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According to Your Faith


What is faith?

I can assure you of two things. I needed it for preparing this message and God is always faithful.


Faith is a decision, a firm commitment to what we can't see or know beforehand that won't waver no matter what. It's a human necessity so everyone uses it in some capacity. It's trusting in someone or something to act or behave in a certain, often expected way. People have faith that the light will come on when they flick the switch. People have faith that the doctor or pilot knows what he's doing. People have faith that when they speak, audible words will come out. People have faith that the dentist isn't just being mean. There's faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, that money will meet their needs and that science has the answers.


It also has an evil twin as Pastor Ken said last week, you can have faith or fear. Fear asks what if this happens, whereas faith says even if this happens. Further to that, faith can be misplaced. Without faith in the one true God, the creator of the universe, people have to find another way to deal with all the unknowns of life and the fear that brings. So if they lack faith in something, they need to control it, at least try to. This type of control is a close friend of fear, it's a false faith. Attempting to control circumstances and people never works well.


The word control is seldom used in God's Word. When it is, do you know what kind of control is Godly? Yes, self-control. That is where God gives us authority to control. How can we do this well? With faith, Godly faith in Him and His Son Jesus and help from the Holy Spirit.


What matters is where or with whom you place your faith. Faith in God is pretty special and yields amazing results. What is Godly faith? That's today's message.


Hebrews 11 (NKJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.


3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.


4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.


5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.


7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.


8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.


11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.


13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.


17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.


20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.


21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.


22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.


23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.


24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.


27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.


29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.


30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

Notice right away that this faith matters, it's real. It's not a wishing upon a star, that's just empty words without substance, without power that fall to the ground and are blown away. No, this has weight and substance, anchored in truth. It's hoping in the Son, the Son of God, who is real and alive. He is our rock, our hope for now and forevermore.


Faith is important to God, He wants us to place it squarely and solely with and in Him. We can place it with things, people, or the world, which will let us down, or with our creator who will never fail.


No one can come to God without believing, through Godly faith, in Him.


What does a humble faith in God do?


Receives Salvation

  • When we repent of our ways, turn to God in faith and accept the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, we are forgiven of our sins and made right with Him (righteous).

Luke 13 (NKJV) There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”


Mark 1 (NKJV) 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”


  • With the peace we now have with God, our faith empowers us to forgive others.


Luke 17 (NKJV) Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”


Firstly, Jesus instructed us to never cause a believer to sin. But If they do, we correct them in love. If they repent, we must forgive them. It matters not how many times even in a day this happens, forgive every time. Remember elsewhere Peter asked Jesus about this too and he was told to forgive 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:21-22 - Parable of the unforgiving servant). The Disciples responded by saying they'll need more faith. Jesus answered, only a little is needed, a mustard seed. It's not the amount of faith but its quality in our great God that matters. It will then grow.


Jesus goes on to say it's a requirement, an expectation, a command for us to forgive them. It's not to be done for an expectant reward. We can't hold it over God's head and say you owe me because I forgave that person. The Pharisees did that. Such an attitude leads to pride and that's never a good place to be with God. True faith is a humble way to live, it acknowledges dependence on and need of God. Being unprofitable just means expectations have been met. It's not an above-and-beyond situation, serving God this way is our duty.


  • Jesus has made a way for us to enter the very throne room of God (Hebrews 4:14-16). It doesn't get better than that while we live on Earth. This is possible only through faith.

Trusts God

  • To meet all of our needs.

It releases the control of our lives to God. Control is a lie, it's a false faith often sprouted from the world. See the parable of the rich fool who acquired so much stuff that he needed to build more barns to store it. He was a fool because his life was required of him that night. All that wealth would not serve or benefit him (Luke 12).


Matthew 19:23-26 (NKJV)

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


Wealth in itself is not always a problem but it can easily get in the way. It can take our faith if we're not careful. To enter God's Kingdom, we need to offload all our stuff first, we can't take our earthly things with us. Our material things and our other baggage will need to be left at the cross so Jesus can deal with them. We need faith that as we enter God's Kingdom, empty-handed and before we see it, He will meet all our needs. Faith says we rely on and trust God Himself completely. Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God is within us for now (Luke 17:20-21).


We will still use money and things but they don't get our faith, He does. Jesus reassures us God will take care of us, He feeds the birds (Matthew 6:26). He may feed them with food from your veggie garden but it's His garden anyway. It doesn't mean you must give everything up physically (unless He tells you to as He did here) but give it up spiritually, from your heart.


  • To not be anxious about anything.

Philippians 4 (NKJV) 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Faith like this pleases God. Why, you ask? Because it shows Him we do believe and trust Him. It makes our relationship with Him real and effective. It won't give up and invites Him to work in our lives.


Luke 18 (NKJV) Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”


  • Speaks faithfully or full of faith. It asks and seeks God with childlike curiosity.

Matthew 7 (NKJV) 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


Many people were healed after calling out to Jesus which was a faithful act of humility. Jesus said several times "Your faith has made you well (saved you)." Calling out to Him in faith is our first act for salvation, wherein lies our ultimate eternal healing He promises. As we just read in Hebrews, it will manifest in God's way and timing.


  • The woman with the issue of blood for 12 years spoke to herself in faith and reached out physically (Matthew 9). Our faith and our words result in actions (the next point).

  • The blind man healed after crying out and Jesus asked him "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Mark 10).

  • The ten lepers lifted up their voices for mercy (Luke 17). After being healed only one came back with gratitude to glorify God. Expressed gratefulness to God affirms our faith.

