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.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
This is where faith begins, believing that God does exist, that He is who He says He is, and will make good the promises he makes in His word; if we apply it to our lives. He is tells the truth, and does not lie.
I will be the first to admit I do not understand everything about faith, and it's operations. There are 117 verses concerning faith, many things could be gleaned from them, I'll share some realities, and truth's about faith, and ask if you have anything to ask or share along the way.
Read the testimony in the journal: then share some points about it;
1. I was only a 25 yr. old obscure woman of no importance, but God cared enough for me and my husband, and our problem to intervene and work thru the circumstances to bring about this financial miracle.
2. I learned thru this how God uses circumstances, and moves people to answer prayer, I looked back on this, and used it as a stepping stone for many other obstacles, and battles in my life. I have 29 yrs. of journal notes of similar answers to prayer, but this event started me on the journey of faith.
3. This event caused me to realize that God truly loved me as an individual, I really meant something to Him, and that I had been forgiven of my past.....answered prayer developes solid faith, and it continues to grow each time an answer comes.
Truth's about Faith
Faith, no matter how much we have, doesn't gaurantee 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, landminds, 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 carefull 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. (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.
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 ( give an example)
Over the years I've learned to focus my eyes and my focus on the END, the prize, as Paul puts it in Phill., 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."
My faith doesn't work for someone else. They have to develope their own.
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 allow someone to destroy your faith, if something you've prayed with them for doesn't come to pass, and they may come and tell you "See, our prayers didn't mean anything". Jesus tells us of two of us agree together in prayer, we and rest in faith that God has heard us, and will undertake for the situation, wait in faith and watch God move. But, if one of you is in unbelief, this blocks that prayer. The key is "two in agreement".
Don't expect other's to share your expectations, be exited over, or even care what God may have spoken to you to believe God for. You very well may have to stand alone in your faith in whatever your praying for. (example: family, pasor'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 will not develope meaningfull 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".
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. The verse in Revelation sums up someone walking in faith, no matter what the cost. This is overcoming faith.
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
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 persistant. 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, stroms of life. Who has prooven 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 relay 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."
If there is anyone here tonight who has not given their heart to the Lord, who isn't sure if they died tonight they would go to heaven, I'd be honored to pray with you. Please come forward if you have any prayer needs tonight you'd like me to agree with you for.
(2008 teaching for Teen Challenge)