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08 - A Concise Guide to Faith

Michael Dant
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In order to have strong faith in God we need confidence in 3 very important things: that God can bless us, that He longs to bless us, and that we are letting Him bless us. Without any one of these, our faith will fail. In this message we look at how we can be faith-filled and faith-ful.

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Michael Dant

Embedded Computer Science Teacher at Southern Adventist University. 

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  • January 27, 2019
    7:30 AM
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Next on our agenda as we look at a concise guide to primitive godliness we want to look at faith faith is one of the foundation elements of the Christian life and it is important we understand how it works and how to get it and where it comes from and we're going to look at that this morning let's begin with the word of prayer Heavenly Father God thank you so much for Faith thank you that we can believe in you in that we don't see you think you have the father that you are the author and finisher of our faith Father we desperately need you we need you to show us how we can collaborate with you how we can cooperate with you how we can let you be Almighty God in us this morning I pray that you will open up our hearts and minds pray that you will teach us and I pray that you will make this practical for us help us to know how we can apply it in our lives we thank you for these things in Jesus' name amen. If God appeared to you in a dream as he did to Solomon and he granted you one wish do you know what your wish would be it's kind of hard in that I mean there are so many good things that we could wish for it be a lot easier if God gave me 3 wishes if God gave me 3 wishes I might ask for love for him and for others abundant love I might ask for mountain moving faith and I would ask for transformational billions but you know what it turns out that we would actually need only wish one wish after all because all 3 of these things are fruits of the Holy Spirit these are built in blessings of being filled with the Holy Spirit so would my one wish be for the Holy Spirit actually know because there's something else I need before I can be filled with the Holy Spirit and or to understand that I'd like to look a little bit at faith and how faith works what it is where it comes from and then we can understand better how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit too much cannot be said about the importance of faith. The Bible talks about faith as one of the most important aspects of what it means to follow Jesus the righteous will live by his faith whatever is not from faith is sin without faith it is impossible to please God Jesus said your faith has made you well and many times when people came to him for healing he would say things like this he would say your faith has made you well or he would say things like your faith has saved you. And sometimes he even said this very scary thing it shall be done to you according to your faith would you like for it to be done to you your faith that's kind of scary through faith the paralytic was restored to vigor of life through faith a sick woman was able to just touch Christ's garment and be healed and without faith tragedies happen remember the story about the father who brought his his boy to Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration and he said to Jesus if you can please heal my son remember that and it was because of his lack of faith that Jesus was was unable to heal him immediately and then the man cried out Lord I believe please help my unbelief and God was able to use that prayer to be able to give him the faith so that Jesus could heal him a lack of faith could be very dangerous Take for example the city of Nazareth Jesus was not able to do much there because of their lack of faith they rejected Jesus the Messiah because of their lack of faith God needs you and I to have faith faith unleashes the power of God in us and through us. Faith is the channel through which all of God's blessings come we have to have this and lack of faith inhibits God's power in our life in fact we are told that every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith in order to talk about face we have to 1st define and of course the Bible does a wonderful job of that faith is a conviction of things not seen an assurance of things hoped for but in terms of a love relationship with jesus faith is simply a trust based love relationship with Jesus faces more than just a belief it's more than just a belief in God's power it's more than just a belief in God's love it's more than just a belief in salvation faith is a love based trust relationship with Jesus the demons believe in trouble but they don't have that level a ship which uses that relationship which he says has to be based on trust and knowledge of His goodness a trust in His love and power and at the light in his friendship so where does that things come from where do we get that faith the 1st thing we need to understand about this question about where does faith come from is that if we're going to get face it's going to be because God gives it to us period God is the only source of faith he is both the author and the finisher and he's also everything in between when it comes to faith if we're going to get faith it is going to be God that gives us the let me ask you question if God is the author and finisher of our faith then whose fault is it if we don't have faith interesting question at one point Jesus' ministry he was sleeping in the back of a boat and he was rudely awakened by his disciples just because they were drowning. And you know it was starting out in the in the water was coming over the boat and it was filling up with water and the disciples were afraid for their very lives and so they called out in to Jesus Jesus woke up looked around and said oh we're about to die he stands up he calms the sea and peace settles on the lake and you know what Jesus does after that he then turned to his disciples and he says lovingly Where is your face what kind of question is that why how would you answer a question like that if you said you where is your faith what would you say oh I'm sorry I left at home is on the table I was going to bring about it don't have it with me what I mean how do you possibly answer a question like that and then in quick succession he asked him 2 more questions he says why are you afraid how was it that you have no faith why would jesus ask these questions What was the purpose of these questions What was he trying to get them to think about at another