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FAITH

Genuine faith is the believer’s source of  strength, provision, courage, guidance, and victory over the world system, the flesh, and the Devil. Faith is all that can sustain believers in the trials and persecutions predicted for the Last Days.

Hebrews 11 is called the “Faith Chapter.” Verses 1 to 3 define faith and the remaining verses give examples of faith-actions by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents and Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthan, David, Samuel, and the prophets.

Every person, even a nonbeliever, demonstrates a degree of faith, but faith is the key to the life of the believer.  It is only when we are confident that God will do what He promised that our lives can be transformed. Whatever we become and achieve in life is determined by our ability to trust God. This wholehearted reliance on the Lord becomes especially important as we walk through difficulties and trials. When we are certain of the Father’s presence, power, and provision we can face the situation with hope and assurance as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:7.

Sadly, many struggle with faith throughout their lives. They wonder why God doesn’t do more in and through them. Yet, when we examine what governs them and how they relate to the Lord, we find they are unstable in their faith. They do not fully trust God and are sometimes inconsistent in pursuing a relationship with Him. So how do we keep our faith from failing?
•    First, we must turn to God’s Word.
•    Second, we must plant the right seeds in our minds and heart.
•    Third, we must keep our focus on God.

We are like aliens at war in an enemy territory from the moment we are born again into God's eternal family. We don't have the option of being pacifists in this war. We have to fight. That's why it's important to learn God's provisions for fighting and winning the war. Faith is the key to victory, the only acceptable means we have for using our strength, weapons, and armor for the battle.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH IS EVIDENT IN PAUL’S TEACHINGS.
Romans 1:12; 1 Corinthians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 3:22 -26; Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:7

BIBLICAL FAITH:
•    DEALS NOT WITH SIGHT, BUT INSIGHT.
•    IS RISK-TAKING BUT BRINGS SPIRITUAL AND MORAL COURAGE.

IS FAITH UNREALISTIC? FAR FROM IT.
•    FAITH ACTUALLY BRINGS US IN TOUCH WITH REALITY AND PROVIDES CERTAINTY THAT GOD'S PROMISES WILL HAPPEN.
•    FAITH GIVES US POWER TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT.
•    FAITH IS AN INVISIBLE SUPPORT SYSTEM THAT PROVIDES STRENGTH TO FACE VISIBLE STRESS.
WE ARE CALLED NOT TO HAVE FAITH IN FAITH, BUT TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD.

THERE IS ALSO A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIBLICAL FAITH AND POSITIVE  THINKING.
•    POSITIVE THINKING INVOLVES HUMAN KNOWLEDGE TAPPING THE POWERS OF THE MIND AND UTILIZING THEM FOR CONFIDENT LIVING. THIS IS HUMANISM.
•    IN CONTRAST, BIBLICAL FAITH RELATES HUMANS TO THE LIVING GOD AS A LOVING, WILLING, PERSONAL CREATOR FROM WHOM WE DRAW COURAGE TO LIVE OUT HIS PURPOSES.

CHRISTIANITY IS BASED ON TOTAL FAITH IN THE CLAIM OF JESUS CHRIST’S DEITY AND SALVATION BY HIS GRACE:
•    BELIEF THAT JESUS WAS WHO HE SAID HE WAS.
•    BELIEF THAT HE CAN DO WHAT HE CLAIMED HE COULD DO.
•    BELIEF THAT HE DIED ON THE CROSS FOR ALL SINS AND AROSE FROM THE DEAD.
WITHOUT THIS FAITH, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD OR TO ACHIEVE SALVATION.

JOHN TELLS THAT MANY WHO LISTENED TO JESUS SPEAK AND SAW MIRACLES PUT THEIR FAITH IN HIM (John 2:11; John 8:30; John 11:45; John 12:11).

WHEN JESUS HEALED SOMEONE, HE TOLD THE PERSON AND THOSE AROUND THEM THAT THEY WERE HEALED BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH.

JESUS SCOLDED HIS DISCIPLES BECAUSE OF THEIR LACK OF FAITH (Matthew 8:26; Matthew 16:8; Mark 16:14; Luke 17:5).

Be cautious of these factors that will tempt you to doubt.
•    conflicting messages of faith and human reason.
•    God’s command seems absolutely unreasonable.
•    allowing feelings, including fear of failure, to rule.
•    failing to see God at work.
•    refusing to trust God in challenges, temptations, and difficulties.
•    accepting negative counsel or false information from others.
•    focusing on circumstances or obstacles rather than on God.
•    failing to remember the power of God in past situations.
•    dwelling on our weaknesses and what we lack.
•    imagining our trials to be much larger than they actually are.
•    feeling guilty about past sins.
•    neglecting the Word of God.
•    continuing in sin.
•    submitting to Satan’s tactics.

We cannot allow unbelief to drive us away from the Lord. Instead, we must focus on His unfailing character (Hebrews 11:6) and move through the stages of faith, which are
•    Little or restless faith. If we center our attention on our difficulties rather than the Lord, it doesn’t take much to sink us.
•    Great or maturing faith. The person with great faith trusts the Word of God and relies on the unfailing character of the Lord.
•    Perfect or resting faith. People with perfect faith say, “God has promised me, so I trust that what He has said is already accomplished.” They no longer ask the Lord for the desires of their hearts. Instead, they thank Him that His perfect provision is already fulfilled whether they presently see it or not. Perfect faith is the Father’s goal for each of his children, but it does not occur overnight.

