Category Archives: Faith
When confronted with a tempestuous sea, the disciples, fearing for their life awoke Jesus with the question: “Do you not care that we perish?” He awoke and rebuked the winds and asked a question of them. “Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-41) It seems that Jesus was as astonished at their lack of faith as they were at his power to calm the winds and the sea.
The sermon around this question can be heard at this link. However, the main points of yesterday’s lesson start off with the recognition that His disciples had experienced some amazing things with Jesus before getting into the boat in Mark 4. Jesus had healed a lame man and Peter’s mother-in-law, cleansed a leper, and restored the withered hand of a man to normal. He had confronted the Pharisees, taught the people, explained parables to the disciples and basically, just from Mark’s account alone, provided ample reason why the disciples in the midst of that storm should not have been lacking faith.
What is Faith?
In today’s common use of the word, it is little more than “hopium”. Hopium is a made up word that means you want something to be the case without having any evidence for it to be the way you want it. Sometimes you want something IN SPITE of the evidence that it can’t or won’t be that way.
I have heard people tell someone “you just have to have faith” in situations where you realize that businesses will need to close, people are going to die, or tragedy is not going to be averted. This is a legitimate use of the word in today’s usage but it often gets confused with “God will make it work out”
This is NOT the way the Bible uses the word faith and, in fact, from Hebrews 11:1 comes a near definition of faith: It “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It is the “assurance” that is lacking in hopium.
Faith is a belief that leads to an action based on that belief.
Jesus had faith
Why was Jesus not concerned about the storm as He slept on the cushion in the boat? Because of the Word of God.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Psa 91:11-12)
His mission was needful for the salvation of mankind and He would not perish in a freak accident. His destiny was to die on Calvary’s cross. If you know that you will not perish, then the fear goes away.
The disciples did not seem to have such confidence. Even in awakening Jesus, there does not seem to be any pleading on their part to save them. No, it seems they are only astonished that He can sleep through such a storm. When Jesus asks them “if they still have no faith” perhaps he was wanting them to have faith as shown by the centurion in Luke 7. (Luke 7 actually happens before the events in Mark 4 so the disciples would have known of this case too!)
Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant….And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (Luk 7:2-10 edit and emphasis mine)
This Centurion has simply heard about Jesus and, based on these reports, sent to ask for his servant to be healed. Such faith Jesus marveled at.
This is the type of faith that Jesus was looking for in His disciples. Had they come to Him saying “Lord, we have seen you heal the sick and lame and cast out demons, we believe that you can save us from this certain death”….the Question would never have been asked!
There are two things that we can take away from this passage.
One, the disciples who actually spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus had some real difficulties developing faith in Jesus so perhaps we have a little hope, those of us, who were not so blessed to spend time with Him, as we struggle to develop our faith. Still, we don’t want to be found without faith so that brings us to point two.
Two, we need to let our faith grow. Faith starts with hearing God’s word. Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” and from there we begin to let our faith grow.
Passages like the following show a process of growth. The word is our milk but it is also our meat and we can grow to understand it better and as we do, our faith, exercised allows us to see and act properly towards what is good and evil.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1Pe 2:2-3)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:12-14)
Faith requires action.
It cannot exist without it. Well, not the way the Bible uses it, at least. Faith without works is dead! (James 2:17) It is, put another way, Trusting Obedience. You trust and you obey. You believe and you act.
Do you still have no faith?
When you face questions like: Should I read my Bible?; Should I be honest with other people?; Should I tell a little white lie?; Should I complain and gossip? The Word of God will give you the answer but only your actions will show if you have faith. If you act appropriately, then you have faith. If you do not, then you do not have faith. Pretty simple.
Jesus wanted to know where their faith was? That is a good question for us to ask ourselves today. Do you still lack faith?
Over the last several weeks we have been studying the idea of “Living by Faith”!
We say this as if a person has a choice about “Living by faith”. In reality, a person always lives by faith….the faith they have in what they believe.
Some people SAY they have faith in God or God’s word but they don’t believe that this “faith” requires any action. In other words they DO believe they DON’T have to do anything, therefore, their life shows no difference in their action.
