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CHURCH CORNER: Get cooking with Bible’s ingredients
Every Sunday morning, millions of pastors from contrasting denominations will preach about a theme ever so powerful and prevalent in the Bible – faith. Without faith, we can’t make God happy.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Since faith is so important to God, it’s a highly popular topic for preachers and rightfully so. We see throughout scripture how faith makes all things possible. We know that it is by “grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). We are instructed to “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is not only important, but paramount. So, when Jesus Christ himself is talking about the ingredients needed to make a perfect batch of faith, it’s a darned good idea to listen. You might even want to grab a pencil, take a note or two. So here is Jesus’ famous recipe from the Life Cookbook (Bible), to concoct a spicy, flavorful and deep understanding of our faith and what it means.
“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:22-24).
First, note that Jesus tells us to speak to our mountains to be removed. So first, you’re going to have to open your mouth. Then he says we should not doubt and instead believe, and in turn you’ll have whatever you confess. These elements are as central to the faith recipe as flour, sugar and eggs are to a cookie recipe.
However, most sermons usually find time to stay focused on these ingredients, without making mention of what is perhaps the most important ingredient of them all. Jesus’ recipe keeps going. Did he stop speaking at the end of verse 24? Not in my Bible he didn’t!
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Ah, that little word, “And” that indicates a continuation of the preceding sentence. The word, “And” may be the key to the entire recipe. Like if a parent said to their child, “Yes, you can go play with your friends…AND don’t forget to take your medicine on the way to their house or you’ll die.” What comes after the “and” is sometimes the most important part.
Daily forgiveness is a critical part of the faith recipe. If you don’t include that ingredient, your whole faith cake is going to fall flatter than a pancake. Even worse, full and unfettered fellowship with your heavenly Father becomes impossible. Unforgiveness is a faith blocker, blessing blocker and an answered-prayer blocker (1 John 1:6). It is impossible to please God without faith, and thus our faith won’t reach its full potential without forgiveness.
What do you have faith in right now? Probably many things: blessings, finances, health, opportunities, friendships, etc. When you look at where you are right now with forgiveness vs. unforgiveness, are you standing in a position to talk to your mountain and expect it to move?
Think of all the prayers you make on a daily basis for the loved ones in your life. You probably pray for your children, other family members, friends, and more. Based on your choice of forgiveness or unforgiveness, how much power do your prayers carry? Or, shall we say, how tasty of a batch of faith are you cooking up?
Today is the day to step into full awareness, that your prayers of faith without forgiveness will not create the kind of blessed life that Jesus says we can have. When we have the faith which is possible through Christ, then we believe that we can forgive and love others, like he has forgiven and loved us. Faith begins when we receive his love and forgiveness and then pass those blessings on to others.
Forgiveness is a process. God’s not expecting perfection, but he does require us to participate – and more important, actively surrender our unforgiveness to him each and every time we pray (Mark 11:25).
It’s time to get cooking…with the right ingredients.
By Dean Smith, Live To Forgive Ministries