Have you ever been in the middle of a faith stand, when suddenly it seemed like your faith just quit working?
Maybe you were believing God for healing, or financial deliverance, or the salvation of your family. Spiritually, everything was in place. You found the scriptures that promised you what you need. You were firing off confessions of faith like a machine gun.
But as time went by, your spiritual battery began to weaken. The power you had when you first took your stand began to wane, and you developed a gnawing suspicion that nothing would happen.
In desperation, you tried to shove those doubts away by confessing louder and longer. You frantically tried to force your faith to work. But to no avail.
You wound up still sick, still broke, still surrounded by unsaved relatives…and wondering what went wrong.
In the end, you probably just chalked it up as a faith failure.
But I’m about to tell you something that will change your life if you’ll pay attention to it. It certainly changed mine. It’s this: What you experienced was not the failure of your faith…it was a breakdown of your hope.
Most believers don’t pay much attention to hope. They don’t think of it as very important. They certainly don’t consider it to be as important as faith. But the fact is, faith won’t function without hope.
That’s because “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). Sometimes I say it this way, “Hope is the blueprint of faith.” When hope is lost, faith loses its aim. It no longer has a mission to accomplish. It just scatters uselessly in every direction.
I remember one time in particular some years ago, when that happened to me. I had given my airplane to another preacher at God’s instruction, and then ordered another airplane to replace it. During the weeks while the new plane was being manufactured, I began to believe God for the full amount I needed to pay for it.
I hooked up my faith to the promises of God and I was going along fine for a while. But just a few days before the plane was scheduled to be delivered to me, I realized I was $20,000 short.
As the delivery date grew closer, I became more and more alarmed. I started making faith confessions as fast as I could. I’d say, “Thank God I have that $20,000. In Jesus’ Name, I-have-it-I-have-it-I-have-it-I-have-it.”
But the problem was, I was no longer confessing in faith, I was confessing out of desperation.
I knew something had to change, so I gathered up my Bible and my tapes, got in my boat, and went out to the middle of the lake to spend some time with the Lord. But when I got out there, I was still saying, “Thank God, I have that $20,000. In Jesus’ Name, I-have-it-I-have-it-I-have-it-I-have-it.”
Suddenly, the Lord spoke up on the inside of me: “KENNETH, BE QUIET!” He said, “I’m tired of hearing that. Just hush and let Me show you what I can do.”
When He said that, something happened inside me. My hope came alive again. Suddenly I was expectant instead of desperate. I started eagerly anticipating what God was about to do, instead of fearing what would happen if He didn’t come through in this situation.
Sure enough, the $20,000 I needed for that airplane came in and the pilot who delivered it to me ended up getting saved and filled with the Holy Spirit in the process. But none of that would have happened if I hadn’t pulled aside, locked myself away with the Word for several hours, and let the Spirit of God rebuild and rekindle the hope inside me.
Before you can understand how important hope is, you have to realize that real, Bible hope is not “wishing.” That’s worldly hope. People in the world say, “I sure wish I would get a raise at work,” when what they mean is, “I want a raise. I don’t think I will get it…but it would be nice if I did.”
The kind of hope the Word of God talks about is much stronger than that because it’s not based on wishing or wanting. It is based on your covenant with God and the anointing God has provided to carry out that covenant in your life.
In fact, Ephesians 2:12 says before you knew Jesus, you were “…without Christ [or without the anointing], being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
“But Brother Copeland,” you say, “I’m a believer. I know God’s promises. Doesn’t that mean I have all the hope I need?”
Not necessarily. You see, hope comes when you take those promises, keep them before your eyes and in your ears until they begin to build an image inside you. Hope comes when you begin to see yourself with what God has promised you – instead of seeing yourself without it.
When you have hope, you have a supernatural expectancy that what God has promised will come to pass in your life.
The Apostle Paul talks about that kind of supernatural expectancy in Philippians 1:19-20 where he says, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed….”
In that scripture, Paul uses two different words from the Greek language, each of which can be translated hope. One of them means the happy anticipation of good. The other can be defined as eager longing, strained expectancy, watching with an outstretched head, and abstraction from anything else that might engage the attention.
When divine hope comes alive in you, you’re so locked in on the Word of God, you can’t be distracted from it. I know what that’s like. There have been times in my life when I was so focused on something God had called me to do, and I was so tuned in to what the Word said about it, I couldn’t think about anything else.
