Tag Archives: faith

God’s Gift to Your Heart

In last week’s post, we talked about a phrase contained in a prayer by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:17. His petition to God the Father was that God would grant the Ephesian brethren and brethren of all ages, among other things, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” We ended by asking the question, “Just what do you get when that prayer is answered?”, so let’s start to answer that in today’s post.

What Do We Get?

In Greek, the word “dwell” is katoikeo (G2730), which means “to house permanently, to reside (literally or figuratively), to inhabit”. The human heart, just in physical terms, is the one organ that is in intimate contact with every cell in your body every moment of every day. Life flows from it in the blood that carries nutrients and oxygenation, and removes metabolic wastes from every cell in the body.

God's Gift to Your Heart | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comWe’ve talked about Christ’s incredible ability to heal with a touch in recent posts — even to radiate healing power from His presence when people touched His garments in Luke 6 and Luke 8. We’ve talked about the Greek word dunamis (G1411) in past posts, which refers to God’s dynamic miracle-working power, but imagine the very being who performed those miracles taking up permanent residence in your heart by faith, and radiating that healing power to every cell of your body. So how much power could He generate from your heart when you request His healing power for the sick, for your own infirmities, or for His strength to help yourself and others in the midst of sore trials?

Power In Your Heart

Remember, this is the same Christ who has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” by His Father and “power over all flesh” (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2), who was made our Lord, (our owner, master, and ruler) and Christ (Acts 2:36), who is “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), and the “Shepherd and Guardian of our souls” (1 Pet. 2:25). On top of all of that, His Father appointed Him as “the Head over all things for the church” (Eph. 1:22).   Just imagine that being inhabiting  YOUR HEART!

In light of all of that, I’m sure we all would desire that God would surely answer that prayer by Paul in Eph. 3:17, and add our own requests for this great gift, that such a Being would indeed see fit to “dwell in our hearts by faith,” and be the power behind our prayers for the afflicted and persecuted people of this world.

Paul’s Prayer For Us

One of the most inspiring prayers in the Bible is located in Ephesians 3:14-21. This prayer is directed by the apostle Paul to the faithful saints in Ephesus at a time when Paul was going through intense trials on the behalf of the church (vs. 13). But though Paul was the one doing the suffering, his concern was that they “did not lose heart” as they saw and heard what he was going through for them! He puts his petition directly before God, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named,” as Christ Himself instructed us in John 16:23-27.

In Your Hearts

There is one specific phrase in this prayer that directly addresses Paul’s concern about the Ephesians, and us by extension, losing heart in times of stress. I have personally found to be encouraging beyond words, and I would like to focus on in this today in in several more blog posts to follow.

Paul's Prayer For Us | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comThat phrase is found in Eph. 3:17 — “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Just thinking with the scriptures that we already know, I’d like to ask this question, “What do you get if God the Father is faithful in answering just this one phrase from just this one prayer by the apostle Paul?”

We’re all human, right? We’re all concerned about what we “get” out of this thing called Christianity, right? What are the benefits of the Christian life? “What’s in it for me?” as some have phrased it. Well, that’s what I’d like to look at here. In order for the Bible to have any value for any of us, it has to become personally relevant in our lives today, so … what’s in it for you, personally … if God answers just one phrase … from one prayer by this great apostle – for you? What do you receive if Christ “dwells in your heart through faith”?

The living, resurrected Christ is filled with so many qualities that it’s hard to identify a “most important,” and run down a hierarchy of human needs list, so let’s begin with a scriptural “overview” of sorts, found in Col. 2:9-10 in The Bible In Basic English version:

“For in him all the wealth of God’s being has a living form, and you are complete in him, who is the head of all rule and authority”

Have you ever gotten the feeling that you just aren’t quite “all there”; that there’s an “emptiness” inside of you that needs “something” to fill the void? What’s missing? What could end the frustration and make you feel whole?

Fulfillment

In today’s world, “personal fulfillment” is a hot item. There are thousands of options for the person with enough wealth to choose from, and the wealthiest among us are able to get “the best.” Why do so many of the rich and famous come to a miserable end in life … with the same internal void, grown into a publicly exposed, embarrassing chasm of emptiness … no better off than a pauper?

