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What is Faith?

Mark Finley


Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference



  • April 8, 2006
    10:00 AM
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What is Faith?

By Mark Finley

Good morning and Happy Sabbath

I’ve been praying that God will do something special in our meeting today. We’re living in an hour of earth’s history where simply coming to a meeting and leaving the same people is no longer an option. Every time we come to a meeting in which we seek God in Bible Study and prayer, we have an opportunity for His Spirit to touch our hearts and do something special. So let’s bow our heads just momentarily once again.

Father, we thank you that you are more anxious to touch us than we are to be touched. You are more anxious to heal us inside than we are to be healed. We pray that you would come today, speak to our hearts, and to our minds, heal our weary sin sick souls and draw us closer to you. In Christ’s name, Amen.

A number of years ago I was pastoring a little church in Georgia, and often we gave Bible studies to people that lived back in the mountains. In Georgia, we call those howlers, you drive back on dirt roads and come into little cabins, some of those cabins even today don’t have electricity. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that everybody in Georgia doesn’t have electricity, but there are those isolated spots back in the hills.

I remember one time I was back in the hill country giving a Bible study, i’d given Bible studies to this family for about six months. As I was sitting giving them a Bible study in a little log cabin, dirt floor, no electricity, no running water. A man came into the cabin, smoking a big cigar and the first words out of his mouth as he smoked this cigar were, “Praise God, I’m healed!” Praise God, I’m healed? Well, that was rather fascinating to me and I was a younger man at the time and a little bolder. So I said to the big cigar man. “Big cigar man, what are you healed of?” And he said, “The story is so amazing! About six months ago, I went to my physician and my physician told me that I had a spot on my lung, further tests revealed that it was malignant. But I just went back for a continued checkup after the last six months, and now there is no spot on my lung, there is no malignancy. Praise God, I’m healed.” I said to the big cigar man, again I was younger and wasn’t as careful and diplomatic as what I might say today, and I said to him. “Big Cigar man, what about your big cigar? What did the doctor say about that cigar?” and he looked at me and in all seriousness, he said, “Young man, don’t you know, if you have enough faith, you can smoke as many big cigars as you want because cancer cannot touch you if you have enough faith. The problem with you, young preacher is you don’t have enough faith!” Now my question is this, was the big cigar man right? Where is your faith?

If you have enough faith can you smoke all the big cigars that you want and because of the dynamic power of faith, cancer will not touch you at all. If you have enough faith, can you eat as much ice cream as you want and pie and cheesecake and you’ll not gain a pound because faith is so powerful it will turn back the results of any physical lifestyle practice? What is faith? If you have enough faith, will you always be healthy, wealthy, and wise? If you have enough faith, will your marriage always go right and you’ll never have a conflict with your wife? If you always have enough faith, will your children always make the right decisions and never get into any problems in their life? If you have enough faith, will you always have adequate money to buy whatever you want? If you have enough faith, will you never get sick and is sickness the result of apathy? If you have enough faith, will life be like floating on a cloud with the winds of the Spirit to the kingdom of God? What is faith?

In fact faith is so important, that God gives to us a whole chapter in the Bible about it. Take your Bible and turn to Hebrews 11. And be prepared for some amazing surprises this morning as we study Hebrews 11.

What is faith? God considers faith so important, so significant to the Christian life that in fact faith is the only essential requirement for salvation if it’s understood correctly. Faith is so important that if you misunderstand it, you get off track in the Christian life. And I will be so bold as to say today, that what we see in American Evangelical Christianity is often not faith at all. It is sugar coated, candy coated gospel that ultimately leaves you barren in the trials, in the difficulties and challenges of your life. Faith is not a good luck charm. Faith is not a four-leaf clover. Faith is not something, that if you have it, everything is going to go well in your life. This candy coated superficial, surface vision of faith will ultimately in your life, if that is what you grasp, will sometimes let you down, someday let you down and you’ll be defeated, broken, crushed and bruised and tend to give up on God. Faith is far, far deeper than much of the superficiality that passes for faith in the modern world.