time Jesus was walking on water at night it was a windy night and he was walking and they saw him and Peter in a great exuberance of faith so Lord let me come out to you and Jesus is Ok So Peter took the leap of faith got out of the boat was walking toward Jesus everything was fine until one point he lost sight of juices and all of a sudden he began to realize the precariousness of the situation here he was in the middle of this lake with these waves all around him and he couldn't swim if anything happened he was going to die and also of course his face began to wane and he began to sink and he cried out to Jesus and Jesus was instantly there took him by the hand and put him into the boat and then after all that happened juices said lovingly tenderly to Peter why did you doubt why did you doubt. Isn't an interesting question what was Jesus trying to say to Peter why would he ask such a question how do you answer such a question why did you doubt where is your faith why are you afraid how is that you have so little faith why was he says asking these questions it had to be a very important reason he wasn't just trying to maliciously throw their lack of faith in into their faces he was trying to tell them something he was trying to lovingly gentle he helped them to realize that they were the source of their face problems he is the author and the finisher of our faith and if we don't have faith it's not his problem because we have to let Him God is willing and able and eager to author and finish our faith but we have to do our part there's a command in Scripture says that now shall love the Lord thy God this is a command it is an imperative something that God is commanding us to do did you know there's also command in the scriptures to say have faith in God both of those are commands we are commanded to love God with all of our heart mind and soul and we are commanded to have faith and guess what neither one of these commands can we obey we are not strong enough in ourselves to give ourselves love for God or love for others and we are not strong enough in ourselves to give ourselves face so these are command that we cannot possibly big but the good news is every one of God's commands is a promise is backed by a promise because we know that only God can do it only God can do all of these things that he commands in us and through us and only we can let him every one of God's commands is a promise. So Faith comes from God It only comes from him he's the author perfect of our faith but it doesn't come in a vacuum it's very important that we understand our part in that faith growing process our role in that process so in order to have strong faith there are 3 things that we need and each of these 3 things requires collaboration with God The 1st thing that we need or have strong faith is confidence that God can bless us another words we need to know that he has the power to do what we're asking him the father who came to Jesus with his demon possessed boy at Mount Vernon figuration he said if you can please heal my son in Jesus that if you can all things are possible to him who what who believes and that's when the father says Oh Lord I believe to sell my unbelief and that's when God was able to heal the young man contrast this father's lack of belief with the Syrian Phoenician woman's faith she came to Jesus and she also had a demon possessed child and she said Lord please heal my daughter and she says there's something about dogs in giving food to you know really wasn't very nice it didn't seem like what he said but you know what what was amazing about this this woman she realized that God had so much faith the juices had so much power that all she needed was crumbs juices had so much power to heal that all she needed was crumbs and she said to Jesus yes Lord but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table. She had great faith in God's ability his power to the extent that all she needed for her daughter to be healed was just crumbs that's great faith Paul tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ because as we rescript her and as we we learn more more about the love of God and about the power of God in the stories we see how he's actually working powerful in people's lives that actually increases our faith but we need more than just reading we also have to experience God we have to see him working we have to experience His love His gentleness and his powerful work in our lives we see this in the example of Nieman me him in was a pagan general did not know or or love or care about God and this little girl said to him hey there is somebody initial who can heal you the God of visual can heal you and you know they minces Ok maybe this is true maybe this is and he didn't have great faith at that point but he decided to check it out and as he was in that river dipping 7 times his faith was growing so that by the point when he came out the 7th time he had the faith that let God heal him and that faith that experience will faith actually transformed his life both physically and spiritually God never asked us to believe without giving us sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith his existence his character the truthfulness of His Word are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason and this testimony is abundant yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt our faith must rest upon evidence not demonstration that's important distinction our faith based on evidence but not demonstration those who wish to doubt will have opportunity and while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. So the 1st requirement to have to have great faith is to have confidence that God can bless us and the 2nd requirement is to have confidence that God wants to bless us that God loves us and he's longing to bless us we need both confident that he can and confident that he wants to those are 2 important credibly important things in this faith process. The devil doesn't care if we have complete faith and God's power I mean the demons have that but he doesn't want us to have faith in God's love that he will use that power to bless even you and me one day a leper came and he bowed down before Jesus and he said these faith filled words Lord if you are willing you can make me clean In other words this leper had wonderful faith that God Jesus could heal him but he wasn't so sure that the Jesus was willing he said Lord if you are willing you can so he had the great confidence in God's power but not necessarily has much power much confidence in God's willingness Can you imagine what this young man must have felt as he knelt before Jesus as Lord I know that you can heal me of my leprosy but I don't know if you want to I don't know if you're willing to if