Chapter 12: Dealing with Rejection in Relationships

How you respond to rejection from others is a key to the freedom you experience in your life today. I’ve seen people trapped by their inability to free themselves from a difficult relationship they’ve had in the past and even though the person is absent or even dead, the bondage from that relationship continues. So how do we deal with those people who love to bring misery to our lives?

First, learn to distinguish between legitimate, constructive criticism and rejection. Proverbs 27:6 says, faithful are the wounds of a friend. Often, we will be hurt, because we aren’t hearing the heart of the person talking, we’re just hearing somehow that we’re bad or inadequate. They may actually see potential in us and are trying to help us discover that potential. I honestly believe that there are many believers who have been wounded because they misunderstood what their brother or sister in Christ was saying and unnecessarily took offense. Learn to listen to people who have hard things to say to you without defensiveness.

James 1:19 (ESV)
19 Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Second, draw your identity from God and not from others. People around us, sometimes even parents can be so cruel. I’ve talked with kids whose parents constantly berate them saying, “you’re a loser, you’ll never amount to anything.” It’s so important in those times to go back to who you are in Christ! You are a child of God who has been forgiven, made new, and given a new nature! You have been set apart by God for his great purpose; that’s why you are called a saint! Don’t let the sinful words and actions of others define you. Let God be the one who defines you. After all, he’s the one who created you!

Third, make sure that when you are being rejected, it is for the sake of Christ.

1 Peter 4:14–16 (ESV)
14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

If you are being rejected because you’ve done wrong, repent from your sin and go ask forgiveness. If you are being rejected because you are following Jesus. . .well, you are in some pretty great company and that is a cause for rejoicing.

Fourth, remember that Jesus knows what it’s like to be rejected.

Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

When you bring your pain to our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), Jesus understands what you are going through and he can bring mercy and give you grace to help in time of need.

Finally, determine that you will not be a source of rejection to others, but rather a source of blessing.

Ephesians 4:29 (NASB95)
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we would learn that we have been called to inherit a blessing, we would realize that we can give blessing to others.

1 Peter 3:8–9 (ESV)
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Some of us are so obsessed with our own feelings of rejection that we aren’t even aware that we wound those around us with our words. Even when someone is speaking evil to you, determine that you will not return evil for evil, rather you will bless!

 

Chapter 11: Healing Emotional Wounds

Principle: It’s not what happens to you that affects you, it’s how you view and respond to what happens that affects you.

The truth is consistent throughout Scripture: being a follower of Jesus does not mean that you will go through life without bad things happening to you. God’s promise is not from bad things happening, but it’s to give you the power to gain victory over the effect of those bad things in your life.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The word temptation is the same as the word for test in the Greek language. The difference between the two is that a temptation is an attempt to get you to do evil. Temptations do not come from God, rather than come from the evil one playing to our inward lusts (passions & desires-James 1:13-15)

A test is a circumstance that is allowed by God to reveal and strengthen the quality of our faith. (James 1:2-4)

The point is that whatever you go through, God is going to strengthen you with the grace you need to endure it with godliness and to live in a way that leads to victory and joy. Peter says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

All that I’ve said is true, but it is also true that there are tragedies, shocks, disappointments, and bitter experiences that we’ve had in our past that often make it difficult for us to let go of those things so we can truly embrace the present.

So if we’ve had those emotional wounds of the past, how can we gain freedom from those things so that we can now live in the present?

One of the most important decisions you need to come to is to begin the process of letting go of the past. You cannot control the past, but you can begin to free yourself from the grip that your past has on you!

  • No matter what has happened, remember that God has said I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5-6)
  • No matter what has happened, affirm that God is for you (Romans 8:31)
  • No matter what has happened, rest in the truth that nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39)

Remember, Satan’s attacks will be through thought attacks in your mind. He will tempt you to relive over and over the past experiences that hold you in pain. His goal is to bind you to the past! When those attacks come, resist him! Intentionally and consciously reject those thoughts. (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:6-11)

I have found one of the most effective means of winning the battle for my mind is to memorize large blocks of Scripture. If you don’t know where to start, then begin with Romans 8:28-39. When those attacks come, say out loud, in the authority of Jesus, I reject those thoughts. Then begin to work through the Scripture you have memorized! You are learning to let your mind dwell on the things of God (Philippians 4:8)

A second important decision you need to make is to forgive any who have wronged you. Forgiveness is an act of the will (not a feeling) to drop the charges against someone who has wronged you. Neil has an excellent section on this is chapter 11 of Victory over the Darkness so I won’t repeat him, but I do want to make some key observations.