So let’s probe it. Let’s look at Scripture and discover what Faith is. And what faith is all about and practically applied in our life. We begin with Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is faith? It’s the substance, sub-stance – it’s what stands under. Faith stands under everything else in my Christian life. Substance, submarine – a boat that goes under the sea. Subterranean – something that’s under the earth. Faith is the substance. You look at the word substance and it has a variety of meanings. One is that which stands under. Faith stands under everything else, it solidifies, it is the foundation. In the greek language, the word for substance, means the essence of the thing. A substance is the real thing as opposed to the artificial. So faith is the real thing, it is the genuine thing that supports everything else in our Christian life. It’s the essence of it, the foundation of it.

Another translation says faith is the confident assurance of things hoped for. It’s the confident assurance. When life seems like it’s in a whirl, when my head is spinning, when my wife has been diagnosed with cancer, when my kid has been in a car wreck, when the bills are mounting up high, faith is the confident assurance that God still loves me. It’s the confident assurance that He stills cares for me. It is the confident assurance that He’s still in control of my life. So what is faith? It’s the essence of everything I hope for, it the essence of everything I dream about. It’s the foundation of my spiritual life. It’s the confident assurance, it is the guarantee that all God’s promises will be fulfilled for me whether I can see it or not. Faith is the guarantee that all of God’s promises are going to be fulfilled.

Then the Bible gives to us a list of the heroes of faith. Preliminary to that list, I’d like to share with you two definitions that Ellen White gives of faith. One is found in Signs of the Times September 9, 1889. She asks the question, "What is faith?" And then she answers it. “It is simply taking God at His word; it is believing that God will do just as He has promised.” That is what faith is! It is taking God at His word. She also defines faith in Education p. 253, “Faith is trusting God--believing that He loves us and knows best what is for our good.”

When you come to a position of faith in your life and you’ve just retired to a place called Loma Linda, because you want to be in an Adventist community. And you’ve worked hard all your life, you’ve got a little bungalow up in the mountains and your husband dies of a heart attack the first week you’re here and you don’t know anybody. Faith is saying God I don’t understand this but I still trust you. And I’m not going to give up on you because I cannot understand what’s happening to me in life. See faith is not dependent on everything going right. It’s a confident assurance that even when it doesn’t God is still there in my life.

God gives to us multiple examples of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. We begin with Hebrews Chapter 11 and we look at some of those examples of faith. Hebrews 11: 4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Who is the first one that God tells us is an example of faith? Abel. Abel’s faith was so good it got him killed. Because if Abel didn’t have faith, he would have lived. But because he did have faith he died. Why does God give you the first example of a person who has faith who dies, rather than a person who has faith and lives? You would think that God would begin with somebody that lived. His faith was so great that God worked some kind of miracle and he was delivered. If Abel did not have faith to have lived, but because he had faith he died, Abel brought a more excellent sacrifice, but if Abel didn’t bring the excellent sacrifice and he had presumption, he may have lived. Cain brought the sacrifice of presumption, Abel brought the sacrifice of faith and Abel’s faith led him to die. Could it be that sometimes you pray for somebody dying of cancer and it’s not that their faith is weak that they die, but their faith is strong and they die. So it is not the object of faith that reveals faith or the results of faith that reveal faith. It is the quality of faith that reveals faith.

Now look at the next example. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” Now wait a minute, I’m kind of confused here. Abel has faith and he dies and Enoch has faith and lives. Who had more faith? Abel who died or Enoch or lived? Who had more faith? Neither. Did Enoch trust God and did he trust God so much that God took him home alive without seeing death? Did Abel trust God? Wait I’m getting confused now. Both had faith and one lives and one dies. Let’s keep going, this is a fascinating chapter.

Okay, Noah. We look at verse seven. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Abel has faith and he dies, Enoch has faith and he lives, Noah has faith and he stays. Noah had such faith that he stayed and built an ark to go through the flood. And Noah stayed for 120 years on the task. Does it take faith not to leave Loma Linda after you graduate, and stay here and minister? But look at Abraham, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Noah had faith and he stayed, and Abraham had faith and he left. Does it take faith to leave? So faith is neither staying where you are or going. Faith is knowing what God wants you to do and doing it.

