To the Next Level

By David Stahl

Faith is one of the most mysterious works of God in our lives.  Often times we like to short circuit God working in our lives by going after miracles and such instead of waiting on the LORD or allowing Him to take us through some hard dealings and judgments in our lives.  After all getting something for almost nothing feeds our carnal nature the more.   Now I will be honest a good miracle makes me stand up and salute smartly, but in the end a good miracle will not get us far in God because a miracle does not develop faith in our lives and in reality it stunts our spiritual growth and development.  Remember if the world is running after you God is not.  I see so many ministries that are built on signs and wonders, yet Jesus said do not seek a sign He called them “perverse and a wicked generation. Now were they wicked people well I will leave that with the LORD, but for sure they were misguided because of their desire to see something in God instead of becoming something. In the 4th Chapter of Exodus we see Moses learning some lessons that will carry him his entire life.  The lesson’s God teaches are to be used our life-time not just for a given situation.  Here in the wilderness Moses asked God how will the people know you have appeared to me, “And the LORDsaid unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4 And the LORDsaid unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.”  (Exodus 4:2-5)  Ah a miracle what a sign, but if we look closer we will see much more happening in Moses.  Now I do not know about you, but if God told me to reach out and grab a serpent by the tail I am not so sure I would be as obedient as Moses. You know if you grab a serpent by the tail you make a foundation for the serpent to strike.  Believe it or not God was testing Moses’ obedience here even to the point of death.  God knew if He was going to use Moses as He wanted He had to get Moses to be willing to lay down his life at God’s command.  So too in our lives.  If we are going to be used by God to do mighty things for God we too must be willing to lay down our lives.  No flesh shall glory in the sight of God.  So much is missed by many Christians and many people do not receive because many Christians are not willing to put their life on the line. God always asks for everything, nothing is free in God, and nothing is ever left for our self.  Once we have made up our mind God can begin to use us beyond our abilities, but not until.  Later on in the 4th Chapter of Exodus we see a change in the life of Moses.  The rod in Moses’ hand has undergone a name change, now it is called the “rod of God.”  In verse 20 we read,  “And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.”  (Exodus 4:20) The “rod of God” all throughout Moses life was God’s power and authority in his life.  Oh that we would have a “rod of God” to do miracles with, we do. Later when Moses has an audience with Pharaoh he uses his rod to do a miracle. “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.”  (Exodus 7:8-9) God has already prepared Moses for this encounter and Moses won a great victory, but the victory was short lived.  After some time Pharaoh let the Jewish people (you know the story) go and off they went into the wilderness (the wilderness has a way of taking care of things in our lives) a wonderful place of spiritual growth and development.  The Jewish people left Egypt with the spoils of her treasury in great victory, but this miracle was short lived.  In the 14th Chapter of Exodus the Jewish people are trapped (God is good at putting us in a fix so He can fix us) between the Red Sea and 600 chariots of Pharaoh’s army hot on their heels.  Here now we find Moses crying. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” (Exodus 14:15-16)  I guess the miracle of the rod to snake and then back to rod again and the miracle of the exodus from Egypt was not enough to build up Moses’ faith for this situation. Moses was reduced to crying!  Now let us not beat up on Brother Moses too often this is the position God often finds us.  Moses was saying, God you will have to do something or all is lost, come on God do another miracle on our behalf, well that is not what God had in mind.  God told Moses (what is in your hand?), “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it:”  Why are you crying to me for another miracle I have already given you what you need to take care of this situation. Here Moses was operating in one level of faith (what he needed God to do for him) but as God saved Moses and the people their faith in God never really increased.  We know this to be true, because only Joshua and Caleb (from the original group that left Egypt, even not Moses) made it into the promised land.  The others the Bible says their carcasses fell in the wilderness from unbelief.  The writer to the Hebrews writes, “But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18  And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  (Hebrews 3:17-19) We see in this story from Exodus one level of faith “seeing is believing” (lives characterized by carnality, unstable, and emotional), but that is not God’s best for our lives.  There is another level of faith God wants us to move in that is beyond our natural senses and emotions that is the opposite “believing without seeing” (lives characterized by spirituality, stable, and established).  Sounds simple, but make no mistake my friend it is not.  Faith is not added to us when we see a miracle oh no, but the world and the “church” scream for one. Jesus constantly performed miracle after miracle, but five times in the Bible Jesus said of the disciples  “oh ye of little faith.”  First of all faith is added to us when we hear from God.  It is the way it is the only way.  Paul tells us in Romans, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.’  (Romans 10:17)  In the Greek we read, “faith comes by hearing a word from God.”  (Romans 10:17 (Greek))  Do you see the difference? In the Greek version (better articulated) it is the word directly from God that contains the faith and everything we will need to do that which God wants us to do.  Hearing a word from God contains all of the wisdom, the knowhow, all of the provision, everything we will need.  Faith does not come by what we hold on to, what verse we stand on, or even what we believe.  I can sit in my garage all day long, go beep beep, and believe I am a car, but that will never make me a car.  I am a man created in the image of God.  “Faith comes by hearing a word from God,” but there is a deeper level of faith God is looking for in our lives, the believing without seeing.  In John we see this play out in the life of Thomas.  Now I like Brother Thomas he gets a bad rap too often, but in reality he said and did nothing that almost all Christians have done.  In John we read,  “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:”  (John 20:26-30)  Did you get that?  Jesus said, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  The next level in the LORD is in faith not needing to see a sign or a miracle before we believe.  We just simply believe based on what the word of God says and what we know in our spirit to be true.  Now like for the disciples in verse 30 Jesus still had to do “many other signs” for them to believe even though they touched his flesh. So too I will lay hands on your head till your hair falls out if need be for you to believe, but that is not the best God wants for our lives. Why does the LORD have to keep doing miracles for us? God has already given us everything we need to do His will and plan for our lives.  Peter writes, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  (2 Peter 1:3-4)  The LORD has already given us “all things that pertainunto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” what else do we need?  How many more miracles do we need before we believe?  What will it take before we can go to the next level where we believe without seeing? 

