part of that plan. I am important. I accept change. I accept Divine will. I know Divine will does not punish but encourages, therefore I do not need to accept what feels like a non-answer to my prayers.” This means we can believe for the very best outcome in our circumstances and not feel guilty for so believing!
After all, Dad, you are a father. I have used you as an example to God myself. :-) Back in the early 70s I lost a contact. I couldn’t find it to ‘save my soul.’ I told God that I knew that if YOU knew where it was, you would show me. And since he was my heavenly father and I knew he knew where it was…well…. And right that second I saw it! I tell you this to remind you of how a father loves. “No good thing will he withhold…” “If you ask for a fish, will he give you a serpent?” No way, Jose! :-) You’re gonna feast on fish—in the Presence of the Holy One of Israel!
One thing I have learned is the process of ‘seeing’ things as they ‘already are.’ To me, that is seeing things as God sees them. When he says you are justified and righteous, you may not feel you are, but if he says you are, then you are! Right? In Ephesians it talks about being seated in the heavenlies. I have told my friends this is seeing from God’s perspective. It’s like watching a parade go by, and instead of standing behind a fence and watching through a tiny knothole and thereby being happy when the clowns walk by, but afraid when the lions roar past, you are seated in a tree, overlooking the whole of the parade. When you see the ‘first and last’ at the same time, you are better able to respond to the lions, etc., as they pass. You aren’t so effected by each single thing separately.
Sitting there, in the heavenlies, is also being ‘outside of time,’ as God himself is. If that is so, then I can see my ‘future’ self, my healed self, at this moment. This is where ‘faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence [a conviction] of things not seen” comes into play.
What does that verse really mean? This is what I tell my friends when I am encouraging them in their belief: Substance and evidence imply reality, do they not? These words say something is tangible. How is something that “isn’t,” as in “isn’t something I see in the here and now,” something that is? Because it IS in that place outside of time. It already exists. You just have to ‘see’ it and believe it is possible. That it already is. Because, outside of time, where God dwells, it IS!
This isn’t about hoping something is so. This is KNOWING. And knowing in the Bible is about intimacy. Adam knew Eve. How can that just mean he knew who she was? That would be a ridiculous statement, wouldn’t it? It’s the difference between knowing who someone is, like the president, and knowing someone in person, like a friend. Only really, it's even more 'intimate' than that!
Therefore, faith is knowing. It can’t be hope, although “hope maketh not ashamed.” It is the substance of what is hoped for. Just as if you, as a father, had bought me a bike, hidden it in the garage and then got me wishing for one for my birthday. It’s already there! I already have it! It’s already mine, I just have to believe I will have it—and in that sense, know I already have it because you wouldn’t encourage me to believe and hope for something if I wasn’t going to get it, right?
What if we look at those key words in that last scripture about faith….
Substance: This word comes from the root which means ‘to stand.’ That reminds me of the end of Ephesians! “Having done all, stand!” It is also related to ‘spirit.’ Hmm. That’s interesting. The spirit of the thing you hope for. But I like this definition even better: ultimate reality that underlies (which is related to its meaning of ‘stand under’) all outward manifestations and change. And how about this one? Physical material (physical—as in real!) material from which something is made or which has discrete existence (existence!!!—as in real!). It is the essential nature of what we hope for, the essence of the thing. Which wouldn’t be if it didn’t already exist somewhere, right?
Evidence: If something is evident, it’s pretty clear, right? Evidence proves something, doesn’t it? Like in a court of law. Its root meaning is ‘to see.’ To see! You are seated in the heavenlies and you SEE what you have been promised, what you hope for, what you have been told you can believe for yourself! If it’s evident, it’s manifest (wow! As in, already there, already real), it’s obvious, it’s apparent, it’s plain, it’s clear. Better yet, it is readily perceived or apprehended! Whoa! That’s pretty cool stuff, isn’t it? It implies the presence of signs that point unmistakably to a conclusion. Its meaning of ‘manifest’ implies signs so evident little or no inference is needed. Its meaning of ‘distinct’ implies such sharpness of outline or definition as makes discernment or identification easy—so you can easily ‘see’ it and perceive its reality. It’s there, you just have to reach out and receive. I could go on. I’ll stop here. :-)
Conviction: I like this word because its root is related to victory—con-vict-ion, vict-ory. Vincere is to conquer. Con is the prefix that means ‘with.’ Hence, conviction means ‘with victory.’ And victory is…? A positive end result. :-) Conviction is the state of being convinced! “I know that I know that I know.” And ‘know’ is intimacy…
Assurance: This has to do with being secure. Kind of like ‘being secure in the knowledge…” Secure in the knowledge that ‘no good thing will he withhold,” He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think,” “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” “I am accepted in the Beloved,” etc., etc. ad infinitum. :-) It relates to guarantee, certainty (wow, that’s big!), satisfaction with the truth or certainty of a situation…good stuff!