It is not proper to think about forgiving God. I know it has been popular to talk about disappointment with God and how I need to forgive him, but any misgivings or anger you have against God is not about any wrong he has done to you, it is about your lack of understanding of his plan, provision, and purpose for you. It is arrogant to think that you have a right to hold God accountable for his actions or lack of actions in your life. It’s fine to express your anger towards God, but don’t put yourself in a position where you actually think you have a legitimate right to bear a grudge towards God. See Romans 9:20-21 and Daniel 4:34-37.

Second, it is not necessary nor helpful to forgive yourself. This concept is even more popular than the concept of forgiving God. Forgiving yourself is an indication that you are still too consumed with yourself. To be honest, what you think about yourself is not all that important. What God thinks about you is of great importance. So, rather than thinking about forgiving yourself, try accepting God’s forgiveness and live, by faith as a forgiven person.

Here’s the point of this chapter. If you are going to move forward, you must let go of the past. Satan wants you mired in the past (either past hurts or past failures) because as long as your focus is on the past, you will be paralyzed in the present. Paul says in Philippians 3:13, forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead, I press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

Chapter 10: You must be Real to be Right

This is an important chapter for Americans who increasingly are obsessed with emotions. We are spending billions of dollars for pills used to mask, prop up, or fix our emotions and it isn’t working. Emotions are important, but they don’t define who we are; they reveal what we think and believe about God, our circumstances, and ourselves.

There’s a great illustration in this chapter. Imagine you are praying and hoping for a loan to be approved so you can buy a house. You get a call that you’ve been turned down and you are devastated. Later on, you receive a phone call that the first call was a mistake and you’ve been approved.  Think about your feelings when you believed something that wasn’t true (you’d been turned down). Think about how your feelings would change when you discovered the truth.

I’ve discovered an important truth. It’s not my circumstances that determine whether I will experience joy in life; it’s my perception of and reaction to my circumstances that will determine whether I will experience joy.

Two important quotes from Neil Anderson:

“Life’s events don’t determine who you are; God determines who you are and your interpretation of life’s events determines how well you will handle the pressures of life.”

“If what you believe does not reflect truth, what you feel will not reflect reality.”

Our great mistake in America is to view emotions as the core of who we are and we try to treat emotions in an isolated manner. Our emotions are like gauges on a dashboard. They help us understand what’s going on under the hood.

So what are the things that bring on negative emotions?

Sin:

Genesis 4:6–7 (NASB95)
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain was already in sin because of his anger and jealousy. What was the affect of his sin? His countenance had fallen. His emotions had dropped and it was written all over his face.

David experienced the same effects of sin.

Psalm 32:3–4 (NASB95)
3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

If you are in sin, or you are unwilling to acknowledge past sin, it is going to have a serious effect on your emotions AND your physical health.

I love the way the NLT (New Living Translation) shows the joy of forgiveness

Psalm 32:1–2 (NLT)
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

Allowing our circumstances to overwhelm our perspective:

Take a moment right now and read Lamentations 3:1-20. In fact, I encourage you to read it a couple of times to let the emotions sink in deeply. Jeremiah is focused on some devastating circumstances. He is overwhelmed by his grief and he feels like he has become the object of the Lord’s anger. He is sad, angry, and in despair. It seems as if he is about to give up on God because he feels like God has given up on him. (Or worse, God has actively attacked him)

Now read Lamentations 3:21-27. Nothing has changed in Jeremiah’s circumstances, but his focus has changed to what he knows about God! Despair changes to hope, bitterness and complaining change to thanksgiving. Jeremiah’s whole countenance has changed because his focus has shifted from circumstances to faith!

Allow anger to take root in our lives:

Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV)
26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

When you do not deal with anger in a godly manner, you give Satan a foothold (the word, opportunity literally means foothold) in your life to bring his will to pass. Unresolved anger leads to bitterness and when bitterness takes root in your life, you become a source of defilement to those around you (Hebrews 12:15)

So emotions are important for what they reveal about us. It’s important to acknowledge your emotions (suppression or denial is not the answer), but it’s also important to not allow your emotions to wound other people (Be angry and yet do not sin).

James 1:19–20 (NASB95)
19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

There is genuine health in honestly acknowledging your emotions (even the bad ones) to God as Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3:1-20, but it is important to get back to the point of speaking from your faith as he did in 3:21-26. There’s not much healing if we just dump on God.

