Yesterday I was reading through James in my quiet time. Somewhere in the middle of chapter two, as I read along I started to ponder something I heard earlier in the week. “Faith is what is on the inside, faithfulness is what’s on the outside.” My leader, Andy, was talking about the connection between what we believe and what we do. As I read over the words James had written a long time ago, I started to ponder, what if I replaced the word “works” with the word “faithfulness”. See, in Christian circles today, no one wants to get the reputation of being into "works." That is just not cool. We are on the “relationship” or “intimacy with Jesus” bandwagon. Where is the soaking room? But as I was reading along, something jumped out at me: Verse 23 says that Abraham is a friend of God. James, in one of the most obedience-focused passages in the New Testament points out Abraham's relationship. It struck me that obedience, or faithfulness, or even dare I say it like James says it, “works” are a key to intimacy with Jesus. Reflecting on this brings John 15:14 to mind: “You are my friends if you do what I command you”. We can never separate what we believe from how we live our lives. What are your thoughts? Drop me a line; I read them!
_What does a life with Christ look like? If we walked in the fullness that Christ has given us, we would know without a shadow of a doubt that we are loved by God. We would be full of peace, faith and hope. We would be walking in total humility and total intimacy with Him. We would be living life to the full according to John 10:10, but if you read the second part of that verse it also says that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. This is what I taught on in the Discipleship Training School a few weeks ago. Strongholds are places in our lives that the enemy has built up like a fortress. He gains legal rights to do this when we sin. We open a door and allow him in and he sets up camp and gets to stay there when we do not confess and ask forgiveness or keep sinning in the same way. These strongholds keep us from living in the fullness that God has for us and from being able to fully receive His love. Strongholds can be fear, shame, bitterness, rejection or rebellion but that is not usually what we see at first glance in our lives. We will see the fruit of the strongholds, which could be anxiety, control, self-pity, distrust, defensiveness etc. If we only go after the fruit, it’s like taking the leaves off of a tree; they will only grow back. We have to get to the root of the strongholds so that the whole tree dies.
How can we recognize a stronghold in our life? Well, do you have a sin pattern that you can’t break? Do you find yourself angry with people for no reason? Are you living in that full life that God has for you, or is something holding you back? One way to know if there is a stronghold in your life is to ask God. Sometimes we might be blind to the stronghold in our life. A few years ago, I was put in charge of the kitchen here at YWAM for the second time. I wasn’t
too excited about the job, but I had been asked to do it. I had two weeks before the training school started to put together a four-week menu. I would sit at my computer and start working and then get totally paralyzed, start crying and couldn’t work on it at all. A friend came to visit us and asked if we needed prayer, so I told him about the situation. He said, let’s ask God about it. God showed me that I had a fear of failure. We asked God, “What would happen if I failed?” He told me, “Nothing.” This truth broke my fear and gave me something to fight with when I was tempted to fear again.
God’s design for us is to be in an intimate relationship with Him and to have life to the full! So live life with your eyes fixed on Jesus and if something is holding you back then take the time to deal with it and grow in intimacy with Him.
Amos & Amy Ford
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