Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

You Can Grow in Faith

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You Can Grow in Faith

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You Can Grow in Faith

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We cannot choose the time, or the manner of our testing, so we must prepare now by a life of prayer, God’s word, and humble obedience strengthen your faith in the good times so you may be better prepared when a time of testing comes.

Sermon Notes

What Can You Do to Actively Grow Faith?

At times life comes at you with all its force and you feel weak or inadequate… you can become discouraged and feel like you lack faith… “if only I had faith I wouldn’t be afraid… I wouldn’t be overwhelmed”.

Does courage mean you experience no fear… or is courage standing firm even with a shaking hand. A quivering lip, or a racing heartbeat? Even the great heroes of faith struggled with trials and challenges… sometimes crying out to God with great anguish and despair. What is God’s purpose in all this?

Hebrews 11:34 Hebrews 11:34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
American King James Version×
out of weakness they became strong

They grew in faith as a result of the trials and tests they faced, not in spite of the trials  You will grow in faith through the trials and test you face. But its not the mere presence of a trial that grows faith… it’s the way you face it… with the active work of the holy spirit in you.

2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 3:12Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
American King James Version×
We tend to think of persecution as Gestapo officers coming to arrest and drag people off to jail… but the meaning of the word dioko = chased after, harassed, troubled (same word in in verse 2:22). You could also be pursued by spiritual forces. You could have health issues, job issues, family issues.

Where do you go when you’ve got such trouble?  Go to God. Like the man said when Jesus told him anything was possible for those who believe “I believe, help me in my unbelief”! And Jesus gave him what he needed. He healed his son from possession by a demonic spirit.

Jesus will not condemn you or turn you away when and if your faith falters… He will help you. Note: there were times when He said he could do nothing for certain people who had zero faith… but faith that is struggling, faith that is struggling with fear, doubt, anxiety… He is willing to help those who cry out “I have faith, help me in my lack of faith”!

Christ wants you to participate in the process.

Jesus Christ is active and living in you through the power of the Holy Spirit working together with your spirit… bringing into the fullness of the mind and character of God. One of the great products of that active working of the Holy Spirit in you is FAITH.

Grow in Faith

Faith is the key to everything good and worthwhile. First and foremost it is through faith we receive God’s favor, His approval, which leads to resurrection at Christ’s return.

Ask for it – ask for greater and stronger faith in prayer. Ask for it often. It is God’s will that you grow in faith and He s glad to work with you to increase it.

Prayer is a vital part in our lifelong conversation with God… through it we express our concerns, our love, wisdom and understanding.

When we ask for wisdom in a trying situation are we not also asking for faith? To see and understand things as they really are?

You did not find God rather He has found you and made himself known to you… but once He has made himself known… He wants you to seek Him. And if you seek Him you will find Him… if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul [Deut 4:29]

Interaction with His word – Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×

HOW - Regular bible reading on your own – direct interaction

HOW - Christ has commissioned teachers within His church whose are to explain and fill out the meaning of God’s word. So you also interact with His word through hearing sound teaching and instruction. However, you are also responsible to know the scriptures yourself so you can check and verify the truth of what you are taught.

WHY - In its simplest form faith is believing God exists and can do what He promises. To know what God promises you need to read His word.

WHY - We also learn how He wants us to live & think, what He is willing to do for us, examples of His interactions with humanity… which we can learn from, which provide inspiration etc. Romans 15:4-5 Romans 15:4-5 4 For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×

Obey – acting upon God’s commands is an expression of your faith. Faith is not bliss… faith is putting what we know to work. We will lose our way if we confuse faith with a desire for constant happiness, delight, ecstasy, or a seeking to be oblivious to the perils around us.

Obedience is powered by faith – put the word of God in your heart and in your mind so it can become your way of thinking and acting… powered by faith in the one who gave you this word.

John 14:21-23 John 14:21-23 21 He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas said to him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.
American King James Version×
Jesus promises that any who obey Him will have a special bond with the Father

You grasp the reality of His presence in your life through obedience

You, or I, can say “I’m going to fully obey God”!

… yet I know its impossible to do on my own. Scripture tells us that… but for most of us its also played out in bitter personal experience where we fall short of the glory of God. BUT… I go ahead anyhow… we step out in faith.

To the degree that you, or I, yield ourself to Christ living in us I am able to keep His commands. Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×

To yield I need to:

Believe that Christ is in me and truly acts [if Christ were sitting next to me would I do that?]