you're willing to if you're only willing to you can and can you imagine how that man felt when Jesus responded I am willing those 3 words was all a man needed to hear because he knew that Jesus could heal him he just needed to know if he was willing to and when he says I am willing he knew that he was going to be healed and those words was able to transform his life knowing God's will is a is a great phase booster. But what if we don't know God's will we don't always know God's will in fact sometimes it seems like we very rarely do the Bible never promises promises us some things there are a lot of things that the Bible does promise us but it doesn't always promise us that things will go the way we want them to go doesn't always promise them promise us that things will go easily for us in fact remember the story of the Daniel 3 friends and the fiery furnace they were threatened by death and after that threat they respond to the king and they said this Our God whom we serve is able in the words God has the power they believe that they have come from the god had the power to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and he will deliver us out of your hand Ok so they had great faith in God's ability to heal them or to save them and they had some faith that God was wanting to but they weren't sure what God's plan was and so they continued they said but even if he does not let it be known to you Ok that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up in other words we have great faith that God can heal us save us but we're not quite sure what his plan is and no matter what his plan is we're happy with it we're not going to serve any other god we're going to serve Him no matter what his plan is that's faith that's all we can do when we don't have we don't have foresight into what God specific plan is we can trust his heart we can know that he is going to do the best thing that he is that his plan is good and perfect and we can be content with that even if we don't know exactly how that is going to going to work out in our own life we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose in other words we can have confidence that God's will is always to bless us always got ever was once the good thing. And he can make anything he can make death in a fiery furnace he can make anything work together for good those who love God and to those who are called according to his purpose so that it is enhanced in our faith even though we did not necessarily always know what God's will is we do know that God always works things out for good for those who love him and call according to his purpose her back and realize this this concept he didn't know what God's will was he didn't he realize that things were always going to be easy but he said I will be faithful until death this is what he said though the fig tree does not and there are no grapes on the vines though the all of the crop fails in the field produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls yet I will rejoice in the Lord I will be joyful in God my Savior my friend does not lack of faith to not know God's plans in fact it can be presumption to think that we do know God's plans it could be presumption to think that we know what God should do in everything we know that God has a plan and our job in faith is not to try to figure out what that plan is is to just surrender to that plan to let God do what he wants to do his way and that is something we can always have great confidence in. This is a wonderful prayer by a guy named Pastor Drew Williams he shared on the internet one time lord I know you can I pray you would your will be done is not a great prayer that's a prayer we can and we always pray Lord I know you can I pray that you would but your will be done that's a prayer we can all pray so God can bless us is something we need to have confidence in and we also need to have comfort that God wants of us as those are 2 of the 3 things that we must have in order to have faith the 3rd thing that we need is confidence that we are letting God bless us because of our power of choice we can keep God from blessing us we can hold up an umbrella so the showers of blessings don't reach us we can resist God and God doesn't always get his way you know a lot of times when we talk about God answering our prayers we think that he answers them in one of 3 ways either he says Yes or he says no or he says wait right those are the 3 ways we often think of God answer your prayers but there is another way sometimes and perhaps fairly often he needs to say sorrowfully Oh if only i could we have great faith in God's power we have great faith in God's love but we're not letting him we're holding up that umbrella and we're keeping God from the showering us with his blessings Oh that we would just take that brother down and let him drenched us with his goodness but by nature we resist God and sometimes God has to say I hear your prayer I would love to answer if only you would let me this is what happens the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus confident that God could save him he came to Jesus confident that God wanted to save him but he walked away sad because he was not willing to let God save him he was not willing to let God do what it took a professor at one of our colleges once took him in for formal survey of his students and he asked them 2 questions you said do you believe that Jesus is the savior of the world and your Savior and the 2nd question is do you have the assurance of salvation 2 very important questions and this is the response that he got 90 percent of those students said that they believe that Jesus was their Savior and the savior of the world but only 10 percent of those students said they have the assurance of salvation how could this happen how could it happen that they knew that God could save them the things that God wanted to save them the sea he was the savior of the world and yet so few had any confidence that they were actually saved in that same survey he asked them why that they responded the way they did miss it with some of the people responded one person says I probably don't have it because I have a few things to make correct right with God This person was recognizing that they were actually holding back they were resisting God They knew that Jesus could save them they knew that God wanted to say them they loved him but they recognize that they were holding back another person said this I know that I can have salvation now and that all people can but I have not been living the life by with to obtain salvation he knew that he was resisting God. He was like the rich are walking away sad because the world had too much attraction for them another person said this I do not feel that