Incidentally, something else about Noah. Noah prepared an ark and he got in the ark. This is a little aside, not in the sermon, but it might be valuable to somebody. Were the animals house broken that were brought upon the ark? You think any of those animals messed when they were on the ark? You think they did in a 120 days, you think they stunk the place up a little bit? You think it stunk inside the ark sometimes? Was there a storm outside the ark? Was the ark shaking back and forth? Somebody sees where I’m going with this already. There was a storm outside the ark. Were the waves high outside the ark. Was the thunder crashing? But did it stink inside the ark? But was it still God’s ark although there was a little stink inside? He that has ears to hear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. There may be at times a little stink in the ark, are you hearing me today? But the answer is not to jump off into the waters and drown because God has his hand on the ark and the church is going through to triumph. So because occasionally some of the animals inside the ark messed and it gets a little mess here and there and gets a little stinky here and there. It’s still God’s ark. And God never called you to get off the ark, clean up the mess a little bit. It’s takes more faith to work to clean up the mess in the ark that God put you in, than to jump out of the ark and get drowned in the storm and criticize the stink that was in the ark while you’re drowning outside the ark. If you didn’t get it, ask your girlfriend or your wife, she’ll explain it.

Hebrews 11. By faith Abel does what? Dies. By faith Enoch does what? Lives. By faith Noah stays. By faith Abraham goes. Sarah, verse 11, By faith Sarah conceives. Did it take faith for Sarah to conceive. How old was she? Any ninties here? I know here about all these geriatric people here at loma linda, National geographic comes in and does a story, any of those ninety-year-olds conceiving? It takes faith to conceive. But wait a minute, the same child that comes as a child of promise that is conceived by Sarah, God tells Abraham in verse 17, offer up Isaac. He says take that child and offer him up. It takes faith. By faith Abel dies, and by faith Enoch lives. By faith Noah stays and is content to not leave and he stays in one place for 140 years. By faith Abraham does not stay and he goes. By faith Sarah, conceives a child at 90 and the same God that tells her she’ll conceive by 90 by faith tells Abraham to offer up the child. Are you getting a picture of what faith is all about. Faith is trusting God. Faith is listening to the voice of God in your heart and in your life. Faith is sensing that God is leading you to live or to die to stay or to go, to conceive the child or to offer up that child to God.

Now let’s continue verse 22, “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.” We’re well aware that Joseph came from an incredibly dysfunctional family. And Joseph's siblings entered into sibling rivalry, Joseph went from the pit, to the prison, to the palace. Joseph became an incredibly wealthy man. It takes faith to be wealthy, it takes faith to be wealthy. There is no problem with being wealthy, the question is what do you do with the wealth that God gave you. So the issue is not what you have, but the issue is what has you? It’s no problem to have money, but if money has you, that’s a bigger problem. You can have less than somebody else, but the less you have can have you. So it took faith for Joseph to manage the wealth for the good of God’s cause, because he was managing all those granaries. He could have sold that grain and received the money for himself, but he chose not to, he chose to use it both for Egypt as a testimony of the power of the living God and he chose to use it for Israel, at a time of famine. So it was how he used it, so Joseph had faith and God entrusted him with riches.

But look at the next one, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents…” Joseph had faith, he went into Egypt and became rich. Moses had faith and he came out of Egypt and became poor. Abel has faith and he dies, Enoch has faith and he lives, Noah has faith and he stays. Abraham has faith and he leaves, Sarah has faith and she conceives, Abraham has faith and he offers up the child of promise. Joseph has faith and he becomes rich in Egypt. Moses has faith and he becomes poor outside of Egypt. We continue to go on, look here now at verse 34. It talks about faith, ”Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.” So here is a story where these people have such faith, that there is the attempt to come at them with the sword and kill them, but the angel’s hand stays the sword. The sword drops and the faithful believers of God are not killed with the sword. The Bible says very clearly. By Faith, (verse 34) they escape the edge of the sword, does it take faith to see somebody coming at you with the sword and to believe that God is going to deliver you and to see that sword drop in their hands. By faith they escaped the edge of the sword. But now let your eyes drop down to verse 37, “They were stoned. They were sawn in two, were tempted, they were slain with the sword” What happened to those in verse 34. In verse 34 they did what? They escaped the edge of the sword, How did they do that by what? By faith. What happened to those in verse 37, they were sawn, they were stoned, they were slain with the sword. They were slain with the sword because they had faith, but the ones in verse 34 escaped the edge of the sword by faith. Will some people be killed as martyrs and they have faith? Will other people be delivered and they have faith? What then is faith?

