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Dear Partner,

One of the greatest discoveries of my life was when I learned this simple truth: Faith is a choice. In every circumstance, no matter how bad things look, it is always our choice whether to live in fear or to live by faith. God wants His children to live by faith in His Word. The enemy wants all people to live by “sight” and to make all of their decisions based on what they “see” rather than by what God has said. Jesus said the enemy comes immediately to steal the Word that has been sown in our hearts. How does the enemy come to steal the Word? In Mark 4:17 Jesus said one of the primary ways the Word is stolen from us is through “affliction” or “persecution.” In other words … when trouble comes. What are we going to do? Will we live by “sight” or will we live by “faith?”

Before I came to know the Lord I always lived by sight. When trouble would come I would base all of my decisions on what I perceived with my five physical senses. Through fear the enemy could easily manipulate me. He counts on all people living by sight instead of by faith. That’s why he sends the affliction and persecution in the first place. He has learned by watching mankind for centuries that most people (including most Christians) live by sight and not by faith. When faced with difficult circumstances, most people (like water) normally take the path of least resistance. If you want them to turn left, show them scary circumstances on the right. If you want them to turn right, show them scary circumstances on the left. When people are accustomed to living by sight, it is not difficult for them to be manipulated by Satan through bad circumstances.

What a surprise it must be to Satan whenever he encounters a person who has learned he does not have to live in fear. A person who has learned that faith in God’s Word is always superior to fear of dire circumstances. A person who has learned that faith is a choice … every single time. The Word of God is full of examples of people who would not be manipulated by the circumstances that were thrown at them. Just to name a few:

  1. The three Hebrew children who walked with the fourth man in the fiery furnace and were not harmed. Not even the smell of smoke was found upon them.
  2. Daniel refused to worship the idol and was thrown into the lion’s den, yet his faith kept the mouths of the lions shut all night and he was delivered.
  3. David did not fear Goliath even though all the armies of Israel cowered in fear before him. David trusted his God and brought down Goliath with a sling and a stone.
  4. Paul was stoned at Lystra and left for dead. Yet God raised him up and Paul continued his ministry, not willing to be stopped by fear of persecution.
  5. Paul and Silas were whipped and thrown into prison when they had done nothing wrong. Yet they chose to worship God while still in their affliction and God opened the prison doors with an earthquake.

There are dozens more such illustrations in both the Old and New Testaments. The point is this … in each case it was up to the person what they would CHOOSE! Daniel could have chosen fear and bowed before the idol. David could have hidden from Goliath in fear like the rest of Israel’s army. Paul could have just given up his ministry after being stoned so severely at Lystra. No, a thousand times … NO! They chose to live by faith and not by sight. They chose to believe God’s Word instead of the dire circumstances that faced them. FAITH IS A CHOICE!

James 1:2-4   My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

To the natural mind it makes no sense to “count it all joy” when you have trouble coming at you from all directions. But notice it does not say count it all joy “because” trouble has come. No, we are to count it all joy “knowing” that the trial of our faith is developing patience (hopeful endurance} in us. And “knowing” that after we have endured by trusting God’s Word, we will be perfect (mature) and entire (whole) and wanting nothing (lacking nothing). In other words, we count it joy because we know God is faithful and His Word can be trusted.

There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is normally the fruit of good circumstances. Joy is the fruit of trusting God. The three Hebrew children were not happy to be in the fiery furnace. But their joy was in trusting God to be faithful to perform His Word in their lives. The ultimate example of joy in the midst of testing and trials is Jesus Himself.

Heb 12:2   Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was certainly not happy circumstances to be hung on the cross. It was agony in every way. Yet we are told it was for the “joy” set before Him that He was able to endure the cross. His joy was in knowing that He could trust the Father to raise Him to life again after the price for man’s sin had been fully paid. His joy was in knowing how happy the Father would be to have lost mankind restored back to fellowship once again. His joy was in knowing that you and I would not be lost forever in Hell, but could live by faith in His finished work and be saved. He counted it all joy in the midst of the affliction and persecution. God honored His faith and performed His Word just like He always does for everybody who chooses faith instead of fear!

No matter what form trouble comes in, it is always up to us to choose living by sight or living by faith. What will we choose? Let us never forget … FAITH IS A CHOICE!

Sue and I love you and appreciate you.   We thank God for your generous and giving heart.   God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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