Have you....... since you believed?

The verse that the title refers to is Acts 19:2 where Paul asks the disciples "Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?" Paul asked this question because he realized that true belief evokes action. He knew that the Holy Ghost could be attained by anyone willing to follow the example of Christ. This same concept can be applied to every aspect of our lives. Anything that we truly work towards is attainable if we are willing to combine "works" with our "faith." According to Romans 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith." This passage tells us that no man starts with more or less faith than the next. It is the exercising of the measure given unto us that yields results. During one service my pastor said something that really resonated with me concerning faith. He said that, "God recognizes real faith when He sees it." We are often able to do just enough in order to convince man that our faith is strong and unwavering, but God knows all. He can sense doubt, fear, and uncertainty in our hearts when no one else can. Often times we question why things that we ask for do not come into fruition, but the answer lies within us. It is because our measure of faith has not grown strong enough to "stagger not at the promise of God through unbelief..." like Abraham according to Romans 4:20. I am the first to admit that I tend to question whether what I am asking for is truly meant for me, which leads God to question the strength of my faith. When we allow doubt to enter into our hearts we set back our blessings. I believe that in most of situations that we have sought divine intervention for could have been resolved more expediently if not for doubt and uncertainty. We restart the process every time we allow either to disrupt our prayers. Instead we should start making preparations to receive the blessing. I was once told that success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. I'm reminded of my mother telling me the story of how we moved into the house I grew up in. She told me of my father and herself seeing the house and inquiring about it. At first it did not seem as though they would be able to get the house but she "judged Him faithful who had made the promise" just as Sarah did in Hebrews 11:11. She began to express her desire to attain the house to the Lord and reminded Him of His promise to be a "rewarder to those who diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). She began packing things in the house in preparation for the move despite the circumstances. It wasn't but a few days later that they were notified that they would indeed be able to get the house. It was the stepping out on faith that God rewarded. We must play the part until it happens. We cannot judge what is enough in the eyes of God, but instead be determined strive as long as it takes to get there. When we show faith we are not only rewarded with what have asked for, but we also strengthening of our faith in order to ask things even greater. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus himself said "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." We can never experience the full extent of this promise without going through situations that allow us to strengthen our "measure of faith." So, have you.... since you believed?

Error On The Side Of Caution

"A master carpenter measures ten times and cuts only once rather than measure once and cut ten times." We must carefully plan out each step of our journey, and never let our anxious anticipation deceive us into acting without taking the time to properly prepare. Luke 14:28-30 asks "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish." Being patient in our preparation allows us to spot wrinkles that would otherwise have been unforeseen because we allow ourselves the opportunity to reevaluate the situation and take everything into consideration. In some instances we may act hastily out of anger or frustration and end up making decisions that we later regret, but when we give ourselves time to calm down we generally see the overall picture instead of merely noticing the one spot the painter missed. Rash decision making typically leads to "just missing out" on the opportunity we are awaiting. When we are too anxious we are prone to jump at the first thing that "looks" similar to what we are looking for. I have fallen victim to my own anxious anticipation more times than I would like to admit, with the same results yielded each time. I have moved too soon on multiple occasions and have gotten an artificial answer to my questions. I was always told that "anything that doesn't give you time to think is of the devil." I generally laughed at the statement, but now I understand its meaning. Opportunity will not wait for us to be slowful, but it will give us time to prepare. Being prepared inspires confidence. It allows us to act instinctively versus thoughtlessly. In football, a quarterback has 3 or 4 seconds to read the defense and determine which receiver should get the ball. If he is indecisive he will miss his window of opportunity and will either get sacked, or even worse, throw an interception. But, when we have already done our homework, we are not nervous about the test; it is merely a formality that comes with making an A. If we ARE ready then we have no need to GET ready. So if we are to error in any way, it is best to ERROR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.