The Faithfulness of God

Have you ever taken the time to study and meditate upon the attributes of God? As rainbowbelievers, we often speak of, sing of, and mention His attributes in our prayers, but how often do we stop to think about what they mean?  One of the primary ways we “see” God is by pondering His nature.

One of my favorite characteristics of God is His faithfulness. To be faithful is to be steadfast and unchanging. James describes God in this way: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) A faithful person never breaks a promise but honors his word no matter what. David said, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises…” (Ps. 145:13)

The faithful do not quit, but finish what they start, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Faithful ones remain faithful even when others are not.  “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13) God not only acts in faithfulness, but His name is Faithful: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” (Rev. 19:11).

These are just a few examples of the faithfulness of our God. He is constantly working in each of us to conform us to this same image. May we be found faithful even as He is!

P.S. I will be having major surgery next week, so I’ll be taking a break from posting for a few weeks. May God bless you!

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4 Steps to Biblical Faith

Charlene S Hughes

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the necessity of having patience in order to inherit faithGod’s promises. If you didn’t see that, you can read it here. The other ingredient we must have is faith. Faith, like love, is a word that is used so much we seem to have lost the significance of its meaning. For the past several years, I have been wrestling with the concept of faith. Here are a few nuggets I’ve come across so far; I hope you find them helpful as well.

From what I’ve observed in many churches and in the majority of Christians I’ve ministered to for many years, it seems faith has been reduced to a mental agreement with certain beliefs. This is in stark contrast to what is depicted in Scripture. What preceded belief in the saints was a firm conviction. This conviction was birthed through revelation…

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The Dilemma of Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve been a believer in Jesus for very long, no doubt you’ve experienced thewoman-praying dilemma of unanswered prayer. I believe no one is exempt from it. Yet many turn away from God because of it. In my daily conversations with Him, the topic often comes up. I’m always the one that brings it up, of course. I have been walking through a season of unanswered prayer that has lasted many years. Those of you who know me, know I have had ongoing health issues for over twenty years. I have had more people pray for me than I can possibly remember – even people that are well known for their healing anointing on an international level.

As an intercessor, I strongly believe in the power of prayer. I direct a healing ministry that has seen many, many healings and miracles over the past eight years. I have personally prayed for people and seen them get healed. I even pray over myself every day. I believe it is God’s will for everyone to be healed (1 Peter 2:24), just as it is His will for everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). But everyone doesn’t get saved, and likewise, not everyone gets healed. There are many reasons for this, too many to mention in this short article.

So how do we respond in the face of unanswered prayers? Here is how I choose to respond:

1. I believe God’s Word is true and He cannot lie. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. I refuse to give up believing and pressing in for my healing.

2. I believe God promises to work all things together for my good. (Rom. 8:28) Though the enemy is the one who brings sickness and infirmity, God’s plans for me are bigger and greater than any plans the enemy may have. He has already brought much good through this trial – I am growing in my faith; I have greater compassion for the sick and suffering; I have drawn closer to God because of my great need for Him; I am growing in patience; and these are just a few!

3. When other believers say or imply things like, “You don’t have enough faith,” or, “You must have sin in your life,” (which are things we are often taught and can, at times, be true) I have had the opportunity to exercise grace and forgiveness, and to go before the Lord to see if what they are saying is true. Twenty years gives one abundant time to do a lot of soul searching!

4. I am learning the art of waiting on God. For more on what this means, see my article, The Crucible of Waiting Upon God. God’s ways and timing are not like ours. He is more interested in the process than in the final destination. For Him, it is always about relationship, not our personal comfort. He is always good, so when He allows pain to touch our lives, His purposes for doing so are always redemptive. When we don’t understand His ways, we can always trust His nature and character.

5. While I am in this season of waiting, I am learning the importance of taking better care of my body. It’s sad, but so often true, that we take our good health for granted, until we lose it. I am finding natural alternatives to help heal and restore my body that have helped tremendously. I am also learning to eat healthier. There is so much sickness that can be prevented just by changing our diets.

6. I continue to pray for others to be healed. It doesn’t make sense that He wouldn’t want us to have what He has already paid for. As I see many of these prayers answered, it stirs my faith anew to continue to stand firm and believe for my own.

