The bible describes us as a people who are on a journey, we are traveling from this place to another place. The Old timers used to say we are just pilgrims that are passing through. When the original settlers were settling this nation, it was a difficult journey, that they had to prepare for. Unsure of the difficulties of the next hill, river, or mile. Many didn’t make it because they were unprepared for what lay ahead.
This journey that we find ourselves on as Christian, isn’t always an easy journey. There are valleys, mountains, difficulties, trials, tribulations, betrayal, and there are victories, joy, peace, and blessings. How we handle those is what makes the difference.
Often a bump, a pothole, or trials will shift the load that we are carrying, or damage the vehicle that we are traveling in. So it’s important to stop at points of time and check the load, check vehicle that we are traveling in.
So over the next few weeks, we are going to do some checking, inspecting, examining, and verifying of what we believe, how and what we are doing.
Earlier this year we talked about being Healthy, during the 21 days of prayer and fasting. We asked you to do a spiritual health check-up, and a natural health check-up.
So let’s get started with our first Check Point, FAITH!
Let’s do some inspecting, examination, and checking in on our faith.
Turn with me to
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Trust in the Lord – or shall I say have Faith in the Lord with all your heart.
We are told as believers to live by faith, walk by faith, pray in faith, believe in faith.
If I have faith the size of a mustard seed, I can move mountains.
Without Faith I am not pleasing to God.
So if I have a whole lot of faith, crazy faith, radical faith, over the top faith, does that mean that God will answer every prayer exactly the way that I pray it.
I had this crazy, radical, over the top faith, and God didn’t answer a prayer, now your faith is down the tubes.
I want to give you a foundational idea of faith… I believe many have had their faith so questioned that you don’t even know if your saved or pleasing to God.
So let me begin where I believe many of you find yourselves.
1.) Shattered Faith –
Maybe you are in this room and you used to a believer. You used to believe, but not anymore.
Something happened – you used to believe but that something happened, and you “lost” your faith.
There are two things that really shatter our faith.
When you get off the course, morally, ethically, or relationally you are confronted with waves of guilt.
The old word was condemnation or conviction. God is convicting you of the poor choice, the devil uses that to condemn you.
So when you make a poor choice and you are confronted with those emotions of guilt. Guilt overwhelmed your life. You now are faced with how to get rid of the guilt.
There are only two ways to get rid of guilt.
1.) Forgiveness (ask for forgiveness) and then change your behavior.
2.) Change your belief system.
Understand this: changing our belief system is easier than changing a behavior.
We change our belief system by convincing ourselves that there is really nothing wrong with what we are doing. When you change that belief system then your guilt is diminished.
Many people have changed or shall they used to believe, but they have traded their faith or a more convenient lifestyle.
People change what they believe in order to justify their choices. That should say something about the status of their faith.
I’d say they had a very shallow faith.
Shallow faith is a faith that is based in convenience rather than conviction.
Let me put it like this.
Whatever is happening now, whatever I am feeling now, that’s what I believe right now.
If that’s where you are, you need to make it a point to check in with God and get that rectified. Line up what you are believing and feeling against the Word of God which never changes.
2.) Unexplainable Tragedy
What is unexplainable tragedy – it is something that has happened in your life that you believe doesn’t fit the character of God or that doesn’t line up to the Faith that you have believed until that point of the tragedy.
When these things happen you believe that a bad thing, a tragedy doesn’t line up with a Good God.
You’ll ask how can this happen?
Why didn’t God stop this from happening?
When those answers either don’t come, or the answer is insufficient then people lose their faith, they abandon what they have believed.
That faith is also rooted in the statement.
Whatever is happening now, whatever I’m feeling now, that’s what I believe now.
It’s a present circumstance faith.
As long as your faith is based in that present circumstance you are moving towards a fragile faith.
Fragile faith will soon be shattered faith.
Fragile faith is built on our ability or our inability to understand the circumstances and events of life.
Let me give you an example of this.
Let’s say you pray and pray and pray for God to give a job, a specific job and you aren’t hired.
So you are now left having to decipher the meaning of the prayer that wasn’t answered the way that you thought it should be.
You then begin to believe that either God is mad at you, or that God cannot be trusted.
Your faith is now challenged and impacted by how you are deciphering the unanswered prayer.
Many of are prone to misunderstand God’s faithfulness and His character. On top of that your adversary is whispering in your ear accusations against you and causing you to question God.
God’s character and His faithfulness isn’t determined by the present circumstances of our life and in our world.
However for us Christians the changing of life’s circumstances causes us to question God. Our faith is in a fragile state.
Let me put it in this way.
When Zoe was younger, she had to go get a shot in each of her legs. I laid her down on the bed, I knew what was coming, I knew she was going to be in pain. However, it was for her long term health.
