Tag Archives: Faith

First the Blade (Chapter 23)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 23

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (h)

Let’s say a young preacher starts a new church in your city. People who visit the new church report the preacher is four feet six inches tall. Not only is he short, they say, but he also has a weak presence and is a lousy speaker.

With what you know about the American church system, what’s your guess on his odds of ever being successful? Somewhere between slim and none, right?

The historian Josephus and scriptures state the above facts are true for the Apostle Paul. Unlike humans, God chooses men as His kingdom ambassadors, not on their height or outward appearances, but on their hearts.

Let’s look at how this short, weak, poor communicator handled a hopeless circumstance:

When it was decided that we should sail for Italy…(Acts 27:1)

Jewish leaders brought charges against Paul, causing him to appeal his case to Caesar. That meant he had to sail from Caesarea, and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Rome, while being guarded by a Roman centurion.

Contrary winds bogged the voyage down and the ship put into port. Because of the lateness of the year (October), the Mediterranean Sea was usually considered unsafe for navigation until springtime (March). Paul admonished them:

“Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” (Acts 27:10)

The pilot, captain, and centurion disregarded the short preacher’s advice and sailed for Rome. The ship soon sailed into a typhoon, forcing the crew to dump the cargo, tackle, and cut sails. Nothing helped.

… from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. (Acts 27:20)

After days of not seeing the sun or stars, the one person who had not given up hope, stood up in their midst, and got everyone’s attention. “You should have followed my advice, but you didn’t and now there will be damage and loss.”

Can you imagine what the pilot, captain, centurion, and crew thought when Paul spoke his words? Probably, something like, “Yeah, I wish we would have listened, but it’s too late now. We’re doomed!”

Paul continued on with his remarkable statement:

Yet, now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. (Acts 27: 22)

I guarantee Paul’s words captured everyone’s attention. It did not matter if the men were Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, or pagans because Paul spoke words of hope. Drowning men will always reach out for anything, which will keep them afloat. Paul’s words did exactly that.

What did Paul have, that the other two hundred and seventy-five men not have?

But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” (Acts 23: 11)

Paul had a promise from two and a half years earlier that the Lord was sending him to Rome. Yes, the circumstances were impossible and the waves were high, but Paul believed the Lord was not a liar and that He also foresaw the typhoon when He made the promise. Paul chose to ignore reason, logic, and circumstances, and believe the Lord’s promise.

What did the angel say to Paul during the typhoon?

“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar, and behold God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.”(Acts 27:24)

While everyone looked at the storm, Paul reminded the Lord of His promise from two and a half years earlier. He prayed for the lives of the other men on the ship. The Greek word charizomai, which is translated into the English word granted denotes God had done a favor for Paul by allowing the men to live. This is called intercession.

Next, let’s talk about a modern promise which saved my day.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 22)

 

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 22

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (g)

I’ve looked at numerous videos on my computer concerning the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The scenes were horrible and disturbing. There was no possible way I could relate to the agony and loss the Japanese people suffered, even my prayers seemed inadequate.

One scene from a particular video invaded my thoughts and brought with it a nagging question. The particular scene showed the tsunami wave breaking through a housing development and heading out into a farming area. You could see the tsunami carrying homes, autos, buses, and debris in its wave undulations.

The nagging question was this: if I were caught by surprise and stood in the middle of that farm field, facing that oncoming tsunami, could I survive?

“Are you silly? There’s no conceivable way you can survive that scene. Where’s your logic, Larry?” one may say.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5: 7)

The number one hindrance to faith is we can only see our circumstances and nothing else. They loom as huge obstacles in our paths, impossible to get around. Then, because our focus is on the circumstances, our intellect, logic, and reason race ahead and calculate the odds of whether we’ll survive our sicknesses, poverty, dismal marital relationships, family problems, or disastrous situations (like the tsunami), and guess what? There’s never any hope for us. We are doomed.

Faith sees the circumstance – and never ignores it – but it instantly fixes its eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. (82) He is the One who calms the seas with a word or calls us to walk on water. He is the One who raises the dead and multiplies the bread and fish.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Our faith has to be focused on the mighty One who lives within us, not on our puny strengths or abilities. He must be our everything!

