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The Power of Faith
Over these last several weeks we’ve been looking at the choices we have to start making, which started with our teachings on our journey towards Easter, and which roads we choose in life, and then our teaching last Sunday evening on what it’s going to take to recovery our Holy Spirit vision, passion, and guidance.
And while I’ve talked about the topic of faith quite often over the years I think it’s appropriate to address it once again, by looking at the power that faith has in and over our lives, especially during this critical time with this new pandemic that is sweeping across our nation and the world, where we need to be a people of faith, living our lives by faith instead of in fear.
There is something that we need to know as true, and that is God gives us power when we make right choices, and when we choose to live our lives in accordance with His word, will, and ways. And when we do, that is when He’ll give us additional power to live effective lives for His kingdom.
Many people, including Christians, ask, “What kind of person does God bless? What kind of person does God use? What qualities do these people possess?”
We ask these questions because deep down that’s the type of people we want to be.
God uses all kinds of people with different backgrounds, of various ages, economic status, languages, and ethnicity. But they all have this one thing in common, and that is they weren’t afraid to trust God completely, or what we call as having faith, and this faith produces enormous power for God’s greater purposes.
The Bible tells us that there’s a direct correlation between faith and power. The more faith we have in God; the more we allow God to direct our lives, then the more power and blessing we’re going to have.
We see this correlation when Jesus visits His hometown of Nazareth.
“He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58 NKJV)
Notice the connection and correlation between God’s power and our faith! Because of their lack of faith, Jesus didn’t do the mighty miracles that He was able to do elsewhere.
The Bible, in essence, tells us that Abraham was the father of faith. The Bible tells us that Abraham was justified by faith (Romans 4:1-3), and God’s commentary on Abraham’s life shows us why. It is found in Paul’s letter to the Roman church.
“He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” (Romans 4:20 NKJV)
Abraham never wavered in faith. God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore, or as the stars that are in the sky (Genesis 22:17), and yet it took over 25 years after this promise for Abraham to have his first child, and that was when he and his wife, Sarah’s, ability to have children was as good as dead, because Abraham was around 100 years old, and Sarah about 90.
But Abraham never wavered in his belief in God’s promise, even later on when God told Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, the one he waited 25 years for, and sacrifice Him. You see; God was testing Abraham to see whether or not he believed in the promise, or would he now vacillate in unbelief.
God never meant for any of us to go it alone in this world. God never meant for us to go through this life in our own power or with our own understanding. God has tremendous power just waiting and available for us to plug into, and faith is what plugs us into God’s power.
When Jesus told the disciples of their need to forgive those who wronged them as many times as it was necessary until the job of forgiveness is accomplished (Luke 17:4), the disciples knew that such forgiveness was virtually impossible within their own power. So they asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5).
Today I’d like to look at four phases or steps for increasing our faith so God’s power can become evident in our lives, so we can tap into God’s power.
1. Believe God’s Dream
It all starts with a dream, or a vision if you would.
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV)
This more literally translates, “Where there is no prophetic revelation of God, when there is no divine revelation, then people cast away from them all restraint going here and there without any clear meaning or purpose in life.”
It starts with a dream, with a vision, and it takes faith to see that dream or vision. So nothing happens until we believe in God’s dream, that is, His vision for our lives and for the church.
One of the more popular subjects within leadership is the art of delegation. A good leader is one who knows how to delegate both responsibility and authority to make sure goals are met.
But what I’ve learned is that we cannot delegate our faith in God. We cannot ask someone else to believe in God for us. This is a choice we must make, and it involves not only whether or not we’re going to trust God, but how much are we going to trust God with?
Think about that and now consider the words of the Apostle Paul: “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)
No matter how much we can dream up, no matter how big our dreams or thoughts may be, we can never out think or out dream God.
There are actually two parts to this promise that must take place.
First it is according to the power that works within us. We cannot expect this promise if we do not have Jesus Christ in our lives; if we haven’t accepted Him as Savior and Lord.
The Bible says that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord the Holy Spirit sets up residency inside. It’s where our bodies now become the temple of God with Jesus sitting upon the throne of our hearts.
This is why the Apostle John could say; “Greater is He that is in you, than he that in in the world.” (1 John 4:4). Inside of every believer resides the Lord God, who is far greater than Satan and all his demonic forces put together.
Yet, there is a key to this verse, a second part to this promise, and that is our need to ask. It doesn’t happen by chance, we need to ask. If we want God’s purposes and blessings we have to ask God for them by faith. And this is what opens the door for God to work mightily in or lives.
So, what’s your dream? Please understand that it is God who puts these dreams and visions within us. They are His desires, His plans, and His purposes for our lives and for His kingdom.
And so we need to ask God about His dream and vision for our lives.
The Bible says we don’t have because we don’t ask, but at the same time the reason we don’t have is because we’re asking with the wrong motives. It’s because we’re asking for ourselves, for our own wants and desires, and not for God’s kingdom.
“Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2b-3 NKJV)
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and then all these things, that is, food, clothing, and shelter, will be given (Matthew 6:33). When we seek God and His kingdom first and foremost, and no longer what we want the way we want it, then we’ll receive what we’re asking God for.
And so, with all this in mind, here is the question: “What would you attempt for God if you knew that you couldn’t fail?”
