In his letter to the Believers of Thessalonica, Paul writes,
"And we also thank God continually for this, that when you received the word of God [concerning salvation] which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its inherent, supernatural power in those of faith]." 1 Thessalonians 2:13 AMP
Paul declares four significant truths in his statement:
1. The Gospel was preached.
2. The Gospel was heard.
3. Those that heard—believed.
4. And for those who believe, the very the power of the Word comes alive in them to accomplish what God desires.
It is important to believe the promises of God’s Word with our mind so that we can receive it into our heart. Once this phenomenon occurs, then we can experience the victorious life of a Believer. Why does the Lord consistently use children to illustrate heavenly principles? Could it be because they believe what they are taught with an unbridled purity and expect what they hear to come to pass? In the mind and heart of a child—there is no option. Therefore, we have a great responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren the principles of truth found in the Gospel.
“Your Word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” PSALM 119:11
Things happen when children believe. Pastor Matt has always been compassionate toward those he loves. When he was about 8 years old, I had chosen a 24-hour fast in anticipation of receiving God’s answer to a particular situation. I tried very hard to keep my children from knowing I was fasting so as not to worry them. My attempt to hide this specific fast did not succeed – Matt wanted to know why I wasn’t eating dinner.
Pastor and I explained that I was waiting to hear from God and was not eating until the following day but that all was well. That wasn’t good enough for Matt, he asked, “When is tomorrow?” We explained that “tomorrow” began at midnight but that I would be asleep at that time and would eat again in the morning. We cleaned the kitchen, completed homework and went to bed. Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by Matt standing in the doorway of our bedroom holding a slice of turkey. With a very concerned expression on his face he asked, “Momma, now that God has answered your prayer at midnight, He is going to let you eat, right?”
With tears welled in my eyes, I said yes. I took the turkey from his hand and ate it as he stood there with a look of relief on his little face. He wanted to make sure his Momma was taken care of, but most importantly, he had no doubt that God had answered my prayer – it was his natural expectation.
Things happen when children believe. I was caring for 5-year old Ellie and Joel one weekend while their parents were away. As I walked from our bedroom toward our kitchen, I noticed Ellie and Joel sitting at the table with Ellie’s hands on Joel’s head. I came closer and realized that Ellie was praying over Joel. I came into the room and asked my grandchildren why they were praying. Ellie answered confidently, “I was praying for Joel’s healing. He doesn’t feel well.” And with a smile on his face, Joel responded with equal confidence, “I feel better Nana!”
Ellie believed that the Word heals and Joel received that truth into his heart, mind, and body – it was a natural expectation for them.
Things happen when children believe. One Easter weekend, Pastor came home with a rabbit for Tish who was 8-years old at the time. On Sunday afternoon after hearing the resurrection story in Sunday school, Tish, her 5-year old brother, Chris and one of his friends were playing in the garage with their new pet. Pastor Hagee returned to church ahead of us to attend a board meeting and the children and I were to meet him later that evening. Chris and his friend were having a great time playing with Tish’s rabbit so I went upstairs to get dressed. Suddenly, I heard a blood curdling scream and instantly ran downstairs.
Once there, I found Tish with tears flooding her face, pointing at her brother, and screaming, “Chris killed my rabbit!” I scanned the room and saw the lifeless rabbit lying on the garage floor and thought—“What am I going to do?” I looked at a very despondent Chris and asked, “What happened?”
“I don’t know...I didn’t mean to kill it! It just died! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” As Chris was frantically expressing remorse, Tish was screaming, accusing her brother of murder and much more – it was not a pretty sight. There I stood with three crying and traumatized kids... what to do? As I attempted to calm them, Tish cried, “We’ve got to pray for my rabbit. Pray God brings my rabbit back to life!” I thought, “Oh John, where are you when I need you?”
I had no option but to pray that God would resurrect the dead rabbit. I gathered the three crying children and we circled the motionless creature on the floor. It was a difficult prayer to say the least, mostly because I didn’t believe anything would happen. However, as I looked down on the faces of the children, I realized that they did believe.
After my feeble prayer, I convinced the wailing trio to let the rabbit “rest in peace” in the garage while they went upstairs to take baths and dress for church. I put the suspiciously contrite boys in the tub as Tish periodically ran downstairs to check on her pending miracle. Every trip intensified the drama...the rabbit remained dead and Tish cried even louder. Through her tears, she asked a question I could not answer, “When is God going to do it? When is He going to bring my rabbit back to life?” All I could say was, “I don’t know, honey. I just don’t know. We’ll ask Daddy when we get to church.”
There I was, with two whimpering boys in the tub and a grieving little girl running up and down the stairs, waiting on her miracle. All I could say was, “Oh Jesus, help me please!” Suddenly, on her sixth trip to the garage, Tish screamed, “Thank You, Jesus; it’s alive!”
I thought, “What?!” I ran downstairs and there was her silly little rabbit hoping all over the garage! I ask Chris again what had happened and the truth finally came forth. He confessed that he had grabbed the rabbit by its hind legs and swung it around in circles, “...and then, the rabbit died!”
I immediately realized what had happened – the Biology major that I was – the aggressive spinning had caused the blood to rush away from the rabbit’s head causing it to pass out, and now it had regained consciousness. I didn’t have the heart to explain to the children what had happened – all three believed that Jesus had raised Tish’s rabbit back to life. They were in a good place and so was I. We were one happy family again.
The children went to church and gave their testimony to their Dad, their friends, their children’s church teachers and anyone who would stand still and listen – they believed!
Paul states that he preached the Word and the Thessalonians received the Word.
I ask, have you received God’s Word into your heart? Do you believe it to be true? Do you believe that its promises apply to you?