Walking with the Lord Jesus is the most exciting life a person can live. Your eternal home in Heaven is assured. The opportunities ahead are full of hope, and you have the very best Companion on the path of life that anyone could desire--the living God. Although being saved is a one-time experience, you have entered into a relationship with the Lord that is continuous.

What can you expect on this daily walk with Him?
•    You are assured that you will get to know God in an intimate and personal way.
•    You will discover His will and purpose for your life.
•    You will learn to listen and obey Him.
•    You will experience His unfailing presence, power, and wisdom in your life.
•    You will learn to walk by faith.

God wants you to grow in faith. Many who accept Christ as their Savior do not realize this is only the beginning of their relationship with Him. Many believers are not being used by the Lord because they are unwilling to rely on Him. The Father desires that you mature in your knowledge and understanding of His ways and live in obedience to Him. He wants to bless you and work through you in a powerful way, but you must trust Him to do so. Faith grows
•    through facing and overcoming adversity and trials.
•    through understanding God’s nature.
•    through meditating on the Word of God.
•    through applying the principles of God’s Word.
•    through observing God’s ways.
•    through observing God’s work in the lives of others.
•    by obeying God and leaving the consequences to Him.
•    when God answers our prayers.
•    through worshiping God.
•    when we confess our faith failures to God.
God wants you to grow and reach your full potential because this brings Him glory. He wants you to believe in Him and to rely Him so completely that others recognize His presence in your life and realize their own need for Jesus.

Two “ideas” which are often in conflict are FAITH and REASON. Reasoning can focus all our attention on limitations and negatives until we fall into the pit of doom and gloom. Reason can be a faith killer. Christians must learn to operate in a level that reaches far beyond REASON into the realm of FAITH!

WHO HAS FAITH? ACCORDING TO ROMANS 12:3, BELIEVERS HAVE FAITH. God has given you enough faith to handle any need that will arise in your daily walk. It is not how much faith you have, but rather how you use what faith you have. Just as the disciples came to Jesus and asked Jesus for a FAITH LIFT, we can, too. The more you use it, the more you have.

Romans 10:17 tells us how we get Faith. The Word of God does the work of God. Read the Word. Study the Word.

ALL FAITH WILL BE TESTED! Life is full of struggles, difficulties, and problems. Only Faith in God will overcome them. Our enemy, Satan, is always seeking opportunities to defeat us in the spiritual battle for our souls. Satan seeks to destroy us with our trials, while God seeks to develop us with them.

FAITH OVERCOMES THE UNDESERVING.
•    David was involved in adultery and murder.
•    Rahab was a prostitute.
•    Peter was a denier.
We all sin and come short, but we just don’t stay down. All Faith must operate beyond reason in the realm of promise. Be an OVERCOMER! Be cheerful! Our walk hinges on the operation of faith in a complete trust in the WORD of GOD!

TRUE FAITH INVOLVES WILLINGNESS TO OBEY. Living can be a lot like driving in a fog. You really cannot see very far in front of the car but you keep driving anyway until you reach your destination, driving by faith.

TRUE FAITH INVOLVES A WILLINGNESS TO WAIT. Waiting is one of life greatest disciplines, the hardest times, the in-between times. What is God doing while you wait? God may be testing you to reveal how committed you really are. True faith is waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises in God’s timing.

The consistent theme through the Bible is that God has great love and compassion toward us. He is unchangeable, and in this we can have great confidence. Biblical faith is hearing, believing, and acting on the Word of God. It's trusting God in spite of your situation or your circumstances. The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" and “we are to walk and not by sight.” The world says, "Seeing is believing, but God’s Word says, "No, believing is seeing." That's why Hebrews chapter 11 begins by stating, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

WE MUST COME BY FAITH IN THE NEW AND LIVING WAY THAT CHRIST MADE FOR US (1 PETER 3:18). I'VE HEARD PEOPLE SAY,
•    "BUT HOW DO I START? I DO NOT HAVE MUCH FAITH.”    OR
•    “SOMETIMES I DON’T KNOW IF I’M REALLY SAVED.”         OR
•    “I WISH I HAD AS MUCH FAITH AS SO-AND-SO.”

John 3:36 AND Ephesians 2:8 SHOULD PUT TO REST YOUR DOUBTS AND LACK OF FAITH. THE CONNECTION OF YOUR LIFE TO GOD DOES NOT HAVE TO BE GREAT FAITH TO START WITH. STARTING WITH LITTLE FAITH IN A GREAT GOD CAN DEVELOP INTO GREAT FAITH IN A GREAT GOD. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS–BUT ONLY IF YOU LET HIM.

As believers, the more we understand the role of faith, the more responsive with love our hearts will be toward God. We will want to serve Him out of love, not fear or obligation.

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

    Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   June 7, 2015