I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Philippians 4: 13 Amplified Bible)

Could I possibly stand in a field, facing an oncoming tsunami with all of its force, and survive? Yes, I could, but it’s not my decision to make, it’s His decision because He owns me. He knows when I’ve finished my course. I’m absolutely convinced He’s able to bring me to that particular end time period for my life. (83)

I sincerely believe that the more we know the One who lives within us, the less power our circumstances will have over us.

So, how can faith overcome our circumstances?

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 21)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 21

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (f)

T. L. Osborn sat in the auditorium, next to his wife, Daisy. The two were young missionaries who had just returned from India. Their missionary experiences had discouraged them, which left them needing answers if they wanted to continue in their callings.

They went to hear William Branham speak that night, hoping for a spark of hope, which would reveal what they needed for their missionary work.

Branham preached a message and afterward he called a young girl to come out onto the stage. The girl suffered from severely crossed eyes. Branham turned her around so she faced the crowd.

“I want everyone to see the miracle God is going to perform in this young girl,” he said.

He prayed for her.

T. L. Osborn sat in nearby balcony seats and saw the miracle as it unfolded. He watched the eyes move around in their sockets until they were properly aligned. The youngster jumped up and down with joy as the crowd roared its approval.

Osborn sat there, amazed by the miracle, and then he heard a thousand angels say to him: “You can do that.”

Because of one man’s bold ministry on that one special night, T. L. and Daisy Osborn went back to the missionary field. Their ministry continued for fifty years to over 70 nations. They preached to crowds of 20,000 to 300,000 at a time. Few Christians have ever known the ministry success and miracles, which the Osborns ended up having on the mission field.

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7) 

Like T. L. Osborn, I had a “one man on one special night” experience in the early 1990′s. It did not occur in a large auditorium with thousands of people looking on, but instead, it happened in a small church with twenty people sitting in pews.

I sadly no longer remember the man’s name, but he was from a small town in Iowa. His ministry was an apostolic one to parts of Africa and Europe, but unlike the preachers I liked at the time, he was a soft-spoken, humble man.

He gave a testimony, which still reverberates within my heart today on how big our God is and how able He is to help us… if only we believe in Him.

The man told how he and another man were in the southern part of France, heading toward Paris. They needed to get to the Charles DeGaulle Airport so they could fly to Africa, but they had a big problem. All trains were delayed. It looked like they would miss their airplane connection.

As they sat in the train depot, the Iowa man prayed. “Lord, You asked me to go to France and then to Africa, because You sent me on these assignments. It is Your responsibility to make it all happen. Where’s Your miracle? I’m waiting for it.”

An English man walked up to the two. “If you’re going to Paris, a train will pull up over there in a few minutes,” the man said.

He pointed to the opposite side of the depot. “It’s a special train. I’ve already taken care of your tickets, just get on it.”

A train pulled up almost immediately. The man and his friend took their suitcases and boarded the train. They sat down and watched the countryside fly by. After an hour or so, they arrived in Paris and disembarked inside the Charles de Gaulle Airport, near the ticket counter for their flight to Africa.

They paid for their tickets at the airline counter. The friendly agent asked, “With all the problems with trains, how did you get to the airport today?”

The Iowa man pointed over his shoulder without looking. “We rode on that train over there,” he said.

The ticket agent blinked his eyes. “What train?” he said.

The Iowa man turned around and looked. There were no tracks or train behind him, but instead there were walls and walkways through the airport.

What reverberates within me is this: if God will build a train track and put a train on it because a small-town Iowa man asked for a miracle, He’ll do it for you and me.

And being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4: 21)

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 20)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 20

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (e)

Marion, a friend of mine, drove her car on snow-covered roads in Iowa during the late evening hours of a 1970′s winter day. Her rear tires had chains on them. As she headed north on the interstate, the roads cleared up and she heard the chains banging against the wheel wells of the car’s fender.

She pulled off onto the shoulder of the road, which was filled with snow. She walked around to the rear of the car, knelt down in the snow by the tires, and tried to unloosen the chains, but the fastener was stuck.

After trying for a long time, she looked up to heaven. “Father, I’m your daughter and I’m cold and tired. I need You to unloosen these chains right now.”

The chains fell off the tire into her hands without her doing anything. She went around to the other tire and the same thing happened. God removed the chains for her.

Amazing, but why did it happen?