So, now that I’ve brought it up, let’s look at that verse in Ephesians where is says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (according to our faith)…” When I was in Bible college I wrote a paper on this verse. The professor liked it so much he asked for a copy. Unfortunately it is on the old computer you gave me that Bill subsequently crashed and I didn’t get everything from it when he transferred it to a new computer. But…I do know the gist of what I wrote.
Those three descriptive words, ‘exceeding,’ ‘abundantly,’ and ‘above’ all mean the same thing in the original language! So basically, this verse is saying he is able to do ‘exceeding abundantly above, exceeding abundantly above, exceeding abundantly above.’ Or even 'exceeding exceeding exceeding abundantly abundantly abundantly above above above.; You’re a math genius…I’m talking exceeding abundantly above to the 3rd power. When things are repeated three times, that is significant. Look at ‘holy, holy, holy.’ This is going beyond the 3 dimensions we know and into that outer realm, perhaps where we are ‘seated in the heavenlies’ :-) and reaching God and that Ultimateness. Into the ‘holy, holy, holy’ of ‘where’ God dwells. This is pretty ‘absolute,’ I’d say. It is so beyond we can’t even fathom it or its reach. What an amazing, incredible and exciting prospect this is!
Of course, the weight of this is borne on the “…according to the power that is at work within us”! There’s power within us?!?! We don’t hear about that in church, do we? We hear that we are ‘worthless worms,’ that we are ‘sinners’—even if they mention the ‘saved by grace’ part. We don’t hear about power in ourselves. I wonder why that is. Anyway, what is that power? “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” The power is the power of faith, the mustard seed. And a seed is a powerful thing, is it not? Out of a small seed like the mustard seed grows a huge tree large enough for birds to nest in. Amazing, the power held within a seed. And where do we get this seed? “Faith comes of hearing, and that hearing of the Word of God.” Well, I’m giving you a lot of that today. So I guess you have that seed in you, don’t you?
[I might add here verses that state that you will “receive power after that the Holy Spirit shall come upon you” (Acts), we have been given the “power to become the sons of God” (John), having the “power of his resurrection” (Philippians), etc. That power IS within you!]
Well, there’ve been a few interruptions as I tried to compose this, so I am a little distracted and lost my focus here…hmm….
Okay, so what God does is ‘according to (the power that is at work within) us.’ According to...us, in the shortened form. He can do outside of 3 dimensions what we allow then, is that it? So what stands in our way to keep us from this 'exceeding, abundant, above all answering' of our deepest needs?
Doubt. Like Thomas. Unbelief. But how can we NOT believe when we have all this evidence to the contrary?
This is the essence of belief: I know this chair is meant to be sat upon. I also believe it will hold my weight. If I don’t sit in it because I’m afraid it won’t hold me then my belief is not belief at all, is it? I prove my belief by sitting in the chair. I have put my trust in the chair’s ability to hold me. I had faith in the chair. Faith, trust and belief have the same root in the original language. (That’s why I wince when Kevin says he has faith in his belief. Or believes in his faith.) :-) “I trust God” = “I believe (in) God” = “I have faith in God.” So faith, trust, belief is the substance of things…etc..
Well, now I’m just talking in circles, so I’ll give it a rest.
“That he grant you, according to the riches of his glory (God reveals his personal attributes as glory), to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (oh look—you ‘believe this’!); that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend [strong to apprehend—there’s that word again] with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height (that’s FOUR dimensional!!) and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above ALL (!) that we ask or think (or can even imagine!), according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by [and in] Christ Jesus throughout all ages [generations—seed!], world without end. Amen.” Ephesians
At this point I signed off and then added some other thoughts about Pharaoh and God hardening his heart, which I think I've blogged about before, as well as a reiteration of God's standpoint vs ours in regard to what 'is.'
So I sign off to you as well...may you find healing and strength, courage and belief...