Paul’s solution for the emptiness of life can be had for the price of a prayer! And Paul viewed it as having a value so great that he gave up a “lifestyle of the rich and famous” in the society of his day to attain the answer to that prayer. His attitude is reflected in Phil. 3:8:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Next week, we’ll take a more detailed look at what Christ “brings to the table”, when He answers that prayer, and “dwells in your heart through faith.”

Touching The Hem

Last week, we talked about the faith exhibited by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, even though his request for healing was not granted by God. Today, I’d like to write about an example of faith that God granted immediate healing to. This example is found in Luke 8:43-48, but we need to set the context first by looking at what has already transpired in this chapter.

The Healing

In verse 24, Jesus was awakened in a boat during a storm and rebuked the wind and calmed the sea. Then a few verses later He cast a group of demons named “Legion” out of a man, who then entered into a herd of pigs, and they ran off the edge of a cliff and drowned in a lake. His fame as a miracle-worker was spread by many witnesses. So by the time we get to verse 40, we see a multitude of people thronging about Him wanting to see more miracles. Among them was a man named Jairus, who had a 12 year old daughter who was dying, and Christ was on His way to Jairus’ house to heal her. In verse 42 it says the multitudes “thronged Him” … so it’s noisy, and crowded. It’s confusing, because everyone is excited, and talking, and into this fray comes a humble, quiet, sickly woman, who was desperate for healing.

 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. (Luke 8:43-44)

After 12 years of suffering, she was broke. She’d spent all her money on physicians (so the health care dilemma wasn’t all that different back then from what we see today, really). So here she is in the midst of this fray, perhaps being pushed and shoved by the throng, and once she got close enough she just touched the hem of His garment, and immediately the bleeding stopped.

Touching The Hem | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comChrist had no idea this was going to happen. In Matthew’s account, Matt. 9:21, it tells us “she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” So there was no communication at all between them. She had simply seen and heard what He was doing for others (Luke 6:19) and she believed, and decided to act on that belief. If she’d had her way, no one would have even known about this. It appears she was attempting to slip away into the crowd when He asked the question, “Who touched Me?” and she was revealed, and compelled to tell her story.

But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:46-48)

This is a wonderfully encouraging statement: “your faith has made you well.” He had absolutely no problem with her taking this initiative based on her faith in Him. In fact, He greatly encouraged it.

His Power

So let’s take a closer look at the mechanics of what she observed and did that actually drew healing power from the living Christ as He walked before her that day.

  1.  She began to gather information about this being, Jesus Christ – Who He was, and what He had done for others.
  2. She began to direct her intentions based on that accumulated information into a physical thought of healing belief.
  3. She interacted with the God of the Bible by acting on that healing belief.

God preserved all of the accounts of Christ’s healing in the scriptures for us today, so that we can gather the same information, direct our own intentions, and act on our own belief in His healing power in effectual and fervent prayer for ourselves and for others as the needs arise in the church today.

In the last half of the last verse of the book of Matthew, the same Christ Who healed her promises us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). He walks unseen among us today as He did then.

Hebrews 13:8 gives us this encouragement to the same end: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” The same power that emanated from Him then still does today. I’d like to end with Heb. 4:14-16, quoting out of the KJV.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)

And we can still boldly approach this great being today, using the same method that this faithful woman did in Luke 8. For our own healing, and on the behalf of others who are dear to us, we can still have access to His vast reservoir of miracle-working power if only we may “touch the hem of His garment”.

True Faith

True Faith | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comThose of us who read and study the scriptures daily see many examples of “faith” described for our inspiration, and no doubt they are intended to produce a stronger faith in each of us as well. The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is devoted to examples of faith from the Old Testament; men and women who experienced firsthand the miraculous intervention of God, and were no doubt inspired beyond words by His involvement in their lives.

We think of the people in Hebrews 11 as pillars of the faith, and believe ourselves to be far inferior to them, but if we read the fine print — the details of their lives — they were much like us. They were ordinary human beings with flaws, weaknesses, and deficiencies, who overcame them, and were either delivered by God or died in the faith. Whether they experienced miracles, deliverance and healing, or an anonymous, gruesome death they still were described as being “faithful,” and all eventually died in the faith not having received the promisesyet!

As we strive for the “faith which was once delivered”, we can fall into the trap of evaluating our own faith as being “inferior” to examples of Biblical faith, and can even become depressed by the “evidence” we see in our own lives that we somehow “don’t measure up”, because our prayers aren’t always answered the way we would like for them to be. That is an unrealistic, and un-Biblical standard to hold ourselves to.