 

I bid a large painting job on a home in a historic preservation district of Louisville, Kentucky in the late 1990’s. The total bid was $22,000, but it required a substantial amount of equipment and tools, which I could not afford to buy ahead of time. My only hope was that each draw payment would be on time so I could purchase the supplies whenever they were needed.

Everything went well at first, but then, the general contractor notified me a $5,500 draw payment would be two weeks late. I was in trouble because my two workers needed pay checks.

I sought God.

“Lord, You’ve always told me that You were my provider. Where’s the money I need to finish this job?” I prayed.

While I’m crying out to the Lord about money, Carol decided it would be a good time to buy a house. I know. I know. I know. This does not make sense, right? How can a penniless couple ever think about buying a house? The quick answer: by faith.

We went to an open house that morning where a husband and wife attempted to sell their own home without a real estate agent. We liked the home and explained our credit problems and lack of money. The man somehow came up with an interesting idea.

He loaned us $7,500 at a low interest rate with no maturity date, which we could use as a down payment for his home after the money had been in our account for sixty days. His lawyer wrote out the papers. We signed them and received the check.

With the money, we bought the equipment, supplies, and paid the two workers. Two weeks later, I received two checks from the general contractor for $11,000.

Guess what happened next?

The man who loaned us the $7,500 figured out we could not qualify for a loan and asked for the money back. We obliged him and wrote a check to him for the full amount. A zero interest loan.

Another amazing testimony, but why did it happen?

(As it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (Romans 4: 17)

By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11: 3)

 These amazing answers happened because we trusted God.

Our backs were against the wall and our faith was in Him. He is the Creator who can make things happen out of nothing.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 19)

 

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 19

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (d)

In the early 1990′s, I was a part of home group, which held some special meetings in the city building of a small Iowa town. Local business people and others were invited. I gave some teachings. Afterward, I prayed for those people who wanted prayer.

A friend brought an eighty-five year old female resident from a nearby nursing home to the last night. She was small, slightly stooped over, and wore thick glasses. She had been a Christian from her youth.

I felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit was stronger than normal as I approached her. The little lady asked for her eyes to be healed. I prayed and she fell over backward onto the floor. I continued praying for the other people. They all fell on the floor.

When I finished, I was the only person standing in the room. Everyone else lay on the floor, and to be honest, I rather enjoyed the moment.

Everyone soon revived and the little lady came over to me. She testified how her eyes had been healed. She could now see clearly without the blurriness, which had bothered her for years.

“Really?” I said.

She nodded and explained how the Holy Spirit had never touched her like that in her whole life. She was so excited.

“I want to pray for you and have God use me to touch you,” she said.

“Really?” I said, knowing she was a life-long Lutheran and probably would pray a stiff, formal prayer.

She laid her hand on my shoulder and uttered a prayer with lots of stiff phrases scattered here and there throughout her meanderings. Then she added, “Lord, I just want to be used to touch him like he touched me tonight.”

I hit the floor with a thud and laid there for a half hour or so.

What do you think the little lady did while I lay on the floor?

She jumped up and down and screamed, “I did it! I did it! God used me! God used me!”

I can teach faith, explain about the power of fasting, and the importance of praying in the Spirit, but still it often comes down to how much Daddy loves His children and loves to see His children excited about Him.

 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly, I say to you unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)

We often read the Bible and fail to visualize the scene in which the words were spoken. It is easy to miss the meat of the message by doing this.

In the above verses of Matthew, we learn by looking at Mark’s account of the same event that Jesus was in His hometown of Capernaum. The disciples had been arguing over which of the twelve was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They were probably filled with pride from their successful ministry exploits on their recent journeys into the surrounding villages. They asked Jesus to settle the argument for them.

The home was filled with people. A curious child squeezed through the crowd to get to the front, near where Jesus sat.

Jesus did not immediately answer the disciples’ question, but instead, He looked at the child standing there. All Bible translations state He called the child to Him. The Greek word proskaleō, which is translated into the English word call, really has two meanings:  to call or to bid.

Because of the to bid meaning of proskaleō, I like to think Jesus looked at the child, winked His eye at him, and motioned with his forefinger in a “come hither” fashion. The child without even looking to his parents instantly walked to Jesus, allowing Him to use him as a model for His message.

Jesus then said, “Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Think about it for a moment, okay?

Jesus did not say a person with the greatest amount of faith or the greatest amount of knowledge would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. He said the one who would be like “this child” would be the greatest. Why? Because the child totally trusted Jesus and obeyed His promptings without thinking about the possible consequences of his obedience.

