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cropped-rose-4.gifJohn 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

Old stories are fun. You can tell them as if they really happened, and no one knows the difference. Like the story about the tightrope walker who asked his audience if they thought he could walk across the rope carrying someone in a chair. The crowd applauded and cheered loudly as they indicated that they thought he could do it. However, a hush fell over the crowd when he asked, “Any volunteers?” Whether it really happened or not, it makes a good point. It’s easy to say you have faith in something, but it’s another story to demonstrate it.

That is the way it is with our faith in Jesus Christ. We get excited when we think about our saving faith. We have no trouble with Paul talking about the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). After all, we want to go to heaven someday, so we were glad to place our faith in Jesus. He can carry us across the gulf between earth and heaven. However, are we willing to step forward every day and put our lives in His hands? In other words, do we believe in God enough to be willing to surrender ourselves to His will? Are we convinced that what He wants for us is the best? Do we trust Him enough to do what He says? We need to trust God for today, not just for eternity.

What kind of faith do you have? Is your faith in assumptions, in man or maybe in a leader.

(1) Calmly and confidently, the scientist explains that the universe is billions and billions of years old and that it all started with a Big Bang. As he flashes pictures of faraway galaxies and planets, he gives many interesting facts. However, when he assures his listeners that it all began by mere chance. He expresses a belief for which he has no scientific proof. He has faith in his assumptions.

(2) The sophisticated crusader zealously campaigns for man to put his trust in man. He calls for an end to the restrictive forces of religion and God. He pleads his case for freedom from absolute morals and from the promise of eternal consequences for sin. He says that man and man alone brings progress into this world. He has faith in man.

(3) Dressed in an end-of-the-world robe, a young woman stands patiently beside the road. She is trying to sell roses to uninterested drivers as they stop for a red light. She smiles, and without complaint she goes about her simple life of peddling flowers. She gives up yet another day of her life to a cultic leader who claims that God told him he is the Messiah. She has faith in her leader.

We all have faith in something. However, a saving faith and living faith, is what each individual needs, because it is precious, eternal and cannot be taken away. Faith is learning to depend absolutely on God and His Word, regardless of circumstances. Instead of allowing our fear to take over when life feels “out of control”, we are asked to take a step of faith and “cast our burdens on the Lord because He loves and cares for us, and has a personal interest in our life.” (1 Peter 5:7). Saving faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the whole and complete revealed Word of God.

Varying Degrees of Faith

Many times we think our problem is too big for God to solve, while others are sure God is all-powerful, but are not confident He will do what is best for them. There are still others who affirm, “I know what God can do. 1 will trust Him to do what He has promised.” These various thoughts range from a weak and tentative faith to a firm and confident faith taking God at His word. If you were to study the ministry of Jesus, you would see varying degrees of faith in those who came to Him. In Mark 1:40-45, He healed a leper who knew He could but was not sure He would.

In Mark 9:1 7-24, He cast out a mute spirit from a son whose father wavered between faith and doubt. In Luke 7:1 -10, He healed the servant of a centurion who was so sure of the outcome that he asked Jesus merely to speak the word from afar. These examples do not teach God always answers according to the strength of our faith. Rather, in His infinite wisdom He responds to any degree of faith. His ultimate goal is to lead us to trust Him completely, so that we may know the fullness of His fellowship. Jesus can turn the weakest faith of an individual into a strong faith.

There are circumstances that come into our life which test our faith. If you think about it, a lot can go wrong at any time. Accidents happen. Mistakes are found. Misunderstandings take place. There are almost as many opportunities for our faith to be broken as it is to be established or verified. The matter-of-fact consumption of life’s moments without a second thought is an application of faith. Our faith should be carefully protected and cultivated in the face of adversity. Though storms approach our lives, we can find peace and victory in Jesus Christ, because He alone is our eternal hope and security. As the psalmist plainly stated, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1). When the foundation of your life is resting on Christ, you will not be easily shaken when trials come into our life.

Further Reflection:

(1) Faith In and through Jesus Christ we have – Salvation – Mark 1 6:1 6; Acts 16:31; Eternal life -John 6:40, 47; Access to God – Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:1 2.Without faith it is impossible to please God – Hebrews 11:6

(2) Our faith In Jesus Christ produces – Joy – Acts 16:34; 1 Peter 1:8; Hope – Romans 5:2; Peace – Romans 1 5:1 3; Assurance – Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6; Evidence of a new birth – 1 John 5:1; Is essential in prayer – Matthew 21:22: James 1:6.

(3) A living Faith is exemplified In – Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego – Daniel 3:16, 17; the Ethiopian – Acts 8:37; Rahab – Hebrews 11:31; Noah – Hebrews 11:7; Abraham – Hebrews 11:8, 1 7; Caleb – Numbers 13:30; Daniel – Daniel 6:10, 23; Philippian jailor – Acts 16:31, 34.

Even though we have not seen Jesus, we accept by faith the word of reliable witnesses, we embrace the living Lord, and we believe because faith sees what the eyes cannot.

Closing Illustration:

A living and vibrant faith in God is demonstrated in the following story entitled, “Moving Mountains” – A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains built a new church on a piece of land willed to them by one of its church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new church. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard. Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain moving faith.” They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.

At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen”. “We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too.” The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called “come in”, a rough looking construction supervisor appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered. “Excuse me, Reverend. I am from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We are building a huge shopping mall and we need some fill dirt immediately. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We will pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.” The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!

If God doesn’t remove an obstacle, He’ll help you find a way around it.