Hebrews 11 if you haven’t seen it before is specifically designed by God as a contrast chapter. It’s a chapter of couplets. You have story and then you have the opposite in the next verse. The reason God did that is specifically designed to teach you that at times like Abel, we will die in faith, and because a person has a malignant disease and dies does not mean they have any less faith than a person who lives. There will be times that God calls you to stay in one place like Noah, and to listen to His voice and stay on task and not consider moving. There’ll be other times in your life that God will call you like Abraham to go where you do not know where you are going. Whether you stay at loma linda and have a mission that God has given you by faith or whether you go to Mongolia by faith. The issue is not whether you stay like Noah or whether you go like Abraham. The issue is have you heard the voice of God in your own life? Do you know where God is leading you in your own life? Are you living a life of absolute total trust? If you conceive a child, are you committed to bringing that child up for Christ. But there are times that we must let our children go. There are times in life when you cannot understand and it appears that everything you have put into that child is reversing for you. And it’s at that point like Abraham, you offer that child up to God.

There are times, that God gives us incredible wealth by faith. And the issue is not whether we have it or not. The issue is whether we dedicate that which we have to God. But there may be times when God calls us to poverty. To have far, far less. And that does not mean in any way that we are any less dear to the heart of God. It simply means that we have a unique calling of faith and trust. So whether we are sawn asunder and seem to be slain in our life or not, what is faith? Each of these believers and the heroes of the hall of fame of faith had the same thing in common .They trusted God in every circumstance of their life. What is faith? Faith is trusting God as a friend well known. So that I do whatever He asks. I go wherever He leads, I accept his guidance in my life in every circumstance of my life because I know that He will never, ever let me down. I know that He has my happiness in best view, but I know also that there’s something more importance to God than my happiness, it is my salvation. There is something more important to God than my happiness, it is my salvation. And that more than having me happy in life, God wants to save me for a trillion, million years. And faith is saying God, life is a school and I am willing to face the lessons that You want to teach. Whether those lessons are in the light or the darkness, I am willing to go through the lessons You want to teach me, whether they are lessons of joy or sorrow, whether they are lessons of living or dying, whether they are lessons of staying or going, whether they are lessons of poverty or wealth. Lord I am not going to tell you how to run my life, I’m simply going to trust You.

Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, was asked one day. “Aren’t you bitter that you were born blind?” She said to the person who asked her, ‘In fact I am not at all, I am privileged to be born blind, because you see other faces and you know what they look like, the first face that I will see is the face of Jesus.” And she wrote that beautiful hymn, Face to Face with Christ my Savior. Face to face what will it be, when with rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ who died for me. Now the third verse is particularly powerful. She writes, “What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain, when the crooked things are straightened and the dark things shall be made plain.”

Now there are three things that Faith is not. First, faith is not telling God what I want and demanding He give it to me because I want it now. Faith is not selfishness disguised as belief. Faith is not selfishness disguised as belief. Faith is discovering what God wants and above all else, committing my life to follow that. A good example of that is Matthew the 26 chapter. There are three things that faith is not. Faith is not demanding that God will do for me what I want. There’s a candy-coated, cotton candy, hard candy sugary faith says, God you better do what I want, and if you don’t come through and do what I want than you must not care for me at all. Faith is not human being centered, it is God centered. It is never faith in me, it’s always faith in Him. It’s never trust in what I can do, it’s always trust in what He can do. It is never focused on what I want, it’s always focused on what He wants.

Matthew 26, we look at the experience of Jesus in gethsemane. Matthew 26:39. “He went a little farther and fell on his face and prayed saying, oh my father if it is possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I wilt, but as you wilt.” Now notice when Jesus is praying, do you think Jesus was going to the cross saying “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Hallelujah, I can’t wait for them to drive nails through my hands, can’t wait for them to jamb a crown.” It’s fascinating to think of it in that way. Jesus did not go to the cross singing praises with some emotional warm feeling running up and down his spine. Jesus went to the cross with this incredible burden of the sins of humanity knowing that he would be separated from God because of the pain of sin. But even when he got to the cross he couldn’t imagine how awful the physical, mental, emotional pain was going to be, He was shut out from the Father’s presence. So when Jesus was going to the cross to be denied by Peter, and betrayed by Judas and rejected by the Jews, When Jesus was going to that cross, to have nails driven through his hands and a crown of thorns placed upon his head, and blood running down his face. When Jesus headed for the cross, it is was not a picnic, and here Jesus says Father if it’s possible let this cup, let this trial, let this difficulty, pass from me. Then He says, nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done. That’s is faith.