A couple of final notes on emotions: I have battled depression all my life and I’ve discovered much in my journey. The first discovery came out of a book called Spiritual Depression by D. Martin Lloyd Jones. This book helped me understand that, to a certain degree, depression is a normal result (for some) of fighting intense spiritual battles. In a way, it gave me permission to be depressed which was important because prior to that, I would heap guilt on myself for being depressed. (I thought I must be sinful). Second, I learned that depression is a signal I need to rest. It helped me realize I had been pushing too hard. Third, I learned that depression comes when I believe the lies of the evil one and stop resting in the love of God. Ephesians 3:14-21 was an important prayer for me to pray for others and myself. Finally, I learned that after resting, I needed to get back into the battle regardless of how I felt. Sitting around and focusing on how miserable I was never really helped. Do I still get depressed? Yes, but I don’t fall into the dark depths and I’m able to let myself live through it. You can’t get rid of depression by focusing on your depression. What God said to Cain is true for me: If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?

 

Chapter 9 – The Battle for your Mind

If you want to experience victory over the darkness of your life, the battle will be waged in your mind. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2 helped the Corinthians understand that even in forgiveness, they were locked in a spiritual struggle. He encouraged them to extend forgiveness to a repentant sinner so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (designs = reasonings, schemes or strategies) In Ephesians 4:6-27, Paul challenges us to deal quickly with anger so we don’t give Satan a foothold or opportunity.

The fact is we are locked in a battle against the enemy of our souls and that battle, for the most part will be fought in our minds.

2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (ESV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Even though we live in a physical world, our battle is not a physical battle. In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul tells us that our battle is against the “schemes” of the devil. We’re not wrestling against people, rather against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

This is an important principle. People who are lost are not your enemy; even those who mock and oppose you for your faith are not your enemy. Your enemy is Satan and his demonic forces. People who are lost are captives of the enemy.

Back to 2 Corinthians 10:.Paul says our weapons have divine power to destroy strongholds. From the next verse (5) I believe that the strongholds that Paul is speaking of are lies that have become entrenched in our minds.

Satan works through lies and he is committed to leading you away from obedience to Jesus Christ! Take a moment and read Acts 5:1-5 (the story of Ananias). Peter looked at Ananias and said, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? (5:3) I’m pretty sure that when Ananias thought about lying to the Apostles, he believed that the idea was his own (and a great one at that); but it was actually Satan planting that thought in his mind! When Peter tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), I’m guessing he thought he was speaking on his own; but the fact is he was a mouthpiece for Satan!

Satan’s desire is that you wouldn’t even be aware of his activity in your life. In order to win the battle of your mind, you must understand Satan’s tactics; recognize his attacks, and resist him. The great news is the promise of God’s word that when you resist the devil, he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Let me give you a short list of Satan’s tactics:

  • Satan attacks the goodness and integrity of God. Genesis 3:1-6
  • Satan brings difficulty into the life of the believer to entice the believer to separate himself from God. Job 1:6-12; Revelation 2:10
  • Satan seeks to hinder God’s communication to us. Daniel 10:10-14; Matthew 13:18-23
  • Satan entices us to act independently of God. Matthew 4:1-11
  • Satan seeks to distract us from God’s Mission. Matthew 16:21-23
  • Satan seeks to draw us away from simple intimacy with Christ. 2 Cor 11:3
  • Satan seeks to stir anger and discord between brothers and sisters in Christ. Eph. 4:26-27

How does Satan do this? I believe by placing thoughts in your mind and then deceiving you into thinking that those are your ideas!

How do you fight this?

First, grow in your knowledge and use of God’s Word. Hebrews 5:11-14 says that the solid food is for the mature believer who by means of practice has his senses trained to discern good and evil. As you study and memorize God’s Word, you will develop a lie detector that will help you spot Satan’s attacks.

Second, allow the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to renew your mind. Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Learn to submit your mind and your heart to the Holy Spirit and meditate (slow down and let it simmer in your mind) on God’s Word. Don’t simply read God’s word to reinforce your previous beliefs; use His word as a mirror to show you where you need to change. (James 1:22-25)

Third, be alert for Satan’s attacks. 1 Peter 5:8 says be on the alert because Satan is prowling like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Satan and his demonic forces are looking for any opportunity to divide, plunge you back into sin, or distract you from God’s work. You’ll discover that you can recognize his attacks quickly.