I have salvation now because I still seem to love the world so much I seem to be holding out my hands to him and asking him to pull me up but when he reaches down for me I pull away in all these cases these people knew that God was their savior that God wanted to save them but they didn't have confidence that he could save them because they realize that they were they were holding back they were pulling away they were resisting God in order to have great faith in salvation we need to have confidence that God can save us that God wants to save us and that we are letting us save us without all those 3 things we will not have that assurance of salvation that was to students problems they had confidence that he could and they wanted to but not that they were letting him. But when we by faith give ourselves to God when we take down the umbrella and let him drenched with his goodness we can have confidence that God is going to succeed in blessing us Apostle John tells us beloved if our heart does not condemn us we have confidence before God and whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight when God is working powerfully through us when his Holy Spirit is giving us victory over sin and help us to keep his commandments we can come back early before the throne of God to say Lord you are in control of my life and we can have confidence that he can save us that he wants to save us and that we are letting him save us those of the 3 things so in other words in order to be face cild we must be faithful to God in order to be face filled We must be faithful to God and the opposite is also true in order to be faithful we must be faith filled they work together it's like a spiral upward spiral they work together. The reason why God's people are not more spiritual minded and have no more faith I have been shown is because they are narrowed up with selfishness it is not the abundance of your meetings that God accept it is not the numerous prayers but the right doing doing the right thing and at the right time it's one God works in us to produce that right doing in us that we can have confidence that we are spirit filled and self empty that God is ruler of our life that we are letting God be Almighty God in us. In another place she writes this in a divided half hearted life you will find doubt and darkness do not sit down in Satan's easy chair of do little but to rise and aim at the elevated standard which it is your privilege to attain it is a blessing a privilege to give up all for Christ's Isn't that so true it is such a privilege to let God have our lives to let him be responsible for us to let him have all the power of our life to let him be omnipotent in us that is the power of God So in order to have faith we have we need to have 3 things like a 3 legged stool we have to have all 3 of those things if one of those legs is missing it's not going to stand up we need to have faith that God can bless us that he wants to bless us and that we are letting him bless us and we have to remember that only God can do it only we can let him it comes back to that basic principle if you like everything we talk about comes back to the basic principle doesn't this is probably the most basic and most important principle the Christian life this is righteousness by faith right here we recognize that only God can do it no matter what it is no matter what the good thing it is only God can do it only God can give us face only God can sanctify us only God can justify it only God can give us His Holy Spirit only God can give us victory over sin only God can fill in the blank. But it also comes down to our power of choice only you and I can lead him and it's the same way with faith only God can give us faith he's the author and finisher of our faith he's longing to do this for us but we have to let him the disciples came to Jesus one day and they said something just wonderful that must of just thrill Christ heart he said they said increase our faith you know I recently I read this as I was studying more about faith and I was saying oh a look hey this is it this is where I'm going to find out how to grow in faith because here are these disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith in he is not going to let them down he's going to help them and I want to see what Jesus says and so I read the next part and you know what I was actually. Surprised by his words in reply he said and the Lord said if you had faith like a mustard seed you would say to the small Berry Tree be uprooted and be planted in the sea and you and it would be you so here are his disciples coming in asking for more faith and Jesus is telling them that they have little faith they really knew that what was Jesus trying to say this is all he said this is this is the his answer to that please increase our faith What's that all about. What was Jesus trying to say here it doesn't seem like he was being very helpful in fact it seems like he was actually ridiculing them for their for their lack of faith but they already knew that they had a lack of faith that was not going to help them what was Jesus actually saying when he proclaimed if you had the faith like a mustard seed Well you know as I was studying this text I begin to realize that it doesn't say that they had small faith that they should have small faith he was saying that they should have faith like a mustard seed What does that mean what is faith like a mustard seed Well Christ point and he made this in other places in Scripture he said the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds so our face starts out small but what's the characteristic of this mustard see why is that why is he saying that we should be like a mustard seed is because even though it starts out the smallest cvs it becomes the largest of garden plants that's God Christ point he says your faith needs to grow like a mustard seed grows so will you need to understand is how does a mustard seed grow there is a grain of mustard seed is so small it contains that same mysterious life principle which produces growth in the lofty stream when the mustard seed is cast into the ground the tiny germ lays hold of every element that God has provided for its nutriment and it speedily develops a sturdy growth if you have faith like this you will lay hold upon God's word and upon all the helpful agencies he has appointed Thus your faith will strengthen and you will bring to your aid the power of heaven in other words if we want to if the mustard seed wants to grow it's got to be put into the ground because the ground is where all the elements of it's neutral nutrition are it has to be in the ground has to be buried in the ground before it can grow and when it is buried into the ground then all these nutrients are