That is true faith.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 18)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 18

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (c)

I finished studying at 9 p.m, stood up, and walked into the kitchen for a drink of water.

As I turned on the recessed ceiling lights, I stopped dead in my tracks. A grotesque creature sat on a stool at the island counter. If the angel was the epitome of the Kingdom of Light, then this being was the dark side’s counterpart. Its gloomy eyes glared at me while its lips formed a sneer. Festering sores plastered the being’s face and neck. A filthy robe cloaked its torso and a stench of decay clogged my nostrils.

“Listen up Chuck,” the creature said in a raspy voice.

Fear struck my chest like a baseball bat. I had trouble breathing. Confusion settled over me like a morning fog. I could not put two and two together.

“If you go to businessmen and tell them to pray over their financial gifts, seeking the Lord where they should give their money, some bad things will happen to your family. Your two sons will die in an auto accident and your wife will go insane. Do you hear me?”

I could not speak as my mouth went dry and a throbbing sensation sent stabs of pain through my mind. The creature drummed its dirty two-inch long fingernails on the granite counter. The beat reminded me of a funeral march.

“I said – do you hear me?” the creature hissed out the words.

I nodded.

“And I can do it. It will be easy. Just as easy as it was for me to come into your home. No one can protect you from me! Not even God!”

The creature bared its brownish-yellowish teeth with a hideous grin as it stood up.

“Don’t you ever forget what I told you, okay?”

The being walked over to the door leading out to the deck, then without opening the door, he stepped through it and left.

I collapsed on the floor and wept. My body convulsed in fear.

“Oh God! What have I done to my family?” I screamed.

Afterward, I pulled myself together and wandered into the family room, collapsing on the sofa. What is going on? I thought. Everything is hitting me at once. What can I do?

My mind raced in circles searching for answers, but I found none. I eventually fell asleep.

 

A voice visited me while I slept. Was it in a dream or a vision? It was like both, but different at the same time. I was awake, but I was asleep.

“Chuck,” the voice said.

I looked up and realized I was standing in front of a stage in a large auditorium. It was black. None of the spotlights were turned on. The red velvet curtains were drawn apart. The voice seemed to be flowing out of the darkness blanketing the stage. I felt no fear and was comforted by the voice.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Do you have some questions?”

“Yes.”

“Go ahead.”

“What was that being in my kitchen?”

“What do you think it was?”

“A demon.”

“Yes. That was a demon power sent to frighten you by the religious ruling spirit over America.”

“But how did that happen?” I asked. “I always pray for angelic protection over me.”

“Yes, you do,” the voice said. “For just a few moments, the angels who protect you backed off their posts. When they did that, the demon power slipped into your realm.”

It hit me like a hammer between the eyes. I was set up by the Lord and used as ambush bait.

“But –” I said, trying to put my thoughts into words.

The voice interrupted me. “You have been chosen to have insight into spiritual warfare so that you can teach others. Spiritual warfare is not played on a Game Boy. It is played out in real life scenarios where lives and destinies are at stake.” The voice paused for a moment and then added, “Satan and his army want to kill Christians and their families, and destroy their destinies on earth.”

I cringed.

“But what can I do to protect my family?”

“What does scripture say?”

The voice bounced my question back to me.

I thought for a moment before answering.

“Cast my cares on the Lord for He cares for me.”

“Yes and don’t forget that Jesus rebuked demons. He refused to allow them to speak because they are all liars. You can do the same in Jesus’ name.”

I was silent, not wanting to ask my next question.

“Can Satan and his forces really hurt my children or Dusty?” I asked.

“Yes. Your rebellion and sin could open the gates for Satan’s army to come into your family’s lives. But by the same token, a causeless curse will not alight on you or your family. Walk with God and avoid sin.”

The voice was silent for a moment.

“Any more questions?

“What about my problems with Dusty?”

“She is not the problem – you are. Dusty is like most women in that she desires to see her husband as a sold-out man of God, not a half-hearted pew-sitter. You obey God, follow His instructions, and she will be happy to walk by your side.”

With that answer, the voice left and I returned to my sleep.

(This excerpt is from DECEIVED DEAD AND DELIVERED by Larry Nevenhoven, 2012, eBook, Amazon.com.)