Fourth, resist him! 1 Peter 5:9 and James 4:7 both challenge us to resist Satan. Resist him by identifying the lie and casting it out of your mind. The picture that helps me is an old WWII movie where the Germans throw a hand grenade in the window. Before it can explode, the American soldier grabs it and throws it out the window where it explodes and kills the enemy. If you can identify the attack and reject it before it explodes in your mind, you can gain victory. If you’re slow and it explodes, you’ll have some major mental damage control to do.

Let me give you one personal example. I had trouble moving beyond some hurts I had because of my wife. I forgave her, but every so often the thoughts of the hurt would come back and I’d relive the event. My emotions were wiped out as if the event happened all over again. What I didn’t realize is that I was getting sucker punched by Satan. He was throwing the hand grenade of that thought in my mind and I let it explode! Once I realized it was an attack of Satan, it was a lot easier to reject that thought. When I won the battle of my mind, my emotions were able to heal.

Chapter 8 – God’s guidelines for the Walk of Faith

What is it that is going to lead to a life that is truly worth living both in the eyes of God and in your eyes?

Chapter 8 of Victory Over the Darkness lists 8 words that speak of a life worth living. I would like to focus on one of those 8 words: Success.

Success: Key Scripture 2 Peter 1:2-10 Also: John 15:1-11; Psalm 1

What is success? Unfortunately, success can reflect whatever a person deems as his goal. For example, if someone has pursued the goal of becoming a millionaire then he would be considered successful if he achieved his goal of becoming worth a million dollars. If you only think of self-defined success, then it can be as meaningless as holding the record for the number of super bowls you’ve attended or winning your club championship in golf or tennis. The point is that self-defined success is somewhat meaningless since it implies that there is no objective standard for a  worthy life.

For the child of God, success is not self-defined. God has set a path (or a race) and success is using your life to complete the path that God has laid out for you. Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:12

Philippians 3:12 (NASB95)
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Paul understood that Jesus had laid hold of him for a purpose. Paul’s passion was to discover and embrace the purpose that Jesus had for his life. There are two concepts of success in the Christian Life.

  • Becoming the person God has created you to be
  • Influencing the people God has called you to influence
  • Doing the work God has called you to do

2 Peter 1:2-11 speaks of the journey of becoming the person God has created you to be. It focuses on the cultivation of the character of Christ in your life. This journey has been the most challenging and rewarding of my life. One principle I have learned is that inward success is a necessary foundation for external success.

2 Peter 1:2-4 speaks of what God has done to equip you for the journey.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

God has given you an infinite supply of his grace and peace: his desire is that your experience of his provision would be multiplied every day for the rest of your life. He has given his divine power to provide everything you need for life (overcoming the challenges and distractions of life) and godliness (learning to respond to situations and people in a godly manner). He has give you his precious and magnificent promises so that as you apply them you will escape the pull of the world and become a partaker of his nature. I would encourage you to memorize and meditate on these powerful verses. The more you focus on them, the more you will embrace the truth that you have everything you need for life and godliness!

2 Peter 1:5-7 focuses on your challenge to build on the foundation of your faith the character qualities of moral excellence (integrity or virtue), knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Think about how your life would change if these character qualities were yours and growing! Think about the influence that would flow from your life!

2 Peter 1:8-11 focuses on what God promises will be true of you if you are diligent in developing these character qualities: basically the promise is success!

Success is also about influencing the people that God has called you to influence. If you are married, think first of all of the influence that God wants you to have in your family. This is more important than how much money you will make, or how successful you will be in your career (even if you’re a pastor). What influence do you want to have on your wife? What influence do you want to have on your children? You better answer this question because, whether you like it or not, you are having an influence!

Colossians 1:28–29 (ESV)
28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul shares his passion. He wants to present every person complete (mature) in Christ. He wants to help every person God brings into his life to become the person that God has created him to be. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul says that he loved the Thessalonians so much that he was willing to share not only the gospel, but also his own life!

Success in life is not enduring people, nor is it manipulating or controlling people. It is building people – encouraging them to become all that God has created them to be!

Finally, God has a job for you to do and he has given you unique gifts to do that job. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Peter 4:10–11 (ESV)
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

God has created you with gifts, talents, and passions. He has used your life experiences to equip you. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to discover the race that God has set before YOU. (Hebrews 12:1-3).

This is an overview. I’m going to add two more posts to this week. One is a sheet that goes into more details on 2 Peter 1:2-11 and the second is a worksheet to help you determine the race that Jesus wants you to run. Please take time to download these and apply them to your life.