Make an effort myself. Note: this effort of my own would never go anywhere without the help guidance and active work of Christ in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. But I must yield to that Spirit of Christ in me. If I do nothing He will not drag me against my will. I must willingly follow the lead of His Spirit. Colossians 1:24-29 Colossians 1:24-29 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.
American King James Version×
, Ephesians 1:18-20 Ephesians 1:18-20 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
American King James Version×

This is living faith… expressed in righteous works.

Genesis 15:5-6 Genesis 15:5-6 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them: and he said to him, So shall your seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
American King James Version×
Abraham declared to be righteous through his faith

James 2:22 James 2:22See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
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which then leads to obedience

Faith & Deeds

Think of playing catch with a little child. You [the parent] throw the ball to them… usually a soft little lob with a light ball. Then they respond by throwing it back to you. Wobbly at first then getting stronger as they do it over and over again. You move up to a harder ball, a further throw… etc. etc. The more you do it the stronger and better at it they get. Romans 1:17 Romans 1:17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
American King James Version×

All this requires a good understanding of His word… His commands, statutes, judgments, promises, prophecies, corrections, and examples from the lives of those who have gone before us.

This is how you can walk with God and grow in faith!

Prayer  study/instruction  obedience  repeat cycle. Faith increases with time. Sometimes in small incremental steps, sometimes in huge leaps [often associated with trial]. But it is a daily process. Don’t look down on those small incremental steps… they help prepare you for the huge leaps we sometimes have to make through trial and testing. [PRACTICE VS. GAME DAY]

Everyone Who Has Faith Will Have Their Faith Tested

1 Peter 1:1-9 1 Peter 1:1-9 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
American King James Version×
[word picture—gold does not oxidize]

Trials and troubles are not pleasant… they are traumatic, frightening, painful. But they are the stuff that grows faith.

Your test may be health problems, finding a mate, a threat to your life, family, job problems. God knows how to test your faith. There is not one size that fits all… but He will do His perfect work in you.

Our Father Creator is kind and understanding of our weaknesses… but still expects us to move forward in faith. So, as part of your prayer for faith ask for wisdom… open my eyes… help me to see and understand. James 1:2-5 James 1:2-5 2 My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×

Prepare Now For What May Lay Ahead

We cannot choose the time, or the manner, of our testing… so prepare now. A life of prayer, God’s word, and humble obedience strengthen your faith in the good times so you may be better prepared when a time of testing comes.

Hold on to the Promises of God

The present can seem dark and grim…but know the future is bright and filled with God’s glorious purpose.

The rule of Christ on earth…

A role for you to partake in it…

A resurrection to eternal life for you…

Those who have gone before us in faith have not yet received the promises they set their hopes on. Through faith they saw it and believed in the inevitability and sureness of it. So can you.

To inherit so great a future requires faith.

A life of Faith means we must step into… endure and persevere in difficult, uncomfortable, even threatening situations. At such times stay focused on the kingdom of God…

Hebrews 11:39-12 Hebrews 11:39-12
American King James Version×
:2

We make our stand based on the word of God 1 Peter 1:23-25 1 Peter 1:23-25 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and stays for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass wither, and the flower thereof falls away: 25 But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached to you.
American King James Version×

For those who seek first and foremost the kingdom of God there is great reward. In the meantime while we persevere and endure He offers us comfort. We get that through His word… but He does not leave us alone with only a book to read… He gives us one another… so that through Christ living and active in you comfort is given to others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.
American King James Version×

The English word comfort is ok but it limits the scope of what is being considered here. The word is paraklesis. It’s the same word Jesus used when He spoke to the disciples about the workings of the Holy Spirit which was to come after He was executed. He called the Spirit… the comforter (KJV), helper (NKJV), advocate (NIV). In our day and language “comforting someone” conjures up images of being tucked up in a cozy blanket with a warm mug of chicken soup. And sometimes that might be part of the work of the Holy Spirit. But…

Paraklesis [ie. comfort] is a calling, a summons, exhortation, encouragement… cheering one another on, admonition [authoritative counsel, warning], consolation, refreshing of the thoughts and emotions, persuasion, and a call to action.

It is for theses things that our Father wants us to spend time with one another. Let’s make sure not to neglect His will in the good times so that we are able to do this good work in the bad times.

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 paraklesis one another

Not everyone is call to the understanding and future that God has called you to. The time to put this calling to action is now.

Grow now in all the good things of faith so you are prepared for the days ahead.