People would try to have a conversation with me and I’d always end up talking about my hope. It would come up so big inside me that at those times, I was bigger on the inside than I was on the outside.
When your hope gets that strong, it doesn’t matter what kind of unbelief the devil tries to throw your way, it just bounces off you. You’re so one-track-minded, you can’t be drawn off course.
Back when Gloria and I first found out about faith, I was like that all the time. If someone walked up to me and said something that sounded like unbelief, I would just explode all over them! (I’m still like that, actually, I’ve just learned to be a little more gentle about it.)
One night I was in a bookstore in a church where I was preaching when such an explosion took place. I had stepped up to the cash register to buy my book and when I reached in my pocket to get my money, I sniffed.
I just sniffed! I don’t know why I did it. I guess I just felt like sniffing. When I did, the lady running the bookstore said to me, “Is it a cold or hay fever?”
Almost before I knew what I was doing, I had opened my mouth and started spurting the Word as fast as I could talk.
“THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD SAYS IN Galatians 3:13, I’M REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW. Deuteronomy 28:61 SAYS ALL SICKNESS AND DISEASE ARE UNDER THE CURSE AND I AM REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE OF HAY FEVER. I DON’T HAVE COLDS, IN JESUS’ NAME! I’VE BEEN WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS! AND BY JESUS’ STRIPES I AM HEALED! HE BORE MY SICKNESSES AND CARRIED MY DISEASES….”
I nearly pinned that lady to the wall with the Word of God. Finally, she exclaimed, “Forgive me, Brother Copeland. I knew I was in trouble when I said that! But I finally understand what you’ve been preaching about. I’ve had migraine headaches all my life. I have one right now, but if you’ll lay your hand on me, I’ll be healed.”
I did – and she was!
What happened to her? That explosion of the Word went into her heart and suddenly she could see herself healed. Her hope came to a crisp sharpness. She saw an inner image of who she is in Christ Jesus and that no migraine could stay on her body. The minute she did, the force of faith went to work and brought that image to pass!
That’s what the Bible means when it says “faith is the substance of things hoped for!” Stick Your Neck Out
How do you develop that kind of hope? You stay in the Word until your neck stretches out. I particularly like that part of the definition of hope because I know what it means to have your neck stretched.
When I was a little boy, my grandfather was my hero. He was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and I wanted to act like him, look like him, curse like him, chew tobacco like him and spit like him – much to my mother’s chagrin. When my mother would tell me that he and my grandmother were coming to see us, I would get so excited I could hardly wait.
Every minute or two, I’d run to the window to see if they had arrived. Every noise sent me running for the door. I tell you, my neck was stretched out in anticipation. My Pawpaw was coming and I expected him any moment.
That may sound like a silly example, but the Lord once told me if people would just expect Him to move as much as a child expects his grandparents to arrive, He could move on their situation and change things drastically by the power of His Spirit.
That’s what happened in Acts 3 to the crippled man at the gate Beautiful. He had been sitting by that gate begging, his head down and his eyes to the ground. But when Peter and John walked by and said, “Look on us!” that man lifted his head and began to expect.
Hope rose up in him because he was “…expecting to receive something of them” (verse 5).
Of course, he received a lot more than he was expecting – he expected alms, but he got legs! That’s because his expectancy hooked into their expectancy – and, believe me, their expectancy was running high!
It hadn’t been more than a few days since Jesus had risen from the dead, defeated the devil and all of hell with him. It hadn’t been but a few days since Jesus had looked the disciples straight in the eye and said, “Now, you go into all the world and use My Name to cast out devils. You lay hands on the sick and they’ll recover” (see Mark 16:15-18).
I can just imagine Peter saying, “Hey, John, you know that crippled beggar down there by the temple? Come on, let’s go use the Name on him!”
They could see themselves doing what Jesus said they could do. Their hope was “white hot.” So they went charging down to the temple and said to that cripple, “…in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
When they said it, they grabbed him. He had to walk, brother! They yanked him completely off the ground!
What made them do such a thing? Expectancy!
They didn’t tiptoe up to that gate, look around to make sure no one was watching and then whisper, “Dear Lord, if it be Thy will, heal this poor crippled man.”
