Text: – “Without faith it is impossible to please God” – “Hebrews 11:6”
The three basic foundational characteristics of the Christian faith are basically FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY, and without a continual in and outworking of the principles connected to each of these characteristics, as Christians, not only would we be impoverished in our spiritual lives, but as so many are, simply wander around aimlessly from week to week, in our service to the Lord. All these foundational characteristics work and interact with each other continually.
So, what do we especially notice about Faith?
Faith has been given to us, the Bible reveals this to us very clearly in a number of places, and I’m delighted today that none of us starts off with any undue advantage over another in respect of faith – Why? Because the Scripture declares that we have all been given . That therefore means that the potential is the same for all of us.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” – “Romans 12:3” KJV
“The measure of faith” is the same for every believer, and it is the same faith that Jesus possessed. Different believers may have developed and strengthened their faith over time and by the Word, but their faith is no different than yours. You have that same capability. Only You Can Build Your Faith
Three things are very clear: –
- Faith is for Christians
- You Have the Same Faith as Jesus
- Only You Can Build Your Faith – “Romans 10:17” tells us, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” KJV
There are not different kinds of faith depending on who you are or the role you play in the Body of Christ. You may look at someone who seems to have strong, world-changing faith and think, “Amazing, I’ll never be like that person. That person is so confident and secure in his spiritual walk. That’s not me.” Let me tell you right now, and I’m reminding myself also at the same time – “It’s a lie of the enemy”.
“The measure of faith” is the same for every believer, and it is the same faith that Jesus possessed. Different believers may have developed and strengthened their faith over time and by the Word, but their faith is no different than yours. We have that same capability. God has given to each a “measure of faith” to use for Him. This “faith” is the gift from which all the other gifts flow. Faith is the first gift we receive (for justification), and faith is the gift that when it is exercised opens the gateway to gifting’s being “Birthed in US” and “Outworked Through US”.
However, let me say that faith is like our “natural muscles” – they need to be exercised if they are to be of any use. So many Children of God rest upon the “laurels of their salvation experience” and never move forward entering into a condition of spiritual type of Muscular dystrophy (MD). What is that? Well! It is a group of muscle diseases that results in increasing weakening and breakdown of skeletal muscles over time. The disorders differ in which muscles are primarily affected, the degree of weakness, how fast they worsen, and when symptoms begin. Many people will eventually become unable to walk. Some types are also associated with problems in other organs. It is an inherited disease.
Many Christians inherit from their Fathers in the Faith the spiritual twin of MD because they themselves have never progressed very far on their spiritual journey. Others inherit it from their Church Family Leaders because they are never taught the “fundamentals of doctrinal truth” and are spoon fed as Oliver Twist was on “Gruel” – What is Gruel? Wikipedia tells that that Gruel is a food consisting of some type of cereal – such as ground oats, wheat, rye, or rice boiled in water or milk. It is a thinner version of porridge that may be more often drunk than eaten and may not need to be cooked. Historically, gruel has been a staple of the Western diet, especially for peasants. Gruel is often made from millet, hemp, barley, or, in hard times, from chestnut flour or even the less bitter acorns of some oaks. Gruel is also a colloquial expression for any watery or liquidly food of unknown character, e.g., pea soup.
Though its actual medical use is not proven, gruel has historically been considered an important form of sustenance for the sick and recently weaned children. From a literary, aristocratic, or modern point of view, gruel has often been associated with poverty. There are negative associations attached to the word in popular culture, as in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist.
As in physical exercise the enthusiasm dwindles likewise it does in the spiritual and “maintenance only mode” sets in a little like “an engine simply ticking over”.
You and I were made to be “effective, walking in victory and triumphing” in our pilgrimage of faith. I for one want to be like this – If not “Then what’s the difference between me and the pagan un-saved neighbour I live next door too?”.
Faith is one of those grace gifts that when it is exercised and comes to life in us – even when we only catch a fleeting glimpse of its nature – brings the soul into another dimension and shakes the devil’s domain.
A little seed of faith once possessed and operating has the ability to start a revolution.
Faith Cannot Give Up in Despair
The first thing we notice about faith is that it cannot give up in despair. We all suffer from time to time in our lives with devastating experiences, times when we are thrown totally into a 2 & 8, and even into despondency and despair. As a Brother who I highly respect said to me just recently “we are struggling to make sense of things. The brutal truth is that some of us have genuine conflicts which are not easily dispelled” and “That’s good stuff Albert but some of us (and I include my-self in this) are struggling to make any sense of what is currently happening in the world and where is the evidence that God is in control and working. Simply encouraging believers to remember past blessings as a means of assuring us of the future is a difficult ask”.
