~ Six Part Sermon Series on “Faith” ~
Part 1: “Faith”
I. Introduction.Top of Form
Bottom of Form
I have been troubled for some time while as I observe the way some Christians are dealing with this virus-thing. Some who are not at risk – or nature of job position – of getting the coronavirus – are scared out their gourds.
As a minister in Christ’s church – I can’t but help myself by asking, “where is their faith?” and “how strong is their faith?” So….I have developed a six-part sermon series dealing with faith. I want us to talk about “Faith” this morning – part 1.
What exactly does that word mean – faith? It seems to be one of those “churchy” words that mean different things to different people and being dependent on how it’s used.
Sometimes “faith” refers to a list of beliefs or a religious affiliation.
- People will say that they belong to a particular “faith.”
- Maybe they’ll ask, “What faith are you?”
- In other instances, someone will, “Grab that basketball
and take the shot. Have faith in yourself.”
- Or your teenager will ask for the keys to the car and say,
“C’mon, Dad. Have a little faith.”
Those examples are weak and anemic in their usage of the word “faith.”
We need to understand what the Bible means when it talks about faith. We’re going to look at a passage in which Jesus describes a faith that can uproot trees. It’s the kind of faith that pursues the improbable; the kind of faith that changes lives.
II. Background of Luke 17:5-10.
I just read Luke 17:5-10 – but before proceeding we should understand a little background about what’s happening in context to what Jesus is saying. In this section of the Gospel of Luke – Jesus has been teaching His disciples about some very important things. And is At this point – the disciples are probably tired.
Immediately before He teaches them about what we’re going to talk about this morning – Jesus tells them that they have to forgive someone who has wronged them even if they do it seven times a day.
Their exhausted bodies and minds had trouble accepting Christ’s instruction in this matter. They just didn’t see how it could be possible. Yet – in Jesus they see a walking demonstration of unwavering peace and determination. We pick up the conversation at this point.
Let’s start by looking at Lk. 5:5-6 – The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Have you been at a point similar to this one in your life? I have and still go through periods like that now and then. It’s like in algebra class when the process of solving a problem goes on and on – “for crying out loud – cut to the chase!” or “Just give us the answer?”
Jesus replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
III. Learning About Faith.
The message this morning is not about forgiveness – although it takes a solid faith in God to forgive others on a continual basis. The message is about faith – And Jesus’ message here is pretty simple to understand – It’s very straightforward. Jesus says, “You don’t need more faith. You simple have to tap into the faith that you already have. You need to embrace the faith that is in you even if it’s just a small amount.”
The way Jesus phrases His response to their cry for more faith implies that they already have plenty of necessary faith. The problem was that they just weren’t using it. Does this speak to us this morning???
A. Not Horticulture.
Jesus isn’t discussing horticulture – He isn’t saying, “Here’s the best way to transplant a tree.” Jesus simply does what He does many other times in the Gospels: He uses what is in front of His audience to teach his truths. In this instance, it’s a mulberry tree and a mustard seed.
So, what’s Jesus point here? I think that Jesus is teaching his disciples in the 1st century and by extension his followers today one vitally important principle: “If you truly have enough faith in Me, there are no limits to what God can do in your life.”
Jesus’ picture of faith here is that of a mustard seed. If I were to hold a mustard seed in my hand this morning – you wouldn’t be able to see it even if you sat toward the front of this sanctuary.
And Jesus uses a form of teaching that was very popular in that day – He uses hyperbole – extreme exaggeration – to make His point. He uses the smallest seed available at that time and says that amount of faith will uproot a large tree and move it to where it’s planted in the sea.
It was seemingly impossible for something that small to move something that big. Jesus is telling us that even a bit of faith in God can take us a long way. You see, we often say, “God, you do this or that and I’ll believe.” God says, “You believe and I’ll show up.”
B. Faith in Whom – Me or God?
Jesus isn’t talking about faith in ourselves.