To stir your thinking

  • How can you apply diligence to the cultivation of godly character in your life? What specifically can you do to grow in conforming your character to the character of Jesus Christ?
  • Where are you weak when you consider the list of character qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-7?
  • Who does God wants you to influence for his kingdom?
  • What influence do you want to have?
  • Begin working on the question, what is the race that Jesus has set before you?

Chapter 7: You can’t live beyond what you believe

Walking by faith is choosing to live based on what you believe in God’s Word, rather than by the things you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, we walk by faith and not by sight.

One of the problems we have with the words faith and believe in America is that we have turned them largely into intellectual words. The words, more often than not describe intellectual agreement. Do you believe that there are 50 states in America? Yes. But there is no implication to that belief. I can believe that all I want and it really does not move me to action in any way.

In God’s Word, faith is active. If you have biblical faith, the results are going to be evident. Read James 2:14-26. James goes so far to say that if your faith doesn’t produce corresponding works, you have a dead faith. Biblical faith is where you believe something to the extent that it becomes a conviction. You know you are walking by faith when the truth of God’s Word moves you to action.

If you are going to grow in your faith, you must grow in your knowledge of and understanding of God’s Word. This is where study, memorization, and meditation come in. You can’t believe something if you don’t know it. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. (Note: hearing is used because they didn’t have copies of God’s word for everyone, so much of the learning was by hearing the reading of the word of God).

But learning the truth of God’s word is only the first step. As you apply and obey God’s Word, you will experience the truth of God’s Word and your faith will grow. God’s Word will become a driving force in your life. You will see that your faith will empower you, guide you, and strengthen you as you walk through life.

If all you do is read God’s word for an emotional fix (kind of like a thought for the day), I don’t think you will see powerful, deep change in your life.

So where have you placed your faith? In whom and on what truth are you basing your life? Here’s an exercise that will clarify things for you. It will take a little while, but it will be worth the effort.

Step1

Take a few moments, quiet your heart, and then write out the deepest convictions of your life. What are the things that you deeply believe and to which you have committed your life. Be honest. If you believe money will ultimately bring you happiness and significance, write that down. Writing what you think you should believe won’t really help you. For the sake of this exercise, limit yourself to 8 to 10 key statements. Don’t be afraid to edit and remove a statement if you discover you need to add something more important.

To help you get started, here is a partial list of the truths of God’s word on which I am building my life. They don’t all drive my life completely, but it is honestly where I am headed. I list these simply to give you an idea of how to proceed. Give yourself time to think through your own faith base.

  • The Bible is the complete Word of God. It is God’s revelation of himself, what he desires of us, the blessings of walking with him and the consequences of rejecting him. If I want to know my Creator, the Bible is the clearest path. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • God created the heavens and the earth and he created people in his image. The most important thing about us is not how we relate to each other, it’s how we relate to God, because he is our creator and he created us for him. I believe every human being is accountable to God, because God is our creator. (Genesis 1-2)
  • Every person has sinned against God. The evil and suffering that I see in this world is a direct consequence of our rebellion against God. (Genesis 3:1-18, Romans 1-3)
  • God is “triune” in nature. He is one God, but he subsists in three persons. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus, the son to live a perfect life, die as a sacrifice for my sins, and rise from the dead thereby proving that he is the son of God and the future judge of all mankind. (Deuteronomy 6:4, John 1:1-4, 3:16)
  • The only way that any human can ever come in to a relationship with God and experience his mercy and grace is by placing his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Eternal life is not a reward for a good life here on earth; it is a free gift of God’s grace (John 14:6, Romans 6:23)
  • Jesus has given me the task and the privilege of telling others the good news that they can experience forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ. No matter what I do for a vocation, being a light for Jesus Christ and making disciples of those who believe is my calling. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)
  • There is a heaven and there is a hell. Both are eternal and how we live on this life determines where and how we will spend eternity. If a person has rejected God’s offer of forgiveness, he will stand before Jesus and be judged by the standard of God’s perfection. He will fall short and be cast in to the Lake of Fire. For me as a follower of Jesus, I will stand before him to be rewarded (or suffer loss) for the things that I’ve done as a follower of Jesus. I have eternal life, but living faithfully will bring eternal rewards that will never be lost or fade away. (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:1-5, 22:1-5)
  • My Christian Life is a daily journey to love God and those he has placed in my life, to grow to become more like him, to serve the body of Christ with my gifts and resources, and to do everything I can to help those who are lost to find God through Jesus Christ. (Matthew 5:13-16, 22:37-40; 1 Peter 4:10-11)

Those are a quick sample of my convictions. It would be really helpful for you not simply to copy mine, but to think through what you believe.