However, at just such a time as that, and at such a time as this is when Faith, Real Faith, True Faith, God Given Faith, rises to the top, and carries the day.
The Word of God, the Bible is teeming with the stories of Men and Women who have discovered this to be the case, and even when they have gone through experiences that would have in the natural caused people to contemplate suicide, they have come out on top.
A typical example is discovered in “1:Kings: 19” here we discover a servant of God by the name of Elijah. This man of God had been used of the Lord in such tremendous ways, within his life and ministry, he had witnessed God’s hand at work with him in tremendous miracles and revelations, and yet, being as human as anyone of us, we discover that as a result of a bad experience in his life in he is saying the following in “Verse 4” – “He went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree, and asked that he might die. He said, “lt is enough: now, O Lord, take away my life: for I am no better than my fathers.” Well, he was bang on when he said that he was no better than his fathers were, and neither are we. The one thing however that made him no better was that his faith had waned, all his spiritual energy was self-centred and upon his present distress, and he had taken his eyes of Jehovah God, who had done so much for him.
In like manner, we do the same, and we take our eyes off Jesus, and as Peter did, discover that water is not a natural element for walking upon.
The Hymn writer puts it this way when he says, “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest near to the heart of God”, and Daniel had found that spot, it gave him courage, and as his eyes were focused on the Lord, his faith enabled the handcuffs of unbelief to be taken from him, and God closed the Mouths of the lions.
In “1:Samuel: 17” the familiar story of David and Goliath is given to us. Here is an untrained shepherd boy, and deliverer of cheese sandwiches to his brothers, one whom the Bible describes as an adolescent with a healthy reddish colour and a fair face coming face to face with a literal Giant of a Soldier, who described David in “Verse: 43 as a Stick” such was his contempt of him. Even when Goliath shouted, he caused all the camp of Israel to recoil back in fear.
Yet this young lad, David, stood his ground in faith, and didn’t allow fear to rule his spirit, and said to Goliath and I love these words “You come to me with a sword, and a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand; and I will smite you, I will cut off your head; and I will give the corpses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth; and that all the world might know there is a God in Israel” theirs fighting talk for you, he knew God was with him, and therefore victory was guaranteed.
Oh! that more of the people of God would rise up in like manner as David, and that they would go out into the coming week, with the same attitude of heart and spirit, declare to the enemy, that they are determined that the world will know there is a GOD IN THEIR LIFE and FELLOWSHIPS.
In “Acts: 16” we discover the Apostle Paul, another servant of God, going through a particularly tough time. Paul had been thrown into prison with a fellow believer named Silas on trumped up charges. They had been beaten, they had been flogged, they had been puts into a cell where excrement and refuse fell down the middle and they were held in stocks, especially designed to cause ongoing agony and pain, as muscles and bones were stretched.
Do we find them giving into despair and despondency? Do we find them bemoaning their lot in life?
Do we discover them calling out for their lives to be taken away?
No! What we discover is that “at midnight they sang songs unto the Lord” and as a result the whole prison was shaken, and those bonds and lashings, turned out to be nothing more than the kisses of angels and their hands bearing them along in the presence of the Lord.
In like manner in “Acts: 27:1-44” we discover Paul again, still in bondage, but this time on board a ship, bound for Rome to face trial for his faith. The story relates that a great storm arose and the ship was wrecked on a reef, but earlier, in the midst of the Sailors and his Guards throwing up their hands in horror and their stomachs with sea sickness, thinking all was lost, Paul say’s in “Verse 25 – Be of good cheer, for I believe God that is shall be even as He told me” and indeed it was, none drowned. Okay! they got a bit wet, but then into every life a little rain must fall, and even though we go through our trials, let’s remember that God has given to us faith to carry us through, and faith to excel to the glorifying of His name in the midst of them.
lt is this type of Faith that in the midst of famine causes a Barrel of Meal and Oil to remain full – “…And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” – “1 Kings 17:16” KJV and in a Desert, place can get water from a Rock – “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” – “Exodus 17:6” KJV
Despair and Despondency’s Closest Cousin is Fear
As we are looking at examples here, it would also serve us well to consider yet others, who although not so much subject to despair and despondency, did suffer from despair and despondency’s closest cousin, do you know who he is, Yes! That’s right Fear.