Some of you are in an overwhelming trial. Others are crying out, “Lord, help me. I’m in a big problem and I don’t have a solution!” I want to encourage you, there is no problem too large that Jesus is not larger still. There is no pit so deep that Jesus is not deeper still. No matter how difficult your journey, once you believe God has the answer and place your trust in Him – the peace that surpasses understanding will surround you like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day. But, most importantly, you will have the assurance that the Lord will provide.
The Thessalonians received Paul’s teaching to be the inerrant Word of the Living God – not man’s opinion. Once they believed – the Word took root in their souls. All of us have heard the Word at one time or another, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe it to be true. It may apply to the person sitting next to you in church or to Aunt Sue who leads a seemingly perfect life, but not to you. Hearing the truth with our ears doesn’t necessarily mean we have received its truth into our mind and heart.
It is not until the Word of God is received by us and we believe that it applies to us, that God can get something done in us. The purpose of the Word is to achieve God’s destiny in every Believer. The Word always accomplishes what its Author desires. Isaiah 55:10 and 11, declares, “... for as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bear and sprout and providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word, which goes out of My mouth, it will not return to Me void, useless, without results, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
God’s Word does not return void, but remember, neither does the word of the enemy. The Word of God brings encouragement, it produces peace, it provides comfort, and it yields joy. The words of the adversary result in discouragement, worry, fear, and hopelessness. Another important contrast is that God’s Word – once it is spoken – cannot be reversed – and for that assurance we praise His Holy Name! And even though the adversary’s words cause harm, they can be reversed by the Blood of the Lamb and the power of our testimony! Hallelujah!
Rejoice that every generational curse that’s been spoken into existence over your life and the life of your family can, and will, be reversed by the power of God’s Word. Every evil word that has been spoken against you and those you love will not stand, for there is power in the Word that is working within you when you believe. But we must believe the Word before it can work in us.
Unfortunately, we often believe the words of the enemy more than we believe the Word of God. This is where true sadness lies. The Lord has afforded each of us so much through His death at Calvary and most of us have only benefited from a fraction of it’s blessings.
We often need to understand the meaning of a word before we can properly apply it to our lives. The word “believe” means to have faith or confidence in the existence or in the reality of someone or something. To believe means to accept something as true, to feel secure of the certainty of someone or something. Synonyms of the word “believe” are to be “convinced, to trust, to have confidence in, to consider honest, to consider truthful, and to rely on.” Consequently, Webster defines truth as, “to take as Gospel,” meaning that “truth and God’s Word” are equated with “belief.”
What does God say about His Word? 2 Timothy 3:16 declares, “...all Scripture is God-breathed, given by divine inspiration, and is profitable for instruction, for conviction of sin, for correction of error and restoration to obedience, for training in righteousness, learning to live in conformity to God ‘s will, both publicly and privately, behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage.”
Because the Word of God has power over us when it lives in us, we can expect the adversary to keep us from knowing what’s in it. He also wants us to keep us from believing that what is in the Word applies to us, whether it is meant for encouragement, for instruction or for judgment.
God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they took from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They heard the Word but they did not believe it. The Serpent came in and easily convinced Eve that God’s Word did not apply to them. And because they did not believe in their hearts, the adversary was able to easily convince Adam and Eve that they would not receive God’s judgment, “Surely, you shall not die.”
Eve chose to believe the evil one and not to believe the Words of the Living God. The Word was right and Satan was wrong, but it was too late. Their disobedience produced judgment and we are still paying great consequences as a result of Adam and Eve’s unbelief of God’s spoken Word.
I was taking Wyatt, our 9-year-old grandson, home from school the other day and all of a sudden he said, “You know what, Nana, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and now we are in a mess. We are in a really big mess!”
I thought for a moment that statement was so simple yet so true! Wyatt’s assessment was right. Adam and Eve believed the words of the enemy and now we are in a “really big mess!” So many of us have done the same as Adam and Eve, we have not believed the Lord but have chosen to believe the words of the enemy.
We have chosen not to believe God’s Word that declares, “Honor your mother and father.” And consequently, we are witnessing the destruction of the family. We chose not to believe the Word of God that says, “Honor the marriage covenant.” And consequently, the divorce rate within the church, mirrors the divorce rate outside of the church. We do not believe the Word regarding the sanctity of life and consequently some of our government leaders are reveling in the streets because they have won the right to kill a baby up until birth and in some cases, immediately after birth. Shame on the body of Christ for allowing morally corrupt leaders into our government! We must have a change of heart and turn back to God and His righteous mandates.
We have chosen to believe the voice of the enemy instead of the Word of God and yes, Wyatt, we are in a really big mess!
King David said in Psalm 78:22, “...unbelief in God breeds great consequences.” When we do not believe in God, we do not rely on Him. When we do not rely on Him, we depend on ourselves and place our faith in the world. Remember this truth – the world will fail you. Your heart will deceive you, your emotions are unstable and your understanding is limited.
When we do not have faith in God we will not trust in His salvation. What is God’s salvation? To the Israelites it was His deliverance from Egypt and His provision in the wilderness. In spite of the miracles that God performed for them in the desert of Sinai, the Israelites did not believe that He could accomplish more of His extraordinary works.
To the Believer, our salvation is the promise that our sins are forgiven and God’s redemption will lead to us to eternal life in Christ. King David equates unbelief with sin and both yield bad consequences. Unbelief produces the bitter fruits of fear, worry, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Our belief in God and His Word are the only valid truths in this life. We must believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – all other forms of beliefs are illegitimate. To believe in God is to believe that His Word will never return void. Remember these truths, God will never fail you. He is faithful. He is the God who cannot lie. He is good and He is merciful. He is all-knowing and omnipresent. We must put our trust in God, and believe.