Without question, one of the most identifiable characteristics of our current generation is the sheer amount of information that we must process on any given day.
Some of us have lived long enough to recall the days when information about most things was available if you took the time to “research” it , or to go to a trusted source of knowledge such as a parent, a teacher, a coach, a mentor.
In today’s world, information is coming at us in massive volumes that often make it difficult, if not impossible, to focus on the few things that may be truly transformational because they are coming from the heart of God Himself.
Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
I truly believe that God is still speaking to us today. It may be through the inspired and trustworthy cannon of scripture, or a message given by a man or woman whom God brings to our lives, or simply to our own heart if we are capable of being still and quiet before Him.
By God’s gracious design, I am blessed to be in a season of my life when I really should have ample room in my daily schedule to be still and quiet before God and to shut out the non-stop barrage of information that literally seems to be coming after me rather than me looking for it.
One very contradictory indication of just how pervasive this information overload has become can be seen as one walks, runs or bicycles in and around North Park, for example. This is something that I try to do four or five days a week for at least an hour and the most patently obvious indication of our obsession with information is the number of people who are looking at their mobile devices while exercising their bodies around the park. It’s not unusual for me to see two or three people walking together, each of whom are looking at their screens rather than talking to each other or just enjoying the display of God’s handiwork all around them.
The real danger in all this is that God has determined to never compete with other voices for our attention. He’s not on social media and I know of no one who has received any kind of electronic or digital message prepared by God Himself.
Where all of this comes together is in the very practical matter of understanding how we receive from God if we know Him through His Son and understand that His kingdom, His rule, is here already but not yet fully realized.
The people who receive answers to prayer, words of wisdom, knowledge and guidance; of healing, provision and freedom, have discovered that these life giving words are not received by accessing more information but by acting by faith on what you believe God has revealed or spoken to you.
Let me say that once again. The only thing that blocks our blessings in life is not lack of information, it’s unbelief in the information that we have.
The ability of people to receive the blessings of God in the days of Jesus’ presence on the earth and in the life of the early church is clearly seen in the New Testament. Wherever Jesus saw faith in action, He was always moved by such faith and affirmed that His hand is moved by the act of believing, not just the act of knowing.
In Mark chapter 2 a desperate man, a paralytic, could not get to Jesus because of his infirmity. However he had some friends, four to be exact, who believed in the power of Jesus words so much so that they carried him to the house where Jesus was teaching and when they could not even get through the doorway, they climbed up on the roof of the house and dug and opening through it and lowered the mat of the paralyzed man right into the presence of Jesus.
In this astonishing story in Mark 2:5, we see that it’s not the faith of the paralyzed man that Jesus noticed, but the faith of the friends who were acting on what they believed. the exact quote is:
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
After a brief but revealing exchange with some of the religious leaders of the day, Jesus demonstrates His authority not just to forgive sins, but to heal paralyzed bodies when He says to the paralytic,
“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:11-12
I suppose I called on this illustration because it seems to me that so many of us doubt our own faith. We wonder why we have such unbelief and recognize that we seem unable to change the setting on our “spiritual receiving dial” to hear the word of the Lord more clearly.
Therefore, Jesus made it plain that even the faith of friends can move His hand on behalf of someone. Jesus is inevitably and irresistibly drawn to the act of faith, total trust and the word and character of God.
In a follow up comment on this topic in a couple of days I want to reference an Old Testament illustration of the same principle. The point is that faith has been moving the hand of God not just for generations, but for thousands of years!
The battle to believe God has been the great challenge of mankind and despite all of our advantages as a culture and all of our technological achievements, for the most part we’re simply adding to our base of knowledge and not increasing our faith and as a result, not receiving from God in the very areas where we need it most.
Take a quick inventory of your day to day life. How much time have you set apart to listen to God? If the Lord was speaking a word to you concerning something that really mattered to you, would you be quiet enough to hear what He was saying so that you might act by faith on that word? Is it possible that you, like me, may be missing out on God’s greatest blessings because we’ve not been desperate enough to silence the informational tidal wave that seems to sweep us right through our day without ever hearing a word from the Lord?
That’s the battle to believe, that’s what has to happen if we are to live victoriously in His kingdom.
(Look for Part 2 this Friday.)