Faith, Promises, Belief
Desire, pray, believe, receive and have, are five steps towards true belief in prayer. Pray His promises and believe.
Alright, thank you very much. Always nice to be to be put on the air with a friendly voice, I appreciate that. Many years ago, it would’ve been 1935 I guess, I was on the air live every morning at 7:00 in Philadelphia, over at one of the stations there. And the announcer at that time came to work hungover one morning. So he announced my program and forgot that his microphone was still on and he said, growling, “That’ll hold him.” [laughter] Oh dear. So I’m glad for my friends. Bless you. And hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? You’re doing Alright? Well, I’m glad to be back with you. It’s your friend, Dr. Cook. And we want to look at the Word of God.
What we’re doing is stepping quickly through the chapters of the Book of Mark in summary fashion, hitting the high spots, as my father used to say, and just pointing out some of the big, big lessons that God has given to my own heart in the study of this book. We’re looking at chapters 11 and 12 today.
And one of the great admonitions that stand out in this 11th chapter, of course, is found in verse 22 where the Lord Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” Peter, surprised that the fig tree to which our Lord had spoken was withered away. Now, this whole matter of addressing the fig tree and seeing it wither was not a case of divine pique, where our savior was so disappointed that he got annoyed and he cursed the tree that had no fruit for him. It was, and everybody realized that, if they thought about it, a divinely given object lesson referring to the nation of Israel, who were in the process right then of rejecting their Messiah. You see, the thrust of scripture is, if you read the Book of Daniel, the Messiah will come at the end of these sevens of years that Daniel spoke about, and offer himself but be rejected. The idea of a rejected suffering Messiah is found in Daniel and in Isiah and in the Psalms. The 22nd Psalm prophetically describes the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. So the whole thrust of scripture is that of a suffering Messiah who would die for the sins of the whole world and who then would become, as you and I know, he is Lord of all. That’s the thrust of all of the scriptures.
And so, just at this point, the Lord Jesus gave a divine object lesson. Because the fig tree, all through scriptures, is a type of Israel, God’s wonderful chosen people. But they were in the process, weren’t they, of rejecting the one who was being offered to them? And so the fig tree withered away. Well, Peter looked at it and he was amazed, “Why?” He said, “Look,” he said, “The fig tree that you spoke to is withered away.” And Jesus said, “Have faith in God. Fellows,” he said, “you’re not dealing with human situations, you’re dealing with God. For,” he said, “if you talk to this mountain and say ‘Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea,’ and shall not doubt in your heart, you’ll have whatsoever you say.” The law of believing is given to us here.
Years ago, I purchased and read a book, which I think still may be in my library somewhere, it’s called “The Magic Of Believing”. The power of an idea which is held in perpetuity in somebody’s mind. What you think about happens, that’s the human basis of it. Then you project that psychological law into the realm of faith, where you’re dealing with Almighty God. And what you ask God for and hold in your mind, without doubt, without wavering, you’re believing God for it, He has a way of bringing it to pass in His own marvelous, miraculous way.
Mike Martin is now with the Lord, but he is a man who established a great work in Seattle. He called it The King’s Garden, and the story of the establishment of that work, goes something as follows, from what he and others have told me. He needed… He had this vision of a great work that would involve a school, a retirement community, and a radio station. And there was this great property there that was unoccupied, which he thought could be used for that work. And one day he said to his wife, “I’m going claim this by faith.” And he took the promise that God gave to Abraham, “Every place that the sole of thy foot shall tread upon that have I given thee.” He said, “God has started giving me that verse as his promise to me as well.” And he said to his wife one day, “I’m going to claim this on the basis of that promise.” So he took off his shoes and stockings and walked barefoot clear around that property, which is a huge area. And, finally, after some time had passed, he’d finished that pilgrimage of faith. He had walked all the way around it barefoot, and prayed all the way as he walked, claiming by faith, from God, this area for a ministry.
Well, as I understand the story, I think I’m correct in my facts, some of you who live up that way may want to correct me if I’m off on the details. But as it was told to me, Mike Martn got the use of that land for a dollar and other considerations, as they say in the legal business, and went to work serving the Lord. Started the radio station. Started the many other ministries. And it’s still, I believe, happily flourishing for the glory of the Lord.