In “Hebrews: 11 & 13” we have listed before us the Bibles heroes of faith, and one which stands out particularly as situation that would promote fear, even in the lives of the bravest of us, is that of Daniel in “Daniel: 6:16”.
Here we discover Daniel in a Lion’s Den, the King had placed him there, and these Lions were ravenous beasts, kept hungry, in order that they would tear people limb from limb. But! but do we discover that Daniel screamed and ranted? Do we discover his knees knocking? No! He had discovered that faith provides a place of security.
I quoted “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest near to the heart of God”, and Daniel had found that spot. That particular piece of “real estate” gave Daniel courage whilst simultaneously removing the shackles of un-belief from him. His eyes were focused on the Lord and whilst they were the “Lord shut the moths of the Lions”.
Before we move on what does the Bible say. “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.” – “Psalm 27:1-6” NIV
Faith Cannot Give in or Submit to Human Reasoning, Operate in Normal Circumstances or Retire
“Faith is not sense, nor sight, nor reason – lt is simply taking God at His Word”
lt was once said, “Faith is not sense, nor sight, nor reason. lt is simply taking God at His Word” and whilst I will get many objections to that statement it does not alter the fact that in many respects it is absolutely true.
When the people of Israel were surrounded on three sides by mountains, and the Red Sea was in front of them and Pharaohs Army behind them, human reasoning said “Stand Still and pretend this isn’t happening – but faith’s reply was “GO FORWARD”.
In like manner Gideon with his 300 hundred men in “Judges 7:7” and with the best weapon in their hands being a Clay Pot and a Trumpet. They had every reason to think that going into battle like that was absolute madness, but Faith won the day. And I’m really glad today that God takes the “weak and foolish things of this world to confound the mighty” – “1 Corinthians 1:27” and if we are ever to accomplish anything for God, we must not ever submit to human and frail reasoning.
Faith’s Exploits are not Reasoned out they are FAITHED OUT
Faith’s Exploits are not Reasoned out they are FAITHED OUT, and they will never occur in normal circumstances.
I have often heard people say, “Oh! Why don’t we ever see miraculous things happening?” well you know the majority of the reason is, that we live such “safe lives”, that are without challenges or confrontations to our faith, that there isn’t any need, to either stretch to see them or need for them to be seen.
We love to have uncomplicated lives. We delight to simply tick over in our Christian faith. We invariably put our service for the Lord on the back burner, to just simply simmer away, and in doing so, we rid ourselves of the opportunities for God to break in and surprise us with the great and marvellous things that He wants to do with and to us. We really need to shake ourselves up, and to start being the Men and Women of God He has destined us to be.
Faith Cannot Perform for the Natural Mind or Die
Finally, in light of all that’s been said, it would be easy for us to take the “bull by the horns”, as it were, and to rush out and pray for every sick person we see, cast people out of their wheel chairs, and steal the sticks of blind men. That is not really faith in operation, it is more hopefulness and stupidity at work.
No! Earlier when I first started speaking I used the phrase GOD INSPIRED FAITH, and whilst it is true that God wants to perform the miraculous through us, and He wants to use us in marvellous ways, we need to be tuned in to His voice, in order that we will rise up in our faith at the times He wants us to rather than so many opportunities passing us by – and I’m telling you they do every day.
God performs miracles, for His sake not ours. When Herod came to Jesus in “Luke: 23:8” hoping to see some miracle done by Him, he went away disappointed. The reason was that Faith Does Not Operate to the Whims and Fancies of Men, its purpose is to bring honour to the Lord, strengthen the believer and have an impact of the growth of His Church.
The great thing in it all though is this, that FAITH CANNOT DIE, and that means that today if you have neglected to use it, and it is weak and dusty, you can have it revived and put straight back into use.
The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” I trust that I’ve just done that today – shared the Word of God and that it’s been truly heard.
- Have we heard the Word of God to our hearts by the Holy Spirit today?
- Have we felt the challenge to rise up afresh in our faith before the Lord?
- Has the Holy Spirit pricked our conscience to remove the sloth and apathy, and to take up the challenge afresh?
then if so, lets arise and move on – grab today with both hands and expect that the coming weeks, we see God moving as never before in our lives.
When it comes to serving Christ in the “Great Commission” don’t let’s be like the lady in the image – just walk by whilst the pagan unsaved burn in their houses of straw.
When it comes to our fellow Family Members of the Household of Faith, let’s reach out to them with faith to encourage theirs and ours and let’s make sure that we know if they are – Waving or Drowning”
Gods desire today is to bring us all back to a place of faith in Himself and His ability in us, will you and I surrender to His will today?