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Dear Partner,

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, "How can I have more faith?" In the same way that I have been down every "rabbit trail" when it comes to formulas for finances, I have also been down every "rabbit trail" regarding formulas for faith. It always seemed like I would have "sporadic" success. By that I mean it seemed that sometimes faith would work ... and sometimes it would not ... even though I would repeat the same "formula" that worked the last time I needed an answer from God.

Believe it or not, it was while reading a book of Smith Wigglesworth's sermons years ago that I got my first clue as to what faith really is. He was often asked the question, "How can a person acquire more faith?" His answer was always the same. He would quote Mark 4:28 to them. I thought that entirely curious at the time. What kind of formula was this? The whole parable reads:

Mark 4:26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
Mark 4:27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
Mark 4:28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
Mark 4:29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

That whole passage, Mark 4:26-29, was a mystery to me for years. A few years later I happened to be watching a TV program where they were interviewing the late Lester Sumrall. When they asked that old warhorse the same question ... "How can a person acquire more faith?" ... his answer was much different from all the "formulas" I had ever heard before. In that gravelly voice of his he responded ... "You want more faith? GET TO KNOW GOD!"

As soon as I heard those words the Holy Spirit reminded me of Smith's answer ... Mark 4:28 (in case you don't know, Lester had some training under Smith Wigglesworth in his early days of ministry). SUDDENLY ... I knew what both of them were talking about. Real faith is not in any formula ... faith is in a PERSON!

Let me digress for a moment to use an illustration that we are all more familiar with. Sue and I will have been married twenty-five years in December. That's long enough for us to have developed our relationship pretty deeply. We "know" each other well. We have spent enough time together that we know how the other will react in any given situation. We know each other, trust each other, depend on each other and can virtually predict how the other will respond in any given set of circumstances.

Also, it makes us virtually invulnerable to "lies" told about each other. For example, a person might come and tell me (swearing on a stack of bibles three foot tall) that they saw Sue beating some child black and blue. I would instantly know they were lying. There is nothing in her character that would do something like that. I "know" her!

Sue and I started off in love from the beginning, but we did not really know each other very well then. I well remember the spats and misunderstandings in the early days. Our "relationship" had begun (been planted), but was very much in the early "blade" stage. But after all these years, our relationship has pretty well developed into the "full corn in the ear stage." I know her. I know what she will do and what she will not do in virtually any given situation.

The illustration that Jesus gives in Mark 4:26-29 is talking more about a deepening "relationship" with Him than it is with any kind of formula. And that's what real faith is ... knowing Jesus ... knowing Him well ... knowing what He will do and will not do in any given situation. And the best part is ... if you truly know Him ... then you also know the Father. Jesus said,

John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

I'm pretty much invulnerable to "lies" about my Jesus these days. The enemy comes and says, "God is not going to meet your needs. You are going to starve." I instantly know that's a lie. I don't give it any more credence than I would a person who told me they saw Sue beating up a child. Impossible!

So real faith develops as your relationship with Jesus develops ... and that's the point of the parable. Rather than concentrate on developing more faith ... concentrate on deepening your relationship with Jesus. Since Jesus today is physically in heaven and I cannot spend time with Him in the flesh, then how is it possible for me to deepen my relationship with Him? The two best methods I know of are:

1. MEDITATION OF THE WORD! "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." I have meditated Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on purpose for years now because I wanted to have a very clear image of Jesus in my mind. As I get to know Jesus in the gospels, I also get to know my Father who is in heaven. It has freed me from tons of religious dogma. Just a couple of quick examples:

I never see Jesus putting sickness on anybody, for any reason ... therefore I "know" that my Father does not put sickness on anybody, for any reason ... no matter how many liars tell me otherwise.

I never see Jesus telling the people that if they want to be helped (healed, blessed, delivered, etc.), then they first need to give Him an offering ... therefore I "know" that my Father does not require it either ... no matter how many liars tell me otherwise. On and on the list goes, and it has been so very liberating.

2. PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT! Jesus told us that a major portion of the Holy Spirit's ministry to us would be:

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.

"He shall glorify Me!" It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to unveil the Living Christ right before our spiritual eyes. As we spend time letting the Holy Spirit pray the "mysteries" of the gospel through our spirit (1 Cor 14:2), He is literally teaching us everything that Christ is in us, to us, and through us. The greatest mystery of all is:

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The combination of meditation of the Word (especially the four gospels) and thousands of hours praying in the Holy Spirit has deepened my relationship with Jesus greatly. He is so wonderful, so glorious, and so magnificent that I'm sure I have not yet developed to the "full corn in the ear" stage. It will take eternity for that. But I can tell you this much. For all practical purposes, I "know" Him well enough to know what He will do and what He will not do in most situations that I come up against.

You want more harvest? You want more faith? I can't improve on Lester's statement ... "Get to know God!" Spend your time getting to really know Jesus through meditation of the Word and praying in the spirit and faith becomes a piece of cake. These days, "How do I know when I've won?" I know I've won the moment I ask!

Mat 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Thank you for your gift to GCM. 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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