He’s not talking about faith in circumstances or luck.
He’s talking about faith in God.
He’s talking about faith enough to follow Him no matter what.
He’s talking about living our lives based on the fact
that God is faithful and will keep His promises.
He’s talking about walking by faith and not by sight.
C. Only as Good the Object of Our Faith.
You see our faith is only as good as the object of our faith. Now many people have faith in people or things. People talk a lot about having faith in something. I can profess all day long that I have enough faith to jump off a building and fly – and It would be nice to be able to fly when I’m stuck in traffic in D-FW or Austin.
But just claiming to have faith that I can fly doesn’t mean that I can. If I jump off a building thinking I can fly – all I can say is, “Look out below!!!!” or “so far, so good!” at each floor.
Faith is only as good as the object of that faith’s ability to do what’s needed. Faith is believing that God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do. Faith is not self-confidence but confidence in God.
D. Not Just Positive Thinking.
Speaking of things that faith is not – it is not just positive thinking. One of my great concerns is that many Christians – even prominent preachers – treat faith and an optimistic outlook as being synonymous – that they mean the same thing. They look at faith as seeing the glass half-full and looking on the bright side of life. Being upbeat, positive and optimistic is not a bad thing but those things are not equivalent with biblical faith.
E. So What is Faith?
So, what is faith? I mean what is a good biblical definition of faith? Well to me the book of Hebrews does a great job of defining faith. It says basically that faith is the confident assurance that God is in control of the future and that he will keep his promises. Heb. 11:1. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
So, faith is this confident assurance that God is really in control and that he will do what he says He will do – He keeps His promises. You see if the object of your faith is almighty God then your faith has limitless potential. Because only He is able – and He will make good.
So, I can’t promise your family member’s cancer is going to be cured. I can’t tell you how you’re going overcome the pain of a lost love one. I can’t explain how you’re going to pay the bills. I can’t promise that your marriage will survive. I can’t promise that your children are going to turn out all right. But I for sure can just promise you that God is in control for He is bigger than the biggest promise. He is smarter the smartest prophet. That He is more powerful than all the world’s power combined.
I can promise most of all He is more loving than the greatest lover. He loves us and He promises us never to forsake us. Now some people lose faith when things go wrong. But that’s usually because they have faith in the wrong thing.
Our faith is not in life’s circumstances; our faith is in God’s character. Our faith is not in our faith; our faith is in God’s faithfulness. Max Lucado says, “Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”
IV. Living with Faith (Luke 17:7-10)
In verses 7-10 where Jesus is speaking about a servant plowing or looking after the sheep who should be saying,“We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
So, what is Jesus talking about here in relation to faith? what’s the mystery? What is he saying? I believe He is teaching us a very important lesson about faith that carries on throughout the Bible and Here’s the lesson: Faith is not faith if it is not demonstrated by faithfulness.
Faithfulness …. We talk a whole lot more about faith than we do faithfulness in Christian circles but I believe Jesus is saying here that faith is demonstrated by doing what we are supposed to do. This means that we should live out our life in Christian service and make Jesus number one in our life.
The disciples were asking for faith – Jesus was saying if you act faithfully you’ve already got it. It’s not so much about having big ideas for God – lots of faith as it is about living faithfully with what you’ve got. Faith really isn’t faith until it is expressed.
A. Sounds Great…But in Real Life???
Now, of course this sounds great in a sermon than in real life. In real life serving day in and day out can weary us to the extreme – But when we do what Jesus tells us to do that is when it really means we trust Him.
Because let’s face it – sometimes Jesus tells us to do some pretty hard things.
He teaches us to humble ourselves when our natural reaction and our cultural encouragement is to build up yourself and toot your own horn. Jesus teaches us to put others first and ourselves last but the world rewards those who watch out for number one. Jesus teaches us to forgive others but the world encourages revenge and standing up for yourself. Jesus teaches us to take up our cross & follow Him & that is not easy & carrying a cross is not very inviting to more of us. You see there is no way to live out those “following Christ” virtues without faith that He is who He says He is and He will make it right in the end.
