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Collaborate, Co-labor and Co-create by John Garfield

By John Garfield
The precept of "faith" is that when we are spiritually mature, doubt and uncertainty will no longer be with us and we'll know exactly what to do… and it will work. This is a partial truth (lie) that's embedded deeply in our hearts as new believers, and it usually stays with us for decades. The teaching sounds something like this, "If you obey the word of God and follow the leading of His Spirit, you'll be blessed." That's faith… right? Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
 
 
 
 
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The precept of "faith" is that when we are spiritually mature, doubt and uncertainty will no longer be with us and we'll know exactly what to do… and it will work. This is a partial truth (lie) that's embedded deeply in our hearts as new believers, and it usually stays with us for decades. The teaching sounds something like this, "If you obey the word of God and follow the leading of His Spirit, you'll be blessed." That's faith… right?
 
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
 
Wrong!
 
The misconception is that God is going to spell out all the details for your life. He just doesn't. Faith is a relationship of trust and a sense of what's on the Father's heart. It's a general direction, not foolproof roadmap of rules or recipes. The rest of Hebrews 11 is the example of heroic saints who knew God, but didn't know where they were going and didn't receive the promise of what was coming!
 
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NKJV
 
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV
 
The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's "certainty" – Faith is really a direction or an awareness of what our Father is doing and how He feels about us – It's hearing His heart. He can direct us specifically if He wants to, but if our theological premise is that He will always keep us out of trouble, we are in for a disappointment that can wound us deeply. Believing that faith is the basis for life's choices can be a disaster…which spouse to marry, which stock to buy, which career to follow, which anything! It's normal to use faith and revelation for life's generalities, and wisdom for the application of the specifics. Faith always includes the practical expression of works that involve decisions "we" make with wisdom. Faith always carries a large dose of vulnerability… and life is naturally full of opportunities for resurrection. Our loving Father wants to participate in our decisions, instead of making them for us. We have a Father whose heart longs for co-laboring and co-creating kings who rule and reign with Him, not codependent servants who wait to do what they are told.
 
Faith is a relationship, not a recipe for life. Success in life or faith in God is much more than what I believe, what I desire, or how I obey. Faith is the acceptance that I could fail. Real faith expects to manage risk and loss as part of the journey. God does have a will and direction and a call on our lives, but He has chosen not to control every detail and insulate us from every adverse circumstance. When we sign up to put His Kingdom first, counting the cost implies that God himself doesn't always get His way. People do reject His Spirit and thwart His plans. Kingdom is warfare… not just one victory after another. Failure and resurrection are normal experiences in our walk with Jesus… not our fault and not God's fault. When we experience a loss or setback or delay, God's heart is grieving with us. It's more His loss than ours.
 
Spiritual Maturity (Enjoy the Ride)
 
Faith always starts with the belief that God loves us, protects us, provides for us, watches over us… that's His name and nature. It's natural for us to translate faith in God to conjecture about how life will unfold because we really do get a glimpse of His will and our calling, and we're excited about where it all will lead.
 
The second stage of maturity is brokenness. Like it or not, believe it or not… we're all going through trials and deaths where faith expresses itself as resurrection… something we can't control or fix. We just have to walk it out and believe that God can redeem and restore our failure or rejection for good (Rom 8:28). It's not exactly resignation, but it is resigning from our conjecture – thinking we have it all figured out with certainty. Faith is a surrender to walking in a level of vulnerability that allows us to, 1) trust Him for the miraculous when we're in above our heads and, 2) step into personal initiative and make wise decisions. We can cooperate with and express our Father's heart… even if the consequence is failure. It's no longer just about me. I've volunteered for the warfare, the rejection and the suffering to get to the majesty, the excellence, the love and the victories of Jesus' Kingdom… a Kingdom much bigger than I am. The joy set before us is a party and the music is playing now. Can you here it?
 
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 NIV
 
Spiritual Discipline
 
None of us volunteer for the death and brokenness that precede resurrection. Yet, that's the only pathway to growth in the Kingdom. Our little kernel of wheat must die before it can multiply. My ego and conjecture about how things should happen has to take a back seat to initiative and perseverance. Faith is always expressed in faithfulness to walk toward my Father's heart – what He has put in my heart. My calling could lead to fame and fortune, or a cross… both can be a success in the Kingdom. Faith is the only lens to see that reality.
 
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24 NIV
 
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deut. 8:5 NIV
 
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline) Hebrews 12:5-8 NIV
 
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 NIV
 
Real spiritual maturity is two things: 1) great reverence to hear the voice of God; an ability to commune with Him in conversation, coupled with 2) a courageous sense of permission to take practical initiatives in the spirit of wisdom… even when they don't all work! I understand what is in the Father's heart and volunteer to get involved based on the desires of my own heart… we have a conversation about my initiative…which He welcomes. We collaborate about co-laboring and co-creating. Then, we go do something together. Working with our Father thrills our hearts and causes us to come alive.
 
Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are laborers together with God: 1 Corinthians 3:8-9
 
As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2 For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
 
John Garfield
 

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