7. I often think about the testimony I will be able to share when my healing is complete. I believe that testimony will encourage and empower many others who have been waiting for years to receive their own healing. What a glorious day that will be!

If you’re walking through a season of unanswered prayer, how are you choosing to respond?

The Faith of Abraham

“…Abraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one Abrahams faithwho gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” His trust did not waver when he considered his own body–which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised He could also accomplish.” – Romans 4:17-21

If God sees and considers Abraham as my father, then it seems He would expect me to be like him. A child usually takes on the characteristics of their parents; therefore, it seems God would want me to have the same trust in Him as Abraham did. Since Abraham believed God gives life to the dead–which was his body–and calls nonexistent things into existence–which would have been his seed–then I need to believe the same things. I know He gives life to the dead because He raised Jesus from the dead. He calls nonexistent things into existence because His Word has creative power. He spoke the universe and all creation into being.

But how did Abraham know God gives life to the dead? Had he actually seen or experienced that when he decided to believe Him? How did he know He calls nonexistent things into existence? The Scriptures had not yet been written. In reading over his story in Genesis 15, we can see that he had some powerful encounters with God. Obviously, he believed God because of his relationship with Him. He had come to know and trust Him. However, he was still human. Later, he made the mistake of sleeping with Hagar, so even in trusting God, he didn’t fully understand His ways. I take comfort in knowing that God redeemed Abraham’s mistake as he was trusting Him to the best of his ability and understanding. So surely He will redeem my mistakes, because I trust Him and want to obey Him in all I say and do.

Though Abraham was past having any hope in the natural of his promise coming to pass, yet he chose to trust with hope that indeed it would. Hope and trust are choices we have to make regardless of our circumstances. In fact, if our circumstances seem favorable to our promises coming to pass, it doesn’t require us to have hope and trust. Perhaps we would trust in our circumstances rather than in God. We are called to walk in faith. To walk by faith and not by sight is something we must choose to do, for it goes against our natural tendencies.

Abraham did not deny the fact that because of their age and the condition of their bodies it was impossible, in the natural, to have a child. He took that fact fully into account. Yet his trust did not waver because of the facts. I love it though, that in this passage, God never mentions that Abraham did try to help Him out, and in the process created Ishmael. It is as though God totally forgot or chose to overlook that. God knows the heart, so I believe Abraham must have thought he was doing the right thing when he did that. Still, God credits Abraham as righteous in His sight. He is amazing!

Abraham could have looked at the reality of his situation and decided it was too difficult for God to make good on His promise, but he didn’t. As he chose to trust God in spite of the facts, and worshiped God in the midst of what looked like an impossible situation, God empowered him to believe and stand firm in his faith. When we do likewise, He will do the same for us! God cannot lie, so He will eventually make good on His promises. The question we often struggle with is, when?  Abraham waited about 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled. Obviously, God requires not only faith in Him and His Word, but also patience!

The Purifying Process of Prophecy

Last week, I wrote on the power of prophecy to transform your life. If you missed it, you Bible on firecan read it here. I ended the article saying that one of the goals of prophecy is to prepare us to handle the responsibility of the promise God wants to give us, so that we won’t be destroyed by it. A great example is the story of Joseph, the favored son of Jacob. Before Joseph became second over of all of Egypt, and a type of Christ in how he lived a life of integrity and forgiveness, he needed some refining.

As the story goes, beginning in Genesis 37, Joseph was the first born son of Rachel, the only wife, we are told, that Jacob loved. His father unequivocally displayed his favoritism by making Joseph a richly ornamented robe. This, of course, provoked his brothers to jealousy and hatred. On top of that, Joseph was given two dreams from God that his family interpreted correctly, that showed all of them bowing down to him. Whether Joseph shared his dreams out of genuine excitement, naiveté, or haughtiness, we don’t know. Regardless of his motive, his season of testing was about to begin.