The only people who pray “if it be Thy will” are those who don’t have any hope or expectancy. If you’ve been praying that way, stop it! Go to the Word and find out what God’s will is. The Word of God is His will. It is His will for you to be well. It is His will for you to be prosperous. It is His will for you to lay hands on the sick and it is His will for them to recover.
So stay in the Word until you’re so confident and expectant that your neck is stuck out in anticipation. Meditate on the Word until your hope gets crisp and that image inside you gets strong and clear.
Stay in there until you’re so full of expectancy that when someone walks up to you and says, “Good morning,” you jump on them like a chicken on a bug saying, “Yes! Bless God! It is a good morning. Do you have anything wrong with you? I’ll lay hands on you right now and you’ll get healed!”
Once hope gets that strong, it becomes courage…and hope plus courage equals the spirit of faith in action!
The Spirit of Faith
The Apostle Paul refers to the spirit of faith in II Corinthians 4:13 saying, “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”
The spirit of faith speaks! It calls things that be not as though they were. It makes faith confessions – not because it’s “supposed to” or out of desperation, but because it’s so full of eager anticipation and confident expectation it can’t keep its mouth shut!
The spirit of faith says, “I don’t care what God has to do, He’ll turn the world upside down if He has to, but He will change this situation for me.”
Every time I talk about the spirit of faith, I think about my high school football team. For years, the teams from that school had been losing teams. But something happened to the bunch on my team. A spirit of winning got into them.
When we were sophomores, we were on the B-squad. We were the nothings. But we somehow got the idea that we could win. Every year the B-squad would have to scrimmage the varsity team, and usually the varsity just beat the daylights out of the sophomores.
But the year our B-squad played them, that changed. We didn’t just beat them, we had them down by several touchdowns, just daring them to get the ball, when the coach called off the game. He was so mad at the varsity team, he didn’t even let us finish.
What happened to that little B-squad? We reached the point where we expected to win. We had an inner image of ourselves as winners, and it eventually took the best team in the state to beat us.
The same thing happened to Gloria and me in 1967 when we went into the ministry. We began to have an inner image of preaching the Word of God to thousands upon thousands of people. It was 10 years before we could gather up more than a handful of them at a time for one service, but we didn’t let that stop us.
We saw the thousands in our hearts and in our minds and we just kept our necks stuck out – in more ways than one – expecting God to bring the people. Sure enough, He did.
Of course, there were some hard times. Times when people stayed away from our meetings by the millions. Times when I preached to 17 people with the same intensity that I would preach to 6,000.
That’s what hope does. It keeps you intensely focused on God’s promise. It keeps you seeing that promise on the inside, even when you can’t see it on the outside. It keeps you operating by the spirit of faith.
When you have hope, the devil can’t beat you down. He can’t tear you down. He can’t stop your faith from working. Everyone around you can just stop in their tracks, but you’ll keep right on going.
When the devil knocks you down, you just get up with a deeper resolve to hit him harder the next time…and harder the next time…and harder the next time.
You get to the point where you expect God to move with such vigor that all the distractions in the world can’t turn your head. All the failures of the past drift into nothingness. You can’t even remember them anymore because you’re so absorbed with the expectation of what God is about to do.
When that happens, you no longer sit around wondering what went wrong. You blast off into the glory of God, laying hold of His promises and watching your dreams come true. You live the kind of life that those who give up hope will never know.
16 Then he went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. 3 Paul wanted Timothy[a] to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for them to observe. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.
6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 During the night a vision appeared to Paul: A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 After he had seen the vision, we[b] immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.
11 Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction.[c] She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you[d] the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God.” 18 And she did this for many days.
But Paul was greatly aggravated and turning to the spirit, said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.[e]
19 When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.”
22 Then the mob joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had inflicted many blows on them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them securely guarded. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.
28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!”
29 Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the message of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. 33 He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. 34 He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had believed God with his entire household.
35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men!”
36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.”
37 But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out!”
38 Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town. 40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
Set priorities. Put first things first. Major on the majors…and don’t sweat the small stuff.
We’ve all heard the slogans. Experts tell us they’re the key to success. But with so many things clamoring for our attention, how do we determine what things to put first? How do we decide what majors to major on…and what small stuff not to sweat?
Those may sound like tough questions—and for many they are. But as born-again children of God, we don’t have to rush out to buy a self-help book or sign up for a seminar to figure out the answer. All we have to do is open the Bible. It plainly lays out our priorities.