Faith is saying, Lord I don’t want to go through, I’m not choosing to go through this. Lord I wish I didn’t have to face this, if you’re asking me humanly, and this lump in my breast has been diagnosed as malignant and it is has matasticized, Lord I don’t want to go through, treatments, Lord I don’t want my life cut short while I’m 45 years old, I’m not choosing this. Lord I don’t understand it and I know that you only want good for me and you did not cause this, so I do not put the blame on you Lord for what happened. Somebody says but my wife ran off with another man, somebody says I was abused as a child, somebody said did God cause those things? He did not. We live in a world of sickness and suffering where often innocence suffer. Maybe the cause of what has happened in your life, or your family, or your childhood, it certainly, absolutely has nothing to do with choices you made. It is true that sometimes in our life, we make health choices and there are consequences in our own body that’s a reality. But it is also true that there are times we don’t make those choices and still we are hit by a drunk driver, a kid goes through the windshield of the car, it’s not because you did not pray enough that morning. In the divine drama of destiny, faith is not always saying Lord this is my will for my life and it’s going to be charted out. There are factors beyond our control, bur even when there are factors beyond our control we can reach out in trust and say God I trust you in spite of what’s going on. Faith is seeking God’s will in every aspect of my life.

Let me give you an example of faith in God’s will. Young couple came to some classes on trusting God and how to have this trust permeate every area of your life. When they came to the classes, they were about twelve thousand dollars in corporate debt on their credit cards. And they had been spending, they were newly married, the corporate debt was far greater than their ability to pay it back they had simple modest jobs. They were not well-to-do people at all and they had twelve thousand dollars on the corporate credit card. They began to learn a newer, deeper dimension of faith and they discovered that faith is trusting God in every area of your life. So they said to one another, we will not make another purchase, unless we ask God about it, and we ask God if it’s His will because we understand now that the deeper dimensions of faith is not seeking what we want it’s seeking what God wants. The deeper dimension of faith is seeking God’s will in every aspect of life, so before we make a purchase we will seek God’s will. And so they were following that pretty good and their corporate debt was coming down, it was about nine or ten thousand, their personal debt was coming down.

And so they love skiing and snow skiing was their favorite and they were in the mall one day and they saw at the ski shop that it was off season and they could buy skis and ski boots for half price. And they said, my this is wonderful. So they went in, they got fitted for their skis and ski boots, and fitted for the ski bindings and the skis, everything was half price and they were going to get out of the whole thing for both of them for about $3200. And they did have the credit card, and they could put it on the credit card and that was pretty neat and so they came up to the register and I’ll call them John and Maria, that was not their real names. So John takes out his credit card and gives it to the lady, and she’s about ready to run it and he looks over and smiles at Maria and she looks back at him. And then he gets this funny look on his face and she got the funny look on her face. Just as the lady was going to swipe the credit card, he said hold it for a second, he goes over to Maria and he said, “Maria, remember that commitment we made with one another, is this God’s will?” She said, “Yeah.” He said, “We didn’t ask God about this. Remember our new dimension of faith, that faith is seeking what God’s will is, and remember how in our marriage we aren’t giving of our money because we’re so far in debt.” He said to the lady, “you know could you just wait, on this, leave this stuff here now.” They walked out into the mall and sat down in a quiet corner, and he took her hand, and he said, “Remember we read in Matthew 26, that Jesus was going to the cross and he said, not my will, but thy will. Remember we discussed together that faith is always seeking God’s will, it’s never our will, it is our will to get those skis, that’s our will. That’s what we want to do. But we didn’t ask God.” In the mall with people walking by them, they held hands and bowed their heads, and they said, “Dear Jesus, we want to live lives of faith, lives in which we trust you, and we know the first aspect of faith is seeking your will. It’s seeking what you want, not what we want. Lord what should we do?”

At the end of praying, both of them came to the conclusion, that they were not in God’s will to increase their debt by another 3000+ dollars. They went back into the store, they said, “you know what we’ve talked this over, we’re not going to go ahead with the purchase.” They walked out. And he said later it was the happiest day of my life, because it was one of the first times in my life I made a decision based on what I believed God wanted me to do, not on what I wanted to do. I’d been running impulsively through life doing what I wanted to do, and then he kind of chuckled, this is about a year or two later, he said you know what, we had the best year skiing we ever had. We used our old skis, we went at times that we could afford it, and we did not go into further debt, and we didn’t have to be arguing when we came back from skiing that we shouldn’t have gone because we paid to much. It was the best ski season we ever had.