Paul had the correct attitude in 2 Cor. 12:7-10, when he prayed for deliverance from what appears to be a very bothersome trial.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

His reaction to a “no” answer was, in fact great evidence of his faith. He knew that his salvation didn’t depend on “getting healed” by God. Real faith led him into a closer relationship with God in spite of the “no” answer.

Paul’s faith was evident both in the request for healing, and in his cheerful acceptance of God’s answer. In his infirmities, with the illness, he was given the power of Christ, even greater strength and … TRUE FAITH!

 

God’s Energy For Us

We’ve spent the last two posts talking about God’s faithfulness to complete a good work in us, and the example of how this worked in Jesus Christ’s life. Our focus has been on the phrase “faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). The word translated “working” is energeia (G1753), which means efficient, active power. Today, for the final post on this topic, let’s look at the energia of God in His word and see if we can find grace to help us believe in God’s faithfulness in His process, and a faith that will carry us through our times of need.

Energeia and Energeo

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:17-20)

In verse 19, the word translated “working” is energeia (G1753). Then in verse 20, the word “worked” is translated from the closely related word energeo (G1754). In fact, if you want to do an extended word study on this, there are a total of five related words – these two plus energema (G1755), energes (G1756), and ergon (G2041).

But back to verse 20 and energeo. This refers to the effect of energeia. It is what has been accomplished by God the Father’s operative, active power and energy when He takes notice of someone. He accomplished all of this in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand … in other words, “when He was glorified!” Also remember that in John 7:39 it states, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ” God the Father’s operative, active power and energy  glorified Jesus Christ and made possible all of His “effectual working” in those of us who make up His church.

Working in Us

Christ lived His entire human life by the faith of the operation of His Father. He did this to set the example for how we are supposed to live by faith. Let’s notice how Paul spoke of this in regard to his own calling to minister. He says, “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power”, thus crediting the energeia of God as the guiding force in his life (Eph. 3:7).

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works (energeo) in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

In the phrase “power that works in us,” the word “works” is again energeo.  God seems to be saying that what He can do for us through His effectual working is literally limitless. We ought to trust that “above all that we ask or think” means just what it says!

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working (energeia) by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)

In these passages, Paul expands the type of work that he describes God doing in him to include the whole body. God and Jesus Christ are committed to “effectual working” in each of us, and They are more than capable of succeeding.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working (energeia) by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)

Working For His Will

Jesus Christ works in us mightily as the High Priest in the temple of His spirit,  just as His Father  effectually worked in Him. Christ had faith in His father’s faithfulness, and He expects us to exercise the faith of the operation of God, as He did and as Paul demonstrates in his writings.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working (energeia) which works (energeo) in me mightily. (Col. 1:27 – 29)

God's Energy For Us | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comIn John 5:17, Christ told the Jews, “My Father has been working until now, and I work.” That’s what They do, and They are faithful in Their work, in Their commitments, and in Their promises. They are engaged in a loving and effectual task with their creation.

So we have this “effectual inner working of God” (His energeia) as a process that He has designed to bring us to the goal (the effect of his energeia) which is “above all that we ask or think” — eternal life.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:18-27)

Look at all of what we just read, and think about how much of this depends on God’s “effectual working.”

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)

Here we are back where we started in the first post, and I hope we can see more clearly that “all things” of every kind, sort, and variety really do “work together” (sunergeo – G4903). God is at work all the time, and through “all things” that happen in our lives, and it doesn’t sound like He expects to fail does it?

Parting Thoughts

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent (energeo) prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)

Brethren, I’ve always felt that my own intercessory prayers were not as effective as I would like them to be, and I’ve always wondered what might be lacking in them, but perhaps if we more fully understand the effectual working of God, we may be able to approach what it says here in this verse. The word used here in the Greek is energeo. In the uses of the word we’ve looked at so far, it refers to the effect of God’s energia — of His inner work inside of us over time, through suffering and trial … feeling the effects of “all things” that we experience in life.

I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Will He find the kind of faith that He is looking for? Faith in His faithfulness to effectually work out salvation in us through the indwelling presence of His spirit … with the constant oversight and guardianship of Jesus Christ … who, himself overcame all things through the faith of the operation of God?