B. Do I Really Trust Him?
So, if you’re not doing those things then ask yourself…Do I really trust Him? We need to exercise our faith by putting it in action. Exercising faith – whether big or small isn’t a matter of putting on a show and making bold statements and claiming big things on TV – rather it is the humble, invisible, routine, day-in-and day out business of serving.
You know sometimes getting up – putting your cloths on – and going to work despite how bad you are hurting and how little you understand is the biggest act of faith you will do that day. You see faith in Jesus takes on different looks when lived out and it’s not always as obvious or dramatic.
Sometimes faith looks like a wife on her knees in a waiting room praying for her husband who is in surgery to remove a tumor – and the doctor comes in and says, “There is no tumor there. We don’t know what happened to it. It’s just not there. We can’t explain it. It’s just not there.”
Sometimes that is what faith looks like. But sometimes faith is a wife sitting in a cemetery and watching a casket lowered into the ground. That’s faith, too, you know.
Sometimes faith is a high school student who decides to start a Bible Study on campus and it just takes off. Incredible things are accomplished and there is this revival that takes place in the whole school. Sometimes that is what faith looks like.
But sometimes faith is a high school student who walks into school with a Bible and is mocked and ridiculed and spends 4 years of her life overlooked and misunderstood – – That is faith, too.
Sometimes faith is walking into the boss’s office and refusing to lie or to mislead a client because of your faith – and your honesty and integrity ends up getting you a promotion. Sometimes that is what happens in faith.
But sometimes faith will land you in the unemployment line. In fact, the more you exercise your faith the more it will grow. If our faith is living it will grow and enable us to obey God’s commands.
C. Faith is an “Everyday Trusting God Thing” – Sometimes Not Easy.
You see faith is an “everyday trusting God thing” and sometimes it’s not easy. But Jesus teaches us that faith without faithfulness is not really the kind of faith he calls us to. You know in the book of James we read.
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”(James 2:18b-19).
There are a lot of people who have strong beliefs in God – the Bible – about Christ. They can recite creeds to you – catechisms – and talk about doctrines of the Trinity – quote bible verses. James says, “big deal! Show me your faith.”
V. You See Faith Really Is . . .
You see faith is trusting in God so much that you will follow Him no matter what. There’s a great story in the book of Daniel about 3 young men who are commanded to bow down before a golden idol….When they refuse – they’re told that if they don’t bow down – they’re going to be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Their response is classic: “O King, if you throw us into that furnace, the God we serve is able to rescue us, and we believe that He will. But even if He does not, we’re still not going to serve your gods.” In essence, they were saying, “O King, we know that God can do anything, at anytime, anywhere He chooses. But even if God does not do this one particular thing that we want Him to, we are still going to serve Him!”
See, faith is not just about getting what you want from God. It’s the absolute conviction that God is able to do anything – and then the trust that He will do what’s best – whatever that is.
Now I don’t always understand but I hold to Rom. 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I’m sure that most of us here this morning have seen the classic movie “Ben Hur” starring Charleton Heston. Well, years ago, when director Cecil B. Demille was filming that movie – Heston was having trouble learning to drive the chariot. He told Demille, “I think I can drive the chariot, but I don’t know that I can win the race.” Demille said, “You just stay in the race. I’ll make sure you win.”
That’s the essence of our faith in God. We say, “Lord, I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to win.”
And God says, “You just stay in the race – stay the course – you just stay faithful and do your best and trust in Me – I’ll make sure you win.”
No matter the circumstances – no matter what it is – have faith because God is in control!
Let us pray – Father Go, let us not be dissipated on non-essentials. Bring the Word to us in power – sublimate these huge hungers to the obedience of Christ. Above all these things – we would have holiness. Teach us the path of faith. Amen.