Step 2, take each of those convictions and write down the answer to this simple question:

If I truly believed this, how would my life change? (or what would be the visible results)

 As you compare your answers to your current life, you will see quickly the change that God wants your faith to produce. As you meditate on the truth of God’s Word and submit your will to the Holy Spirit, your ability to live by faith will grow! As your experience of walking by faith grows, your influence for God’s kingdom grows and that gets pretty exciting!

To stir your thinking

  • How can you build your faith?
  • What is getting in the way of a strengthening faith in your life?
  • What would be the blessing to you if you grew in your walk of faith?
  • What would be the blessing to those God has placed in your life if you grew in your walk of faith?

Chapter 6: The power of believing the Truth

Faith is a powerful force in this universe. Wilma Rudolph demonstrated what can happen when faith is matched by hard work and determination. You might tend to think that it wasn’t the faith, it was the hard work and determination. I would argue that the faith was at the foundation of the hard work and determination. If Wilma had come to the conclusion that there was no hope for her poorly developed legs, she might have “accepted” her situation. However, Wilma did not accept her situation, she believed God has something greater in store for her, so she was willing to endure the pain, and work her legs tirelessly.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. I must believe that God exists and that he is worth the effort of seeking him. Faith is how I receive the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and God’s desire for me is to walk every day receiving his grace by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7, Colossians 2:6-7).

Faith is powerful, but dangerous if we put our faith in the wrong object. If I believe with all my heart that, on my own, I can overcome gravity; that faith could lead me to do something foolish or deadly. There are millions of people who sincerely believe in a false religion. They believe with such intensity that they are willing to give their lives in pursuit of a wrong path. They believe with great sincerity, but that does not change the fact that they have put their faith in something that is not true.

I have placed my faith in the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and that God proved that fact by raising him from the dead (Romans 1:4). I have placed my faith in the truth that Jesus died as a sacrifice for my sins and, by faith, I have received God’s offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Furthermore, I have placed my faith in Jesus as the Lord of my life, so my goal is to live every day in obedience to him.

I have also placed my faith in the teaching of God’s word that this world is temporary and Jesus is coming again. When he comes again, he will judge every person who has ever lived on this earth. Those who have received God’s offer of forgiveness will spend eternity in God’s kingdom. Those who have rejected God’s offer of forgiveness will spend eternity separated from God and his people. My faith is leading me to speak to people God has placed in my life about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Faith will lead you to action! In fact, if your faith doesn’t produce visible results, James says that it is a dead faith (James 2:14-26)

So how do you grow your faith? Three ways:

  • First, grow in your knowledge of God. The more you get to know God, the more you will know that you can trust him.
  • Second, grow in your knowledge of God’s Word. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
  • Third, exercise your faith. Live as if God’s word is true. When you study God’s Word always ask the question, ”if I believed this were true, how would I live?” Then live that wa\

Take time to read and meditate on the twenty “cans” of success (p 115). Pick out one or two and make them your own. When you apply the truth of God’s word to your situation, you will discover the great power of faith.

One of the great truths of faith is God’s unconditional love for you. When you stumble in your walk of faith (and you will) realize that God still loves you and that the truth of Romans 8:1 still stands: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Confess your sins (1 John 1:9) and believe that God has forgiven you. Satan will do everything he can to make you “feel” condemned, but he cannot condemn you.

Learning to walk by faith is how you will actually put into practice the truth you’ve gained from God’s Word. It is how the promises of the Christian life will become yours! Let the truth of God’s word shape your perspective on every experience, every challenge, every tragedy, and every blessing of life.

To stir your thought:

  • What was your reaction to the story of Wilma Rudolph? What can you learn from her about your situation?
  • Hebrews 11:6 says that we must believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek him. What are the rewards that this world offers? What are the rewards that God offers? Right now in your life, which do you value more? How does this affect your life?
  • Colossians 2:6-7 says that we should walk every day in the same way that we’ve received Christ Jesus the Lord (by grace through faith). How do you receive God’s grace by faith today? What difference does it make to your life when you live by God’s grace?
  • Which of the “cans” of success meant the most to you? How would it change your life if you applied that to your life?