         Growing up as a child in Assembly of God, Church of God, Pentecostal, etc. churches I can remember unannounced spontaneous sovereign moves of God where you knew it was God, but it has been over 20 maybe 30 years since I have seen this manifestation of God.  I am sure it is not God who has changed maybe it is us.  For greater than 15 years I have held before the LORD questioning (if you do not know something hold it before the LORD and in time when you can handle it He will respond) why we do not see this move of God in churches today and I feel God answered my question through this article.  In the past there was a simplistic, naive approach as a little child to the LORD where we just believed without having to see or feel something, but that is not the case today.  In the past our emotions were dulled by hard work (both in our occupation and in the service of the LORD), commitment, and by a sublime desire to hear from God in a meaningful way, but not so today. Today our emotions are energized with lights, music, sounds, videos, even fog with a desire for God to come and bless us, make us feel good (self-seeking songs have sponsored this wrong heart condition) or we have not heard from God. No longer are the hymns (songs sung to God) sang in our assemblies they have become old fashion and do not represent a hip Jesus. They have been replaced by praise and worship songs (songs sung about God) that seek even command a blessing from God.  Well I will be honest if God never blesses me again that will be okay as long as my wife and family receive from Him.  We have forgotten we go to church so that we can be a blessing not so God can bless us.  The Christians of yesteryear knew this that is why God met them in their circumstances in a powerful and meaningful way.  Our flesh and our senses are fed till they scream, but wait a minute God is trying to kill our flesh so we can be conformed into the image of His dear Son.  You know we use the word “spiritual” for all kinds of things, but our forefathers knew being “spiritual” was being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and Him responding back in kind.  As we lay our head to the pillow at night we (Karen and I) often listen to teaching tapes from deep spiritual teachers  (all who are not with us today) such as Haun, Follette, Beuttler, Taylor and there is such a child-like quality, but a depth that calls unto deep in us.  We have become so sophisticated and we think we are “deep” in our understanding, well deep my friend is down where Jesus is, meek and lowly.  Maybe that is why I enjoy so going overseas and ministering.  There in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia you find a lowly spirit and a true appreciation for the things of God and for what God provides.  I think once we return to a child-like approach to God and stop all of this silly entertainment (can you believe all of the Christian movies? Hollywood found an untapped market, Christians)  and self-seeking God will be able to take us to the next level where we do not have to feel or see something, but just believe.