Three things faith is not. First faith is not doing what you want, it is discovering what God wants. Secondly, faith is not sight, if faith were sight, it would not be faith it would be sight. And sight is not faith, and faith is not sight because faith and sight are two different things. Faith is trusting God believing God, hanging on when I cannot see. The bible says, 2 Corinthians 5:7. See faith is not sight. When is it necessary to have faith, before you are healed or after you are healed? When is it necessary to have faith when you’re in debt and struggling to get out or when you’re out of debt struggling to get in, no! When is it necessary to have faith when you need the money or when you don’t need the money? When is it necessary to have faith in your marriage when you’ve lived together for eighteen years and you’ve had friction for the last ten, you don’t know how you can solve it, and you went to a couple marriage counselors and they didn’t help you and you’re about ready to give up, at that moment in your life you say God we know you can do so much more in our marriage, we know you can solve this. When is it necessary to have faith? When you see or when you don’t see? When is it necessary to have faith? When you’re taking organic chemistry and the exam has not come yet, that’s when faith and works blend together right? 2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith, and not by sight.” Faith trusts God when we cannot see. Faith trusts God that He loves me, that He knows what’s best for me. That even when the circumstances of my life look dark faith trusts God. I love that song, tis so sweet to do what? In who, Jesus. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him where? At His word, just to rest upon his promise, just to know thus saith the Lord.

Some of you know that I love hymn stories. Always before I go to bed at night, I have a thing I do all over the world. Usually my wife and I walk for forty-five minutes in the evening. Any place I am in the world, you’ll find me walking in the streets about 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 o’clock at night depending on where I am and what my meetings were that night. So my traditional style in the evening is take a walk for 45 minutes to an hour before I go to bed. Then I always lie in a hot bath and read something. Many times because I’m kind of a hymn story buff, I’m terrible when it comes to music. I absolutely don’t know a B flat from a D minus, somebody said D minus wasn’t a note, well that shows you what I don’t know. I don’t know anything about music, nothing. But I love hymn stories for some reason, just love them.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. The words were written by Louisa M. Steed. Here’s her story, Louisa M. Steed, came to the United States. When she came, she came as an immigrant from England and came with her husband. They had a little child in America, they were living here for about three years. They were living in New York City in kind of a ghetto area, he was a factory worker. They went out swimming on Coney Island, they were lying on the sand, they heard somebody shouting in the water and as they heard this person shouting in the water. They looked out and there was a teenager, eighteen years old, that was drowning. Louisa M. Steed’s husband dove in the water and swam out to rescue this young man that was drowning. And in the attempt to rescue him, Louisa’s husband drowned, he died. She had this little child to raise, in a three room apartment in New York city. Had no money, and continued to run out of her savings and was just weeping. She was an immigrant here, didn’t know people, didn’t have any friends, was very isolated and she was a Christian. She got her little girl on the floor, and she just prayed Lord please please help us we don’t know what to do. My husband’s died, we have no income I can’t go back to England, I don’t even have the money for the boat fair. Lord I just can’t do it, Lord I can’t see what the future is. And I don’t know what the future is. Lord please by faith I believe you’re going to care for me. That morning when she went out on the porch, and it doesn’t always happen in this way, but it happened for Louisa M. Steed. When she went out on the porch, there were three boxes of food. Her neighbors, knowing her plight, brought her food. And there was an envelope with enough money that paid two or three months rent. She started crying, she said God you’re so great, she said, I never understood what would happen, my husband has died, I couldn’t possibly see the future, but this is a token that you love me, and a token that you care for me. And she went in on that morning, she sat at her table and she wrote. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word, just to rest upon his promise, just to know thus saith the Lord. I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust him, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend, and I know that thou art with me, will be with me till the end.

In the trials of your life, in the challenges of your life. In the difficulties of your life, in the brokenheartedness of your life, when you do not see what God is doing, still you can trust.