Now if you had asked Zoe, does daddy love you and does daddy have your best interests in mind, when she was in the pain of the moment? She’d probably had said no, he caused me pain. However, later in life, she’ll be thrilled with the decision of her dad to make the decision that I have made for her. A moment of pain, helped relieve a lifetime of it.
Joseph probably thought of this while spending 15 years as a slave. Pain, prison, and sold by his brothers, betrayed.
You could understand if there was a question in Joseph’s mind.
Yet it all was a part of God’s plan to elevate Joseph.
Moses spent forty years in a wilderness and then God sent him back to the children of Israel to bring them out.
Jesus hanging on the cross – caused many to question their faith. It didn’t fit with what they believed, they had fragile faith. The end of that we know that it has turned out for the Good.
Yet, when we pray and God doesn’t answer by the end of the prayer session, or the end of the week, You begin to question your faith in God. You begin to lose confidence in Him.
Your faith shouldn’t be in a fragile state so that it can be shattered.
Instead your faith should be rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ. Not present circumstances.
3.) Foundational Faith
The foundation of our faith is aperson, not an event. Our faith is rooted, grounded, and founded upon Jesus Christ.
Your faith shouldn’t be founded upon whether a prayer has or hasn’t been answered. We believe faith to be a power that moves God into a direction of our choosing. When God doesn’t move in that direction we believe there is something wrong with us, or something wrong with God.
Have you ever known someone who believed God would do something, then when God didn’t do it. They walked away from God and no longer believed in God. They had the wrong concept of faith and it’s foundation.
The Christians that the writer of Hebrews was writing to were a people that were under pressure to abandon their faith.
They were being alienated, bullied, out of the hub of their society the synagogue.
So in their time of life, there wasn’t a practical benefit in being a believer a Christian.
Being a Christian, was costing them financially and socially.
They also were taught to believe firmly in the returning of Jesus Christ, that He as coming back soon. It hadn’t happened yet, so they were questioning!
So they were beginning to doubt their faith in Jesus, doubt their decision in believing Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews begins to encourage them not to abandon their faith.
For three chapters HE builds a case that Christ is God.
He declares that Jesus walked on the earth, claimed to be God, died for our sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven and it was witnessed by hundreds of people.
He concludes that case with this in Hebrews 4:14
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
If Jesus is who He says He is, then we don’t need to worry about the circumstances and events of our life.
He has our best interests in mind, He has promised us that He will come back for us and that He will take care of us.
That is where our faith must be founded if we do that; then when the storms of life begin, we are tied to an immovable faith. My faith is built on and in Jesus Christ.
Faith is often misinterpreted- we want faith to be what we want it to be.
We want faith to be the code that unlocks the door to God’s unlimited resources. Resources then that we can use at our discretion.
We want faith to be the way we get what we want from God.
If you don’t believe that, just look at how people react when God says no!
People believe that God is obligated to act on their faith, and when He doesn’t, they walk away from Him.
Faith is not confidence.
Teams have confidence that they are going to win the game, fans will say we have faith, no you have confidence in the team that they are going to win.
That’s not biblical faith.
The Bible clearly states what Faith is…
Hebrews 11:1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language(Heb 11:1–2). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
See if you wrote to the President and invited him to come to your house.
You wouldn’t go tell all of your friends that the President is coming to your house.
You wouldn’t do that until you had a letter that accepted the invitation, you would begin to invite others after you had confirmation. You would need a promise of His coming before you would have faith in that happening.
The promise moves from hope to faith.
The bridge between what we hope for and the faith that we have is the promises and the revelation of God.
We aren’t hoping He returns, no we are standing in Faith that Jesus is coming again.
The writer of Hebrews then sites many examples of people who stood in faith, these are there as promises to you and I, to establish our faith.
To root and ground our faith in Jesus, that what He has promised He will do.
God has given us many promises and you can build your life upon them, not just this life, but also your eternal life.
God has promised to forgive us of our sins, once and for all, if we put our faith in Christ’s death as payment for those sins.
That’s faith, trusting that Christ paid the debt that I couldn’t pay.
You have to believe in the person of Jesus Christ, but also the actions of Jesus Christ.
Saving faith is very simple, it’s a specific object and specific content and actions.
I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
There are two foundational things you have to believe about Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ paid for your sins on the Cross of Calvary, He died, rose again, and ascended to heaven to return again.
Salvation is a gift from God, it’s not a reward, you don’t earn it,
You are saved through faith, and not because of it.
SALVATION IS A GIFT FROM GOD.
It’s the vehicle which will get you from here to Eternity.
So what are you trusting in to get you from here to heaven. (JESUS)
IF you are here and you’ve lost your faith, or you are here and you doubt your faith, or you’ve never put your faith in Jesus CHrist.
I am asking you to Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The scripture states that if you…
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.””
IF you have lost your faith – recommit to Him that you believe in your heart by using your mouth and confessing that you believe.
If you have never put your faith in Him, then today is the day for you to use your faith and accept God’s grace by confessing with your mouth.