After suffering many months of extreme pain with no clear diagnosis, the root cause was finally determined. Cancer. My Mom had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. While in some regards it literally took my breath away, I also recall a very tunnel vision focus. All those years of listening to teachings began to rise up in me. I knew what we needed to do. We need to keep our eyes on what the Word says. The doctor's report doesn't have to be the final report.
This occurred in April/May of 2010. At that time, she had a cancerous mass in her abdomen which appeared to have spread to her liver and spine. She also had blood clots in her leg and lungs. I believe we were given 11 to 13 prescriptions to fill when she left the hospital and she began taking morphine about every 8 hours to make the pain bearable. It was so overwhelming that we had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of the dosages and times.
As the hospital doctors sent us on our way leaving very little hope, this was a pivotal moment in the battle. Are we going to let the fear and grief triggered by the diagnosis dictate the outcome or will we believe God’s Word which says He has provided healing and long life?
We went to U of M thinking they would be the experts, but found they could do nothing special. Instead through a series of divine connections, God led us to a wonderful oncologist near my parents’ house with a small, friendly practice. There my Mom was a name and not a number as may have happened at U of M. When my Mom asked “how long do I have to live” during our first meeting, the doctor said something like “Let’s not worry about that right now. I have several things we can try to get you some immediate relief and let’s focus on that.” Although she didn’t say it, it seemed that she felt this was so severe that they could only try to slow down the progression and ease the immediate discomfort. I don’t think she held much hope for actually getting rid of the cancer.
During that first year, my Mom underwent radiation on her spine and six months of chemo. When she had a serious reaction to the chemo meds, the doctor wanted to switch her to a drug that had not been FDA approved for this type of diagnosis. If the insurance company did not agree to cover it, the estimated cost of one treatment was around $8000. As the days passed God’s favor prevailed and the cost of treatment for this special drug gradually declined to only a few hundred dollars in the end. In addition, the insurance company agreed to approve the medicine so the entire cost was paid in full.
The last chemo treatment was in November 2010 and a follow up PET scan was scheduled for December. The results were good, but when asked if this meant remission the doctor said there was still a ways to go.
The PET scan results from April 2011 show that the bone cancer and pelvic mass are completely gone and there is only one, almost undetectable, spot on her liver that remains. When asked about remission this time, the doctor said it is really close. Even more exciting about the change between December and April is that my mom was not going through chemo treatments. This means that the reduction in cancer cells can only be attributed to God!
Although this journey has been more difficult than we could have ever imagined, it was so exciting to see God at work along the way. We have a fresh understanding of what our role is in the process. We are to draw near to God. We are to read and speak the Word to ensure a heart that is fully grounded in His promises. We then rest in the fact that it is through God’s grace and what Jesus did on the cross that brings forth the results. The Bible says He will never leave us or forsake us and that He is faithful to His Word.
In just under a year she went from stage 4 cancer with a diagnosis of 6 months to 2 years to live to almost in remission. Recently, my Mom asked the doctor if any other patients on the same anti-cancer meds were encountering similar side effects. The doctor said she doesn’t have any other patients that have been on the medicine that long. We take that to mean she has never had anyone on those meds survive this long. God’s grace is still carrying her through! It’s now been almost 8 years and she is still praising God with us!
Peter told us that the Word of God is greater than a visible representation of God and far better than hearing an audible voice of God. (I Peter 1:1-19) But, how can that be?
The amazing signs and wonders that we hear about in the Gospels were visible manifestations needed to CONVINCE people that God was willing and able to save, redeem, sanctify, heal, prosper, restore...and at it's core...LOVE US! How much greater it is that we believe and receive these promises purely because we have a personal relationship with God and have faith in His Word.
True faith is believing when we don't see it in the physical yet. We don't need a preacher to hear from God for us. We don't need to put out a fleece to confirm what we should do. The Word shows us what is possible and that gives us hope. This hope becomes faith and consistent, persistent, unwavering faith positions us to receive what grace provided. Make a decision today to be fully convinced by the Word of God!
"Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]..." (Hebrews 11:1 Amplified
I’ve always loved Hebrews 6:17-20, particularly in the Amplified, where it says “This hope [confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]…” When there is a storm above the water, the anchor goes deep below the water where it is still. The anchor holds the boat in place even though it might get tossed around a bit. But, why is the Bible so specific in saying our hope in God is the anchor for our soul? I was excited to see what God showed me about this today.
First, when we were saved, our spirits were immediately brought back into perfect relationship with God. However, our soul (mind, will and emotions) goes through a process of transforming to God’s way of thinking and acting. When we go through a storm in life, it is easy for us to fall back into our old mindsets and be moved emotionally by what we see. We need an anchor to keep our soul (mind, will and emotions) grounded in the correct way of thinking and acting in those circumstances. That anchor pulls us back to the Word, our sure foundation (2 Timothy 2:19), when the storm tries to pull us away.