Faith speaks with God in prayer through Jesus knowing that He listens. The prayers of a righteous man are effective. In faith, he knows it makes a difference and builds his relationship with the Father. Faith confesses sins and prays for others (James 5:16).


Matthew 21 (NKJV) 21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”


Remember this is a spiritual truth (this is where all creation began when God spoke). With faith, amazing things happen in the unseen realm that will impact this one.


Acts


Without works, faith is dead (James 2). People will usually have works but without the transformational work of God by His Spirit (accessed through faith) they're at best useless and filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) but typically evil in God's sight. This was one of the main things Jesus came to say that earned him so much hate (John 7:7). God is seeking those who act faithfully, that are full of faith in Him.


Matthew 17 (NKJV) 14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 [f]However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”


A Story of Failure Due to a Lack of Faith


This is an interesting account where the disciples failed to deliver this boy. It would seem the disciples lacked faith here, at least quality faith. Jesus tells us we only need faith as a mustard seed. They may have forgotten that it was God who does the supernatural work, that it's His power. Yes, like us, Jesus gave them access to God's power through faith to do His will (Matthew 10:1). It is not a magic power we hold and can yield on our own. We must work with the Lord, in faith. Faith that He is with us and can do through us what He wants us to do.


The Scripture we just read ends with verse 21 [f]However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” There is a note stating the original Greek manuscript did not have this verse. The version of this event told in Mark 9 has Jesus answering in verse 29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer [e]and fasting." In this instance and fasting was not in the original Greek manuscript. Commentaries suggest that verse 21 in Matthew is there because of the words of Jesus in Mark 9:29 This kind can come out by nothing but prayer". The idea being asserted is the importance of faithfully seeking and relying on God to do the supernatural work only He can do, real faith. We could safely presume the disciples knew who Jesus was and had faith in Him but mistakenly believed in themselves alone to deliver this boy. This is why Jesus said in Mark the need for prayer, a major act of our faith demonstrating our complete humble reliance on God alone.


We see a rare instance in the Bible of Jesus expressing some frustration with everyone over this. Frustration at everyone's lack of faith. This wasn't what Jesus wanted for His ministry. The failure affected everyone's faith. A lack of faith stops God's power from being released. This is an area to continually focus on as we walk with the Lord.


We learn a little more in Mark's recount of this event.


Mark 9 (NKJV) 21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”


So the boy had been inflicted for quite some time, a stronghold of the enemy. Maybe, a little doubt entered the hearts of the disciples. Did they say in their heart, can we do this? It was so with the father. He confessed faith but then admitted he was struggling to believe, asking Jesus to help him. Can you relate to that? We can more easily believe from a distance but struggle when in the moment.


Jesus told them they needed prayer, indicating that they did not pray but tried to cast the demon out on their own. It's not difficult to see why that would not be God's way, how quickly would pride take hold. Godly faith acts humbly with God.


John 15:5 (NKJV) 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.


Seeks God's Kingdom First


This is a Godly process that allows the Holy Spirit to change us from within, a process of being transformed by His righteousness. Jesus tells us to seek the Kingdom of God first and all our needs will be met (Matthew 6). Seeking the Kingdom is an act of faith. It's putting God and His ways first, trusting Him to meet our needs and care for us, which He will do.

As we mature in Him, we change and He can grant the desires of our hearts. Why? Because then our desires will be righteous and beneficial. God knows what's best for us. You may remember a much earlier message I shared titled, TO GET WHAT YOU WANT, WANT WHAT GOD WANTS. It's a fruit that comes from Him and it will be very tasty and satisfying. We just need a little quality faith to start and grow.


Last time we talked about Joseph. It was a journey for him before God raised him up, why? So his heart would be right. Remember, his brothers hated him and wanted to kill him but ended up selling him into slavery. Surely that hurt Joseph, he would have had to deal with anger and major disappointment. He no doubt wanted justice at the very least. He stayed faithful and let God work with him. God knew what Joseph's real healed heart desired. Reconciliation with his father and brothers, not revenge. He sure had to wait and be faithful but it was granted him.

  • Waits upon the Lord, waiting is a verb so it's an action.

Psalm 37 (NKJV) Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.


3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 12 The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming. 14 The wicked have drawn the sword And have bent their bow, To cast down the poor and needy, To slay those who are of upright conduct. 15 Their sword shall enter their own heart, And their bows shall be broken. 16 A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the Lord upholds the righteous. 18 The Lord knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever. 19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. 20 But the wicked shall perish; And the enemies of the Lord, Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away. 21 The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives. 22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, But those cursed by Him shall be cut off. 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed. 27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore. 28 For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, And his tongue talks of justice. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide. 32 The wicked watches the righteous, And seeks to slay him. 33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand, Nor condemn him when he is judged. 34 Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. 35 I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. 36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found. 37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace. 38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; The future of the wicked shall be cut off. 39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. 40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.


  • Responds to Salvation through Jesus

This is impossible for man (we can not save ourselves) but not for God, all things are possible for Him. He brings all men to peace with Him through faith in the person and work of Jesus.


John 20 (NKJV) 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


Salvation is both now and will be completed later. All you need to start is quality faith the size of a mustard seed placed in Jesus, the Son of God. If you haven't come to Him in faith, you can do it today. Let go of trying to control what you can not control. Give Him your life, your circumstances and He will preserve it forevermore. Faithfully ask, knock and seek and He will answer you.




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