In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6: 16-17)

Whether you like the idea or not, we Christians have to fight demons, which takes strong faith.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 17)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 17

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (b)

The next morning, when I arrived at 8:30, Dad was pacing back and forth in the parking lot. His neon yellow tie hung at half-mast on his white shirt, his top shirt button remained unbuttoned. His gray suit coat draped the blue and white sign in front of the handicap parking space. A scowl etched his lobster-colored face. He was boiling.

“Jeremiah, we need to talk. Now!” he said through clenched teeth.

Dad knows! I thought. How I wish the gift of faith was still working in me. Guess I’ll have to trust in the Lord’s grace to see me through this.

I avoided his blistering eyes and nodded.

“Okay.”

He reached over and slung the suit coat over his right shoulder.

“Follow me,” he spit out over his shoulder as he marched toward his silver Mercedes. “Jump in.”

I opened the door and sat down in the black leather passenger seat. Dad climbed in the driver’s side.

“Better buckle up,” he said without looking over.

The Mercedes’ tires squealed as we pulled out onto Pine Street in front of an oncoming city bus. My right hand reached for the seatbelt and pulled it tight across my dark blue slacks. I snapped it. Then, I tugged on it just to make sure it fastened properly. I straightened my red tie and ironed out the wrinkles in my blue oxford shirt.

We headed west on the one-way street. He turned a razor-sharp right into the Starbucks on the corner of Octavia Street. He read the confusion on my face.

“This is a timeout, sort of like you use to pull on me when you were young,” he said without smiling. “I was so upset I didn’t brew any coffee this morning. Like Napoleon, I am senseless without the stuff. Would you like one?”

With our two coffees, we drove north to Lafayette Park. Dad pulled over to the curb and parked. He sipped some coffee. He rotated in his seat toward me, his eyes blazing with fury.

“Now, what were you thinking about when you pulled that stupid stunt yesterday at City Hall?”

The only other time in my life Dad had been that angry with me was when I dropped out of college and broke-up with Kari. This was out of character for him. He normally joked around and carried on a light-hearted banter with people.

“Where did you hear about it?” I asked.

“Arlene phoned and said she saw you on Channel 26.”

“Good old Arlene and cable TV, huh?”

“And if Arlene knows, everybody knows,” he mumbled. “Right?”

I nodded.

“So, answer my question, will you?”

“The Lord told me to do it.”

“Oh, boy!” he said with a deep groan. “Does this have to do with your thinking you’re called to be a prophet?”

“Yes.”

“Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah. I thought we were past that by now.”

I blew out a deep breath.

“Dad, it’s my calling – I can’t just lay it down because it causes discomfort to loved ones or me.”

He rose up and pointed a finger in my face.

“Listen son,” he bellowed, “shooting off your mouth in San Francisco will cause bad things to happen to you. This is not the Bible Belt, you know. Open your eyes. This is the liberal capital of America. San Franciscans hate having their noses shoved into their crappy smelling sins by a Christian who thinks he’s a prophet. Do you hear?”

I looked out the window at two junior high kids who walked by just then. The smaller boy slapped the pudgy one on the back and took off running. The victim stood still for a moment, his mouth hanging open. Then, he ran after the other one yelling, “I’m going to kill you when I get a hold of you.”

The smaller boy stopped a half block away and put his hands to his mouth. “You ain’t never catching me, fat boy.”

He turned and scooted down the street.

“Son, do you hear what I’m saying?”

I nodded but swallowed the hasty words, waiting just behind my teeth.

BUZZ! BUZZ!

Dad answered his cell phone.

“Yes.”

He listened for a long time.

“Okay, we’ll be right there. Tell everyone the sales meeting is canceled for this week,” he said as he started the car.

“It seems the switchboard is lit up with calls for the prophet. Six people want to list their homes with you. Can you believe that?” he said as he shook his head. “I would have guessed your career was buried yesterday, but what do I know, huh?”

(This is an excerpt from the novel, Jonah, by Larry Nevenhoven, 2012, eBook, Amazon.com)

…Let us prophesy in proportion to our faith. (Romans 12: 6 NKJ)

Yes, we need strong faith to prophesy or use any of the spiritual gifts at a high level in our neighborhoods, communities, cities, states, and nation. We also need strong faith to walk through the aftermath of using our spiritual gifts.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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