No. 1: Believe on the Name of Jesus.
No. 2: Walk in love.
That’s it. God’s Word says if we’ll put those two things first in our lives, God will do whatever we ask and the rest of our lives will fall into place. Personally, I’ve never had a question about the first of those two priorities. It’s always been obvious to me that since faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior is what gives us eternal life and sets us firmly in the family of God, then believing on His Name is the most vital thing we can ever do.
But honestly, I’ve wondered at times about that second priority. I’ve puzzled over why it’s such a major issue with our heavenly Father. Why is it such a big deal to Him that we live in His love?
It is a big deal, you know. In fact, according to the Bible love is such a paramount issue in the mind of God, when one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment of all time, He said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Think about that! According to Jesus, the command of love is so vital that the entire Word of God—from the Creation account in Genesis to the Amen at the end of Revelation—hangs on it. Love is literally the ultimate spiritual law. All the operations of God’s kingdom function in accordance with it, and no one on earth is exempt from it.
Created by Love for Love
Why is God so divinely determined for us to live a life of love?
Recently, I started asking the Lord that question. When I did, the Holy Spirit was quick to answer me. He started out by reminding me that love is the one word that fully encompasses God’s nature. The Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:8). It affirms again and again that He is completely filled with compassion.
In Psalms 78:38, for instance, the Bible says that even when the Israelites sinned and rebelled against God, “He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.” And in Psalms 86:15 it says that He is “a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
Psalms 111:4 says, “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” And in Lamentations 3:21-23 we read: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
Those are especially powerful statements when we realize compassion means “to have so much mercy and tenderness for someone else that it actually causes pain.” It is the deepest desire to show love and goodness. Compassion is what moves God to do everything He does.
Compassion is what compelled God to create the earth. It’s what inspired Him to prepare the Garden of Eden as a home for the family He was about to create. It is also what moved God to reproduce Himself and make man in His own image. He didn’t just want someone to love, He wanted a family through whom His love could be multiplied—that would bless and fill the earth with His own compassion. That’s why, immediately after He created Adam and Eve, “God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
God’s plan was not just for man to be blessed, but for mankind to be a blessing to everyone and everything he came in contact with. He planned for them to subdue and rule this planet with His compassion until the whole place became a Garden of Eden.
That was Compassion’s plan.
God Never Changes His Plans
One thing I’ve discovered about God: When He makes a plan, He never changes it. Therefore, though Adam and Eve bowed their knee to the devil, threw away God’s blessing, and opened the door to the curse, God refused to give up His original intent. He kept on declaring His will would eventually be done. He kept on telling His people they were destined to be a blessing and fill the earth with His love.
He told Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
He spoke through the psalmist and said, “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (Psalms 112:1, 4).
He spoke through the prophet Isaiah of One to come who would be anointed with God’s own Spirit “to preach good tidings unto the meek; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).
Of course, every one of those declarations pointed to the coming of Jesus. He was Compassion’s plan—ordained before the foundation of the world to come into this painfully messed-up planet and set things straight again. He was the One destined to take upon Himself the sin, sickness, weakness and pain that had robbed mankind—and all the earth—of the blessing of God.
Jesus came to restore God’s original plan.
Do you realize what that means? It means those of us who have believed on Him have been restored to the spiritual position Adam and Eve occupied in the Garden of Eden. Through Jesus, we have received the same blessing and divine commission they did. We’ve been called to perpetuate God’s love in the earth, to fill it up with His compassion, to be a blessing everywhere we go, to everyone we meet!
That’s God’s plan for every New Testament believer.
God said it to Adam and Eve. He said it to Abraham. He said it to Jesus. And now He has said it to us. You are called to be a blessing! So wives, bless your husbands. Husbands, bless your wives. Love one another as I have loved you. Do good to all men. Bless, bless, bless!
Can you see now why walking in love is so important to God? It’s the reason He created us!
You may never have thought about it in just that way before but, the truth is, you already knew that. Every born-again believer does. I could stop a Christian on the street anywhere in the world and ask him if we, as believers, are supposed to love one another, and I’d get the right answer every time. Everyone knows Christians are called to live by the law of love.