A person’s actions will eventually align with their true belief. If you believe God is real and will judge us, then your life will reflect that.
There are two types of faith that James talks about. Faith with works and faith without works. Which one will save you? That is what we discussed in Sunday’s lesson.
You can hear it here.
Living by Faith is the life that follows the instructions of God. It will also require some actions on our part to remove things from our life that keep us from being able to serve God effectively.
As this series of sermons on living by faith comes to a close, we note that the Hebrew writer urges his follows to imitate the people mentioned in chapter 11.
We are to “Also” lay aside weights and sin. They did it and we can too; their lives testifies to the fact that they laid aside weights and sin and we can follow those footsteps–even though he is going to quickly point us to follow Jesus. Those of chapter 11 may be considered heroes of faith but really, it is their faith that made them that. They were ordinary men and women doing ordinary obedience-the kind that anyone can do if they are willing too.
Weights are not sins but they are hindrances and obstacles to us achieving our goal. The Christian goal is to get to Heaven, to find that city whose foundation was not laid by man.
Serving God is not only done at a worship service. Working hard, tending to your family, helping neighbors, raising children, even resting can all be things which we do in such a way as to serve God. The problem though is when those things take such a priority as to put them first in front of God. At that point, they become a hindrance.
In my experience it is the recreational area that creates the most hindrance. How much time do you spend in recreational, “me time” pursuits? Binge watching your favorite series or binge playing Candy Crush is almost never a good use of your time when there are so many things to do in the kingdom of the Lord.
Sins, of course, are violations of God’s law and need to be stopped. However, as many of us find out, we may be free from sin after being baptized into Christ (Romans 6) but we are not mechanically kept from sin and sin….is still there to tempt us. It is clingy and needs to be removed and laid aside too.
As we do this, we are then able to do the positive things which the lesson from March 28th will deal with. The first part is posted on our website if you wish to listen to the sermon, click here.
If Faith come by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), then it follows that we want to give everyone a chance to hear the word of God so that faith has an opportunity to develop.
However, the Bible tells us that there are different types of hearers: those who are hard of hearing, dull of hearing, having itching ears, and those who hear with a good and honest heart.
Sunday’s sermon discusses these different types of hearers and offers some suggestions on how to be a better hearer/listener. You can listen to the sermon online by clicking this link.
One of the problems with having heroes of faith is that we tend to forget that they were men and women like us. “They put their pants on one leg at a time” just like we do and because of this, we should remember that when they weren’t building arks, slaying giants, escaping fiery furnaces, or conquering cities they had a regular life.
If someone were to write a biography about your life, would they be able to say that you lived by faith? If you think only in terms of “BIG” things then probably not but if you think in terms of “simple obedience in faith” to what God says in His word, then the answer is absolutely!
Today’s lesson sets the stage for next weeks lesson where we will try to apply the lessons of Hebrews 11 to ourselves but it is important to take time to note….even ordinary people can be people who live by faith.
The sermon can be heard by clicking on this link.
The Hebrew writer is definitely encouraging his readers to live by faith and by the time he gets to chapter 11, the foundation has been well laid. Encouragement to live by faith surely can be given by pointing out those that have successfully done so. However, I think that we can, at times, find encouragement (or perhaps resolve) when we consider those that did not live by faith and the consequences it had.
Today’s lesson mixes both the faithful and the not faithful to help us realize we do indeed learn something from those who did not live faithfully. Zedekiah, king of Judah, and the first generation of Israel who came out of Egypt are our examples of the ‘not so faithful’ and after you listen to this, hopefully we will say: “I don’t want to be like them”
You can listen to the sermon by clicking this link.
Living by faith requires that we listen to God’s instructions. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) Which is to say, as I understand it, that living by faith requires living by the Word of God.
When we do things based on what God’s word says we are doing things by faith. When we presume that God will act on us our behalf when he has not said so then we act upon non faith.
Joshua’s battle against Jericho shows us the benefit of listening to God’s instructions.
Do you live your life by faith? Look into God’s word and see! The sermon on this topic can be heard by following this link.
As we live our life by faith, we need to recognize that part of that life involves listening to God’s warnings! Noah did and we can too.
