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A Faith That Works
“Moving Forward By Faith”
We’re continuing our series, “A Faith That Works,” and tonight we’ll be looking at what it’s going to take to move ahead by faith.
“Have you ever wished you could just start all over, to go back and do it all over again, or as some would say, have a do-over.”
Yet as chefs will say, “You can’t un-cook lasagna, but you can start over.” And the same goes for our lives. We can’t undo what we’ve done, but we can have a brand new start, and God wants to give to us that fresh start. God is the God of new beginnings.
King David knew of such new beginnings.
“The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:14 NKJV)
Maybe we can interpret the passage this way. “God gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.”
If you’ve felt like quitting, or you’re at the point right now, then you’re at the right place, church, and you’re reading the right book, the Bible. The Bible says not to grow weary in doing good, and we’re to always pray and not lose heart, 2 Thessalonians 3:13; Luke 18:1.
Tonight I’m going to talk about how we can have that fresh start regardless of our background, past, or how badly we’ve messed up. To do this we’re going to be looking a blind Bartimaeus.
“Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” (Mark 10:46-52 NKJV)
As Jesus was walking through Jericho a large crowd was following. On the roadway there was a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, and when he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to yell out for Jesus to have mercy on him.
Now, to be blind in those days meant that you couldn’t work, nor could you go anywhere by yourself, because many of the amenities we take for granted they never had. All Bartimaeus could do was to have family and friends set him on the side of the road where he could beg. It was a miserable life.
And so when Jesus walked by, Bartimaeus thought, “This is my chance! This is where I can get a fresh new start in life. This is one opportunity I’m not going to miss!” And so he begins to yell out above the crowd, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me.”
This very act begins our study, and the first step in getting a fresh start.
God puts us in places where we can meet with Him and have that new beginning and fresh start. So we have to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.
Bartimaeus took advantage of this opportunity. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow, because Jesus was passing by today, so it was now or never. That’s the key to a fresh start. Don’t procrastinate. It’s now or never, so take advantage of the opportunities, seize the moment.
Everyday there are fresh start opportunities. Opportunities to make right the wrongs, to witness to a friend or co-worker, for being a better spouse or parent, or making a brand new start. Yet we don’t take advantage of them, and the reason, procrastination.
“I spent a fortune on a trampoline
A stationary bike, and a rowing machine
Complete with gadgets to read my pulse
And gadgets to prove my progress results
And others to show the miles I’ve charted
But they left off the gadget to get me started”
Procrastination doesn’t make our lives easier; rather it just creates more stress. The truth is we already know the right things to do, and the benefits of doing right things, but we still procrastinate.
And while the Bible warns us about presuming upon tomorrow, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so whatever we’re going to do, we need to do it now.
The Psalmist said,
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul said,
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
Are we procrastinating? God has brought us here to ask that question, and to stop making excuses. As the old adage says, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
So take advantage of the opportunities that God is giving.
Besides procrastination, our fears hold us back from getting that fresh start. Fear has an incredible ability to paralyze our potential, to keep us from launching out, and to keep us from having the type of faith to move forward into God’s will.
Fear does three things.
These fears keep us from moving ahead. They are the “What ifs” of life. Bartimaeus went through such “What ifs.” But he faced his fears because he was desperate. What we might say is that he was at the end of his rope.
But when he shouted out to Jesus everyone disapproved and tried to shut him up. But all Bartimaeus knew is that he had a need, and the only one that could help was passing by.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 NKJV)
When the opportunity comes we need to take advantage of it, and not allow our fear to stop us from moving forward. The Bible says that God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7.
Faith is God asking us to do something greater than we’ve ever done, and he’s asking us to depend on Him in the process. And because this can be a bit scary, we fall back on our fears and maintain the status quo.
Therefore by faith we’re to face our fears.
This means we need to clarify what we’re asking God to do, and then state it. A secret faith is a shallow faith, because if nobody knows then we can back out it at any time.