Are we all doing it? No, we’re not. So, clearly there must be a problem. II Peter 3:1-2 tells us what it is. There the Apostle Peter wrote to people just like us—people who knew full well they were called by Jesus Himself to live by the law of love—and said: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”
If Christians in Peter’s day needed to be reminded to keep the commandment of love, we do too. Just like those first-century believers, sometimes we just plain forget to walk in love toward one another. We forget to make compassion our priority because we don’t keep it in the forefront of our thinking. We get our lives out of line with love because mentally we neglect to put first things first.
But, according to the Bible, we can correct that problem. We can stir up our pure minds by way of remembrance. We can build love into our memory so that we think of it before we get dressed in the morning. We can so renew our minds to it that we think of it when we leave the house every day, or sit down at the table to eat, and even before we go to bed at night.
When we keep love on our minds like that, it changes how we interact with people. No matter what they say or do to us, our first thought is to respond in love. If we disregard that thought by yielding to the flesh and acting in a way that’s unloving, we’ll immediately be aware that we’ve been disobedient, and we’ll repent. Then we’ll get right back on track.
A Marvelous Cycle
“Oh, Brother Copeland,” you might say, “I don’t think I could ever be that loving.”
Sure, you can. You can walk in love as naturally as a fish swims or a bird flies. The reason is simple. As a born-again child of God, you’ve been re-created in the very image of Love Himself. You’re made just like Him and He is full of compassion 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He is, always and forever, love.
“Yeah, but sometimes I’m just mean. I can’t help myself! I guess God just made me that way.”
Don’t go around blaming God for your carnal self-indulgences. He’s not responsible for them. As my spiritual father, Oral Roberts, used to say, “God never created anyone to be something He has forbidden.” So if we act hatefully or unkindly it’s not because God made us that way; it’s because we’ve yielded to the pressure the devil is putting on our flesh. We may have even yielded to it for so long that we think that ugly stuff is a part of our identity.
But it’s not. It’s just flesh and everything in the flesh can be changed and replaced by the power of God’s Word and by the power of His love. It can be overcome when we stop defining ourselves by our carnal habits and renew our minds to our true identity in Christ.
One man who understood that fact very well was the Apostle Paul. He knew more about who we are in Christ than any man who ever walked this earth with the exception of Jesus Himself. He prayed continually for believers to have the spirit of wisdom and revelation because he knew what would happen when we began to see our real identity: We’d start acting like who we truly are. We’d start acting like Jesus.
No wonder Paul prayed for the believers to be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:14-19). That’s our native soil. We were born in and of Love! The more we operate in that love, the better we comprehend God because love is what makes God tick, so to speak. It’s the driving force of His being. It’s who He is.
To our natural minds, such a thing may seem impossible. But the Bible says it’s not. I don’t care how far-out it may sound, God is able to finish the plan He started in the Garden of Eden. He is able to reproduce Himself so fully in you, me and every other believer that we fill the whole earth with His goodness and love. He is able to make us a blessing to all the families of the earth.
So release your faith for it. Stir up your pure mind by way of remembrance. Keep love in the forefront of your mind by confessing daily, “I keep the commandment of love. I love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. I love my neighbor as myself. God’s love has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost and I release it everywhere I go. I will be a blessing to everyone I meet today.”
Remind yourself every day that Compassion has a plan—and He is fulfilling that plan through you!
15 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!” 2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, the church arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy. 3 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, explaining in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they created great joy among all the brothers.
4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!”
6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them: “Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you,[a] that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving[b] the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”
12 Then the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they stopped speaking, James responded: “Brothers, listen to me! 14 Simeon[c] has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written:
16 After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, 17 so the rest of humanity may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, declares the Lord who does these things, 18 known from long ago.[d][e]
19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times, Moses has had those who proclaim him in every city, and every Sabbath day he is read aloud in the synagogues.”
22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men who were among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. 23 They wrote this letter to be delivered by them:[f]
From the apostles and the elders, your brothers,
To the brothers among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
24 Because we have heard that some without our authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts,[g] 25 we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our dearly loved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth.[h] 28 For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things.
30 Then, being sent off, they went down to Antioch, and after gathering the assembly, they delivered the letter. 31 When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 Both Judas and Silas, who were also prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and strengthened them with a long message. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.[i][j] 35 But Paul and Barnabas, along with many others, remained in Antioch teaching and proclaiming the message of the Lord.
36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark.[k] 38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.