Noah is our example of Listening to God’s warnings in our life of faith. Imagine building an ark to prepare for something that you had never seen and imagine the reactions of your neighbors.
God does not warn us to stay away from things because he doesn’t want us to have fun, He does it because He wants what is best for us. Will you listen to God’s warnings?
Which of God’s many warnings do you think is most important?
You can listen to last Sunday’s sermon on this topic here.
Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice….and he did it by Faith.
Living by Faith means that we will offer sacrifices by faith…just like Abel did. We will offer the best, we will offer what God asked for, and we will offer it willingly!
Today’s lesson explores the example we have in Abel and you can listen to it here.
This is a question that we ask ourselves from time to time. Especially when we are young(er) in life, say 16-24, and at a point where we are going to choose a career and make many choices (marriage, kids, education, where to live, etc) that will affect our lives for the next many decades, if God gives us that much time.
With the many verses that we could use, I would like to answer that question in broad terms with two verses.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, (Act 13:36)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)
David did something so simple: He served the purpose of God in his own generation.
We don’t have to do something big and grandiose in order to win God’s favor. We don’t even have to affect the whole world or leave a legacy that lasts throughout time. Simply serving God where and when you are is a good thing and one could argue that in so doing you will have a bigger impact than if you “tried” to serve God in some grand way. David made mistakes, but he was a man after God’s heart and so his repentance was never far away…neither was God’s word!
Psalm 119, written by David, stands out as a testament to the power of God’s word, its value, and its necessity in the life of the person who would follow God.
The other verse cited above, Hebrews 11:6, says basically that we need faith to please God. But what is “Faith”? While the word is used in a few different ways, this time it is used in regards to the “trusting obedience” that one who pleases God has. There are two components to faith then: Trust and Obey (Do you remember that song?).
Faith, of course, is not something that we just dream up. We don’t wish for something and then live our lives as if what we wished for, or what we want, will come to pass. Faith is dependent on a something solid (substance) and which we trust (are convicted about) to be true. (see Heb 11:1 KJV). I believe that one such item, and the one we have readily available to us today is God’s word, the Bible!
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
If you hear it in the word of God, you can trust it to be so and, as it pertains to the commands, obey them and so show that you are living by faith. This is what living by faith means….living by what you read in God’s word.
Having faith in God that your sports team will win the next big game is NOT living by faith because God never said you would win. Having faith that you will get a raise at your next evaluation is not living by faith because God never said you would get a raise. Having faith that your new business will succeed is not living by faith because God never said you would.
If you doubt these statements just go talk to any Christian sports player, any Christian employee, or any Christian business owner and ask them what happened when they lost that game, didn’t get the raise, or lost their business. Did God fail them? Is faith not enough? When it is defined in such a way as to reward you or make your life easier, and yet not found in the Scriptures, then not only is faith not enough, it is not really faith.
So what does God want from me? The answer is simple: Live by faith.
The sports player follows the rules, treats his opponents with love (even as he competes against them), and knows that whatever skills he has, God gave him that ability. The employee works as unto the Lord not just when the boss is looking, doesn’t steal time or company property (e.g. pens, paper clips, tools) and the business owner is fair to his customers, produces a quality product, and shows integrity.
Why would those be examples of living by faith? Because the Bible references each of them. The Bible may not tell you how to drive a car (i.e. the skill) but it does tell you HOW to drive when on the road (i.e. obey the laws, be courteous, be wise and not foolish).
So when it comes to our life; do what ever you want that is “by faith”. Don’t choose a path that is unjust, don’t fail to show mercy, don’t fail to walk with God. (Micah 6:8)
The above should lead you to one inescapable conclusion: “I have to know what God’s word says to know what God wants of my life.”
I am not suggesting that you need to know it all by memory in order to answer the question. You can ask yourself right now, is there something in my life that God does not approve of? If you stop doing it, you are living by faith. Is there something that God would have me to do (honor parents, visit sick, etc.)? If you start doing it, you are living by faith.
Living by faith is what God wants of you. Now go live the life God wants for you!
If you would like to listen to a sermon on the idea of “living by faith”, click here.