In the world there is a great deal of misdirected faith. People place their trust and faith in many religions, false gods, people, traditions and so on. But when we look down the corridor of eternity, and really ask who can be trusted, who can we put our faith in that is real. Jesus Christ is the only one who can be given that place, and it is because of the resurrection. When He rose from the dead, it gave authority to all the words He spoke while he walked here on earth. The empty tomb is the power of our faith.
Truth's about Faith
Faith, no matter how much we have, doesn't guarantee a pain free life. Heartaches and troubles are going to come no matter how much I believe God. (ex. Joseph, Paul, David, Daniel)
Sometimes it takes years to see the results of faith in prayer. This is where perseverance and tenacity is important. If we are sure of the will of God in a matter, it will help give us the strength to keep believing and praying....no matter how long it takes.
There are many roadblocks, landmines, and obstacles that try to destroy our faith, and render us totally defeated. (ask what some of them are, discuss them) Ex. allowing sin in our lives, pride, stepping out of God's will.
People are used by the devil to divert, or kill faith. We need to be careful who we listen to, and who we keep company with. Unbelief is contagious. 2Thess. 3:2 "And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith."
Faith, and understanding of the purpose of faith changes as we continue to walk with God. Our perspective changes, and so does our desires. Things that we think are important, and much to be desired when we are young, become trivial, and shallow if we grow in wisdom and seek God and his agenda in life, the older we become. (ex. what I thought was very important as a young woman, I see as very unimportant now. Ask the men if they see this in their own lives)
No matter how much faith I may have, I have finally learned what Paul says in Cor. ch. 13, if I have all the faith in the world, but no love, I am nothing. God is love...it is even more important to him than faith. 1Cor. 13:2 says "And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing".
Faith, seen from God's perspective; is to be exercised like a muscle. The more we exercise our faith to believe God for our needs, but even greater; for the kingdom of God, the stronger it becomes in us. (give some examples of this)
There are times when after we've prayed for something, we need to "get up and get moving.... and act on our prayer, even if we aren't sure whether we are going in the right direction. I've had to do this a number of times. God likes this and honors it. Even if we think we may be making a mistake, at least we aren't just sitting and doing nothing. We have to learn by doing, and trust God to direct us to get the job done, or see the manifestation of the thing we are praying for. Faith without works is dead" James 2:14-26
Over the years I've learned to focus my eyes and my focus on the END, the prize, as Paul puts it in Phil., then the obstacles, and attacks along the way don't trip me up. As it is written "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." (example: Lynn's salvation)
There comes a time when my faith won't work for someone else. They have to develop their own. We may stand in agreement with them in prayer for a season, but it won't be the case forever.
When we have prayed with someone concerning something several times...we need to truly give it up to God, and accept a "yes or No" from the Lord.
Don't expect other's to share your expectations, be exited over, or even care what God may have spoken to you to believe Him for. You very well may have to stand alone in your faith in whatever your praying for. (example: family, pastor's telling me not to keep believing to be remarried to Lynn) Note: Abraham stood alone in believing God for a son, for 25 yrs., even his wife laughed in unbelief.
We are not to browbeat the younger, weaker believer's with our faith, we are to maintain our level of faith for our own benefit, not to lord it over other's. We can cause someone else to stumble by our over zealousness and we can become judgmental. We need to pray for wisdom in our conduct with other's. Rom. 14:22 "Have you faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he alloweth." I've seen Christians with great faith, but full of arrogance, and pride, and it shows. It repels other's and causes damage in the body of Christ. There must be a balance of humility along with faith in order to be an effective Godly witness.
We can have all our I's dotted, and our T's crossed when it come to doctrine and theology, but it amounts to nothing if we have no real desire to know the Lord. Our faith is developed over time from a hunger and desire to know Him, and from sincere love for Him. Cold head knowledge, and doctrine alone will not develop meaningful faith, and is not what pleases Him, it is those who want Him for who He is. As he says in many scriptures, "those who seek Me will find me". It is the mixture of sound doctrine, but submerged in love for God and his people that causes faith to grow.
Judgment of other's who seem to have no faith is deadly....we don't know what they are going thru, or what has been done to them. We cannot always discern what is really happening in someone's life. There are times when it takes great faith to just put one foot in front of another and keep going. We should be silent and pray for those who seem weak. Only God knows their hearts.
No matter how long a person has lived for the Lord, or how strong their faith is, there will be times of great testing, and even despair. I've been there several times in my life. In 1Cor. 1:8 Paul spoke of being "pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." When I've found myself in this place, I've cast my lot on God, and said with Job, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Our faith will be greatly tested to the point of saying whether I live or die I am the Lord's. Jesus set his face as a flint to go to Jerusalem, knowing what faced him. There are times God requires this of His people.
Read Luke 18:1-8 Here Jesus teaches us the importance of prayer and faith, of not losing heart, no matter what the circumstances, to be fearless in our prayers, and persistent. Then the last verse of this teaching he says "Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" In light of what we see and hear every day in our time; this is a very important question. I truly believe we need to study, and ask God to help us apply the teachings here in these passages in Luke because we are living in the days the Lord is speaking of here; and ask the Lord that our faith will not fail....even to the end. Once I heard a Catholic monk make this statement "patient endurance in faith will obtain everything." As I observed him as he spoke, I knew he didn't mean the things we accumulate down here. I pondered that and prayed for God to reveal that mans meaning to me....and over the years this is what I've come to understand.
Psalm 37:37 says "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is Peace." Peace for the believer comes at the end of their life, when they can look behind them and see the hand of God who delivered them from many battles, enemies, storms of life. Who has proven God, seen answers to prayer and knows the character and love of God for them. They are grounded in faith, and the knowledge that this same God who saw them thru everything down here, will see him safely home to heaven. With David they can rely on the 23rd Psalm with a heart full of faith, and without fear. "Yeah, though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
At this point, we have learned to surrender our lives to God, and lean only upon Him. He alone has the answer to our needs.