Bartimaeus said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
But why did Jesus ask what Bartimaeus wanted? They guy’s blind and begging. The needs obvious, and besides, Jesus already knew the need before He asked. So why ask?
Jesus was doing it for Bartimaeus’ benefit. He was allowing Bartimaeus to announce his faith.
In essence, Bartimaeus was saying, “I believe You are the Son of God, and I believe you have the power to heal and change me.” Bartimaeus stated his faith.
Jesus is asking us the same question. “What do you want Me to do for you?” If Jesus were to come right now and ask that question, how would we answer?
God wants to use us, bless us, and to change our lives. He wants to do incredible things in our lives and in the church, things we can’t even imagine.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)
The key is that we have to ask; we have to state our faith and believe. Jesus said,
“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22 NKJV)
There is one qualifier, however, and that involves God’s will. We don’t know what the future holds, or what God has in store, therefore, when we ask we need to make sure we ask for God’s will to be done. This was part of Jesus model prayer saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)
In His famous prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said,
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 NKJV)
The Apostle James said,
“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (James 4:15 NKJV)
We cannot predict the future, so we need to be carful not to be presumptuous, but that doesn’t mean we’re not to ask.
So after we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity, faced our fears, and stated our faith,
Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Go your way, your faith has healed you.” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight, He accepted God’s grace for his life.
Some people are carrying around some major stuff like conflict, pain, disappointment grief, and loneliness. They feel that life has passed them by. In a way they’re like blind Bartimaeus on the side of the road, full of pain and misery.
ut Jesus want’s to give us a fresh start, and the emphasis is “give.” We don’t earn it, nor can we work for it. None of us deserve it, and we cannot buy it, do religious things to gain it. It’s by grace through faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
Of this grace the Apostle John saying,
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16 NKJV)
What this says is that this gift of grace is ever increasing.
A father asked his young son to move a big boulder in the back yard, but try as he might the little boy couldn’t move it. He tried pushing it, pulling it, using a lever, and he even enlisted the help of his dog, but nothing worked.
Finally he told his dad, “I can’t do it, it’s impossible.” The father said, “Have you tried everything?” And the boy replied, “Yes.” The father then said, “You never tried asking me.”
Many people are going through situations where they’ve tried just about everything to get that new start, but they didn’t ask God. Have we tried asking God for His power and grace?
Some say, “I’ve asked, but nothing happened, so I quit.” But the Bible says that we are to continue to pray and not lose heart, Luke 18:18.
Although Bartimaeus was blind, he had enough vision to see that Jesus was the only one who could help him. He had enough vision to see he needed God’s grace.
Spiritual blindness is far worse than physical blindness, because it keeps us from receiving God’s grace, not only for salvation, but also for the daily mistakes we make along the way. And without God’s grace we’ll remain stuck in the past, stuck in our present, and stuck without a grace-filled future.
God’s grace and forgiveness is available for everyone who wants and needs a fresh start.
We are then to take advantage of the opportunity, by faith face our fears, state our faith and receive God’s grace.
We need to start believing God’s promises for our lives and then move forward in those promises.
We need to take that next step. God isn’t finished in taking us farther into the faith, and as we see there is always greater grace and faith needed to live this life. And if we don’t listen then we’ll remain in our present rut. Do you know the difference between a grave and a rut? It’s the length.
If we don’t move forward by faith then our heart will grow colder and we’ll feel more distant from God. So let’s take that next step, no matter how small or insignificant it may be. The Bible says not to despise the day of small beginnings, Zechariah 4:10.
Bartimaeus started out on the side of the road blind and begging, but he ended up healed and following Jesus.
Faith not only believes, but it’s also acting upon that belief.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14, 17 NKJV)
Where do we get the faith to start new, Jesus. Everything else, right thinking, right living, and having a clean slate won’t do it. Only Jesus Christ can give us that fresh start.
Jesus is passing by. Step out by faith believing and trusting in God. The time is short so make that fresh start tonight.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study