Though his brothers, at first, had plotted to kill him, they instead sold him into slavery. He found himself a slave in Potiphar’s house, Pharoah’s captain of the guard. Since God’s favor was upon Joseph, he was quickly promoted to attendant in charge of all of Potiphar’s house. Unfortunately, he wound up in prison after refusing to sleep with his master’s wife and was falsely accused of trying to rape her. Again, God’s favor landed him a promotion to caretaker over all the prison. There he met a baker and cupbearer, whose dreams he interpreted correctly. He hoped the cupbearer would be his ticket out of prison, but instead, he was forgotten for two more years. Finally, he was called upon to interpret Pharoah’s dreams, which got him promoted to second in charge of Egypt, the wealthiest nation on the planet at that time.

Psalm 105 gives some important insight on Joseph’s life: “He sent a man before them — Joseph — who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom.” (v. 17-22) The word “tested” means, to test (and prove true), to refine, to be refined, to smelt. This speaks of heating precious metals until the dross comes to the surface and can be removed, thereby purifying the metal and greatly increasing its value.

Through all the trials, adversity, and injustice that Joseph endured, God lovingly, painstakingly refined him in the fire. All so he could handle the weight of authority and responsibility of not only his family, but all of Egypt bowing before him, as prophesied through his dreams, many years before. There is a saying that states, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” History has most often proven this to be true. I have no doubt that God, in His wisdom and great love for Joseph, would not allow that to happen, so He used the difficult, painful circumstances in his life, in such a way as to bring forth His best for Joseph, and for His people Israel. Without Joseph’s leadership, all of Israel might have been lost during the famine, and then the Promised Seed, Jesus, could not have come forth.

If you have ever received a prophetic word, dream, or vision, and then seemingly all hell breaks loose around you, it may be that God’s word is testing you to refine and purify you so you won’t be destroyed by His promises. Trust Him – He always knows exactly what He is doing!

Have you gone through testing after receiving a prophecy? I would love to hear your story! You can share below.

The Dreaded “P” Word

…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  Heb. 6:12

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear the word patience? For patienceme, it is often a sense of dread. It is a subject God has been dealing with me on for a long, long time. Some days it seems I’ve got it down. Other days, I feel like I’m back in kindergarten. Many believers I’ve talked to feel the same way. We all know it’s something we should have. It is a fruit of the Spirit, after all! Yet in our fast-food, instant information, immediate gratification culture, most would agree they really don’t. At least not like we know we should.

In Hebrews 6:12, the writer says that it is through faith and patience that we inherit God’s promises. We’ve probably heard more messages on the importance of faith than we could possibly remember. But when is the last time you heard someone teach on the necessity of patience?  As much as we may dislike or avoid the topic, God’s Word is full of examples. Almost every saint mentioned had to go through a prolonged time of waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Abraham and Sarah waited about twenty-five years for their promised son, Isaac. Joseph waited many years for the fulfillment of his prophetic dreams. David, anointed as king of Israel at a young age, waited years before receiving his crown. These and others are recorded for our benefit, to teach us that God is never in a hurry to fulfill His promises – yet He is always faithful.

He is endlessly patient and committed to cultivating His image in each of His children. When I struggle to be patient, I try to remember how long He has waited to fulfill His own desires. He has longed since eternity past for a family, and a bride that is wholehearted and mature in love. We can’t even comprehend how long that is! So how do we grow in patience? James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1:2-4) Perseverance is another word for patience, or patient endurance. If you’ve ever prayed for patience and it suddenly seems like all hell breaks loose around you, this is why!

Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Patience develops when we respond properly to our trials and sufferings. It produces mature character in us. On the other hand, impatience is really a lack of faith; it is unbelief. Impatience says that God cannot be trusted to follow through on His promises. It doubts His faithfulness and questions His integrity. In essence, it is calling God a liar… Ouch.  This is why it requires both faith and patience to inherit His promises; the two cannot be separated.

Trials and tribulations are never fun or easy, but if we want to grow in patience we must see them as opportunities instead of problems. By Gods’ grace, we can rejoice and respond with trust that He is working everything together for good in our lives, to bring us to maturity in the image of His Son. Though the fiery furnace is painful, He promises to be with us in it. He walks beside us through the dark valleys and will one day wipe away every tear when pain is removed forever.

How is God working to produce patience in you?