Faith: the foundation of my life

The foundation for my faith was laid when I was a youth, and I continue to build upon it, as I move from faith to faith and victory to victory.

“When you are in a difficult situation, go back to the first word; it still works.” Recently I thought of those words from Apostle John Tesola, as we began a series of teaching on faith at our church, Equip U Ministries in Columbus, Ohio. My mind went back to a Wednesday Youth Night at Camp Gray, a Presbyterian camp in Saugatuck, MI. When the request came forth for a young person to deliver a short inspirational message, I volunteered, and I put together my first Bible teaching, choosing the topic of faith. Using the Bible and study material of one of the camp counselors who was a seminary student, I focused on Hebrews 11:1, 6—two verses that have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since that time 54 years ago, I have discovered the Amplified Bible, and I especially appreciate how these verses are rendered:

Hebrews 11: 1, 6:

 1NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

    6But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

In a recent teaching on faith we examined a number of accounts in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus Christ mentions faith. Two of the most notable examples occur in the encounter with the centurion who comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal his servant and the account of the Canaanite woman who seeks Christ’s healing presence on behalf of her daughter who is “grievously vexed with a devil.” In both of these instances, Jesus Christ responds, describing both of them as having “great faith.”

I recall a similar designation when I received a personal prophecy from Dr. Kingsley Fletcher in 2000 regarding the dimension of faith in my life. A personal prophecy or prophetic words are inspired words from an individual operating the gift of prophecy to speak to a specific individual or group. These insightfully penetrating words are revealed from God and provide edification, exhortation and comfort to the individuals to whom they are addressed. On this specific occasion when Dr. Fletcher ministered at our church, he called me forth and spoke a message from God to me. I transcribed those words and added them to my prayer journal/scrapbook. Numerous times I read and re-read those words as I prayed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer that same year. I especially concentrated on this excerpt:

 The anointing of the Lord is upon you. You shall walk through doors, and you  shall bring the people of God behind you. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Mighty man of faith! When you declare, it shall be done. You shall affect many through your faith, for out of the faith you shall see my faithfulness. . . . And you shall declare this is the way of the Lord, and they shall follow. For you shall stand and declare just as Caleb declared. You shall stand and say, ‘If God said it, it shall come to pass. If God declares it, I believe it. If God points the way, I will follow.’ And the people of God shall be inspired by your humble faith. For you are a man that has pleased me, and I’m delighted in you. This is the word of the Lord to you, Lonnell. To Lonnell, the word of the Lord. You shall walk in faith and not by sight.  

I used that particular prophetic word as a contact point for focused intercession regarding my particular situation with the prostate cancer, which proved to be a time of the testing of my faith.

At times when my faith seemed to be diminishing, I would recite Scripture, listen to teaching tapes, in many cases my own messages whereby I taught myself over and over again. During this time of intense prayer, God was teaching me a valuable lesson about faith: “Prayer is the key . . . but faith unlocks the door.” I was reminded of these lyrics from an old gospel song, as I prayed fervently throughout this situation which seemed to be drawing from within me to become the “mighty man of faith” that God called me to be.

The renowned folk artist and minister, Elijah Pierce, completed this painted bas relief woodcarving entitled “The Power of Prayer” in 1960. It is from the private collection courtesy of Keny Galleries, Columbus, Ohio.

A woodcarving depicting the Power of Prayer with Faith as the key that unlocks the doors to God and His Son Jesus Christ.

John Starnes offers a powerful rendition of “Prayer is the Key to Heaven.”

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xomn5SMDSlw&feature=related]

            One of the poems that I wrote regarding faith makes reference to the Centurion with “great faith” and my designation as a “mighty man of faith.”

Will He Find Faith?

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed

“Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,

not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10

 

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,

When the Lord returns will he find faith on the earth?

When He appraises my faith, what will it be worth?

When all is said and done, may I add my measure,

Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed,

A faith so pure in essence that nothing defiles.

Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,

May I be walking by faith in word and in deed,

For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.

May such great faith descend from the centurion

To a faithful son who bears this criterion:

Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.

I press toward the mark, reaching toward my destiny:

As the mighty man of faith you called me to be.

In the New Testament the word faith is translated from the Greek word pistis, one of whose synonyms is “trust.” In thinking about faith and its relationship to “trust,” two songs related to “trusting God,” came to mind.  I was introduced to the hymn “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus” almost forty years ago. As I was driving toward my first ministry assignment, the lyrics rang in my head:

I am trusting Thee, Lord, Jesus,
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation,
Great and free.

I am trusting Thee for pardon;
At Thy feet I bow;
For Thy grace and tender mercy,
Trusting now.

I am trusting Thee for cleansing
In the crimson flood;
Trusting Thee to make me holy
By Thy blood.

I am trusting Thee to guide me;
Thou alone shalt lead;
Every day and hour supplying
All my need.

I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
Must prevail.

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus;
Never let me fall;
I am trusting Thee forever,
And for all.

Here is a rendering of the song by Matthew, Jeffery and Andrew Waldvogel along with Chi-en Chen and Frank Constanzo of the Ridgewood Pentecostal Church:

The second song is a contemporary gospel song that has come to mean a great deal to me.  “I Trust You” by James Fortune and Fiya conveys the same message but with a different flavor:

(verse)
Even though I can’t see
and I can’t feel your touch
I will trust you, Lord
how I love you so much
Though my nights my seem long
and I feel so alone
Lord my trust is in you
I surrender to you

(bridge)
So many painful thoughts
travel through my mind
and I wonder how
I will make it through this time

(chorus)
But I trust you
Lord, it’s not easy
sometimes the pain in my life
makes you seem far away
but I’ll trust you
I need to know you’re here
through the tears and the pain
through the heartache and rain

I’ll trust you

(verse 2)
Everything that I see
tells me not to believe
but I’ll trust you lord
you have never failed me
My past still controls me
Will this hurt ever leave?
I can only trust you
no one else like you do

(bridge)

(chorus)

(vamp)
***I can
I will
I must
trust you **repeat**

***I will
trust you ***repeat***

(modulate)

***I will
trust you ***repeat***

(modulate)
***I’ll trust you (x3)
I will***repeat***

God will make a way (x4)

Recently one of the messages delivered on a Sunday morning focused on the practical dimension of faith, as Pastor Michael Spears of Equip U Ministries expounded upon the subject “By Faith” which inspired this poem with that title:

 

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall 

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God is faithful and always comes through, just as the scriptures saith:

Obey, persist and sacrifice—the just shall live by faith.

I conclude this blog on faith with this amazing YouTube video that provides a living illustration of the creative power of God with the lyrics to the familiar hymn “Trust and Obey” as a backdrop that expresses the simplicity of our walk by faith.

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