Second, we learn in James 1 and Hebrews 10 that it is critical to be consistent in our hope (faith) and it is that consistency that positions us to receive what grace provided. When we are anchored in something, we are locked in and immovable. Anchoring our soul in the same place…the right place, which is God’s Word is where we will find the victory.
For many years we’ve been taught that patience is a result, or the fruit, of being tried. It’s been taught as something that we should strive for in our quest to “become” holy. This never sat well in my spirit but I didn’t know why. I recently heard a teaching that finally addressed that check that I was feeling.
First, the idea of “becoming” holy ("noun") is rooted in the Law where it is something that we attain through our own efforts (behavior). “Becoming” implies something that occurs over the course of time. However, the Bible tells us that we were immediately sanctified or, in other words, “made” holy. We are holy. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. This isn’t something we become over time. It’s who we are right now. It was in knowing this that caused those teachings about striving to become holy that did not sit well.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a fresh look at James 1:3. The KJV says “…the trying of your faith WORKETH patience.” Did you catch that? We employ, use, put to work patience during a trial. Patience is not the goal, end result or outcome of the trial…it is what we use during the trial.
Patience is being consistent, unwavering, and steadfast…regardless of what comes our way. Patience is also a behavior which is led by our soul (mind, will and emotions). Although our spirit (our "who") was immediately made right before God when we were born again, our soul is transformed through a process of renewing our mind to God's way of thinking and acting. The more we immerse ourselves in the Word, the more our soul is transformed which then means our behavior will also change. In this case, our behavior is that we will choose to employ patience. The Word gives us the substance or confidence to be patient. And, when we patiently hold on to and use our faith during a trial, it is that consistency and unwavering confidence that will bring the reward (Hebrews 10:35). What is that reward? The reward is all of the promises of God that we find in the Bible. It is everything that God already provided for us because of His grace.
Now look at James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” How can patience make us perfect, entire, and wanting nothing? When we employ or use patience to stay confident, unwavering and steadfast, it is that consistent faith that allows us to receive the promises. And receiving the promises is God’s perfect will for us. Faith is how we receive what grace provides. The purpose of patience is to help us obtain those promises.
One last point…If patience during a trial was the goal (as religion has taught us), how would that work with James 1:4? Patience would then be something we do to achieve that state of being perfect, entire and wanting nothing. But, that doesn’t line up with other parts of God’s Word that tells us that if we achieve it by our own works it wouldn’t be grace. Therefore, we wouldn’t be able to receive the blessings that grace provided. Do you see why that doesn't make sense? It's not my opinion. This is using the Bible to verify and confirm the Bible. It's so important that we verify that what is being taught lines up with the rest of the Bible and make sure that verses are not being taken out of context. Well meaning teachers have misinformed us and we've blindly followed their lead. We need to stay active participants and thoughtfully approach the Word.
How does a flower relate to our faith? Consider this analogy...
A flower starts as a seed that is planted in the ground. It is watered daily. Roots develop and anchor the flower underground so that it can grow above ground. Only once fully developed, the petals open, as if arms towards the sky.
In a similar way, we learn about God’s plan and promises from the Word. This plants a seed in our hearts. Our faith takes root and develops as we meditate on God’s Word and it becomes the anchor of our soul. It's only when our faith is developed to the point where the promise becomes revelation knowledge in our own hearts, that we are in a position to receive (arms up - petals open) what grace has provided.
There are several key points here.
First, the foundations must be sturdy and anchored in something strong, consistent, and unchanging. It would be difficult, and maybe impossible, to hold a heavy box while you are teetering on the edge of a rickety old chair. In the same way, our faith foundation needs to be sturdy before we are ready for the next step.
Second, the type of seed that you sow is what you reap. For example, we can't plant corn seeds and expect a harvest of wheat. In the same way, we can't sow seeds (by thinking, watching, listening to and reading things) that are outside of God's Word and expect to see God's promises manifest in our lives.
Third, just like the flower gets its nutrition through the roots, so too our spirit is also fed by what we are rooted in. What we feed on the most is what our faith will be based on. Did you know that fear is actually a type of faith? It is a belief that something different than God’s plan will happen. If we constantly meditate on things that don’t line up with the Word, then that is what we will have faith in. We want to focus on the Word so that our faith is feeding on the right food.
Fourth, the root determines location or alignment. You don’t usually see flowers growing at a 90 degree angle. They grow straight up from the roots. When our roots are in God’s Word, then we know that we are aligned with Him, aligned with His will and in position to receive what grace has already provided.
Faith stems from, or grows based on, revelation knowledge which is the “I know that I know down deep in my heart” that a certain promise in God’s Word is for me. While it is important to receive communicated knowledge (information obtained from other sources such as a Bible teacher or a Christian book), it’s also important to recognize that communicated knowledge on its own is not faith.