There are three things that faith is not. Faith is not seeking my will, Faith is not seeing the end from the beginning and lastly, faith is not understanding what’s going on. It is not necessary for my head to understand, for my heart to trust. The Bible teaches that Philippians 4:7, Faith is not understanding because although I may not understand why my husband died, why my baby died in childbirth. Although I may not understand why bombs have dropped on my town, although I may not understand. You see we live in North America, most of us here do. Where there is a measure of prosperity, so it’s easy to say if you have faith everything’s going to go right. But what about the child born of an AIDS mother in Africa who got AIDS not because of their choice, but got the HIV virus because of the decisions that a mother made that the child never made. Are there some babies like that, are there crack cocaine babies, are there babies born with distended bellies because they are poverty stricken. Although my head may not understand, whoever I am in life, whatever life throws at me, I can still trust, when my brain cannot comprehend why, my heart can say Jesus, like Job, thou he slay me yet I will trust him. We look there Philippians 4:7, “and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The peace of God surpasses all understanding when I cannot understand, I can still trust. Joshua did not understand, but he believed God and marched around the walls of Jericho and they fell down. Joseph did not understand why his brothers sold him into slavery. He did not understand that he may not see his father or mother again, but he trusted God and through that trust, God took him from the pit to the prison and on to the palace.

Job did not understand boils head to foot, did not understand children killed, did not understand riches lost, but Job said though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Moses did not understand when he was wandering for forty years in the wilderness. He did not understand when he was leading Israel, but he said I will not criticize the people of God. God I love my church so much, take me out of your book. I don’t understand, but through his faithfulness, Israel went into the Promised land. Daniel did not understand being thrown into a lions den, but he trusted and God caused those lions to fall asleep and he put his head on the head of a lion and fell asleep with a cozy pillow. Paul did not understand, he was shipwrecked, beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned tried, but he said, Lord your grace is sufficient for me. And hanging on a cross, with nails through his hands and a crown of thorns upon his head and blood running down his face, Jesus said, "Father into thine hands I commend my spirit."

Faith is seeking God’s will. It is placing Christ at the center of your life. Faith is looking beyond what’s going on around me to what’s going on above me. Faith is looking beyond what happens to me, to the ultimate hope that one day Jesus will come and all things will be made right. Faith is not understanding the ups and downs of my life. Faith is not understanding the trials and difficulties of my life. Faith brings internal peace and incredible internal joy because I trust Him completely. And I say Lord you can do anything with my life you want. Even if there are times in the great controversy you allow things that I would not choose, that’s okay with me because Lord you want my best, you love me with a love beyond what I’ll ever know and one day you’re going to explain it all to me and you’re going to make everything right. Lord you are worthy of my deepest trust.

As we bow our heads to pray, is there somebody today here that you need a deeper dose of faith in your life? You’re going through some trial right now, you’re going through some difficulty, personally, right now and you want to just lift your hand and say Lord in what I’m going through right now, I need greater faith, greater trust, Lord I just lift my hand, give me that greater dose of faith, I want to live the deeper life of faith. You’re going through some challenge some difficulty, God sees your hand, He knows what you’re going through and He will give you that deeper faith. But that faith is not only that God’s going to get you through, that faith is that God’s going to get this Church through. You see there are two dangers, today that we face, one is the ultra left and liberalism, that erodes the fundamental principles of God’s word and what this church stands for. But the other is the ultra right that looks at the church and criticizes it and does not have the faith that God is going to deal with His church in His own way and God’s going to get it through. If you want to say, Lord give me faith in the leadership of this church, give me faith that your going to get this church through and stop my mouth from any kind of criticism, but help me to trust you , that you can do what you need to do in your Church, would you raise your hand, I want to pray for your as well.

Father, thank you so much that you’re a God that’s bigger than all the difficulties that we face personally, you’re a God that’s bigger than all the difficulties the church faces. You’re a God that is so big, that we can put our lives in your hands, that we can incredibly trust You, whether we live like Enoch, or die like Abel we can trust You. Whether we stay like Noah, or go like Abraham, we can trust You. Whether we conceive and have children like Sarah, or we have to give those children up like Abraham, we can trust You. Whether we are rich like Joseph, or poverty stricken in the wilderness like moses we can trust You. Whether we are slain with the sword or delivered from the sword we can trust You. Lord, thank you that You mean us only good and never harm, thank you that You love us with an incredible love. Thank you that You’re coming again for us, and may we live those lives of trust today and forever. In Jesus name, amen.


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