That’s dreaming big. That’s dreaming God’s dreams. And when asked in faith, I believe the Lord says to us the same thing He said to the prophet Jeremiah.
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me.” (Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV)
Nothing is impossible with God. Someone said, “Today’s impossibility is tomorrow’s possibility.” Just because our dreams seem “impossible” it doesn’t mean that they are impossible. God is the God of the impossible making the impossible possible.
So believe in God’s dream and His promises, and then ask God by faith believing that He will accomplish His plan and purpose for your life.
2. Be Willing to Risk
Faith is being willing to risk. You cannot go after a dream without taking some kind of risk along the way. If there’s no risk, then there’s no real faith.
Of the early church the Bible says they were “Men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:26 NKJV)
We need to risk for the kingdom of God.
Consider the turtle. It only makes progress when its neck is out. So let’s not be afraid to stick our neck out for the Lord.
To move forward with such risk, however, we have to change our mindset, because if our mindset continues to remember and dwell upon our failures, then it is fatal. Instead we have to get up, brush ourselves off, and try again. Just don’t try it the same way.
Alcoholics Anonymous says that trying it the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Thomas Edison tried over 2,000 times to create the filament for the electric light. But he never considered them failures; instead he said he found 2,000 ways that it didn’t work.
I think what we need to do is to redefine this word failure. We also have to stop calling it a failure. Instead let’s call it an experiment or an education, because we now know what didn’t and doesn’t work.
People of great faith are probably the best educated in this world because they continue to stick their necks out for God.
A great example of this is found in the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar had a large statue made of himself and ordered everyone to bow down to it, but three young Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused.
Nebuchadnezzar then gave them another chance, but with this second chance he said that if they didn’t they’d be tossed into the fiery furnace and there wasn’t a god alive who could save them.
But they weren’t going to bow, and they told the king exactly that in what has come to be known as one of the greatest statements of faith ever recorded.
“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV)
Notice their words, “But if not.” Faith doesn’t demand a guarantee, instead it believes in God and His word, and no matter where it guides faith still does what is right.
Faith is willing to fail. It’s our complete trust in God that He’ll work it all out to His good (Romans 8:28). It’s not if we get what we want, or that we’ll be safe; rather it’s that God will work out His will in our lives no matter the consequences.
So these three guys are about ready to be tossed into the fiery furnace, and they’re probably scared, but they didn’t compromise. Instead they stood up for their faith, which takes courage. And courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather it’s moving ahead in spite of it.
Failure is also one of Satan’s favorite tools, because he makes us feel like we’re failures. So, how do we get rid of this fear? First by redefining it.
Failure isn’t failing to reach the goal; it’s failing to have a goal.
Failure isn’t failing to hit the target; it’s not having a target to begin with.
Failure isn’t falling down; it’s failing to get back up.
Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NKJV)
So, we need to let go of any fear of failure we might have, because anything we’re attempting for God by faith is pleasing to God.
3. Live With Great Expectations
The Apostle Paul lived with great expectation.
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20 NIV)
God uses those who expect to be used. Expecting God is then an act of faith. We expect God to use us not because of who we are, but rather because of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us. So, when we put our faith in God’s great grace then God will do great things in us and through us.
We also need a good healthy dose of enthusiasm. We have to enthusiastically expect God to move in our lives.
Where does this enthusiasm come from? I believe it’s seen in the word the Greek language uses for enthusiasm. In the Greek the word comes from two Greek words, “en theos,” which means “in God.” When we’re “in God,” we’re going to be enthusiastic.
Jesus said, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matthew 9:29 NKJV)
What are we believing God for? What are we expecting God to do in our lives? We need to be people of great expectations.
4. Never Give Up
Faith keeps on believing. Faith is persistent. Faith is diligent. Faith just keeps going.
The Bible says, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24 NKJV)
Expect God to do great things and don’t give up. Those the Bible identifies as heroes of faith are no different than any of us. They are ordinary people who have an extraordinary determination.
The Psalmist said, “My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your law.” (Psalm 119:109 NLT)
Some of us feel like our lives are dangerously close to the edge, and that we’re hanging on by a thread. Our finances are in the toilet. Our jobs are hanging in the balance. Our marriages may be unraveling, or we’re dealing with one illness after another. But the person of faith says, “Even though my life is falling apart, I will not stop believing in God’s word.”
Solomon said, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” (Proverbs 24:16 NIV)
The Apostle Paul said, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
God works in our lives according to our faith. The Bible tells us,
• Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
• Whatever isn’t of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
• Jesus said that according to our faith it will be done (Matthew 9:29).
So, what are we doing by faith? How much of God are we willing to believe in? God uses people who step out by faith and who never give up.
As we wonder how we can grow our faith, there’s one last thing, and that is, we have to ask the Lord to help us with our lack of faith.
In the Bible there is a story of a father of a very sick child who came to Jesus for a miracle. Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I can heal her?”
The father replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe, help now my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). And Jesus was so pleased with his response he healed the child.
This father knew Jesus could heal and probably heard or had seen Jesus healing others. So he believed, but a spark of doubt still lingered. And so when he was asked whether or not he believed, he answered truthfully saying yes, but he needed a greater measure of faith to do so.
That’s what we all need; we need to ask God for that greater measure of faith.
And so the power of faith will lead to God’s greater purpose, we just need to believe.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study