We receive God’s promises because of grace by our faith. If we act based on communicated knowledge that has not become revelation to our own spirit, we are stepping out without having faith as a foundation. Faith is the connector between us and grace. Many times people will take a “step of faith” based on someone else’s revelation knowledge and then don’t see the promise come to pass. Instead of realizing faith was the missing element, they conclude that the “faith stuff doesn’t work.”
For example, I’ve heard a few different people say that they threw away their glasses once they heard about making confessions or heard about God’s plan for healing. It's possible that this action was not based on personal revelation knowledge, but rather communicated knowledge, and as a result they didn’t see any change in their vision. I also even wonder if some were trying to earn the blessing, without even realizing it, by taking that action. In that case, their faith would be in their efforts and not in grace which is where the answer lies.
I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the areas where you are standing in faith. Are you standing based on revelation or communicated knowledge? Communicated knowledge is still important and a major way that we learn about God's promises. However, the real power comes when that communicated knowledge becomes revelation to us and it's at that point that our faith is positioned to receive what grace has provided.
My Mom often said that you can't expect to have faith for something big like a house if you don't first have faith for a good parking spot or a pair of socks. Just like it takes time for us to build our physical muscles, it also takes time to build our faith. While each of us were given the same measure (or amount) of faith, it is up to us to determine how much that faith will work on our behalf.
Faith is believing what God said and receiving what He has already done. When we believe for a good parking spot and see it come to pass, this reaffirms that God is faithful to what He promised in His Word. This gives us more confidence in Him which in turn builds our faith even more. I challenge you today to begin using your faith for small things so that you are prepared to use it when the "big" things in life arise. Also, encourage other readers by leaving a comment and sharing how you've seen your faith grow through believing for different things.
Did you ever notice that no one hopes that something bad will happen? Hope is always associated with good.
We hope to get a good grade on a test or hope that we get the job promotion. We hope that we have money to pay off the mortgage or hope to be healed. The Bible brings hope to people because it is the good news that tells us the good things God has done for us. This is why Romans 15:13 tells us that God is the author of hope.
Now I'm sure you've heard people say they are "hoping and a praying" that something will happen. Unfortunately, in these cases, hope is defined as a wish that may or may not come true. It isn't based on any facts or a guarantee. The true meaning of hope is favorable and confident expectation. It is . . .
A Guaranteed Outcome
A Done Deal
So, how can you be confident that something will happen?
Hebrews 10:23 tells us to hold fast to our hope because God is reliable and faithful to His Word. We learn in I Corinthians 1:9 and 10:13 that God can be depended on and is trustworthy. That means what God said in His Word He will do.
I encourage you to take some time and write down the Bible verses that you are placing your hope in. Meditate on them each day. Speak them over your life. Let that hope build and nurture your faith and watch expectantly for great things to happen!
Are you limited by the "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality? I purposely said limited because if God is going to do the impossible in your life, you need to believe past what you can see. Having faith in what you see is belief based on experience. True, Biblical faith is believing when you can't see it.
II Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.
II Corinthians 4:18
Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.
In order to function in God's system, we need to change what we base our beliefs on. Many things that we see right now are temporary. That means that they are subject to change. Why would we want to put our faith and trust in something that is probably going to change? That isn't a very steady foundation. This is why God tells us to put our faith in the unseen because that is eternal. The unseen are the promises in the Bible that we don't see with our physical eyes yet. However, we know that they will manifest at some time because God's Word is eternal and what He said will come to pass. We need to soak in God's Word so that they become revelation knowledge to us. This unwavering faith will cause us to say "I walk by faith and not by sight" and will allow us to receive all the blessings that God has in store for us!
Look back on this past week. What did you spend most of your time and energy on? Were you worried about a challenge or obstacle that looks too big to handle? Were you focused on something someone said or did that was upsetting? Did you "nurse and rehearse" the issue so much in your mind (or in your discussions with others) that it made you nearly sick?
While we can't avoid the issues of life, we do have a choice in how we respond. Mulling over the problem constantly or talking about it with anyone who will listen is not going to solve the issue. In fact, this often makes it appear bigger than it really is and drains our energy and time. Our choice should be to focus on how big our God is and not how big the problem is. How do we do that?
1. Find verses that address your situation.
2. Confess those verses regularly each day, like you are taking medicine.
3. Avoid talking about the problem. This doesn't mean you pretend it doesn't exist. Instead, you are making a choice to focus on the solution, Jesus, and not the problem.
4. Guard your heart. Are you listening to music, watching shows or reading books that allow fear and doubt into your mind and heart? Play Christian music in the background. Listen to Christian teachings. These will keep a positive atmosphere around you and will encourage your spirit, soul and body.
5. Ask a few close, faith friends to agree with you in prayer regarding the situation. If you do this, make sure you know that they will be praying from a place of faith and not fear. Begging God for help and fear filled prayers do not move God. God is moved by our faith.
I'll leave you with this.
"So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word."
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