available to it and it's able to grow abundantly and that's exactly how it is the Christian life as well Jesus says Truly truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and what dies it remains alone but if it dies it bears much fruit and that's the same thing with the Christian life that death is that surrender the crucifixion of self. That dying in Jesus that leap of faith into the arms of Christ that's what that's talking about dying in Jesus the 1st step of baptism Truly truly I say to you with us a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone but if it dies it bears much fruit that's what Jesus was telling the disciples if you want faith you must be like a mustard seed you may must be willing to be planted in the earth to die to self and you must be willing to take advantage of every element that is provided for your nutrition Jesus was not telling them that they have small faith they already knew that he was not teaching them to try harder to be more faith filled instead he was showing them the way to great faith was to let themselves be planted in the earth let themselves die in Jesus so that they could have access to all these nutrients that they needed in order to grow he was actually leading them to surrender showing them the way to great faith and it's the same thing for you he's showing us the great way to great faith by that same surrender to die and to be buried in Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith is the key to great faith faith only comes from God It only can come from gun he is able to give a space he longs to give us faith and now all we have to do our power of choice is the left him give us faith let him surrender is holy to him so that the Holy Spirit can come and well enough and one of the fruits of the Spirit is faith I like the way Martin Luther put it God created the world out of nothing and so long as we are nothing he can make something out of us that's not true is that emptiness of our self that lets him do his wonderful work in our weakness he is strong so if God appeared to me in a dream like he did to Solomon so many years ago and he offered me just one wish you know what I would wish for I would wish that I might be perfectly surrendered to Jesus. That I might give my life in every detail to to God that the Holy Spirit may be absolute control of my life itself would be destroyed that God would be the king of my life I would ask for unreservedly unresisting unrelenting in the irretrievable surrender because once I have that one thing everything else comes in a strain and we let God into use of ourself He fills us with the Holy Spirit and everything comes from the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit is God living and dwelling in us through the right exercise of the will and entire change may be made in your life by yielding up your will to Christ you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers you will have strength from above to hold you steadfast and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life even the life of faith I want to tended to faith in learning conference where I presented a paper and the conference was held on a cruise ship I know it's a tough job somebody's got to do it right so this conference would be held on a cruise ship and I was going off to my meetings one day and my family decided to visit the local art auction that was taking place on the cruise ship and then afterwards my wife told me all about it she was saying that this poor guy here he was trying to get these people to spend a exurban to the amounts of money for things they really didn't need and she said but he had an interesting technique this is what the sales person did who was trying to said he was trying to sell these paintings these people he said this If you want something you've never had you may need to do something you've never done. Now when it comes to buying art that's laughable but you know in the Christian life this is actually very profound and it's very true if you want something you've never had you may need to do something you've never done for the 1st 44 years of my life I never had Victory in Jesus I never had a love for him I never relish I never had that conversion and it came down at one point my life to this decision if I want to something that I've never had that conversion experience that new life I would have to do something I had never done before and that is let God take my life that I have to give myself wholly to him unreservedly for the 1st time in my my life give him all my choices my friends is so true if you want something you've never had you may need to do something you've never done and yet it is so hard for us to do that the devil wants it is doing anything he possibly can to keep us from shredding our lives to Jesus and he's assuming very well that's why we have the latest the lukewarm condition of our church that's why we are so desperately needed in need a revival reformation but my friends each one of us personally could be revived a reformed right now it's just a matter of a choice it's a choice to let God plant us in the ground to bury us in Jesus but we have to die for that to happen and once we are buried in Jesus we have access to all the nutrients that we need to grow our faith will grow like a mustard seed the Holy Spirit will come and fill us and he'll give us all the fruits of the spirit love and joy and peace and patience and goodness and kindness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control and all the other fruits of the spirit in the gifts of the Spirit they all come from him but it all comes down to this one thing are we willing are we willing to let God have all of our life for him to be king of every choice in every area of our life all the time do you have great faith if you want great faith the key is surrender Let's pray. Heavenly Father gone we thank you so much. For this thing called faith this belief in the unseen this confidence in you in your love in your power and Father we pray that you will help us to use our power of choice to let you be Almighty God in us Heavenly Father thank You for the privilege of surrender the privilege that lets you be king of our lives to let you be responsible for us for all of our problems for all of our faults for all of our failures that you can be responsible for taking and getting us where you want to be thank you so much father for the privilege of surrender I pray that each one of us will let you do whatever it takes to get us to that place and to keep us there safely in your arms and pray for these things we thank you in Jesus' name. This media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit w w w audio verse or.

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