“Have faith in God,” our Savior said, “You’re dealing with God, not with human factors only.” And so when you realize that and you apply the law of faith, which is believe… Well, here is the routine actually that you go through, verse 24; desire, pray, believe, receive, being received by faith, and have. You see the have, that’s what the show-me people want, “You show me, and I’ll believe.” That comes at the end of the list. God says, “You believe, and I’ll show you,” And you say, “I’m from Missouri. Show me and I’ll believe.” Well, it doesn’t work that way. That’s what they said as they stood at the foot of the cross, they said, “Come down from the cross, and we’ll believe.” Oh no, doesn’t work that way. So here’s the order, desire, pray, believe, receive, have. You want to think about that in relationship to your own life? What is there in your life that you could apply to this glorious passage of believing faith?
Now, here’s a caveat, just a little caution, God is not in the business of asking you to kid yourself and deceive yourself. Self-deception is tragic; to have you believe that something that’s not so is so. That’s what the people in the world think Christianity is. They think we’re in the business of kidding ourselves so that we’ll feel better. And so, many an unbeliever has said to me in years past, “Well, if you need that sort of a crutch to make you feel better, okay.” No, there is no truth in that idea whatsoever. God does not ask anybody to depart from the solid facts. Faith is always based upon the facts. But faith goes beyond the facts, doesn’t it? Oh, yes. Paul says, “God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
Have you ever been faced with a challenge which you met successfully, and afterwards you look back and you said, “I didn’t think I could do it. I never thought I could do that.” Why? Well, the adrenaline flowed, and you rose to the occasion, and you did it, in spite of the fact that you never even imagined you could. Is that true? Now you project that same concept into the realm of the Almighty God working in your life. Paul says, “It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” So you project that concept into the realm of the Almighty God working in your life, and you have a very potent combination indeed.
Look squarely at the facts, pray earnestly, tell God what you need, believe that He is in the business of answering prayer. Hebrews 11 says, “He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” So you look the facts in the face, you tell God about them, you believe that He answers, and then by faith you claim His, His that is, answer. Remembering that God doesn’t always give you what you ask for, because He’d ruin you if He did. “God gives you His best answer,” “God, having prepared some better thing for them,” the Bible says, “God gives you His best answer. If ye, being evil,” Jesus said, “know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him?” So this whole matter of faith and answered prayer is not the dependence upon some human whim, like a spoiled naughty child demanding something of God. We don’t do it that way. Nor indeed is it asking you to deceive yourself and to start believing something that isn’t so. Rather, it’s a matter of looking the facts in the face and bringing them to the God who can change things, and believing Him for his best answer.
Look again at that process. Desire, now that’s a strong word, Greek verb zeteo which means to crave, demand, plead, beg, ask, desire. All of those meanings are wrapped up in that one verb. He says, “What you really want, what you crave, what you are willing to beg for, what you have to have, really desire, that is what you pray about.” Many a person does his praying on the basis of some little speech to God that is vague, and banal, and empty, and meaningless. And then, of course, you need not be surprised if nothing happens because there was nothing in your prayer that had to do with real desire. Desire, then pray on the basis of that. John Knox pleading, “Oh, God, give me Scotland or I’ll die.” The earnest prayer, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man James says, “The effectual fervent prayer.” That means boiling up and boiling over. That’s the nearest thing I can come to in explaining what that effectual fervent means. Burning inside and just boiling over. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” So desire, then pray, then believe.
Believe what? Believe God’s promise. Korean believers were asked one time by my friend Eric Hutchings, “Why are you up so early before the prayer meeting starts at 5:00 in the morning, and here you are at 4:00 in the morning already, what are you doing now?” And the answer was, “Oh, we’re looking up promises that we can fling up to Heaven as we pray.” You believe not on the basis of what you want, but of what God says. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” You don’t relate your faith to your desires, you relate your faith to the promises of God. You see the difference? So he says, “Believe,” then he says, “Receive.” Now that is the point at which your heart says, “Yes”, a great big “Yes” to God. Say, “Thank You, Lord, I believe the answer’s on the way”. You receive it by faith. You visualize it and receive it by faith. Not what you want primarily, but what God says. You visualize the fulfillment of God’s Word in your life. Then He says, “Ye shall have it”.
Small warning here, He said, “When you stand praying, forgive. If you have ought against any that your Father, also which is in Heaven may forgive you, your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father forgive you.” Unforgiveness cuts the line of faith every time. Many a person cannot pray successfully because he or she has unforgiveness in their hearts. So He said, “When you stand praying, forgive”. Make sure that your heart is right toward people as well as towards your Lord when you pray. Well, that’s something, isn’t it? We’ll go on into chapter 12 with a summary the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, make us praying people, believing people, and victorious people through faith. In Jesus’ name, I pray this, Amen.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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